Rick Carter has been around the block a few times. On the streets of Birmingham and Gulf Shores, Selma and Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Auburn, Key West and, well, just about every other city in the Southeast.
The popular guitarist, songwriter and singer, often called Alabama’s Hardest Working Man in Music, has been performing solo and in bands for a half-century and the coronavirus is only slightly slowing him down. He’s playing each Sunday night at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live.
Carter, 66, has “a bazillion stories” from playing four or five shows a week for all these years, often getting home at 2 or 3 in the morning. He said it was somewhat refreshing when he finally got a break from the grind as music venues were suddenly closed by the coronavirus crisis. Then came the realization he was missing the “mental paycheck of an audience.”
He first gained national notoriety with Telluride in the 1980s when the band signed a recording contract with RCA and cut a couple of albums that placed a couple of songs on the Billboard Top 100. Telluride was named one of the top three bands in the nation in a Miller Brewing contest, voted Birmingham’s best band six years in a row and frequently opened for major performers before it stopped touring after 27 years.
In 1991, the Loveland Orchestra headed up by Carter received favorable album reviews in Rolling Stone magazine and prominent newspapers, about the same time his Birmingham band opened for Bob Dylan at Oak Mountain Amphitheater. Dylan offered Carter a place opening for the rest of the national tour but Carter’s prior commitments kept him from going on the road with the rock legend.
Rollin’ in the Hay was next up, a forerunner of the New Grass movement that merges bluegrass and rock. They’ve recorded a string of popular CDs, played at the 2012 Bonnaroo Festival and continue booking regional concerts when everything isn’t closed for business.
Carter’s been in and led at least a dozen other bands through the years, some of which he continues with: Telluride, Frankie Velvet and the Mighty Veltones and The Selma Boys. Other bands have included the League of Legendary Artists, Rainbow, the Edmund Pettus Bridge Band, the Sizzlers and Truffle.
Through the years, Carter has played and collaborated with the Allman Brothers, John Fogerty, Jason Isbell, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top and many others almost any music lover would know and admire. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame has named Carter a Music Achiever three times, for his solo work and leadership of Telluride and Rollin’ in the Hay. The Birmingham Area Musicians Association gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
Carter’s solo album “Change” was released in 2016 during a sold-out show at WorkPlay in Birmingham, adding to his legacy of finely fashioned love songs, reflections on society and humorous tunes like “Miracle Ticket.” He continues performing through the pandemic with the Facebook Live concerts.
The Earnest Troubadours is Carter’s latest effort, joining with Moose Harrell of Telluride, Stan Foster of Rollin’ in the Hay and Donna Hall of Wet Willie to present “The Legendary Singer Songwriter Series.” The band will pay tribute to great poet-musicians in upcoming concerts.
“Music is what I do,” he said. “Coronavirus is not stopping me.”