There must be something in the bourbon up there in the Bluegrass State because Kentucky has given us Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Tyler Childers, and now Carson Beyer, all in this decade. No disrespect to the inhabitants of Renfro Valley and the legends that have built the very foundation of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, but the proverbial torch has been passed on from the likes of Loretta Lynn and Keith Whitley to those who now carry on the rich tradition of Appalachian music. The genre of “country music” is ever shifting and evolving, for better or for worse, but it cannot remain stagnant. It is a living and breathing organism, truly a representation of the working man and can literally be marked by time with songwriters serving as its historians. More often than not its narrative and sound has been found north of Tennessee, where singers like Carson Beyer demand our attention, take us back to our roots and in near 2020 are the keeper of the flame.
In an exclusive Raised Rowdy interview Carson laments and rejoices the stories and experiences that lead to his musical introduction to the world with his first EP, Walk On. As to not bury the lead, if we’re going to talk about this EP we have to begin with “Bones”.
Raised Rowdy: I have to start with “Bones” musically, this song is badass, it has a specific sound and just like the lyrics, it has a melody and sound that certainly cuts apart from anything else on the radio, to the point that is has a “Johnny Paycheck/Long Black Veil/Tom T Hall/ Eric Church feel to it. Though there is some similarities in melody, this song and your sound are all your own and I love that. So what’s the story behind this tune? And you HAD to know you had something special when you finished recording this track, right?
Carson: “Yeah man I appreciate that! “Bones” has to be one of my favorites because it was one of my first songs I wrote when moving to Nashville. I was writing with my producer Serg Sanchez and our friend Luke Rice and Serg had asked if I had any cool personal stories I wanted to turn into a song. My dad lost his father when he was 13 so unfortunately I never got to meet my granddad, but I’ve been told my whole life how many similarities we have, such as being left handed, sharing a middle name, etc. So it was a pretty emotional, yet exciting experience being able to write that song and show tribute to my granddad, yet at the same time sonically just experimenting and bringing country, western, blues, and southern rock elements all together into one. You always feel like you have something special when leaving the studio with new music, but yes when we finished this one I think me and my entire team were blown away and had big expectations for this song!
This song first grabs you with its intro that evokes the feelings of a sublime and even sinister tale and like his fellow Kentucky predecessor, Tom T. Hall, you sense immediately that this is less a song and more of a story. From the opening (custom made) dobro licks and his voice sounding as if its set back in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” times, the scene is set with him heading “…down to old Granddads grave”. And then the scene unfolds with Carson standing in front of a headstone connecting with a man whom he never met, but feels a longing for and senses a familiarity with. With any story song, for it to hit how it is supposed to there has to be descriptive imagery and that is what sets this song apart. Listening to Carson sing, you cant escape hanging onto each lyric, line by line, as if you knew both of them personally and you’re off in the distance watching while he imagines.
Carson recalls when pursing his dreams and his musical aspirations began, and he knew music was his path by the songs and artists that inspired him.
RR: I certainly get an old school “vibe” that is reminiscent to older country and those story songs. But I get a feel of some southern rock in there too. Sort of like an Allman Brothers, .38 special feel too. Is this intentional, and are they representative of what you grew up listening to?
Carson: The southern rock n roll sound has without a doubt been a big part of my influence in creating these songs. As a kid I grew up riding around in my dad or uncles trucks listening to older, outlaw country–even that early-mid 90’s country music that I know and love so well. However, without those 70s-80s rock influences that I’ve dug heavily into as of late, I think my music would be missing a pretty big piece, so I’m glad we’ve been able to drive that home in the music.
“Something in these bones tell you where I’m from, tells you where I’ll go” are lyrics from “Bones” and are a pretty solid indicator of what is to come in his forthcoming, full length record. While his songs certainly don’t lack any commercial appeal they also burn with a flame reminiscent of the Rock n Roll sound he fell in love with. You can hear this bleeding through on tracks like “Dark Horse Rising” and then immediately takes the listener to church with the soulful track “Jesus Wannabe”. “…Laughin’ at the Devil, You ain’t walked the line, wanna light the way for another man”. This song is about as authentic as it gets and is a definite highlight of the EP. As you’ve heard in other songs he can light up a stage with riffs that would intrigue Ronnie VanZant, but this song not only showcases a softer side, but highlights the vocalists range. This EP certainly has brought Carson out of the ether and into the spotlight. With an arsenal of kickass vocals and clearly superior song writing abilities the path is clear for another emerging talent from Kentucky to continue to show country music the way, the Appalachian way.
RR: In your opinion what is it about Kentucky that is churning out such solid, and authentic music? With your EP, an upcoming record from both Tyler Childers and Sturgill Simpson, there must be something in the water up there. What about this region is so authentic, and do you think that our genre is being reborn in Appalachia?
Carson: I love that you asked this question. I think for me personally its just hard to run from where ya come from. I believe these guys stay true to that as well. I would definitely say there’s a little something in the water up in KY and I’m excited to be a part of it!