Austin-based Carper Family brings bluegrass music to area

MILLHEIM – The Carper Family will perform its second concert in Pennsylvania at 5 p.m. July 7 at Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks, 100 W. Main St.

The stop is part of the concert tour for the Austin-based band’s second full-length album, “Old Fashioned Gals,” which is bringing the bluegrass trio from their home state of Texas to several locations in the Northeast for the first time.

The band – which features Melissa Carper on upright bass, Beth Chrisman on fiddle and Jenn Miori on guitar – has a unique blend of three-part harmonies they bring to their bluegrass, country, old-time and swing tunes.

Although they have “family” in the band name, none of the three women are related. But they do get along just like a family, Miori said, adding that they love each other, have their ups and downs, and they know how each other likes her coffee.

“Melissa is the only Carper; she grew up playing with her family in a band,” Miori said. “We started booking gigs before we had a name and then we just threw it in the hat and it stuck.”

“Old-Fashioned Gal” was released May 28 and funds were raised through pre-sales on the band’s website, “We have a very supportive fan base,” Miori said. “We raised the money to make the album before it came out.”

Miori said their first album, “Back When,” was possible through funds raised through Kickstarter, and although that was successful, the band didn’t want to go that route again.

Miori said the best part of the band’s success is that they all can now work full-time as musicians.

Each of them still plays with other pickup bands around Austin, but the trio is fully committed to making The Carper Family their top priority.

“Our friends and families are extremely supportive, too,” Miori said, adding that for two years, the band played each Monday night at the legendary Austin venue, Hole-in-the-Wall.

Miori said they are seeing more interest and success thanks to bands like Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers bringing bluegrass to mainstream radios.

“Even after it’s no longer trendy, we’ll still keep playing,” Miori said. “We play what we like and what we grew up listening to.”

Miori cited as band influences country music pioneer Hank Williams and the ladies of country, Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline.

“I grew up listening to early classic rock, but I fell in love with country when I moved to Austin,” she said.

Her favorite song on the latest album is a cover of a Neil Young song, “Comes a Time.”

“Melissa sings this song and I just love her voice on that,” Miori said. “We also brought in a cello and drummer so it’s a really full song.”

Miori said the band already is excited to start the tour and work on their next album.

“We want to keep doing this for a long time, whether it’s in Austin or somewhere else,” Miori said. “It’s a really fun job.”

As for the unusual riders for which some bands are famously known, Miori said The Carper Family doesn’t have one – yet. “We like red wine and sparkling water,” she said with a laugh. “And maybe we’ll start asking for a full-length mirror in our dressing room. It’s hard to get ready without a mirror.”