Like most of my new friends, I met the Carter Family Project via Social Media. Yes, one Follow Friday I’m on Twitter and see CarterFamilyProject (@CarterFamProj) float by. Wait a minute, Carter Family, as in THE Carter Family? As in Mother Maybelle Carter’s family? As in, Mother Maybelle, the mother of country music and June Carter? The mother-in-law of Johnny Cash? (You do understand that I’m from Tennessee. Even though my family is not involved in the music business the name Mother Maybelle is still spoken in hushed tones, as if the name of a deity is being spoken.) After a few tweets back and forth, I am pleased to present to you Fran Leadon and Leigh Anderson as they attempt to record every song the Carter Family ever cut, in the order the songs were originally recorded. Not only that, they are recording in their living room, and their living room is in Brooklyn, not Nashville. They say they record while their child takes naps. How totally cool is that? The concept is simple: record the songs in chronological sequence, beginning with the first 1927 Bristol Sessions Recordings.
According to Leigh and Fran “We record on an H2 Zoom in our living room. I’ll attach a pic of our recording set-up. We use our baby’s toy boxes to add height depending on the height of the singer. We adjust levels by physically moving people closer to or further from the mic. (We had a snare once and we actually had to station him in another room.) It’s very low-tech. We hope, as Emmylous Harris said, to “put the living room back in music.” We record on weekends, 12:30-2:30, during our son’s naptime. Otherwise he’s always banging on something.” (http://carterfamilyproject.tumblr.com/post/11908067310/the-baby-about-to-bang-on-the-bass-with-a-fridge)
Fran plays a homemade D-18 guitar and sometimes a 1959 Martin 0-18 and sometimes a Collings mandolin. I play a early 1950’s Epiphone upright bass. Our guest stars bring their own instruments, which range from meh to super high-end. On our most recent posting You Are My Flower, for example, Terry McGill is playing a 1930’s Gibson arch-top, which is sort of a nice connection to Maybelle. Hold the phone. Terry is playing a 1943 Gibson L50.
New York is having a kind of trad-music resurgence right now, and our goal is to make a snapshot of all these wonderful musicians that are here now–from famous to unknown–who’ve all been influenced by the Carter Family.
We’ll be appearing at Jalopy on Friday, January 11, 2013 at 8:00PM. 315 Columbia Street, Brooklyn. (jalopy.biz) All our guest stars–thirty or 40 people, are playing with us. This event is the Halfway Concert.
We’re halfway though the project as of this Friday–we aim to be done in another year and a half. We’re hoping to have a good range of new guest stars in 2013 and beyond.
Follow these guys and support this project. This is one of the coolest musical concepts I’ve heard of in a long time. You can find them at: