Article by: Cory Taylor Cox | Photos courtesy of Carolina Story | Posted: 07/12/2012
“I love all music on vinyl,” says Ben Roberts over a Yazoo pint, on the porch of an East Nashville bar. “But when I listen to some of my favorites, Neil Young and Bob Dylan records, it does lend itself more to vinyl. It evokes a nostalgia of how things were… simpler times.”
The Americana duo, Carolina Story, composed of Roberts and his wife Emily will re-release their album Home on vinyl record format at United Record Pressing in Nashville, Tenn. on Friday, July 13. This special edition will include two previously unreleased songs and digital downloads of all ten songs.
“We never thought of URP as a venue, but our neighbor works there and suggested it,” said Roberts. “We figured that it would be a perfect fit, because it’s a place with a lot of great history, tucked away in our own backyard.”
One of the oldest vinyl record manufacturing facilities still in operation in the United States, URP opened in 1949 and brags as the site where Hank Williams Jr. signed his first record deal at the age of 16. Carolina Story hopes that the decision to hold their vinyl release party at this location will raise more awareness of URP for people that might not even know that the landmark site exists in Nashville.
Justin Tam produced Home at his home studio in East Nashville. Tam is a part of the band Humming House, who Carolina Story will tour with during August. He is also a founder of the Music City Unsigned community that is presenting the release show.
A painting of the Roberts’ East Nashville home was created by a local artist and signifies the album’s concept on the front cover. “In a way I think we’re even trying to raise awareness of our little neighborhood, give people a glimpse into our life.”
Emily Roberts, originally from South Dakota, met her husband Ben, originally from Arkansas, at Visible Music College in Memphis, TN.
“She always saw Nashville as her next step. She always saw herself as the next country star, the next Shania twain. It’s so funny to think about now,” her husband says with a grin.
The two were married for just 7 months before Carolina Story’s first tour took them all the way to the west coast. In the past three years, the couple has taken the stage over 400 times, in 32 different states.
“As soon as we graduated we hit the road, and we’ve been ramblin’ ever since.”
Neither Ben or Emily had much previous tour experience. With their backs against the wall, they took it upon themselves to figure the road out as they went together, considering it a blessing that they’ve been able to scratch out a living as full time musicians.
“It does add a different element when you’re relying on music to pay your mortgage, to pay your gas bill, to buy the dog food. You try and make every show count. No matter how many people are there, you want to affect them so that they’ll want to come back the next time.”
Currently, Carolina Story is completely a do-it-yourself company. Each member juggles hats, taking care of management, booking, public relations, social networking, finances, and more.
“We are everything that makes a band have legs.”
With Home climbing to the No. 2 chart position on iTunes the day of its debut, Ben Roberts feels like all of their hard work is beginning to pay off; the seeds planted during tour are finally bearing fruit.
“As long as we’re going forward and not backwards we’re doing it right,” says Roberts. “And if Carolina Story had signed with management or a big booking agency right out of the gate, it wouldn’t be what it is. The songs wouldn’t be what they are. They’re about that struggle, almost to the brink of giving up. That’s what the heart of what the band is. And I couldn’t see it any other way.”
More touring, iTunes singles, and even rumors of music videos await Carolina Story in the second half of 2012. The band is also preparing for a Kickstarter campaign to allow fans to help fund their next album. They plan to record that album live to analog tape and hopefully add another vinyl record to their discography.
With rustic preferences, Roberts believes music can bring listeners back to a time past: “Whether they were harder or more simple, I don’t know. But there was more authenticity. And that’s what I think our generation wants; I know I want it. And I want Carolina Story’s music to reflect that.”
Carolina Story - "The Morning Bird"