Mandolin, accordion played at Carbon Leaf show

By Danielle Ossher

Using mandolins and maracas, Carbon Leaf brought its brand of alternative rock to the Paradise Rock Club Saturday night.

The sold-out show marked the band’s last New England tour date as it promotes its latest studio album, Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat, released last year.

After the opener, indie-rock band Quintus, kicked off the show, Carbon Leaf took the stage at 10:30 p.m. and played a sound they described as “ether-electrified porch music,” – a combination of rock, alternative and folk rock with Celtic influences.

Carbon Leaf kicked off their set with “Changeless” from their album, Indian Summer, a crowd favorite that had the audience singing along to the chorus. The set list was scattered with songs from the band’s first few albums and new hits off its latest release.

The concert showed each member’s individual talent. Replacing his guitar with a mandolin for several songs, Carter Gravatt even broke out into a few solos. Vocalist and guitarist Barry Privett took breaks from singing to play the tin whistle. At one point, drummer Scott Milstead played the drums with one hand and the maracas with the other.

During the encore, Carbon Leaf played an unplugged version of “Learn to Fly,” the single from Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat. For effect, the band didn’t use microphones, and played to a silent club that had been shaking with noise only moments before.

Carbon Leaf finished the encore with the anthem “Let Your Troubles Roll By,” leaving the crowd screaming for more.

Tom McCormack, who plays the accordion on their studio albums and is touring with the band for the first time, joined them onstage at the show. Bassist Jordan Medas switched between an electric and string bass throughout the show.

The band, which formed in 1992, self-released their debut album, Meander, in 1995. In 2004 they signed with Vanguard Records, home to Blues Traveler and Hootie and the Blowfish. The band’s five members are Privett on vocals and guitar; Gravatt on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Terry Clark on guitar and vocals; Medas on electric bass, string bass and vocals; and Milstead on drums and percussion.

Carbon Leaf has opened for bands including Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R., Blues Traveler and Counting Crows, and has headlined multiple tours.

Their next tour date is in Williamsburg, VA.

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