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Carter Brothers Fan Club Blog

A Bar Becomes A Listening Room

Created: Friday, 22 January 2016

The Carter Brothers third and fourth performances here were remarkable, especially last night’s show.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Starting Wednesday through around midnight Thursday, the weather was dry and warm, so even the locals shed their multiple layers of clothing and enjoyed the tropical winter here as people up north braced for a blizzard following freezing temperatures.  (A big storm hit around 1am Thursday night but we’ll get back to that shortly.)key west jan 2016 batch 1 023 crop

The Carter Brothers Fans continued to pour into town and during the day would often bump into each other, and local fans, and the band itself to see other artists including Ericson Holt, Joel Nelson, Scott Kirby, Caffeine Carl, Patrick and the Swayzees, The Bubba System featuring Bob Tucker (a great musician who has become a mainstay at the Carter Brothers shows this week!) and many others.  (Of course, much talk over the last few days centered on Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys who got himself thrown out of the Hog’s Breath a few days before our heroes arrived, and  tossed into jail to boot.  And no, he is not kin to our guys!)

This reminds me that Volume Two of Ralph De Palma’s wonderful book, The Soul of Key West, is now published and is as terrific as the first edition, or perhaps even better since the Carter Brothers are featured.  You can order it, and the first edition, here.  Super-fan Sally Galbraith served as editor and is selling copies out of her car.  The photos are stunning.  Buy it!key west jan 2016 batch 1 016 crop

Speaking of Sally and great musicians, this coming Sunday there is a celebratory second line march in honor of the late, great drummer Richard Crooks who spent the final many years of his life playing in Key West after having played with Bob Dylan and scores of other great artists over his illustrious career.  Come join the Carter Brothers and their fans at the amazing event at 12pm Sunday. 

Regarding Wednesday night’s Carter Brothers show at the Hog’s Breath, I can’t remember too much except how great it was to see Diane Jackman and her charming husband Don, and to get in some dances with her after a year. 

Thursday was one of the most memorable performances ever.  Aside from a little slip up I noticed during Child of the Wild Blue Yonder (due to one of Tim’s finger picks coming off mid-song), the band was tight and joyful.  They picked up the energy and interest of the fans, who spanned the gamut from hard core to occasional fans, random music lovers, and curious tourists.   But  as a group, they  were totally dialed in to the music.  Truth be told, the Hog’s Breath after all is a bar, and particularly during times like spring break, there are people there who are not paying attention to the music, however special it may be.  But not last night!  Amazingly, the Hog’s Breath felt more like a listening room, where people go mainly to hear music, than an iconic bar. key west jan 2016 batch 1 021 crop

At one point Tim said, to hundreds of people listening raptly, “Well, because you are all listening, I am going to tell you about a song I wrote and then play it for you.”  He proceeded to play “Waltz for Earl” which received a huge ovation.  The band also played “Yellow Moon” for the first time all week, which filled the dance floor like many other tunes did.  In fact, even super-fan Jan Wang, who came with her husband Bill from the Upper Keys, got out on the dance floor, a first as far as I can remember.  (Amazingly, San Diego fan JR arrived and never made it out onto the dance floor, but tonight we’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.)

At 1:40am, the band played their last song and called it a night.  In recent times they have been playing two long sets rather than three, and a big storm was approaching the island.  But the fans would have none of it, and demanded a final song.  They went on, and on, and finally, and amazingly, the band played “Midnight Train.”  Over the hundreds of times I have heard them play in Key West, I have never seen them perform an encore.  But this crowded demanded and deserved it, and the band were generous enough to deliver the goods one more time.  A lot of us got drenched going home as  result of the long set, but did any of us care?  No way! 

key west jan 2016 batch 1 015 cropLast night we said good bye to super-fans Randy and Christine West from Michigan, who had a long-planned family trip to elsewhere in Florida starting today, and when they heard the Carter Brothers and their fans were assembling this week, they arrived five days early and had a blast with us.  It is always great to hear Randy talk about how his father so loved the Carter Brothers version of “Glendale Train” that upon hearing it at a time when he was gravely ill he suddenly perked up and became his old self again, however briefly – a memory Randy and Christine treasure, and another potent reminder of the power of music to heal. 

Thanks to Cindy Carter among others who participated via the HogCam and sent messages.  And please have a good thought for people like Cindy Walker (no relation) who is trying against all odds to travel down here today from the Mid-Atlantic region of the country in blizzard conditions.

See you all tonight for another great show, and thanks to the band for doing such a great job entertaining us all this week!  And remember, there is a Friends of the Carter Brothers lunch at 12:30pm at the Smokin Tuna Saloon on Saturday and all reading this post who are in town are welcome.    

Two Amazing Nights in Key West !

Created: Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Carter Brothers are back in Key West, and if their first two of a planned seven performances here at the legednary Hog’s Breath Saloon are any indication, it is going to be an incredible and historic week.  Not only are they playing great, as some of you noted on the HogCam last night, but some of their greatest fans from around the country are here or en route. Jan 2016 photo of band

The weather has been a bit chilly, though nothing like the mid-40s that we experienced about five years back.  Still, with temperatures dropping at night to the low 60s and even the upper 50s, it’s interesting to see the contrast between the locals who are all bundled up and the tourists from up north who continue wearing shorts and T-shirts! 

Sunday night some of the faithful started to gather at the Smokin Tuna Saloon as Randy Morrow and Claire Finley were playing.  It’s great to see Randy and Christine West back from Michigan for a week with the Carter Brothers after a long gap, and they surprised us by showing up for this show. 

Their occasional appearances on the dance floor these past two nights when the Carter Brothers were playing brought smiles to many faces, including my own.  (Speaking of smiles on faces, it was great to see super-fan Gay Dougherty back on the dance floor ripping it up when the band closed the first set with Copperhead Road, joined by stalwarts Emalyn Mercer, Sally Galbraith, Gail Hardy and more!)

One of the big highlights of the first night, beyond the band just getting through two sets after waking up in the Tennessee cold, flying to Fort Lauderdale and then driving to Key West from there, was Danny bringing out his old song “Big Red Tractor,” which the hard core fans loved.  I remember when I was just getting to know Danny in 2007 and I asked him by email about the song and he explained how it was about his childhood fantasy of taking his red tricycle (or some such) and driving it to and on the moon.  I must say, for musicians as successful and talented as Danny and Tim, they are super accessible to their fans! 

At the end of the set we were treated to some of Danny’s greatest original songs, such as Green River, Shelby Street, and Shacktown Road.  They also played Tim’s masterpiece “Waltz for Earl” which is a tribute to the late Earl Scruggs, followed by (as is now their habit) a rousing version of “Cluck Old Hen.”  For a Monday night the crowd was large and enthusiastic, especially up until midnight.  A bunch of the fans who stayed until the end and helped clean up enjoyed pizza together during a low-key after-party.  

On Tuesday, the large crowd included tourists from France who bought CD after CD, old fans who took advantage of the fact that we got a fresh shipment of blue Carter Brothers T-shirts and bought two, and noted night owl Candace Estep who came by and took me out for a fun dance and her companion, a bluegrass lover named (I am not kidding) Carter, out for one final spin when the band closed with “Pig In A Pen.”

jan 2016 photo 2I have always lost track of which songs the band plays each night, especially since their set list varies so much.  But I wrote down most of the songs in order last night for once.  I probably missed 2 or 3 but here goes, for those who are curious:

First Set: Fatback (which got the crowd hopping!), Road to Roosky, Child of the Wild Blue Yonder (boy people loved dancing to that!), Mr. Spaceman (thanks for the dance, Gail!), Salt Creek, Moonlight Midnight, Take A Whiff on Me, Ain’t Ever Satisfied, What Does the Deep Sea Say, Cry Love, and Copperhead Road (wild dance floor for the last two as you can imagine).

Second Set: Waltz for Earl, Cluck Old Hen, Sin, [Forgot the one that came here!], Woman at the Well, The Waiting (thanks for the dance, Candace!), Shacktown Road (where was super-fan Cindy Walker?), Green River, Man Gave Names to All the Animals (a Bob Dylan song Tim is now singing, and it sounds great), and Pig in a Pen.

We have a lots of great fans coming in the next two days including Joan Robbins, Diane Jackman and her husband Don, my mother and step-father, and Cindy Walker, just to name a few.  So get your seatbelts on, team – and please do join via the HogCam if you can’t be here in person, and send us messages when you hear great music or see silly behavior!  

--Prepared by Alex Counts, President, Carter Brothers Fan Club

The March Performances in Key West -- in Photos

Created: Sunday, 07 June 2015

These six photos is meant to complement the "10 best" post about the Carter Brothers March 2015 shows in Key West.  Please also note that I have written on my Live Music Blog about our heroes recent performance at Ashland Coffee and Tea, one of Virginia's premiere acoustic venues.  I like this photo, especially of Danny and Dann (in the background).



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Shocking scene -- Carter Brothers fans being silly !


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This one is mostly just Charlie Anderson being silly (so not so shocking).  With Rhonda, my wife Emily in the yellow/white top, and Steve Mellette.  Cassidy Smith is in the middle, wearing the pink shorts.  


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Super fan Sally Galbraith on the right. At left, one of the shoe burnin' performers.


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And here is another super fan -- Kevin May !


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The Carter Brothers & Fans Rock the Music Fest at Blue Bear Mountain

Created: Wednesday, 23 September 2015

I have posted a report from the third annual Music Fest at Blue Bear Mountain near Boone, NC.  The Carter Brothers Band played and their fans were out in force.  A lot of other great bands played and the weather was gorgeous one day and on the other two days, despite predictions of rain, were just fine.  I have written a post on my Live Music Blog about the festival and the Carter Brothers performance and it can be accessed here.  Below is my favorite picture of Danny that I took, close up, at the festival.  More photos of the band, their fans, and others are in the blog mentioned above.  


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"The Dancer"

Created: Saturday, 06 June 2015

I never got beyond my first post on this blog about the Carter Brothers March performances in Key West.  In part, this was due to a freak accident where I cut one of my fingers – the kind of accident that could only happen in Key West.  It made typing hard.  Another factor was I was just having too much fun to sit down and write about what a fun week it was.  But I was alert enough to make a list of my top memories that week, so I could post a week-in-summary before our heroes and their faithful fans reassembled in June. 

I suppose the best way to do this in an orderly and not overwhelming manner is to summarize the top ten memories from another unforgettable week.

  1. Shoe Burnin’ – Stories of the Southern Soul.  Shari Smith’s masterpiece performance about Southern culture, or as she says, “soul,” featured music by some of Key West’s great local and visiting artists (including our own Tim Carter), and poignant as well as funny spoken word numbers.  It took place at the impressive Studios at Key West before a packed house including many Carter Brothers fans, and was a triumph for everyone involved.  People whom I was not sure would like it were raving about it for the rest of the week.  For my part, I thought it was super.   Shari at Hog compress                                                        
  2. Pignic.  For what I believe was the eighth time over the last seven years, we had a “Friends of the Carter Brothers” picnic which one of our youngest fans renamed a “pignic” – and who could argue with Utah-based fan and chef extraordinaire Dave Stephens cooking.  Thanks to everyone who pitched in, whether bringing side dishes or cooking supplies, or volunteering to clean up.  And thanks also to the park rangers, who were as accommodating as they always are.                                
  3. The Dancer.  Anyone who was there that week knows what I mean.  A guy in wheelchair with just stumps for legs came for 2 or 3 nights and lit up the dance floor multiple times with energy and joyfulness that touched everyone.                                                                                               
  4. A New Fan and Friend.  Super-fan Gail Hardy had mentioned some friends in upstate New York where she is from, and where I went to school, and that they liked the Carter Brothers.  Well, on this trip one of those friends, the charming Brookley Spanbauer, joined us for the last few nights.  Her fun-loving manner and her energy on the dance floor made a special week that much more special.                                                                                                                                     The Dancer compress
  5. Appearances on the dance floor.  How fun to have noted night owl Candace Estep show up Thursday night for a few beers and dances, and also to have Brenda Donnelly and Deborah Moore turn up on the last night and show off some moves!                                                                       
  6. After Party.  For several nights in a row, the after-parties centered on consuming vast amounts of pizza at Paradise Pizza rather than beers at places like the Green Parrot.  Musicians and fans gathered each night around a big round table and traded stories while infomercials and made for TV (i.e., bad) movies played on TVs above us.  Who says you need drinks to enjoy the Carter Brothers and Key West?                                                                                                              
  7. The crowds.  Except for one night, the crowds were big throughout the week (at least until the band finished their extra long first set around midnight).  People spilling into the deep recesses of the parking lot danced and swayed and sang along for hours each night.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  8. The encore.  For the first time ever when playing in Key West – when they do a four-hour shift ending at 2am – the Carter Brothers were coaxed by a super-charged up crowd to play an encore after they finished what was to be their last song.  I believe it was Glendale Train, and everyone (including yours truly) went bananas.danny and dann compress                                                                                                                           
  9. Music Lovers.  The ratio of music lovers to drunk fools who showed up at the Hog’s Breath each night was way on the right side of the bell curve for the week.  That included people who travelled to Key West to listen to our heroes, musicians who were in town for the Shoe Burnin’ event, or just folks wandering in on a whim.  We sold lots of CDs and I’ll bet one of those music-lovers is listening to one as I write these words.                                                                                                           
  10. Tribute.  Shari Smith of Shoe Burnin’ fame wrote a moving tribute to the support she received from Carter Brothers' fans on our Facebook page.  It read: "I want to thank the Carter Brothers Fan Club for your support of the Shoe Burnin' Show.  There is no doubt in my mind that it would not have been the success it was without y'all.  I thought a lot about this, how and why everything worked.  I think it is your participatory nature.  You do not sit and listen to anything.  You become part of it, let it wash over you and pull you in.  You dance, you sing, you hold your hands in cymbal runs.  And you did the same for us.  You laughed and cried and became as much a part of the show as the cast.  If there wer words to adequately thank you for that I would write them but they don't exist.  At least, not the ones that would tell you what you did for my heart.  Big love, Carter Brothers Fans.  I got some big love for y'all."  

Of course there was all the fun of celebrating the engagement of super-fans Elisabeth Morkaut and Darrin van Houten, though this was a focus of the only blog I previously published on the week.

deborah and gail compressWell, team, feel free to add your memories on the comments section of this blog, or on the Fan Club Facebook page – and then get ready for the performances next week, especially as they will involve Ross Sermons playing with Danny and Tim for the first time in Key West since he moved to Tasmania a few years back.  It will be a special week for sure.  Tune in  on the webcam if you can’t join us in person.

Summer Fun with the Carter Brothers in Key West

Created: Saturday, 13 June 2015

It’s been an amazing, though very hot, week here in Key West.  As long as you remember to keep hydrated and get into an air-conditioned environment on a regular basis, it’s almost impossible not to have a good time.danny and ross compress

Monday night’s show featured a long first-set enjoyed by the Carter Brothers’ core local fans (though fewer than usual came from out of town to enjoy the music in person here this week), and music loving tourists from as far away as Brazil.  For the first time in many weeks here, Danny played “Radio Girl,” which filled the dance floor like usual.  With Ross Sermons, their bass player for 17 years, visiting from Australia (sorry, Tasmania), he was able to play some of his signature songs that night and all week, such as “Paradise,” “Spoonful” and a powerful bass solo on “Yellow Moon” that we haven’t heard for a while. 

The band and fans slept in a bit Tuesday after long days of travel on Monday that included collecting various gear stored by super-fans Suzanne and Scott – thanks, guys!  But Carter Brothers Nation finally got around town to hear other musicians, such as Joel Nelson, Woody Jenkins and Ericson Holt.  During our heroes’ show, Danny played “Voice of an Angel,” a tribute to his late father through the perspective of his mother.  Not to be outdone, Tim played his gorgeous banjo instrumental “Waltz for Earl” which transitioned into the Carter Brothers’ unique version of “Cluck Old Hen.” sally and rene compress

Wednesday there was a lot of good music around town but the weather got dicey late in the evening.  A delay in starting the performance turned into a cancellation for only the second time in the last decade of playing down here.  The fans who had gathered despite the weather quickly shifted gears and went to McConnell’s Irish bar, where a new rockabilly band called Patrick and the Swayze’s (really!) were playing before a frenzied crowd trying to keep dry from the rain but failing horribly keeping dry from sweat.  A new fan from Switzerland named Stefan caught Joel Nelson’s wife Donna on video chasing the band’s lead singer onto the street in the middle of a downpour and dancing with him (occasionally dodging cars in the process).  And the evening just went downhill, or uphill, from there.  I think you get the idea.

There was a lot of pent up demand for the Carter Brothers fusion music by the time they took the stage at 10pm on Thursday.  Even the Internet was buzzing, with Brookley Spanbauer, Andy Walton, Cindy Walker and others not only watching on the HogCam but also sending in a running commentary by SMS to those of us dancing and enjoying the music in Key West.  Dale Baker, an outstanding guitar player from Nashville playing elsewhere in Key West this week, added some great solos and accompaniment to fill out the band’s sound.  The Carter Brothers don’t invite many people to sit in with them, but when they do, it’s always with dale compress

Later that night, Woody Jenkins took Danny’s guitar and played a few songs despite being quite, show shall we say, “tired.”  The highlight of that mini-set was a jam session loosely based on Ross Sermons’ song “Preacher” from his incomparable album “King’s Pool Room.”  Whoa!  (BTW, Ross has a new solo CD out titled "Way Down South.")

Friday was a truly special evening.  The weather was perfect, and the band was in fine form, especially for an extra-long first set that included Paul Cotton of Poco fame doing two songs with the band (Cajun Moon and Magnolia).  (Joel Nelson supplied backing vocals for the latter tune.) 

There was a huge crowd extending into the deep recesses of the bar and parking lot, and all the right people were on the dance floor including Candace Estep, Donna Nelson, Gail Hardy, Brenda Donnelly, Emily Counts, and Emalyn Mercer – not to mention one of Brenda’s friends who tipped generously after every song (not set, but song!).  There was also a wedding party – congratulations, Ally and Caleb. 

Boy we all had such a great time! kevin and emily compress

The Friday after party centered on pizza, heroes from a pushcart, and some beers at Tattoos and Scars.  The amazing Cliff Cody joined us and talked about how the Carter Brothers took him under their wings 8 years ago when he, as a bundle of nerves, started a week-long gig here warming the crowd up for our heroes each night.  Since then he has become a local fan favorite but is generous enough to credit the Carter Brothers with helping him find his groove here.  What a nice, humble guy! 

We decided not to have a picnic this Saturday, as we traditionally do each time the band comes here except in January (when it can be a bit nippy).  Somehow my intuition told me that it was not in the cards, and as it turned out, it is raining today (though the forecast for the evening is good).

Anyway, have a great day y'all and see you tonight either at the Hog's Breath or online.

A Great First Set & Celebrating an Engagement

Created: Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Carter Brothers arrived yesterday in Key West, three by way of a 17 hour drive from Nashville.  Their fans began gathering too, both those who flew in from around the country and those based in this island paradise known as Key West.March 2015 Danny Tim photo

The first set at the Hog’s Breath was preceded by a brief downpour, but still the place was packed.  I can’t recall any Monday night when there were more people listening to the band play at this venue.  And they were treated to a extra-long set that included some of Danny’s best songs (“Shelby Street,” “Green River,” and “Work To Do”), Tim’s beautiful “Waltz for Earl” (which gave everyone a chance to catch their breath), their strongest co-written songs (“Fatback” and “Road to Roosky”), and the traditional songs and cover tunes they do so well (“What Does the Deep Sea Say” and “Mr. Spaceman”).   It was not just a big crowd, but a music-loving (rather than just partying) crowd, and that made being there and taking in the songs all the more fun, at least for this fan.  Danny’s guitar solos on “Yellow Moon” were especially impressive.  Sometimes the band can sound a little rough when they are working out the kinks during a first set after not playing together for a few weeks.  Not last night though!

March 2015 Darrin ElisabethAlready here are Elisabeth Morkaut and her freshly minted fiancé Darrin, and members of their extended family, celebrating their engagement, as well as my friends Andy and Peg Walton from Washington. Tim dedicated "Waltz for Earl" to Elisabeth and Darrin.  

More fans from around the country will be arriving as the week goes on, culminating in our 8th "Friends of the Carter Brothers" picnic on the Ft. Zachary Taylor Beach/Park on Saturday, 12pm-3pm. 

Due to a medical emergency involving one of the staff at the Hog’s Breath, the second set started late and was truncated to three songs.  Before long, three members of the band and me were having pizza around the corner and reflecting on the day, and our journeys getting here.  We decided not to go anywhere else, as there is a lot of week ahead of us and much fun to be had.  March 2015 fans

Today those of us here will go in search of great music, food and drink -- and each other -- as we gear up for another night with our heroes and their fans.  


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