Local Music Spotlight – Cross Anchor Union

By July 16, 2019Music

Northeast Tennessee is well-known by tourists for its beautiful scenery, charming cities, rich history, and its flourishing live music scene. Local music in our region has made an impact in not only the smaller, local communities of the region, but also on a larger scale influencing and leading the way in worldwide music trends. Northeast Tennessee and Virginia are major staples in the development of modern country and bluegrass music; East Tennessee State University is the only 4-year university in the world to offer a comprehensive bluegrass music program. Northeast Tennessee is renowned for its undertaking and celebration of their local music scene with local festivals, concert series, and venues embracing and honoring local bands and artists. Each band has their own unique sound and personality 


Four musicians with decades of music experience came together to form a band that captures the heart and soul of the Appalachian region. Cross Anchor Union is indigenous to the Tri-Cities area with all four members of the band hailing from neighboring counties and cities from around the region. The members of the band try not to label their sound because it is uniquely their own. They devised a sound that is similar to that of ‘Indie Americana’ and a tone that relishes an ‘Atmospheric Americana’ vibe. Each member of the band brings something diversely different to the group which is what makes the band stand out amongst other local artists. Cross Anchor Union consists of Gary Schwenke (vocals/guitar), Nathan Emmert (guitar), Lance McCloud (bass), Chad Light (pedal steel/stringed things), and Ted Bradford ll (drums/percussion).

Where did your members go to high school/college?
“Gary-Unicoi County High School/ETSU, Lance-Elizabethton High School/Milligan, Nathan-Central High School, ETSU/SUNY, Ted-Science Hill/ETSU/UT.”

Where’s your favorite local place to perform?
“We’ve only been performing for a couple of months now, so we haven’t played very many venues as a band yet. We recently performed at Union Street Taproom in Erwin and the crowd and staff there are always amazing.”

Can you describe our local music scene?
“We love our local music scene. There’s such an incredibly diverse and eclectic group of artists and bands. We feel like whatever type of music you’re into you can find it somewhere in the Tri-Cities on any given night.”

How have you seen our local music scene adapt and change over the years?
“Most of us have been playing in bands in this area for the past 20 years or more. That dates us a little, but we all started pretty early, as well. It’s been cool to see new how our talents and talents of other musicians have evolved over the years as people rotate in and out of different bands. Some of our favorite and most influential bands and artists are right here in the Tri-Cities. It’s such a rich music culture. It’s humbling to get to be a part of that.”

Can you describe your sound?
“We’re not sure these are actual labels, but we’ve described it and heard it described as ‘Indie Americana’ or ‘Atmospheric Appalachian’. We draw our influences from so many different bands. Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, My Morning Jacket, The Allman Bros, The Band and the list goes on. We’ve tried to take all those influences and just mix them all together without shooting for a specific “sound.” Each player throws their ingredients into the pot and whatever comes out is what we go with.”

What makes your band unique?
“We’re not sure it’s unique to us, but the way we approach writing songs and even our performances is different from a lot of bands we have been a part of in the past. There’s no ego in this band. All of us desire for the song and performance as a whole to be an amazing experience for the listener. No one comes in and says, “this guitar part has to be in there and it has to be at a level 10,” or “this is the beat I’m playing whether you like It or not.” Gary will usually throw out the basic structure of the song and invite the other guys to add their parts as they see fit until the song is a living and breathing creation. When the song is finished, it’s really cool to sit back and see what you created when you really don’t have any preconceived expectations.”

What region/area is the members of your band from?
“We’re all Tri-Cities natives hailing from Erwin, Elizabethton, Blountville and Johnson City.”

What’s your favorite part about living in this area?
“We’ve all traveled all over this world and I think we’d all agree that the landscape of this region is pretty difficult to beat. On top of that the people of this area (with some exceptions as in all areas) are kind and genuine. It’s a unique culture rich with music, history and just a vibe that is hard to find anywhere else.”

What local bands have inspired or motivated you?
“Some of our most influential bands are local bands. The Everybodyfields, Rob Russell and the Sore Losers, This Mountain, Brian and the Nightmares, Little Chicago, The Paperboys, Movie Brain, Reece Shipley, Plain Jane Has a Date, Phil Leonard, Dr. Stafford and Dr. Sanderbeck.”

Lastly, if you could spend a day doing anything in this area where would you go and what would you do?
“That’s a tough one. We live in such an amazing area. But I guess, collectively, it would look something like this. Coffee/breakfast at one of our amazing local coffee shops. Morning hike, bike or boating adventure, feasting on some local fare for dinner and capping the night off performing at one of our many incredible local live music venues with the people we love.”