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And the Carllile Women Gave a Fantastic Show

Juli Kearns Everyday Stories 20 Comments

You know you’ve got something special when people say “This is real, this is real”. And you really know you’ve got something special when women and men are left crying.

Which is what happened at the concert the Carllile women gave Sunday night.

These are special people. And Sunday’s was a special event.


Virginia, Calli and Tammy Carllile


Virginia Carllile


Kathy Carllile


Tammy Carllile


Calli Carllile


The Carlliles with some special friends at show’s end, including Troy Beiser (of Telegram), Jill and Rhett McAllister (of Arlington Priest) and Heather Luttrell.


Tammy after the show and Virginia in the background. The Carllile women not only soulfully inspire tears, they are damn funny and fun and some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met.

The concert, sponsored by Todd Evans (to whom goes my never ending gratitude for making this happen), featured Michael Steele on bass, Gerry Hansen on drums, Mike Hines on guitar (all from Randall Bramblett’s band) and Martin (Marty) Kearns on keys. A live CD is forthcoming.

And to give you an idea of what will be on the live CD, here was the song list:

VIRGINIA….THE LOSER
CALLI……….LITTLE BY LITTLE
TAMMY……..SKYLARK
KATHY………MAYBE YOUR BABY
VIRGINIA…..I GUESS I WAS BORN THIS WAY
CALLI………GUILTY
KATHY………NEVER LOVED A MAN
TAMMY………I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF
VIRGINIA……MY BUDDY
CALLI……….BURN
TAMMY………I NEED YOU TONIGHT
KATHY………….HE’S NOT JUST ANOTHER MAN
VIRGINIA……I’M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY
CALLI………..GO DOWN EASY
KATHY……….I CAN SEE CLEARLY
TAMMY……….SUNRISE
VIRGINIA…….INDIAN BOY INDIAN GIRL
TAMMY……….TELL ME
CALLI (with everyone) …………HALLELUJAH

“Tell Me” is by Troy Beiser, who writes some of the more beautiful songs you could ever hear. “Tell me” isn’t up at Telegram’s Myspace page but “Jesus’ Son” is. Go listen. It’s another favorite of mine. I’ve heard the Telegram songs from the sessions at 800 East for a while now but hadn’t met Troy until last night (man, what a nice person). While introductions were made, and I thought, “What a nice person”, H.o.p. was hopping all around pretending to be a rabbit (too apropos).

Thanks from Marty goes to Nicolle Jerovitz and Greg Lee, Heaven Davis and Kevin Whitehurst, and Vic Stafford (who did a wonderful job engineering the recording).

When the concert was done and over with and the people had left, while the tables and chairs were being broken down, a couple of songs were recut. Heaven Davis, after helping put up chairs, with her husband Kevin (not only is she a great singer/performer, she’s always the first to pitch in a hand and do what needs doing without saying a word, as does Kevin, and I always think “I can’t believe these people”) settled down to listen and Kathy recounted the story of how Heaven got her singing again recently after some years of being out of the business (read more about Kathy at her Myspace page).
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Heaven Davis (you can’t see her) listening as Tammy recuts “Skylark”

And if this little blog on the concert seems very short and cut and dried, I really don’t know what to say but what I opened with, that you have something very special when people say “This is real, this is real” and both men and women are left in tears. These women don’t begin to have a humble clue of how special they are and how much they enrich the lives of those they touch both personally and musically. How one family can be gifted with as much talent, personality and love as they are, I don’t know.

I told H.o.p. beforehand that he was going to be witnessing something wonderful Sunday night, hoping to impress it in his brain so that a touch of its aura wouldn’t be lost to him amongst the memories of childhood. Afterwards, I took some of the simple star decorations and brought them home and draped them on the wall above his computer, much to his delight. It was partly for me, so the evening would linger longer, and also in the hope this would help keep the event in his mind for a while, so he’ll have a better chance of remembering. And brought home too some of the xeroxes of Virginia and Thumbs that were on the table at the entrance, to put up on our wall.

Virginia sang “I’m so lonesome I could cry” at the concert. She had read my blog piece on Thumbs in which I’d spoken of how 18 years later I was still carrying the memory of her singing that at Thumbs’ wake. She said because of this she was performing it and this time she sang over a recording of Thumbs playing at the beginning, and then the band joined in. I had the unexpected privilege of Virginia dedicating the song to me on Sunday but what I felt was akin to a shadow instrument, as if in writing that small piece I was a shadow instrument still played by that performance so many years ago (which in some respects seems like just yesterday) the purpose of which was to facilitate others sharing, which they were able to do Sunday night, which brought tears to people’s eyes again, touching them deeply–and what does any artist want but that, for others to come into touch with something of themselves and a portion of their lives clarified. And some of us are honored just to point and say “there, go there to hear your heart beat” and know a few did. As I lay on the floor of the balcony with my camera, squeezed into a corner (taking bad pics), I stared down and was torn because the last thing I wanted to do was take photos of Virginia during the song as I didn’t want to be distanced by the camera, so when Virginia began I put the camera down. Then Virginia had no sooner started singing and my eyes unexpectedly began to tear (I don’t’ cry easy), and I thought of how I had no idea 19 years ago I would be listening to the Carlliles at this concert, hearing Virginia singing again, all of these marvelous women together, friends old and new applauding not only a marvelous musical heritage but an exceptional heritage of spirit as well. Eventually, I raised the camera and took a couple of pictures, thinking there are very few things for which you hope for so long which finally happen.

If you weren’t fortunate enough to be at the concert, click on the below to view full some of the materials that were at the entrance table. I’ve also put up a new photo gallery for Marty’s studio, Down in Deep, and archived more photos of the concert there:

Juli KearnsAnd the Carllile Women Gave a Fantastic Show

Comments 20

  1. Idyllopus

    Virginia, well, I guess turn about is fair play. :) Thanks again for the wonderful night. I regret I didn’t get a picture of you guys with Todd Evans.

  2. Jim Keisel

    I just wanted to say, I haven’t met Thumbs before, but helping at home throughout the years, getting many cuts of Thumb’s songs for various reasons I have had the opportunity listen to and work with many of the songs (including that cut of I’m so Lonesome I could Cry).

    I was very used to hearing Thumbs Playing, but when That moment came and I heard the intro then Virginia start singing I’m So Lonesome THAT brought a tear to my eye and to me it seemed a very solem moment and Virginia was once again with Thumbs.

    Needless to say I loved the show from the beginning to the Grand Finale. I’m so glad that I was able to be there with the ladies (such a wide variety of songs and talent in one family).

    And Thanks to Marty who kept things cool and smooth no matter what. I’ll keep quiet now,I hope this wasn’t inappropriate.

    Jim Keisel

  3. Idyllopus

    Jim, not inappropriate at all. it’s amazing the talent that’s packed into that family. And the honesty that they bring to the stage is what makes them extra exceptional. The ability to reach deep and connect. Absolutely fearless.

    And thanks for commenting on Marty. He’s something too.

  4. Amy

    “These women don’t begin to have a humble clue of how special they are and how much they enrich the lives of those they touch both personally and musically.”

    I cannot think of a better way to express the above sentence. Thank you, Juli, for your intimate and masterful reflection on Sunday’s performance.

  5. sAM bOWLER

    I was Thumbs neighbor in Las Vegas when he created “On His Own”. I spent many hours in his front room listening to him develop the amazing sounds of that album. I cherish all the music, humor and anicdotes that went with it. Oh, the stories.!!

  6. Linda May

    HI MY NAME IS LINDA MAY,MY 45 RECORD I CUT IN 1987 WAS THE LAST THING THUMS CARLILE PLAYED ON…MY ADRESS IS…1360 WILSON AVE,CLEVELAND TN 37311
    MY PHONE #423-790-0914

  7. JAMES GENTRY

    everyone of the carllile women look great.keep up the good work.i know thumbs would be proud of all of you.

  8. nelson

    great that someone has done this to last forever for Thumbs and the Carlisle Women

    had the pleasure of watching Thumbs play at Scotty’s International a few times, and got to meet Kathy too !

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