The Times Argus
By Art Edelstein
Arts Correspondent - Published December 29, 2011
2011 TAMMIE AWARDS
Best Rock Album
In "Rust", Duane Carleton from Rutland County continues to produce intelligent, socially conscious work within the rock genre. On his latest album of 14 songs Carleton weaves a story of the bleak and wanting in America, the stresses that erode relationships and the Middle Class. With subject matter like this, what could be a totally morose and downer album is really quite entertaining. This is to Carleton's credit as a writer and performer. The lyrics are emotive and he's a good storyteller. The stories are compelling and he doesn't pound you on the head with polemics. He's a really fine guitarist and has a backing band that is up to his talents. Carleton is Vermont's version of John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen.
The Mountain Times
By Dave Hoffenberg - November 10, 2011
If you live in the region and like live music you’ve probably heard of guitar player Duane Carleton, or as he is properly named, The Human Jukebox. You can catch him solo at the Clear River Tavern in Pittsfield most Saturdays, duo with Jeff Poremski (more on him in a future article) every Sunday at Jax in Killington or rocking out with his band the Backwood Messiahs down at 3 D’s in Rutland. His band has opened up for ZZ Top and Steve Miller. However you see him, he will entertain you every time.
Duane was born and raised in the tiny town of Chippenhook, VT. It doesn’t have a post office or a zip code but it has a great musician. Duane started his musical journey when he was 5 years old and learned classical piano for five years and pop music for a year. His first musical influences were The Beatles and The Beach Boys when he was in pre-school. He used to strum his badminton racquet to them. In the first grade he added Trombone to his repertoire. It wasn’t until the mid-70’s that he tried guitar for the first time with his brother’s influence. In the fourth grade, he started listening to the rock n’ roll sounds of Kiss, Rush, Pink Floyd. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. A few years later after watching the Woodstock movie, he knew guitar was for him. Santa made that dream happen and gave him a guitar for Christmas. He got his first paying gig at the Inn at Long Trail sitting in with his brother’s band, The Glass Fingers. 1980, when he was a freshman at Mill River High School, he had in own band; Personal Ads. He rocked out with them throughout high school. That band broke up after high school when Duane went and did a brief stint at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
He came back to Vermont and juggled cover band gigs with his regular restaurant job. He started writing music in the late 80’s with Neil Young’s influence. In the early 90’s he formed the blues band Tin Pan Alley and recorded his first record with them. In 1993-94, He toured with the late great blues singer Sandra Wright. He went on to record 5 more albums with Tin Pan Alley. Duane was musically very busy in the 90’s, playing in three bands. Besides Tin Pan Alley, he played in Acoustic Alley with Jim Gilmour & Steve Mulholland and also the Heavily Brothers with Rick Redington. He recorded 2 live albums with Rick. One was at Marcia B’s Roadhouse in Rutland which is now a parking lot. The other was at Taylor’s famous BBQ at the Clear River Tavern. In 2000, Skip Watts hounded him to go solo and play at the Outback in Killington, VT. Duane didn’t think solo was his thing so he declined the offer. It wasn’t until 2001 when he was needed at a 9/11 benefit that he played solo for the first time. He had no practice for the gig but he did it, rocked it and liked it. So he called up Skip and started playing solo at the Outback.
He recorded his first solo album, Chasing after the Stars, in 2003. The rock influence for that album was Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. He recorded it at his home studio in Chippenhook and has the pleasure of saying he did it all himself. Duane has gone on to record 6 solo albums since then. His music has found its way into movies and TV shows. “Find my way down” is in the cult film “Arachnia” by local filmmaker David Giancola. “True American” can be found in the HBO documentary “Dirty Driving Cars of Indiana”. “Long Way Down” is featured in the hit TV show “Justified” on FX. He got to work with his heroes on his second to last album, “American Boy”. Garth Hudson (The Band), Meshell Ndegeocello (Meshell Ndegeocello, John Mellencamp, David Bowie), and Joseph Wooten (Joseph Wooten, The Victor Wooten Band, The Steve Miller Band) added there talents to the disc and really raised the bar. He said “it was an incredible honor to have worked with each and every one of them”. His newest album “Rust” is his favorite. It is dedicated to the American Family of Farmers. It has gotten rave reviews. The Times Argus said “Rust is a very satisfying listening experience as it's well produced, easy to listen to and intelligent in it's content”. Seven Days wrote, “Carleton is an equally impressive multi-instrumentalist, turning in tasteful performances on acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel, dobro, mandolin, baritone guitar, glockenspiel, and percussion. And his ace backing band, particularly pedal-steel whiz John Briggs, adds gorgeous atmospheric lines throughout. A common failing in electric Americana, especially with so many instrumental toys to play, is to overthink and overproduce arrangements, and that can smoothe out the rough-hewn edges that define the genre. Carleton suffers no such lapses. While not exactly sparse, his arrangements are purposeful and focused, allowing his considerable songwriting talents to take center stage”.
Duane is a 5th generation Vermonter. He writes music about people and places he knows of and can identify with. He is one of Killington’s few original artists. He is also one of the few that play true Americana music. There is no money needed for this Jukebox. Just go listen to him play or visit his website to fall in love with his great music. www.duanecarleton.com.
The Rutland Herald
By GEORGE V. NOSTRAND - Published: July 16, 2009
In a recent shameless promotional e-mail, I
put the challenge out to some friends to give me a bit of a break and share
their thoughts with you on a recent event music-wise here in Rutland. Below is
an excerpt from my pal Kevin Kiefaber:
Love Bus rocks in Killington
By PATRICIA MINICHIELLO STAFF WRITER - Published: March
In three short nights, ladies man and Poison lead
singer Bret Michaels will perform at the Pickle Barrel Night Club in Killington.
The Castleton Spartan
Duane Carleton jams at CSC
Issue date: 11/12/08 Section: EntertainmentHis long, curly black hair nearly reached the ground.
He sported a pair of bright red converse sneakers and large rounded rimmed 80's glasses, leaving some onlookers unsure of what to make of Vermont musician Duane Carleton on the night of Nov. 1.
But after only a brief listen, Carleton soon would have changed their minds, as he showcased his very talented, moving voice and guitar skills.
Despite the lack of attendance, Carleton's music reverberated satisfactorily throughout Fireside Café and certainly enthused the few who witnessed his performance.
With simply a guitar and a microphone, Carleton provided a wide selection of songs, with lyrics of love, his New England hometown, and even several with political undertones.
Prior to the performance, Carleton shared several interesting facts about his musical career and of those who have inspired and influenced this career.
Carleton, born and raised in Clarendon, has been playing and performing for nearly 37 years. He has produced over 15 albums, adding that he never gets sick of his producing music and has always been something he has wanted to do.
In addition, Carleton has had songs placed in films such as the HBO documentary "Dirty Driving-Thunder Cars of Indiana." He writes all of his own lyrics and is influenced by several noteworthy bands, including Neil Young, The Beatles, Steve Earl, Wilco, and The Band.
Carleton stated that his favorite part of touring is the actual performance. He tours primarily in Vermont and has been to several local colleges including Johnson, the University of Vermont, and Vermont Technical College.
Carleton said his most memorable venue was the House of Blues in Cambridge, Mass. He also frequently pays visits to the Clear River Tavern in Killington.
His recently released album "American Boy" compares the contrasts between the current America and the America which once was. Carleton was quite excited for its release, for he claims that it is by far his favorite album. The album features a variety of popular musicians including Garth Hudson from The Band.
In an excerpt from the inside of this album cover, Carleton states that "I have created an album influenced by the rock of my youth against more serious political songs that deal with the traumas of the working class in of today in order to create a record of light and shadow, of pop and politics, indeed of contrasts."
The Times Argus
Art's Christmas shopping list of
The movement to buy locally is catching on in Vermont. Be
it food, beverage, clothing, crafts or music, there are many fine Vermont-made
products. This year Vermonters released a number of excellent CDs. In the rock,
folk, jazz, and traditional categories there is a lot to choose from. For
children we have two albums.
The Manchester Journal/Bennington Banner 7/26/07
From the Beatles to Black Sabbath
'Small Town Hero' Duane Carleton rocks Manchester diner by Andrew McKeever - Manchester Journal
MANCHESTER — On Thursdays this summer, people who like their folk music served up sweet with a dash of the gritty on the side will find a trip to Maxwell's Flat Road Diner in Manchester worth the drive.
Duane Carleton, 41, a Vermont native from West Rutland who has been playing one instrument or another since he was five, will be holding forth from his corner of the bar and grill on the corner of Depot Street and Highland Avenue, across the street from the lumberyard every Thursday night from now until October.
Depending on your mood, it's a nifty background soundtrack for dinner and watching the ball game on one of the four television screens strategically placed for easy viewing, or — and maybe ultimately more satisfying — a first-class musical experience by a skilled musician with deep Vermont roots whose staple is playing bar gigs in places that don't hit you for a cover charge before you walk in the door.
Carleton strums a well-worn acoustic six string guitar at Maxwell's, starting off a set with a couple of folkish tunes before slipping in a Steve Miller tune from 1974 — "The Joker" — inspired perhaps by having recently opened for the veteran rock star the week before at the Rutland County Fairgrounds. Soon after comes a Jimmy Buffett tune that has several people at the next table singing along with him on "Margaritaville." Then comes Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road," followed by Joe Jackson's "Something Going On Around Here."
Carleton makes up his set list as he goes along, trying to take cues from the crowd's mood and requests that get thrown his way. After more than a quarter-century of playing music, and still going strong at the rate of about 300 performances a year, he's accumulated a vast repertoire of original songs and cover versions of other artists' material, enough to customize every performance to what seems to fit the evening, he said.
"If you play what people want you to play, they'll go away happy and I'll be hired back," he said.
Meanwhile, Carleton has recently released a new CD, titled "Once Lost, Then Torn Down." In contrast to his acoustic material at Maxwell's, the CD is largely an electric affair, with a full band backing him up on songs he has written that deal with the challenges and struggles of ordinary people leading ordinary lives.
He's been compared to John Mellencamp, and the straight ahead, no-nonsense guitar riffs that launch "Small Town Heroes," the opening cut on the CD, certainly lend credence to that. Comparable, but not derivative. And its danceable rhythms are catchy and grow on you with repeated listening.
Try hard not to bob your head and weave along with "I've Got A Girl With A Bad Reputation." That tune throws a neat little lyrical hook in from, of all things, an old Beach Boys classic from the mid-1960s, "Good Vibrations."
There's also a guitar line reminiscent of an even older Beatles song from before they were really famous — "Please Please Me." Those two bands were some of his biggest influences when he first started playing guitar at the age of 13, he said.
"I got turned on to rock 'n' roll early," he said, sitting at a table at Maxwell's Flat Road Diner before the start of his set two weeks ago. "My older brothers were listening to everything from The Beatles to Black Sabbath."
But Carleton casts a wide net when drawing in ideas for songs, or tapping into different style elements for the musical accompaniment. He doesn't want to be pigeonholed or put into a box and typecast as a musician of one single genre, he said.
"I just worry about what's going to make the song sound the best," he said. "If you're going to be a well-rounded musician you should seek the best of all styles — listen to everything and get influenced by the best of everything as opposed to saying I only want to be a country artist or a pop artist."
In his songwriting he draws on what he knows best — the rural communities and the people who live in them, "working class people in small town U.S.A.," he said
"I have a brother-in-law who's a farmer in Pawlet and a couple of years ago he started telling me how he was frustrated with milk prices, so I've done a lot of writing about that," he said. "I've seen a lot of people that I know who are struggling that I think the general public doesn't realize what kind of rough shape these guys are in."
Carleton starts playing a three-hour long set, with no breaks, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays at Maxwell's in Manchester. Even after a grueling touring schedule, he loves performing live and making music, he said.
"I don't want to look back someday and say I wish I'd done more or played more," he said.
The Rutland Herald 10/18/07
Local acts to open for Steve Miller by George V. Nostrand - Herald Correspondent
Even kids who don't grow up to be musicians fantasize about rocking out on a big stage in front of a huge crowd. At this point in his life and career, local musician Duane Carleton isn't concerned about personal fame, but he would like to see some familiar faces in the audience this Sunday. That's when Duane and his band The Backwoods Messiahs, will be opening for the Steve Miller Band right here in Rutland at The Vermont State Fairgrounds.
"I have been a fan for decades." Carleton told me. "Steve is a fantastic songwriter/singer/guitar player. He has written too many hits to mention. How can you go wrong here? Everyone knows every song he's gonna play by heart"
Duane Carleton is a small town hero in his own right. Playing close to 300 dates a year, he has released 13 albums and always seems to have a smile for whomever he meets. He has opened shows and played with such luminaries as Eddie Money, Government Mule, and Rick Danko of The Band. It seemed like a good time to find out more about him and the show.
Q: Growing up, did other people in your family play music?
A: My mother played piano, my father was a drummer, and both my grandmothers played piano. My father's mother used to play piano for the silent movies. My older brother Maxwell was a gigging folk musician. With his help, I got started playing acoustic guitar.
Q: Did you play any other instruments as a kid?
A: My first instrument was a piano, which I started at age five. I started playing brass instruments in fourth grade and guitar in eighth grade. By the end of high school I played piano, guitar, trombone, baritone, sousaphone and bass.
Q: How young were you when you started your first band?
A: I was 14. At 13, I saw some older guys playing in the band Phoebus at school. I hung out with them, moved their equipment, and "ran sound". These guys were Todd Bellinger on vocals, Keith Edmunds on guitar, Bryon Billado on guitar, Jim Gilmour on Bass, and Ross Edmunds on drums. Wayne Surrell also played with us for a little while in school. When Keith and Bryon graduated the rest of us regrouped. I played for a number of years with Jim as a duo and now he has his own band, Ross still plays in my band. So as you can see, we are all still around and still playing music.
Q: Why have you stayed in a small town like Rutland if you are an aspiring musician?
A: I'm not aspiring to be a musician. I am a musician. I've been driven to play music since preschool. If what you mean is to be famous, that's different. My music is for working class America. That's who I am and who I want to play for. I go back five generations in Vermont. This is home and it's Heaven. I'm proud of my heritage and proud of my state and it's people. Why would I want to leave paradise?
Q: How did the name and the band Backwoods Messiahs come about?
A: I was writing material and working on a CD ("Once Lost, Then Torn Down"), which was more of an electric album. I booked a gig opening for Loverboy, which was to be a half hour set with a band. So I put together a five-piece band and that was the beginning. The name Backwoods Messiahs, to me carries the impressions of the working class, small town, regular folks, combined with the image of a savior; perhaps as in the second coming of rock and roll. It just popped into my head as I was trying to think of names that summed up the essence of what the band was about. I liked the imagery of the words, and it fit conceptually with what I was trying to present with my music.
Q: How did you get this gig opening for The Steve Miller Band?
A: Basically, when I heard about it, I found out who was putting it on, made some e-mails, and found a contact name. My drummer had a different contact, so he talked to his. I submitted a press kit to mine, my contact talked to his contact and I got the gig. Just plain old-fashioned detective work and legwork.
Q: Why is it important that people come out and support you, the other bands and The Steve Miller Band?
A: It has been a long time coming that someone has been willing to take a chance and use that space to do a show in the summertime. If it isn't well-attended, they won't be doing it again. My gosh, a concert right here in town, with an affordable tickets by today's standards, shame on anyone who doesn't come to this show. This is a great thing for Rutland. If we had shows on a regular basis, it would bring out-of-town money into the local economy. People would come to see the shows, eat at the restaurants, stay at the hotels, shop at the stores. This is all win-win stuff for Rutland. Plus, it would help to build the local arts and music scene. Rutland area has a ton of talented people with a lot of character who are out there performing without much attention being paid and that is a crying shame. Why would someone rather watch TV, or play a video game, etc. instead of seeing a live performance is beyond me. Each live performance is a unique interaction between a performer and audience that can only be experienced that moment in time.
Q: Do you have any trick up your sleeves/special surprises for this July 8th show?
A: Yes, but they wouldn't be tricks or special if I told you. (Laughs)
Q: Where do you hope to be in five years?
A: Hopefully alive. I'd like to be playing my won music...releasing albums and videos and playing at theatres, fairgrounds, festivals, colleges, opening for name acts. I'd like to be in a position to do more for my state. I want to shed more light on the plight of our farmers and do something to help agriculture in our state. I'd also like to continue to write about the struggles that the working class has had to endure.
Carleton and his band The Backwoods Messiahs will open for The Steve Miller Band at The Vermont State Fairgrounds in Rutland, beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 8. Gates open at 10 a.m. Vision goes onstage at noon followed by All Fired Up at 1:30.
The Rutland Herald 7/7/07
This week's "Local Song In My Head" comes from Duane Carleton's new CD, "One Night In The Clear." I said I was going to buy it and I did. It's an amazingly clear recording, but the last track in particular really blew me away. The song is called "While The Getting Was Good." The lyrics are right on and the guitar soloing is stupendous. In the second solo, which I'm assuming is Duane's, he seems to channel Warren Haynes. It has to be heard to be believed.
by George V. Nostrand - Herald Correspondent