The Youthful Vitality of Gate 10
by Kara M. Bachman
Eighteen-year-old college freshman Addie Levy isn’t fresh and green when it comes to bluegrass; she’s already a pro. The same thing goes for the rest of Gate 10, the West Virginia-based bluegrass, gospel, and country outfit that’s got a youthful vitality and passion for music.
When the group started a few years ago, it consisted of three high school students, two college students, and…an eight-year-old.
“He was eight the first time he came up on stage with us. He’s phenomenal for his age.” Levy said of dobro player Eric Handy, who has now reached the ripe old age of ten.
Such youthful talent and enthusiasm are par for the course, however, in Levy’s world. She started performing at a similarly early age.
“I grew up singing in church, and my dad’s a guitar player,” Levy said. She has nostalgic memories of the first time she realized she might want a career in music. She went to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, where this young fan met and had the chance to sing for Parton’s old band leader. He really encouraged her, and this lit a spark in the young girl. The very next week she started to play guitar, and not even six months later, was performing on stage with a band.
“I started when I was ten,” she said. “We played with Gravel Road.”
The “we” she referred to is herself and bass player Jared Houseman, a fellow bandmate who would go on to form Gate 10 with her after Gravel Road disbanded around the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.
Levy said “it’s fun being a young band,” because there’s great energy for rehearsing, which often goes on until later in the evening after many older folks would have already hung it up for the night.
The full band includes Addie Levy (mandolin, vocals); Ethan Handy (banjo, guitar); Eric Handy (dobro); Jared Houseman (bass); Gabe Scott (fiddle, vocals); and Jarrod Belcher (guitar, vocals).
It’s been rough for many performers to maintain their passion during the past year, as the Covid-19 pandemic has put a dent in performance opportunities. If Levy’s attitude is indicative of the group as a whole, it sounds as if Gate 10 has stayed positive through this trying year and has made the best of it.
“Right before COVID-19 hit we released our first album, called ‘Play Another Round,’” Levy explained. The record includes both covers and originals.
“I wrote a couple of them, the whole band co-wrote one, our fiddle player did some writing,” Levy said, explaining all original numbers are direct products of the band’s creativity.
In terms of performing live, Gate 10 saw some dates disappear or be rescheduled, as have most touring acts. Levy said things did start to pick up a bit during late summer, but there’s still a ways to go before things will be back to normal.
“We’re pretty excited about 2021,” she said, looking to the future. “We’re excited to get back into the swing of things.”
She said because the first record was released without heavy performance dates supporting it, promotion of that record is still ongoing.
“We are still pushing the CD, it still feels like it’s brand new material since it hasn’t been played out,” Levy explained. Projecting even further into the future, she envisions the best for this enterprising group of young artists.
“Most of us are pretty on track for wanting to do music for the rest of our lives,” she said. “Everybody’s passionate about music.”
Levy said for her, bluegrass isn’t just about the music itself; it’s about the feel-good vibes that come from people who enjoy it. This is a common sentiment expressed by many in the bluegrass world.
“It’s really the community that goes along with it,” Levy said, explaining why this is her genre of choice. “Everybody is so supportive because they want the music to continue. It’s not competitive or cut-throat, it’s just people enjoying what they do.”
Levy is lucky that she gets to do what she loves with a group of young musicians who share something special.
“I think there’s a special energy that goes with these people,” she said, about her friends from Gate 10.