Anything Made of Paper

A couple of weeks ago, my sweet and very talented friend Matt Munhall drove all the way down to Austin, Texas from Columbus, Ohio to play in a very special line-up of musicians in a benefit show for another local musician, Matt McCormack. McCormack tragically lost just about everything he owned in the Onion Creek floods this past Fall. I went out to support both my friend and his friend for whom the benefit was organized, but ended up getting more than my money’s worth out of the show. The night featured some of Austin’s finest (if not well-known outside of city limits) songwriters including Kacy Crowley, Philip Gibbs, and much to my happy surprise, one of my local favorites, Ms. Rosie Flores joining local legend Alejandro Escovedo onstage (as pictured below.)

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But my absolute favorite discovery of the evening may have earned himself a spot as my favorite new songwriter. Halfway through the night, my friend Matt had already played and after very kindly buying me a beer, had wandered off somewhere. I found myself fairly packed into the small (100 capacity?) back room of Strange Brew, contentedly sipping on my ale, watching two guys who looked to be in their 50s picking away at two acoustic guitars. Then the one in bug-eyed glasses, skull cap, big rings, and tattoos peeking out from his sleeves began to sing. Line by line, note by note, these guys completely won me over. Man, it was catchy. And sincere. And perfectly crafted. Really, some of the best songwriting I’ve ever heard. “Matt, you’re missing it!” I don’t think I texted quickly enough for him to make it back in before the end of the song, but we both looked the guy up when we got home. Bill Carter. Man, how have  I not come across this guy before now? “Anything Made of Paper” was the song that put me over the edge that night–just beautiful. I bought his recent album a day later and am floored. 14 songs–each of which any musician could be considered a great success if they managed to write one as good in their lifetime. The audacity of putting 14 songs this good on a single album! The whole of it is better than anything Springteen has released. It rivals some of the greats–the household names. A friend of mine who apparently used to be in a car club in Houston with Bill a long time ago informed me that he used to write for the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and many others–happy, it seems, to be a creator behind the scenes and otherwise Unknown (the apt title of his recent record.) And that’s it. That’s the life. Sounds pretty perfect to me. So thanks, Mr. Carter, for setting the bar. Now, to work my way there…

Buy “Unknown” by Bill Carter on iTunes or ($1 cheaper) on Amazon.

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