Lineup 2011

Carmen Townsend

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

You can call Carmen Townsend’s music many things, but reserved isn’t one of them. As polite as she may be in person, within Townsend lives a voice much louder than she lets on in conversation. It’s one that manifests itself onstage through her raucous live sets, full of an intensity that has been building throughout Townsend’s career as a musician.

As an artist, Townsend knows how to keep listeners on their toes. “There’s a whole lot of energy with us onstage,” says Townsend in her charming and pleasant drawl. “I’d rather be onstage playing live than anything. I feed off of that raw energy. I often get compared to other female singer songwriters, but if these people came to see me play, they’d think otherwise. It’s a three-piece rock band, with a ton of low end and a lot of hair flying everywhere.”

In short, there’s a lot that the world of music has to learn about Carmen Townsend. Born and raised in Cape Breton Island on the Atlantic Coast of Canada, Townsend has been making music her whole life. Now it’s time for Townsend to take center stage and share her voice with the world. Opening with the rollicking groove of “River Rat,” Waitin’ and Seein’ immediately strikes a chord on two levels: Townsend’s sound is a vast one, with stretching riffs that give birth to a fierce sonic motion. What’s more, Waitin’ and Seein’ is augmented by Townsend’s voice, an earthy howl that is at once immediate yet enduring.

“Melody is very easy for me to do,” says Townsend. “I used to record myself on a tape recorder in my bedroom, still being too shy to share my songs. I took a lot of inspiration vocally from Joni Mitchell. She really uses her voice like an instrument.”

Melodies abound on Waitin’ and Seein’, truly exposing Townsend’s depth as a songwriter. Her soft side is exposed through an array of acoustic-leaning tracks, from the rumble of “Sweet Little Bird” to the transcendental charm of “All That Was Left.”

“When I first started this project, I wanted it to be a rock band. I knew I had tapped into something that no one else around me was doing. There weren’t enough female-fronted rock bands. I’ve also done some acoustic shows where I’ve stepped up to the microphone and thought ‘Wow,’ I’d kind of forgot how to do this by myself. I can do both, and that’s what we wanted to do with the record: make sure every song stood on its own.”

Over time Carmen has drawn influences from musical greats such as Nirvana, Neil Young and Blind Melon. But, comparing Townsend to other artists would be a waste of time. Hers is a unique path, and her voice is one that rises and guides you throughout Waitin’ and Seein’. It’s one that taunts and teases on “Without My Love” and finds anthemic heights throughout the stomp of “Start All Over.”

“I came from a very isolated rural community. For me, it was either spin records or go into the woods and run around. I’ve always been obsessed with records, eight-tracks and classic rock,” says Townsend, giving insight into her upbringing as a musician. “Music has always been a part of my life, but after touring around with all kinds of bands and just being in the background, I decided that things were looking up enough for me to do things on my own. Sing my songs for people.”

Make no mistake. Music is a way of life for Carmen Townsend. Now is the time for the world to hear her voice. Brace yourself. It’s louder than you think.

Full 2011 List

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