Let me start with a little story. I was at MilkBoy Philly for their second anniversary show. Kalob Griffin Band, Pete Donnelly, Up the Chain: it was a happening night. I had gone down and out to the curb to catch a smoke and suddenly I heard this murmur run through the crowd. A swoosh of heads turned me towards a sidewalk table and there stood a woman in a cocktail dress, hands on hips and all smiles and fountain of jet-black curls. Everyone was arrested. I turned to my fellow smoker and asked, “Who’s that?” He said, “That’s Carsie Blanton, man. Where did you say you were from?”
Welcome to America and welcome to the new jazz age. You are about to witness a one-woman barnstorm for the sake of songs, real songs, American songs. Carsie has been telling her audiences about the jazz project she’s been dreaming up for almost two years. The working title was “Jazz is for Everybody” and she ran an astoundingly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund it: over $60,000 from 1,200+ backers. She will release the album Not Old, Not New on June 24 and began a national tour behind it June 10. Whether you got behind the Kickstarter or not, you better get in front of this album and tour. You will want to say you were there when it happened.
But what kind of music is for everybody? Well, you know a great song when you hear one. It sticks in your ear and is on the tip of your tongue all day. Carsie only wrote one song for this album. It’s not that she can’t write songs; she’s released four albums to date and has a hearty national fan base. This child of the world was called to New Orleans by Ellington, Porter, Carmichael, Billie and Ella. You may not know these songs or songwriters by name. They were first published between 1928 and 1949. But on first listen you will know the grooves, the tones, the moods. They are deep and wide as the Mississippi. You’ll be singing along in no time.
Some songs are peppy and light, like “You’re a Heavenly Thing” and “What Is this Thing Called Love?” Some paint landscapes of people and places that you’ll swear you know, like “Azalea,” “Sweet Lorraine” and “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?” Some are simply, truly romantic (“Two Sleepy People” and “I’ll Be Seeing You”). One made me cry the first eleven plays: “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”
You don’t know what love is
Until you’ve learned the meaning of the blues
Until you’ve loved a love you had to lose
You don’t know what love is (Gene DePaul/Don Raye 1941)
Two songs I could easily believe are Carsie’s. They are sweet, sexy, coy and sautéed with innuendo. Both “Laziest Gal in Town” and “Don’t Come Too Soon” burn with a just-bridled sensuality that will have those that know her grinning and those just meeting her blushing. Her pitch-perfect voice, a finely-tuned instrument, is brassy, airy or timbered as fits each song on the record. She enunciates. But these two, to me, are fireworks at a bonfire. Expect some darling videos.
So who are these 1,200+ backers anyway? They can’t be just rich jazz-heads. I assure you, they’ve met Carsie. They know this incarnation of Shirley Temple, Betty Boop and Billie Holliday is one in a million and they’ve bet on her to make an incredible album. She has. Brilliant musicianship and production let this songbird soar. She spent that money very well and I can’t wait to see her and the band on tour.
I’ve been hearing her perform some of the songs on this album for almost a year, and for all that time I’ve been betting people a dollar that Carsie Blanton wins a Grammy for this album: either Jazz Album of the Year or New Jazz Artist of the Year. Now I’ve heard it. I’m upping the ante. I say this album winds up in the Smithsonian. Not Old, Not New will be known as the album that brought jazz back to the national consciousness. It turns out jazz is for everybody. You’ll know it as soon as you hear it.
Sam Campbell, Gigspots
Carsie Blanton: Not Old, Not New 2014, So Ferocious Records release date – 6/24/14.
You can catch Carsie’s release show at the Ardmore Music Hall On 7/19!!
Purchase Tickets here: http://www.ardmoremusic.com/event/523471-carsie-blanton-release-show-ardmore/
For more on Carsie Blanton and tour information, visit: http://www.carsieblanton.com/