Hoopla

Carsie Blanton carves own path

JASON ALBUS PHOTO

Hot off a SXSW gig in Austin, Texas, Carsie Blanton will bring her rock-star vibe and jazzy folk sound to CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids tonight (3/21).
JASON ALBUS PHOTO Hot off a SXSW gig in Austin, Texas, Carsie Blanton will bring her rock-star vibe and jazzy folk sound to CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids tonight (3/21).

Carsie Blanton looks like a rock star.

One of the differences between contemporary recording artists and those from a generation ago is that many performers today are undistinguishable from the audience.

But the Americana recording artist with her big curly locks, mini skirt, fishnet stockings and red boots has the look.

“I’m an individual,” Blanton said by phone from Arizona. “I’m not trying to be like everybody else.”

The fiery singer-songwriter also is different when it comes to material. Her latest album, “Buck Up,” is a message to the masses about how to deal with the fallout of the Presidential election of 2016.

“I was heartbroken when (Donald Trump) was elected,” Blanton said. “It wasn’t just about the person who was elected, but I was heartbroken by the choice Americans made. I honestly couldn’t believe it, but it happened.”

Blanton, who will perform tonight (3/21) at CSPS, isn’t a rock star yet, but she’s well on her way. Rolling Stone magazine recently focused on the title track of “Buck Up” in a roundup of the “10 Best Country/Americana Songs to Hear.”

“That came from out of the blue,” Blanton said. “It’s incredibly cool to be recognized by Rolling Stone. I love that they like something that is completely heartfelt. It’s encouraging, because I think that the music I make is pretty different from much of what is covered in that magazine.”

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The outspoken Blanton’s often incendiary work is fairly different from such pop sensations as Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello, both of whom recently graced the cover of Rolling Stone.

Blanton, who is gritty, provocative and unsparing, has more in common with her hero John Prine than Cardi B, who is regularly featured in Rolling Stone.

“I grew up loving musicians like John Prine,” Blanton said. “He’s someone that you might not find in Rolling Stone, but he’s one of the greatest songwriters ever. I aspire to be able to someday write songs like him. I have a long way to go, but I’m trying my best to write material like him.”

The direct, meaningful material from “Buck Up” proves that Blanton is well on her way to making a mark like Prine has during his terrific but underheralded career. Part of the reason music fans should keep an eye and an ear out for Blanton is that she doesn’t care what people think — or about stardom.

Perhaps that has to do with her upbringing on a commune in Luray, Va. She didn’t grow up on pop. She was immersed in jazz, Motown and folk while coming of age in an unconventional environment.

“I had a pretty different childhood than most,” she said. “It had a positive impact on me as a musician. My heroes didn’t make compromises”

Blanton follows her own agenda. Throughout “Buck Up” she sings songs born out of what she fervently believes. Her songs often are filled with grief and humor. But Blanton would rather laugh than cry.

Her shows are full of joy, as well. During a recent South By Southwest performance in Austin, Texas, she performed with considerable energy and engaged the audience.

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“I love getting up in front of a crowd and having fun,” Blanton said. “I love interacting with an audience.”

Her tour ends in early May in her adopted hometown of New Orleans, where she will perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It’s apt that Blanton lives in the Big Easy, since she’s an inveterate musician who is flamboyant and unpredictable.

“I’m really looking to (the jazz festival),” she said. “I love New Orleans. It’s where I’m most comfortable.”

Blanton can’t help but look forward to the 2020 elections.

“I’m hoping for some change,” she said. “I don’t want to make another album like ‘Buck Up.’ I’ve already made that album. It’s time for something different for this country and for me as a recording artist.”

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