Jack of all trades, master of all.
Those words came to mind the first time I saw Will Carter play.
Carter had come to town with Knoxville singer/songwriter Erick Baker to play a house party at the home of one of my best friends. When I walked into the living room, where the music was to take place, there was a rack of instruments lying in wait that would have made most bands envious and a host of roadies tired; guitars, a dobro, a mandolin, a trumpet, and maybe even more than I can immediately recall. Not knowing all of the logistics for the show, I had to think for a moment about where all the guys playing all these instruments were going to stand.
Turns out that wasn’t a worry, as they were all played by Will Carter, and he kicked ass on all of them.
Hailing from Knoxville, Carter has made a name for himself as a sideman and session player extraordinaire. His instrumental dexterity has earned him time in the studio or on the road with the likes of Jackson Browne, Ashley Campbell, Avicci, and Sturgill Simpson, among many others.
Now, though, Will Carter has mosied over to center stage, having released his debut record, Half Past Heartbreak,” last month. Rooted in Carter’s prodigious playing and singer/songwriter sensibility and delivered with a delightful country twang, this new record serves notice that, while always fantastic playing other people’s music, Carter’s music deserves all of our full attention.
I recently caught up with Will Carter to chat about the new record, his switch to center stage, and his incredible beard.
BRO – How are you handling the transition from side man to front man?
WC – I keep waiting on someone to tell me to turn it down.
BRO – You play a number of instruments. Do you have a go-to for songwriting, or do certain songs call for certain instruments?
WC – I prefer to start songs without any instruments at all. Just vocals. Usually, a melody or a couple of lines will come into my head while I’m driving or something. Then, I take that idea to an instrument and work it out.
BRO – Got a particular guitar in your collection that you have a hard time keeping your hands off?
WC – It’s always the ones that aren’t in my collection YET that seem to be my downfall! Out of the current stash, it would be a tie between my 1947 D-18 and a recently acquired 1965 Gibson Trini Lopez.
BRO – We are featuring “Cadillac” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
WC – It’s a true story about a friend of my grandparents. Everything else you need to know is in there.
BRO – And I have to ask you about that epic beard. When’s the last time you saw your face?
WC – My mom made me shave for my tenth birthday party. That was the last time.
You can catch Will Carter – and his glorious beard – in Johnson City, TN, on September 9th and in Knoxville on September 17th. For more on Will and his new record, make sure you check out his website.
Also, be sure to check out “Cadillac,” which is featured alongside tracks from Amanda Shires, Chatham County Line, Luke Winslow-King, and more, on this month’s Trail Mix.