In Their Own Words – The Carter Brothers

In Their Own Words – The Carter Brothers

Q: You come from North Carolina and now call Nashville home. When and how’d you make the decision to move?

A: Yes, we are from the Piedmont area of North Carolina, a little town called Jamestown, just outside of Greensboro. We made the move to Nashville in January of 1994. We had a deal with Capitol Records and were spending so much time there, and we always felt like we were around our “own kind” in Nashville, so we eventually made the move.


Q: What brought you to Key West the first time and when was that?

A: It was 1992, I believe. Our drummer had played Sloppy’s a few times with a band called Arhooly. He had the contact info, so we made the call.  Back then, Sloppy’s was the “locals spot.” They brought in a lot of diverse, cool music, a lot of national touring bands were playing there. I remember Leon Russell playing there, War, Pure Prairie League.

Q: What keeps you coming back to Key West?

A: The people. At this point, we have made lifelong friends in Key West; they are family to us. We’re very family oriented and love our fans like family.


Q: What clubs do you play on the island?

A: Mainly the Hog’s Breath, with an occasional stop at The Green Parrot. Charlie Bauer, Art Levin (Hog’s Breath) and John Vagnoni (Parrot) have been good to us. Again, we feel like family there and know that we are welcomed.


Q: Do you play gigs outside of Florida?

A: Tim: Yes, every now and then we play somewhere else in Florida. Most of the time, we jump on a plane in Nashville and fly into Key West for our gigs.  We keep instruments and supplies on the island because we frequent Key West every two to three months.

Danny: We actually are seasoned world travelers. We do especially well in Ireland, Western Europe, the U.K. and spend quite a bit of time touring over there. Our albums are quite popular everywhere these days. In the U.S. we tour mainly on the east and west coasts and the Rocky Mountain states.


Q: You guys have participated in music festivals in Ireland. How’d that come about?

A: We do play music festivals in Ireland. We play a lot of Arts Council gigs around the country and some pub gigs. We’ve spent a lot of time in Ireland and have made some great friendships there. Last year we recorded a CD with some fellow Irishmen that will be released in 2013 on Compass Records, titled “Where The Green Grass Meets The Bluegrass.”  It features the great four-string banjo innovator Barney McKenna of the Dubliners and fiddle/banjo great Gerry O’Connor.  They came to Nashville and spent two weeks with us and recorded the record. Sadly, Barney passed away this summer. It’s his last recording. He was a true Irish icon.


Q: In Key West you’ve had billing as The Carter Brothers and at other times as The Carter Brothers Band. What’s the difference?

A: The Carter Brothers is usually just me and Danny (duo), the Carter Brothers Band includes our drummer Dann Sherrill and bassist Adam Chaffins.


Q: Have you always been a duo or have you tried solo careers? 

A: The only time we went our own way was when we each recorded our solo records a few years back. Danny recorded a batch of blues-rock tunes he had written, his project is called “Danny Reid Carter, Barcelona” and mine was called “Tim Carter, Bang Bang.”  It is a batch of original acoustic tunes, with lots of banjo on it of course…


Q: Individually, what do you do without each other on your free time?

A: Tim: I’m a recording engineer. We own The Treehouse Recording Studio and I am the engineer. It stays pretty busy there. I do a lot of banjo and mandolin tracks for other people’s records. I also enjoy playing golf, but am not real good at it.

Danny: I’m a songwriter so I of course write a lot, music and lyrics. I love to fly fish for trout up in the hills, play golf and always have indoor and outdoor projects going on around the house and property. I like girls, too!


Q: How many CDs have your recorded?

A: Hmmm, A couple of LP’s (records), six CDs, and several others that we were a part of as the Carter Brothers. Our CDs are available wherever we play.


Q: Do you write songs together or separately?

A: Our latest record “The Road to Roosky” was mainly co-written by us. That was the purpose of the record. We decided to combine Danny’s world as a blues-rock artist and mine as a bluegrass artist. The record really represents our two worlds colliding. We wrote most of the tunes together, recorded it, and shopped it around Nashville to some record labels. Compass Records Nashville liked the record and wanted to release it. It’s a perfect fit for us, they are one of the most respected Indie labels in the world. “The Road to Roosky” is in the running for a Grammy nomination in 2013 in the Best Americana Record category.


Q: On stage, as you’ve mentioned, Danny is rock ‘n roll, Tim is country. How do you make the two mix so well?

A: Tim: When we decided to start playing together, Danny had been playing in blue-rock bands, I had been living in the mountains of North Carolina playing banjo music. I loved blues as well and we seemed to gravitate to a lot of the West Coast music that was happening in the 1970’s  New Riders, The White Brothers, Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Vassar Clements, John Hartford. We felt a kinship with those guys. I think it works well because it’s so honest; we only play what we feel totally comfortable with, so we really pick and choose our material carefully.

Danny: I loved all the old blues guys and Motown stuff growing up. When Led Zep came along guitarist Jimmy Page changed my life. He encompassed all the things about the blues that I love. The hard rocking electric styles mixed with his very prolific acoustic work. Not many people are aware that Page also played the banjo on several albums as well.


Q: You have a strong fan base in Key West, but you also have an active fan club that follows wherever you go. How’d that come about?

A: Danny and I are so joined at the hip, musically. I think people are intrigued by watching us perform together.  We are very approachable and therefore make tons of friends; our friends therefore meet each other and before you know it, it’s a family of friends. A few years back one of our friends named Alex Counts, who we met in Key West, decided he wanted to start a Carter Brothers Fan Club. We didn’t know him very well, but felt his sincerity and passion. He is the CEO of the Grameen Foundation and is one of the smartest guys I know. We were hesitant to call it a fan club, we thought friends club sounded better, but in order to register it the title to have those words, so we sucked it up and went with it. It’s become a very important vehicle for us; they are very good at keeping people informed on what’s going on with us. They also handle most of our merchandise.


Q: You built a recording studio at home. Besides yourselves, who has used it? 

A: Tim: The studio started out as a place for us to do our own projects, but it has grown in a big way. It’s a 1,000-square-foot space with a ProTools HD recording rig, lots of great vintage recording gear. It’s a log house with tons of vibe. It also houses a lot of original Key West art by some of our favorite artists, so the Key West vibe is all over the studio. We do several records a year for other artists, as well our own projects.

The good thing about living in Nashville is we have access to all the incredible musicians to work with. Anyone that comes to Nashville to record knows that the bar is set high, and the quality is going to be the best.


Q: How involved are you when someone else records there?

A: Tim: Well, sometimes a producer will bring an artist in and I am only the engineer, sometimes an artist will come in and hire me to produce their sessions. I will hire the players, help arrange the tunes, engineer, mix, the whole deal. A lot of times I will get more involved in a recording session only because people are not aware of how to keep things moving. I’m asked to play on a lot of the records because I do it cheap. If they need a great flat picker or some electric guitar, then Danny is close by and can accommodate that as well.


Q: Do you see yourselves one day being more involved in the recording business than as singer-songwriters?

A: Tim: Well, it’s certainly something I can do for a long time, as long as I can still hear well, and I do enjoy the creative part of it, so yes.


Q: On Facebook, you’ve mentioned and shown photos of the home you built for your mother. Where do you find the time to do all this? And what’s mom think of her two boys? Who’s the favorite?

A: Tim: We lost our Dad in 2007, Mom moved into a retirement facility not long afterwards but didn’t like being around so many old people (she just turned 85). One day she asked about moving to Nashville to be closer to us, since we are a very small, close family, so we packed her up and moved her into an apartment about 10 minutes from us in Goodlettsville. Earlier this year she brought up the idea of building a house next to ours. We didn’t flinch and started the ball moving that day. It’s a small log cabin attached to ours by a 12-foot hallway that is custom built just for her needs. It’s really ideal for everyone. She loves it. Favorite? Guess?


Q: When and where is your next gig in Key West?

A: We’re playing Hog’s Breath Jan. 7-13, 2013. We play the late shift, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. with the whole band.

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