Carbon Leaf Impressions

Carbon Leaf
Jan. 30, 2007
The Independent
San Francisco, CA

When I was in fifth grade, I took flute lessons. I was awful. And ever since, I’ve had a secret soft spot in my heart for anyone who can play the flute well, a soft spot born entirely of awe. So last night, when I went to go see Carbon Leaf, expecting just a normal show, I was star-struck by the incorporation of several flutes (along with various other folk music instruments) into the alterna-rock band’s live performance. And this wasn’t all that impressed me about the live performance of a band that I admit I hadn’t heard before last night.

The band’s been playing together for long enough to have come together in that seamless way where they highlight each other’s strengths. I’m one of the few people I know who loves live music but does not like long drawn-out acoustic solos. What can I say – I’m a lyrics kind of girl. But Carbon Leaf does such solos well – using different songs to emphasize the solo strengths of each performer so that you get the acoustic experience mingled in throughout the show.


Despite the way the band compliments each other, the lead singer does stand out on his own. He is a performer. Watching him move about the stage, I was constantly struck by the thought that he reminded me of a musician in a movie. At first, I thought this was due to the fact that he bears a strikingly beautiful resemblance to the character Kitten from the film Breakfast on Pluto, but I came to see that it was due less to this resemblance and more to the way that performed instead of just singing. It was distracting at first, but by the end of the show, it was entirely enchanting, truly making the show stand out as a multi-sensory experience of music.

Worth noting is that the opening act for the band was Toby Lightman, a New York songstress who gave a performance which made me glad that I’d arrived early for the show. Her small frame bounced around easily on stage and she moved easily with her own music, emanating a sense of youthful fun. However, her voice has a quality which is reminiscent of the strength of female vocals from other eras.

Toby showed up at a couple 2006 festivals but is now doing some touring on her own. She will be opening for Carbon Leaf through mid-February. See these and her other tour dates here. Carbon Leaf will continue touring in promotion of their recent CD release, “Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat” – see tour dates here.

We just got around to gettin’ this posted first thing this morning even though it was written late last week. Sorry for the delay, folks…

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  • DBrowell

    I went to college with the Carbon Leaf guys… (Randolph-Macon College, near Richmond, VA). They were “the student band” that played everything from the club fair around the campus fountain to the shows in a frat house. My freshman-year R.A. was their manager. While they were pretty green then, they were still talented instumentalists trying to find their voice among the pressures of early 90′s grunge- trying to decide how hard they could integrate the other instruments before the audience was alienated. “To be Rusted Root or Widespread?” seemed to be the question– but they found their own answer, thankfully. Under Dave Lowry’s direction recently they’ve even grown more…

    -DBrowell

  • DBrowell

    I went to college with the Carbon Leaf guys… (Randolph-Macon College, near Richmond, VA). They were “the student band” that played everything from the club fair around the campus fountain to the shows in a frat house. My freshman-year R.A. was their manager. While they were pretty green then, they were still talented instumentalists trying to find their voice among the pressures of early 90′s grunge- trying to decide how hard they could integrate the other instruments before the audience was alienated. “To be Rusted Root or Widespread?” seemed to be the question– but they found their own answer, thankfully. Under Dave Lowry’s direction recently they’ve even grown more…

    -DBrowell

  • DBrowell

    I went to college with the Carbon Leaf guys… (Randolph-Macon College, near Richmond, VA). They were “the student band” that played everything from the club fair around the campus fountain to the shows in a frat house. My freshman-year R.A. was their manager. While they were pretty green then, they were still talented instumentalists trying to find their voice among the pressures of early 90′s grunge- trying to decide how hard they could integrate the other instruments before the audience was alienated. “To be Rusted Root or Widespread?” seemed to be the question– but they found their own answer, thankfully. Under Dave Lowry’s direction recently they’ve even grown more…

    -DBrowell

  • denise

    Here’s what I think about the “whole shibang” that I saw and heard on New Year’s Eve…It was MAGICAL. Having come from the West Coast, I didn’t expect it. I want to go there again.

  • denise

    Here’s what I think about the “whole shibang” that I saw and heard on New Year’s Eve…It was MAGICAL. Having come from the West Coast, I didn’t expect it. I want to go there again.

  • denise

    Here’s what I think about the “whole shibang” that I saw and heard on New Year’s Eve…It was MAGICAL. Having come from the West Coast, I didn’t expect it. I want to go there again.