Fayetteville songwriter Shannon Wurst provides a remedy with new album ‘Sugar and Kerosene’

Photos by Kat Wilson

As a nod to the new attitude captured on her most recent album, Shannon Wurst’s release party for “Sugar and Kerosene” will be split into two parts. The event on March 17 at Stage 18 in downtown Fayetteville will start with an electric set with a focus on the songs from the new album, her sixth.

But don’t worry. Wurst, an Alma native and a decorated songwriter, still leads the way with her acoustic guitar and her voice, which might be described as if an angelic choir was outfitted with a Southern drawl.

What: Shannon Wurst – “Sugar and Kerosene” album release
When: Saturday, March 17
Where: Stage 18, Fayetteville
Cost: $12
Tickets: www.stage18live.com/tickets

The second act of her release show features a different band with a different mentality, and will explore earlier songs in her catalog.

The newest album was recorded with assistance from Mike West, one member of the husband-and-wife folk/rock/bluegrass duo Truckstop Honeymoon. Wurst has typically worked her way through songs and crafted a block of them to record. With one toddler at home and another due this May, Wurst tried another method. She booked time in a Lawrence, Kansas, studio and went to work with the deadline looming.

“As a new mom, I had to try to change my writing schedule.”

But the songs aren’t about motherhood. Like previous efforts from the Fayetteville-based artist, many of the songs are character studies. The title track, for instance, was inspired by the Ken Burns’ documentary “The Dust Bowl.” Sugar and kerosene were potential cures for coughing fits experienced by children living through the dust storms. The song earned her recognition as a Telluride Troubadour finalist, earning her a spot at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival alongside artists such as Sam Bush, Margo Price and Norah Jones.

“Heart in the Heartland” explores love coming back to someone, and still another song pulls its name from the Chuck-will’s-widow, a bird often confused with the more common whippoorwill.

The album will be available via Wurst’s website and on vinyl. It’s her first album released on vinyl, but it made sense to her considering the declining popularity of CDs and the swell in interest for vinyl. As a vinyl collector herself, she’s excited to add this one to her collection.

Wurst is calling the album release show a last hurrah before the birth of her second child. As her schedule allows, she’ll continue to write, and she hopes to record a few of the songs that are completed but did not make it onto “Sugar and Kerosene.”

Because of the size of the venue, purchasing tickets in advance is encouraged.

The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 and are available via www.stage18live.com/tickets.