Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Italian Week!

     This past week was Italian Week on Food Network. If you're wondering why I'm telling you this, it's because my mom is a huge fan of Italian cooking. She swears up and down we were meant to be Italian. So, we decided to celebrate by cooking an Italian meal every night. Each family member, excluding my sister who is at college (Sorry Catie), got to pick one of their favorite dishes to cook. On Monday my mom made her famous eggplant parmesan. I know everyone says this but, my mom really does make the best Italian food. Since she's a boss in the kitchen, my dad and I wanted to do just as good. 
     Tuesday night was my turn. I decided instead of trying to be fancy I'd stick with a classic, spaghetti and meatballs. Since I'm mostly known for my baking and not my cooking, I went for the easy route. What's simpler than spaghetti and meatballs? Boy was I wrong. I asked my mom for her recipe and found out that watching a few 'Extra Virgin' episodes on Food Network was not going to help me. I am by no means an expert on how to write a blog post about a recipe, so, I figured I'd just share a few snapshots my mom took.

     One thing a learned about cooking meatballs is that it's hard to enjoy meat when you've smelled it raw. If my vegetarian sister is reading this, no, it does not mean I'm becoming a vegetarian. I just ended up enjoying the leftovers the next day a little bit more. (Tip for rolling meatballs- Lightly roll them in your hands. Try not to compact the meat to keep it from becoming too dry.)

My beautifully rolled and raw meatballs!

     After I rolled the meatballs, I put them in the oven to cook for a little while until browned on the outside. I didn't let them cook all the way through until I put them in the sauce and let them simmer for a while. As you can see below, this is what they should look like when ready to eat.

     Once the sauce and the meatballs were finished, I quickly made the spaghetti noodles. By that time, the smell had filled our house and my dad wanted to 'help' finish cooking it. 

     After I cooked the pasta, all that was left to do was put it in a bowl. I had to go outside to get some basil for the finishing touch. 

     I don't think I could've done it without a little bit of my mom's help, but it turned out beautifully. We ended up sitting at the table with Italian music playing while we ate. I'm pretty sure my dad and I got on my mom's nerves while we sang the only words we knew to a couple of the songs; mine being 'When a *mumbles some form of words* like a big pizza pie that's amore'. All in all, the meal was delicious. Later on in the week it was my dad's turn and he made a steak marsala. It was amazing.
     I know this doesn't really have anything to do with music, but I want this blog to be about my life in general. Someone told me recently that they loved hearing about the adventures that go on in my life, so I figured that you guys might too. I have a lot of stuff coming up soon and hopefully I will have time to keep you updated!

xx Carson

Monday, September 16, 2013

Recording and Willie

     This past week has been a busy one for me. As most of you know, I've been working on a my new EP recently. Last wednesday I went to my friend/producer Gabe Nicholson's house to record the final guitars. This wasn't my first time recording guitar, but it was definitely more nerve racking than before. The whole sound of this album is more acoustic based, meaning my acoustic guitar is the only one you'll hear. There's no electric guitar covering it up, or loud drums. I'm in love with the simplicity of it. With me being a perfectionist, I wanted my guitar tracks to sound amazing since everything is centered around them. Some songs it only took two takes, and others it took thirty minutes to an hour.

     If you're wondering what that instrument is in the picture below, it is called a melodeon. I had never heard of one until Gabe pulled it out and said we should use it on one of the songs. So I took it home and played it for hours until I came up with a few simple things. I learned the hard way that if you don't take a few breaks from playing it, you get light headed. We definitely had a few laughs while recording it. (Fun Fact, Gabe found the melodeon at a junk store!)

     Thankfully, we always have snacks. Gabe knows me too well. I've actually begged my parents to let me move in with him and his wife, Amanda. Needless to say, it hasn't worked yet…

     Finally, five hours later, we had finished recording everything. It was tedious work. Even now, six days later, I still have a bad case of guitar shoulder. I don't really know if that's a thing but my shoulder is definitely still killing me. The best part of it all was the finished product. I'm extremely proud of everything we did; it's getting so much closer to being finished!

     On a different note, at the end of last week my parents surprised me with tickets to go see Willie Nelson on Saturday. All of you that know me, know that's a big deal. If I had one celebrity crush and/or hero it would be Willie Nelson. I had, at one time, expressed that I was afraid I would never get to see him live since he is getting older. When they told me we'd be going to see him after my show that morning, I totally freaked out.
     When we got there I was so excited I couldn't contain myself. Willie's son, Lukas Nelson, opened for him. My mind was blown from the moment he started singing. He sounded like a younger Willie, but with his own unique style. His guitar playing was a whole other story. He was amazing. Plus he was good looking like his dad  (I now have another celeb crush). He played for about an hour then he came back out with Willie to play rhythm guitar. I would definitely suggest looking him up.

(Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson)

     When Willie came out I honestly felt like crying. We all have famous people we look up to. When you're a kid there's a few artists your parents or grandparents listen to. You see them on TV, or hear them on the radio. Willie Nelson was one of those for me. He's always been a legend. When he came out and started playing 'Whisky River' it felt so surreal. The guy I thought I'd never get to see in person, was standing on the stage right in front of me.  He played one hit after the other. Since he is 80, you could tell he doesn't have the breath he use to, but the one song he still sang the same was 'Always On My Mind'. I will never forget that moment. It's one of my favorite songs by him and it gave me chills.
     At the end of the night I was on cloud nine. I had to beg my mom to let me get the t'shirt I ended up with.

     All in all it has been a wonderful week. I'm one step closer to finishing my EP, I've had several amazing shows, and I got to see a country music legend. For an 80 year old, Willie has still got it (and he's adorable). Hope you all have enjoyed this post! Feel free to share your stories of seeing a legend you look up to!

Roll me up and smoke me when I die.

xx Carson

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tosco Music Party!

     Hello everybody! I would first off like to say I am extremely sorry I haven't posted since last September. This past year has been so crazy and hectic I haven't had much time to collect my thoughts on here. To be quite honest, I was mad at myself when I saw that it has been almost a whole year. I promise to get better about it.
     What better way to start back up this year than to share pictures of my most recent show. This past Saturday I performed a song at Tosco's Music Party. If you haven't heard of it, it is a big show in Charlotte, NC that showcases all different types of music. From classical guitarist, to bluegrass, gospel, and many more. If you've never been to one of these I thought it would be fun to bring it to you!

Pre-show hanging out 
My band and I ran over my song a couple of times. As you can see I'm also wearing my Grandpas old flannel shirt so I wouldn't get anything on my outfit before singing (which I have learned the hard way plenty of times).

My point of view half the time    

This here is Ethel. She is the pretty one in our band. 

As of recently, I've been doing more shows with my acoustic band. I've definitely found my own music style. These two guys have been so much fun to work with. They both do it for the love of music. It doesn't matter if we get paid. If they're available, I know I can count on them. (From left to right. Me, Gabriel Nicholson, and David Hearne)

Here, we have me and my managers! I'm really happy to be working with them. (From left to right. Walt Stewart, Me, and Roger Cullis)

Right before I go on stage, I normally go through several different emotions. As you can see from the look on my face, I was currently going through the 'Oh Goodness We're Next Someone Get Me A Paper Bag' emotion.

Last minute instructions on where to go

Getting James Taylor ready to go
(That's the name of my guitar) You'd be surprised how many times I've started something in the wrong key.

This isn't even half of the people who were in the audience. One of my favorite things is looking out into a crowd. (Photo taken by Phillip Carias) 

After I got done performing, I was heading to my signing table when I saw this. One of my favorite things about living where I do is that it's near Charlotte. Just like every city, it has it's flaws but there is nothing like being there in the evening.

One of my favorite parts about Saturday night, was the fact that I got my own signing table. I love meeting new people and getting to talk to them about my music. 

I had several people ask me what inspired me to write the songs on my EP. I don't normally get asked that question, so I was really happy someone took interest in it. I've always liked to hear other artists tell stories behind how their songs were written, so knowing that someone wanted to know mine was amazing. So many people stopped and bought my Country Sky EP, and I just wanted to say a quick thank you to anyone who did.

As you can see, by the end of the night, I had my flannel back on. Meeting everyone was fun, but a lot of people don't realize what goes on behind the scenes. From getting ready to go on stage, to being one of the last people to leave after you pack up all you're stuff, a show is a lot of work. If it hadn't been for my mom and dad, I don't know what I would have done. All in all, it was a wonderful night. I hope you guys have enjoyed just a little piece of my Saturday night. 

     The best part about not having blogged in almost a year, is the fact that I've gotten a chance to find myself more. I've figured out what style fits me best, and I've grown up a little. I'm working on a new EP that should be out late October or early November, which I'm super excited about. My music has evolved a lot over time, but more on that later. I hope you all are doing well! 

xx Carson