By Walter Tunis
After spend- ing half an hour on the phone with Carrie Rodriguez, an interesting, unexpected career trajectory came into view. Without intending to, the conversation regimented itself into sections detailing the contributions of four inspirational figures who have helped guide her bright Americana music.
First she talked about Lee Townsend, the famed California producer who has overseen her three most recent albums. The conversation then turned to Luke Jacobs, the multi-instrumentalist who accompanies Rodriguez when she performs. In discussing the development of her musical voice, the talk centered on songwriter Chip Taylor, who essentially discovered Rodriguez. And in closing, the Austin, Texas-based fiddler, songwriter and vocalist reflected upon a recent tour where she placed her own music on hold to play backup for actor/singer Jeff Bridges.
First up is Townsend, the producer of Rodriguez’s new album, “Give Me All You Got,” as well as its two predecessors.
“Lee is a very laid-back guy,” Rodriguez said. “He is California through and through, having lived in the Bay Area for 30 years. Before he got into the music business, he studied psychology, which is really helpful as a producer because he is so good at making all the musicians, including myself, feel at ease.”
Jacobs has been Rodriguez’s bandmate for years and has become increasingly visible on her recordings. The pair co-wrote some of the strongest material on “Give Me All You Got,” including “Tragic” and the album-closing “I Don’t Mind Waiting.”
“Luke and I have been out on the road together for the last couple of years, so a lot of the songs were pretty well worked out because we had been playing them live. That’s really a luxury.”
“Give Me All You Got” also sports several songs written or co-written by Taylor, the mentoring songsmith best known for the ’60s hits “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning.” Taylor discovered Rodriguez at Austin’s SXSW conference in 2001 and introduced her to national audiences through a series of duet albums and tours
“I had no interest in even being a singer before I met Chip,” Rodriguez said
And then there is The Dude. Before completing “Give Me All You Got,” Rodriguez did a series of concert dates with Bridges and his band The Abiders. “That was so cool,” Rodriguez said of the experience. “Jeff Bridges is just one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met.”
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