Cobble Hill couple attempt to record every Carter Family song

Cobble Hill couple attempt to record every Carter Family song
Photo by Jason Speakman

This Brooklyn family will not let the circle be broken.

A Cobble Hill musical couple is an attempting to systematically cover every song the original Carter Family ever put to record — with a little help from their friends. The duo said the Carter Family Project is not just about documenting the famous folk group’s tunes, but is also a collaborative effort that aims to show off the talent in Brooklyn’s vibrant bluegrass and country scene.

“This is a snapshot of the scene at this time through the lens of the music of the Carter Family,” said bass player Leigh Anderson, one half of the project with husband Fran Leadon. “It is a way of showcasing this music scene.”

The pair, who will perform at the Living Room in Williamsburg on March 20, said they chose the Carter Family because of its rich history and huge influence on roots music.

“They are pretty much the first family of country and folk music,” said Anderson, who is originally from West Virginia. “Their body of work is where you have to start to understand bluegrass and folk.”

The project focuses only on the original Carter Family trio of A.P. Carter, Maybelle Carter, and Sara Carter, who released 10 albums between 1927 and 1939. Anderson and Leadon do not currently plan to record the music of the family when it grew larger, including Maybelle Carter’s three daughters, one of whom was June Carter Cash.

The project was born alongside the couple’s first child. The twosome said recording the Carter Family’s music with friends allowed them to stay in touch and stay active in the music business when it was hard to get out of the house. Anderson and Leadon invite their musician friends over every Sunday during their kids’ nap time to eat lunch, practice the songs, and then record them.

The duo and their pals have so far recorded six Carter Family Project albums over three and a half years, with each song recorded in chronological order. Anderson and Leadon said they sometimes let their collaborating compadres know ahead of time what songs they plan to lay down in the coming week, but friends often just show up and learn the tracks on the spot.

“This way we can keep playing music, because it would be hard otherwise,” said Anderson.

The Carter Family Project at the Living Room [134 Metropolitan Ave. between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street in Williamsburg, (718) 782–6600, www.livingroomny.com]. March 20 at 8 pm. $10.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.