Carsie Blanton is that rare artist who knows how to combine savvy stagecraft and airtight songs with a revolutionary spirit. Take her latest hit, “Rich People,” which swept TikTok by storm with over 3 million views and, true to its name, laid bare wealth inequality in the process. Songs like “Shit List” and “Dealin’ with the Devil” lampoon neo-Nazis and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, respectively, and indicate why she has been hailed as an artist who creates “beautiful, militant anthems,” with the ability to make ”revolution desirable to your body, even if your head resists it” (NPR, American Songwriter).
Despite the struggles she readily acknowledges, Blanton retains a sense of hope, which shines through in her songs and performances. “When you spend your time watching the news or social media, people seem cruel and stupid,” she says. “But I think that by a wide margin, people are good, and want to take care of each other.” Her songs “Be Good” and “Lovin’ is Easy” are steeped in that spirit, inviting us to “love everybody alive.”
After keeping her band afloat throughout lockdown with live-streamed ‘Rent Parties’, going viral with a song memorializing John Prine (“Fishin with You), and releasing a critically acclaimed mid-pandemic album (2021’s Love and Rage, “fighting fascism with big hooks and an even bigger heart” – American Songwriter), Blanton chose to bring some nuance to her success, with her recent exposé in The Nation, laying bare the economics of the modern-day music industry.
The galvanizing spirit of her work is backed up by expertise. Blanton and her impeccably dressed “Handsome Band” bring skills betraying their long tenure as live musicians. Accompanied by Joe Plowman on bass, Patrick Firth on keys, and Sean Trischka on drums, their performances are a rich musical gumbo of genres, meandering from Americana and rock to cocktail jazz, Motown, and pop punk. With three-part harmonies thickening their sound, and kazoos leavening it, her dynamic sets range from slapstick jokes to call-and-response protest songs, making Blanton and her band “a festival presenter’s secret weapon, guaranteed to win over the crowd” (Promoter Roger Menell).
Blanton makes no attempt to disguise her far-left political leanings, but at the heart of her music is love, and her songs are capable of tethering us to our shared humanity across socio-political lines. No matter where they begin, every audience leaves her show transformed into friends and comrades, united in laughter, camaraderie, and hope.