Carbon Leaf

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Carbon Leaf
Carbon Leaf performing live at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO, 2009
Carbon Leaf performing live at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO, 2009
Background information
OriginRichmond, Virginia
Years active1992–present
LabelsConstant Ivy Music, Vanguard
MembersBarry Privett
Terry Clark
Carter Gravatt
Jon Markel
Jesse Humphrey
Past membersPalmer Stearns
Devin Maguire
Brian Durrett
Scott Milstead
Jordan Medas
Jason Neal

Carbon Leaf is a quintet from Richmond, Virginia, known for their alt-country, Celtic, and folk-infused indie rock. Though some of the band members have changed through the years, Carbon Leaf has been consistently creating and performing music since the early 1990s. The band currently consists of founding members Barry Privett, Carter Gravatt, and Terry Clark, as well as Jon Markel and Jesse Humphrey. Carbon Leaf is best known for the song "Life Less Ordinary", which debuted in 2004 and reached #5 on Billboard's Adult Alternative charts.


1992–2004: The Constant Ivy Music years[edit]

Barry Privett

Carbon Leaf got their start at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia in 1992, practicing in an auditorium on campus. Their next step was playing backyard parties, mixers, fraternity, and sorority parties. Shortly after everyone graduated, they moved to Richmond, Virginia. From Richmond, they played the college circuit in Virginia and up the East Coast before moving on to clubs. Their style is not "Brazilian Polka Metal", despite the joking claims of guitarist Carter Gravatt (B., David. 2002).[1]

Meander, their first album, was released in 1995. The first songs Carbon Leaf wrote, including "One Day" and "Country Monkee", are on the album.

Shadows in the Banquet Hall, released in 1997, includes "Flood", "Wolftrap and Fireflies", and "Attica's Flower Box Window". An award-winning video was made for "Flood".[citation needed]

Ether~Electrified Porch Music (1999) is the first album with Jordan Medas as the bassist and contains "Home", "American Tale", and "Blue Ridge Laughing". The band had sold over 10,000 copies of their first three independent CDs by late 1999, released on their own label, Constant Ivy Music.[2]

Echo Echo was released in 2001 with "The Boxer" as the first track. In January 2002, Carbon Leaf won the first-ever American Music Awards Presents the Coca-Cola New Music Award for "The Boxer".[3] As part of winning they performed "The Boxer" live on the AMAs, becoming the first unsigned band to perform at the awards show.[4][5] Following this appearance, "The Boxer" entered regular rotation on radio stations including Washington, DC's DC101 (WWDC 101.1 FM). In May 2002, the band members gave up their day jobs in order to dedicate more time to the band and touring. The hidden bonus track "Dear" from their Echo Echo CD was originally written to play over the closing credits and on the soundtrack of the Kevin Hershberger civil war film Wicked Spring.[6][7] Barry Privett also appeared in the film.[8][9] In September 2002, Carbon Leaf won the Pontiac Vibe Summer Sound Off resulting in "The Boxer" being played in Pontiac Vibe commercials on MTV and VH1.[10]

In January 2003, Carbon Leaf gave permission for fan-made recordings of their concerts to be included in the Live Music Archive, a part of the Internet Archive.[11] Various concerts are available from 2000 to present in lossless formats SHN or FLAC and the lossy format VBR MP3, with the majority coming from the years 2002–2004. 5 Alive!, Carbon Leaf's first live album, was released in the summer of 2003. The album was recorded over five concerts during the autumn and winter of 2002 and its track list is assembled to match a concert playlist.

2004–2010: The Vanguard Records years[edit]

In Spring 2004, Carbon Leaf signed with Vanguard Records,[12] part of the Welk Music Group and in July of that year released their album, Indian Summer. "Life Less Ordinary" rose to number 5 on the Adult Album Alternative charts and 29 on the Hot AC Charts. Carbon Leaf performed "Life Less Ordinary" on the November 30, 2004 episode of The Dr. Phil Show.[13] "What About Everything?" rose to 25 on the AAA charts. Indian Summer has been ranked in the top 10 by KMTT in Seattle, and number 40 out of the Top 50 Albums of 2004 by WXPN in Philadelphia. The album was produced by John Morand and David Lowery. The video for "Life Less Ordinary" debuted on January 5, 2005.

In June 2006, an interview with Carbon Leaf guitarist Terry Clark was chosen as the cover feature for the inaugural issue of The Green Room magazine. On September 12, 2006, the band released Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat. According to their blog, it was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, and mixed in collaboration with producer Peter Collins and Trina Shoemaker.[14] The title track was featured in the October 30, 2006, episode of ABC's What About Brian. Tom McCormack began touring with Carbon Leaf, playing keys and accordion. The video for Learn to Fly featured Katy Perry.[5]

Carbon Leaf played at Sudflood 2007, and dedicated their performance to the memory of the lives lost in the Virginia Tech shootings.[15] All proceeds went towards the memorial fund for the victims and their families.

In August 2007, Scott Milstead was replaced by Jason Neal on drums. In August 2008, Jordan Medas left the band to pursue a teaching career. He was replaced in October 2008 by Jon Markel.[16]

The band released their seventh studio album, Nothing Rhymes with Woman, on May 19, 2009.[17] On June 30, 2009, Carbon Leaf was the featured band at Red Rocks' Film On The Rocks.[18]

The producers of Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey! were using an acoustic version of "Life Less Ordinary" as a placeholder in the film. The request to license it snowballed into wanting to license additional songs and ultimately a request that Carbon Leaf do the majority of the soundtrack.[19] Carbon Leaf contributed several songs to the soundtrack for the animated film, including versions of "Life Less Ordinary" and "Let Your Troubles Roll By" with new lyrics and "The Friendship Song". The soundtrack, and the direct-to-DVD movie, was released on March 2, 2010.[20]

Carbon Leaf has played with many acts, including Dave Matthews Band, Something Corporate, O.A.R., and David Gray, and has toured with Jason Mraz, Blues Traveler, Great Big Sea, Jump, Little Children, Matt Nathanson, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, The Avett Brothers, Guster, and Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers.

In January 2006, Carbon Leaf was one of the bands to join Sister Hazel's floating Music festival The Rock Boat.[21] They have also performed on The Rock Boat 2007, Ships & Dip hosted by The Barenaked Ladies in 2008, The Rock Boat in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2017.

2010–present: Return to indie status[edit]

In March 2010, the band announced that they were amicably parting ways with their label, Vanguard Records, intending to record and release music on their own schedule and distribute it over the internet.[19] Their plan was to market their music by giving it away at shows, a strategy not compatible with Vanguard's focus on CD sales.[19]

On July 6, 2010, they released How the West was One, inspired by and written during their tour of the American West, initially on their website and subsequently on iTunes and Their ninth studio album and third of 2010, a collection of original Christmas- and winter-themed songs titled Christmas Child, was released on November 16.[22] Barry Privett described the songs as "encompassing both the joy and melancholy of the season."[23]

A second live album and DVD was recorded in January 2010[24] and released as a three-disc set in early 2011.[23] Live, Acoustic...And In Cinemascope! was released on May 3, 2011.[25]

In February 2013, the band released Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle.[citation needed]

Carbon Leaf launched a crowdfunding effort on in June 2013 to support their next studio album. Entitled Constellation Prize, the album was released digitally through their website and on CD.[citation needed]

On August 9, 2014, Carbon Leaf released Indian Summer Revisited, a tenth-anniversary re-recording of their 2004 album. As with their previous album, it was supported via a crowdfunding campaign on PledgeMusic.[26] They repeated this tactic with their album Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat in 2015 and Nothing Rhymes with Woman in 2016. While the band does not own the master recordings from the 2004 album they do own the songs.[26][27] Doing these remasters allowed the band to sell the albums independently.

In 2018, the band's 25th anniversary year,[5] Carbon Leaf released a five song album, The Gathering: Volume 1,[28] which was their first release of new songs since 2013.[29]

Band members[edit]

Former band members[edit]

  • Palmer Stearns: bass
  • Devin Maguire: bass[30]
  • Scott Milstead: drums, percussion, vocals
  • Brian Durrett: bass
  • Jordan Medas: electric bass, bowed and double bass, vocals
  • Jason Neal: drums, percussion[31]


Studio albums and EPs[edit]

Year Album details Peak positions
US US Rock US Heat US Indie US Internet
1995 Meander
  • Released: January 1, 1995
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
1997 Shadows in the Banquet Hall
  • Released: October 1, 1997
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
1999 Ether~Electrified Porch Music
  • Released: November 1, 1999
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2001 Echo Echo
  • Released: March 31, 2001
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2004 Indian Summer
53 12
2006 Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat
  • Released: September 12, 2006
  • Label: Vanguard Records
170 3 12 12
2009 Nothing Rhymes with Woman
  • Released: May 19, 2009
  • Label: Vanguard Records
136 41 3
2010 How the West was One
  • Released: July 6, 2010
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2010 Christmas Child
  • Released: November 16, 2010
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2013 Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle
  • Released: February 19, 2013
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2013 Constellation Prize
  • Released: October 1, 2013
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2014 Indian Summer Revisited
  • Released: August 9, 2014
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2015 Love Loss Hope Repeat Reneaux
  • Released: July 31, 2015
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2016 Nothing Rhymes with Woman
  • Released: December 6, 2016
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2018 Gathering: Volume 1
  • Released: June 1, 2018
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2021 Gathering Vol. 2: The Hunting Ground
  • Released: September 24, 2021
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak positions
US US Rock US Heat US Indie
2003 5 Alive!
  • Released: August 12, 2003
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
2011 Live, Acoustic...And In Cinemascope!
  • Released: May 3, 2011[25]
  • Label: Constant Ivy Music
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Title Label Peak positions
US AAA US Adult Contemporary US Adult Top 40
2001 "I Know The Reason" Constant Ivy Music
"The Boxer" Constant Ivy Music
2004 "Life Less Ordinary" Vanguard Records 5 29 30
2005 "What About Everything" Vanguard Records 25
"Let Your Troubles Roll By" Vanguard Records
2006 "Learn to Fly" Vanguard Records
2007 "Comfort" Vanguard Records
2009 "Miss Hollywood" Vanguard Records 33

Music videos[edit]

Year Video
2006 "Learn to Fly"



  1. ^ "Carbon Leaf Interview -Chicago, 2002". Blue Tint Magazine. Archived from the original on August 14, 2004.
  2. ^ Carbon Leaf. "Carbon Leaf – The Bio-Shere". Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  3. ^ Kim Mock (October 22, 2003). "AMA winner Carbon Leaf working on local following". Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  4. ^ (November 14, 2006). "The Evolution of Carbon Leaf". Archived from the original on January 21, 2010. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "The reinvention of Carbon Leaf". Creators & Creatives. July 21, 2016. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  6. ^ ""Wicked Spring" : Media". Archived from the original on March 8, 2005. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  7. ^ Wicked Spring (DVD). LionHeart Filmwords. Event occurs at 1:34:49. ASIN B0000E6FNK. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  8. ^ "LionHeart Filmworks : Films :Features & Documentaries". LionHeart Filmworks. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  9. ^ "Wicked Spring Cast and Details". Archived from the original on May 28, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Pontiac Vibe "Summer Sound Off" Campaign Winner Announced" (Press release). General Motors. September 12, 2002. Archived from the original on July 8, 2003. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  11. ^ Barry Privett (January 2003). "On January 13, 2003, CL gave permission for shows to be hosted at the Archive". Retrieved June 23, 2009.
  12. ^ Vanguard Records. "Richmond, VA-Based Carbon Leaf Signs with Vanguard Records". Archived from the original on October 27, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  13. ^ Vanguard Records (November 2004). "Pop-Rockers Carbon Leaf Celebrate A "Life Less Ordinary" on The Dr. Phil Show". Archived from the original on October 27, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  14. ^ 2006. "Monterey International Booking". Retrieved June 3, 2006
  15. ^ "SudFlood – Virginia Tech April 28, 2007". Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  16. ^ News – Official Carbon Leaf Website – Retrieved January 16, 2009
  17. ^ Vanguard Records. "Vanguard Records Publicity – Nothing Rhymes With Woman". Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. Retrieved March 20, 2009.
  18. ^ (June 2009). "Film On The Rocks / The Princess Bride with Carbon Leaf". Archived from the original on August 22, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  19. ^ a b c Corner Lounge: Carbon Leaf 3-20-10 (radio). Keswick, Virginia: WCNR. March 20, 2010. Event occurs at 19:24. Archived from the original (mp3) on July 5, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  20. ^ "Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey (Soundtrack)". Amazon. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  21. ^ O'Brien, Jr., John (2006). "From the Pub to Main Street With the Best New Band in America". Songs and Stories. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  22. ^ "Christmas Child". Amazon. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  24. ^ Carbon Leaf – In Your Ear Concert Preview Clip on YouTube Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  25. ^ a b "Carbon Leaf's New Live Double CD And First Ever DVD Is Now Available!". Carbon Leaf. May 3, 2011. Archived from the original on May 6, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  26. ^ a b Carbon Leaf. "Indian Summer Revisited Album". Archived from the original on August 18, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  27. ^ Fulghum, Sherrill (June 22, 2014). "Carbon Leaf Revisits "Indian Summer"". Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  28. ^ Kremkau, Bryan (April 13, 2018). "Carbon Leaf Announce New Album "The Gathering: Volume 1"". ReadJunk. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  29. ^ Schkloven, Emma (March 21, 2018). "Carbon Leaf bringing 25th anniversary tour to Phase 2 Friday". NewsAdvance. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  30. ^ "Breaking News... A Season for Change CARBON LEAF IS ACTIVELY SEARCHING FOR A NEW BASS PLAYER!!". Archived from the original on December 12, 1998. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  31. ^ Band Members (Jason Neal) – Official Carbon Leaf Website Archived 2009-06-23 at the Wayback Machine – Retrieved February 25, 2009
  32. ^ "International Songwriting Competition Previous Winners". International Songwriting Competition, Inc. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  33. ^ "Ari Gold Wins Top Prize At 2007 USA Songwriting Competition". Indie Music News. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  34. ^ "Ari Gold Wins Top Prize At 2007 USA Songwriting Competition". Music Industry News Network. Retrieved August 28, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

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