A guitar slinging, singer/songwriter blurring the lines of mainstream pop, 80’s rock and traditional country to fill stadiums, dives and even back house porches.
Patrick Carpenter began playing guitar at age 11. Heavily inspired by country superstar Kenny Chesney, he knew he wanted to at least give music a chance. Carpenter was accepted at age 9 into a visual arts school where art was already heavily influenced into his life. “I always loved working with my hands and creating ideas on paper.”
After playing guitar for about a month or so he quit. “Yeah, I just didn’t feel that music was going to become anything for me. But, I still loved it and listened to as much as I could.”
A month later he found himself sitting front row at his house watching the latest episode of CMT Crossroads. This episode was different, it featured a fresh, new group at the time, Sugarland, and the legendary 80’s rock band, Bon Jovi. Just a few bars into “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Carpenter found himself gazing at the virtuosity of guitarist Richie Sambora. “He was so different than anyone else I heard. He was flashy while tasteful. His face expressed such emotion in every note. The guy just oozed ‘coolness’ to me. He didn’t have to play a billion notes a second to impress anyone and I really appreciated that. Also, he had this thing called a Talk Box and I wanted that right then. I have spent countless hours trying to be him.”
That night changed Patrick forever. “After seeing him play, I knew what I wanted to do.”
After learning his craft over a year or so, Patrick found himself playing regularly in his youth group’s praiseband at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Madison, MS. “I quickly grew fond of Worship music. Church was a fantastic outlet for music, but also I quickly learned the importance of Worship music and, quite honestly, it’s my favorite thing to do.”
As Carpenter continued his journey learning from legendary guitarist of the past, he found a general love for all types of music. “I was raised on the Eric Clapton ‘Unplugged’ album thanks to my dad. He had the original VHS tape from the MTV show that I think he bought in Germany. I ran that tape ragged. Just trying to figure out what Clapton was doing.” Thanks to the mutual love for Clapton by Patrick and his Father, his dad bought him the Eric Clapton Crossroads fesitval DVD for Christmas 2008. Featuring several guitar idols of Patrick from Clapton to ZZ Top, Santana to even Buddy Guy, one particular player caught his eye.
“Steve Vai. Wow. He played a 5 minute guitar bonanza that blew me away. I mentioned Richie (Sambora) being flashy, but I had never need anyone like this. He was all over the place. I mean, the guy literally had a fan that blew his hair while he played. What’s more Rock n’ Roll than that??” That night Patrick went into the attic to find a fan to blow his hair.
Carpenter’s fondness of Vai led him into the learning more from the instrumental rock players of the 80’s. “I’m sure my parents were a little concerned hearing me blast all the craziness of Steve (Vai) in my room for a few years. He was so different. But, he was probably the best thing for my playing. He didn’t stay in one box during a lead part, he was everywhere. He opened my mind to modes and theory. Something I wasn’t getting from the blues/rock guys. I’m sure when people ask me who my favorite players are, he’s the one that raises the eyebrows.”
Learning from Vai led Patrick into another guitar God of the 80’s, Eddie Van Halen.
“Oh yeah, I love Van Halen. Both Van Halen and Van Hagar. Eddie, much like Steve (Vai), played unlike anyone I had seen. I spent most of my 9th grade year learning as much as I could. For Christmas that year, my parents bought me my first tube amp, a Marshall JCM TSL 2000 and a Van Halen greatest hits tab book. So if they had any complaints, they did it to themselves. Eddie’s biggest influence on me wasn’t so much his tapping, but rather his chord shapes. He would play these massive power chords that filled every spot.”
As Patrick’s love for guitar music grew, he still had a deep love for Country Music.
“Yeah, so dad raised me on rock and my mom raised me on Country. She loved everyone from Shania Twain to Tim McGraw. I was drawn to the guys that were more rock based like Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Montgomery Gentry. So even while I was learning all this old rock I was trying to figure out how I could play this over a country track."
Patrick’s fondness of guitar players and country music led him to, who he considers, the best guitar player of his generation.
“Brad Paisley. I don’t have a quintessential favorite guitar player. It’s more like Favorite A and Favorite B. I always loved Brad Paisley for his humor. I was obsessed with the “Mud on the Tires” album. But, I never realized he was playing those guitar parts when I was starting out. I saw him in 8th grade and was blown away by him. I remember sitting down and trying to learn his licks and none of them made any sense. They were open stringed and had crazy pull offs. I just stopped after 10 minutes and went back to playing “Hot for Teacher."
As Carpenter began his plot for Nashville, he knew he needed to up his game.
“A few years later I revisited what Brad (Paisley) did and I really dedicated myself to what he did. To his pull offs, the way he saw things and to even his tone. I loved his cleaner, squashed sound that was just on the cusp of overdriven. His accuracy is out of this world good and very underrated. Unlike everyone else I have listed, he influenced every aspect of me as an artist, not just as a player. From my look, to my singing, to my guitar tone and to even my songwriting. I have this raunchy, tongue-in-cheek humor as well and songs like “Take a Hint” come from that and listening to him taught me how to get away with certain things. I started playing telecasters, specifically, thanks to him. He made me a better singer as well. He has a very expressive, believable voice, which for an artist I think makes him great. He doesn’t have to over impress you with his singing cause his playing and writing are so good. He’s authentic and believable. Songs like “Then” and “She’s Everything” relate to so many people, even the ones who don’t like country music and I really drew myself to that approach. I wanted you to believe that with songs like “Coming Back Stronger” and “I Wish She Knew,” that those came from as real a place that they did. I owe so much to Brad (Paisley) for that.”
“The first advice I ever got was from Joe Meador. Joe was a very accomplished music executive and always took time to talk to me. Hardly anyone, especially of his accolades, would do that. He told me ‘you write?’ and I told him 'no' and he looked at me said 'Oh, well you probably should. It’d be good for you. Nashville has plenty of players like you, but it’s always looking for a song.’ This was the first real advice I had ever gotten. He also said to make sure I was working on my singing. All those years of dreaming of being a front-man I forgot about that part.”
Carpenter graduated high school early in three years, moved to Nashville for three months, but ended up realizing he needed time.
“I had never written much. I didn’t know where to start. I also hadn’t sang much either. But, I had time. I wasn’t in school and I needed to practice.” Over the next year Carpenter was the lead player in several bands back home in Jackson, MS and played several venues and shows. After a year, he attended Mississippi State University for two years, before transferring to Lipscomb University.
“Starkville was great, but I knew I wanted to be in Nashville. So I finally arrived back in 2014. Lipscomb was one of the greatest things to happen to me. I met mentors, best friends and even band members. So much of what is going on now is derived from my time there”
After graduating in 2016 Carpenter started working as a lead guitar player for a few acts around town. In 2018 the production on his first EP “Coming Back Stronger: an EP” began.
“This has been an incredible process and quite a story in itself. It was produced by Brent Rader (Joe Nichols) who did a remarkable job with the production and instrumentation and I am blown away by this. It features a five original songs and an instrumental song that’s kind of an ode to my guitar heros over the time of my playing. I am so proud of the finished product that came out of this.”
"Coming Back Stronger" is now available on all Music platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play, etc).