“Every song on this new album [is] either a standard I really dig, a feel I don’t get to play, or a tune that’s kicked my ass because of its difficulty”
As frequent Dig readers have probably noticed, we can’t get enough of local blues act GA-20 and their recent tribute to Hound Dog Taylor. Not to be forgotten in the mix though is that band’s standout drummer Tim Carman, whose own eponymous side project is a local treasure in its own right, right down to the collectible vinyl treatment. We asked Tim about his trio’s gripping fresh new batch of wild takes on faves and standards.
What are some of your prize music possessions?
My drum gear! I have a ’60s Walberg and Auge kit and a ’60s Ludwig Kit. Both of those are my babies. I also have a cymbal given to me by the great Gary Chaffee, a local teacher and incredible drummer. He retired recently and gifted me a ride cymbal.
In terms of vinyl, I know a record that I’m tryin to get. “Cracklin’” by Booker Ervin and Roy Haynes. It’s hard to come by. The track “Scoochie” on my album is on this record. I spent years working on that track which is why I wanted to record it.
You play with quite a few people. But this is your project. What makes it distinctly yours musically? What screams Tim Carman through and through?
The past five years or so, I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of incredible blues/Americana musicians, from Peter Parcek to my main band, GA-20. I love these projects and styles … a large part of what I listen to and have spent time learning to play is jazz.
Every song on this new album screams Tim because it’s either a standard I really dig (“Sonnymoon for Two” and “Driftin,” for example), a feel I don’t get to play (like the Art Blakey-inspired Latin groove on our version of “Buster Rides Again”), or a tune that’s kicked my ass because of its difficulty (like “Scoochie,” which is difficult to play because of its screamin’-fast tempo, or “Not A Tear,” a beautiful slow ballad with brushes that transitions into a 6/8 feel).
Additionally, our original tune, “Blues for Bob,” was written based off a groove I really dig and is dedicated to my old teacher and mentor, Bob Gullotti, who passed away in 2020. This album was basically my outlet to working on grooves and feels I wasn’t getting to play on other gigs.
Now let’s talk about the record. Gorgeous. What were some of the aesthetic inspirations for this physical album?
Thank you! The album is called “Key Lime,” which is also the name of a drum interlude I play in the record. For me, there’s nothing like a good slice of Key Lime pie. It’s comfort food. And the process of making this record was just that for me.
I came up with the design idea after throwing out a bunch of terrible ideas that used actual slices of pie on the cover, etc. I started looking at images of old refrigerators from the ’60s and really dig the aesthetic. Putting a fridge on the cover also makes the record itself seem like the pie inside. I sent a mockup to Chris Ball at Color Red and he crushed the design idea.
What do you take into consideration in making album art for a particular track?
This record is largely inspired by ’60s organ groups like Jimmy Smith, Big John Patton, and Brother Jack McDuff. The single cover for “Scoochie” was inspired by a Jimmy Smith cover. Basically going for that vintage vibe which is what sonically we went for on this record. We hard panned all instruments in the mix to simulate albums from that time as well. To me, those ’60s Blue Note, Verve recordings sound incredible. The sound of the records are almost an instrumental in themselves. They bring so much character to the group and I think that’s something missing in modern jazz.
What albums did you buy for friends this holiday season?
At the moment I don’t know! I just got home from tour and have to figure out gifts!