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Caroline Herring

A Conversation with Caroline Herring

CH: This is Caroline Herring.

PM: Hello, Caroline. Let me turn--this's a terrible thing to say--let me turn you off. I'm listening to you here.

CH: Ah!     


PM: "Let me turn you off"--that's terrible when somebody says that to you. So okay. The tape recorder is running. Good. Well, it's so nice to speak with you. We met one time many years ago at a Folk Alliance after I'd initially covered the first record Twilight, which I loved so much.

CH: Thank you.

PM: So I am of course very happy to see a new album appear after some years doing something else, which I'm sure we'll talk about in the course of the conversation. How does it feel to be back at it?

CH: It feels great to be back at it, of course. I did take a bit of a hiatus, though I haven't completely stopped since I saw you last. But there's nothing like the push of a new record to make things happen, and to get you out on the road again. So I'm enjoying myself. It's a full life, but I'm enjoying myself very much.

PM: If it's not prying overly, maybe you'd give our readers and your fans a little timeline. After Twilight came out and was so well received in Austin, and then nationally and then beyond, you toured behind that for a year or more, I'm sure. And then came Wellspring, the second CD.

CH: Yeah.

PM: After which you, no doubt, toured likewise. And then what came next?

CH: Two children.

PM: Oh, two children.

CH: [laughs] They were bigger than the records, to be sure. And my daughter just turned four years old, and my son is 13 months old.

PM: Wow.

CH: Yeah. And we relocated to Atlanta. So I've been here in that interim. And I've been playing at lot at a great folk club called Eddie's Attic.

PM: That's a great club.

CH: Oh, it's a terrific club. They're so supportive here. I haven't found many places like it, I'm so lucky. And I've toured Europe a couple times a year, and played some festivals in Denmark and Scotland and the Netherlands. So that's mainly filled my time--two kids, festivals in the U.S., touring in Europe, and a lot at Eddie's Attic.

PM: Wow.

CH: And I do bit of writing, too.

PM: So it was from Austin you relocated to Atlanta, is that right?

CH: With a short step in Washington DC for a year.

PM: Wow.

CH: Yeah.

PM: So is your husband, if I might ask, is he music connected, or does he do something entirely different?

CH: He's an academic. Those jobs are even harder to come by than music jobs.

PM: Right. Then you really have to go where the work is.

CH: That's right.

PM: And what branch of academia does he work in?

CH: American history.

PM: Wow. That seems so appropriate somehow--

CH: Yeah.

PM: --you being kind of an essentially American artist.

CH: That's right. Well, we definitely--I think we inform each other's work.

PM: Wow. Maybe you'd speak a little bit about your co-producer and collaborator on records, Rich Brotherton. That's a great chemistry you guys have.

CH: Yes. Well, Rich heard me one night at Stub's Barbecue in Austin. He was playing with Robert Earl Keen. And I was doing my weekly happy hour there. He approached me, and we became friends. And he played with me whenever he was in town. Then he did Wellspring. And then I went back to him for this record, Lantana, and asked if I could co-produce it. I went back a couple of times and we sort of hammered out what we wanted, and just kept at it. So I was just at South By Southwest, and he played with me, so the whole time that he was in town, I think three or four shows. I really love playing with him because he's such an amazing guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, and then he's really creative in the studio, and patient.

PM: Yeah, and they're such different things, how good a guy or a gal is on stage, and how they find their way around the studio. It's a whole other world, isn't it?

CH: It is a completely different world. And we did this album in his new studio, Ace Recording Studio. So that was fun, too.

PM: What's his platform there? Do we know? Is he like an old school analog guy, or is he a Protools guy, or Nuendo?

CH: He's a Protools guy.

PM: One of our very favorite musicians appears on the record, the extraordinary banjoist, Danny Barnes.

CH: Yeah.

PM: Is he a friend, or did Rich bring him in?

CH: Rich brought him in. I've never met him. But we were talking about one song--I can't remember which--and Rich said, "Let's ask Danny Barnes." Of course I said, "Yes." I knew who he was. And then we said, "Hey, let's just send him two more." So he became one of our main instrumentalists. It's amazing when you can send somebody a song, and you trust them completely, and they send it back, and there it is.

PM: So he was cutting tracks remote, he was cutting them in his town, and then he'd just send you the .wav file.

CH: That's correct.

PM: Wow. More and more records are done this way. And I think it's really a fascinating way to cut records. People are sending their tracks from all over to Nashville to have the great players on it. And you're doing it in Austin, too. I think it's a fabulous way to cut records.

CH: Well, I'd say the only difference between a Nashville approach and this one was, I think Danny Barnes took it into his house, and did what he wanted, and sent it back.

PM: Well, you know how much Nashville is going that way, too? You're going into the home of Michael Rhodes, or the home of Bucky Baxter.

CH: Yeah, that's true.

PM: Just because studios are closing everywhere, it's hard to keep them open, and everybody's got the gear at home. But Danny Barnes, on top of being such an incredible string-smith, is a very unusual person. Did you get to hang out with him at all?

CH: No.

PM: Yeah, he's a really amazing fellow, extremely intelligent and a very unique personality.

CH: Yes, yes. Well, I certainly talked with him. And I was really glad to have that personality on the record, that's for sure.

PM: Yeah, he's a very enlightened character. I met your percussionist, Paul Pearcy on a trip to Austin a few years back. What a nice and talented man he is.

CH: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I've known Paul for a long time.

PM: Right, I figured he was a pal of yours.

CH: He is, definitely.

PM: And he added a lot to the record.

CH: Yes.     continue

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