Boston Musicians Channel The Carter Family
I decided to attend this show because I know and love several of the musicians, but also because the idea of musicians who do not normally play country or folk music doing just that appealed to me. And then there is The Carter Family…
Called Wayworn Travelers, the band was formed to provide the backing music for the premiere of a documentary (The Winding Stream) about The Carter Family. Drummer Jerome Deupree, guitarist/banjo player/mandolin player Bruce Millard (as well as flu-stricken Dennis Brennan), fiddle player Matt Leavenworth, singer Anita Suhanin, guitarist/autoharpist Elijah Wald, and bassist Jim Haggerty comprised the band this night.
This was only the fourth time they have performed live, and while that was evident it was in no way a negative. They clearly were enjoying themselves, joking with one another about not having much rehearsal time and teasingly berating Dennis for being sick!
The set included songs from the entirety of the family’s recording career (1927-1956). I did not realize they were considered the first country music recording stars! I also did not know that Chet Atkins played with the family for a year!
They dug deep into the family’s catalog, playing songs I did not recognize but enjoying them anyway. Anita’s vocals, along with harmonies from Bruce and Elijah, were spectacular. She sang lead on most songs; Bruce and Elijah also sang several leads each.
The big surprise for me was that Elijah is a fine musician. I know him from his writing – his excellent books on Bob Dylan going electric at Newport Folk Festival and Dave van Ronk – but had no idea he could play and sing so well!
I hope this band starts performing more often. This was an extremely enjoyable evening.