Chris Chopper Carmichael
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Chris Chopper Carmichael

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1989 | INDIE | AFTRA

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | INDIE | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 1989
Solo Blues Americana






Winnipeg Free Press
Country / Roots

12/09/2009 1:00 AM

Chris Carmichael

Chris Carmichael (Independent)

After years of sharing his six-string skills with numerous local bands, Chris Carmichael steps into the forefront and shows he's more than just a guitarist-for-hire.

On his debut solo album, he wrote all the material, plays almost all the instruments himself and helps out with production duties. Being a multi-tasker doesn't mean he ignored any other aspect of his self-titled effort. As anyone who has seen him live knows, he can handle any musical situation and style, but on these 11 tracks he sticks with roots-rock, kicking things off with the driving, urgent Nowhere. He gets gritty on Gone, uses some vocal effects to enhance Danger (which features one of the best riffs on the album) and slows things down a bit for Pop Song and Far Away Gone.

With a well-honed sense of melody, and hooks aplenty, Carmichael proves he's more than just a sideman.
3- half/4
-- RW - Winnipeg Free Press

"UPTOWN CD REVIEW May 21, 2009"

Chris Carmichael
Chris Carmichael


Chris Carmichael

For a guitarist who made a name for himself lending out his services as a sideman to many major players in Winnipeg's blues/roots scene, Chris Carmichael sure knows a thing or two about rock 'n' roll. His debut full-length is a muscular rock/alt-country record that only winks at his bluesy past. The meaty guitar riffs and solos are impressive as ever, but it's Carmichael's knack for penning earworm vocal hooks, as evidenced in songs such as Nowhere and Pop Song, that really makes this effort something special. He also played damn-near every instrument on the thing, and the talent on display here is mind boggling.




C D REVIEWS by Brandon Bertram


4-half out of five

After years of relentless behind-the-scenes support of Winnipeg’s blues and roots
scene, playing alongside the likes of Big Dave MacLean, The Perpetrators, and Romi Mayes, singer/songwriter/guitarist/drummer Chris Carmichael has finally released his first solo album. Its tour de force of alt-country chanties sees Carmichael playing all the instruments, save for a little help from pedal steel player Bill Western on the melancholic Bitter Till the End and backing vocals from Joanna Miller and Romi Mayes on a couple of tracks. Right from the opening track, Nowhere, you can tell the album is going somewhere and right from the start it’s strong and doesn’t falter.This long-awaited solo record from one of Winnipeg’s most sought after session players is a welcome addition to the city’s country scene.....

- The Uniter



Out on his own
Veteran sideman Chris Carmichael releases his first solo album
by Jen Zoratti
Jan.16,7 p.m. & 11 p.m.Times Change(d)High and Lonesome Club

What do Romi Mayes, Big Dave McLean and The Perpetrators have in common? Chris Carmichael. As one of Winnipeg's most in-demand players, the guitarist/drummer has appeared on many great records and gigged with many great bands from the 'Peg's blues and roots scene. Now, Carmichael is making the move from sideman to frontman with his first solo album. Jen Zoratti talks to Carmichael about his debut, and to some of the folks who consider him to be one of the very best musicians in the city.

Winnipeg's famed blues and roots scene owes a debt to Chris 'Chopper' Carmichael.

As one of the city's most in-demand session players, the guitarist/drummer has performed with and contributed to records by local roots/blues notables such as Big Dave McLean, Romi Mayes, The Perpetrators, The Scott Nolan Band, Righteous Ike and The Doug & Jess Band, and is ranked among Winnipeg's most talented - and in many cases, underrated - musicians.

Now, after years of lending out his services as a sideman, Carmichael, 39, is finally stepping out into the spotlight with a long-awaited self-titled solo debut.

It's not just friends and fans of the guitar slinger who have been eagerly anticipating a Chris Carmichael record. It was also a project Carmichael himself was anxious to take off the backburner.

"I guess about eight months ago I grabbed the bull by the horns," he says. "But it was always something I wanted to do."

Though Carmichael wracked up a wealth of recording experience as a musician-for-hire, contributing to someone else's creative vision is a lot different than constructing your own - especially if, like Carmichael, you're handling vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and percussion by yourself.

As challenging as it was, the experience taught the musician something valuable: how to trust his instincts.

"I went into the studio with ideas, not even finished songs, and just basically finished them in the studio," Carmichael explains. "It was exciting because I'd never done it before - I wanted to see if I could do it. I was amazed how things took shape on their own.

"I'm very happy with how it turned out - and surprised. I didn't know what kind of record it would be. I didn't have any preconceived ideas of what was going to happen.

"It was a blank canvas. Whatever I did, I had to keep going with it. Doing it on your own, it's a lot of responsibility. I'm used to being a sideman and playing off other people. Whatever I did on this one, I had to go with my gut."

Judging from the album, his gut was bang on. Recorded at Bedside Studios in Winnipeg, Chris Carmichael is a meaty, rocking alt-country record that only hints to his past as a bluesman. It's a big album, the kind that recalls open Prairie skies, endless dusty highways and long, booze-hazy nights. And of course, the instrumentation is impressive - especially the seasoned guitar work which sounds complex and, at the same time, effortless.

Carmichael wasn't totally flying solo on this outing, however. Bill Western contributed pedal steel guitar to a track, and Joanna Miller, Andrew Neville, Big Dave McLean and Romi Mayes, among others, lent vocals to the project.

Contributing to the album was particularly special for Mayes. The local roots/blues singer/songwriter has collaborated with Carmichael on many of her releases, including 2005's much-lauded The Living Room Sessions: Volume 1 and 2006's Gurf Morlix-produced breakthrough Sweet Something Steady. He's also the drummer on her most recent effort, the soon-to-be-released Achin In Yer Bones.

"Chris is one of the greatest musicians I have ever met, and I don't just mean locally," Mayes says. "He is a phenomenal drummer and a blow-your-mind guitar player, not to mention a great singer and bass player. If it makes a sound, Chris can make it sound good."

Carmichael's record will be unveiled at a two-set CD release bash at the Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club - the honky-tonk haunt he calls home. The release party will be a part of the Times Change(d)'s eighth anniversary celebrations - an inclusion which underlines the importance of the relationship between the guitarist and the venue.

"There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears in that place," Carmichael says. "When I was playing with Big Dave full time (Carmichael was part of McLean's backing band in the '90s), we spent a lot of time on the road, but Times Change(d) was always our place to play at home.

"I've grown a lot there. It's a special place."

According to John Scoles, the president and janitor of the High and Lonesome Club, the reason it's so special actually has a lot to do with Chris.

"I don't consider anyone else as closely tied to that Times Change(d) thing than him," Scoles says. "Whatever makes that place special, you can call it Chris Carmichael."

Carmichael's earned such high praise. He's been playing guitar since the early-'80s, back when he was a teenager dealing with a traumatic move from his tiny hometown of Elie, Man. to Oakville, Ont.

"It was mind-boggling, going from a town like Elie to basically Toronto," he recalls. "I didn't have many friends that year, and I spent a lot of time alone. That's when I picked up the guitar."

After moving back to Winnipeg and scoring a coveted gig as Big Dave McLean's right-hand man in the '90s, Carmichael started feeling burned out on the guitar. So, he decided to get behind the drum kit.

"I always wanted to play the drums. That's what I identified with when I listened to music," he says. "The guitar always seemed like an impossible feat to me. All those strings and dots and frets. It still seems like an impossible feat to me. Back in the Big Dave days, our lives were music. The drums were a natural progression for me because I was always surrounded by music, musicians and instruments. And it got to the point where I wasn't progressing as a guitar player. I was a full-time drummer for a few years."

It was during those years that Carmichael became one of many drummers for Winnipeg blues-rockers The Perpetrators. As fate would have it, Carmichael will be joining The Perps on the road this February as their drummer, and opening for them with his solo show.

"It's interesting how things come full circle," he says.

The Perps tour and the Romi Mayes album are proof that Carmichael isn't planning on retiring from his career as a hired gun anytime soon.

"Oh, it's a life sentence," he says with a laugh.

Still, another Chris Carmichael record isn't unthinkable.

"I'd love to do it again, but I don't want to do anything for a long time," he says. "I have to concentrate on playing now. But I'd like to do another one - it depends on what comes up."

For now, though, the focus is on his own record - and he's not the only one who's excited to get it out there.

"This album Chopper made is epic. He played every instrument and created a masterpiece," Mayes says. "I can't wait for people to hear what has been lurking behind this apparent 'side guy' all these years."

- UPTOWN MAGAZINE January15, 2009


Chris Carmichael doesn't act much like a frontman.He doesn't google like one either. A search for'' Chris Carmichael''turns up websites for a cycling coach and an American multimedia artist. But for a vicious blues guitarist from Winnipeg, a 20- year vet of the city's roots scene? Not a thing.
Sipping a beer at Times Change(d),Carmichael,39, is nonplussed by his relative anonymity.If anything,he desires it."I always wanted to be just a player in the band" he says." I was content being a sideman.The thing about collaboration is if something happens, it's bigger than you.I never wanted to be the guy who stepped up to the mic. I wasn't comfortable with it."He looks down for a moment, folds his arms closer to his chest. ''I'm still not."
But ready or not, here he comes.On Friday,Carmichael is releasing his very first CD. Emphasis on '' his": Carmichael is no stranger to recording, having backed dozens of local acts,including Romi Mayes, Big Dave McLean and the D.Rangers. Still,he's made a life out of playing other people's music.....first in bands covering Johnny Cash and the Cult ,and then as sideman for other original acts. For the first time,this eponymous CD is entirely his own.
''I just wanted to finish the songs I started,'' Carmichael says of the album,on which he plays all the instruments. ''In the beginning,I was really worried whether ( the songs )were good or not. I've played with great singer songwriters,and I can't help but compare myself to them."
If he's going to compare, then so can we.With this debut album,Carmichael has produced a collection of jangly roots-rock that is clear heir to a Winnipeg tradition of the same.Times Change(d) honcho John Scoles once called Carmichael the '' unsung hero of Neil Young style guitar, '' and that Shakey influence sifts through the disc.It was, after all, Rust Never Sleeps that made a teen Carmichael,uprooted from Elie, Manitoba to Toronto, decide that he needed to be a full time musician.
But though he doesn't hide his influences,Carmichael isn't stuck to them ,either.His debut album is as organic and personal as it gets : after all, this guy never wanted to be a star. It's just that the music,inspired by regular touring(next month, he's hitting the road to drum for the Perpetrators) demanded to be made. ''Sometimes you wake up out of bed with lyrics in your head . And sometimes you just wake up pissed off,''he says. ''Maybe it has something to do with a certain state of your mind while you're dreaming. You've got to get the music inside of you out.''

Melissa Martin - WINNIPEG FREE PRESS January 15 2009


2009 Chris Carmichael, Chris Carmichael

2004 Mayes And Carmichael, Romi Mayes and Chris Carmichael

RECORDED ALBUM CONTRIBUTION: (guitar/vocals/percussion)

2019 Ragged Poetry, Ken Kansas

2017 Uneven Ground, Lynn Hansen

2013 Hard Liquor, Ken Kansas

2012 Crazy Shades Of Blue,Russ Kelly

2011 Out Of The Box, Big Dave McLean

2011 Nothing To Lose But The Blues,Dan Frechette

2009 Achin In Yer Bones, Romi Mayes
2009 New Free Market ,Jaxon Haldane

2009 Nathan Rogers 
2009 Travelling Show,The Undesirables
Sean Cotton,Corin Raymond

2008 Got ‘Em From The Bottom, Big Dave McLean

2007 The David Essig Sessions, David Essig

2007 Lovers Find Reasons, Lindsay Jane

2006 Slave To This World, The Doug and Jess Band

2006 The Life And Times Of Christian Banks, Mayor Matt 
Allen & the Little Buddies

2006 High Water Everywhere, Adrian Sala

2006 The Paw-Paw Patch, The D Rangers

2006 Bootleg, Debra Lyn Neufeld

2006 Gas and the Clutch, Perpetrators
2006 Sweet Something Steady, Romi Mayes 

2005 We Best Choose To Pick The Blues, Compilation
2005 High And Lonesome Years, Compilation Vol. 1, 11, 111
2005 The Living Room Sessions, Romi Mayes

2005 The Gas and the Clutch, The Perpetrators

2004 Lock Up Your Sons, Debra Lyn Neufeld

2004 Wang Dang Doodle, Compilation

2000 Hockey Rock, Compilation

1999 Righteous Ike And The Spellcasters



Every great music scene has its anchors, people who never quite get their due from the public, but who are the backbone of sounds and successes. Chris "Chopper" Carmichael is well-known for lending his undeniable guitar skill and incredible tone to some of Canada's premier blues acts like Sue Foley, The Perpetrators, Big Dave McLean, Lynn Hanson, Righteous Ike, Romi Mayes, Sol James, Ken Kansas, the Scott Nolan Band and many more. His most recent recorded work can be heard on Ken Kansas's 2019 release, 'Ragged Poetry' and Lynn Hanson's 2017 release, 'Uneven Ground'.

As one of the most in-demand guitarists and drummers in Winnipeg's remarkable roots and blues music community, he has provided a wealth of talent and experience to countless recording sessions and live performances. His much-anticipated sophomore release is currently in the works lending further proof of his undeniable skill as a singer/songwriter.

Carmichael's 2009 self-titled debut unveiled an album that stretched his blues and rock and roll roots in a powerful direction. Combining Chris's ease and grace in switching from one instrument to another (he plays all the guitars, bass, drums and percussion), and featuring contributions from Joanna Miller and Romi Mayes (backing vocals) and Bill Western (pedal steel), these songs are an important chapter to the story of this truly talented musician. Revealing vocal and instrumental styles influenced by a remarkable range of artists - flavoured by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Keith Richards. His long-awaited sophomore release is currently in progress. 

Band Members