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16.07.2018
Chris for Oot'n'Pik
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For a taste of spaghetti The Carolyn Sills Combo - Dime Stories During my trip to the Ameripolitan Awards last February I was privileged to see some truly amazing performances of country music, not least of which was the set from The Carolyn Sills Combo, who were later crowned Best Western Swing Group. I talked with Carolyn about her multiple roles as vocalist, bass player, venue booker, tour manager and publicity department. “It’s a lot of work” she readily admitted “ I do spend a lot of time every week on the organisation stuff, and every musician knows you would rather spend that time writing and practicing but it has to be done. That’s just how it is for independent bands.” To my surprise it seems branding their music something as niche as Spaghetti Western Swing does not deter promoters. Carolyn explained, “It needs some explanation at times but to be honest it can be hard to simply pitch “western swing” to a new venue if they aren’t familiar with the genre, or have the incorrect assumption that it is antiquated.” The band write their own original songs which, along with that movie related tag, they feel helps set them apart from bands who may just be performing a sort of tribute to the genre by covering other artists’ hits from a while ago. The Carolyn Sills Combo Carolyn started the band with husband and guitarist Gerard Egan back in 2012 and the line-up comprising Charlie Joe Wallace (steel), Jim Norris (drums) and Sunshine Jackson (vocals) has remained the same throughout. I asked how it works in practice. “Gerard and I handle the major decisions” she told me, “but of course we get and value creative and intelligent input from the others. Everyone seems comfortable with the dynamic we have; it is very important to me that everybody in the band is happy – happy with the songs, the venues we play, the tours we go on, the people we hang with, even the tacos we eat. In the end if any one of us are not having a good time then we are not succeeding.” The band’s most recent album “Dime Stories Vol 2” has received widespread approval; No Depression included it in their Top 15 releases of 2016, Music Connection magazine included it in their top 25 releases by independent artists, the album and the band were finalists in the 2017 Academy of Western Artists Awards and the DJs in the Western Music Association voted Dime Stories #1 Western Swing album. I wondered where the Ameripolitan Award sat among those other accolades. “It was an extreme honour and we are still reeling. That enough people out there were into our music and took the time to nominate us, often unbeknown to us, was fantastic.” Winning, in Carolyn’s view, is not the only good thing about the Ameripolitan Awards. “Winning was a huge accomplishment but getting to know everyone was even more rewarding. We met so many wonderful people, DJs, Promoters, Festival organisers, and just like minded folk who love this music.” Our conversation returned to the amount of behind the scenes work necessary to achieve and maintain a successful career and whether there must eventually come a point where specialists will do a better job than the musicians themselves. “We would definitely be interested in working with the right individual or company on these management aspects” was the considered reply, “but when you’ve worked so hard and poured so much into something it’s often best to get it all done yourself than hope somebody new cares about it as much as you do.” Carolyn was fairly guarded about their next album. “We’re working on a bunch of new songs right now and are very excited to be recording again later this year. I can’t divulge all the details yet but it will be a concept album .....   and we think the concept will be welcomed by the western music loving world, and beyond.” Dime Stories Vol 2 is available from Amazon or from the band’s website www.carolynsills.com and provides a wonderful taste of this outfit’s undoubted talent.

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