Q&A: Woody Platt on Making Music with Shannon Whitworth

Guitarist Woody Platt is best known as a founding and longtime member of Steep Canyon Rangers. After more than two decades with the band, he left earlier this year, in part to spend more time with his family. The good news for fans is that doesn’t preclude his musical activities. Platt is currently performing with his wife, sing-songwriter/guitarist Shannon Whitworth. I recently spoke with Platt about making music with his life partner. — bk

What do you think are the qualities that you have in common as musicians?

Truthfully, I don’t really think of myself as a songwriter. I’ve written a few songs in my career and recorded a few of them with Steep Canyon Rangers. But I do enjoy the process of collective songwriting, and I hope to do more of it with Shannon in the near future.

When you work together, do you pick selections from your body of work that seem to work in that context, or do you write new material together?

I’ve always loved Shannon’s writing, and her original songs make up the bulk of our show. It has been fun to go back and re-imagine those songs, working some of them into duets.

How does being a married couple inform your approach to music when you work together?

Playing music as a married couple is a joy, but it can be tricky at times. Sometimes when we get out all the instruments, the music and creativity will flow like water; other times, we won’t even play a note! We may end up rearranging the furniture or just talking about things unrelated to music. We’re both really enjoying the process of music together, and we share excitement about its evolution.

As a musician, what qualities do you most value in a songwriter?

I think there’s a fine balance between writing songs that can connect with the audience but that also can be mysterious, not just black and white. Songs can take you to different places, and they can mean different things to different people.

What is your favorite thing about Shannon’s songwriting?

I love the diversity and depth in her writing style. Shannon is such a good singer, and her songs and melodies lend themselves to vocal harmonies.

You and Shannon each have thriving careers on your own; what does performing together as a couple give you that other forms of creative expression do not?

Performing together has given us an opportunity to slow down, be together and create together. It’s been great for our family, and it has made our home very musical. In the past we would both get home from tour and them jump into home life, leaving our instruments in their cases. Now, as we are playing more together, the instruments are always out around the house. It’s a great thing and it’s fun to watch our young son enjoy it.