Singer/songwriter performs a free show in Vail Valley Friday |

Singer/songwriter performs a free show in Vail Valley Friday

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Valley Music: Though Taylor Carson says he has loved to sing as long as he can remember, it wasn't until he picked up the guitar at age 16 and started writing that he saw an inkling of his future. T

VAIL, Colorado – Virginia musician Taylor Carson, who plays in the Vail Valley Friday, has a storied family history, which provides him a wealth of lyric fodder. Take for instance his song “Moonshiner,” in which he sings about his great-grandfather, a Georgia-based bootlegger who eventually went to jail for his taboo profession.

While the song is a little dark, Carson’s soulful voice and emotional lyrics draws in the listener immediately. The song is the first on Carson’s album “Defending the Name,” to be released in September, and one he’ll likely sing during his set at Loaded Joe’s in Avon Friday night.

1. Vail Daily: How do you describe your sound?

Taylor Carson: I am an acoustic singer/songwriter who is heavily influenced by active guitar players with grounded voices. I have always been drawn to musicians that put on great live shows and tell stories with their songs.

2. VD: Have you performed in Vail before? What brings you out here?

TC: I have not played a proper show in Vail, unless you count my manager’s wedding reception. I grew up coming out to Vail and Beaver Creek to ski over Christmas breaks, so the place always feels special to me. This time I am coming out to support Josh Queen. He has a new EP and I am really excited for him and very thankful that he has included me.

3. VD: I like your song “Moonshiner.” Is it based on a true story?

TC: My great-grandfather was indeed a moonshiner. The story goes like this: He fell on some tough times and had a family to support so he started bootlegging moonshine and apparently crossed into some other “dealer’s” territory. I can only understand it in the context of modern day drug dealers, but when they started losing customers to my great grandfather, they took matters into their own hands. Two men came with guns drawn to my family’s home in Georgia and my great grandfather confronted and killed them. He didn’t go to jail for that, in the name of self defense, but he eventually went to jail for moonshining. It’s a pretty dark song, but it is a love song for sure. The line, “I would do the same for you” is written to the girl I love, it is me declaring that if it came down to defending her honor, I would.

4. VD: Your first public show was opening for Dispatch in 1998. How did you swing that? Most people have to put in their open mic time …

TC: It certainly went downhill from there. I thought I was king of the world for a week or two, but then I had no gigs on the horizon. I got a taste of what I wanted very early on, but 10 years later I know how hard you have to work to get there. That definitely includes open mics.

5. VD: You’ve toured with Dispatch, Pat McGee Band, Stephen Kellogg, Ellis Paul and more. Who stands out? Any good stories you can share with us?

TC: I have nothing but great things to say about all of these guys. A lot of them have pulled me on stage to sing with them and I am honored every time. I still consider myself a fan and have to remind myself to “play it cool.” Ellis Paul has been a huge inspiration of mine for the past few years. His work makes me focus on painting pictures with words. I spent some time with him this summer at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and after his first set I asked him about the tuning he was using. He told me that he’d love to show me around it a bit and before we started he said to me, “Richie Havens showed me how to do this, now I’ll show you.” It felt like a little passing of the torch.

6. VD: Everyone’s family is crazy but it sounds like yours might provide you with especially good fodder for songs. Tell me more.

TC: I grew up pretty fast. I’d love to tell you more, but the people who read your paper will demand therapy and tissues with their paper. I have amazing memories and some very painful ones as well. The most important thing that I have learned from my upbringing is to be very honest. I was hurt by people when I was younger that were deceptive, so honesty is my guiding light at all times. Just be kind and honest with people, and remember your innocent ways.

7. VD: Your record “Defending the Name,” which is set for release in Sept., includes some intense themes: adultery and courtship, murder and birth, depression and hope. Are most of your songs autobiographical? What else inspires your lyrics?

TC: This record became autobiographical because of my desire to want to know more about why I am the way that I am and why the other members of my family are the way they are. There is always a story – a “from A to B.” Everyone has to experience life and learn from the beauty and pain. As my dad often says, “You’ve gotta play the cards that you’re dealt.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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