Songwriter series highlights solo acts

By Anaïs Engler, @anaisengler

Country music lovers like to hear stories, feel emotions through acoustic music and enjoy a good time with friends in the intimacy of a live concert. 

If you are one of them or you want to experience such a type of live connectivity between the musician and the public, you may find yourself at Hangar 9 on Wednesday night.

William Travis Newton, also known as WT Newton, will perform as part of the Southern Illinois Songwriter Series at 10 p.m. at Hangar 9.


He is a vocalist, guitarist and banjo player for Americana band County Graves, but for the night he will play solo and share the headline with his friends Hugh DeNeal and Jenny Johnson.

The Arkansas native and nine-year resident of Carbondale shared with us his universe made of stories, country and folk music.

A self-taught guitar player, Newton learned how to create music as an organic passion and was inspired by the big names like Johnny Cash.

He said his family was very religious, though he was not always interested in the country gospel musical environment he was born into.

“After 10 years, and my rebellious punk rock phase, I realized that what my father and grandfather was listening to is not so bad,” Newton said.

Newton said his musical inspirations are both classic and personal.

“My influences are from the traditional country mountain songs and the blues of New Orleans, obviously, but also from my friends that I am so blessed to have around me,” he said. “Their talent is my greatest source of inspiration.”


Newton said because he plays music as a way to convey emotion, he first puts stories together, like personal anecdotes or everyday feelings, and then puts them to music.

“Music has a personal meaning,” he said. “The past few years were rough for me, so it is also a way to convey my demons and get them out.”

Newton said he also performs for empathy purposes, and the idea of group therapy.

He wants communicate to his audience that someone else has already been through what is happening to them now, he said.

Newton will play songs on his forthcoming solo album “May The Wind Carry My Grave” that is still amid the writing process.

Newton said he prefers small venues, and the public can expect an intimate mood from the concert.

“I prefer to be on the floor than on the stage, the connectivity is better, but Hangar 9 provides that too.”

Doors will open at 9 p.m. and tickets will be $3 at the door.