Category Archives: Musician

Carsie Blanton: A Shenandoah Valley Musical Treat

I honed my talent in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, covering and reviewing top-drawer musical acts for the Bucks Count.y Herald. I became recognized in that hallowed community as a unique, reputable voice covering the music and art scene.

One major omission in my coverage, though. In 2012, a Doylestown, PA resident invited me to his home for a house concert featuring a professional folk artist constantly writing new material. What I heard was an amazing bundle of energy dedicated to the off-center writings of legendary artist John Prine.

Her name: Carsie Blanton, who appears to be following in Prine’s footsteps. I never wrote about her then, but I am writing about her now.

Blanton has been touring over the last 10 years, with the latest soul-draining tour ending Sunday night, November 20, in Seattle. A night before, she performed in Portland, which allows me to pen some overdue coverage.

Blanton is a true Philly troubadour capable of writing a myriad of songs, some with engaging hooks. She seems determined to give her talent a classical musical presence. That’s apparent from the sound created by two geniuses masquerading as side musicians: Joe Plowman, a Philadelphia area bassist, composer and teacher, and electronic music wizard Patrick Firth from Rockaway Beach, NY.

Assembled together, the musical trio succeeded in completely resonating the Alberta Rose’s 400-seat theater. Plowman amplified his stand-up bass so thoroughly he rumbled the walls on one end of the building’s stage. (His electric bass sounded good, but nothing like the stand-up instrument’s richness.)

Meanwhile, Firth tickled the ivories of an electric piano to test the treble range of one’s hearing on the other side. His ancillary performance on an adjacent harmonium, which looks more like a stand-up accordion with bellows, captured music-lovers’ fascination.

My ears, along with Carsie Blanton’s, of course, never had it so good. Her music filled the room with effortless verses containing challenging tonality, a chorus working up to high notes, and a peculiar message adding unexpected humor.

Bodies in the crowd shook as incredible musical lows rumbled around, accompanied by jazz-flavored trills tinkling the treble clef’s upper limits.

Blanton still works her audience to raise recognition for music online, and patrons are asked to request specific songs on Spotify. The music business has changed, not so much for the better these days as performers selling CDs after performances are vital to keep musicians’ tours solvent. A flawed appearance on Public Radio’s “Mountain Stage” tops her list of lost opportunities. The performance I heard on Saturday night testifies to the outstanding efforts of working musicians.

What about Blanton’s long-held anti-establishment message? Well, the intensity of her philosophy is likely to change. On the present tour, a one-night performance in San Francisco suffered a vehicle break-in, affecting the band’s instruments and gear. This kind of thievery is prevalent on the West Coast, perpetrated by well-organized criminal enterprises operating out of homeless camps. Nevertheless, without all their original equipment, Blanton’s entourage prevailed with a spontaneous, well-received performance.

Another Philly musical artist, Brittany Ann Tranbaugh, appeared prior to Blanton, entertaining a near-capacity crowd for 25 minutes with unexpected musical twists and turns prior to Carlie’s show.

Blanton comes from a world of mountain greenery, quite a bit different from Pennsylvania. She lives the life of a folk artist who emanated from the town of Luray, Virginia, not far from world-famous Luray Caverns. And she speaks her mind onstage, almost transparently. Accordingly, you don’t have to travel too far to know how this particular mountain entertainer with curly Angela Davis-styled hair expresses herself.

Through an old adage, “You can take a girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of a girl.”

Carsie Blanton’s next tour is scheduled for mid- and late-April 2023 with performances in Washington, Philadelphia, New York and the Northeast. More details on her website: Shows | Carsie Blanton

Joan Baez to Receive Kennedy Center Honor

I grew up with a gourmet taste in music, having once played Mozart for Louis Armstrong. I attended many fine concerts, including Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Bette Midler Folk music appealed aplenty, because it pointed out hypocrisies to fundamental American ideals.

At first, I didn’t think of activism when I first heard the voice of Joan Baez on her debut album 60 years ago. Instead, I was thunderstruck and immediately thought of Maria Callas. Had Ms. Callas revised her repertoire?

No, the voice I heard was different, but oh so pure. It struck me like perfection. That is how Joan Baez entered my consciousness via Vanguard Records.

Over many, many years, I adored Ms. Baez from afar, admiring her short-term relationship to Bob Dylan, while reading and re-reading her inspired words to husband David Harris, “I even think I see the birth of a real revolution, if our weapon remains the power of love … and if we keep doing it one day at a time.”

There is a song with that title – and a record album to go with it – called “One Day at a Time.” I cannot sing it without my voice breaking with emotion. That’s the power she interprets into Willie Nelson’s song.

Ms. Baez now is scheduled to receive the ultimate tribute, in my opinion, an artist can receive: Kennedy Center Honoree. Other honorees for the newest cast of characters are choreographer Debbie Allen, Garth Brooks, country artist Garth Brooks, classical violinist Midori and comedy legend Dick Van Dyke. The event is currently scheduled sometime for the third week of May 2021, and for nationwide CBS broadcast June 6.

Think of the changes the pandemic has brought upon us: wearing masks almost constantly, self quarantining (in my case, without Alice) and all the associated fear. Now think of the good things: cleaner air, fewer automobiles, more people working from home and growing libraries of great entertainment including, best of all, an end to U.S. Presidents boycotting the Kennedy Center Honors.

Ms. Baez deserves to be seen and heard all across this country. Perhaps then some enterprising musical entrepreneur will at long last give her rendition (with Jeffrey Shurtleff) of “(I Live) One Day at a Time” the exposure it deserves. “Seven Bridges Road” ain’t too shabby, either.

Bravo, Ms. Baez!

Celebrating an Impresario

So long, T.J.  You finally received an all-star send-off.

Two weeks ago, the musical legacy of T.J. Tindall was celebrated in a musical jam in the City of Brotherly Love, most notably by Duke Williams and his life partner Annie.  Perhaps now T.J.’s prolific spirit can reverberate across the universe.

While living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I covered the music scene for the Bucks County Herald.  Until September 2014, I witnessed and reported on triumphs – tragedies, as well – including the Marshall Tucker Band’s headline appearance at the Stockton Inn and the all-star wake for Danny DeGennaro after his senseless murder in December 2011.

Introducing a Rising Star

Jessi Teich brought the crowded room at Jon and Peter's to its feet.
Jessi Teich brought the crowded room at Jon and Peter’s to its feet.

One highlight during those years was covering T.J. Tindall’s February 2013 concert at Jon and Peter’s in New Hope.  He crammed an all-star ensemble inside the historic nightspot and featured a breakout starring role for a chanteuse named Jessi Teich.  Her sultry moves and rock-steady vocal solos highlighted the night’s blues repertoire, and raised an appreciative audience’s temperature to long-forgotten heights.

After hearing some of Teich’s cuts from a promotional CD, I learned she was far more than a great voice in a killer body; she is a master musician.  Some of her chord changes were inventive and worked so well that I was astounded.  No wonder T.J. used his long-awaited appearance to serve as a springboard for Teich’s career.  After all, musicians cannot help realizing how timeless great music is.

T.J. left this overrated plane of existence on Jan. 26 after succumbing to a self-imposed, undisclosed ordeal with cancer.  Friends and fellow musicians were stricken with grief, and their mournful plaints are understandable.  The impresario/musician who entertained countless audiences has a long list of credits detailed on various websites.

Nevertheless, what needs to be said at this dark hour is how to honor T.J.’s passing without tears or gnashing of teeth.  I emulate how blues and jazz musicians honor their compatriots in New Orleans.

My Way to Commemorate

I will celebrate T.J.’s musical ear by playing Jessi Teich’s music, because the universe is cyclical.  To see what she has been up to, check out her website at  I think T.J. would be pleased.  Is it any wonder that the initials of her name – J.T.  – reorganize T.J.’s?

With death comes birth, and it’s time to let him go to that parallel primordial ooze where all great musicians jam together.  I hope to see him on the other side.  Because of T.J. Tindall, a new generation of star-crossed musicians is making Planet Earth a far better place.