Music fans and partygoers in Middle Tennessee know that when they are craving a good time, the Nick Carver Band is the group that delivers. Brought together by lead singer Nick Carver, these five talented musicians have crafted a following that continues to expand throughout the region.
Born in Covington, Tennessee just outside of Memphis, Carver discovered a lifelong passion for music and entertaining at an early age, grooving on the sounds of Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, the Allman Brothers, the Eagles, and a variety of legends of country and classic rock. Music wasn’t just something he enjoyed -- it was something he lived for. After joining the student choir in middle school, he soon discovered his own vocal talent.
“While I didn’t come from a musical family, music was all around me” he says, reflecting on his youth. “It became a driving force in my life, and I knew it would become my future as well. My family supported my ambition, and instilled in me the confidence to reach for my dreams.”
Carver honed his voice through private lessons with vocal teacher Bob Westbrook, who had previously taught Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. He participated in student performance groups, eventually earning a scholarship to study music at Mississippi College. But after a year, he transferred to the Recording Industry Management program at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
“I wanted to study the music industry from a business perspective,” he says, looking back. “And, if I was going to seriously follow my dreams, I needed to be closer to Nashville.”
While studying at MTSU, Carver worked as a bartender at a local club and helped book many of the bands that performed. “It was a great way to be right in the middle of the Murfreesboro music scene,” he smiles. “I became friends with many of the musicians in town, and got to study how each band worked the stage. A bartender also learns how to connect with people from all backgrounds. If you can charm your customers and make them friends, you can increase your tips tremendously. This was invaluable in teaching me how to connect with an audience.”
Carver performed often in area clubs as part of several local cover bands. At first, he stuck with harmony vocals and rhythm guitar, but he knew the time was coming when he would strike out on his own.
“I’m a goal-oriented person,” he admits, “and I focus on mastering the steps needed to reach my goals. When I first came to Murfreesboro, I was one of the guys in the band. I wasn’t ready to be the focal point yet. But once I found my comfort spot on stage, I knew the time had come.”
Indeed it had. In early 2009, Carver auditioned musician friends and new faces to create his own band. The performers he chose brought musical talent, versatility, and engaging performance styles to the group. A former winner of a Mars Music/Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar competition, Missouri-native Jason Tyler was selected as lead guitarist. As part of the WIL Radio Road Show Band, Tyler had frequently opened for many major country and classic rock artists at St. Louis-area fairs. MTSU music scholar Michael Sharp joined as keyboardist and background vocalist. A master of many styles, Sharp also performed with a jazz ensemble and played piano during Sunday services at a Murfreesboro church. Memphis-native Taylor Lonardo joined as bass guitarist. Lonardo also performs with and produces a variety of local musical acts. Setting the beat for the group, Knoxville-born Mark Cardwell was picked as drummer. Cardwell, who studied music education at MTSU while performing in a variety of university ensembles and bands, was also a member of Music City Mystique when they won the 2006 WGI Championship. Together, these musicians united under the name Tanner Hootch.
“We are a team and I am proud to call each of these guys my friend,” said Carver. “Their talents and abilities enhance my vision of how we can entertain our audiences.”
In between performing with the band and writing songs in his free time, Carver also married his true love. “Marrying my wife was the best thing that I’ve ever done,” he said with pride. “She gives me a reason to work harder and the confidence to reach higher to set new goals.”
Performing a heavy schedule of shows at clubs throughout Middle Tennessee, the band built a growing and enthusiastic audience. With the charismatic Carver as the undeniable focal point, the group soon renamed themselves the Nick Carver Band after their leader. “Everyone in this group is important to our success. But as front man for the band, I’m the face the audience usually knows,” explains Carver. “And behind the scenes, I created the group, negotiate our bookings with the clubs, oversee our rehearsals, and orchestrate almost everything we do. It made sense to share my name with the group and increase our recognition factor.”
Still based in Murfreesboro, the Nick Carver Band performs in clubs all over Middle Tennessee. The group offers up an engaging blend of country, classic rock, and southern rock, with some surprises thrown in along the way. “Obviously country and classic rock are our mainstays, but we’ve been known to thrown in some R&B and reggae hits, as well some hidden gems from the past that people might not be as familiar with,” Carver comments. “We don’t ever want to be predictable.”
But as the band has developed, they’ve also added doses of original music. “It is important to me that as I write songs, I have an outlet to perform them,” said Carver. “I also have several friends, including some of the guys in the band, who write. Being able to bring these new songs to an audience is something I truly enjoy.” As evidenced by their reaction, so do the crowds.
The Nick Carver Band performs frequently in clubs in Franklin, Lebanon, Manchester, Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, and a growing list of Tennessee cities. But they’ve also built a following in the honkytonks of Nashville by playing at Cadillac Ranch, the Wildhorse Saloon, and the legendary Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
“It’s been gratifying to see our fan base grow over the last year,” said Carver. “I’m so thankful to the club owners that continue to book us week after week. I’m also constantly amazed at some of our most dedicated fans who drive long distances to make sure they don’t miss a show, no matter what city we perform in. Their dedication to the group makes us work even harder to put on the best show we can.”
In addition to their music club bookings, the Nick Carver Band has also become highly popular for weddings and private parties throughout the Southeast. “In less than a year, we have become one the top country and classic rock bands booked for private events in our region through Gigmasters.com,” said Carver. “I’m very proud of that accomplishment. We customize each private show specifically for our talent buyers, crafting a one-of-a-kind performance their guests will never forget. Weddings, bike rallies, fraternity and sorority parties, birthday celebrations…we do them all. These private events bring us to venues we haven’t performed in before while expanding our fan base even further.”
“All of my guys are born entertainers,” Carver states. “We believe in connecting with the audience and ensuring that everyone has a great time. Someone may walk into the club with a bad mood, but they are going to be on their feet dancing soon after we hit the stage. That’s a Nick Carver Band guarantee.”