First/Last-James Hart & Carrie Battle

November 10, 2010

I recently made a mix made up of all Pittsburgh bands for a friend of mine to ‘turn’ him on to the incredible music scene we are lucky enough to have here. Out of about 18 tunes, he said to me that he was really digging the disc but that one song by the ‘Harlans’ was just killer. He loved how it just exploded mid-song. Yep, that’s pretty much what hooked me to.

The band is opening for Vetiver this Friday, which I guarantee will turn out to be great night. The next night, there will be the debut of The Harlan Duo, James and Carrie acoustic, for a benefit show, which IMO sounds just as awesome. They were both cool enough to participate in this edition of First/Last.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • James Hart: Was probably either Soul Asylum-Grave Dancers Union or Boyz II Men-Cooleyhighharmony.
  • Carrie Battle: Michael Jackson- Dangerous.
  • Your last album bought?
  • James: The Goodnight Loving Supper Club? I also geeked out when I was in Chicago and bought a copy of My Morning Jacket’s Chocolate and Ice EP on vinyl, which I’ve had for years on my hard drive…
  • Carrie: Silver Jews-American Water.
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • James: I’m a recalcitrant record nerd, so I had to
  • provide a list: Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Belle & Sebastian If You’re Feeling Sinister, Neutral Milk Hotel Airplane Over the Sea, Nina Simone High Priestess of Soul, The Band Music From Big Pink, Tom Rush Blues and Ballads, Allman Bros. Fillmore East, Pharoah Sanders Karma, all of the Mick Taylor era Stones records, any Bob Dylan up to and including Blonde On Blonde, Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Fairport Convention What We Did On Our Holidays, the live Neko Case record…All records that I feel like if I had not buried myself in at one point or another I would be a significantly different person.
  • Carrie: Oh geez, I have to give you a few too, sorry. The Basement Tapes-Bob Dylan and The Band, Brighten the Corners-Pavement, Loaded–The Velvet Underground, Part 1 Lola vs. Powerman-The Kinks, Cosmo’s Factory-Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Graceland-Paul Simon.
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • James: The reaction I had the first time I heard Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was like Pete Seeger at Newport, but I changed my mind after a couple of dozen pouty listens. Z by My Morning Jacket is still a disappointment to me; I can understand why Jim James made that record, and in some ways it’s pretty sweet, but I’ll always be pissed that I never got to listen to “It Still Moves: Part 2”.
  • Carrie: With the exception of Paul Simon, pretty much anything the great musicians from the 1960’s and 70’s did in the 80’s. Blech.
  • First concert attended?
  • James: I saw The Eagles on the Hell Freezes Over tour when I was 11(?). We were impossibly close to the stage because my folks know somebody that knows Joe Walsh… (just to either recover – or entirely negate – my “scene cred”, this was closely followed by The Grateful Dead on Garcia’s last tour).
  • Carrie: Paul McCartney’s world tour 1990, Civic Arena. I was nine when my parents took me to this. I still have the t shirt.
  • Last concert?
  • James: I just saw Tom Rush (the guy that wrote “No Regrets”) with my dad. He’s an effortless performer and amazing interpreter of songs – he recorded tunes by James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne before anyone else, including them and his melding of the sounds of folk blues and Child Ballads is still the most thoughtful attempt to do so. (And so f-ing sad sometimes).
  • Favorite concert ever?
  • James: I’m forced by false modesty to exclude any that I was a part of, so: The time I saw Dr. Dog open for My Morning Jacket was pretty amazing, as was the first time I saw The Drive-By Truckers. Almost any Centipede E’est show is incredible… maybe the house party in Squirrel Hill where Jim Lingo faced off with an angry cop in the middle of a Midnight Snake set?
  • Carrie: PAVEMENT AT THE MANN IN PHILLY IN SEPTEMBER. I was also at that Dr. Dog/ My Morning Jacket show and would rate it up there too. I didn’t know James then and probably made fun of the puffy ponytail he had at the time to the friend I was with.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • James: I saw a lot of really bad jam band shows in my college years, when I “trafficked in that currency”. (Ekoostik Hookah and some bluegrass-carny mash-up bullshit that had a guy painting live both immediately spring to mind…)
  • Carrie: Dave Matthews- 8th grade with my dad and cousin. But 8th grade is a time for forgivable low points, right?
  • Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • James: I love it whole-y. It’s been my home since I was born – first by necessity, then by choice. I love it’s topography and the way that the hills and rivers effect the culture and feel of the town; no other place I’ve lived in has the same close-knit neighborhood feel, mixed with the “fluidity of scene” that you can find here…
  • Carrie: The Pittsburgh music scene is freaking awesome, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it. Besides the amazing and unique sounds that come from all the bands involved, everyone is so supportive of each other. Some of the best moments of my life are ones where I have been on a stage with friends from other bands doing sing-alongs to a room packed with other good friends. People want to have memorable fun when they go out, and I’m so happy to be a part of a scene that provides GOOD TIMES. Also besides the music scene Pittsburgh is just an all around amazing city. Most livable? Sure is.

Thanks a lot guys. FWIW-my first concert was The Eagles as well and I like to think I still have my cred. And to have Sir Paul as your first is definitively worth bragging about.