Bloomington blues duo Carnes & Shew will perform a free concert from 4:30-6 p.m. on Thursday in People’s Park as part of the People’s Park Concert Series.
The duo, consisting of local musicians Mark Carnes and Jeff Shew, will be performing original songs from the self-titled album they released in November 2019 with a few covers mixed in, Shew said.
Both musicians have played together in various bands over the years and are currently both members of King Bee & The Stingers, a local contemporary blues band.
Carnes & Shew is a chance for the artists to explore writing older, darker blues music, Shew said.
“It’s great to showcase our songwriting in a different way as opposed to with the full band,” Shew said. “With a lot of our songs in Carnes & Shew we tend to go with a more dark tone. We use a lot of minor keys and it’s along the lines of a lot of the old murder ballads. We’re trying to hone in more on that old-time genre.”
Carnes & Shew was formed in 2018 when the two musicians wanted to attend the 2020 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, which Shew described as one of the biggest blues events in the nation. Shew said he first met Carnes at the International Blues Challenge years before when they were performing with separate bands.
In order to compete at the international level artists must win their local competitions so Carnes & Shew wrote their self-titled album and recorded it with Dane Clark, John Mellancamp’s drummer, in time to attend the 2020 International Blues Challenge.
They continued collaborating after the 2020 International Blue Challenge because performing as an acoustic duo can be less pressure than performing with a full band, Shew said.
“It’s something that we can just have a lot of fun with,” Shew said. “Our duo is something that is just a different kind of thing than the band altogether. Just being able to play with the two of us is a different feel.”
Both Carnes and Shew are experienced performers. Carnes has been a musician for 50 years and has played shows around the country, Shew said. Shew began his over 25-year-old musical career when we started playing shows with friends at age 12. Shew said he was hooked ever since his very first blues jam– even if he and his friends had to sit in the kitchen while they waited to take the stage since they were too young to be in the bar.
“I've been playing here for a long time in all different kinds of genres,” Shew said. “But in the last maybe five years, I've really gotten back to the blues, gotten back to my roots that I grew up with.”
Shew encouraged community members to attend the free show because of the duo’s unique sound.
“With Carnes and I it's definitely a unique experience. It's dual vocals and harmony vocals with guitar, harmonica and bass.” Shew said. “Hopefully we will make you laugh a little bit and you can enjoy some original music.”