Despite her illustrious musical career and reputation as a country music idol, Carter’s performance was raw, entertaining and personal. She even spent intermission at her merchandise table, not to pilfer sales for CDs and t shirts, but to get to know her audience, take pictures and have one-on-one conversations with the singer about her music. Carter and her thoroughly entertaining opening act was the perfect setup for John Mellencamp’s final performance.
Opener Carlene Carter joined Mellencamp on stage, the pair holding hands as they sang “Indigo Sunset” then going for hand-clapping gospel on “My Soul’s Got Wings,” lyrics by Woody Guthrie -- a pair of songs from the album the duo will release in February. Carter opened the evening with a wonderful short set during which she played a couple of her hits, including a rockin’ take on “Every Little Thing,” told some very funny stories about herself and her famous family, did a couple Carter Family numbers and her own “Me and the Wildwood Rose,” a tribute to her grandmother, "Mother" Maybelle Carter.
Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, opened the show with 45 minutes and 10 songs of her southern charm. She spoke in length before each number, telling stories of growing up in country music’s famed Carter family. She mixed the set with Carter family covers and original numbers from her 2014 record, "Carter Girl." She gave a quick nod to Iowa, where her first fan club started in 1985, before performing her closing number. “You really blessed my heart, being from Iowa, y'all,” she said.
Carlene Carter, a Rounder Records’ artist, was a witty and feisty one-woman show. Not only being a gifted singer, she played both the six string beast and tamed the ivory of the majestic piano as well during her set. In between songs, she talked about how she was the step daughter of one Mr. Johnny Cash, and granddaughter to the one and only “Mother” Maybelle Carter of the original Carter Family. She mentioned a fateful helicopter landing and expressed regret for her friend, Kris Kristofferson, not being able to join her for a song in Toledo this night. She sung songs with personal ties and with commercial success through out her career on the well-lit Stranahan stage. She was able to captivate the audience with a beautiful voice, the well-timed borderline raunchy story, and a small sidebar on where a certain see through miniskirt she made famous happened to now reside. Carlene was charming, down to earth in her attitude, and showed why the Carter name is still synonymous with legendary music.
"I was thinking about it, so many of my stories are about my family life, not about being related to a lot of famous people. That’s my grandma, that’s my mama, my daddy, my aunt, my uncle, my stepdaddy. I’d probably tell them even if they weren’t well known. Then you throw in a few ex-husbands... Sometimes I’ll come up with something out of the blue and I’ll remember something. But I always tell a story about Kris Kristofferson and Willie (Nelson), too. Some people might think I’m name dropping. But I’m talking about my family and close family friends. Most of them are gone now, they were very real people."
As a bonus, the performance sported a 45 minute opening set by Carlene Carter. The singer’s career has shifted from post-punk pop (in the late 1970s and ’80s) to mainstream country (late ’80s and ’90s) to the roots-driven Americana of the Carter Family, of which she is a third generation member. While her stage persona was often the astonishing embodiment of her late mother, June Carter Cash, the unaccompanied set was an arresting blend of Carter Family faith (“The Storms are on the Ocean”), vintage originals reflecting a surprisingly deep vocal resonance (“Easy From Now On”) and learned folk expression (“Blackjack David”). She joined Mellencamp later it in the evening to preview tunes from a collaborative album due out next year. But it was on her own that Carter merged three distinct career chapters into a single, joyous set.
"He (John Mellencamp) is part of the soundtrack to my life, like he is to a lot of people," she said, sharing her memories of dancing to his hits and singing them loudly while driving in her convertible decades ago. The pair have traveled extensively together since. Carter opens the show for Mellencamp and, at some point in the set, they do a few songs together. They have become quite natural singing partners. "I don’t have a hard time figuring out where he’s going to go; it’s like I already know where he’s going," Carter said. Carter and Mellencamp have more in common than musical sensibility. Both have lived and made work with a similar sense of purpose and stubbornness. "We both have been uncompromised artists. I think we have that in common, almost like little rebels," she said.
Carlene Carter, June Carter's daughter and Johnny Cash's stepdaughter, shone vocally in two memorable duets with Mellencamp; her show-opening set was engaging and personable.
The Stanley Center for the Arts did it again with a nearly sold out show that featured Carlene Carter who opened up for one of the biggest legends of music – John Mellencamp. Carlene a third generation singer – daughter of the legendary June Carter and step daughter of Johnny Cash; entered the stage to a warm welcoming crowd. She commanded the stage with her acoustic solo show while telling different stories about the history of her music... Carlene had no problem keeping her fans clapping and had them up on their feet. During her performance she mainly played the guitar with a few moments on the piano... Her top notch performance entertained a packed house getting the fans excited for Mr. Mellencamp. Her set list consisted of: Every Little Thing, Easy From Now On, My Dixie Darlin’, Little Black Train, Black Jack David, Troublesome Waters, Baby Ride Easy, Lonesome Valley 2003, The Bitter End, Wildwood Flower, The Storms Are On the Ocean and Forty Shades of Green.
Mellencamp performed "Indigo Sunset" and "My Soul's Got Wings" with Carlene Carter, 61, who is the daughter of country music legends June Carter and Carl Smith and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash. He said when he heard Carter's voice, he knew he wanted to work with her. Mellencamp said they managed to sneak in making an album while touring the past two years. It's called "Sad Clowns and Hillbillies," and it's set to be released in February.
Carlene Carter opened the evening with a solo set, alternately accompanying herself on guitar and piano. Numbers made famous by her grandmother Maybelle Carter and the Carter Family, such as “Wildwood Flower” and “Little Black Train,” figured prominently while her own soulful “Change” proved the 60-year-old singer still adds to the tradition. Mellencamp later brought Carter on stage with him for a couple of numbers. Their spirited, and spiritually minded, duets enhanced the prospect of a forthcoming album by the pair and perhaps suggested new horizons for the headliner.
"Every night she's been my singing buddy," says Mellencamp, who's wrapping up his current leg of the tour this Saturday, with one more scheduled for October. "If there is a spitting image of June" — that is, Carter's mother, the late country music legend June Carter Cash — "it's Carlene. She talks like her mom, has the same opinions as her mom. We got along immediately." So much so, in fact, that Mellencamp and Carter have recorded an album together, titled Sad Clowns and Hillbillies. Though no release date has been announced yet, Mellencamp says, "We wrote a couple of songs together, and she wrote some and I wrote some." For one song, Mellencamp also wrote music for words penned by one of his heroes, Woody Guthrie. "If Woody Guthrie were starting out now, no one would give him the time of day," Mellencamp quips.
“Working with John Mellencamp is such a gift, he took a chance on me. I’m not a spring chicken and neither is he. He liked me by myself. I’ve been opening pretty much for a rock crowd, I’m able to navigate that, and they seem to like me. There’s a whole sense of freedom.”
"It's been great to be able to connect with her and bring her on the tour, and it was like this instant family and sister bond with the guys," (Mellencamp guitarist Mike) Wanchic said. "She is the most wonderful person and has led this rich and colorful life. I always look forward to getting back on the bus and getting to listen to her stories. She is just so insightful on everything, and musically we're really locked together."
Mellencamp duetted with his opening act, Carlene Carter, the daughter of country music legend June Carter, saying the two will release a new album together called “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies” later this year. Mellencamp and Carter held hands as they sang “Indigo Sunset,” easily the sweetest moment of the show... Carter opened the show singing solo acoustic songs and dedicating the night to the recently departed country giant Merle Haggard.
Prior to launching the "Plain Spoken" tour, Mellencamp invited Carter to record a song for the film "Ithaca," directed by his then-girlfriend Meg Ryan and released in the fall of 2015. When Carter came to Mellencamp's Indiana recording studio, she recalled, "John said to me 'Are you excited about the tour?' I said 'What tour?' And he said 'You're opening for me.'" Any doubts that rock star Mellencamp's fans would embrace a "blueblooded country girl" were quickly dispelled. "They are so warm to me," Carter said. "I feel blessed … I've probably made some new fans that may not have heard of me before." Carter and Mellencamp have also worked together on the musical "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," co-written by Mellencamp and horror novelist Stephen King, and plan to release an album of their duets late this year or early next year.
"I just got off the road opening for John Mellencamp and I was pretty chuffed that I could open for a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer as an acoustic act by myself. Working with Mellencamp, I made new fans, people that may have never heard of me. They may have heard I was related to the Carter Family or Johnny Cash somehow, but what they got was pure Carlene. Very much in the spirit of the Carter Family, I’d just go out and do what makes people happy. I really enjoyed the process of playing by myself and I’m going to continue to do it for a while. It really does prove my theory that it’s all about the songs."
Carter is writing songs for an album with John Mellencamp. And while she's in no hurry to put out another recording, she knows she still has plenty of family material from which to draw another set of songs. "Carter Family music just feels so natural to me," she says. "It's in my bones."
This is how a classic rock legend gets it done in concert: Start with a money's-worth opening act, Carlene Carter, a spirited member of the First Family of American music who can fire up an older audience with nothing but talent, sassy stories, acoustic guitar and piano... The first question was "Where has Carlene Carter been, and how can she still sound so good after all she's been through?" Carter is third-generation country royalty and proud of it, the daughter of June Carter Cash and granddaughter of Mother Maybelle, women she honored with a lovely "Me and the Wildwood Rose." Carter's career crashed after some lively country-rock albums but she's back in full voice, using her experience as a warm-up act on all 80 dates of Mellencamp's tour and embracing her family history in "Carter Girl," an album of traditional songs.
The show began with the lovely Carlene Carter performing a 40-minute set that was tremendous considering she was able to captivate the crowd with her voice, an acoustic guitar, and a number of stories of what it was like to grow up as a member of the Carter clan. Approaching 60 years of age, Carter still has an amazingly powerful voice and made the night special even before Mellencamp came out.
On tour with Mellencamp since January — part of an 80-date run together — Carter’s won raves for solo sets that touch on the music of her famous forbears, The Carter Family, whose work she explores her latest album, Carter Girl. “I’m up there for 40 minutes and I’m doing a good job of covering a lot of territory,” says the daughter of June Carter and granddaughter of Mother Maybelle Carter. “I tell stories and give them a little history and play these songs. If I can make ’em laugh and I make ’em cry, then I know I’m doing my job.”
Opening act Carlene Carter had plenty of old times to recount, having grown up the daughter of June Carter Cash, step-daughter of Johnny Cash and granddaughter of country music founding "Mother" Maybelle Carter. Carter, performing solo, played music from her most recent project, "Carter Girl," a tribute to the Carter Family era and its music, as well as from her own rocking past, opening a 44-minute set with her MTV-era number, "Every Little Thing." Her voice is like a family heirloom, and her guitar picking style was reminiscent of Maybelle Carter's. Mellencamp called her back out to help with the "Ghosts of Darkland County" numbers. Their harmonies made a listener wish for more of the same.
Carlene Carter opened the show with a set that charmed the crowd as she introduced songs from her latest album, “Carter Girl.” Performing solo, Carter moved from guitar to piano, and her detailed between-song anecdotes included tales of growing up as the daughter of June Carter Cash. Carter’s rich vocals made her performance memorable, but hearing of a leather-clad Kris Kristofferson emerging from a helicopter on her lawn made it doubly entertaining.
Carlene Carter, who opened the night with an excellent too-short set, shared vocals on a couple of songs from "Ghost Brothers of Darkland," the theatrical musical Mellencamp co-wrote with novelist Stephen King. Carter stole the show with her vocal on "Tear This Cabin Down," a muscular bluesy rocker that packed more of a punch in this setting than it did during the play's one-night showcase at the Colonial Theatre last September.
Mellencamp dipped into the music from the musical he penned with Stephen King, "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," bringing out opening act Carlene Carter to sing... Carter turned in a job well done in opening the night playing solo acoustic. She proudly talked about the Carter Family (she's the granddaughter of Maybelle and daughter of June Carter Cash) as well she should have because she sang several songs from last year's excellent "Carter Girl" CD, giving a context to her performance and career. Chief among them was "Me and The Wildwood Rose" about her late sister. Like Mellencamp, Carter has had a long career and made her older songs like "I Fell in Love" and "Every Little Thing" sound fresh. Always a warm, friendly presence, Carter's voice remains in great shape. It's a potent weapon in infusing the songs with emotion without over-emoting. When you're talking Carter Family, you are talking mighty big shoes to even try to fill, and while Carter has had her share of ups and downs in life, she deservedly wears the mantle of "Carter Girl."
7 Lessons 'Nashville' Could Learn From 'Empire'
2. Juliette Isn’t Cookie Enough It took the cliché of raging pregnancy hormones to crank Juliette up to a level that is approximately Cookie at afternoon-nap stage. Juliette Barnes was supposed to be a fresh, livid take on every Nashville bad-girl from Tanya Tucker to Carlene Carter to LeAnn Rimes. But depending on the week, Juliette is either an egomaniacal brat or a sensitive, caring victim of a terrible childhood trying to nurture healthy relationships. She needs to be a more assiduously imperious force — the contrast between Hayden Panettiere’s diminutive stature and her character’s volcanic capabilities is a great dynamic that’s never been sufficiently exploited.
Her songwriting gift was honed at the elbow of one of the genre’s masters, her stepfather, with her stepsister Rosanne Cash at her side. “He would sit for hours with us on a tour bus, teaching us chords,” she remembers. “He taught me to be authentic and follow my own thing. He told me not to be afraid to be unique, which was a good thing because Nashville never knew what to do with me! If someone asked me to do something I didn’t want to do, or didn’t think was right, I wouldn’t do it. Sometimes, it’s good to stick to your guns."
“I think someone really liked the song (Every Little Thing),” she says. “So they approached us and said they wanted to do a pinball machine with the first digital music recording... Real pinball is the coolest thing everrrr,” Carlene purrs. “There’s something about its physicality that is great and I’ll play a pinball machine whenever I come across one. If you compare a video game to a pinball machine, pinball is the real deal.”
Earlier in the night, Carlene Carter of Carter Family fame, also set the bar high when she kicked the show off at 7:30. Singing on such country music bread-and-butter topics as family, faith and heritage, Carter confirmed that she had inherited the musical prowess that made her grandmother (Mother Maybelle Carter) and mother (June Carter) mainstays in country music history. With her sweet Southern twang, Carter captivated the audience with just herself and her guitar on stage, belting out songs like “Every Little Thing” and “Little Black Train.” She also delighted attendees with short vignettes of growing up in the Carter family, describing how her mother told her she should get married before she had sex or she would be going to hell. “So I got married a whole lot,” Carter said to laughter.
Having lost her mother and stepfather in 2003 and her father in 2010, the music of “Carter Girl” can certainly hit home for both the singer and her audience. “Sometimes I get emotional when I’m doing ‘Lonesome Valley’ or ‘Wildwood Rose,’” she says. “I haven’t had a show where a woman or a man who just lost their mom isn’t sobbing at my merch table. I say, ‘Thank you. I must be doing my job right.’”
I'm going to do the next album in much the same way I did the last one with [producer] Don Was. I'm going to use some of my family's music. I wouldn't call it Carter Girl II because that's too cliché. I don't know what it will be but I am going to go back into the treasure chest and pull out a few more songs that I wish I'd written, 'cause there are a lot of them. Then compliment them with things that are mattering to me today. That's where I'm at.
That was a frustration with this record, because there are only 12 songs on it. I have so many more to do; there are, like, 500 songs from the Carter Family. They're flowery, but timeless in the ways of the world. This one record is just whetting my appetite for more. I hope to finish a new album by the end of the year, and it'll come out in 2016. I'm looking at it as a trilogy kind of thing. Then I'll do a full-blown Carlene record.
Carlene Carter, the very talented daughter of June Carter Cash and granddaughter of “Mother” Maybelle Carter, opened the show and later joined Mellencamp for two of his set’s best performances.
Country music royalty can be traced back to two last names: Carter and Williams. Carlene Carter – daughter of Carl Smith and June Carter and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash – has followed her family’s legacy in both life and song... "I’m grateful that I have this legacy and I’m very proud of it. I want to 'Carterize' people [Laughs]."
Carlene Carter’s unplugged opening act gig Thursday for John Mellencamp at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts was an unabashed love note to her mom, country music legend June Carter. June Carter died in May 2003 at age 73. Carlene Cater’s famous stepfather, Johnny Cash, died in September of that year. Indeed, 2003 was a rough year for the singer-songwriter who so resembles her mother. “The whole world cried when she died,” said Carter as she sat behind a grand piano at center stage. She’d opened the night on acoustic guitar, singing some songs with her husband, actor Joseph Breen. “This is for you, Junie.” Carter sang the gospel-tinged “Lonesome Valley,” her soulful voice soaring on the haunting deathbed lines, “You got to walk that lonesome valley, you got to walk it by yourself.” Back in the day, she was as famous for her boyfriends and being a country music party girl as much as her Carter Family heritage. She alluded to that before singing “Dixie Darlin.’” “If you came to see a cartwheel tonight, you ain’t,” she joked. No belly button either, she added (a joke about the sexy, youthful outfits of the past). In the old days, her mother would do cartwheels onstage. “Those were the best years of my life,” said Carter, 59, about her days as one of the Carter Sisters with her mom and her aunts. That introduced “Me and the Wildwood Rose,” which, like most of her high-lonesome songs (this one is a tribute to her grandmother “Mother” Maybelle Carter) are built on simple hillbilly music chord changes with G-C-D chords. Carter’s set included “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and the grownup party-girl lament, the heartbreaking “Change.” It included the lines, “I’ve been everybody’s girl. I drank for forgiveness till I drank up the world.” That went straight to the heart. Later in the evening, Carter joined Mellencamp and his band to sing “Away From This World” alone in the spotlight and stayed to sing with the star of the show on “Tear This Cabin Down.”
Opening act Carlene Carter lends her powerful raspy soul as she joins Mellencamp during "Away From this World" and "Tear This Cabin Down." Carter, whose mother is the late June Carter Cash, delivered a 30 minute set prior to the legend blending in some powerful acoustic blues/country numbers that seemed a perfect fit.
Following at No. 2 on the Hot Tours ranking is John Mellencamp with $1.4 million in revenue from his 2015 North American tour that launched in South Bend, Ind. on Jan. 21. The veteran rocker, touring behind the September release of his latest album Plain Spoken, will be on the road until early August along with country artist Carlene Carter, the tour's opening act. Booked primarily in theaters and performing arts centers, the tour will hit 71 venues before the final show on Aug. 4 in Indianapolis. With sellout crowds reported at each of the first six venues on the AEG Live-promoted tour, the sold ticket count totaled 16,953. Included among these first reported shows was a two-night engagement at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium on Jan. 27 and 28. Other cities that will host the tour for multiple performances are Minneapolis, Chicago, New York City and Toronto among others.
Besides counseling her to find her own voice, her family offered one other critical piece of advice that sustained her through a career with several triumphs and more than a few rough spots, Carter says. "Always keep on the sunny side, that was the basic message. Appreciate your fans and have time for them. Never get the big head. You get the big head, God is gonna bust your britches. You're just a regular person like everyone else. My grandmother was in a field working the garden when she wasn't singing. She told me how to can. My aunt Anita told me how to pluck a chicken. Momma was very down to earth." It was all distilled for her after her self-titled debut album came out in 1978, and she was being photographed with country stars Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. "I was on Cloud Nine, and Dolly leaned over and said, 'Just keep on smiling, honey, no matter what.'"
In her 40-minute acoustic opening set, Carter — daughter of June Carter Cash — covered 100-plus years of music, going back to songs passed down through the Carter generations, including “Little Black Train” off her new Don Was-produced album “Carter Girl.” “They’d throw you out on stage whether you were any good,” she quipped of the family before the tribute to her grandma Maybelle, “Me & the Wildwood Rose.” Carter sure sounded good Wednesday.
He was joined for two songs, "Away from This World" and "Tear This Cabin Down," by opener Carlene Carter, whose own 40-minute set was a delight. The daughter of June Carter Cash put her sweet voice to such beauties as "Me and the Wildwood Rose" and "My Dixie Darling" and warmly shared stories of being a child riding in the backseat of Mother Maybelle Carter's Cadillac and seeing a handsome Kris Kristofferson – in leather pants – for the first time as a 12-year-old girl. Her heartbreaking piano ballad to her mother, "Lonesome Valley 2003," was unforgettable, not unlike the rest of the night.
Opener Carlene Carter (daughter of June Carter Cash) joined John on “Away from this World” and “Tear This Cabin Down”—a tune Mellencamp wrote with horror novelist Stephen King for their recent Ghost Brothers of Darkland County musical. Carter, 59, warmed up the Palace with a half hour of bright country-folk. Armed with only her sweet, warm voice and acoustic guitar (with a capo enabling trebly open chords and ringing notes), the Rounder Records artists delighted with tunes from her own catalog as well as that of Mama June’s (with the Carter Sisters). “Storms are on the Ocean,” “Easy from Now On,” and “My Dixie Darling” truly shined in the historic theatre. Carter shared girlhood memories of growing up in Nashville with stepfather Johnny Cash and doting over the impossibly handsome Kris Kristofferson (who visited the family compound by helicopter). She said she’d always stand in the wings, watching her mother perform with her aunts (Helen and Anita), just dreaming of the day she could join them. The dream finally came true: Carter made a name for herself in the Seventies and Eighties, notching twenty singles on the country charts. She fought her way back to health and happiness after overcoming addiction (and a husband’s death) and celebrated life anew with 2008’s Stronger. Her newest album, Carter Girl, revels in the very music that shaped her fondest family memories. Carter, resplendent in blue, demonstrated considerable finger-style guitar skills and considerable vocal range on “Little Black Train” and “Takes One to Know Me.” She even teased with a snippet of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”—a traditional Christian hymn reworked by patriarch A.P. Carter and popularized by Carlene’s grandmother, “Mother” Maybelle Carter. Carter rested her guitar to sit at a grand piano on a couple tunes (availing herself a competent keyboardist as well). She also welcomed her current husband, actor Joe Breen, onstage for a couple duets. This was a not-to-be-missed concert, and will surely top our list of 2015 Best Shows. Mellencamp’s still got it, and Carter was a pleasant surprise. Their Plain Spoken tour runs well into August; be sure to catch it if you can.
And he (John Mellencamp) was magnificent with Carlene Carter, who returned after a stellar nine-song opening set to sing "Away From the World,'' from "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,'' the musical Mellencamp wrote with T. Bone Burnett and horror writer Stephen King. Carter's 40 minutes onstage to begin the night were a combination of great songs - she learned the songwriting craft from mama June, and many of the tunes were from her new album, "Carter Girl'' - and family stories, like Kris Kristofferson (in leather pants) landing his helicopter on the front lawn as then 12-year-old Carlene was getting ready to mow. Her song "Lonesome Valley,'' which deals with the deaths of her mother and stepfather, Johnny Cash, may be one of the most wrenching ever written, and even more so because even though her parents were famous, each of us can relate to the pain.
In her gypsy shawl and leather pants, Carlene Carter, the tour's opening act, looked more like a rock goddess than the bona fide country girl she is. Performing on the stage where, she said, "my parents June Carter and Carl Smith met," the Carter Family progeny sang songs from her terrific 2014 album Carter Girl, lending Mellencamp an extra dose of country cred. It wasn't a random pairing, however: The headliner enlisted Carter for his 2012 touring musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which he co-wrote with author Stephen King. Carter would return later in the show to sing two haunting selections from the musical: "Tear This Cabin Down" and "Away From This World," the latter of which Sheryl Crow recorded for the soundtrack.
Two newer songs... were two of the best performances of the night. Each came from "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," a 2012 musical by Mellencamp and author Stephen King. Mellencamp called show opener Carlene Carter to the stage, and she sang "Away from This World" and "Tear This Cabin Down"... Carter's opening set was great. She performed solo, playing acoustic guitar and piano and singing renditions of Carter Family songs like "Storms Are on the Ocean" and "My Dixie Darling" and her own songs like "Every Little Thing" and "Easy from Now On."
Opening act Carlene Carter was all about the intimacy. She performed alone for most of her short set, and her compelling voice and out-sized personality made it feel as if she were sitting in your lap. Her set was heavy on material from her most recent album, “Carter Girl,” a collection of songs first recorded by The Carter Family beginning in the late 1920s. The Carter family was ground zero for country music as we know it, and Carter carried the weight of that immense legacy with an easy grace and rich humanity.
Opening act Carlene Carter joined Mellencamp for two songs from “Ghost Brothers,” which she performed in recently on a tour of the production. She sang “Away From This World,” slipping easily into character with a gorgeous vocal interpretation, and then dueted with Mellencamp on the chorus for “Tear This Cabin Down,” an apocalyptic blues-rock song whose syncopated rhythm gave it a sense of hesitation and dread. As the opening act, Carter delivered a 33-minute set that provided the perfect complement to Mellencamp’s: an acoustic, steeped-in-roots country performance highlighted by spirited renditions of “Every Little Thing” and “Little Black Train,” her loving delivery on “Me and the Wildwood Rose,” and “Lonesome Valley 2003,” a song of love and loss that she wrote about the death of her mother, June Carter Cash, and that manages at the same time to be universal and specific, its lyrics, melody and delivery honest and without a trace of sentimentality. For this opening-night performance, both Mellencamp and Carter came out confident and purposeful, ready for the 79 dates ahead to mine the roots of American music and investigate what it means to live and die.
Carter touches on all phases of her career in concert, and said the only hard part is working in all of her stories and songs in 40 minutes. "I'm gonna go for it and keep it really exciting and different," she said. "I'm really excited to be out with John (Mellencamp) and the guys, and to give so many people the opportunity to hear this music."
Carter and Mellencamp have the same manager, who shared "Carter Girl" with the Hoosier rocker. He loved the album and asked her to open a few fair dates. Later, she surreptitiously found out she would be joining him on the tour. "He called and asked me to come and record some songs for the film that (actress and Mellencamp’s girlfriend) Meg Ryan is directing, 'Ithaca'," Carter says. "I went and hung out with John and the band and recorded a song that he had written for that. We became friends. While I was there, he asked, 'Are you excited about next year?' I said, 'Yeah, I’m always excited,' not knowing what he meant. He said, 'You’re going to open for me next year.' I was like, 'Oh, OK, great.'" Carter also played the part of Angie, the angel/bartender, in "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," the stage musical written by Stephen King with music composed by Mellencamp, for a six-week tour in November and December 2014. "John called me and said, 'I really want you in the cast,'" Carter says. "'I don’t know exactly what part you are going to have, but I just need your voice in there singing this music.'"
Tony Bennett, Marianne Faithfull, Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams, Robert Plant, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, and Carlene Carter were all in top form in 2014, with voices that have mellowed like fine wines... Beset by legal and personal woes in recent years, Carter bounced back in 2014 with “Carter Girl,” on which she interpreted songs made famous by her family. Decades removed from her ’90s heyday as a high-octane country spitfire, Carter sang “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight” from the perspective of a survivor. “I like my voice now,” Carter, 59, says in a recent interview. “Over the years that I made records before this one, I learned from producers like Nick Lowe and Howie [Epstein] that to sound younger was a good thing. We’d push everything really high, as high as I could possibly sing it. We actually used to speed up the record a little bit so that it had more energy and sounded younger. “Mind you, we were doing this when I was in my 20s!” she adds, laughing.
BWW Reviews: THE GHOST OF DARKLAND COUNTY at the Peabody Opera House... Country music legend Carlene Carter also appears, although it's a pity she doesn't have more to do.
“I never wanted to be put into a certain category. There wasn’t a segregation of music back then in London. I actually opened for the Clash a couple times and it was so odd. The Clash, Bow Wow Wow, and Carlene Carter. I would look around and think, ‘what am I doing here?’ But that’s how it was. It was amazing. I was around Rockpile (Nick Lowe’s band) and Dave Edmunds, who taught me a lot about guitar and made me fall in love with the Gibson 200...”
Theater review: Stellar music and cast bring Stephen King's 'Ghost Brothers' to life... Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter and Carl Smith, played the minor role of Angie. She took lead vocals on a few lines here and there and was so good that it seemed a shame she wasn’t used more.
John 'Cougar' Mellencamp brings Southern twist to broadway... "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," a "Southern gothic, supernatural musical" that features Mellencamp's songs and a script by author Stephen King... The production currently stars Gina Gershon, Billy Burke and country music legend Carlene Carter.
"Carter Girl" is one more achievement in a year full of them. In January she’ll go on the road with John Mellencamp as his opening act on an 80-city tour... She’s also a featured backing vocalist in "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," a touring musical production Mellencamp collaborated on with Stephen King and T Bone Burnett. Of her moment in the sun, Carter says she’s relishing what amounts to a renaissance. What, exactly, did she imagine for herself at this point in her career? "I had hoped for the best," she says, "and this is the best right now."
The granddaughter of "Mother" Maybelle Carter, daughter of Carl Smith and June Carter, and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, Carlene Carter is music royalty's wild child. She recorded her first three albums in England. Her 1978 self-titled album with Graham Parker and the Rumour and 1980's Musical Shapes, with her then husband Nick Lowe and his band Rockpile, blended country music with high-energy New Wave. Last year, she returned to her family's legacy with Carter Girl, produced by Don Was. The album brings her youthful energy to songs from the Carter Family repertoire. Beginning in early 2015, she will join John Mellencamp on an 80-date tour.
You know, I used to have this vision that I was so scared my grandchildren would think of me as Cruella De Vil with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth (laughs). Some of them call me La La and I said, “Why do you call me La La?” And they said, “Because you sing.”
When the lights came up for Breen to take a photo of the audience from the stage near the end of the show, Carter suddenly noticed a family sitting in the front row. She jokingly apologized for the occasional cussing they heard during the concert. “Love is the only four-lettered word you should ever use,” she told the youngsters. Across that front row, the family - including parents Linda Mesi and Joseph Clark with kids Dante Clark, 11, Nico Clark, 9, and Capri Clark, 6 -- held signs proclaiming their own love for the singer. “We’re super fans,” Joseph Clark said, explaining they drove more than three hours from Buffalo to see Carter that day. “Her music really resonates with the kids.” “We want the kids to be exposed to some good music,” Mesi added.
"The audiences that come to see me now are my age or are just music lovers. They aren’t coming to check it out, they are coming to have the live experience. I inherited the Carter Family fans, [my stepfather Johnny Cash’s] fans, Carlene Carter fans, Carter-Cash fans. I have the white-hair crowd who are older than me and a lot of people that bring their kids. And there are just some younger fans that are pure music lovers."
Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter Cash and Carl Smith, step daughter to Johnny Cash has roots in country music as deep as can be. With the the release of “Carter Girl” on Rounder Records she has brought her Country roots to the 21st century.
If there's a better hardcore country record in 2014 than Carlene Carter's Carter Girl, I haven't heard it... What cannot go unmentioned here is a simple fact: Carlene Carter is one of the greatest living country vocalists. Like Loretta, like Tammy, like June - like George Jones or Merle Haggard - she's got that sob in her voice... Carlene Carter's new masterpiece spans a century of music, but by implication contains the whole of human history in an unbroken circle. She -- and her elders -- have given us this gift.
Carlene Carter has been mixing country, blues and rock since her debut with The Rumor back in the 70s. Step daughter of The Man in Black and daughter of June, Carter has had a career that is as open nerved as a country song itself. This latest excellent outing has her doing material from various members of the Carter family (including herself)... Carter herself sounds in rich and mature form...
Carlene Carter has one of those personalities that make it difficult to be somber when she's in the room. The singer's infectious laugh and lighthearted banter fill the studio where she is performing songs from her latest album, Carter Girl...
Beyond her storied career straddling punk’s emergence, the ascendence of post-country’s first real credibility scare and the rock fringe she hung out on writing and singing with members of the Doobie Brothers and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, she was in her soul always a Carter...
“I had a wish list,” she said, “and all my wishes came true. I wanted to work with Randy Hoffman, I wanted Don Was to produce it, I wanted to do this Carter record and I wanted to be on Rounder Records. And all of 'em happened. Check check check. I believe in the power of positive thinking and praying. Dear Lord!”
"Any time I write a song, I hope I can touch somebody in some way that helps them have a better day," she says. "And I always say a prayer before I go onstage with my little band. We all hold hands and I say: ‘Dear Lord, thank you for all the gifts that you have given us, and being able to play and sing and go out there. Now, please Lord, let us rock like hell!'"
It may have been a while since you’ve considered Carlene Carter; to a certain generation, she was the cute & spry American babe who headed to the UK and struck up some relationships there, nearly all of them musical. Much has happened--she’s back now, recording for Rounder Records, and this new album, produced by Don Was, is evocative, mature, and consistently impressive. With the inevitably top-heavy guest list—on hand are Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill and about the best musicians you can find—Carter Girl in 2014 ironically sounds more like a country album than most of last week’s ACM winners, which themselves seem to be subtly aping the sort of albums Carter herself made back in 1979. Oh well. A strong and very welcome showing for one of pop music’s long-missed characters, now back again.
Carlene Carter proves just how personal, and powerful, a tribute album can be... "Carter Girl" has a rare power, drawn from memories, tears and years of finding strength in these songs of blood and legacy... Like the songs she's recorded, this is an album for the ages.
Friends and relations pop up as guests, among them Willie Nelson (Troublesome Waters), Kris Kristofferson (Black Jack David) and Vince Gill (Lonesome Valley 2003). Still, Carter's dusky, honeyed voice holds its own, spanning generations and emotions with the grace she has both inherited and earned.
What Carlene Carter does on Carter Girl is significant. She doesn't approach these old songs as sacred relics to be enshrined with pious respect. Rather, she treats them like living, vital pieces of art that can withstand being taken apart, thought about and re-imagined... In the process, she comes up with her own excellent piece of work... on its own terms, Carter Girl is as strong as anything Carter has ever recorded. It carries the heavy burden of history lightly, and yet never flinches at the seriousness of the lives she's singing about, including her own.
Carlene Carter has made the album of her life, and to hear her find herself so completely is a near-religious experience... This album, produced by Don Was, featuring some of the finest players on the planet and including all-time Carlene Carter original "Me and the Wildwood Rose," will hopefully allow the stellar singer to reach her deserving place on the history roll call, and prove once and for all this circle will surely remain unbroken.
“This whole record was very moving to me. Just getting in there and doing this was hard for many reasons, but then covering songs my grandma and Mamma sang, it was very emotional. But looking back, this isn’t a record I could have made 10 years ago or at the beginning of my career, because even though I did sing these songs when I was younger, I just didn’t have the appreciation for them like I do now. I finally got it. So now it’s time for these songs to be out there.”
Country music icon Carlene Carter returns to music with her first album of new material in six years with ‘Carter Girl’... a collection of songs which would make the Carter (and Cash) Family very proud. With these new songs, Carlene is breathing life into music history which should never ever be forgotten.
Carter’s pose on the cover evokes her mother, but this isn’t meant to be a sepia-toned reproduction of those old songs. Instead, Carter brings them into her musical world — charging June Carter’s murder-suicide ballad “Tall Lover Man” with the sort of twangy, poppy, country-rock treatment that has always been the daughter’s calling card, giving an update to A.P. Carter’s “Lonesome Valley” via the soulful mourn of “Lonesome Valley 2003,” and reprising her own “Me and the Wildwood Rose” to sing her memories of time spent on the road with the Carter Sisters. This may be the best record this Carter girl has ever made.
Carlene Carter's new album Carter Girl (Rounder), a tribute to the musical heritage of her fabled family, is a triumph. "Legendary" is a shamefully overused word, but how else to describe Carlene's grandmother, Mother Maybelle Carter; her mother, June Carter Cash, who, with aunts Helen and Anita, were the Carter Sisters; her father, Carl Smith and her stepfather, Johnny Cash... Carter Girl is that rare contemporary album with a cohesiveness that rewards listening from start to finish...
June Carter Cash duets on Baby Ride Easy, at the time a recent hit for her daughter Carlene Carter and Dave Edmunds. June may not match Carlene for simmering sexuality but she and Cash sure sound as if they are having a ball out front of a band racing through the changes...
The album includes two duets between Johnny and June, including "Baby Ride Easy," a song that Carlene Carter — June's daughter from her first marriage to country star Carl Smith — introduced to her mother and stepfather. (Carter also makes a present-day guest appearance on the recently completed track.)
For fans of more traditional country music, Carter Girl is a delight. Carlene Carter, the daughter of Carl Smith and June Carter Cash, uses her album to showcase the songs of the Carter Family generations (Carlene's grandmother was Maybelle) and what riches these songs offer. Among the musicians involved are the master drummer Jim Keltner, Vince Gill, Sam Bush and Blake Mills. Gold Watch and Chain, Troublesome Waters – a duet with Willie Nelson – I'll Be All Smiles Tonight and Poor Old Heartsick Me are among the songs which are played and sung with passion and skill.
This album is a spirited, sensitive masterpiece by one of the Carter Family Royalty—Carlene Carter. Her most ambitious, fully-realised work to date, the songs selected, whether self-penned or the work of her illustrious family members down through the generations, showcase the evolution of the Carter Family from the original historical 1927 recordings that featured Carlene’s grandmother Mother Maybelle through to her mother June Carter Cash and her aunts Helen and Anita Carter—who performed for many years as the Carter Sisters—to Carlene’s own career that has spanned rock, mainstream country and more traditional Appalachia strains...
Country music legend Carlene Carter has recorded her forthcoming album, “Carter Girl,” at Ocean Way in Hollywood, with additional sessions in Nashville. The album is an homage to her Carter Family legacy for which she is now the standard bearer after the passing of her grandmother Maybelle Carter and mother June Carter Cash...
‘Carter Girl’ is the first album of new recordings this decade from Americana legend Carlene Carter. Produced by Don Was, Carter Girl is, in a very literal way, Carlene’s personal homage to the Carter Family legacy that both underpins so much of America’s music and is part of her own DNA.
...she controls her considerable talent with dignity and stylish tribute, not imitation... Suffice to say that this album is the real thing amidst so much that is good and so much more that is just slowed down pop songs played with acoustic instruments.
The two originals are deeply moving, but her interpretations of the Carter Family's songbook are also heartfelt and impressive. There's as much rock and blues as country in her takes on "Little Black Train," "Blackie's Gunman," and "Blackjack David," but Carter approaches these songs as something fresh and vital, and she fills them with her own fearless spirit... On Carter Girl, Carlene Carter has confronted the mighty legacy of the Carter Family's songbook and allowed it to strengthen her music rather than buckling under its weight, and this ranks with her finest recorded work to date.
It has, it seems, been a lifetime dream for her to release this collection; listening to the CD, it is clear that it has been a labour of love... Whether you have followed Carlene Carter's career, are more familiar with the Carter sisters, or are trying to get a taste for music as it was then...this one is for you.
...what Carlene is doing here is fascinating. They are old songs, though here they aren’t distinguished that way at all. Here they are just songs, with a message and a delivery so modern that they could have been written yesterday... Also here is Carlene’s own story, particularly in “Me and the Wildwood Flower” and “Lonesome Valley.” ...The juxtaposition of these two things—AP’s alienation and Carlene’s reminiscences of moments in her family life—works brilliantly and beautifully... So, no, this isn’t a bluegrass album... In fact, it’s a delight on all sorts of levels, not the least of which being that the album achieves so beautifully, entertainingly, the thing that it set out to do: revisit the fold.
...there are vocal contributions from generations past — Carlene’s aunts Helen and Anita Carter as well as June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash on the chorus of “I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow”– that make Carter Girl an evocative collection, bringing music history and the roots of today’s Americana movement to life for contemporary listeners.
Little Black Train, a traditional gospel song dating back to the 1800s and popularized by the Carter Family and Woody Guthrie, is pulling into the pop culture station again...
VIRAL SENSATION STEMS FROM THE CARTER FAMILY. Some of you history buffs and Internet junkies out there probably know already, but you’ve been clapping along to an old Carter Family song...
Thirty seconds into a phone interview, Carlene Carter excused herself momentarily. "The dog went after a bunny rabbit," Carter said. Yes, even "country royalty" has those mundane home chores like chasing down a wayward pooch...
Carlene Carter loved the summertime when she was growing up. Not because it meant she didn’t have to go to school, but because she got to travel on the road with her mother, June Carter Cash, and her stepfather, Johnny Cash...
“Adele always wants to wear black because she loves Johnny Cash and he wore black,” she (Adele's stylist Gaelle Paul ) explains. “She also loves June Carter Cash because she and Johnny were so much in love and they had this wonderful marriage. Sometimes she’ll look at herself in the mirror and say, ‘Oh I look like her, Gaelle!’”
The stepdaughter of a country music legend is in Sun Valley this week. The community is embracing Carlene Carter with gifts and a key to the city. All you country fans out there might recognize this lady by her voice or familiar look. Meet Carlene Carter. "I'm a third generation member of the Carter family. My grandma was Maybelle Carter, my mom is June Carter Cash, or was, probably still is in Heaven, and my father is Carl Smith, my stepfather is Johnny Cash." On Thursday, Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe presented Carter with the key to the city. "I was honored and surprised, I don't know why! I'm just so happy about it," adds Carter...
The daughter of June Carter and her first husband, Carl Smith, (Carlene) Carter has a formidable music legacy of her own. She has released 12 albums and graced the upper echelons of the Billboard country music chart numerous times. In being a latter-day prodigy of The Carter Family, (Johnny) Cash's influence was never too far away during her musical beginnings. "He was a huge influence on me." Carter recalled. "I spent a large majority of my childhood traveling with the Johnny Cash Show. I started my career singing with them on the road. He taught me a lot of songs when I was first starting out that I probably never would have discovered. But it's hard to separate the Johnny Cash legacy from him being my stepdad. But at the same time, that kind of goes hand in hand."
"I was thrilled when Cindy (Cash) asked me to be a part of this. There are bound to be a few versions of 'Ring of Fire,' including mine that day," laughs (Carlene) Carter, who is currently paying homage to her prodigious country music legacy by recording a compilation album of Carter family songs in Los Angeles. Carter, who refers to her stepdad as "Big John," will perform a solo acoustic set including "It Takes One to Know Me," the song she wrote as a birthday present for Cash when she was 17 (and recorded by her for the first time on her 2008 album, "Stronger"). "He has a massive base of fans that miss him and want to feel close to what he used to bring to them, and this is about as close as we can get," Carter says. "As his family we have inherited his legacy and it's an honor to be able to celebrate it with his fans."
Walk The Line told the story of Johnny Cash and his tempestuous love affair with the woman who was to become his wife - singer/songwriter June Carter. One person who watched at close quarters the courtship between Cash and Carter was June's daughter (from her marriage to singer Carl Smith) Carlene Carter...
Only Webb Pierce, Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow had more success on the Billboard country chart in the 1950s than Mr. Smith, who had 58 consecutive Top 40 hits on that chart from 1951 to 1965. The first 21 of these, including the No. 1 singles "Hey Joe!," Loose Talk" and "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way" reached the Top 10...
Carlene Carter, standard bearer of the first family of country music, The Carter Family, will make her first appearance at the SXSW Music Conference with a panel on songwriting and a live Direct TV performance the whole country can enjoy...
Despite releasing one of 2008's seminal albums, Stronger, the heiress to the Carter-Cash legacy (she's the daughter of June Carter Cash and Carl Smith, and the step-daughter of Johnny) has elected to forgo the trappings of Nashville for her Santa Barbara County home...
Carlene Carter should have been a huge star. The daughter of country greats June Carter and Carl Smith, she has more songwriting and vocal talent than most of today's newbies would know what to do with...
Anybody who's not touched by reflective moments like "Bring Love" or the mournful-yet-uplifting title track must be a coldhearted creature indeed...
This is why you should care about Carlene Carter: She puts her whole life into her music in a way few artists dare or accomplish. Not just snippets of a diary. I mean her life experience, her guts and her whole psyche. It goes in there. It's not always a pretty recipe. But the results are often gems of music...
It's been a long, long time since one of the heirs of the Carter Family heritage has been heard from musically... But now Carlene Carter is back in a big way on a small, but respected indie label, Yep Roc, with the release of the appropriately titled and highly personal "Stronger."
Stronger is one of her best and most personal albums to date. She's made a disc that's as lively as her music of the '80s and '90s without sidestepping the emotional gravity that informs her new material. Stronger shows she still has spunk and fire to spare, while also revealing a hard-won maturity and strength that richly, truly earns her the over-used appellation of "survivor"...
On her first proper album in more than a decade, a triumphantly sober Carter trades in youthful spunk for mature grit. While "Stronger" isn't as stormy as stepsister Roseanne Cash's "Black Cadillac," it's similarly cathartic, inspired by the loss of mom June Carter Cash & stepdad Johnny Cash, Carter's ex-boyfriend and younger sister Rosey. Should appeal to Carter-Cash clan followers as well as commercial country fans of Martina McBride and Faith Hill...
While definitely among Carter's best work, it may well stand as one of the best albums of this year...
She was as sure as a sure thing can be in Nashville back in 1978. Carlene Carter was 22, starlet-stunning, had a crystal-pure mountain voice and wore some of the best-fitting genes in Music City...
"Everybody just assumed it would be a country album," says Carlene Carter. "You know, Carter Family girl, lives in Nashville, picks guitar, writes songs..."
A talent highlight came with the national unveiling of a bright new singer, Carlene Carter -- daughter of June Carter Cash. She carries the traditions of the Carter family into the modern country arena. She proved herself a talent to be reckoned with in the future, singing "If You're Ever In Nashville."