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Jefferson Theater falls for Carbon Leaf

Richmond folk-rockers put on energetic show for eager Charlottesville fans

What did you miss if you weren’t at the Jefferson Theater Nov. 16? In the words of Carbon Leaf lead singer Barry Privett: “A row, a ruction, a fracas, and a fray. A rough and tumble free-for-all, a broil, a brawl, a melee.” Just kidding — those are the lyrics of Carbon Leaf’s soon-to-be-released song “The Donnybrook Affair.” There was no brawl or melee the night of the concert, but there was a packed house full of enthusiastic fans who had a foot-stomping good time as Carbon Leaf and opening act Justin Jones delivered an energetic set that gave fans more than three hours of music.

Carbon Leaf is comprised of Barry Privett on vocals and penny whistle, Terry Clark on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals, Carter Gravatt on acoustic guitar, electric mandolin, electric guitar, lap steel, vocals and violin/fiddle, Jon Markel on electric bass and upright bass and Jason Neal on drums. The band’s musical style incorporates elements of folk, Celtic, indie and country rock.

Carbon Leaf has been together since 1992. Although most of the original band members are from the Richmond area, Carbon Leaf got its start at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Va. and plays concerts for the East Coast college circuit regularly.

During its marathon performance, Carbon Leaf played many popular tracks from its last few albums, including “Life Less Ordinary,” “Miss Hollywood,” “Desperation Song,” “Raise the Roof” and “Torn to Tattered.” Considering the band’s prolific history, it was no surprise that the crowd at the Jefferson Theatre included everyone from rowdy frat guys to plaid-clad hipsters to adventurous parents. There was spontaneous Irish jigging, strangers swing dancing, and most of all there was an undeniable and impressive display of showmanship and musicality from the musicians.

Gravatt and Clark during the show played at least 10 different types of guitars between them. Privett channeled Jethro Tull not only with his strange onstage behavior but also with his proficiency on penny whistle and flute. Markel delivered a stunning upright bass solo, and the entire band demonstrated its talent by taking a break in the middle of the set and performing a single-mike, acoustic version of “What Have You Learned?”

The night ended on a high note as the band played an encore that included perennial favorite and radio hit “The Boxer” and an extended version of “Let Your Troubles Roll By.” Gravatt delivered the most impressive solo of the night as he took a usually mellow song like “Let Your Troubles Roll By” and brought it to soaring, roaring new heights with an electric guitar solo that would have impressed John Mayer.

Be on the lookout for Carbon Leaf’s upcoming album, expected sometime in 2013, and don’t forget to check out Justin Jones on YouTube or iTunes for some inspired and relatively undiscovered blues/rock tunes.


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