By Paul Miller
Web Content Specialist
Fans of the Colt Wilbur Band clearly know Don Carr, as he is the backbone of the band's unique sound. But there is a lot more to Don than the soft-spoken man you've met at a show or talked to about music. He is a family man who is passionate about his craft, and is extremely talented when it comes time to take the stage.
Don started his musical journey at age eight, when he saw a rock band at a local county fair. But it wasn't the lead singer that Don was drawn to, it was the drummer. Shortly after this day, Don grabbed a few sticks and some pots and pans, and from that day forward he knew what he was meant to do. His parents bought him a drum kit and the rest was history.
ColtWilbur.com recently had the opportunity to chat with Don about his career in the music industry, what being part of the Colt Wilbur Band means to him, and other interesting tidbits about his musical journey.
ColtWilbur.com - What would you say it is about music that excites you?
Don Carr - I think it’s something that’s always been in me. I’ve always enjoyed being in front of people and entertaining. Putting my heart into something. I have a connection with the other members of the band on stage. It’s almost like you are with a group of people, but when it’s showtime you become one. The people being in to in the way they are and giving that energy back is one of the biggest reasons I do it.
ColtWilbur.com - What got you into music? Tell us about your musical journey.
Don Carr - It all started at age 8 when I went to a county fair. I almost always never looked anywhere else, except to the drummer. Even as a kid, I played on pots and pans or hit stuff. As soon as I saw it I knew that what I wanted to do. After a lot of begging, I finally got a drum set for Christmas one year. My parents knew there was going to be noise, but it wasn’t quite what I expected.
At a young age, I realized I had some kind of photographic memory. The more I watched different drummers I realized that I didn’t have all of the equipment I needed. They obviously had very expensive drum kits and mine was a starter set. I played for a little while, but my parents split when I was young and I lost track for practicing.
When we moved, I didn’t have room for the drums and got rid of them, but I did keep the sticks. One day I found a few buckets downstairs. I set them up and experimented with them, and kept this up for a while. I finally admitted to my mom that I missed playing, but I need a real drum set. By this time I’m 11 or 12 and I finally got a real kit. I just played it, all the time. I would get home and immediately play and wouldn’t stop until it was time for bed.
I played constantly through high school and one of my really good friends played drums for a while and wanted to switch to guitar. I was never meant for a guitar and I never had a desire to play guitar. We end up forming a three piece band late in high school and kept playing after graduation. I’ll never forget our first show was at a packed Chameleon Club in Lancaster. To walk out there at 19 and see 400 or 500 people, it was quite intimidating. I thought of it as fuel to the fire for me, but my band mates had an opposite reaction. They were a bit scared and didn’t deal well with the crowd, so I knew if I wanted to play music professionally, I needed to move on.
I’ve always been a little bit of showoff. The crowds don’t bother me. I’ve played in front of some really large crowds and it is an amazing and wonderful experience.
ColtWilbur.com - So what was your next break?
Don Carr - I was searching for another group to join, which was hard because I wasn’t 21 and couldn’t go to bars. So I went to any all age show I could find and just started talking to people. I stuck with one band for a while and just kept moving my way up the ranks until I was able to play music as my job for a while.
ColtWilbur.com - So how did you find Colt Wilbur?
Don Carr - I wasn’t actually looking to play at the time. I had settled in; I was working, the band I was with was starting to dry up a bit. Wally was with me with Stealing the Covers. Wally left the group because he wanted to play more, make a full-time gig out of it. I understand. I played full-time for a while, some times as many as 14 days in a row, and that didn’t bother me because I love to play music.
After one of our shows, I got the word that there was an opening with the band. I listened to the original music. Once I heard the original music, that was all it took for me to want to be a part of the Colt Wilbur Band. I liked all of the songs, but the one that really stood out to me the first time I heard the album was “July Midnight”. I really liked the story that the song told and I was able to visualize it as I heard it. That to me is the mark of a great song, when you can hear it and picture everything that is going on.
ColtWilbur.com - What is your greatest musical moment?
Don Carr - I’ve had a lot of them. I’d say actually the uniqueness of playing Crab Island in Florida in 2017. To have the opportunity to play out of the water in front of thousands of people was unreal. It had a lot of challenges to it, that's for sure. I think that was one of the ones that we talked about for such a long time and to be able to pull it off was something I’ll never forget.
ColtWilbur.com - Who are some of the bands that you look to for influence for your personal style?
Don Carr - It’s funny, when I was getting back into drumming. When I was in high school and really developing my taste and appreciation for music, I remember watching a Led Zeppelin IV tape. "The Song Remains the Same" still resonates with me all these years later. For me, it is Led Zeppelin and Jon Bonham up through Dave Matthews Band and Carter Beauford. Beyond that, for me it was also Metallica. The music and everything that had to do with that band was inspiring in many ways. I also loved Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and all of those types of bands.
As a player, I appreciate all different styles of music. I played in the Jazz Band in high school, so I’ve played Jazz. I have so many influences that it is hard to count. I mean, even recently, I was out at a show and noticed something the drummer was doing and I might integrate into my style.
I think when you put different people together who are working toward the same thing; your influence bleeds through, but also can be something makes the band cohesive. After all, you play off of each other and really music is about listening. Is about hearing what the instruments and vocals are saying to determine if you are feeling the vibe we are trying to put off. You are four musicians, but you have to play as one or it will be obvious to the crowd.