Singer-songwriter to perform at First String Music |

Singer-songwriter to perform at First String Music

Texas-based artist says she likes small venues to connect with audience

Nicole Inglis

Folk rock musician Carrie Rodriguez of Austin, Texas, performs at 7:30 p.m. Monday at First String Music on Loggers Lane. Rodriguez said she often chooses smaller venues such as First String because they create a more intimate connection between the performer and audience. Tickets cost $15 at the door.

— Carrie Rodriguez never went to a single high school football game while she was growing up in Austin, Texas. The daughter of singer-songwriter David Rodriguez and well-known painter Katy Nail, art was her life.

She recalls going to music camps and feeling like an outsider; an "orchestra nerd." Now in her early 30s, she's still embracing that life — on the road more than three quarters of the year — but is ever-evolving in her talents, compositions and musical identity.

"I'm still finding my way," Rodriguez said, speaking from the tour van on the way from Taos, N.M., to Colorado. "And I'm exploring different ways of doing it. And it's fun. I love that I have a long way to go with it."

Rodriguez has been on tour worldwide in support of her third solo studio album, "Love and Circumstance," a collection of cover songs with personal ties. With her clear alto voice and soulful folk roots, Rodriguez sings about family, love, loss and tradition.

She said she plays the occasional bar, but most of her gigs are in "listening room" venues, where the audience is there to listen intently to the songs — making tonight's gig at First String Music an ideal setting.

The curly-headed singer-songwriter will play an intimate show at the music store along with pedal steel guitar player Luke Jacobs at 7:30 p.m. today.

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Tickets are $15 at the door.

"You can expect a lot of different kinds of music," she said about the show. "We have six instruments up there; it's a lot of fun."

Rodriguez said she enjoys the smaller venues because they enhance communication between audience and performer, and a personal conversation through music is something she isn't afraid to have.

"Love and Circumstance" tells a few of those personal stories, with songs like "When I Heard Gypsy Davy Sing," which her father emailed to her from his home in the Netherlands, where he retreated years ago.

Rodriguez calls it his autobiography of life as a gypsy.

"It's kind of therapeutic, I would say," she said. "He's kind of explaining why he left. It feels good, it feels like I'm closer to him."

She also sings a tune once recorded by her great-Aunt, Eva Garza, the only song on the record she sings in Spanish.

Beyond her roots

Rodriguez began playing classical violin in elementary school through the Suzuki method.

As a pre-teen in Austin, she began accompanying her father at gigs, giving her an introduction to folk music and fiddle tunes.

She attended Berklee School of Music in Boston, where she played with jazz and improvisation and picked up a few more instruments, like mandolin and tenor guitar.

She said she was probably much more focused as a young musician, but that dedication got her an important gig as half of a duo with Chip Taylor, the famed songwriter of "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning."

The pair toured the world and made four albums together.

Rodriguez began in the background with her fiddle, but it wasn't long before Taylor called on her to harmonize, then sing, then write her own songs.

"I think I dragged my feet a little bit," she said. "It was such a stretch to think of myself as a singer. I thought, 'I'm a violinist, that's what I do.'"

But the journey continues, and the musical world that molded a passionate young classical violinist into a lively folk rocker continues to spin like the wheels on her van.

Still, she packs light on her journey: she didn't bring any shoes besides sandals with her to Colorado.

"I love seeing different parts of the U.S.," she said about her favorite part of the touring life. "It's so vast and the landscape is so different everywhere. It's a beautiful country."

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