Rising up from the roots: American folk singer Carson McHone speaks to The Reporter as she kicks off her European Tour

Roots music is how Carson McHone describes where her sound comes from. It’s risen up through her fingertips worn from plucking guitar cords in all the honky tonk bars of the ‘ol American West’.

The folk singer-songwriter who played Aberdeen’s Blue Lamp in 2019 embarks on her fourth European tour this January.

Carson plays at Café #9 in Sheffield tonight then goes to Leeds on Monday and Cambridge on Tuesday as she works her way through an eleven day UK roster before going to the continent.

-Carson McHone website

In September last year The Reporter caught Carson in Aberdeen embarking on a three day tour of Scotland where the singer-songwriter spoke in-depth about her motivation to make music, what she plays and where it originates from.

“I think people who play Country and Western music would not consider my music to be Country or Western.”

Carson has a quaint and refined figure with messy blonde hair that straggles down either side of a swan-like neck.

“There’s a couple songs that are straight up honky tonk songs and a lot’s influenced by folk music.

“I have no loyalty to one genre. I just want to write and sing honestly, in whichever direction seems right.”

Carson is a singer-songwriter from Austin Texas who began performing in 2009
Carson played at the Blue Lamp on Aberdeen’s Gallowgate in 2019

Carson McHone

Carson’s mother thought she was joking when, whilst at school, Carson said she wanted to learn the violin.

Classically trained, Carson migrated over to the guitar which she found more compatible with the words she’d always been writing.

Those words have been turned into two studio albums sung across Europe on three previous tours.

When trying to place the sound those words fit into Carson mentions a style of music called ‘honky tonk’. She sums it up better by saying there is a thread woven more closer to home that runs through all her songs.

“There’s just something sort of Carson about every song I write.”

The chicken or the egg?

The melody or the lyric? It’s one of the first questions music lovers and fans want to know.

What is the ‘creative process’? How do you go about writing a song?

It varies hugely from artist to artist.

In this sound session Carson explains that for her the process has changed over time.

Carson has cut two albums to date – Goodluck Man (2015), Carousel (2018)

Honky-tonk

While not exclusively a ‘tonk singer’, Carson’s musical roots grew out of the honky tonk scene of Texas.

Originating in the ‘old West’, honky tonk is played in bars wanting to provide music that gets their patrons dancing.

The genre inspired the likes of country legends Jimmy Rodgers and Hank Williams.

Sad Song is an ironically upbeat track that aims to get people up on their feet in what Carson describes as these “type of joints”.

Carson’s played in Glasgow, Aberdeen and the Black Isle in Scotland

Carson in the UK

Carson describes her reception in Europe as “insane” saying it’s nice to play at places where people still value music made by “real instruments”.

“Especially with this Americana scene, people are getting turned on to a lot of stuff that is more rootsy and more traditional than the modern music you hear on the radio.

“I don’t think that you’re going to sell out stadiums with the next singer-songwriter but I also think that that is necessarily not an appropriate place to see that type of music.”

She finishes with a tongue-in-cheek jibe about maybe she’s wrong and sitting playing your guitar and writing the words you feel is an art that’s dying out in the modern music world.

“Maybe it’s all dying out. Using real instruments to make music, maybe that’s a dying thing. But definitely there is a healthy little scene going on that’s able to sustain itself.”

Tour dates start of 2020

Carson’s European tour of 2020 sees her supporting the Felice Brothers. Full dates below.

Jan
Sun 26 Cafe#9, Sheffield
Mon 27 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Tues 28 Cambridge Junction, Cambridge
Wed 29 Gorilla, Manchester
Fri 31 The Old Market, Brighton
Feb
Sat 01 Islington Assembly Hall, London
Sun 02 The Fleece, Bristol
Tues 04 Paradiso, Amsterdam
Wed 05 Luxor, Cologne (Germany)
Thur 06 Lido, Berlin (Germany)
Fri 07 Knust, Hamburg (Germany)
Sat 08 Lille Vega, Kobenhavn (Denmark)
Sun 09 Pustervik, Goteborg (Sweden)
Tues 11 John Dee Live Club, Oslo (Norway)
Wed 12 Bryggarsalen Konferens Event and Konser, Stockholm (Sweden)

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