The Grey Eagle and Worthwhile Sounds Present
185 Clingman Ave
Asheville, NC, 28801
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
Blending rock, folk, Celtic, bluegrass and Americana traditions into a high-energy style the group calls ether-electrified porch music, the Virginia quintet’s poetic songs are brought to life with acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, fiddle, bass, drums, cello, banjo, penny whistle, pedal steel, accordion and rich vocal harmony.
Carbon Leaf writes, records and produces it’s music independently from their studio in Richmond, VA, and has performed over 2,400 lives shows across 17 albums in their long career.
The group’s independent music and spirit continue to resonate with its fans.
Carolina Story never said no to a gig. A bar, a church, a theater, a nursing home: the duo––made up of husband
and wife Ben and Emily Roberts––crisscrossed the country for a decade, building a sprawling grassroots fanbase
enamored with the pair’s smart, self-penned, harmony-laden Americana. Today, their new album Lay Your Head
Down is a highly anticipated full-length debut on Black River. They’ve graced the Grand Ole Opry stage many
times, won over critics, and inked a record deal.
Today, life is Ben and Emily’s shared dream come true. But getting here wasn’t easy.
Early on, tired and hungry, Carolina Story almost walked away. The two were living with Ben’s parents in
Kingston Springs, outside of Nashville. “We’d just gotten off the road, and I was thinking, ‘Let’s just give up,’”
Emily remembers. “I thought he’d be the positive one, but Ben said, ‘No, I agree.’” They went to the grocery
store, defeated and lost. That’s when a woman approached them to tell them she’d seen them in a coffee shop
in town and loved their music.
“She was very kind, but even though we heard it as a compliment, we were thinking, ‘This woman has no idea
we’ve written our last song,’” Ben says, then laughs.
“We started to go down the next aisle,” Emily chimes in. “Then, she grabbed our attention once more and said,
‘Hey, I just really feel like I’m supposed to tell you guys to never give up.’ Well, that sent chills up our spines.”
Emily pauses, reliving the moment.
“She had no idea,” Ben says. “She didn’t know us from Adam.”
Carolina Story didn’t give up. And 10 years to the day after Ben first spied Emily on campus in Memphis, the
couple walked into Sound Stage Studios to record Lay Your Head Down, a mature, 12-song masterpiece that
captures two people’s moving, relatable journey from childhood to parenthood, independence to partnership,
and despondency to hope. “I feel like there have always been signs for us that keep us going,” Emily says. “And
I love that we have each other.”
Ben grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He picked up a guitar, started writing, and joined a band in junior high, but
he had some detours to make before pursuing music full time. A gifted athlete, Ben played football for a year at
a small college outside of Boston, before transferring to a school in North Carolina, then Memphis. Raised in the
small farming community of Lennox, South Dakota, Emily always knew all she wanted to do was sing. She made
her way to Memphis, where she began writing her own songs and remained determined to end up in Nashville.
The two had been dating for about three months when they took a trip to North Carolina. Ben had served as a
white-water rafting guide there and wanted to show Emily the country he loved. There, sitting around a campfire,
they wrote their first song together. “It was then we decided, let’s start a band together instead of doing it
separately,” Emily says. They agreed.
Driving back to Memphis, the two began to make plans. Then Emily––the cautious, deliberate one of the pair––
threw a curve ball.
“On the way home, we were excited about starting a band,” Ben says. Then out of nowhere, Emily started talking
about baby names,” Ben laughed. “Almost scared me off!”
“Emily said, ‘Carolina Story’ would be a beautiful name for a little girl…’”
“He always leaves out the part about him telling his mother he was going to marry me before I was even
interested in him!” Emily interrupts, laughing.
Ben replied, “‘It’d be an even better name for a band.’” And Carolina Story was born. Today, years later, living in
their East Nashville home, Ben and Emily also have two children: three-year-old Wilder and baby Lily. “We’ve
always considered Carolina Story our first born,” Emily added.
Produced by Nick Autry and recorded in Nashville at Sound Stage Studios, Lay Your Head Down is a stunning
portrait of lovers and friends. Carolina Story penned every song. The title track opens the album. Lush strings
and winsome harmonica cushion the song’s lyrics that convey yearning and hurt. “I wrote that song sitting by the
Cumberland River, not far from our house, when I was in a bad way,” Ben says. “Spring time came with a
vengeance this year / the river rose high / the water ain’t clear,” Ben sings initially on his own, introducing the
telling imagery that fills every Carolina Story song. In the verses, the two plead to a higher power for a break
from overwhelming pain. The chorus is the divine, comforting response. “There is a lot of life in these 12 songs.
It’s the story of our life together,” Ben says.
Jaunty but wise, the melody and message of “Gold” follow. Over classic harmonica and thick electric guitar, the
pair point out that the high pressure created by tough times actually creates something incomparably precious.
With Ben and Emily’s gorgeous vocals far out front, “We Were Young Once Too” bemoans the way innocence
falls away even as it appreciates the wisdom age brings.
Carolina Story songs often explore feeling comfortable with truths that seem at odds with one another. Stripped
down and vulnerable with the couple’s voices over plaintive acoustic guitar and haunting background
instrumentation, “Set in Stone” explores the secrets that lurk in every relationship, even as deep love is honestly
claimed and professed. “There is a realness people can hear,” Ben says. “You can hear it and think, ‘It’s going
to be alright. Just keep going towards the light and it’ll work, even when that light is just a little pinhole in the
“We don’t want to be seen as just a married couple, but we are married,” Emily says. “That maturity––that
relationship––is in our songs. As long as we’ve been married, we’ve been Carolina Story, so there is a lot of
relationship growth and artistic growth here. That’s what I love about this record.”
Ben’s favorite song on the album, “My Feet Keep Moving Still,” is also the oldest. Tender and sad, the song
captures the frustration of feeling stuck, but carrying on anyway. Nostalgic “When I Was Just a Boy” tips a hat to
the nuggets of truth parents impart. “Your Children’s Children” immortalizes the couple’s own advice to their own
babies. Beautiful “Lonely without You” encapsulates passion and longing, while timeless “Rich Man” unpacks
the choice between material comforts and love.
Album closer “Let Me Rock, Let Me Roll” is a standout. One of the songs closest to Emily’s heart, the track
reiterates commitment to one another and to the music. “It sums up all those years,” Ben says. “At the end of
the day, the best part is singing songs with you. That’s it.”
Looking back on how far they’ve come, Carolina Story is awestruck, emboldened, and grateful. “Just when you
think the gig’s up and it’s all changing––that all your hopes and dreams of doing what’s inside you are gone, as
they say, the only one that matters is the last card you turn over,” Ben says. “You just keep going.”
STANDING ROOM ONLY
The Grey Eagle
Mon, April 22
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