• Christine

Carbon Leaf Makes Their Annual December Stop in Philly!

Updated: Mar 21

I said it last year, and I’ll say it again. Carbon Leaf loves Philadelphia in December! This is the third year in a row that we’ve seen Carbon Leaf during the month of December at World Café Live. You can read about last year’s show here.


Why do we go every year? Because it’s always a great show! Carbon Leaf is one of those bands that are just fantastic live. So was the show this year as good as before? Keep reading to find out!


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THE VENUE

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 Cafe Live is a great venue for independent music in 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.


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.


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.


THE SHOW

NICK FRADIANI


ABOUT THE ARTIST

If you are an American Idol fan, you probably already know Nick Fradiani, who was the winner of the fourteenth season in 2015.


Prior to appearing on American Idol, Fradiani was the lead singer of the band Beach Avenue, who gained popularity in their home state of Connecticut. In fact, the band won the Battle of the Bands at Mohegan Sun in 2011.


In 2014, Beach Avenue gained some national attention as a contestant on the show America’s Got Talent.


In 2015, Fradiani decided to try out a solo career and entered as a contestant on American Idol, which he ultimately won. As is par for the course, the record deal Fradiani signed after his win led to a change in his sound to make him more attractive to mainstream radio.


By 2017, Fradiani decided to part ways with his record label and return to his musical roots. His EP – Where We Left Off – was released in October of that year. Not only did the EP see Fradiani return to his own musical roots, but he also used guitarist Nick Abraham from Beach Avenue as co-writer for all of the songs.


Fradiani spent some time touring with The Alternate Routes during 2017, before taking some time off to tour with the national production of A Bronx Tale.


THE PERFORMANCE

Fradiani took the stage at 7:30 p.m. He was accompanied by his Dad – Nick Fradiani, Sr. – who played the keyboards and provided backing vocals.

Nick Fradiani

Nick Fradiani senior and junior on stage at World Cafe Live on Friday night.

Fradiani moved through as many songs as possible. He told the audience that he didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking, since he only had 30 minutes. He did spend a few minutes introducing “The Unknown“. The song was part of an album called Write By The Sea, Volume 1. All proceeds from that album went to support brain cancer research.


I really enjoyed Fradiani’s set. Both Fradiani senior and junior are very talented. Their voices blend together on the harmonies beautifully.

Nick Fradiani

Nick and his Dad sounded great together!

It will be interesting to see where Fradiani’s career goes. American Idol can be the best thing, or the worst thing, that can happen to an artist. While winning the show helped Fradiani get his name out there, it clearly also forced him on a musical path that he wasn’t comfortable with. Now that he’s back to doing his own thing, but without the “American Idol machine” behind him, will he make it? I hope so!


This is Fradiani’s one show supporting Carbon Leaf. He does solo shows from time to time in the northeast. Check out his Facebook page for more info.


CARBON LEAF


ABOUT THE ARTIST

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), Jesse Humphrey (drums) and Jon Markel (electric bass, upright bass).

Carbon Leaf

Carbon Leaf out of Richmond, VA on their “Look Past the Future” tour stop in Philadelphia.

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 – Meander, Shadows 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 pays homage to their fans – who they refer to as their “gathering”.


Carbon Leaf celebrated their 25th anniversary last year. Their career has spanned 17 albums and 2500+ 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.


THE SHOW

Carbon Leaf took the stage about 8:30 p.m. to the classic ’80s hit by Corey Hart – “Sunglasses At Night”. In addition to some Christmas decorations, their stage set up featured a giant pair of glasses that lit up during the show.

Carbon Leaf

The giant glasses were a focal point of the stage set up for the show.

The name of this tour is the “Look Past the Future Tour”. Carbon Leaf didn’t release any new music in 2019 (they promise new material is coming in 2020), and Privett told the crowd that this would be a show of Carbon Leaf hits. The band delivered on that, kicking the show off with Carbon Leaf favorites “What About Everything” and “Comfort”.


The Carbon Leaf favorites kept coming throughout the show including “Lake of Silver Bells”, “Life Less Ordinary”, “Desperation Song” and “The Boxer”. The band was on point all night and kept the crowd dancing and singing along.

Carbon Leaf

Carbon Leaf played all of their hits on Friday night.

One of the things I love about Carbon Leaf is how fan (and family) friendly they are. They may not have a huge fan base, but the fan base they have is dedicated, and Carbon Leaf is dedicated to them. I loved seeing some of their youngest fans right up front, staring up in awe at their favorite band and singing every word of every song.


Another thing I love about a Carbon Leaf show, is that you immediately feel like you are part of the Carbon Leaf family. Whether it’s the tradition of someone sending a tray of White Russians up on stage for the band, or the crowd yelling out the responses to Privett during “She’s Gone”, you can’t help but love the feeling of intimacy with the crowd that this band creates during their shows.

Carbon Leaf

Carbon Leaf lead singer, Barry Privett, grabbing the tray of White Russians from a fan during the show.

A December show also always means that at some point in the show, the band gathers around the microphone and sings “Carter’s Christmas Beard”, which Jon Markel wrote. Markel is from the Philly area and his Mom and a bunch of high school friends were at the show. Before playing the song, Markel joked and asked his friends if they were jealous that he actually got paid for writing the song.

Carbon Leaf

The guys gathered around the microphone to play fan favorite “Carter’s Christmas Beard”.

Because Carbon Leaf releases all of their music independently, they have to get creative with how their music gets out there. During the show, Privett announced that they are phasing out CDs (you could pick any of their old CDs up at the merch table for $5) and moving to all digital. During the show, Privett asked everyone to send a text to a number. When you replied back with your e-mail, you immediately received a link to download four songs. They also had the show available on an MP3 stick afterwards that you could purchase. Carbon Leaf was also selling an MP3 stick that had that show and all of their music loaded on it for $40.

Carbon Leaf

Carbon Leaf is moving to only releasing their music digitally.

Carbon Leaf wrapped up the show with one of my favorites – “Let Your Troubles Roll By” – which featured a mash up of some Christmas favorites during the middle of it. The last song of their set was “Two Aging Truckers”, which the band did acoustically (including Privett with no microphone).

Carbon Leaf

Carbon Leaf wrapping up the show with an acoustic version of “Two Aging Truckers”.

I have to say that the only disappointing part of the show was a couple of fans. We waited after the show was over to see if we could get a set list. Instead of waiting patiently for the road crew to come out, two fans decided to take it upon themselves to get a set list. One boosted themselves up on the stage and just grabbed a couple themselves. Another used her cane to slide one over and grab it right in front of someone who was standing there waiting.


After missing out on a set list, I walked back to the sound board and asked if they had one. The sound guy actually had his own scribbled down list on a piece of paper ripped out of a notebook, which he gave me. I ended up getting the band to sign it after the show, so now I have the most unique set list from the show anyway!

Carbon Leaf

I may not have been pushy enough to grab a set list off the stage, but I got the coolest set list in my opinion!

Set List (click on any title to purchase the song on Amazon): What About Everything, Comfort, One Prairie Outpost, Come Sunday Morn, Bow & Arrow, Toy Soldiers, Paloma, Lake of Silver Bells, Life Less Ordinary, She’s Gone, Desperation Song, On Any Given Day, The War Was In Color, American Tale, The Boxer, The Donnybrook Affair Encore: Carter’s Christmas Beard, Let Your Troubles Roll By, Two Aging Truckers


Carbon Leaf will be on the road through March. If you are in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia or Florida, be sure to check out their dates in January. They are playing with Red Wanting Blue and The Alternate Routes, which should be an amazing show (I’m totally jealous)! You can check out all of their tour dates on their website.


Are you a fan of Carbon Leaf? Have you seen them live? Let us know! Comment below or e-mail me at tips2livebywriter@gmail.com.


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#carbonleaf #NickFrandiani #WorldCafeLive

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