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Tucson palm trees and a Carbon Leaf

photo courtesy Vanguard Records
By Nathan Tafoya
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 14, 2004

The five members of Carbon Leaf once asked a tow truck to haul them to their next gig when their van broke down in the snow.

After an 11-hour trek, they arrived at their scheduled ski resort venue with 15 minutes to spare but had to use their earnings from the night to pay off the tow driver.

Carbon Leaf shouldn’t have to worry about their touring van breaking down in the snow when they roll into the desert on Oct. 17 to play Plush. In fact, these boys from Virginia may only need to worry about getting sunburned and eating bad Mexican food.

If you go...

Carbon Leaf in concert
Plush (340 E. Sixth St., 520-798-1298)
Sunday Oct. 17 @ 8 p.m.
$8 in advance
$10 day of show
Get tickets online at

Viva Tucsón. Ten cuidado Carbon Leaf.

Carbon Leaf has opened for acts such as John Mayer, Counting Crows and the Dave Matthews Band but is making its first official venture into the West as it tours in support of its newest album, “Indian Summer.”

The album dropped on July 13 and has the picture of a pretty brunette with her arms hanging over the front seat of a car on its cover.

“That’s the girl that broke your heart,” said lead singer Barry Privett when asked who the woman was.

The band, which formed while its members were still attending Randolph-Macon College, played for ten years and put out five albums on its own before a label signed them.

Vanguard Records signed Carbon Leaf months after it appeared at the American Music Awards as the AMA’s first unsigned artists ever to perform at the event.

The name “Carbon Leaf” was just one of many being tossed around by its members after a rafting trip in college, explained Privett.

It wasn’t until a woman printed up fliers for one of their gigs at a backyard party using the name Carbon Leaf that the band members decided to accept their tie to organic chemistry and photosynthesis.

Privett said Carbon Leaf has played in Tucson once before, but didn’t headline. He called Tucson “a cool place,” with a nice, small-concert vibe.

The singer described “Indian Summer” as an acoustic-based rock album.

“It has friendship and love themes,” Privett said. “It’s a lot more emotionally raw than things we’ve done in the past.

"Our influences are a little bit more blended together as far as having the bass, and the mandolin and acoustic/electric guitars and things like that. It’s just a little more subtly mixed into the album,” he said.

The Plush website recommends the show especially for fans of R.E.M. and The Waterboys.

When the band first started and its members still had day jobs, Privett performed many of the management responsibilities and handled much of the finances, even taking a year off work and living on a loan.

Privett said it took eight years for the band to finally get on payroll.

“Up until that point, we were playing shows and driving back through the night to get to everyone’s day jobs, which is really tough,” said Privett. “You couldn’t play but so far. You couldn’t go out west. You had to go no more than eight hours out.”

Carbon Leaf will finally travel into the Mountain and Pacific time zones when they arrive in Tucson this weekend and go on to Washington and Oregon — thanks to the financial support from their new label, Vanguard Records.

“A band is a business,” said Privett. “It’s an expensive business.”

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