Talking music with Amanda Ransom

Amanda Ransom has a unique combination of skills as she tickles the ivories, plays guitar and sings with an angelic voice.

While the young musician’s career goals have shifted a lot over the past few years because, as she said, “things change so fast,” her Grays Harbor fans should realize the talent they have now.

In addition to “enough guitar to get me by on most songs,” Ransom’s real loves are the piano and singing. She’s been singing since she was a “real little” girl. She started taking piano lessons when she was 11. She said the piano is in her blood.

“It’s an extension of my body,” Ransom said.

The 22-year-old Ransom, who grew up in Aberdeen, recently played a lively show with Graysen Foust, Mat Smaciarz and Chloe Pinckney on Saturday at Mount Olympus Brewing (MOB), which was also the site of her first concert in 2019, when she was 18.

“And since then,” Ransom said of her first show at MOB. “I haven’t stopped, except for COVID.”

Ransom loves playing at MOB because of the friendly faces there. She referred to the venue as the “hub of all the people” she knows and enjoys. It’s a special place to her.

Since last summer, Ransom said she’s played in bands, played solo and played multiple times in the same weekend — just like this upcoming weekend when she’ll play three times — including once in Grays Harbor County. On Saturday at 1 p.m., she’ll play at Tuggs & Chuggs — 13443 W. Cloquallum Road., in Elma.

“It’s exhilarating and exhausting,” Ransom said. “I’ve learned what my body and mind can and cannot handle. I’ve been teaching piano for nine months at the Grays Harbor Piano Academy under Bill Brown and I’ve found immense fulfillment and security through that.”

In addition to her career goals — improving as a piano teacher and playing high quality shows two to three times per month — she is working on the work-life balance. At some point in the next 10 years, she’d “absolutely love to have a family.” By that point, she wants to still play shows, but have them focused on her own, original music.

Saturday night was the second time Foust had played on Grays Harbor and it was clearly successful.

“It went awesome,” said Foust, who lives in Shelton. “Usually I play with Mat and Chloe in another band, but it was really fun to add Amanda into this. This is kind of far from home for me. It’s my second time playing here. This is my first show ever actually with a full band with four people, so that was really cool. Definitely a new experience for me. We had a good crowd, so that was fun. Biggest crowd I’d ever had at Mount Olympus so far.”

Beside it being a successful show, Foust liked it for the fact that he played in front of new people . It gave him a “different exposure.”

In addition to Ransom’s clear, higher voice, Foust also has one to envy. And when he wants to add some rasp to his voice, he can. And he does it well just as he did on Saturday with songs such as 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite,” and Nirvana’s “Polly.” Foust’s favorite singer is Tom DeLonge, from Blink 182. Foust explained how he got his voice.

“I love doing that,” Foust said about adding the rasp into his style. “It’s something that I kind of had to learn over time, but yeah, I love doing that. I used to actually only sing super heavy metal and that’s kind of where that came from. And then I sang everything but heavy metal, and then now, I kind of mash them together.”

Ransom said she got her playing style from Grammy Award-winning Sara Bareilles.

“If you listen to how I play piano, I play piano the way that she does,” Ransom said. “You can just tell I grew up listening to her.”

Foust played the guitar well on Saturday night, but that description isn’t enough. Just ask Ransom.

“My boyfriend Graysen is an amazing guitar player,” Ransom said. “And he backs me up whenever I need him to.”

Along with stepping in to play guitar, Graysen supports Ransom by running the sound for all of her shows. Ransom said he’s at every one of her shows, unless he has his own solo show. And she supports him just the same. For more support, they look to drummer Smaciarz and bassist Pinckney whenever they’re available.

Smaciarz grew up in Aberdeen and he loves to play live, which makes him a great addition to Ransom and Foust. He described his favorite element of playing live.

“I would say the energy that it creates both on stage and in the crowd,” Smaciarz said. “And it’s always fun for us to see people enjoying what we’re doing, what we’re giving them. I think if people are out watching us and they’re really happy to be in a place where there’s good, live music, we are even happier than them because we’re getting to play live music. They might be happy to be watching, but I’m way happier getting to play it. I love it. We both do.”

Pinckney, a strong presence in back who was brought on for her “amazing” ability, has played since she was in elementary school. Like Smaciarz, Ransom and Foust, she also loves to play live in front of a crowd.

Pinckney’s favorite part of playing live?

“I love to see the crowd have a good time,” Pinckney said.

Ransom and Foust had advice for people just starting out on an instrument.

“I would say focus on the music that you enjoy, find the music that you enjoy and then play that,” Foust said. “And then don’t only play it exactly how they play it but make it your own way, too.”

Ransom, who had to think on her feet since she had similar advice, shared what she tells her young students.

“What I tell them, too, is ‘there’s a period where it’s hard,’” Ransom said. “It’s really hard when you’re trying to learn music and it’s not necessarily fun and that’s where a lot of people flake off. But it’s so worth it to keep going because once you reach a certain point then your growth is exponential. I always tell kids to push through that hard phase, because it’s one of the most rewarding things.”

A few of the events happening this weekend across Grays Harbor County, according to venues, Facebook, and people in the know:

Friday May 26

6 p.m. — Clinton “Dogger” Mullins — Red Cedar Bar at the Vasa Hall — 1941 Riverside Ave., in Hoquiam

8 p.m. — DNA Duo — Tuggs & Chuggs — 13443 W. Old Cloquallum Road, Elma

Saturday May 27

9 a.m. — Ty Wulf will play a few songs before a Nirvana discussion — Nirvana Coffee Co. — 205 S. I St., in Aberdeen

The discussion on Nirvana will include a walk through downtown with guided points along the way, and a bus ride to Kurt Cobain Memorial Park. After a walk to the Young Street Bridge, and Cobain’s childhood home, the bus heads back downtown. After a few block walk from Nirvana Coffee Co., the tour ends at the Side One Building at the corner of West Wishkah and South K streets )

1 p.m. — Amanda Ransom — Tuggs & Chuggs — 13443 W. Cloquallum Road., in Elma

4 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. — Fastlane: A tribute to the Eagles — Ocean Shores Convention Center — 120 W. Chance a La Mer NW

5 to 8 p.m. — Johnny “the Capo” & Friends — Ocean Pours Taproom — 759 Ocean Shores Blvd., NW, in Ocean Shores

6 p.m. — Unplugged Carnival, Razors & Red Flags — The Loge — 1416 S. Montesano St., in Westport

8 to 11 p.m. — Dustin Adair Live — The King Tide — 300 E. Dock St., in Westport

8 p.m. — Morning After — The Pine Tree Tavern — 101 W. Ocean Ave., in Westport

Sunday, May 28

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — PK Dwyer — Aberdeen Sunday Market — Broadway and Heron Streets

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at if you want to add a musical event to his calendar which runs each Thursday in The Daily World.

Matthew N. Wells / The Daily World
Bassist Chloe Pinckney and Mat Smaciarz, on drums, feel the music on May 20 at Mount Olympus Brewing as they provide the needed low-end and percussion during a lively performance with Amanda Ransom, vocals and keyboard, and Graysen Foust, guitar and vocals. It was the first time all four musicians performed together live.

Matthew N. Wells / The Daily World Bassist Chloe Pinckney and Mat Smaciarz, on drums, feel the music on May 20 at Mount Olympus Brewing as they provide the needed low-end and percussion during a lively performance with Amanda Ransom, vocals and keyboard, and Graysen Foust, guitar and vocals. It was the first time all four musicians performed together live.