Home Live Review Live Review: Carsie Blanton w/ Josh Okeefe @ The Hamilton Live — 5/4/24

Live Review: Carsie Blanton w/ Josh Okeefe @ The Hamilton Live — 5/4/24

Live Review: Carsie Blanton w/ Josh Okeefe @ The Hamilton Live — 5/4/24
Carsie Blanton performs at The Hamilton Live on May 4, 2024. (Photo by Steve Satzberg)

When she started her music career, Carsie Blanton recently told the audience at The Hamilton Live as she introduced “Cool Kids,” she had expectations that may not have been realistic: playing arenas, winning Grammys, and doing a bunch of coke.

Much of that has not come to pass. As she said, “There’s no Grammy for most fun had.”

“I write three kinds of songs,” Carsie explained, “love songs, hate songs, and protest songs.”

At The Hamilton Live on May 4, Carsie started her set with a couple of protest songs: “Down In The Streets” and “Party at the End of the World.” After that first tune, she shared that she’d just been in Ireland, and it was “good to be back in the heart of darkness, in the declining empire.” Sometimes, she said the lines between those three types of songs get blurred, and they transform in the writing. “Harbor” started off as a love song, dealing with anxieties about a new relationship. But, as time has moved on, “my anxieties are more about humanity’s future,” and it became a protest song. “Dealing With The Devil” started out as a hate for an ex “but he was only worth one verse.” The target shifted to Senator Joe Manchin, and it became a protest song. Blanton once got to sing it with Machin present, which was a special thrill for her.

Some of Carsie’s songs seem harder to categorize, like “Fishin’ With You,” which is about the late John Prine. I suppose it is, in its own way, a love, if not in the romantic sense. If one construes love broadly, it might also cover “Hot Night,” which is more of a lust song. “My Good Friends,” she said, “is a love song for my friend.” Her method for writing used to be, “I would meet a handsome scoundrel, and he’d break my heart. I got nine albums out of that.” (I guess I missed my chance, heh.)

Watch Carsie Blanton perform “Fishin’ With You” live for eTown Solar Sessions on YouTube:

Blanton grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, in Luray, Virginia, but she’s lived all over the country. (Addressing the Unite the Right rally that took place in 2017 in nearby Charlottesville, she said she was confused by the chants of “Jews will not replace us,” because “I thought it was just me and my mom.”) She spent eight years in New Orleans, and wrote “So Long, New Orleans” as a farewell to her longtime home. “Ain’t We Got Fun,” which appears on her new album, After The Revolution (which was released last month) was written “for my friend who I lived with when I was 16, in Eugene, Oregon, in a three-bedroom house with eight people.” That friend her taught her, among other things, to dumpster dive. 

At this point in the show, Carsie asked if anyone had read Naomi Klein’s Doppelganger, which she strongly recommended as a book that explains the time we’re. This was a prelude to “Ugly Nastie Commie Bitch.” The band left the stage, and Blanton played a few songs solo, including “Lovin’ Is Easy” and Dan Reeder’s “Born a Woman.”

The band came back, and, after “Cool Kids,” they played “Rich People,” which was written after Charlottesville. The audience sang along to the chorus, “That’s not the way we do it!” “Hope,” she told the audience, is the “spiritual center of the new album.” She ended the set with the album’s title cut, “After The Revolution,” and, for her encore, played “Be Good” and “Buck Up.”

Before Carsie’s set, Josh Okeefe started the evening with an opening set that was a politically oriented as Blanton’s material. He kicked things off with “Build A Wall.” “Terence Crutcher,” he said, is “a song I wrote traveling down in Oklahoma.” “Thoughts and Prayers” addressed the epidemic of gun violence in America. “Talkin’ Runaway Train Blues” was inspired, he said, by the talking blues style of great Woody Guthrie. Cora Carpenter joined him to sing on “We’re All The Same” and “I Won’t Let You Down.” He finished his set with “Son Of The Working Class.”

A Carsie Blanton show is always fun, with great songs and lots of personality. Blanton has paved her own path as a DIY artist, and she’s built up a close-knit community of fans. Saturday’s show was special, she said, because, “it’s the most tickets we’ve sold anywhere.”

Here are some photos of Carsie Blanton performing at The Hamilton Live on May 4, 2024. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Steve Satzberg.

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