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  • Writer's pictureChristine

Carbon Leaf Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary On Tour!

Carbon Leaf loves Philadelphia in December!

Carbon Leaf is wrapping up their 25th Anniversary Tour and stopped in Philly this past Saturday night.

This is the second year in a row that we’ve seen Carbon Leaf at World Café Live during December (and sneak preview – they announced they’ll be back around the same time in 2019). This year, Carbon Leaf is celebrating their 25th Anniversary. You can read more about last year’s show at World Café Live here:

Even thought they have been making music for 25 years, you may not have heard of Carbon Leaf. They release their music independently, but they have a fiercely devoted fan base that has allowed them to make a living doing what they love for all these years.

So, was their return visit to Philly a hit? Keep reading to find out.

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World Café Live ( is an independent music venue in downtown Philadelphia. Located in the University City area, it brings in both local and national artists, as well as hosting a variety of other private and public events. The venue opened in 2004, and hosts over 500 shows per year between its upstairs and downstairs space.

World Café Live is located in the University City area of downtown Philadelphia.

The idea for World Café Live started when Hal Real heard David Dye’s contemporary music program called World Café. Broadcasted on local public radio station WXPN, the program highlighted no frills artists who were dedicated to their craft and appreciative of their fans. Hal knew that a venue to support those types of artists was missing from the Philadelphia area. Hal’s company – Real Entertainment Group – and WXPN joined forces and moved into the space that became World Café Live.

World Café Live consists of two main areas. The “upstairs” is a restaurant and bar that also has a small performance area. They have a full sit-down dinner service. The “downstairs” is the larger performance area. With a capacity of 650 people, it also has a full bar in the back along with an elevated seating area. A lighter food menu is available downstairs.

Tip #1: The food at World Café Live is fantastic! If you are going for a show “downstairs”, come early and enjoy dinner “upstairs” beforehand. You can make a reservation on Yelp or by calling the box office at 215-222-1400


For this particular show, we were running a bit late, so we just went straight to the downstairs room and ordered food. The menu was a bit limited, but the food we ended up with was delicious. We were able to grab a spot at the bar, so even though we had to stand to eat, it worked out fine.

Tip #2: There are several parking options near the venue. If you get there early, it is usually fairly easy to find street parking right on Walnut Street in front of the venue. Be sure to pay attention to the parking signs when parking on the street. If you can’t find a spot on the street, there are several parking garages close by. The Cira Center South Garage (129 South 30th Street) is only $8 in the evenings (enter after 5 p.m.) or on weekends.

Tip #3: As mentioned above, radio station WXPN shares the building with World Café Live. When you come for a show, be sure to walk around and check out the radio station studio.

Be sure to take a peak inside the WXPN studios while you’re in the building.

Tip #4: If you want to avoid ticket fees, buy your tickets during World Café Live’s “happy hour”. Between 5 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, go to the box office and get your tickets with no fees. Cash only and tickets for the mezzanine area are excluded.




Born in Richmond, VA, Emma Hern studied music and graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After graduation, Hern moved to Nashville to start her professional music career.

Shortly after moving to Nashville, she began playing a long list of Nashville venues, including performing during the Pilgrimage Music Festival.

Hern recently released her debut EP – Emma Hern – and is looking to expand her audience by hitting the road with some national artists, including Carbon Leaf.


Hern took the stage right at 8:00 p.m. She was accompanied by a guitarist (I believe his name was Zack Torres), who also provided vocals.

Emma Hern opening the show at World Café Live on Saturday night.

Hern’s voice is amazing. She’s got a ton of power, but she also has a lot of emotion in her singing. The second song she performed – “Fool” – was a great example of her combining the power and the emotion together.

As mentioned above, Hern is just starting out on her professional music career, so this was her first time performing in Philadelphia. She mentioned how they had spent some time exploring the city and really enjoyed it. She also told the Philadelphia crowd how impressed she was with our participation. During one of her songs, Hern asked the crowd to snap with her, and the crowd complied. She said that never happens in Nashville. Everyone there is a musician, so they think it’s above them to participate.

Emma Hern has an amazing voice. Keep an eye out for her!

Hern included a brand new song in her set, along with an Aretha Franklin cover. Hern has a great personality on stage, so she was really able to draw the crowd in and keep them entertained.

Keep your eye on Emma Hern! You can find out more about her at her website at



Carbon Leaf formed in 1993 as an independent college band out of Richmond, Virginia. The band has had several members throughout the years, but the current line-up is made up of Barry Privett (vocals, penny whistle, acoustic guitar, bagpipes), Terry Clark (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals), Carter Gravatt (acoustic/electric mandolin, acoustic/electric guitar, 12 string guitar, lap steel, bouzouki, bodhran, lops, effects, vocals, violin/fiddle, hurdy-gurdy), and Jon Markel (electric bass, upright bass).

Carbon Leaf filled the house at World Café Live in Philadelphia Saturday night.

The band blends folk, celtic, bluegrass, Americana, rock and pop into its music. They utilize a vast array of instruments to create their unique sound.

Carbon Leaf recorded and released their first four albums independently on their own record label called Constant Ivy Music. Their first three albums – MeanderShadows in the Banquet Hall and Ether-Electrified Porch Music – sold over 10,000 copies combined.

In 2001, they released their album Echo Echo, which included the song “The Boxer” as the first track. In January 2002, the song won the first ever American Music Awards Presents the Coca-Cola New Music Award. This led to Carbon Leaf performing “The Boxer” on the AMA’s, becoming the first unsigned band to perform on the show.

In 2004, Carbon Leaf signed a record deal with Vanguard Records. They recorded and released three albums during their 6-year stint with the label. In 2010, they announced that they were amicably splitting with the label and returning to recording and releasing music independently.

After 5 years of intense touring, the band pared down its 2016 touring schedule to focus on re-releasing their 2009 album – Nothing Rhymes With Woman. This album was the third of three albums they recorded originally with Vanguard Records. They re-recorded the album, along with Indian Summer (2004) and Love Loss Hope Repeat (2006), so that they would regain 100% ownership of their music catalog.

Their latest studio album – Gathering – is the first in a series of several new albums they plan to release over the next couple of years. It pay homage to their fans – who they refer to as their “gathering”.

Carbon Leaf is celebrating their 25th anniversary. Their career has spanned 17 albums and 2400+ live shows. They continue to have a large and loyal following and continue to pursue recording and releasing their music independently, so that they have complete control over the music they write.


Carbon Leaf took the stage a few minutes after 9:00 p.m. Privett was dressed in a dress shirt and skinny tie, while the rest of the guys were wearing more “typical” rock band attire.

After kicking off the show, Carbon Leaf went into one of their most popular songs – “What About Everything” – which really got the crowd going.

Carbon Leaf incorporated songs off the new album with their classics. After 17 studio albums, they have a big catalog of music to choose from.

One the things I love about Carbon Leaf, is how much they appreciate their fans and how accessible they are to them. Not all bands are that way, so it’s refreshing when you see a band that really seems to care.

During one of their songs, I could see someone up-front hand lead singer Privett a piece of paper. After the song was over, Privett read the note. It was from a 6-year-old girl, who said she had traveled 150 miles to see the show and had a song that she wanted to hear. Privett joked that the song wasn’t on the set list, but they would do it anyway.

One of Carbon Leaf’s youngest fans on stage with the band!

Not only did Carbon Leaf play the song, but Privett brought the girl on stage with him to play the tambourine during the song. Privett also handed her and her family a bunch of free stuff, including copies of their new CD and a couple of 25th anniversary coffee mugs (which Privett said were used, so be sure to rinse out the whiskey first).

A common feature of all the Carbon Leaf shows I’ve seen, is the band doing a few acoustic songs center stage towards the end of the show. This particular acoustic set featured a Christmas song that was about past Christmas celebrations at Privett’s great aunt’s house (check out the lyrics – they are really funny) as well as the song Markel wrote about Gravett’s beard (it’s called “Carter’s Christmas Beard” and is also hilarious).

Carbon Leaf doing a couple of songs acoustically.

After a quick encore break, Carbon Leaf came back on the stage to play one of my favorites – “Let Your Troubles Roll By”. The song featured a longer instrumental break, where they included a mash-up of several Christmas carols within the song.

Carbon Leaf clearly didn’t want the show to end. Privett said that they still had to drive down to Virginia that night and they would probably regret it later, but they wanted to give Philadelphia their fill of music for the 25th anniversary show.

Carbon Leaf always puts on an amazing show and their lights are always very cool!

Just when you thought they were wrapped up, Privett jumped off stage into the crowd and started chanting like he was in the audience – “One more song”. He invited the rest of Carbon Leaf to join him in the audience. After parting the crowd, the guys all came down with their instruments, and Carbon Leaf played one more song totally acoustic – no microphones or amps – just their instruments and voices. Carbon Leaf played “Gifts From the Crows” off their new album. It was absolutely beautiful.

Carbon Leaf wrapping up the show in the middle of the crowd.

As mentioned above, Carbon Leaf promised they would be back to Philly and World Café Live around the same time next year. You can bet I will be there!

Carbon Leaf only has a few more dates on their 25th Anniversary Tour before they wrap up with a show in their hometown of Richmond, VA on December 15th. They always tour extensively every year, so be sure to check out their website at to stay up to date on new tour dates as they are released.

Are you a Carbon Leaf fan?  Have you seen one of their shows?  Tell us what you think! Comment below or e-mail me at

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