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Leisurely and In the Round

By Kate Peterson

Two Nashville musical acts, currently touring together, are coming your way to perform a special holiday concert – in the round. Jessica Campbell and Carolina Story are both acoustic musicians with folk vocal styling. This is their second appearance at The Leisure Club in downtown Pensacola.

“They are both a part of the Music City Unsigned group and often tour together,” said Denise Berry, co-owner of The Leisure Club. “They perform acoustic ‘in the round.’ They came through in July and were incredible.”

Carolina Story is a duo from east Nashville, not your run of the mill musicians. They pride themselves on not being mass-produced. Ben and Emily Roberts met while in school at Visible Music College in Memphis, Tenn. They have two records under their belt and have toured all over playing in places that people need music the most, like homeless shelters, and nursing homes. You can catch them yourself and enjoy their beautiful sound.

“Jessica and Carolina Story came through on their ‘Traveling Troubadours’ tour this summer and shared their wonderful songs and personal stories at The Leisure Club,” Berry said. “We are fortunate to be hosting them again and want more people to have the opportunity to enjoy their music. Providing a venue to highlight diverse talent and voices is part of the original vision we had in opening TLC. For us, events like this are the highest use of our space and you can really feel the positive energy when it all comes together.”

IN caught up with Jessica Campbell just after a short road trip. Jessica is a goal oriented, sweet voiced singer, who has a lot of strength in her delivery. She is from a small town, Catawba near Ashville, N.C. She won “Best Song” in the respectable USA Songwriting Competition. Another accomplishment was getting a self-penned song cut by Gordon Mote, the two-time Academy of Country Music Awards Piano Player of the Year. She has made headway in the film and television arena by placing songs in ABC’s “Ugly Betty” and on the Canadian CBS show, “Heartland.”

IN: When did you figure out that singing and songwriting was your fate?
CAMPBELL: I was always a singer in church and performed the National Anthem a number of times at local events. I was interested in guitar all along, but spent time learning how to develop my singing. About five years ago, I learned how to play guitar and it really improved my songwriting. Being able to travel and do both is really a great experience.

IN: How many records have you made? In addition, what was the first recording experience like?
CAMPBELL: My first EP, “Stealing the Stars” was made in 2008. And this year I released “Great Escape.” I have a holiday EP as well, called “A Merry Xmas.” The experience of making my first album was a long process. I had written five songs and really felt that I was not ready to record 10 songs. Eight months later, I finished the record. We took what we loved from the first five songs, it blended well together and made sense with each other. I was ready for it to be out – I was excited.

IN: Did you ever think you would get to make records when you started out?
CAMPBELL: I knew I would make records, it was a goal. I am writing songs for another one now.

IN: Are there challenges being on the road?
CAMPBELL: I am a newlywed, so that is a challenge to be away from him. My last tour was the first time we had spent that much time apart, since getting married. While on the road, we stay with friends and people who support the bands, so we stay on people’s couches and air mattresses. Often their pets cuddle up with us. Songwriting can be a challenge, I get seeds for songs down, but full composition is hard. It is nice to generate ideas and to be more creative when you have to spread out.

IN: In one of your YouTube videos, you mention your goals. What are they these days?
CAMPBELL: I want to be a full-time musician. Learning more, grow and get a record deal. A publishing deal for others and me would be great. Song demos are something I have done and would like to continue and keep recording our own music – keep it going.

IN: What would you like to do that you have not yet done?
CAMPBELL: I grew up singing the National Anthem. I would really like to do that for a national team. I would also like to play a big festival like SXSW. Singing for the president would be great. I got close to the political system by singing for Fred Thompson. Amazing how many politicians are tied to musicians.

IN: Touring with Carolina Story, how did that come about?
CAMPBELL: We both play acoustic music, and Ben’s dad is a booking agent for the music industry in Arkansas. We got to know each other through him, started hanging out. They were still in college and we toured for a while. They are fun and trustworthy. We complement each other. Our first run together was in July. We share all the booking. This is our third run of the year and is near and dear to my heart. My husband is from Mobile and we spend summers in Seaside. It will be a night of holiday music and storytelling.
As for the menu of the evening, Berry said, “Our chef will be preparing a special winter dinner menu featuring locally sourced menu items and a selection of wines and craft beers. Our espresso bar will also be open serving up single origin coffees from Honduras, Mexico and Ethiopia.  It is going to be a great night of live music and delicious food, wine and coffee.  There is no cover charge but space is limited so reservations are suggested.”

CAROLINA STORY AND JESSICA CAMPBELL
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7
WHERE: The Leisure Club, 126 Palafox Pl.
COST: Free
DETAILS: The Leisure Club on Facebook