“Tim and Dan are blood related to A.P., Sarah and Maybelle Carter but they don’t make a big deal out of it. Like their mama, who taught them to rinse collard greens in the Maytag, they make their new old timey music with tried and true ingredients and modern appliances,” says esteemed mandolinist and vocalist Tim O’Brien of Carter Brothers. Now living north of Nashville, Tim and Danny Reid Carter arrived in Music City with the kind of tight harmony only siblings can claim. Performing to adoring fans for the past two decades, the Carter Brothers are releasing their first album of rocking bluegrass, and their first with Compass, The Road To Roosky, on October 25.
Raised in the Carter Family musical legacy, The Road To Roosky embodies their unique heritage with equal parts of reverence and raucousness. Their talent on their many instruments – Tim on banjo, vocal harp, mandolin and guitar, Danny Reid on guitar – lends itself to masterful arrangements alongside the drums of Dann Sherill and electric bass of Ross Sermons.
The brothers were also charmed by black gospel and blues music, especially musicians like Blind Willie Johnson. The album covers “Soul of a Man” in a tribute to the style while Tim’s bluesy banjo permeates throughout. “I’ve been playing with my brother for so long and he’s such a blues guitar player that all of that rubbed off on my playing through the years. I wanted to make sure that the banjo on this was not so much about playing Earl Scruggs style banjo but that [the banjo] fit these tunes,” comments Tim. Sam Bush, the patron musician of newgrass music, is featured on many of the tracks, including the traditional tune “Jerusalem Moan,” which became a special collaboration between past and present. Recorded with Vassar Clements a few months before his untimely death in 2005, “Jerusalem Moan” is possibly the only recording that features Vassar singing and scatting as well as playing fiddle.
Additional standout tracks include “She’s a Hurricane,” which features Ferrell Stowe on slide guitar as well as the title track, a story-song about a vagabond with no arms, his dog and the small town in Ireland that the Carter Brothers can’t seem to get off their minds. “Any American that has ever been to Ireland and that has any roots to there gets a feeling that they’ve been there before, it’s eerie. We love that place.” The album rounds out nicely with the bluegrass tune “What Does the Deep Sea Say,” a track that foregoes the drum set for the classic brother duo tradition and features Tim O’Brien on mandolin and vocals.
The Carter Brothers’ music is universal, inspiring fans from California’s west coast, to Florida’s Key West, to the heart of Ireland. Dave McAdams of the Dublin Times praises, “Electrifying and hard driving original rock/folk/blues and newgrass music. Superb songwriters on a level all their own. Stunningly precise musicianship performed with a seemingly effortless and totally joyful demeanor.” Their loyal following shares the sentiment with a fan club that runs merchandise tables and uses their airline points for cross-country tours. “We allowed people to come into our lives and be a part of this, we encourage it. We try our best to go out and make friends and fans along the way. When we were approached to start a fan club, we were hesitant to call it a fan club, we wanted to call it a friends club,” laughs Tim.
Tim and Danny Reid will be on tour promoting the album this fall in Ireland and Key West, FL with dates throughout the Southeast United States to be announced. Their CD release event will take place on October 8th, in Key West at the Hog's Breath Saloon.