Call Kelly Carvin a dreamer. The 20-year-old from Hamilton Township
hopes to change the world with music. Not just her music, but music in
People need to be more aware of other people, she says. "Music is just
about being aware of a moment. When a musician is playing, you're not
thinking about your problems, if you're listening to what the musician
is doing. If we can get people to stop worrying for one minute, then
that's a good thing. All we want to do is give people a little bit of
love, and then, that's what we get back, too."
Carvin, who plays guitar and sings, usually solo, feels that despite
her relative youth, she has something to say. In spite of the fact
that she only began performing in earnest about a year ago, she has
had a surge of productivity in recent months, and the fire in her
belly spurs her on in her songwriting endeavors. After dropping out of
high school in Hamilton, she went back and got her G.E.D. and now she
is attending Mercer County Community College, where she is majoring in
Carvin and more than a dozen other singer-songwriters perform at
KatManDu in Trenton on Wednesday, January 16, at the weekly Acoustic
Showcase at KatManDu in Trenton, hosted by Lance Reichert, owner of QB
Digital. Appearing in 15-minute back-to-back sets are Carvin, Ariel
Dixon, Lisa Jones, Scott Webster, Dave Tropp (Princeton), Christine
Martucci, Mike Montrey, Jim Stevens, Jessica Paris, Joe John and
Shizel Bomb, Postmark Twain, Jeff Lisciandrello and Sailors in Rags
(bluegrass from Princeton), the Jo Wymer Band, and more.
Carvin credits organizer
Reichert with bringing real music into an otherwise under-utilized
facility, where on a weekend night you may find a DJ spinning records
instead of a band playing. "Every Acoustic Showcase I've done so far
has been filled with artists who really care," Carvin says. "The word
has gotten out and he's got bookings into next month and the month
after. They're really seeing results now."
Carvin was raised in Hamilton and Yardville. Her father is a sales
representative and her mother is a medium and a psychic, but works as
a secretary at Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton. Carvin feels she was a
singer-songwriter her whole life. Last year, she began performing at
Room 449 on South Broad Street, a club that has since closed. She
plans to release an album of her original material later in 2008, and
part of the inspiration for that has come from performing at
KatManDu's Acoustic Showcases.
She ventured into the 449 Room in Trenton one night and played her
first song before a live audience, and people there seemed to like
what she was doing, so she continued. She met her boyfriend, Scott
Webster, at the 449 Room and they began performing together.
During her late teens Carvin attended a lot of festivals and became
part of the Garden State's jam band scene, such as it is. "It was
there that I began to understand what music is about and what it could
be," she says. "After hanging out in clubs and at festivals for a long
time, I felt like I needed to do something for myself, and then I
discovered Natural Breakdown."
Since beginning to perform in earnest in the last year, she says her
most memorable gig was with Natural Breakdown, a band from New
Brunswick making a name for themselves on the local jam band scene for
their marathon shows and high energy performances, who Carvin says she
respects and admires. "This past November 3, I opened for them at 449,
and I felt like that was my real breakthrough gig," she says, "because
it was a packed house and all of the guys in the band were there.
After I finished my set, they told me how much I've grown. They're a
very spiritual jam band, and I'm pretty spiritual too."
Being the daughter of a medium and a psychic must not have been easy
in her teenage years, but Carvin appears to have emerged unscathed.
Asked if she thinks she may have inherited some part of her mother's
gift, Carvin says yes, but it manifests itself in different ways.
"We all have an outlet. My outlet is music. What comes through me when
I write music is not me," she says, noting her mother will see her
rehearse in the living room and later say she saw a ghost with her.
"There's this one guy who comes to all my shows and takes photos and
he says there are orbs in the photos he has taken of me."
The influence of her mother's gift goes further. "When I'm performing
or writing songs, I feel like I'm out of my body," Carvin says. "It's
part of the whole creative process for me." As for her mother's seeing
ghosts sitting alongside her, Carvin adds: "One time I was jamming in
the living room, and she started seeing Jerry Garcia, so she just
knows these spirits are there. If she comes to one of my shows, she'll
often say later she felt a presence there, too."
By day and on many weekends, Carvin works at the Cracker Barrel
restaurant on Route 130 in Hamilton, in between her classes at Mercer
County Community College. She says she is hopeful about her future
prospects because of the power of the Internet. On her Myspace site
(see listing at end), you can listen to Carvin's music for free, she
says, "but all I ask is that you come out sometime to see me perform,
and support local music. My MySpace page has been a huge breakthrough
for me, and so many of my gigs are coming from MySpace. Right now,
I've got gigs lined up until May."
Carvin describes herself as a free-spirited person and performer, and
if she's taken any cue from jam bands like Natural Breakdown and
others of their ilk, it is to convey to the audience the essence of
the music when she is performing. "Now I've learned how to give them a
hook to hang onto in their head, plus give them my soul, what I have,"
So what keeps Carvin going, besides her day job at the Cracker Barrel
restaurant? What keeps her going, she says, "is when people hear me
play and they give me a hug. That's when I know what's happening is
magic, and it's just unbelievably beautiful."
Carvin says she's happy to play in the company of other musicians at
venues such as KatManDu's Acoustic Showcase. "There's really no such
thing as competition when it comes to music because everybody has
something special. We all understand that. The performers who really
believe that are the ones Lance has been booking."
What does the audience get out of the Acoustic Showcase? "The room
where we perform is reasonably small," Carvin says, "so people get to
see what the artist is really all about, and it seems like we all know
each other and understand each other, so it's not about me or you or
him or her, it's about all of us, and we're all doing it because we
want to spread the music around. And that all gets back to this global
shift of consciousness."
Acoustic Showcase, Wednesday, January 16, 6 to 11 p.m., KatManDu,
Waterfront Park, Route 29, Trenton. For more information on Kelly
Carvin visit www.myspace.com/kellycarvin. For more information on the
KatManDu Acoustic Showcases visit www.qbdigital.com/indie/events.htm
(no showcase January 30).