“Good times they come but are bound to go
and how long you got ’em, you’ll never know
So don’t dance too slow, don’t think too loud,
the band that’s playin’ likes a rowdy crowd”
– “Dram Shop Gal,” Carson McHone
Our listening room show with Carson McHone had a whole lot of firsts. It was the first time I’d ventured into an unfamiliar space to host a show — all the others have been in a house I can access freely or my office — so I loaded all our stuff in and out of the venue just like the band. (That ish is exhausting. Pay musicians.) It was also the first time we had guests literally walk by and wander inside with no prior knowledge of the event, so that’s definitely a point in favor of our new, more public model. And y’all, for the first time ever, we had folks get up and dance during the show. I’m not sure that’s something I’d encourage for every performance, but for Carson’s 1960s-Texas-dance-hall vibe, it seemed exactly right.
Carson joined us during a long-weekend round-about through the neighborhood (namely, Little Rock, Memphis, and Nashville) but she’s clearly a seasoned road warrior. Her songwriting style is personal and sharp, but she knows how to translate those intricate gems into disco balls that fill up a crowded bar. With Sam Kossler on side/slide guitar, Lindsay Greene on bass, and Jason Baczynski holding down drums, Carson switched between acoustic and electric to keep the room on lock at every temper and tempo.
The thing that initially struck me hard about Carson is how her style feels so rooted and yet totally new and fresh. I don’t know a thing about her politics, but the phrase that jumped to mind when I first heard her was “Patsy Cline in a pussy hat.” There is incredible comfort and familiarity in her sound, as well as totally of-the-moment relatability. Her songs for us spanned a range from quiet simmer to barn-burner without ever losing their honesty.
Although we weren’t wassailing, our show with Carson was a perfect end to our year and gift to our guests, old and new. It was a reminder to take chances, meet your neighbors, and whenever possible, get off your ass and dance.
Happy holidays, y’all!
(I recorded a whole bunch of songs, so here are just a few. Check out all the rest on YouTube.)
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