BIOGRAPHY / ARTICLE
Scott C. Carter: Musician, Song Writer, Producer, Entertainer, Survivor
By Lisa Morgan (Coachella Valley Magazine):
Addendum: Scott Carter
Everybody loves music, but few are cut out to be the vessel to provide this magically universal gift. Fewer still are willing to make the sacrifices to focus on their craft such as leaving the proverbial “day job” behind in order to channel and fine tune this gift full time. Scott C. Carter is one such troubadour who, armed with musical intelligence, natural ability, desire and character, is producing music in the ever changing market of the music industry.
Influenced by his father’s old Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock jazz records and keeping his ear on Sly Stones late night radio program featuring The Temptations and The Four Tops, Scott knew early on what he wanted to be. Scott’s father even took him to see Buddy Rich live, but when he saw the Jackson Five for the first time on the Ed Sullivan show all thoughts of becoming anything other than a performer went out the window. Living in San Francisco’s Daily City, the attitude of the local youth was “Put up or shut up”. So when his brother and he would play the set of drums owned by one of the neighborhood kids, the rule was, “You play until you make a mistake”. Much to the chagrin of other kids waiting for their turn at the drums, Scott found himself in his natural element. Scott started playing drums at 9 years old and was performing his first paid gig with his brother by age 12.
When his dad, a doctor, went to Vietnam, Scott and his brother moved to Cambridge with their mother where the two boys began playing clarinet and learning how to read music. When Dad sent home an electric guitar, Scott immediately turned in his clarinet. He began taking guitar lessons but the folk guitar he was being taught didn’t compare to the music he’d grown to love. Fortunately some local musicians in the neighborhood took him under their wing and Scott, ever willing to watch, listen and learn was taught his first two songs on guitar: Jimmy Hendrix’s Fire and Purple Haze.
Dad was later stationed in Germany in 1970. There, Scott and his brother put together a band playing their first paid gig for the local Girl Scout troop. They played every song they knew, a total of 5 songs altogether, over and over all night long. Eventually they began playing at the military base youth club and ultimately at the NCO Club, where Scott and his brother found themselves playing with career musicians from the army band and learning at the speed of sound until their father was re-stationed once again, this time in El Paso, Texas.
In El Paso, Scott was able to learn advanced level music theory from an exceptional teacher in High school. Unfortunately this left Scott unchallenged at the university level and inspired him to move and enroll at Long Beach City College’s contemporary music program run by Dr. George Shaw. Shaw’s music program offered live interactive performances with the likes of modern Jazz greats such as David Sanborn, Tom Scott and Patrice Rush. Equipped with a 16 track recording studio, Scott was also able to study recording techniques and began to produce projects for other musicians. Eventually, Scott was invited to tour with the then popular group Shalamar (featuring Howard Hewitt), the originally a dico-driven group created by Soul Train booking agent Dick Griffey and show creator Don Cornelius. Scott played for them on the Kool Jazz Festival circuit, working huge concert venues for up to 85,000 fans and touring along with other iconic artists the likes of Luther Vandross, Patty La Belle, Tina Marie and The Commodores in the 80’s.
In 1988, Scott’s former College professor pointed a record company in Scott’s direction. They then produced and distributed his solo album Scott Carter “Real Love” (TBA Records) nationally.
Somewhere in the midst of all this success, Scott got lost in drugs and alcohol. From 1985 until 1991, his life was consumed. “I lost everything to it - guitars, drums, a fiancé. No one would hire me. My family attempted two interventions. Finally, my mom, all by herself, convinced me to look at my life and enter a rehab in New Hampshire. I’ve been clean and sober ever since December 12, 1991.” Scott credits Narcotics Anonymous, their meetings and the 12 steps for his recovery. His life is all about music and recovery now.
But putting his life back together after recovery didn’t include music initially. He thought he’d never play again after not picking up an instrument for two years. “I just didn’t think I had the chops for it anymore.” But sometime after moving to the McAlister Institute for Treatment and Education in El Cajon, CA, a clean and sober dwelling for recovering addicts, Scott managed to get one guitar out of hock. He started to play a little and pretty soon, a couple of guys in recovery with him formed the Trenton Street Blues Band. He was then approached to play in a band at The Sugar Shack at Pacific Beach every Saturday night and things just grew from there.
Scott had managed to earn his credential as a medical records technician and for about 10 years he’d work that job at a psychiatric hospital by day and play music a couple nights a week. But, as often happens when you’re really good, the music opportunities escalate and it came down to a choice: the day job or music. “I haven’t looked back ever since. I’ve been playing music solely for a living since 2002. There’s been some good times and bad times. But I’ve never regretted it. And things have continually progressed forward in the Southern California area.
Writing music since he was 23 years old, Scott now has a self-produced album: The New Breed Band (featuring Scott Carter). Scott Carter & New Breed have opened shows for Hootie & the Blowfish, UB-40, Stanley Clarke, Eek A Mouse, Bedouin Sound Clash, John Brown's Body, Jesse Colin Young, Robert Walters (of Greyboy Allstars featuring Karl Denson), Common Sense and The B-Side Players.
Now is the debut of Scott’s second project: Scott Carter “Living In The Moment”. It is a solo endeavor where he has recorded most of the instrument tracks and all of the vocal tracks; much like Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Beck and other multi-faceted artists.
To sum it up, Scott Carter is a man doing exactly what he was created to do. An artist, an entertainer, a top notch musician and producer. But most importantly, Scott Carter is a tenacious survivor and man of character whose depth is clearly communicated through his music.