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November 6, 2021 @ 8:30 pm - 11:00 pm
“The Gathering series is all about building community,” says Carbon Leaf frontman Barry Privett. “It’s a call to look inwards and find what matters, an invitation to reach out and embrace the gifts of human connection.”
That’s no mean feat given the deep divisions that have defined much of the past few years of American life, but Carbon Leaf has always punched above their weight, defying the odds at every turn and redefining what’s possible for a modern indie band in the process. The group’s extraordinary new mini-album,Gathering 2: The Hunting Ground,is no exception. Recorded at the band’s own studio in Richmond, VA, the collection marks the second installment of the group’s four-part Gathering series, which finds the long-running quintet stripping their sound back to its organic, acoustic core as they reckon with our ever-conflicting desires for unity and independence. The songs here are gutsy and probing, grappling with grief, loss, anger, and pain, and the arrangements are aggressive and insistent to match, fueled by layers of relentlessly strummed guitars, rolling banjo, and lush fiddle. The result is a moving, cathartic collection that’s unafraid to confront darkness and doubt head on, a poignant, revelatory record all about the power of self-reflection and the ties that bind.
“One of the big questions we found ourselves grappling with as a band was, ‘How do you actually make any kind of a difference in society today?’” says Privett. “And I don’t think you can do that without first looking inwards—to yourself, your family, your friends—and figuring out what your values truly are.”
Anyone who’s caught a Carbon Leaf show over the past three decades probably has a pretty good idea just what those values are: brotherhood, commitment, empathy, integrity, self-reliance. Founded at Randolph-Macon College in 1992, the group evolved from a house party cover band into something far more profound after graduation, when they moved to Richmond and made the shift to original music. The band’s first three albums helped build a devoted cult following, but it was 2001’s Echo Echo that truly brought Carbon Leaf to national attention, with lead single “The Boxer” earning the group a performance slot in front of millions of viewers at the American Music Awards. After nearly ten years of self-releasing and grinding it out on the road(both as headliners and as guests appearing on bills alongside the likes of Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R.,Jason Mraz, Blues Traveler,and Guster, among others),the band signed with Vanguard Records in 2004 for their critical and commercial breakthrough, Indian Summer, which yielded a Top 5 hit at AAA radio and garnered rave reviews everywhere from The Washington Post to WXPN.While the band would go on to release two more similarly well-received albums with Vanguard, it soon became obvious to everyone that independence wasn’t simply an ideal for Carbon Leaf, but rather an integral part of their DNA, and soin 2010, the band parted ways with the label in order to return to their DIY roots and take complete and total control of their career. Acting as their own label, distributor, and manager,the band cut new versions of all three Vanguard albums in order to regain the rights to the recordings, launched their own festival, and began releasing a successful series of direct-to-fan concert films, livestreams, and studio records leading up to the first installment of the Gathering series in 2018.