This week, Makin Waves shares Hunterdon County singer-songwriter K.C. Cary’s first album in 20 years, which he will celebrate on July 13 at his label’s Black Potatoe Music Festival.
On his first album in 20 years, Hunterdon singer-songwriter K.C. Cary follows up his folkie 1998 LP, “There’s a Moon over the Trailer, Tonight,” with the more rhythmic, yet still rootsy “Beautiful and Blue,” a 13-song collection that mixes those folk roots with jazz, R&B and soul.
Fans of mellow but well-accompanied singer-songwriters, such as JJ Cale and James Taylor, will dig the comeback disc, which will be celebrated on July 13 with a release party at the opening night of his record label’s 21st annual Black Potatoe Festival.
The “oh happy day” gospel of “Jesus Wheel Me Away” with its mix of genuine adoration for God and its finger-in-the-eye disdain for religious hypocrisy stands out, especially delicious Hammond B3 playing by John Ginty (Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Citizen Cope). Cary has fun with this and other tracks, such as the playful contradictions of “Nothing at All” and the witty music industry lament of “One Less Record.” But he also eloquently bears his heavy soul about hardships he’s had to overcome, such as on the title track, a broken window of shame and pain eased by sweet sunshine, beautiful blue skies and the even more beautiful blue eyes of an unrequited love.
Producer Matt Angus, also the main force behind the Black Potatoe Festival and its record label, has assembled an amazing band to back Cary. In addition to Grammy-winning Ginty, a really rich and warm mandolin by Andy Goesling of Railroad Earth and formerly Blue Sparks from Hell helps open the record with “The Tide Rushes In,” while his clarinet heightens the emotions of the title track. Goesling’s flute and saxes and longtime bandmate Tim Carbone’s fiddle also make strong contributions throughout. Backed by a who’s who of the Northwest Jersey music scene, Cary’s studio band also includes guitarist Walt Bibinger, slide guitarist Chris Hedges, bassists Randy Artiglere and Mike Caruso, pianist Colin Love, drummer Thomas Felder, keyboardist Karl Dietel, and backing vocalists Caren Kennedy, Carol Struble, Angela Adams, Kim Williams and Angus.
I remember going to Cary’s CD release party at the Pattenburg House 20 years ago and hearing a songwriter who had nothing but potential. I’m not sure why we had to wait 20 years for another record, but I’m looking forward to the release party. Sharing the bill will be main stage openers and longtime Potatoe-heads Mike Montrey Band and Karl Dietel Five, plus on the River Stage, Clinton-based Jay Thatcher & Steve and Owen O'Malley, Trenton/New Brunswick-based psycho funkateers Experiment 34, and the harmonic Americana trio The End of America from Philly.