fiddle, bagpipes, accordion, banjo, vocals, storytelling


Kevin Carr started guitar lessons at age twelve, and gave them up at thirteen after a beloved jazz teacher went on a bender. He played in rock bands throughout adolescence, quitting when he discovered the open-tuned twelve string guitar, and the freedom of long Fahey-esque improvisation. His family reacted with some hesitation. "Can't you just play a song?" asked his father who, in later years, faced with his son's increasing interest in bagpipes of various kinds, would remember Kevin's moody noodlings with more favor.

Kevin Carr

Kevin also played french horn in the orchestra at school, being attracted to its high lonesome sound. He gave this lovely instrument up when, after returning from a short holiday, he found that his mother had sold it. At eighteen he discovered the five string banjo, and found to his delight that it utilized open tunings - John Fahey transmogrified. He took the guitar and banjo with him to Europe for a year during which he earned daily sheckels as a street performer (and never did play a song).

In 1974 he travelled to Ireland, in search of answers to questions posed by a seriously intriguing extended family, and was introduced to Irish traditional music. In point of fact it was the mysterious engine failure of his VW Camper (on a beach in county Sligo which he later discovered is famous in all Ireland for the experience of the 'faery music'), and his subsequent rescue by friends who brought him to one of the richest veins of the pure music in all Eire, that lured him into the spiritually lucrative field of traditional music.

He came home and bummed around for a year, during which time he acquired a bodhran, a tenor banjo, and a fiddle, and hung out with a wonderful fiddler in Los Angeles named Bill Jackson, whose sweet tone and drive are legendary. Later on he began playing at the California Renaissance fairs, where he met a host of mighty music gypsies, and continued his careen into the depths of old musics. At this time he met Barbara Mendelsohn, the raven-haired beauty and harmony queen who was a major figure in the San Francisco bluegrass scene, an experienced and respected accompanist in Irish music circles, and who was later to consent to be his wife and guiding light.


In the intervening years, Kevin has acquired a license to practice family therapy, a collection of bagpipes - Uilleann pipes being his favorite, with Scottish pipes a loud but distinct second, a reasonable facility on the one row button accordion, and a calling as a storyteller, the result of early exposure to his bard of a grandfather, Dennis McGough (who also played the fiddle and called square dances), the influence of his father, hollywood writer and Irish raconteur Richard Carr, and most importantly the company and patient interest of his two fiercely inspiring and inspired children, Daniel and Molly.

In addition to performing with his musical brethren the Hillbillies, he performs with the Celtic/Grateful Dead band, Wake the Dead, a Galician big band, Charanga, and plays with his wife Barbara, both as a duo and as members of a couple of bands that feature the music of Québec (Les Têtes de Violon, Melange). He also performs solo as both a piper and a storyteller, and he has a ball doing a seasonal show with the Men of Worth and Maureen Brennan, called "A Winter's Carol." Kevin may be found every summer in Port Townsend, at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, coordinating the music tutorial program, and at the Lark in the Morning camp in Mendocino, playing many types of bagpipes and studying the socio-receeational milieu of ecstatic music-making.

Contact: KevinCarr@aol.com (650) 468-5389

Visit Kevin's storytelling web page

Musical Influences:

Bill Jackson, Tommy Potts, Mose Allison, Johnny Doherty, Theresa McClellan, Seamus Ennis, Jules Verret, Lisa Ornstein, Liam O'Flynn, The Animals, John Fahey, Alexandre (Cano) Suarez

Album Credits:

Hillbillies from Mars (HFM CD1301)
Wake the Dead (3 albums)
Tony Furtado: Swamped (Rounder 0277)
Les Têtes de Violon: Airs Tordus - Crooked Tunes (Thirty Below TB-001-CD)
Yvon Mimeault: Y'était temps! (Thirty Below TB-144-CD)
Carolyn Cirimele: Lookin for Ida Rose (Wilder Shore 102)
Glasnotes: Live from Contrafornia (Avocet 103)
Patrick Ball: Fiona (Celestial Harmonies 13065-02)
Patrick Ball: Christmas Rose (Celestial Harmonies 17077)
Topanga Canyon Banjo and Fiddle Contest Anthology
A Winter's Carol: w/Men of Worth & Maureen Brennan
The Big Music: storytelling
King of the Pipers: storytelling
Parcel from Ashland: w/Barbara Mendelsohn & Patricia Maureen O'Scannell

Band Credits:

Hillbillies from Mars
Wake the Dead (Celtic/Grateful Dead songs)
QuébecQuasi (Quebecois fiddle music)
Les Têtes de Violon (Quebecois fiddle music)
Ziggizon (songs and tunes from Quebec)
Big Green Chair (kid's songs)
Christmas Revels, Oakland, CA (Artistic Associate)

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