music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Carbon Leaf at the Kent Stage – 4.20.19 – Kent, OH

April 28, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



Carbon Leaf is a band that has truly done things their own way. With over 25 years worth of music and a willingness to pull from every era of the band when they play live, they can always surprise and excite their fans. They brought their “Hindsight Is 2019, Looking Past The Future” tour to the Kent Stage on 4/20 for a 2 hour crowd pleasing show. As the tour name implied, the band had no problem looking both backwards and forwards throughout the night.

One thing the band has done very well over their career is engage their fanbase, and that was apparent at this show. While the band were never radio darlings (which I never understood why they weren’t) they have cultivated a base that knows every word to their songs and shows tremendous passion. The Ohio fans were out in force for this one, filling most of the venue and truly turning the show into a Saturday night party.

The band opened the set withthe mellow “Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat”, seeming to want to ease into the night. They went back and forth between newer songs and older tunes, hitting “What About Everything” early in the night but also pulling out lesser known songs like “Alcatraz” and the instrumental “Morrison’s Jig.” The early energy came when they played “The Gathering” from their 2017 EP of the same name. This energy continued with the run of “American Tale,” “One Prairie Outpost,” “Desperation Song,” and “Life Less Ordinary.” Frontman Barry Privett does a great job evoking emotion in everything he does on stage, and these classic Carbon Leaf songs still resonate from the stage. Musically, multi-instrumentalist Carter Gravatt adds the unique flair to what the band does and picks just the right spots for his mandolin, fiddle, slide guitar, or any of the other instruments he plays. It’s this unique flair that helps keep Carbon Leaf fresh when compared to other acoustic-style rock outfits.

The acoustic elements don’t mean this band can’t bring the rock when they choose. “X-Ray” was a straight-up rock tune and “She’s Gone” and “The Donneybrook Affair” were both high-energy songs with Carbon Leaf’s Celtic flair and Barry’s signature rapid-fire vocals. After a solid “Raise The Roof” and “Lake of Silver Bells” the band gathered around a single microphone for “Comfort” and “Miss Hollywood.” This is something they’ve been doing for awhile and, while it’s a cool visual, unfortunately not every room is really set up for this and it was hard to hear a lot of the music. It did highlight the band’s impressive harmonizing however.

When the band turned back to their full setup they went back to their Gathering EP for the first time since early in the set with “Come Sunday Morn” and “Bow and Arrow.” Barry continued to make his mark with his on-stage energy while Carter’s fiddle and Jesse’s drums were more than enough to create a foot-stomping experience for the crowd. They closed out the main part of the set with a “Let Your Troubles Roll By” sing-along and left the stage, while the crowd immediately started cheering for the encore. The band didn’t disappoint, delivering an excellent four song encore, starting off with an extended version of “Maybe Today” that saw Barry at his most introspective, delivering an emotional rendition that had the crowd enraptured. After that the band tore through a pair of their best-known songs with “The Boxer” and the blistering “Mary Mac.” The band came back to the front of the stage for the set-closing “Gifts From The Crows,” delivered completely acoustically with no amplification.

Carbon Leaf has always successfully toed the line of being not quite a jam band, but able to live comfortably in that world. While this certainly wasn’t a “jam show,” the band showed the type of creativity and musicianship that has allowed them to make their mark as a live touring band. They were open to improvisation and even adjusting their setlist on the fly. The crowd consisted of mostly long-time fans who were open to following the band in whatever direction they wanted to go, and the band fed off of their energy. As someone who’s been following the band over 15 years it’s clear that they haven’t lost a step and continue to find new ways to reach their fans.



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Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!