I don't know why, but I'm still always moved and surprised when interview subjects are very warm and open, and make you feel like they are befriending you. It's a totally different process, of course, speaking with a male or female musician, at least for this interviewer, simply because I like as interactive a conversation as they make welcome. With Carrie Newcomer, I came quickly to feel as if I were headed over for dinner, and had called for directions.
Not too may folksingers get voted Woman of the Year in a town as well known as Bloomington, IN. (I didn't get around to asking her anything about John Mellencamp, you just can't cover everything.) But Carrie's deep social conscience and active participation with various relief and resource organizations around the globe earned her that distinction this year.
Since I didn't know her music well, I was jazzed that the occasion was a compilation of songs from her 10 years at Philo/Rounder, her ninth record. That enabled me (and you) to get a peek inside her rich and consistent catalog. Betty's Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer was a real ear opener, new turns of the songwriting diamond just keep presenting themselves. Having received only the advance copy sans artwork thus far, I cannot comment on the players and studio minds in play, but the quality of the tracks and production over the career of this writer is consistently high, like the songs themselves.
Midwestern gypsies are their own tribe, as she calls it. They're as distinct from the Jersey restless who are called to the West as they are from the city outlaws who disappear into the redneck Riviera or the Florida keys. To my way of thinking, there is frequently a deep-rooted wholesomeness that differs from the goodness of other regions. (They say there is no reality, only perception, so that is my small perception.)
Carrie is a very open-faced character about her beliefs, her process, and her concerns. She's got a lighthearted manner for her line of work, and seems refreshingly less self-absorbed than many in her position. Although her songs are frequently third person, they say an awful lot about her. I think you'll enjoy the conversation we had, and be as impressed as I was with her kind and inclusive manner. Please be sure to check out the clips from Betty's Diner on the Listen page. continue to interview