There's something about Brandi Carlile Utahns just love. The singer-songwriter—known for the lyrical honesty and vocal strength she brings to her folk-rock sound—has been selling out shows across SLC for years, including an unprecedented three-day stint at the State Room in 2010 and Sunday's upcoming show at Red Butte Garden.
Her fifth studio album, Bear Creek, was released June 5 and has been on the Billboard charts every week since, peaking at the No. 10 spot on the Billboard 200 and hitting No. 1 on the folk chart. Best known for her “The Story” from her 2007 album of the same name, Carlile and her band—which includes “the twins,” Phil and Tim Hanseroth—have delivered a powerful mix of alt-country, bluegrass and ballads with Bear Creek. Recorded from a rustic cabin/studio in Carlile's home state of Washington, the album shines with “Hard Way Home,” “That Wasn't Me,” and “Raise Hell.”
Carlile's show has been sold out for weeks now, but not to fret. Salt Lake magazine scored a pair of tickets to the Red Butte Garden show on Sunday, July 15. Got a favorite Brandi Carlile song or lyric? Tell us why it moves you in the comments below or on our Facebook page, and you could snag this ticket giveaway.
We caught up with Carlile last week to chat family, her iconic fan and why Salt Lake always draws her in.
1. Bear Creek, named after the cabin in the Washington state woods where it was recorded, is a little different from your previous albums. What sets it apart, and how have fans reacted?
BC: That's what the barn where it was recorded. We've been able to experiment –banjo and in place of an electric guitar, piano in place of a bass, integrated the mandolin... It's been the best received album we've done. Despite the solemn nature of the lyrics, there's an element of fun to it. It came from not have a producer—not that having a producer isn't fun, but there's a thing that happens around recording [like this]. In the cabin, magical things happen.
2. Salt Lake is always on your tour schedule. Is there something about Utah that's especially attractive to you as a performer?
BC: It's become increasingly more important to me. I don't know what it is, but [Salt Lake] is very complex. It's always sparkling clean, and there's an uprightness to it that I can never put my finger on. But then there's this culture to SLC that's completely out of control. I really like the way the youth have taken ahold of Salt Lake City, and they're important in cultivating a change. There's such refinement in Salt Lake but the youth, especially those who are rock n' roll enthusiasts, have a plan for Salt Lake that's going to be a pivotal turning pint in art, music and politics... Salt Lake is countercultural, and I'm countercultural. The cultural boundaries in Salt Lake are like that, and anything that bucks the tradition brings out certain elements in people who come to listen to music.
3. Your charity, Looking Out Foundation, raises money for grassroots organizations in the cities where you perform. What groups are you working with in Salt Lake?
BC: [The charity we're working with is] the United Way to Salt Lake. There's diversity in that organization: Education, income stability and healthy lives are touchstone issues, and there's a lot of compartmentalization between religion and society [in Utah], so I wanted to find a charity that was able to touch everyone. There's a broadness.
4. Steven Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash recently called you his favorite artist. That's quite the thumbs up from a legend. What does that mean to you?
BC: It's probably one of the biggest gifts that my career brings me. That kind of validation is a huge gift. You out so much of yourself out there, and when someone you really admire says you've got it right, it's enormously satisfying.
5. Family is big to you, it seems. "Twin" Phil Hanseroth married your sister, and your mom and sister, both musicans, occasionally go on stage with you when you're back in Washington. How does that connection add to the vibe of your shows?
BC: People can tell when they hear a band who likes each other or a band that doesn't know each other or doesn't take the time to cultivate those relationships. People can appreciate that connection on stage. It happens off stage as well. We're passing the baby around and trying to get her to burp... That's how people live in their lives. The idea of a band being completely mythical and different from humanity, those days are over. The Internet has taken care of that.