Though a lot of readers might agree not much good came of 2016, here’s at least one: Carolina Pine Songwriter Sessions. Started by Wilmington’s Carolina Pine Productions, the monthly (save for December’s holiday break) songwriter sessions debuted last September.
“There’s a lot of talent there,” singer-songwriter and guitarist Cara Schauble says of November’s session. “People come out of the woodworks all over the place; there’s neverending talent here. Anyone looking for a taste of the Wilmington music scene, or who already knows it and wants to find out more, this is a great place to do it.”
Schauble will perform with five other artists at 2017’s first Carolina Pine Songwriter Session on Wed., Jan. 11, at the Brooklyn Arts Center. She’ll be joined by Justin Lacy, Koffee Brothers, Clay Crotts, Death By Fireworxxx, and Jarrett Mlodzinski.
It isn’t Schauble’s first performance of original work by any stretch. She tested out her tunes at Bourgie Night’s Wilmington Unplugged event last fall. As someone new to the music community, whether playing or just observing other performers, she’s been immersing herself in open mics and shows across town.
“Even if it’s not in my prospective genre, I love all the different artists, and all their different styles and approaches,” Schauble says. “There’s so much talent in Wilmington and I had no idea until I broke into the music crowd.”
Born into a musical family in Asheboro, NC, Schauble has been singing since she was a toddler. “Not very well,” she quickly adds with a laugh. Though shy, she threw herself into music, playing instruments and performing any way she could. Like her brothers, Schauble took piano lessons and then joined choirs, choruses and theatre productions before eventually teaching herself how to play guitar at 16 years old.
“All I really ever saw myself realistically doing was singing,” she continues. “And then you get to high school and they tell you to pick a ‘logical’ career.”
Schauble graduated with a degree in elementary education from UNCW in May 2016. While she loves working with kids, she wants to completely focus on a career in music for now. That led to her staying in Wilmington. Now, as a budding musician, she’s experiencing the Port City in an entirely different light.
“I feel like the music scene is kind of a hidden gem we have,” Schauble states. “In other places [like Nashville], it’s more obvious and there’s a lot of competition. . . . I’m realizing what a privilege it is to grow here. I think it’s a really great place to start out because it’s so intricate and small, [with] so many people doing the same thing.”
Local and regional musicians have been helpful in supplying guidance and mentoring Schauble. “Matt Phillips (based in Carrboro) actually got me into songwriting,” she tells. “He was nice enough to let me ask a million questions, talk to him on the phone for hours and gave me such great advice. . . . Then it just clicked. I got the first song written. From then on you figure out your way and it becomes easier.”
Schauble has made it a point to play any chance she can—to soak in the atmosphere of learning from those she admires. “They know all the things that you’re not seeing,” she says of her peers, “but at the same time . . . even if they think you suck they say it in a constructive way and pat you on the back. As nerve-racking as it is, it’s also very rewarding.”
Schauble is in the process of figuring out how her storytelling and writing become completed songs. She is carefully constructing their sound, melody and what genres may come into play. “I’m striving toward a contemporary blues genre,” she tells. “I’m still working on it—not everything I do falls into it. But that’s the end goal.”
Though she admits to half writing a song often only to leave it incomplete, Schauble now has nine originals under her belt. She’ll play four or five of them at Brooklyn Arts Center next Wednesday.
Though she tends to be true to storytelling (often about family and her experiences) as opposed to writing analogies, one of her favorites she’ll share at BAC is “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” Written in the last month or so, and in no relation to Shel Silverstein’s book of poetry, the song is upbeat and bluesy.
“It was one of those songs that was scarily easy to write,” Schauble says. “It’s the one song I have that is a complete analogy: It’s the story about a girl on the run and now she’s on the road. And there’s this guy that is wealthy and stable, and kinda coming at her, saying, ‘I can get you out of this; I can help you out if you just let me.’”
In many ways, Schauble’s song symbolizes her life: going to college because “it’s what you do” to get a stable job and life. The girl represents pursuing something potentially unstable, such as a career in music, or running away from traditional ideals of success. The guy represents the aforementioned stability. “She has him in her back pocket but at arm’s length,” Schauble explains. “But she’d rather just figure it out on her own.”
While the musician’s main instrument is her voice, she’s continuously learning about its marriage with her guitar. There’s a sense of freedom in her songs as she continues to grow and develop. She’s already dreaming up new parts for hypothetical players, too.
“Songs are always changing and growing, and as you grow as an artist, you change things about them,” she says—“especially for me, right now, since it’s just me and my guitar. Hopefully, one day I’d like to think that I’ll have a full band.”
See Cara Schauble and others at the fourth Carolina Pine Songwriter Session on January 11. Tickets are available in advance at Gravity Records for $5 or for $10 day of show. More details can be found at the event page on Facebook.