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Southern Comfort – TRACK BY TRACK

Miner’s Child

This is a traditional Appalachian song that Carter found perfect for the project because of her grandfather’s experience working in coal mines. Since guitarist Marvin Sewell is from Alabama, he seemed to be the perfect contender to come up with the arrangement. “Originally, we were going to start
it slow and come in together,” Carter said, “but the way the layers come in, grow, and everyone picks a line, it felt so good. Everyone picks their line and we improvise in between them.”


Carter wanted something to sound more modern and funky, so naturally she looked to bassist Jesse Murphy to devise the arrangement. “I wanted this to be a relief, so it’s like an original blues piece—not 12 bars, but moreso the feeling.” Carter said “…it’s like our James Brown ‘take it to the bridge’ song. It’s fun and very different from everything else.”

Hickory Wind

When bassist Chris Lightcap brought this Gram Parsons song to Carter’s attention, she found the simple beauty of the tune to be a challenge. “It forced me to not play so much all the time and be mindful that it’s a different kind of standard, however, it’s not a jazz standard so I had to be in a different kind of mindset musically and understand that space is so important.”


Pianist Laurence Hobgood—whose Appalachian mother collected folk tunes from her region—arranged this traditional children’s song for Carter. Originally, the group planned on using a vocal sample, but ended up using Carter’s own voice on the finished recording. “…the band just said, ‘You sing it!’ I asked the engineer to mess with it so it would sound old, like it maybe was the original record with a little bit of funkiness to it.”

Blues De Basile

This Cajun dance song written by Dennis McGee and arranged by accordionist Will Holshouser had been included in the live sets before Carter planned this recording. “The tempo is very freeing,” said Carter. “It’s almost like a party tune at the end of the night. Like the third set of the club that’s not so formal.”

I’m Going Home

This particular field recording struck an emotional chord from the time of its initial listening.  Says Carter, “every time I hear it, it goes straight to my gut, my core and just makes me cry.” Guitarist Adam Rogers put together the gorgeous, meditative arrangement which Carter affectionately refers to as “the ‘Call To Prayer Song.’”

Honky Tonkin’

One of Hank Williams’ most famous tunes, Chris Lightcap’s arrangement has often reminded Carter of an Ornette Coleman piece with its jagged, funky edges. “It’s fun to solo over,” Carter said. “We just have that loose vibe going.”

Cornbread Crumbled In Gravy

The first time Carter heard folksinger Vera Ward Hall’s recording of the traditional piece, she immediately fell in love with her voice. Pianist Xavier Davis arranged this version which Carter said has “almost a baroque feel.” She adds, “With every arranger, I made a point of not telling them how to arrange it. I wanted the piece to speak to them individually.”

See See Rider

Throughout the 20th century, ‘See See Rider’ has become a well known standard, and gone through several transformations. However, Adam Rogers’ arrangement is derived from a far earlier field recording from a rural all-girls’ school. “After I was listening to the original field recording so much, it was tricky for me to play this arrangement, because I had the original so in my head with its beautiful feel and rhythms. But Adam wrote an absolutely fantastic rendition. It was a lot of fun.”

I Moaned And I Moaned

When Carter heard the field recording of an early gospel quartet sing this piece, she was reminded of attending church with her in-laws in rural Virginia. This version, arranged by Lucas Madrazo, features a more contemporary sound of Carter’s violin intertwined with layered electric guitars. “I had kind of wanted
to stay away from guitar, because when people hear violin and guitar, their minds go to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli,” Carter said. “Now with this, it’s obviously so far away from that. Adam and Marvin are such incredible, tasteful players. They were perfect to have on this project.”

Death Have Mercy/Breakaway

Stefon Harris arranged these pieces, which Carter adapted from the folklore collections of John Work III. Fueled by electric guitars, the dark tone of
the first section blends into a sunnier conclusion. Says Carter, “Once we were in the studio, we got more
of a concept of what Stefon was looking for. To have it be layered, have that hypnotic motif going underneath constantly, but not to take away from the other layers. It’s not necessarily about the solos, but about something beautiful.”

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©2020 Regina Carter