Talk Music: Adam Carroll kicks off annual Shiner Summer Songwriters Series
BY MELISSA CROWE
May 29, 2013 at 12:29 a.m.
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Third annual Shiner Summer Songwriters Series
• WHO'S PLAYING: Bill Pekar & The Rainey Brothers, Adam Carroll
• WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday
• WHERE: Howard's Beer Garden, 1701 North Avenue E, Shiner
• MORE INFO: 361-594-4200
Adam Carroll stands out of the Texas music scene crowd as a singer, songwriter and troubadour.
With seven albums under his belt, international tours and comparisons to Townes Van Zandt, John Prine and Bob Dylan, Carroll has a developed way of connecting with his listeners with stories and characters anyone can relate to.
He'll kick off the Shiner Summer Songwriters Series this Sunday.
This isn't your first time in Shiner?
The past couple of summers, I've done Howard's for the Sunday series. I thought it was great. I'd never been to Howard's before. Bill Pekar hosts and plays and helped bring all us musicians to the series. It's a great thing.
I felt like I was at home when I came there. It's just a friendly atmosphere, everybody was real laid back. I sort of felt like it's what I imagine Austin must have been like in the old days.
How do you plan to kick off the series?
The last couple of times, I've just played solo, acoustic. I usually open up with "Girl with the Dirty Hair." I've written some new ones. I will do my best to do as many songs from my albums as I can.
I do my best to try to make it good and make people feel good. I can say that I'll do what I usually do: sing and play my guitar and hope for the best.
What do you think about the state of singer/songwriter music in Texas today?
I think in this area - New Braunfels and San Marcos, down near Victoria, of course, there's Schroeder Hall, and we've got Gruene Hall and Cheatham Street - those places do a good job of supporting local singer/songwriters in Texas.
Maybe in Austin, they've lost some of that. I think the younger people are more into indie rock, so it's a little less focused on the singers and songwriters there. We still have that down south. It's good to see Howard's supporting that from the old Austin vein. It's a good tradition to keep that spirit going.
For me, I like the more local, singer/songwriter style, in the tradition of Willie Nelson and Robert Earl Keen. I think that maybe places like Howard's just remind me of what it must have been like at Threadgill's back in the old days in Austin. I wasn't around, but that's what I think it must have been like, and I think that's cool. I want to be a part of something like that.
I've been playing since the late 1990s in this area. I grew up in East Texas, and I moved to Austin in 1998.
Has East Texas impacted your music?
A lot of the songs that I write are about East Texas. The characters I write about come from people I've known around there. I think it's definitely been a big part of my music and what I write about.
It will be probably there forever. When I first started to write songs, that's what came out of me, growing up around there. It's not something I can help really.
Considering all your albums, is there a song you love? One for the history books?
I don't know about the history books, but I have a song about a rice farmer called "Errol's Song." I guess that would be my favorite song. That one was based on a real person, so it's pretty close to the real experience.
When I was a teenager, my dad took us goose hunting in South Louisiana in Lake Arthur, right between Lake Charles and Lafayette. This guy, Errol, was a rice farmer from there. It was the first time I'd been to South Louisiana, and I just was captivated by it. It's so much different than Tyler.
The culture there is so unique, the whole experience of seeing the geese and meeting the Cajuns down there, getting to hear their stories. It was like going to a new world for me. Since then, I've always had an attachment to that area.
The guy I wrote the song about, he passed away. But I've gone back and played in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I've really gotten into that whole area since then. I keep going back and writing more songs about it.
In your songs, is it more about the story or about true events?
When people connect with the song, that's when I know I've written a true song. I've always really liked fiction and fictional writing and stories. I have a real short attention span, so songs are good for that. You can make little stories in about two or three minutes. It's both.
The truth as you see it in a story is pretty important, and I think one thing in a song is you don't have to follow any rules to make it true. You can write little stories and you can write poetry in stories and make it all in a song. The truth would be from whatever point of view that you have writing the song and get that across as best they can.
The people I admire have said you have to write it from your experience and your point of view but leave enough space that other people can relate to it.
Some pretty big names are covering your songs these days. You have Hayes Carll on board?
Hayes and I are pretty good friends, and he's covered a few of my songs. We've never written a song together, but we've done some shows together, and he has sung a few of my tunes over the years.
I wrote "Girl with the Dirty Hair," with a guy from Victoria, and Hayes has done that song. As he's gotten more popular and bigger, it helps me because more people hear my song.
Anything new you're working on?
I have maybe four or five albums worth of original material, but I've got eight new songs.
People should be expecting an album by the end of the year. I'm still writing a few more songs. Hopefully, we'll get in the studio before the end of the year.
It's pretty much the same style as my other albums. Some of the songs are more soulful, like Delbert McClinton. I wouldn't want to say that they sound like Delbert; I'm not anything like him. When I write songs, I try to think of my heroes singing the words. If I can hear Delbert or someone like that singing it, that tells me that it might be a good song.
There's a few songs like that that are a little more soulful, and there's some that are country and about Louisiana and a lot of folk. It's more of the same but different.