Carpenter is one of many up-and-coming artists that will perform at the Rivershed Songwriters Festival, Oct. 1
The Rivershed Songwriters Festival is coming to Killington for the very first time. The festival is put on by owner Kara Tondorf and will take place on Oct. 1 from 7-10 p.m. at the Rivershed located at 747 Killington Road.
The festival features artists being flown in from Nashville and Los Angeles as well as some New England based artists. This is the best lineup to date and an event you definitely don’t want to miss. Tickets are only $40 and are available at: therivershed.com.
The Nashville hit makers are Johnny Bulford, Heidi Raye, Tim Fagan, Chris Gelbuda, Lance Carpenter and Jason Ashley. They’re the talented songwriters behind the hits of Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Randy Travis, Sam Hunt, Meghan Trainor, Colbie Caillat, Faith Hill, Jason Mraz and more. The evening also includes some rising stars of the music business from New England like Rob Pagnano, Kristen Merlin, MB Padfield and Houston Bernard. Three or four musicians will occupy the stage at a time.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Lance Carpenter who hails from Arkansas but has been living in Nashville for the past 11 years. He looks forward to festival shows like this where he gets to catch up with old musician friends and socialize a bit. I asked him to describe his show and he said, “Some of the best words I can say didn’t even come from me. I got finished with a show and a guy came up and said ‘Do you know who you are?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir, I do’ He said, ‘No, let me tell you who you are. If Toby Keith and Blake Shelton had a baby, you’d be their boy’.”
Lance Carpenter, 41, didn’t start playing guitar until college but back then it was just for some therapy and something to do. He said, “I never had aspirations of standing on stage or even writing songs. I love country music and I listen to it but it wasn’t something that I thought was going to become a career.”
Between 1999 and 2007 he wrote 30-40 songs.
He went to Arkansas Tech University where he played football and left with a degree in emergency administration and management. Out of college he worked for Arkansas state Department of Emergency Management for three and a half years. When Hurricane Katrina hit, he joined FEMA and started traveling the country doing disaster response, preparedness and recovery. Carpenter said, “Everywhere I went, I took a guitar. After a long day, I would pick up the guitar and it was my therapy. It took my mind off everything we had done.”
Carpenter discovered the Nashville Songwriters Association (NSA) through Google. After joining they invited him down for a weekend. He said, “When I realized people did that for a living, that’s when the hobby turned into a passion. I thought it was cool and maybe I should pursue it.”
He taught himself guitar while watching CMT in his hotel room.
Carpenter grew up on George Strait. That’s what his mom played in the car on his way to school, he said. He really likes listening to country music storytellers like Alabama and Garth Brooks. In junior high he got turned onto rock music whether it be ‘80s, Metallica or Nirvana. In high school, he was introduced to hip-hop. He said, “I fell in love with Eminem and the way he could craft a song. I also listened to Christian music like Mark Schultz. I had all these musical influences even though I didn’t play… really my influences on how I write and perform came from songwriters like Kent Blazy and Steve Seskin.”
His first time performing in front of others was in 2007 in Portland, Maine. A buddy asked him to play his break because as he said, “We don’t get country music up here.”
Carpenter said, “On my first song I was so nervous, I was shaking like a leaf in a windstorm. I dropped my mic three times during the first song. It was so awkward. It was a horrible performance.” But in 2011, when he moved to Nashville, his first show went great. It was a little songwriters project at the Listening Room Cafe that he recorded for an album. It was the first time he put a band together. They sold it out with about 350 people.
Carpenter said he’s been blessed to have been able to write songs for others to perform. He wrote and recorded a song with Richie McDonald of Lonestar, which they put out together. He owes his songwriting skills to the NSA. They taught him real beginner type stuff, he said. Throughout the years he took more advanced classes.
What’s really cool is he started his own company called Music Row Coach. He helps out up-and-coming songwriters and artists. He said, “I’ve done just about everything you can do in the music business like having publishing deals to record deals to touring. If anything I’ve done can help someone else doing it, then I want to do that.”
Carpenter is still constantly writing songs. He has written about 1,500 in total, he estimates. His phone is filled with voice memos of song ideas. His favorite to write is story songs.
“A good old beginning, middle and end,” he explained. “Here’s how it happened and here’s the details of it. I’ve written historic songs, love songs, I hate this town, I love this town. If you want to be a good songwriter, you can’t let the truth get in the way of a good song. You have to make stuff up where it’s a little more commercial. I write very conversational for the most part.”
He writes country, pop and Christian contemporary and said all are so different with the structure of the song and how you bring it to life.
Carpenter knows what music meant to him growing up. He said, “If I hear a certain song on the radio, it takes me back to that place. I can taste that food, I can feel the rain in that air. If you look back at happy memories, they’re surrounded by music; sad memories are surrounded by music.”
He also loves and plays for his fans, “To know that every time I get on that stage a song I wrote touched someone in the audience and can be the therapy they needed to hear or to see how a song can penetrate someone to the point it gives them an emotional response, is really cool,” he added.
He has one full album out, a couple EPs and one digital. His latest single is “I Bought a Bar,” which he wrote with Kendall Marvel and Big Al Anderson. He just shot a music video in Key West for “Sand Bar,” which will be released next spring. He also hopes to put on a new album in 2023.
For more information visit his website: LanceCarpenterMusic.com. He’s on all the streaming platforms and social media Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok. (He said there’s a lot of scammers out there so make sure it’s Lance Carpenter with a blue check mark.)