Four years ago Carrie Shepard and Lawrence Daversa were brought together by mutual friend and drummer Brian Ferriby who told Carrie that he knew a great guitar player if she wanted to get a band together. Carrie watched some YouTube videos of Lawrence playing in the hard-edged, Rock n’ Roll band The Twistin Tarantulas and thought “well I don’t see how that’s a fit, but ok”. It turned out to be more then ok. After the first basement rehearsal at the end of 2012, they were both blown away by how their two very different musical backgrounds blended to make something really unique.
From the time she was 5 years old, Carrie was always jotting down poems in some book or diary or notebook, but it wasn’t until after a divorce in 2003 which left her with the sole custody of two kids and one guitar, that she started combining those lyrics with music and writing songs. She would play her songs for friends and family until a friend of hers insisted she perform them onstage in 2008, which she did, and was instantly hooked. After that she happened upon a Honky Tonk Tuesday night at a local bar and was swept off her feet by the music of country legends like Merle Haggard, George Jones and Loretta Lynn and spent the next few years writing music for and performing in traditional country/honky tonk bands.
At the age of 5, Lawrence Daversa wasn’t writing poems, he was walking home with his new vinyl copy of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. The following year, he brought home another AC/DC album, Back in Black, and his father watched dismayed as he sat at the kitchen table intently writing down the lyrics to “Shook Me All Night Long”. That was it. He was ruined by Rock and Roll. At the age of 17, Lawrence and his guitar got on a plane to Florida and started playing music in clubs and bars, having to sit outside in between sets because he was too young to be there. His guitar took him from to Florida to New Mexico and back to Michigan where he began touring with the Tarantulas and then eventually collided with Shepard.
Since 2012, Shepard and Daversa have put out two full length albums, their 2015 self-titled debut “The Whiskey Charmers” and “The Valley” (April 2017), which included a vinyl release. Mike Morrison of Americana Roots UK says of their new record “Just two albums in to their recording career and I genuinely list the Whiskey Charmers as one of my favourite 21st century bands.” The music blog Country Perspective says of the pair, “Carrie Shepard is a very talented vocalist who could sing pretty much whatever she wants, while Lawrence Daversa dazzles me with his guitar play. It’s makes for a perfect combination. These two were made to make music with each other”
Between day jobs and raising families, Carrie and Lawrence still write, perform, record and tour all over the country. A gig in Nashville will be followed up the next day by an early morning at the office in Michigan to which co-workers say with a puzzled look “You were where last night?” Still touring on their well-received second album “The Valley”, they are also road-testing hours of new material on unsuspecting audiences from Michigan to Colorado to Georgia.
Fans often describe The Whiskey Charmers sound as the feeling of riding through the desert with the top down, or the feeling of being in some lonesome smoky bar off the side of an abandoned highway, or music from a Spaghetti Western. Comparisons have been drawn to The Cowboy Junkies, Mark Knopfler, Dick Dale, Chris Isaak, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Others call their music Country Noir, Gothic Americana. They may perhaps fall into the Outlaw category in Ameripolitan music, a genre created by the legendary artist Dale Watson.
William P Davis (Former Deputy Director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville) has a different opinion. He says of the band, “I’ve heard a lot of good musicians. The Whiskey Charmers remind me of no one – and, to me, that is one of the best compliments an act can receive.”