11 Questions to a Nashville Musician Who Moved Away: Melissa Carper

Melissa Carper (Photo by Aisha Golliher)(Photo by Aisha Golliher)

Upright bassist extraordinaire, Buffalo Gals co-founder, and Sad Daddy bandmember, Melissa Carper, titled her last LP “Brand New Old-Time Songs.” A perfect way to describe the classic country style of the wonderful music she makes. To prove my point, give a listen to this lovely live take of “Makin’ Memories,” the preview single from her upcoming new full-length “Daddy’s Country Gold” which she releases on March 19.

My thanks to “Daddy” for checking in with 11 Questions. She and I sure clicked on our common respect of the importance of pizza and coffee. The new album is available for digital pre-order and comes with an immediate download of the new single and an exclusive download of another album track “I’m Musing You.” You can catch Melissa Carper perform live on Facebook live every Monday night at 6 pm CT.


Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?

I’m originally from North Platte, NE, though I consider Arkansas to be home now and have lived in Arkansas for over 15 years of my life.  I’ve moved around a lot.  I moved to Nashville in May of 2018 with my girlfriend and bandmate in the Buffalo Gals, Rebecca Patek.  We had visited in the fall of 2017 to see some music shows.  We saw a couple of shows at the Station Inn (Larry Sparks and Robbie Fulks) and we saw Chris Scruggs and the Stone Fox Five at The Local.  We ran into a lot of musician friends from Austin who had moved to Nashville. The old-time country music scene was very inspiring, and we had been looking for a new place to move, so we just went for it and moved the following year. 

What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?

This is hard for me to remember as my family did a lot of shopping for records in our little music store in North Platte, Murphy’s Modern Music.  We were always buying new 45’s and I don’t remember what the first record was. My dad would let us pick out 45’s and we would go home and stack them up in the turntable and pretend we were DJs and just play one after another.  We had 45’s of Johnny Cash, Elvis and Roy Orbison, and Jeanne C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA,” and just whatever new hits were coming out in the ’80s too.  I do remember a couple of my first tapes were John Denver’s Greatest Hits and Air Supply.  My taste has changed some.  My family had a great country record collection and I enjoyed those records a whole lot, especially Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.  The latest album I have purchased would be Brennen Leigh’s Prairie Love Letter.  Brennen lives in Nashville and we do some co-writing together.  Her new album is absolutely gorgeous, and she is one of my very favorite songwriters.  

First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?

I really can’t remember the very first concert.  We did have Nebraskaland Days in North Platte and they got some pretty good country acts in. I don’t know if it was the first concert, but I got to see Randy Travis there.  And the last live concert would be Santiago Jimenez, Flaco’s brother.  I saw him at the Sagebrush in Austin, TX in December 2020.  He was amazing, a great singer and accordion player, and had a great band. 

Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?

I don’t think I see Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, on the Walk of Fame.  I think he should be added for sure and then after that Kitty Wells, the Queen of Country Music. I don’t think I see her either. 

Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?

I first lived close to Portland Brew on the Eastside and I would walk there and get my coffee. Then I moved closer to Dose and I walked there to get my coffee.  I also would go to Sip on Gallatin.  I drink lots of coffee.  Pizza would be most often Five Points.  This is a great question.  Pizza and coffee are top priorities for me. 

What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?

My favorite record to come out of Nashville, that is hard.  I would say in more recent times one of my favorites is Loretta Lynn’s Wouldn’t It Be Great, recorded at Cash Cabins.  Her voice just sounds better than ever and the songs, some new and some old, are all great. The production and instrumentation are also just superb.  

Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?

Dino’s late at night for sure.  Such a great dive.  I love the fries with the hot oil and grilled onions and Velveeta or whatever it is they put on it. 

The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.

I would pick Brennen Leigh, Noel McKay, and Vida Wakeman.  I know Brennen and Noel from when we all lived in Austin and I’ve played bass with them a bunch.  They are great friends and two of my very favorite songwriters and musicians. We have all co-written together.  Vida Wakeman, of the band Jeff and Vida, is a great singer/guitarist/songwriter and she joined the Buffalo Gals for many a show in Nashville.  I’ve known Vida for a long time as well, probably 20 years, and I’ve always admired her songwriting and playing.   Vida has co-written with Brennen as well.  This would be an amazing group to have in a circle sharing songs. 

What are your favorite music venues to play in town?

I love to play Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge.  Just feels like home there.  I love the owners, the decor, the clientele, the bartenders.   The American Legion is always fun, “Honky Tonk Tuesday (and Saturday) Nights” and “Bluegrass Wednesday Nights.”  Love the way it feels like they haven’t changed anything there since the ’80s or ’90s.   Station Inn also though I’ve only played a few shows there.  I would love to play more there.  I’ve seen so many incredible shows there and love how intimate of a venue it is and you get to see such great musicians up so close. 

Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.

 I would like to see my friend Devin Jake move to Nashville and for more folks to hear his great country songs and incredible voice.  Devin lives in Austin currently and has a big following of dancers and folks that love the old country music.  Devin is a real talent and one of my favorite songwriters. 

Finally, what’s in your musical future?

I’m not looking too far ahead at the moment with the current state of things.  Just trying to take things one day at a time and I’m only booking now into the summer of 2021.  It feels okay though to get a bit of a break.  I sometimes can book pretty heavy and burn myself out.  So many things got canceled last year that I’m hesitant to book much yet.  I’m doing a lot of local stuff in Austin where I moved from Nashville last fall.  I have a little tour to Arkansas planned in early summer and I plan to visit Nashville and do an album release show at The Station Inn hopefully in June.  I’m just feeling good at the moment with the release of this new album and already super happy with the way folks are responding to it.  I will be releasing an album later this year with Arkansas band, Sad Daddy.  We are a four-piece bluegrass/jug band with banjo, guitar, bass, and fiddle and we all write and sing.  We recorded an album summer of 2020 and are now finishing mixing and mastering, etc.   





One comment

  1. Many a night in the “before times” I spent enjoying the Buffalo Gals at Dee’s. In addition to playing a great bass line, Ms Carper’s vocals are wonderful. I did not know about Sad Daddy and will seek out straight away.

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