For somebody who’s been a major personality in professional music for four decades running, Jon Carroll has the easy, unassuming wit of a small-town grocer who knows it all and has seen it all, but is clever enough to keep that fodder to himself.
Songs, Stories and Gas Money
Featuring Jon Carroll
7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30
$15 advance/$20 at the door
The Barns at Hamilton Station
Never is he pompous or assuming—you imagine his contract rider calls for cold, clear water, maybe a nice crudité, a pen and paper in the event inspiration strikes. Carroll’s air is one of calm, with a deep, humorous intelligence bubbling just under his grinning exterior.
“It’s all about Songs, Stories and Gas Money, right,” he asks, his laughter somehow audible even through email. “Heck, I may do like, two songs. … Songs front and center certainly, but there’s always a yarn spinning in the wings!”
The statement is at once a tease, a promise and a joke—this writer is pretty sure there will be more than two songs on Carroll’s set list—and, most importantly, a perfect illustration of why Carroll is an ideal musician to frequent Songs, Stories and Gas Money, the newest performance venture by Stilson Greene and Don Chapman. The intimate Barns at Hamilton Station venue encourages quiet listening as musicians perform and tell the tales behind some of their best-loved songs. It’s a chance to get to know performers on a deeper level, building relationships with the individuals themselves, as well as their art.
Presently Carroll’s plans for the night are somewhat loose—“Fifty percent [of the set] will be the steadfast, stalwart, steady-as-she-goes staples of my current solo show, 25 percent new songs fresh outa the incubator, and 25 percent unforeseen, and by that I mean … I don’t even know there until I go there,” he said. “People can sometimes lob the strangest requests, and I’m usually eager to embrace the strange!”
Almost three years after moving from Loudoun north to Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, Carroll still relishes the chance to come back to his roots and perform for the folks whose steadfast support he’s enjoyed for years. Songs, Stories and Gas Money is an ideal spot to reconnect with those fans, who Carroll will doubtless regale with tales from his recent road travels and the nearer environs of his home recording studio.
“The past year and a half has been varied and well-travelled with Mary Chapin [Carpenter’s] trio group ‘world tour’—all over the United States, United Kingdom and Australia—my own shows and being lucky enough to help others with their various shows (Jingle Jam!) and recording projects,” Carroll said. “During the downtime from those trips I’ve been intently songwriting and recording new tracks of my own for the next record. … I’ve been scooting over to Boston lately to hang and play a few shows with some of my Beantown buds like Dennis Brennan, Duke Levine and Peter Wolf. Great players and artists all.”
In the meantime, concert-goers can gear up for Carroll’s show by visiting his new website, joncarroll.org, where the latest news, demos and photos are posted by the man himself. Carroll encourages his fans to check the website often, as a new crowdfunding venture will soon be launched there.
“I hope folks find my music worthy of some ground support,” Carroll says. “We won’t let you down! It’s a different age for creative efforts and I’m hoping to be able to concentrate on producing a fabulous collection the old fashioned way—in a studio with awesome engineers and musicians!”
By the weekend it’s anticipated most of Loudoun will be dug out, but perhaps crippled by cabin fever—Songs, Stories and Gas Money has the remedy. Doors open at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $15 per person and available online at thebarnsathamiltonstation.com, or $20 per person at the door.