NW Women: Storytelling from Seattle Songstress Carrie Clark
I happened upon Carrie Clark and the Lonesome Lovers by accident. I suppose that’s how one discovers most music, actually, but rather than hearing them on the radio and then seeking out tickets to a show—as is the natural progression when one goes to a concert—I brought my family to see them at Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla earlier this summer as an alternative to the normal restaurant meal. It being an outdoor concert with food, it seemed like a great way to spend the evening, giving my baby fresh air and lots of room to just, well, be a baby, after a week of wine tasting. The music, I thought, was going to be secondary, but it turned out to be fantastic. It was my baby’s first concert, and he loved it, even “singing along,” as Carrie called it, complimenting him on his pitch.
I bought Carrie’s two albums that night, partially as mementos of my son’s first concert, and they were virtually all I listened to in the weeks that followed. I love them, the way their upbeat melodies and wistful ballads set a mood and how the lyrics set a stage. Carrie describes her music as “americana country cabaret sass-a-frass,” and that’s the perfect summary. Intrigued by her lyrics and style, I reached out to Carrie recently for an interview. Check it out below, and then listen to her music.
DS: Your lyrics are just as intriguing as your music. What inspires you?
CC: People intrigue and inspire me. Most all of my songs are written after hearing a snippet of a conversation in a bar, in line at the grocery store, riding the bus, waiting for coffee…. I try not to listen into people’s private conversations, but every now and again something will draw me in so I’ll take the snippet home with me and then I’ll fill in the blanks with what I think may or may not be the rest of the story.
DS: Will you please share an example of how something you’ve seen or overheard has made its way into one of your songs?
CC: I was chatting with a very dear friend of mine and he was telling me that he had been eating a bunch of limes lately and he was certain that was why the sun was shining. When I asked why he thought that he told me because when he eats ice cream it rains. I’m not sure if he was pulling my leg, but I loved the thought of his food intake changing the weather so that little snippet of our conversation became the beginning lines and inspiration for my song, “Forgotten Time.”
DS: What has been your musical journey, from early inspirations to the present?
CC: I grew up in Oregon and my Mom always tells me I was singing before I could talk. We had a lot of classics by Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, the Beach Boys and ABBA playing in the car and the home stereo that influenced a large part of my writing along with my current favorites, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra. I took piano as a kid, but gave it up for dance classes, volleyball and other experiences so it wasn’t until much later when I really wanted to write my own songs that I taught myself how to play guitar and started playing the piano again. I moved to Seattle for music and it has been a very diverse exploration of finding my musical self, performing in an indie pop ensemble, a folk duo, and a jazz big band. All the experiences have woven themselves together into the music I write currently and I’ve been really lucky to have worked with such amazing musicians that have inspired and helped me grow musically all along the way.
DS: In your opinion, how has Seattle music changed in the 15 years since you moved here?
CC: I think when I moved here in the early 90’s grunge was getting the most attention outside of Seattle. Now we are seeing a surge of bands that are more alt country, folk and Americana based. What hasn’t changed is that Seattle has always had a very diverse vibrant music scene made up of Jazz, hip hop, rock, punk, country, folk, that no matter what kind of music you like, there’s something for you to hear. I also feel that there is a very specific feel to Seattle’s music. Maybe it’s the long months of grey and rain, but you can definitely feel it in the music.
DS: If you had to point a visitor to a handful of places that would give them a sense of Seattle’s music scene, what would you recommend?
CC: There’s too many to list, but here’s just a few of my favorite music venues here in Seattle… The Can Can in the Pike Place Market is great for cabaret style music and burlesque which is incredibly popular right now and a lot of fun to see. The Triple Door is a must for an intimate listening room with amazing food and drinks and impeccable sound. Ballard has a fabulous music scene and the Tractor Tavern is one of my favorites as is the Conor Byrne (who make great Manhattens which are my favorite). And if you prefer the more grungy dive bar rock vibe you can never go wrong with the Comet on Capitol Hill.
Carrie Clark will be performing in Seattle area again in November. Check out her website for details when they become available.
All images by Laurie Clark Photography