Can you play a 30's standard followed by a traditional tune from the 1800's and then launch into a song written just last week? Pamela Temple and Spencer Funk of the award-winning, Cincinnati-based duo "wild carrot" can. Rooted in traditional American music, their repertoire branches in diverse directions: jazz, blues, traditional folk songs, not-so-traditional folk songs, show tunes and originals. They do interesting arrangements with guitar, mandolin, concertina, penny whistle and bowed psaltery. Wild carrot's entertaining, honest and moving performances have something for everyone. Their growing reputation for high musicianship, professionalism and fun has made them a favorite on the national folk circuit.
Awards and Honors
Recently chosen as cultural ambassadors to Chile, South America by the US Embassy in Santiago, they were finalists for the prestigious Kerrville New Folk contest, winners of the Walnut Valley New Songs Showcase for Folk, and were named Best Folk Act by the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. Wild carrot has been invited to participate in Muse Machine, performing and giving songwriting workshops to elementary and middle school classes in 60 schools in the Dayton, OH area. They are on the Ohio Arts Council's Artists on Tour Fee Support Roster and are endorsing artists for John Pearse Strings.
Both from Cincinnati, Pamela and Spencer are rooted in traditional folk music but branch in diverse directions. With over 10 years of classical vocal training, Pamela has performed in many venues from coffeehouses to opera houses. Her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica helped her develop an honest and intelligent song-writing style. Spencer has always been drawn to fingerstyle guitar but has studied and performed many styles including jazz, blues, and classical for over 20 years. He has been in demand as a sideman over the years and teaches guitar, mandolin and bass. Pamela and Spencer met back in 1991 at the 30+-year-old Leo Coffeehouse when he was managing the place and she was singing at an open mic. After a few years they decided to join forces and as their musical relationship took root so did their personal relationship and they're still growing. With any luck both will continue long after people stop asking, "Is the name 'wild carrot' a reference to her hair?".
What's in a name?
So, where did the name "wild carrot" come from? A wild carrot is the same as Queen Anne's Lace. Wild carrot's music has been described as being rooted the solid earth of tradition, while displaying a delicate intricacy, like the flower of Queen Anne's Lace.
Where folk duo wild carrot's first recording, Defined, served to display the duo's musical breadth and flexibility in a live setting (no overdubs), their first studio album, Hope, focuses more on the duo's strong songwriting and ever-sharp eye for songs that speak to life, love and the complications of the soul. Some of the tunes are stories of people trying to find their way through the challenges and heartbreak of life ("Tracks", "Bitter Blood", "Out of the Deep End") while others are wrought from personal trials and realizations ("Real Love", "Lay Me Down"). The collection includes the duo's award-winning song "These Songs" (winner of the 2000 Walnut Valley Festival's New Songs Contest and finalist for the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk Contest) and some well-chosen covers run through the hearts and minds of the duo ("Light Enough to Find My Way", "Tide and the River Rising", "Running From Mercy"). Recorded with dulcimer great Bob Bellamy and singer/songwriter/producer Chris Rosser, guest musicians include Don Porterfield (touring with Kate Campbell) on fretless bass, Josh Serukamp (David Wilcox) on percussion and Brandt Smith (Carrie Newcomer) on dobro and banjo. As the touching title track indicates (two poems by Emily Dickinson stitched together with some original lines), keeping hope alive is sometimes like trying to keep a match lit in a rainstorm, but wild carrot shows us it is always there for us to cling to and come back to and move us forward.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Real Love
2. Bitter Blood
3. Bringing On the Rain
5. Light Enough to Find My Way
6. Out of the Deep End
7. Tide and the River Rising
8. Running From Mercy
9. Lay Me Down
11. Devil's Rain
12. These Songs