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Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight: Carrie Rodriguez

Carrie Rodriguez performs in her Laboratorio concert on Feb. 27, 2022, at Stateside at The Paramount at Austin.
Sheryl Wong
Carrie Rodriguez performs in her Laboratorio concert on Feb. 27, 2022, at Stateside at The Paramount at Austin.

As a native daughter of the city, the voice and fiddle playing of Carrie Rodriguez represent some of the best parts of Austin’s music scene. She picked up her first violin at just five years old and appeared on her first recording less than a decade later.

Her “Ameri-Chicana” sound is rooted in her family’s rich musical history. That first recording appearance came on a 1992 release from her father, folk musician David Rodriguez. Eva Garza, the acclaimed singer and actress, was a great-aunt to Carrie Rodriguez, who has covered some of Garza's songs across her discography.

Rodriguez is a classically-trained violinist who graduated from the Berklee College of Music and spent one year at the Oberlin Conservatory. It was there that she decided on the path she wanted to forge in her musical career. She told The New York Times that she realized she preferred “listening to Hank Williams instead of studying Tchaikovsky.”

Life & Arts Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight: Greg Gonzalez Jerry Quijano

At 2001’s iteration of South by Southwest, Rodriguez grabbed the ear of singer-songwriter Chip Taylor, and soon after, the pair released an album together. 2002’s Let’s Leave This Town was the first of four well-received collaborations produced by the duo.

Four years later, Rodriguez released her debut full-length album Seven Angels on a Bicycle. Taylor sent a copy of that album over to Lucinda Williams, who enjoyed it enough to bring Rodriguez on as the opener for Williams’ 2007 tour.

Since then she’s released four additional solo studio records and a 2020 album culled from ¡Americano!, an original musical composed by Rodriguez. Additionally, she has produced three live recordings, which includes a 2014 recording at the Cactus Cafe with her partner Luke Jacobs.

In 2017, she launched what has arguably become one of Austin’s greatest musical traditions: Laboratorio. The concert series features Rodriguez, her backing band and a different guest star for each event, making for a truly unique aural experience each and every time.

Previous Laboratorio concerts have featured artists like Ruben Ramos, Gina Chavez and Adrian Quesada. And through other work, Rodriguez has shared the stage with the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, Patty Griffin and John Prine.

The 2016 bilingual release Lola is the last full-length record released by Rodriguez, and was included in NPR’s listof best albums of the year.

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Jerry Quijano