Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Carrie Rodriguez

Carrie Rodriguez is a bit of a dabbler.

Perhaps it was a little bit of an adolescent backlash from her early years performing classical musical, or as she puts it, “trying to recreate something that was written 300 years ago down to the exact phrasing and bowing dynamics.” presspass

Carrie Rodriguez is a bit of a dabbler.

Perhaps it was a little bit of an adolescent backlash from her early years performing classical musical, or as she puts it, “trying to recreate something that was written 300 years ago down to the exact phrasing and bowing dynamics.” Perhaps its a more ingrained aversion to staying static, as demonstrated by her refusal to take part in “nap time” as an elementary school student. Instead of sleeping away the day, she wandered into a nearby classroom where students were learning the violin, her first introduction to the instrument for which she would be celebrated as one of the country/blues scene’s top fiddle players.

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Carrie Rodriguez (Photo: Sarah Wilson)

“I was so focused on classical violin for the first part of my life, and in that medium, the whole goal is to play it as perfectly as you can,” Rodriguez says. “I think that’s a beautiful art form, but it was restrictive to me creatively. When I started branching out into other styles, I think that’s when music started becoming really exciting for me.”

Her career blossomed in turn. She was recruited as a sideman from a live show at the South by Southwest Music Festival by Chip Taylor, who originally penned classics “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning.” She later collaborated and toured with country/folk/rock artist Lucinda Williams.

Today that early inclination for new excitement is evident in her upcoming release, Love and Circumstance, a collection of cover tunes ranging from songs played by her father and great aunt, Eva Garza, to artists like Townes Van Zandt and her aforementioned touring partner Lucinda Williams.

Exhibiting a wide variety of her influences, Rodriguez puts her own spin on the selections, not content to simply leave them as they were.

“It’s been a matter of taking them and trying to make them my own,” Rodriguez says. “I like to play the song enough until I forget that I didn’t write it.”

The album is her third LP, following the release of She Ain’t Me in August of 2008. That record consisted of a collection of co-written songs that all tended to defy genre-specific labels, but were linked by Rodriguez’s smoldering and easy-to-fall-for vocals and feisty fiddle-playing.

“I’ve done a lot of co-writing, which suits me because I love playing with other musicians and I love the back and forth and seeing how someone else does it,” Rodriguez says of her previous work. “ I love adding what I’ve got to what they’ve got and getting something even better. I’d say I’ve done more of that than anything else.”

She continues to embrace the ability to play in various musical circles, even if it may be preventing her from pinning down a sound that she feels is distinctly her own. In fact, she’d be just fine if she never found it.

“I love the process of creating music and I hope I never finally arrive as one thing that is ‘Carrie Rodriguez,’” she says. “I get excited when I find a new arrangement for one of my songs I’ve been playing for five or six years. I hope I’ll be able to do that for the rest of my life. Limiting what I do to a specific sound or genre isn’t quite as exciting to me.”

• Carrie Rodriguez performs at IOTA Club & Cafe Jan. 29. For more on her music and her constantly evolving career, visit www.carrierodriguez.com.