Friday, June 22, 2007

What a Formal Education Gets You

So tonight a friend and I went to see Carrie Rodriguez (yes, from Blueberry Territory!) and she was far more engaging than I expected. A highlight for me was her performance of one of my favorite songs of all time, "Waterbound" by Dirk Powell. Evidently, there is a piece here and there that is part of an old fiddle tune, not surprising given Dirk's history.

Anyway, Carrie started out at Oberlin College Conservatory and then headed over to Berklee, where kids get record contracts so fast they don't graduate. Well, what's the big deal with that? You want them to graduate and get a job, right? So it cuts out a step. It's not what I'd do but it is one way of going about this thing.

We were minus the drum set, thankfully, but treated to a pre-Carrie set by Tim Easton, who also has a Tube here and there. Enjoy. I gotta sleep.


At June 24, 2007 4:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure about blueberry territory? Carrie was born in Houston and raised in Austin. Her father was a troubadour on the Texas singer-songwriter circuit and as been noted as a primary influence for Lucinda Williams and Lyle Lovett (to name but two). Her mother a painter. She simply had an early love of music - she made her Carnegie Hall debut when she was 12 with the Austin Youth Orchestra. I guess she was a prodigy who's love of roots music lead her back to the Austin bars to play fiddle post college. It was as an instrumentalist backing someone else that she was "discovered" by Chip Taylor (he of "Wild Thing", "Angel Of The Morning" fame) and hired to back him up on tour. Soon, he talked her into singing. Three great albums by the duo followed on his Trainwreck label. Last year, she made her debut solo album and is now stretching her wings and touring soley under her name and with her own band (which has yes, more dynamic when it includes her drummer or better yet, also includes her husband - on saxophone). I'm get that you love traditional American music. My point is - so does Carrie. She comes from it honestly and she's stretching it's boundaries in very cool and interesting ways. She does this song I only know as a Flatt & Scruggs thing (honestly don't know who wrote it) called "You Won't Be Satisfied That Way" that she drops her own bluegrass instrumental composition, "Blackberry Blossom" into that makes me think her respect and understanding of American music is well founded. Her show is far more interesting to me than the current Alison Krauss & Tony Rice pairing. Which is beautiful and respectful but takes neither's music into un-charted territory. Carrie seems to be challenging herself and taking art-forms [bluegrass, country music, and yes (horrors) jazz] I love - into the future. I "discovered" her last September in Austin and saw her again this April as she opened for Lucinda Williams. I've never been more "wowed" by an opening act in my life (the growth in her live show from last Sept to this April was amazing) and have become a bit of a zealot since - spreading the gospel on her where-ever I can. What she's doing is brave and exciting and GREAT. Her path won't be an easy one. She's on a tiny indie label, her CD isn't easy to find in stores, she will probably only fit into the AAA and Americana radio ghetto's where artists' like Emmylou, Lucinda also get played but widely overlooked by the mainstream. She's making great American music! She may have a formal education - but it's based on love & respect of the tradional. She's also young. Which is also exciting - because my guess is if she can become successful she'll turn on a whole new generation onto roots music. I look around at shows I attend and am scared to death that everyone listening to this stuff is over 40. When I see new artits like Carrie, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and yes - Alison Krauss and US - I have to applaud and SUPPORT them - because it's through generations that the music I love survives. In this culture, with what's going on in the world today - I think artists like this are torchbearers. We need more. The only way that'll happen is if some of these "young-uns" succeed. Carrie is my pick to be the one that can break through. She just needs a few stars to align in the heavens. People to listen and get what she's doin' and embrace it. For the gatekeepers at record labels and at media (radio and print, etc) to "get it". If she keeps what she's doin' up - they will come. I hope so. Blueberry, huh?

At June 24, 2007 7:39 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hello Mr. Anon (from Ohio Dem territory?), fellow blogette Blueberry is an Austin treasure, much like our subject, the fabulous Carrie Rodriguez. I didn't know what to expect from that show, but she is everything you say here. I get so frustrated -- I invite a bunch of my friends to come out and hear live music, and granted, it might not be their style, and it's a long drive or whatever, but her energy and depth were what made the show. Her music, for her age, was pretty good, and she did a helluva job on Waterbound (and YOU KNOW I had only one version in my heart!).

One thing I love about her is that she takes on these old pale male bluegrass tunes. If there isn't already an all-ladies Jimmy Martin tribute album, she's the one to pull it together.

At June 25, 2007 10:53 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Anon has really told her story. Yes, she's one of ours. She's a fine musician and a local treasure. And thanks for calling me that, but I'm just a spectator. I don't serve any purpose except to help support the cause and occasionally get the word out.

At June 25, 2007 8:39 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Blueberry,
Your work to support these wonderful musicians is certainly treasured by them so no cutting yerself off at the knees! I really enjoyed Carrie and will be following her career.

I just learned another Oberlin grad came back from the LA Phil to be an assistant dean at the conservatory. It's my guess that they might have overlapped a little, so of course I gotta bring it up when I call her tomorrow.


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