MARCH 2007 Featured Player of the Month

singer/songwriter/guitarist CARLYN HUTCHINS

Interview by Robert Urban for GAY GUITARISTS WORLDWIDE


Born and raised in Philadelphia, Carlyn Hutchins first picked up a guitar at age 10. She taught herself to play by picking out melodies one note at a time, seeking a few lessons here and there to define her abilities and create her own unique sound. Music became a regular part of her life.

She's folky, edgy and honest. Her songwriting style redefines the term "no-holds-barred". Shameless lyrics drive a clean, sharp knife straight through the hearts of her devoted audience, leaving them hungry for more of that delicate, delicious voice. Her guitar work, ranging from hard, driven strumming to free-style picking, will give you chills in all the right places

In March 2005, she released a 5 song EP, the self-titled "Carlyn Hutchins", and in early 2006 released a CD of live performances called "Session: Live". Her new CD, Lust Love Lost, is the studio version of the live CD, with several additional songs. On it, she is joined by New England based musicians Joey Ammo (guitar), Allison Hale (harmony vocals), Don "DC" Culp (percussion), Lisa Annunziata (bass), and Deb Blackadar (percussion). It was officially released in August 2006. In 2007 Carlyn will be special guest MC and performer for a full series of INDIEGIRL concerts in Provincetown, MA.

"Her rhythm pounds like a drum. She emits a great deal of energy into her songs as heard in the songs, "Habit" and "Come On Over". Carlyn Hutchins is a natural born singer with a tone that is sultry and raunchy. Especially pleasant to the ear is her high vocal register which flows from her like sweet sap oozing from a Sugar Maple". - Monica Yonge,



- What brand/model/year instrument(s) do you record and play out with?

I bought a Taylor 410CE in March 2005 and haven’t played out or recorded with another guitar since. My next big guitar purchase is going to be a Taylor T5

- What brand/model/year amps & effects (if any) do you use?

No, I’m a clean acoustic guitar kind of gal, I like the purity of the instrument without the effects. Well, maybe just a bit of reverb!

- Who are your main influences as an instrumentalist? Which artists? Which bands? Instrumentalist? Which artists/bands were your favorites in your youth?

Oh my, so many. I would say Michael Hedges was my first big guitar influence. His “Taproot” CD showed me that the guitar could be played percussively and I adopted a very rhythmic style after listening to that CD. I spent many years not even really listening to a lot of music or playing guitar, so when I started playing again in 2003, I automatically fell into a very unique and percussive sound, as if it had just been waiting to jump out.

- Tell fans about your luv for your particular style of music, as opposed to other styles - how it became your favorite style of rock, etc

I really groove with rhythm, and have ever since I can remember. I’m also attracted to the rich resonance of the acoustic guitar as opposed to the more processed sounds of the solid body electric guitar played through effects. I believe that my style reflects this, a blending of percussive rhythm with the resonance of the acoustic guitar. I think I owe my style in part to the band I played with after I graduated from college, because they were very heavy handed and percussive and I fit right in with them.

- Do you play/compose/record only your own original music? Do you do any other work in music - e.g. teaching, recording session work, hired gun, producing, etc? Does your playing appear on recordings of any other artists?

So far, I have only recorded my own original music, and I very rarely play cover songs. I’ve not been invited into the studio with anyone else but I really enjoy singing harmony and would welcome any opportunity to sing on another musician’s CD. Since I don’t know how to read music and have only taken a handful of lessons, I don’t feel qualified to teach anyone how to play the guitar, although I have had several requests. After recording “Lust Love Lost”, I think that I could perhaps move into the producing end of the business, but I think that’s a long way off.

- Is there a particular favorite solo or part you played on a recording, or a certain piece of composed music you wrote, that you feel represents your finest work?

That’s a great question! I feel that each of my songs is unique in how it tells its particular story. You can really hear the driving anger in “I Don’t Know Why”, which is exactly how I was feeling when I wrote it. But I feel that “Three Doors Down” is the prettiest song I’ve written, even though the story is told from a bitter angle. I challenged myself with “The Look”, an instrumental I wrote after watching the way my two friends were looking at each other during the toast at their wedding.

Any special thoughts on your instrument, and what it's meant to you in your life?

The guitar has been an outlet for me, although there was an 8 year period of time where I didn’t play at all. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I came back to it. (Laughing) I bought my Taylor the day after the woman I was dating broke up with me (several hours before a show), so I always kind of think of her when I pick it up to play. The Taylor has been a great friend to me since then, no broken strings, always there when I needed her, never complained when I played too hard. We did have a bit of an exploding battery incident but she was OK, no major damage!

Can you relate any special feelings or experiences about being a glbt player in the mostly straight music world... especially regarding your formative/learning years on your instrument?

Well, I spent my formative years playing guitar in a very Catholic neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia, where anything outside of “the norm” was ridiculed and frowned upon. I always knew I was different, but I never really figured it out until I was in my 20’s. I’m totally out now, and consider myself a guitarist/singer/songwriter who just so happens to be gay. Insofar as my songwriting, if I feel it, I’ll write it, without shame, because life’s too short not to. I feel this way in particular about “Passion Play” from my EP, and “Sweet Young Thing” and “Come On Over” from the new CD.  

- For a glbt player - how does the overall music scene differ today
from years ago?

(Laughing again) I have no idea how to answer! Since I started playing out again in 2003, I’ve found a very supportive community of venues and musicians in New England, whether gay or straight. I haven’t found a booker put off by my sexuality, well, at least those who have booked me!

- How is the overall music scene in your locale?

It’s extremely supportive, and I’ve made many friends in the Boston and Providence singer/songwriter circuit. I have even gained a mentor who is coaching me on being a better performer.


- Any advice for young glbt players?

Be true to yourself, keep smiling, and have fun.

- What are your current and future musical projects?

I’m going to promote “Lust Love Lost” to the best of my abilities and start expanding the areas where I play. I want to work on writing more instrumental compositions, learn more alternate tunings, and get better at writing lyrics since that area is not one of my strengths. Then we’ll see what happens!



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