Carsie Blanton does things the punk rock way. The Philadelphia-based musician’s sound wouldn’t be classified as “punk” to the average ear and audible descriptions, for punk-rock is a bottomless pit of debate, but her approach to making music and the way she operates within the confines of the business is a punk-rock approach. She doesn’t have a record label and isn’t actively searching for one. The bulk of her music is released on her website, and much of that music is available to fans on a “pay what you want” basis; if you can’t afford the listed price, then pay what you can. It helps get the music into the hands of everyone.
Blanton will perform Saturday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. Opening the show is Edie Carey.
“I like to make my music cheap for health care workers and public school teachers, and other people that are in service jobs that don’t pay very well, and that comes from punk-rock culture,” Blanton said. “We’re trying to make something that people need, so we don’t want to make it expensive.”
She grew up in a family of music lovers in the Shenandoah Valley, reared on a healthy dose of songwriters like Prine and Kristofferson, then was turned onto jazz by her grandfather. She wasn’t always sure about being a musician, but that path came at a time in her life where she figured she should, and could, give it a whirl.
“I went through a bad breakup, and I did the cut my hair, get a tattoo thing, and then was like ‘what else can I do?’ I could move across the country and take a crack at being a professional musician, and at that time I framed it as ‘I’m young, I should try this now because I’m not going to try it later’ and I’ll get it out of my system,” she said. “That was a little over 15 years ago, and I have not gotten it out of my system, yet.”
Hers is a singer-songwriter sound that dances around genres. The qualities she looks for in songs, and what she writes into her songs are “hooks, humor, sex and soul.” You’ll find that through her wealth of records, all within sounds of quirky pop, parlor-jazz and laid-back, loungey blues. One not to be pigeonholed, she likes the broad, multigenre approach.
“Some people have a really, well-established sound and genre that they’re writing from, and it feels authentic to them,” she said. “I personally relate more to the Paul Simon or Tom Waits model, where every song is from a different tradition and from a different perspective. That gives me the most breadth as a songwriter, so its sort of the most fun for me. But then the problem is, of course when you’re writing from all different genres you’re not very marketable. So that’s the trade off.”
Blanton will release her next record, titled “Body of Work,” in spring 2023. She has, however, been slowly leaking this record to her fans, dropping a song a month via various streaming services.
As for being marketable? That doesn’t matter. She’s from the punk rock model, an at times irreverent, at times protest singer who gets her music to her fans through the Patreon crowdfunding method. It’s a way you earn your fans from having a decent product while fueling the fan-artist relationship.
“I’m creating for the people who want to hear the music, not creating for any large corporation,” Blanton said. “Fans are donating to me because they want to hear it, so its more of a reciprocal relationship. That’s what it feels like to me.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at email@example.com.