By Peter Cronin
With their current single, “American Radio,” country’s Carolina Rain pays musical tribute to the medium that provides “the soundtrack to our lives,” and this powerhouse trio ought to know. In addition to placing a few of their hookladen singles on the airwaves, the members of this harmony-driven outfit – guitarist Rhean Boyer, mandolin whiz Jeremy Baxter and banjo man Marvin Evatt – have made more than their share of radio station visits over the course of a stop-andstart career that has seen them through several “almosts,” a couple of “debuts” and a few executive shakeups at their label over the past few years. Through all of it, Carolina Rain has never let up, driven by the undeniable power of the music they make together and a friendship that has just grown stronger with every hurdle.
“The three of us, that’s been as steady as a rock,” states SESAC-affiliated songwriter Boyer. “We’ve been through the fire together, but through communication and honest love for each other, we made it through.” In the process of making it through, Carolina Rain had the time to experience a process that seems to have gone largely by the wayside in the current flavor-of-the-month atmosphere of the record business. They used to call it artist development. That’s one of the reasons Carolina Rain has stuck with their label – Nashville indie Equity Records – and vice versa. And their upcoming sophomore album vividly showcases just how far these guys have come as singers, players and especially as songwriters.
“Songwriting has been paramount for us,” Boyer says. “The three of us go through so much together – all the experiences that life throws at you – and a lot of these songs reflect that.”
Getting ready to release Weather the Storm, their debut album, back in 2006, Boyer played his label head a new song he’d written called “How Could it Be.” The executive flipped, rushing the band into the studio with a new producer – Justin Niebank – to cut the song as a last-minute addition to their debut. From the moment they started working together, both producer and artists knew they’d found a very special chemistry.
“We had such a great time with Justin, and that experience really set this second record up,” Boyer says. “We knew that next go-round there was nobody else we wanted to use.”
With their radio-centric leadoff single already hitting the airwaves, Carolina Rain has been hurrying home to Nashville between live dates to put the finishing touches on their sophomore CD, which is scheduled for a January 2009 release. For Boyer, it’s been a wild ride and a long time coming, but he knows in his heart that Carolina Rain is finally poised to make its mark.
“The music is special, and we’re part of each other’s lives on purpose,” he says. “Music is emotion that you can hear, and it’s supposed to make you feel something. To be able to take a great song, work it up with the guys and see it take on a new life, and then to go out and play shows and see people experience the same emotion that we put into it, that’s my dope.”