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Carter Brothers Fan Club Blog

The Magical Powers of "Shacktown Road"

Created: Saturday, 12 January 2013

What do you do after an incredibly fun day with the Carter Brothers gang in Key West – a question that confronted me (and many others) when we woke up yesterday? Well, you go out and have another one -- especially when the weather and music are as good as they are this week!

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Friday morning my wife went off with some of the ladies for “nail-tini” (pedicures and martinis if you were wondering), and I thought, “What to do?” Having lunch at Louie’s Backyard, or seeing my great friends Joan Robbins and Steve Mitchell came to mind. So I texted Joan and naturally she read my mind and texted me back: “We’re going to Louie’s, see you there in 30.” We befriended a bartender named Bobby who is from the San Diego area where Joan is in from, and despite Joan’s introverted and formal nature (ha!) we engaged in lively conversation with him for a couple of hours over terrific food including a Pastrami Salmon Sandwich (too difficult to explain). Also on tap: Joan and Steve giving me a hard time for referring to Joan as a “huge fan” of the Carter Brothers. Oops!

Moving right along… We headed to “Friday church” which is a weekly gathering of friends of Steve Mellette, a bartender and cab driver who quit the rat race up north years ago and relocated to this island paradise, where he has convinced many others to make a similar change in latitude. Basically, we all gather for 2-3 hours over drinks (alcoholic and non) at the Schooner Wharf Bar and enjoy each other’s company, which all culminates in a group photo in front of the stage.  Three members of the band came, which got everyone excited of course.  

The gang reconvened at the Hog’s Breath for the Carter Brothers performance, and the energy jumped up a few notches with Charlie Anderson and Rhonda Skains arriving from Charlotte. Danny honored a request to play “Shacktown Road” again – a song that has strange, magical and wonderful powers over super-fan Cindy Walker (which I get to see up close on the dance floor now and then). Tanya Dennis sang with the band on “Shacktown” as well as on “Yellow Moon” and “Cry Love.” But the highlight of the evening was most definitely Gay Dougherty being our inspirational dance leader when Copperhead Road was played to end a terrific first set.  A rousing version of "Hey Joe" was the highlight of a very satisfying second set, though "Green River" (played in respond to Charlie's request) sounded awfully good!jan 2013 key west 4 002sm

Things got a little weird in the third set when a strange guy grabbed Adam’s bass guitar and began prancing around the stage until security removed him. Whew, that was close! The evening ended with a packed dance floor at 1:50am with “Mr. Spaceman” in all of its glory. The after-party at the Green Parrot featured drinks, two pizzas, a Philly Cheesesteak for Joan (which I think got me back into good standing after the “huge fan” remark). My camera malfunctioned at the Parrot, reminding me that after-party photos there are against the Carter Brothers Fan Club rules. But Rhonda seemed to get one on her phone so there may be evidence we were there after all.

jan 2013 key west 4 005sm1Well, off to a group lunch at Salsa Loca to celebrate our two birthday girls – Joan and Sally Galbraith. Then lots of fun, sun, music and friendship culminating in one more night of listening to “you know who” at the world famous Hog’s Breath Saloon.

P.S. If you had any doubts about whether or not the Carter Brothers Fan Club takes itself too seriously, this video might help resolve the matter.

A Day in Pictures

Created: Friday, 11 January 2013

Yesterday was one of the all-time great days in Key West with the Carter Brothers Band.  It began with a traditional lunch BBQ hosted by long-time friends of the band, followed by going to hear a few local musicians play, and ending of course with four hours of amazing music performed by the Carter Brothers Band (with special guest Tanya Dennis during the third set) and then an after-party at the Green Parrot (see rare GP photo below).  I've decided to let the photos below, mostly of the fans and friends of the band, speak for themselves beyond brief captions included.  Enjoy.

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(1) Group Photo -- what a big time we all had together!  The band was playing "Midnight Moonlight" in the background! (Photo credit: Steve Mellette)






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(2) "Before you accuse me" (Steve Mitchell and my lovely wife with some choice words for the fan club president)






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(3) Legendary fiddle player and vocalist Tanya Dennis (with lots of credits on Carter Brothers CDs) gets into the swing of things immediately upon arrival in Key West!






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(4) Sally Galbraith (in the foreground, fresh off her hugely successful fund-raiser) with John Dougherty and Jewel Melanson on a break from the music





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(5)  Bootleg/unauthorized photo from the Green Parrot (photography is not traditionally allowed during Carter Bros after parties at the Parrot, the bar that is the subject of the song "Sin")

The Return of "Black As Love"

Created: Tuesday, 08 January 2013

One of the things I have always admired about the Carter Brothers is that they don’t fall into the trap of just playing whatever cover tunes people want to hear in a given moment (regardless of how well they know those songs). Rather, they mostly stick to their original songs which they actually know how to play and enjoy playing, and more importantly that are very satisfying/rewarding to listen to – especially compared to the crowd-pleasing junk that often passes for entertainment these days. Still, they are responsive to their fans in many other ways.

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Last week, Danny posted on Facebook that they were having a rare full-band rehearsal and were going to practice and indeed learn some new songs. I posted that I would be satisfied if they simply played Danny’s classic tune “Black As Love” from his Barcelona CD, which I had not heard in a while. (In fact, I had never heard it played since Adam Chaffins joined the band.)

Well, as the hard core fans and curious tourists settled in for the first set of the week last night at 10:20pm, what do you think the Carter Brothers Band started with? You guessed it: “Black As Love”. And they nailed it!

Later they rolled out “Yellow Moon” in honor of legendary nightowl Candace Estep coming to hear them play (she and I love to dance to that song), and even “Rocky Top” when some folks from Tennessee requested it.

We were treated to some of their best original songs such “Shelby Street”, “Woman at the Well,” “Green River” as well as a few covers they do so well such as “Cry Love” and “Cripple Creek” (featuring Adam Chaffins on lead vocals).  And they brought the house down playing a version of "Hey Joe" popularized by Jimi Hendrix, with Danny playing some amazing guitar solos!  Wow, that was too much fun -- for band and crowd alike!  

It was a great night overall, with a lot of chatter on the Internet and facebook from fans who could not make the trip or who are coming later in the week. Carolyn Guarini, Candace, and Gail Hardy joined me on the dance floor off and on – some of those songs just demand that you get in motion! And, if nothing else, it all was a relief for those of us pulling for Notre Dame last night.

The shock troops – i.e., some of the most unruly and wonderful fans coming in from around the country this week – mostly arrive Wednesday. So, those of us here already have another day to warm up. We’ll need it!

The weather is perfect in Key West – sometimes in January it can get a bit chilly (even down into the 40s at night) but not this week! The Carter Brothers, supported by their new P.R. firm “Nashville Music Promotions” who are going to put out a press release about the fan club’s activities this week, seem to be on their game in a big way. They play again tonight at the Hog’s Breath and then Wednesday perform a few songs at a benefit for local artist Katharine Doughty (who is facing some health challenges and mounting bills related to them) followed by three sets later that night.

Ah, back in paradise! The music is great, the fans are pumped up, and it’s all just getting started! What a week, and what a year, we have in store in Carter Brothers Nation! Onward!

A Day to Remember with the Carter Bros

Created: Thursday, 10 January 2013

Words fail me in trying to describe how wonderful yesterday was here in Key West with the Carter Brothers gang.  But here’s a try.

It began by listening to local talent Joel Nelson sing at the Hog’s Breath over lunch, appreciating for yet another day the amazing weather here this week.  Within an hour the place was buzzing with people gathering instruments and gear to play later that day at a benefit for Katharine Doughty.  It was a quite a production and it all came together beautifully.  Katharine is a great fan and friend of the Carter Brothers as are many of those who organized and performed at the event – none more so than Sally Galbraith who was the fearless leader. 

Overall the event raised nearly $5,000 and more than anything the spirit of a community coming together to support one of its members was palpable and quite moving.  The Carter Brothers played five songs (accompanied by legendary keyboardist and singer/songwriter Ericson Holt) before passing the baton to others including Paul Cotton of Poco fame.  At one point Tim Carter came back to play mandolin while Deb Hudson sang. 

A bunch of us went to have dinner afterwards at Salsa Loca, owned by Nancy Mayhew, another long-time friend/fan of the band.  At some point I realized that a nap and shower was not in the cards on this day so I just went with it.  Before long, Sally and I were unpacking instruments and gear back at the Hog’s Breath so our heroes could take the stage.  And take the stage they did, with a huge crowd of tourists, locals, and fans from around the island and around the country grooving on the music. 

The dance floor was full from the first song at 10:20pm until the last which wrapped up at 1:50am (with the exception of a reprised of “Hey Joe” that everyone just sat back and appreciated).  Danny’s song selection was right on the mark all night long – he picked the perfect moment to roll out “Jerusalem Moan” for the first time all week and it got everyone hootin and hollerin, if you know what I mean. 

When my wife showed up late in the first set and realized she missed Danny's great song “Hillbilly Hollywood” he played it again to open the third set (which was the third time he had played it that day including the benefit).  It sounded great and she appreciated the gesture.

--Alex Counts, President, Carter Brothers Fan Club

Favorite Photos 2012

Created: Sunday, 06 January 2013

I have been learning, under the tutelage of Carter Brothers Fan Club webmaster Michael Rigby, how to take photos from my camera and phone, edit them, and then upload them to the blog.  It's a bit more involved than it was with the earlier version of the website.  Since practice makes perfect, and since I am going to be "flying solo" in Key West next week without Michael on site to guide me, I thought I would upload some of my favorite photos from last year into a short, graphics oriented blog.  

sept key west 3 005smA few things to note before I start describing these pictures (a few of which have appeared elsewhere in this blog and/or on the fan club Facebook page).

I have not always been good at giving credit to those who have taken photos of the Carter Brothers Band and its fans.  Often people would send them to me and I would save them without noting who took the picture.  Later, I would include them in a blog or some such thing,  and would have long since forgotten who sent them to me.

Naturally, this annoyed some people.  Let me take this opportunity to apologize to all of them in one fell swoop -- none more than the incomparable super-fan Sally Galbraith.  

I have also not been that good at taking enough photos myself -- and when I did, I often took them with my phone which does not always lead to good quality images.

New years are opportunities to turn over new leaves.  So I'll try to do a lot better this year.

Now, the image on the left above is my wife Emily, in the red top "holding court" at the Hog's Breath bar between sets this past September.  On the left is Rhonda Skains, a super-fan from Charlotte, and to the right is our friend Peg Walton who came down from DC for the first time to hear the band.  Next week, she will return with her husband Andy in tow!  In the back, the smiling woman is super-fan Carolyn Guarini, mentioned several times in this blog.  

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I like the photo on the left, despite the fact that Tim's face is partially obscured, because it captures the joy that Danny and Tim take when their music is going great in Key West and the fans are responding.  That's a special Danny Carter smile that gets everyone excited -- you can see how Tim is responding with his own joyous expression!





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To the left is a huge fan from San Diego, Joan Robbins.  I posted this on facebook at the time with the caption, "Joan Cuts the Cheese."  Sometimes juvenile humor is just what Carter Brothers Nation needs.

Anyway, this was taken at the highly recommended Blue Bear Mountain campground in Boone, NC run by another long-time friend of the Carter Brothers, Kevin Quick.  Joan rallied a group of us to have a reunion on the campground -- sleeping in tents which many of us had not done in a long time -- and she took on a lot of responsibility for feeding us, etc.  

The big sandwich was brought by former Carter Brothers bass player Ross Sermons who was back for a few months from Australia and joined us.






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To the right is my wife again, on the dance floor with friend and fan Deb Hudson who is an amazing vocalist in her own right.  Things can get a little crowded and intimate on the Hog's Breath dance floor and especially in September, a little sweaty!









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To the left here is an impromptu jam session at the October mini-reunion in Boone, NC mentioned above.  Ross Sermons is playing guitar, Tim Carter is on banjo and George Harper is also on guitar.  

We were all standing around a roaring campfire and the playing and singing was done without speakers, mics or amps.  (Though George brought a sound system and we had used it earlier in the evening.  Thanks, George!)  

This was taken at about 1am!


The photo on the right below was taken in Aberdeen, NC after the Carter Brothers had played an amazing and long single set at a great music venue called "The Rooster's Wife."  

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The Carter Brothers has become a family affair.  I am on the far left, my mother is next to me in the yellow top, and next to her in the back is my stepfather, John Fox.




Below is a photo of a larger group who were at the "Rooster's Wife" gig including Tim Carter (far left) and Dann Sherrill (in the back) as we were packing up and getting ready to head our separate ways.  What a fun day that was!  


That's all for now.  

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Enjoy these pictures, and take some yourself and put them on the Fan Club Facebook Page or send them to me or do something else fun with them!


And by all means, catch the Carter Brothers live as many times as you can this year, and be on the lookout for opportunities to connect with the zany Carter Brothers Fan Club gang!


-Alex Counts, President, Carter Brother Fan Club

A Third Set to Remember

Created: Wednesday, 09 January 2013

Another great time with the Carter Brothers Band at the Hog’s Breath Saloon last night.  Perfect weather, big crowd, people swaying to the music on the dance floor and in the parking lot (see the solitary dancer pictured below), and of course great sounding music with no technical mishaps (except a broken guitar string, more on that below).

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The band started with “Black As Love” again, a great song that reappeared the night before after a long hiatus (and about which I blogged yesterday), and then ran through some of Danny’s other great original songs such as “Hillbilly Hollywood” (with what sounded like a new guitar solo not on the studio version), “Green River,” “Shacktown Road” and “Shelby Street.”  I think I danced to almost all of them but I could not entirely keep up with my tireless dance partner Gail Hardy (now I understand how she got her last name!).  Tim played his song “Waltz for Earl” which is in honor of banjo legend Earl Scruggs who we lost last year.jan 2013 key west 2 016sm

As often happens when the Carter Brothers play down here, some fans who have been following the band for a long time but had not seen them play a while joined us.   Last night it was Jewel Melanson (sister of super-fan Gay Dougherty and brother-in-law of John) and Dave Reeter with us after a long gap.  (Sorry if I got the name spellings wrong.)    

During the second set super talented local musician Jeff Clark showed up and couldn’t resist the temptation to start dancing, defying the usually iron rule that Key West musicians never dance.  After the second set, some of us expected the Hog’s Breath to cancel the third set as they do sometimes in the beginning of the week when the crowd thins out by 1am.  In addition, Danny was having trouble stringing his guitar in the dim light, which led to many jokes about how many Carter Brothers band members and fans does it take a fix a guitar (the answer is roughly four).  But when a new wave of music-lovers showed up at 1:15am, unexpectedly filling the bar, and Danny’s guitar got fixed, the band took the stage once more.

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I was expecting two short songs and end to a very satisfying night with friends, fans, strangers, fellow dancers, etc.  What we all got was the best third set in memory (maybe ever) that included four (!) songs concluding with “Salt Creek” and a rousing version of “Midnight Moonlight”, which ended at 2:05am.  I guess Danny felt the crowd that had responded so well to their music on this memorable night deserved some bonus songs/effort – and boy was it appreciated!

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Today the band plays at a benefit at the Bottlecap for Katharine Doughty (they also donated a complete set of their CDs for the silent auction).  If you are in town, come out to support this great cause to benefit a fan and friend of the band’s.  The event is being spearheaded by super-fan Sally Galbraith and should be a lot of fun.  I am handling the raffle which I have no idea how to do but will figure it out in a few hours I am sure.  Later, the Carter Brothers will play at 10:20pm with the crowd bolstered by some of the most incorrigible and dedicated fans a band has ever known -- a bunch of whom are arriving today!



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Ringing in the New Year with the Carter Brothers

Created: Tuesday, 01 January 2013

sept 2012 key west 002-crop smallToday, New Year’s Day, marks an important and even historic moment in the history of the Carter Brothers Band and also their Fan Club.  The band has signed on with a new Public Relations firm that is a perfect fit for them: Nashville Music Promotions


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