Richard Carr is a violinist, composer, and music educator who lives in Rosendale NY (85 miles north of New York City). He holds a doctorate in music education from Columbia University. He has recorded numerous albums under his own name and with artists such as Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, Bootsy Collins, Sly & Robbie, The Swans, Milt Hinton, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli Jr., Alan Dawson, Howard Alden, and Karl Berger. He has performed with James Williams, Kenny Davern, Doc Cheatham, Jay McShann, Jamal Nasser, Mike Nord, Georg Hofmann, Steve Gorn, Robert Dick, John McDermott, the Go:Organic Orchestra, and the American Festival of Microtonal Music, and has regularly toured the United States, Europe, Japan, and Mexico over the past 20 years. Richard has climbed to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and trekked in Nepal, Peru, New Zealand, Patagonia, France, Switzerland, Italy, The Rockies, The Sierra Nevada, and many other places.
Today, Richard is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover, out of all the places Richard has been, where he finds some of his greatest creative inspiration…
Who were your first favorite artists growing up?
I grew up in the 1960s: a time that was filled with so much experimental energy that it would have been impossible to have just one favorite artist. The Beatles were in the studio with George Martin playing the tape backwards; John Cage was exploring silence and chance; Bob Dylan blew our minds with heady lyrics; Coltrane helped us out with spiritual awakening. I consumed it all eagerly along with a sip of cheap wine and some weed. With all that amazing music coming from every direction it should come as no surprise that we all started to break down the borders.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I wasn’t a sudden realization but more of a compulsion. An indefinable force overtook me in my mid-teens. I still don’t really understand it. It would have made more sense to do something more lucrative. But I have no regrets.
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
I was playing at a jazz club in Cambridge MA many years ago and my violin bow broke. Not the hair but the stick itself. I was too poor back then to carry a spare. This was a piece of high-priced Pernambuco and not some cheap Brazilwood. Fortunately, there was a luthier in the audience who ran right home and fetched me a bow so that I could continue.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I’m not telling all! I have had many guilty pleasures. Most of them are well kept secrets. Now into my seventh decade, I am more careful, but also not quite dead.
If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?
I worked full time teaching music for about 25 years. At this point, I need time more than employment opportunities.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I have been to six of the world’s seven continents: performing and walking. Creativity takes time, focus, and some kind of routine where you work every day for a consistent number of hours. For me this happens most readily at home amid the Shawangunk Mountains of New York.
If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?
I think it might be a double-reed instrument. I haven’t a clue how to begin on an oboe, English horn, or bassoon.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
My favorite moment is Wetlands in Spring. It features me on piano, along with Sylvain Leroux on the fula flute and a choir of peepers who perform every spring across the street from my house. I always enjoy their work.
What does this album mean to you personally?
The album is a culmination of the music I have played and the places that I have walked during the course of the last 50, or so, years.
PLACES I’VE WALKED is now available for streaming or purchase through Ravello Records. Click here to explore this new album.