By DAVID W. WANNOP
For 21st Century Media
Carsie Blanton exemplifies the truly free spirit as she continues to follow her muse in search of great songs out among us or within herself.
Born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and spending time in Phoenixville and Philadelphia, she now resides in New Orleans where she is known as a lindy hopper as well as a singer-songwriter.
Her lyrics are almost too clever at times, but her latest offering gives a look at some of the great tune that have inspired her. Songs popularized by Lady Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Cole Porter, Hoagie Carmichael, Duke Ellington and others pepper her current album entitled “Not Old Not New,” which reveals Blanton’s affection for the sounds of the first half of the 20th century. Current concerts have such songs intermingled with her own compositions. On tour in Britain, she took time out to answer some questions expressly for Ticket.
Of the current album she relates, “Its back to originals for me after this release. Songwriting is still my primary artistic interest. I made this record because I think these songs are some of the most beautiful ever written, and I’m a song nerd, so I wanted to showcase them in my own style. I’m not particularly married to jazz, let alone a particular style or time period of jazz — I just love songs, and I want great songs to have as wide and appreciative an audience as possible. That’s my motivation with this project.”
Blanton considers material carefully and doesn’t take a song lightly. Speaking about whether she was intimidated about putting her stamp on certain numbers, she says, “Sure! I found it especially intimidating to sing “I’ll be seeing you”, because Billie’s recording is so iconic. That said, music is not a competition. It’s about expression and communication. When I really connect to a song — my own or someone else’s — singing it becomes an act of emotional resonance. I’m resonating with the band, and with the song, and with the audience. If we’re lucky, everyone comes out of that experience feeling more alive and present. When I think of it that way, it doesn’t seem particularly relevant that someone has done it before, regardless of who they are. It’s about creating something that feel emotionally relevant — these songs all feel that way to me.”
Blanton isn’t selling her latest concert tour as a tribute show or anything like that. She states, “I’m doing mostly originals throughout the tour, with five to six of the jazz tunes [from the new record] included in the set… Traveling via touring is old hat for Blanton for she has opened for Paul Simon, the Wood Brothers, and other noteworthy acts. When she was 16, she made her way across country to Portland, Oregon. Blanton was home-schooled and encouraged to live a life of discovery.
Blanton has been known as a supporter of modern sexual relationships and blogs on the topic frequently. It’s another part of her free spirit nature.
She explains, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with breaking hearts or arousing jealousy, as long as you come by it honestly. By that I mean: my life is about being creative, expressive, and honest — it’s not about making other people comfortable. I try to be respectful of other people boundaries and wishes to a reasonable extent. That said, sometimes honest self-expression brings up emotions for people. I don’t consider it my responsibility to avoid that.” Yet, with her charm and approachable demeanor, it is hard to imagine Blanton, accidentally or on purpose, hurting anyone.
A few years ago when Blanton was performing with the Wood Brothers in a New Jersey park, a tree fell down not far from the backstage area. No one was hurt, but that is the sort of thing that can happen at Carsie Blanton show. She certainly believes in an energy guiding her way.
She responds, “My greatest adventure is following my muse! I do whatever keeps me inspired, and brings me the best songs. I consider that to be my job. That pursuit has gotten me into a lot of crazy situations — including moving to New Orleans. Most of the stories are in the songs! I just follow the muse! She’s brought me some incredibly talented musicians including the band who will be joining me at Ardmore Music Hall on July 19, and collaborators of all kinds. I just try to stay creatively inspired, and the rest is all luck and magic.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Carsie Blanton
WHERE: Admore Music Hall, 23 E Lancaster Ave., Ardmore.
WHEN: July 19. Doors open at 7 p.m., show is a 8. Event is 21 and over.
INFO.: Check www.ardmoremusic.com or call (610) 649-8389. More on Carsie Blanton at www.carsieblanton.com
CONNECT: On Twitter @carsieblanton