Four Corners of good music plays Congress

By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 29, 2005

On Saturday Club Congress will provide some unique pre-show entertainment before the tastefully, bawdy burlesque SuicideGirls' show in the form of four Texan singer/songwriters. Though it's just coincidence that Adam Carroll, Beaver Nelson, Steve Polz and Scrappy Jud Newcomb are playing the early show the same night the SuicideGirls invade Club Congress, the lineup is perhaps fitting.

After all, the thing that best separates these four Texans with guitars from the masses is their knack for injecting witty humor into their songs. And there's nothing funnier than opening for a burlesque show. Who knows, it might just prove inspiration for a future song. Recently, Adam Carroll discussed the tour, including the use of humor in his songs.

"I think (humor) just kind of comes to me naturally," Carroll said. "It just seems like kind of the way I like to do it. I kind of get a kick out of it sometimes, and I figure I have to be the first one to get a kick out of it. Then if everybody else does then that's OK too."

Carroll has plenty of reason to laugh, or at least smile, with the recent release of his latest album Far Away Blues. Aside from critical acclaim, the album charted a different, more familial path from his previous releases that were more typical solo singer/songwriter fare.

"For (Far Away Blues) I wrote a bunch of half songs on the piano and the guitar, and then I had kind of theme going because I had it in mind who I wanted to have on the CD," Carroll said. "And that was my grandfather, so I had kind of a family theme going. It's different for everything I do."

The idea for Carroll to include his grandfather, who played saxophone for Gene Krupa in the past, was - like most of Carroll's songwriting - a spontaneous decision.

"Sometimes I have an idea and I'll kind of write the idea down and sort of tinker away at it until I come up with lyrics around it and see where it's going," Carroll said. "Sometimes I have the lyrics in my head and sometimes I imagine another artists singing the lyrics, like a famous person singing the lyrics, and that's kind of how I figure out how they should sound based on who I would want to sing the song."

That kind of songwriting process led to the fuller sound Carroll exhibits on Far Away Blues. The album was fleshed out with Carroll's grandfather filling in on sax and other session players helping with the rhythm tracks.

"The instrumentation was a little different," Carroll said. "A little more experimental this time. We had saxophone and trumpet and strings and piano. The other two (albums) I've done are more straight-up singer/songwriter. The others were real story songs and these were more poetic-slash-story songs."

Now, Carroll and his three buddies are hitting the road under the traveling moniker The Four Corners of the Round Table. The group is spreading their infectious brand of smart-country music to eagerly awaiting audiences. The tour is a copy of past tours the guys have done together.

"Steve and Scrappy and Beaver and me all had the same booking agent for a while, and she was helping us out getting shows, and we did a tour up on the East Coast one time, several years ago, and then we did one in Texas, and now we're doing this one on the West Coast. I think it was sort of a way of getting a novelty thing together and we really enjoyed it the first time, so we've been trying to do it every so often. I don't know how many more times we'll do it, but it's always a kick."

Although all four musicians are outstanding solo acts in their own right, for the Four Corner Shows they all perform together onstage.

"We play together kind of like a round-robin type of thing," Carroll said. "As the tour progresses we tend to learn each other's songs and kind of contribute. It kind of becomes a little group eventually, we try and support each other and feed off each other."

To catch the Four Corners of the Round Table, go to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., Saturday at 7 p.m. for the all ages show. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.