Recorded live in the beautiful Sheldon Concert Hall in Saint Louis, Missouri, this CD captures Carter and Connelley at their best! Live recordings always seem to be the best since they fully capture the energy of these two stellar singer/songwriters on stage. The fantastic musicianship of the additional musicians that night is just gravy on the side. Mark Stoffel is masterful playing mandolin and fiddle and Andrea Stader adds bass and vocals on a few songs. Kathleen Shaffner also adds a few vocals putting that sweet high harmony over the top. But the songwriting and storytelling by Curt Carter and Tom Connelley made the night. These two have been playing together since 1988 and it shows! 14 original songs are woven into a cohesive musical statement expressing the songwriters' passion for our natural world, love of family and respect for those who have gone before. Through songs, stories and audience participation, Carter and Connelley are able to create a performance that both informs and inspires the audience to take a closer look at their relationship with the land and encourages environmental stewardship. Without preaching, they allow the listener to find the beauty and harmony of the natural world within one’s self. To be sure, fresh thought provoking and beautiful sounds will emerge from Carter and Connelley each time you hear them. These are truly songs from the heart.
Carter and Connelley have been called “Illinois’ preeminent folk warriors”. Performing together since 1988, their music has seen a wide range of venues from live radio, club, coffeehouse, and festival performances to political and environmental awareness benefits. Carter and Connelley has been featured on several performance series broadcast on public television in Illinois, and shared the stage with comedians Richard Lewis and Al Franken, folk icons Trout Fishing in America and John Hartford, and rock and blues guitarists Larry McMurtry and Coco Montoya. They have also partnered with National Audubon, Wilderness Education Association, Heartland Bioneers, Illinois State Parks and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio state teachers conferences among many other local, state and national organizations. But Curt Carter and Tom Connelley also have a rich history independently over the last four decades.
Tom Connelley, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, was the founder of several bands in the central Arkansas area at the forefront of a wave of musical creativity and live spontaneity which was at its pinnacle in the late 1970’s. Tom has major concert experience opening for such diverse acts as David Alan Coe, ilili (a contemporary of Wavy Gravy) and Governor Bill Clinton. Tom also produced parodies for broadcast and participated in celebrity roasts with popular morning radio show host Craig O’Neil. Tom led two headline acts for the first five consecutive years of Riverfest on the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. His many years of experience in audiovisual production and live performance date back to 1968! He became the sound engineer and Technical Director for the Student Center of Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1988. Tom produced and hosted a weekly two-hour program of folk music for almost six years on WSIU-FM 91.9 and WUSI-FM 90.3 public radio. He is currently a bluegrass host at WDBX-FM 91.1 Community Radio in Carbondale which is also live audio streaming on the Internet at www.wdbx.org.
Curt Carter grew up in Bourbonnais, Illinois near the Kankakee River. He headed a very successful local band as a student at SIU in Carbondale. Then he took his music to the West Coast. As a resident of Hollywood, California, Curt promoted his original music with numerous showcase appearances in clubs and on live television and radio. He also did studio session work with Richard Greene, Byron Berline, Buhl Niedlinger, J. D. Maness, Ben Keith and Howard Yearwood. As a result, he has several songs published through White Cat Music and Comstock Records. Curt returned to the simpler ways of the Midwest to raise a family and complete a masters degree in Environmental Education. He is now retired from SIU after serving for many years as the Director of Environmental Programs at Southern Illinois University's Touch of Nature Environmental Center. His most recent endeavor has established the Land For Learning Institute providing environmental educational opportunities for young and old through excursions based in the Cache River wetlands area of extreme Southern Illinois and along the spring fed rivers of southeast Missouri. As the director of Land For Learning, Curt uses music as a learning tool to enhance his programming thereby expanding the experience for all participants. He also manages the Little Grassy Lake Campground & Marina.
Curt Carter and Tom Connelley are energetic and insightful songwriters tackling social and environmental concerns through their music. Curt and Tom make sure everyone has fun in the process telling humorous anecdotes along with original readings to complement the music. Carter and Connelley was recently given the honor of performing at The Shack along the Wisconsin River where Aldo Leopold, the father of modern conservation, wrote ‘A Sand County Almanac’. Curt and Tom are certified facilitators with the national Leopold Education Project which allows them to guide teachers in incorporating the philosophies of Leopold in their classroom and field activities.