Cara Jean Wahlers changes name, plans new album

The past few years have been special ones for Americana singer-songwriter Cara Jean Wahlers. An album, Goodnight Charlotte, topped dozens of Best-of lists at the end of 2010; the music was used as the soundtrack to the film Paradise Recovered. She hosted multiple songwriter-in-the-round nights in Indy, and she met the man she will marry.

To celebrate a step into the next phase of her life and career, Wahlers — who became Cara Jean Marcy both personally and professionally when she got married in March —  had one last singer-songwriter show. (Tim Grimm, Marcy, Bill Price and special guest Evan Slusher played a songwriter night for the last time on the stage at Locals Only on March 30).

“I organized probably a half dozen of these performances in the last year with local and regional artists, because it’s pretty fun to play with people whose work you admire,” she said. “I’ve had the hope of bridging the gap between Bloomington, Louisville and Indianapolis, bringing new talent to town and allowing Indianapolis musicians to make connections with other regional musicians.

“The three of us, Tim, Bill and I, joined each other on stage for a traditional writers’ round. It’s a lot of fun to share a stage with a few of your friends, telling stories and laughing in between songs,” she said.

The run of shows were a hit for a number of reasons. The music was good, the audience seemed to enjoy the atmosphere of candlelit tables, and there was a no-smoking policy.

“Because of this choice, I was contacted by the national office for the Center for Disease Control and interviewed about being an ex-smoker and a performer who supports non-smoking music venues,” said Marcy.

After the final show, Marcy started to get busy on her next album.

“I just confirmed that I’m recording a live album. and Danny Flanigan (Hopscotch Army, The Rain Chorus) is going to play lead guitar, while Ryan Williams (Playboy Psychonauts, Warner Gear) is going to play bass. I’m pretty excited about it,” Marcy said. “I played with Ryan Williams in a band called The Warner Gear years ago. It was a great experience, a great band and I was immediately taken by Ryan’s elegant bass lines. We’ve talked a bit about it. He played bass with me for the NUVO Best of party at Sun King last summer and we work really well together.”

After the critical success of her most recent album, the choice to make a new record with a similar sound is something that Marcy has considered.

“I originally thought that thematically I wanted to go a completely different direction than Goodnight Charlotte, but then realized that I was trying too hard to change my voice,” Marcy said. “I’m looking at a few songs that I considered for Goodnight Charlotte that I didn’t include, as well as some new songs I’ve just started performing.

“One thing I know for certain about the studio album is that it won’t be limited to guitar and cello,” she said. “That’s what made Goodnight Charlotte different. But if I do another album with that arrangement, I think it becomes less special. So, I’m looking at filling the arrangements out a little more.”

Of her name change, she said, “It was a difficult decision to make that took a lot of consideration.”

In the end, she had a couple good reasons for the change.

“I didn’t want to draw the line between who I am personally and who I am professionally,”she said. “And Marcy is easier to spell than Wahlers.”

Indiana Music: Grover Parido

photo: Stacy Kagiwada

Cellist Grover Parido was an essential part of the magic that made Cara Jean Wahlers’s 2010 album “Goodnight Charlotte” a quiet masterpiece. Parido has become more prominent in the Indianapolis music scene lately, picking up new projects and live shows. He has a lovely orchestral sound with hints of a Nashville coffeehouse and the majesty of U2. How’s that description for you?

ROB: I saw you sit in with Chad Mills as you guys opened the Truth & Salvage Co. show at Radio Radio, and you were terrific. Blown away by the sound. Do you have any more shows coming this spring with them?
Grover Parido: The band (our first show with that cast) you saw at Radio Radio, Chad Mills, Bill Rood, Bob Stewart and me, will be playing at the Britton Tavern in Fishers April 14. Chad, Bill and I will be doing a acoustic battle of the bands April 21 at the Ugly Monkey. I have a blast playing with those guys. (They have) good humor and energy. Continue reading “Indiana Music: Grover Parido”

Best of Indiana: Roots-Rock in 2010

At Rockforward, we live right in the middle of Indiana,  and fan our reach outward from Indianapolis.  Here’s the best of what we heard this year from (mostly) Hoosier roots-rock artists.

2010 Local Roots Rock/Americana Album of the Year
Cara Jean Wahlers/”Goodnight Charlotte”How did this quiet, intelligent, duet-like release from an acoustic guitar player and cello player get to the top of my roots-rock/Americana list full of worthy candidates?  Especially coming from a guy (me) who unabashedly enjoys the gritty side of loud guitars, drums and a sweet Hammond B-3?  It happened because this is a deserving place for “Goodnight Charlotte”, as Wahlers’ and Grover Parido’s cello quietly cuts into your heart with hauntingly beautiful music and lyrics that evoke black and white movies. Continue reading “Best of Indiana: Roots-Rock in 2010”

Indiana Music: Cara Jean Wahlers new album “Goodnight Charlotte”

After Indianapolis singer/songwriter Cara Jean Wahlers saw cellist Grover Parido perform with Blueprint Music a few years ago, she talked to him about working together. It led to the duo’s collaboration on Goodnight Charlotte, Wahler’s new 12-song collection, featuring her vocals and guitar, and Parido’s cello, piano and bass.

A stunningly beautiful set of quiet-yet-engaging songs, it is anchored by Wahler’s in-you-ear vocals, and Parido’s achingly gorgeous sound. Whether his contribution is part of the atmosphere, or is a solo that creeps from the background and engulfs the listener, his playing is pointed and pretty, soulful and satisfying.

The album is music for your head and your heart. Think “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” for the 2010’s

The opening song, “Chinatown” reveals the gifts both players bring. Wahlers is a cinematic writer, building scenes in songs that a listener’s mind can see. Rain on a face. Trinkets in a pocket. Throughout, Parido adds weight to chord changes, and slides forward when warranted.

Wahlers best moments come when she drops details on the listener.

On “Orange Blossom”, she sings how “pine needles sting my bare feet.”

In “California”, she compares a love to AM radio, both “barely able to stay in tune”.

With “Mark’s On The Earth”, she sings: “I am tired of trying to prove that I am beautiful, burning for you. I am tired of trying to prove that I am good enough – broken hearts can burn too”

Wahlers works inside a pleasing Joni Mitchell/Ricki Lee Jones/Emmylou Harris template – more West coast than rural – and a hint of Indiana in her voice helps anchor a sound more organic than shiny. Parido’s piano visits regularly and then backs off. There’s space in the album’s soundscape for instruments to appear and then recede – a sympathetic mix providing room for voice, piano, cello and Wahler’s anchoring guitar work.

“Black Dog” may be the best song on the album, about falling in love with Steven and his dog. And yes, Wahlers references the Led Zeppelin song near the end of her tune, supported by Parido’s Zep-like lines.

Not sure if anyone will make a smarter, lovelier record in 2010. Wahlers and Parido have created an intelligent and gentle album, hearfelt and soulful in it’s quiet beauty.


Hullabalou webcast this weekend; Cara Jean Wahlers releases Indiana music, Squidbillies welcome Americana

→ A couple hours south of Indianapolis, at the historic Churchill Downs, this weekend’s HullabaLOU Music Festival three-day concert begins Friday, and runs through Sunday. Since I’m not going, it affords the opportunity to watch a little of their live webcast. For me, a live music webcast is very nearly as good as finding treasure chest full of Coors Light and beef jerky. I like to geek-out and see how they handle the technical parts (audio, camerawork, etc…) of the webcast. Most of the time, I end up entranced at the coolness of watching it live, paired with being pissed because I would have done it differently. But that’s a “me” problem, right? Continue reading “Hullabalou webcast this weekend; Cara Jean Wahlers releases Indiana music, Squidbillies welcome Americana”