Caroline Monroe
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Caroline Monroe

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"Record Review"

Caroline Monroe
Ghost Town
Independent Release
originally published April 25, 2007

Ghost Town is the first release from Athens country ingenue Caroline Monroe. Monroe, formerly of departed local rock act Umpteen, works here with a choice cast of Athens-area musicians in tow, including Randall Bramblett, William Tonks and John Neff; her easygoing, accessible singing style is a sure fit for the album’s songs, many of which were penned by producer and sometimes duet partner Fester Hagood.

Tracks like “She Regrets Her Tattoos,” “Brand New Chapter of Life” and “See Rock City” document both new beginnings being made and, on the flipside, other characters who wish they had the opportunity to make new beginnings. Others, such as “This Old Town” and the hungover lament “Sunday Sinner” showcase a more playful side of the young singer-songwriter.

Monroe is definitely going in the right direction to get airplay on modern country radio, for which many of Ghost Town’s songs are well suited. Fortunately, she doesn’t come across as another pop-hopeful diva in the making. Monroe and Hagood’s slice-of-real-life songs and her warm, worn-in approach with them do, however, make the two locals ones to keep an eye out for in the months to come.

Michael Andrews

- Flagpole

""Ghost Town" Review"

Aligned with Athens-based musicians, singer-songwriter Monroe ditched the confines of her former rock band, Umpteen, for a career in country music. There’s no residue of her past life here; this is about as straight forward as modern country gets. Her voice recalls Lucinda Williams or maybe Natalie Merchant, but with out the edgy distinction of the former or the plaintive wail of the latter.

Monroe’s songs are easygoing and solid, and while she doesn’t engage in the vocal theatrics or cornpone story-telling of many current country artists, there’s not a knockout hit lurking anywhere on this album either. Still, there’s credibility in her lack of pandering (“She Regrets her Tattoos” is as close to trailer talk as it gets) and, when Monroe gets the vibe right (“Brand New Chapter of Life,”) there’s an undeniable sign that great country music doesn’t have to emanate from music row.

__John Davidson - Georgia Music Magazine

"SPOTLIGHT: Caroline Monroe"

Caroline Monroe
originally published December 13, 2006
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Caroline Monroe is playing a CD release show at the Eastwood Pub on Friday, Dec. 15.

Local country singer Caroline Monroe got her local start playing in the rock band Umpteen in 2003 and 2004. After that band dissolved, she spent some time re-examining her goals, researching her roots and teamed up with local songwriter Fester Hagood. The duo performed around town at venues as disparate as J.R.'s Baitshack, Wild Wing Café, Athens Arena and the Caledonia Lounge.
Monroe, whose ambitious yet easy-going vocals call to mind crossover artists like Stevie Nicks or Emmylou Harris, now has a solo offering in the debut album Ghost Town. Recorded at Full Moon Studios, the album features country tracks co-written with Hagood and with Monroe's own father Doug Monroe, a noted Atlanta journalist who's put in time at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Creative Loafing and Atlanta Magazine.
For a show this weekend at the Eastwood Pub, Monroe has assembled a crack backing band to give her songs the full treatment. Matt Sapp, formerly of Engineering and Another Broken Vehicle, is on bass; hey, revolution!'s drummer TJ Young keeps time and longtime Athens musician Rick Fowler (The Wildcats, Redneck GReece Delux, Rack of Spam) rounds out the four-piece on guitar. "It's at the Eastwood Pub," says Monroe, "anything can happen." Hagood's new band King Cotton also performs.
Flagpole You and Fester wrote a number of the tracks together. What's that process like? Caroline Monroe Fester is more of the brains behind songs we wrote together. I’ve helped him to be at ease with his feminine side, which has helped to him write songs from a new - my - perspective. I’ll present him with ideas and he’ll help me put them into songs. My next step is to actually write my ideas onto paper and have him edit them. Flagpole You have a good amount of strong guests on the record like Randall Bramblett, William Tonks and John Neff, among others. How'd that come about? Caroline Monroe Wow, I do feel quite honored about that! Lucky for me, I have a fabulous producer who was able to hook it up. Mark at Full Moon Studio also knows some of those guys pretty well and got us in contact with them. It's funny, some of the songs have Randall, his bass player Mike Steele playing bass and his lead guitar/ back-up vocalist Mike Hines singing backup: Caroline Monroe and most of the Randall Bramblett Band! Wish I could get those guys to go on tour with me. Of course, Neff really brought some songs together with that pedal steel of his; that sound is the most beautiful sound in the world to me. And Tonks really helped to put the twang into “Sunday Sinner” and “This old Town.” I’m so thankful for all of them. Flagpole Any other local acts you're currently digging? Caroline Monroe Why yes, Kimberly Morgan and Betsy Franck are two of my favorites. The three of us did a little guitar pull together down at The Hummingbird in Macon. That was quite fun, and I hope we can do that somewhere in Athens soon. I’m of course a huge fan of The Truckers. My pal Ty is in the Bearfoot Hookers, it's always a pleasure watching them. Can’t wait to see Fester’s new band King Cotton, they‘re actually playing after me at my CD release party. I’m hoping to broaden my horizons with all of the local country acts. Flagpole How's singing and recording your dad's songs? Caroline Monroe It’s been quite the adrenaline rush. He had the ideas for “See Rock City” and “She Regrets Her Tattoos” long before I even started singing country music. He has so many more great ideas. I’m hoping that that gene will expose itself sometime soon for my writing skills. The fact that I’m singing some of his songs has really made him supportive in my pursuit of music. More so than most parents, I would assume.
Chris Hassiotis
- Flagpole

"An interview with Caroline Monroe"

May 11, 2006
An interview with Caroline Monroe

There is no alt or pop preceding the country music Caroline Monroe performs. Her jukebox-suited, prefix-free songs like "See Rock City" and "She Regrets Her Tattoos" are folksy narratives with a touch of Southern sass and twang. Monroe has been at Full Moon Studios in Watkinsville working on her debut with the help of local longhaired country outlaw Fester Hagood. Be on the lookout for "Ghost Town" soon and catch Caroline and Fester tonight at Wild Wing - it's a FREE SHOW! recently caught up with the lovely Ms. Monroe:

Take us through the Caroline Monroe musical timeline.

Well, when I was a kid, piano lessons lasted about six months - with a woman that must have been a hundred years old. I remember she had long skeleton fingers.

Fast forward ...

Throughout college I played guitar, just for my friends mainly. During my senior year I played in a rock band called Umpteen. It was fun, but not really my vocal style - so I picked up my guitar and started playing country. I had my first solo gig at DT's [recently], and it was the first time I can remember playing in a bar where people were actually listening ... whispering.

You know, like a million people will read this interview and they'll see these hyperlinks to your MySpace page and the Web site and they won't be able to hear your music. What happened to the songs?

(With a grin) Well, um ... pretty much nothing is mixed yet, so it's bad advertisement for myself (laughing), and the studio I'm at! I'm probably gonna put one of those songs back up though.

We hear that the new album is coming along nicely. So many notable locals sitting in-lets name-drop.

Oh yeah, we got Randall Bramblett on organ, piano and sax; William Tonks on dobro; Rick Fowler playing guitar; Greg Veal and Mike Steel on bass; Don Spurlin on guitar; and Fester Hagood plays harmonica and guitar. The pedal steel parts are still up in the air. We have a few more instruments to record, a few vocal harmonies - mixing, mastering. Hopefully in a month or two you can get a copy of "Ghost Town" around town.

Share with our readers something they won't learn anywhere but here.

I love a glass of Riesling, and I can light matches with my toes.

Posted by David Eduardo at May 11, 2006 08:54 AM
- David Eduardo

"ABC Pick: Fester Hagood and Caroline Monroe"

ABC Pick
Fester Hagood & Caroline Monroe
Friday, June 16, Eastwood Pub
originally published June 14, 2006

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Fester Hagood & Caroline Monroe

The last time Flagpole caught up with Fester Hagood, he had just released his debut solo effort Gypsy and was knocking around town in the feel-good bar band Ray-Ray and The Hog Mountain Boys. On the surface, things were looking copacetic. “Truth is, my band was kinda’ breaking up at the time - but that’s about the time I met Caroline [Monroe]. I went from writing a ton of rock songs back to my country roots. Caroline plays country suited for the radio, so it’s helped me become more versatile.”

The duo is hard at work applying the finishing touches to Monroe’s forthcoming debut Ghost Town and can be tracked down at Eastwood Pub this Friday evening with special guest Ty Manning of the Bearfoot Hookers. In addition to collaborating with Hagood, Monroe performs songs written by her father, aspiring novelist and former Creative Loafing senior editor Doug Monroe. “He tells me it’s the most fun he’s ever had writing,” says Caroline. Sometimes they strike gold, and other times they fall a little short. “He had an idea that I thought was way too cheesy, but I think Nashville will love it," she laughs. "Without revealing too much, it’s called 'www.Don',' and my dad loves it. I think he’ll end up recording it himself.”

Speaking of Nashville, Hagood has just returned after pitching some tunes. “It’s the second time I’ve been up there," he says. "I went about five years ago and it’s what I’ve expected. A lot of promise, everyone says they like it and I never heard anything. But, I’ve met a lot of people and got my music out there and that’s what’s important - but I’m not gonna dance until I see something in writing.”

David Eduardo - Flagpole/ David Eduardo


"Ghost Town" December 2006

She Regrets Her Tattoos (D. Monroe, C. Monroe, T. Hagood)Vocals-Caroline Monroe; Electric-Charlie Garrett; Acoustic-Tracey Hagood; Bass-Mike Steele; Drums- Mark Cooper Smith; Backup vocals-Mike Hines

Brand New Chapter of Life (T. Hagood)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; electric-Charlie Garrett; acoustic-Tracey Hagood; bass-Mike Steele; organ-Randall Bramblett; Drums-Mark Cooper Smith; Backup Vocals-Susan Staley and Mike Hines

Friend of Cody’s (Shayne Fair)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; Electric-Rick Fowler; Bass-Greg Veale; Acoustic-Tracey Hagood, Steel-John Neff; Drums-Mark Cooper Smith; Backup vocals-Mike Hines

See Rock City (D. Monroe, C. Monroe, T. Hagood)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; Electric-Donald Spurlin; Acoustic-Tracey Hagood; Bass-Mike Steele; Steel-
John Neff; Drums-Mark Cooper Smith; Backup vocals-Fester Hagood and Jay Rodgers

Ghost Town (Tracey Hagood)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; Acoustic-Tracey Hagood; Organ/piano-Randall Bramblett; Bass-?; Drums-Mark Cooper Smith; Backup Vocals-Mike Hines

Tracks of Love (Shayne Fair)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; acoustic/electric-Donald Spurlin; Bass-Mike Steele; Sax/Organ-Randall Bramblett; Drums-Mark Smith; Back up vocals-Mike Hines

Right Here in My Heart (Tracey Hagood)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; 12-string acoustic-Tracey Hagood; violin-Andy Carleson; Cello-Daniel Powers

This Old Town (T Hagood, C Monroe)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; Lead-Donald Spurlin; Acoustic-Tracey Hagood; bass-Jay Rodgers; Dobro-William Tonks; Drums-Mark Cooper Smith; Backup vocals-Susan Staley and Mike Hines

I Gotta Go (Tracey Hagood)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; Electric-Donald Spurlin; 12-string acoustic-Tracey Hagood; organ-Randall Bramblett; Drums-Mark Cooper Smith; Backup vocals-Susan Staley and Mike Hines

Mystery Mourner (D Monroe, T Hagood, C Monroe)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; Acoustic-Tracey Hagood; Dobro-William Tonks; Bass-Jay Rodgers; Backup Vocals- Mike Hines

Sunday Sinner (T. Hagood, D. Spurlin)
Vocals-Caroline Monroe; acoustic lead-Donald Spurlin; Acoustic/harmonica-Tracey Hagood; Bass-Mike Steele; Drums-Mark COOPER Smith; Mandolin-Michael Paynter; Dobro-William Tonks; Back up vocals-Susan Staley and Mike Hines



Caroline Monroe was born in Cobb County, an Atlanta suburb, in 1981. Her father is a writer, her mother teaches nuclear medicine and she's rumored to be a distant relative of Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music. This fusion of creativity, science, and the high lonesome sound may be the reason she became a country singer who works for a pharmaceutical company.

Caroline was a shy girl who opened up when she moved to Atlanta in middle school to live with her father and brother. She would lock herself in her room singing show tunes at the top of her lungs. Annoyed, her brother Matt, bassist for the '90s Atlanta punk group Level Head, made Caroline listen to some of his rock CDs, fearful that she wouldn't like anything but the songs from "Cats."

She opened up even more in high school when she joined several choirs and started singing solos. While studying biology at the University of Georgia, Caroline branched away from sheet music, polished her guitar playing and fronted the rock band Umpteen. However, listening to country acts with her peers in Athens, she realized that country suited her voice better than rock. She also loved the stories told in country music, which led her to collaborate with producer Fester Hagood and her father, Doug Monroe, on story-telling songs like "See Rock City."

Now that "Ghost Town" is finished, she's in the process of booking gigs with her new band and writing new songs. Her song "Trailer Park Hall of Fame" will appear on the 2008 Athfest Compilation CD.