Southern California’s Inland Empire is an unsuspecting place to find country-roots talent. But, if you travel down Route 66 heading east from L.A. far enough and you look real close you may see the footprints along the highway of others who have traveled along that road. They include familiar names like Sam Shepard, Frank Zappa, David Lindley, Chris Darrow, Leonard Cohen and Ben Harper.
Today, 32 year-old Patrick Carrico has distinguished himself as a writer, performer and instrumentalist worthy of these legends as he follows on that same stretch of forgotten highway. There is fresh, new talent embodied in Carrico that is as haunting as it is celebrative.
Without a doubt he is the future of California country music.
And that is saying a lot. California has a rich tradition of country music that includes hard-core country aritsts like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens. Johnny Cash even recorded and performed in California during his early Columbia days, not to mention the origins of country-rock with bands like The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and The Eagles.
This is the well Carrico draws from. In his music there is the haunted echoes of artists long gone. You might catch a glimpse of Gram Parson’s or hear the rhythm and mariachi flavor of the Buckaroos.
And even beyond these California icons, Buddy Holly is like a ghost inside of his music.
Carrico is a country rocker who has been called rockabilly. Whatever you call it he is one of the southland’s most promising independent artists. His style leans toward 50’s Memphis roots with twists of blues and an indie rock influence He combines it all to create a landscape of classic country sounds in the tradition of Dwight Yoakum.
As he grew up in Covina, California, he found that his family had roots in the deep south. His father is a Kentucky songwriter who gave Carrico the good advice to simply write songs from his heart.
Because of his family, a natural affinity for the music and culture of the South grew in him during his teen years.
His more contemporary influence, singer-songwriter, Chris Isaak is also present in his music. However, beneath the influences there is a great soul reaching out from his songs.
Through his original songs and his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, Carrico is a reminder of just how good a country artist can be when he carries his own vision and holds strong to the roots of American music. He is a three-time nominee for the 2014 L.A. Music Awards, including Best Country Single of the Year, Best Musical Group of the Year, and Social Media Artist of the Year.
Carrico’s band is a stripped-down group of veteran musicians who clearly respect and enjoy what they’re doing as they play the Inland Empire’s club circuit of coffee houses and local pubs. But, he’s bound to outgrow the limitations of these venues.
On a very personal level, Carrico feels deeply about his music. There is, as he describes it, a calling for him. “I have to keep doing it because it’s the only time I feel like I’m doing what God put me here for.” He says. “I love when people feel are feeling good because the songs bring back memories for them like it does for me” Carrico continues, “I have loved entertaining since I was a kid. For a few hours someone can just escape what they are doing and be in the now with us and just enjoy life.”
The songs on his 2015 EP Going to Town, support this calling. The album is as entertaining as it is engaging. It plays like a modern update of Buddy Holly with undercurrents of Buck Owens for good measure. But, it is all his own sound that stands alone among country-rock acts of today.
On January 12, 2017, he begins a monthly residency at the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena.. The shows will combine a tribute to country and rockabilly legends along with Carrico’s original songs with special guests. The idea is to re-create a house band at one of the old roadhouses that used to be scattered along Route 66. The first show will pay homage to Hank Williams. The guests in January are the legendary Ronnie Mack and singer-songwriter and yodeling queen, Alice Wallace.
As Patrick Carrico continues his migration from the Inland Empire to some of the major music center of America, beginning with Los Angeles, he is well on his way to becoming one of those artists many of us will look back and say, “I know him when….”