Jay Howlett | Carnival Lights

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Carnival Lights

by Jay Howlett

Jay Howlett again examines the the strange and wonderful world of small town and rural America with short stories put to music and song. Great musicians, skilled production, well crafted songs with lovable characters and wacky events, what else is needed?
Genre: Folk: Folk-Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Red Western Flyer
3:27 album only
2. Legend of the Parking Lot
3:04 album only
3. Cornbread and Black-Eyed Peas
3:53 album only
4. Carnival Lights
6:00 album only
5. Six Years
3:33 album only
6. Somewhere Like That
3:46 album only
7. Calistoga Tractor Parade
3:04 album only
8. Your Clown
3:36 album only
9. Long Black Dress
3:02 album only
10. The Guardsman's Letter
5:33 album only
11. Calistoga Tractor Parade (First Take) PG-13
3:03 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Whether it’s describing the feeling of a nine year old filling up on Nehi soda and coasting down the steepest hill on a Red Western Flyer, or gazing on the beauty of a small town girl in a Long Black Dress, Howlett just has a way with putting the listener right into the song. Not to mention making you fall in love with his characters, like the Legend of the Parking Lot – a classic car aficionado who refuses to grow up.

Six Years recounts the plight of the family farm, while The Guardsman’s Letter puts us right inside the heart of a soldier second guessing his choices. Your Clown reflects the experience of Jay’s friend whose wife joined a band, only to leave him for a fellow band member. Not once, but twice. He and Jay are still friends. He is currently performing solo.
The title track takes us behind the Carnival Lights, where we learn that there’s a little bit of that bearded lady in all of us as we try to find our place in a land filled with slight of hand, bright lights and shinny colors.

What would a collection of small town songs be without a look at the holidays? Howlett brings to life the New Years Eve tradition of Corn Bread and Black Eyed Peas that he became fascinated with while celebrating the holidays with his wife’s family in Texas.

Although the small California town of Calistoga may be known to most for its mud baths in the heart of the wine country, Howlett gives us a peek into the weird, wacky and wonderful annual Calistoga Tractor Parade and Christmas Pageant. The equally weird, wacky and wonderful Joe Craven adds a hilarious commentary on the bonus track version.
While many songs have been written about Nashville, leave it to Jay Howlett to twist things around and take a look at the positive side. Somewhere Like That graciously sums up this collection of songs and stories, reminding us that there are places where life is simpler and the pace slower.

“I want to live in a town where the waitress calls you honey… where they care
more about where you go to church than how you make your money.”

Guest artist include: Marty Atkinson, Kevin Carr, Joe Craven, Patrick Feehan, Carol McComb, Dave Nachmanoff and Rolfe Wyer.



to write a review

David Stafford, The Friday Folk Off, KKUP 91.5, Cupertino, CA

Jay Howlett's "Carnival Lights"
Finally! I am holding in my hands my most anticipated album of 2009, Jay Howlett's "Carnival Lights". It took Jay years to make this recording and the result is a beautiful, skillfully crafted audio masterpiece that, while not eclipsing his previous recordings, make this his best yet. Bravo! Now, I have got to get back to listening.

Cheers, David Stafford
The Friday Folk Off, KKUP 91.5, Cupertino, CA

Terry Davis, DonnaLynn Music, West Linn, OR

Ecstatically Eclectic!
I love this CD! I heard live versions of many of the songs over the past couple of years, and waited anxiously (if a bit impatiently) for this CD to arrive. After receiving mine I can hear and see why it took a little longer. Quality often does. From the wonderfully-crafter package to the personally familiar images of a kid bicycling around town in Red Western Flyer, through the film noir movie in my mind in the title track and the small-town beauty of the girl in the Long Black Dress, right through Guardsman's Letter, this is a great CD. Jay's music just keeps getting better. A bunch of my friends are in for a treat in their Christmas stockings this year!


Persoonlijk en ontroerend, waar Jay Howlett menig gevoelige snaar weet te raken.
De Texaan Jay Howlett is een singer-songwriter, die zijn teksten vergezeld laat gaan met simpele pakkende melodielijnen. Vanaf zijn eerste naamloze cd uit 1998 tot en met het nieuwe album “Carnival Lights” profileert hij zich als troubadour en verhalenverteller. In de liedjes, die muzikaal gesteund worden door gastmuzikanten uit Noord-Californië als Joe Craven (viool en mandoline) Marty Atkinson (elektrische en akoestische gitaar, lap-steel), Dave Nachmanoff (accordeon) Carol McComb (achtergrondzang), is er plaats voor liefde, tranen en vooral de realiteit en intensiteit van het leven in Amerika. In het titelnummer stelt Jay, dat iedereen zijn zorgen wel even vergeet op de kermis. De uitbundige akoestische tonen van het nummer brengen je al snel in bekoring.

In het fascinerende The Guardsman’s Letter probeert Jay de emotie over te brengen van een soldaat, twijfelend over gemaakte keuzes en de consequenties hiervan. In het vrolijke americananummer Red Western Flyer observeert de zanger zijn eigen levenswijze van een afstandje. Of het nu de verstilde liedjes zijn (Calistoga Tractor Parade en Six Years), de gospel in Your Clown of de momenten waar Howlett nogal wat instrumenten uit de kast haalt (Somewhere Like That en Legend of the Parking Lot), de folk- en americanamuziek blijft altijd breekbaar, harmonieus en lieflijk. “Carnival Lights” is een intrigerende plaat met een hoge mate van zeggingskracht. Persoonlijk en ontroerend, waar Jay Howlett menig gevoelige snaar weet te raken.