A marriage of mutual admiration, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer quickly gained the respect of the folk music community with Carter's amazing depth of songwriting and Grammer's expert accompaniment on fiddle, guitar, mandolin and violin. Carter, raised in rural areas of Texas and Oklahoma, has not traveled the standard route to a music career. Although having served stints in psychedelic rock bands, as well as being a classical pianist in piano bars, more than anything, Carter has used his experience of studying Transpersonal Psychology — encompassing dream, shamanic, and meditation studies — as a unique and strongly original form of surreal rural songwriting. Drawing comparisons to novelist Carlos Castaneda and fellow singer-songwriter Bill Morrisey, Carter is one of the very few songwriters who aren't easily derived from any obvious influence, though he's a noted admirer of Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and W.A. Mozart. Eventually finding his way to Nashville in 1995, Carter took to open mic nights and eventually recorded his debut, Snake Handlin' Man, for Red River Records in 1996.
Tracy Grammer, raised in Southern California in a musical family, met Carter outside one of his performances in Portland, OR in 1996, and the two quickly started working on material for a potential collaboration. By 1998, the duo recorded When I Go in the kitchen of Grammer's apartment, earning them the Kerrville New Folk Award. As they began playing the contemporary folk circuit, they would add the Wildflower Performing Songwriter and Napa Valley Emerging Songwriter Awards to go with various other accolades. Signing with Signature Sounds in 1999 with the promise of artistic freedom, Carter & Grammer recorded Tanglewood Tree in a professional studio with session players and released the album in the spring of 2000 to rave reviews. In what Carter has referred to as the "first Buddhist country album," from the inclusion of a Buddhist mantra in the liner notes and the subtle philosophical undertones, Tanglewood Tree only furthered the duo's reputation for creating masterful narratives and rich aural textures. Drum Hat Buddha appeared in spring 2001. On Friday, July 19, 2002, Carter's life was sadly cut short when he collapsed in his hotel room in Northampton, Massachusetts after a massive heart attack. He was 49. ~ Matt Fink