It was many years ago, but contralto singer-songwriter Sloan Wainwright and Newtown musician Cadence Carroll both have similar memories of how they met.
Music fans may recognize Sloan Wainwright as part of the Wainwright dynasty in pop and folk music which includes brother Loudon Wainwright III, niece Martha and nephew Rufus Wainwright, and neice Lucy Wainwright Roche of The Roches. She will be the headline guest on February 8 when Flagpole Radio Café returns to the Edmond Town Hall Theatre.
Carroll, who has been playing, singing and writing music all her life, and is now a music and drumming instructor, counted herself in her younger days as one of Sloan Wainwright’s most enthusiastic followers.
“I am definitely, an unabashedly proud Sloan Wainwright fan,” she told The Newtown Bee in a recent interview. So how cool is it that she eventually became Wainwright’s go-to percussionist?
“I play 10 to 12 shows a year with Sloan,” said Carroll, who will be part of the Flagpole Radio Café show along with Wainwright’s longtime collaborator and guitarist, Steven Murphy.
Wainwright, who also called in for a chat with The Bee, said she first noticed Carroll showing up in the audience at a number of her shows.
“Often I would look down into the bright shining face of this beautiful, enthusiastic woman wondering who she was,” Wainwright recalled.
“I don’t even know how many years ago it was, but a promoter at one gig asked me is it was cool to put a ‘plant’ into the audience, and then calling on someone from the audience to sit in with me to get the crowd going.”
That person was Carroll.
“She turned out to be quite a bright and shining star,” Wainwright said of her pal and colleague. “And as singer-songwriters, we’ve made it a point to cross paths through the years.”
Carroll, who is a music teacher in Weston, also provides African drumming and performance instruction for private students, as well as in workshop settings — occasionally appearing with Wainwright in those venues as well.
She and Wainwright will be working together next at a songwriting and performance workshop in Olive Bridge, N.Y. , on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Carroll’s mom was also an elementary music educator, who inspired her daughter to take up the violin at the age of five.
“For me, music was never a chore or something to be avoided,” Carroll recalled. “It was always a fun thing, and something I have loved doing all my life.”
Coincidentally, it was a broken guitar that provided Carroll the opportunity to meet her future husband, Bill Burton.
“Bill is an awesome musician who plays claw hammer banjo and guitar, but he’s also a talented instrument repair guy. If it’s got wood and strings, Bill can make it work,” Carroll said. “I actually met him when I was looking for somewhere locally to get my guitar fixed.”
Carroll said she has scaled back on a lot of her extracurricular musical endeavors to make time for their three-year-old son, Jessup.
“Yes, with an energetic three-year-old I am certainly re-examining my time management,” she said. “So I have been out of the scene for awhile, except for these select gigs and workshops. I’m probably doing music a couple of weekends a month.”
Wainwright similarly took up playing piano as a child, but said she soon discovered her voice and a love of songwriting and eventually performing. She said it was through watching her brother Loudon that she got the inspiration to begin creating simple songs herself.
“Songwriting came very easily to me,” Wainwright said. “I started imitating my brother at an early age. He started bringing songs home when I was just eight years old — and I remember thinking, I can do that.”
So she sat down at the piano and started cranking out songs about her dog and her cat, graduating to tunes about her grandmother and a book report she was assigned in school.
“It just came completely naturally to me expressing myself by sitting at the piano putting chords and words together. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember,” Wainwright said.
Eventually she graduated to singing her own songs in front of people.
“Coming out and performing my songs came a little later,” Wainwright said. “But I guess it was kind of the expected sequence of events evolving from my playing, singing and writing.”
Wainwright has since acquired the ability to play banjo, and ukelele, “admittedly pretty badly,” she said, “but they are perfect tools for writing songs. You don’t need to play well if you’re goal is to express yourself through words and music.”
She is looking forward to her showcase set with the Flagpole Radio Café, and working again with Cadence Carroll. For Carroll, the February 8 gig at Edmond Town Hall surprisingly marks her first-ever public performance in Newtown.
“And it’s such an honor to be playing with Sloan at our sweet and beautiful Edmond Town Hall,” Carroll said.
In addition to a headlining special guest, Flagpole Radio Café performances also feature music by Jim Allyn & The Flagpole Radio Café, and radio style comedy sketches by The Flagpole Repertory Theatre. Showtime is 7 pm.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and students, and are on sale at www.flagpoleproductions.org. For further information send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-364-0898.