I have this blog because I love music passionately. I love the progression of a song, the swell of it, the way it permeates a room and fills the spaces. I love how it ebbs and flows and how it can be a tangible thing - how you can move around inside it and it can move around inside you. And I love to talk about it, write about it, experience it.
Artist: Carbon Leaf (with guest Andrew Duhon)
Venue: The High Watt, Nashville, TN
View from our hotel balcony - that brick building in the upper center is Cannery Row where The High Watt is located.
Set List: (I know this one is accurate because, since my friend wasn't there to take a picture of the set list for me, I bought a live recording of the show...best decision ever!!)
1. A Song for the Sea
2. What About Everything
4. One Prairie Outpost
6. Life Less Ordinary
7. Love Rains Down
8. Desperation Song
9. She's Gone
10. Midwestern Girl
11. Two Aging Truckers
12. Another Man's Woman
13. Block of Wood
14. Ragtime Carnival
15. The Fox & The Hare (!!)
16. Februaery Detailles
17. The Boxer
18. A gospel song (I'm not sure the name)
19. Let Your Troubles Roll By
My take from the Carbon Leaf merch table (friendliest merch people ever, btw!!).
Yesterday my Husband and I made (what is fast becoming) our annual pilgrimage to Nashville, TN for a concert. This time we hit the music city to see Carbon Leaf and Andrew Duhon at The High Watt, a small, intimate room that is part of Cannery Row. I was not familiar with Andrew Duhon before I heard he was opening for them, but I had a chance to check out some of his music before the show and we were both excited to hear him play. Let me tell you, I honestly can't remember when I saw an opening act that captivated a room the way he did. With his bluesy voice, harmonica and heartfelt lyrics, we were all drawn in immediately. Not to mention, his finger-picking is a thing of beauty. The audience paid attention to him as if they were all there to see him specifically, which is always a nice thing to see. Like I said, I'm not really familiar with his songs, so I can't speak too much to which ones he played specifically, but I thoroughly enjoyed them all and I look forward to getting to know his music. For his last song, I do know that he broke out the slide and played us a real blues number from his new album, The Moorings, called Sidestep Your Grave. This song really showcased where his voice and his playing belong. The crowd went nuts, I went nuts - it was awesome.
After he finished, it was time for Barry Privett, Terry Clark, Carter Gravatt, Jon Markel, and Jason Neal, the men of Carbon Leaf, to take the stage. Before last night, I had never been to a Carbon Leaf show before, so I had no idea what to expect. I'm kind of a recent fan (although my collection of their albums is almost complete after shopping in Nashville) but I know enough to know that they cannot be defined by genre. They are largely Celtic influenced, but they have entire records that don't really reflect that too much. Also, I'm only familiar with about half of their catalogue, so I rather expected them to play a lot of songs that I don't know. Suffice to say I was really excited to see what would unfold. If you're familiar with them (and if you're not, you should be) you can see from the set list that they ended up playing a perfect combination of older and new songs. They played all the favorites from Indian Summer and still properly supported the two new albums Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle and Constellation Prize. Somehow they managed to play everything I wanted to hear and then went back and picked out some songs that I didn't know, but they knew I'd love. These guys are really good at making a set list!
They opened with A Song for the Sea from Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle, it's a beautiful song, especially to hear them perform it live, but the crowd really got involved when they next broke into the classic What About Everything off Indian Summer. Everybody in the place got caught up in this song and they held us in their grip from that point on. The audience participation reached it's peak during One Prairie Outpost. This might be my most favorite Carbon Leaf song because it's pretty much perfect and apparently I'm not alone on that point. Somewhere in the first verse, Barry stopped singing altogether and the audience (that couldn't possibly have been more than 250 people because that's all The High Watt holds) sang it to/for him loud enough that we can be heard over the band on the live recording. He smiled pretty big about that and seemed pleased by it, it was certainly one of my favorite moments of the night. In fact, Barry, Terry and Carter seem to have a lot of fun on stage in general. They are very connected with the audience and that always makes for a fun show, it makes it feel like we're all in it together, which is how a live show should feel. I don't mean to leave Jason and Jon out, but I couldn't see Jason from where I was during most of the show and Jon is wicked good on the bass (or anything else he picks up to play it seems), but during shows he kind of stays in the back and plays, which is cool, I'm just glad he's playing.
As I had hoped, the night included a number of loud, fast songs that simply demand you clap your hands and sing along such as She's Gone, Another Man's Woman, The Boxer, and Life Less Ordinary. My absolute favorite moment of the night was when the multi-talented Carter busted out his hurdy gurdy and they played The Fox and the Hare (which we have claimed as "our song"). I mean seriously, how often do you see a hurdy gurdy played live?? It was so much fun to sing along with these songs in that hot, sticky room full of strangers, led by such great showmen on stage. The best part of a Carbon Leaf show is that they are so talented that they can weave exactly the opposite spell with equal skill. At one point it was only Barry and Carter, two stools and microphones and they played Midwestern Girl, a quiet, acoustic, beautiful song, for a completely captivated audience.
For their encore, they sang an a cappella gospel song. I'm not sure the name, but it was absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking. They said it was for Lou Reed, but I couldn't stop thinking about mothers who are no longer with us, my own and others, and I was very nearly in tears by the time they finished. It was such a powerful moment. They invited Andrew Duhon and his harmonica back on stage to finish out the night with an absolutely epic rendition of Let Your Troubles Roll By, during which Carter's fingers did some amazing stuff. Overall, it was exactly why we buy tickets to live shows, with hopes of experiencing that kind of magic.