Carlin Stultz Has Some Valuable Perspective on Life and Local Music

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Photo: Sara Newberry
Stultz at the "Carlin's Cancer Battle Benefit", last month at Crown & Harp.
Despite it being a a pretty good spell since booking bands for places like Crown and Harp (she also did a stretch working on the non-editorial side of the building here at the Observer), Carlin Stultz is the kind of music supporter that doesn't seem to fade easily. The recent benefit held to help her pay for her bills in her fight against cancer filled both floors of Crown and Harp with people, bands, art and other items to auction off. There was even an emcee for the evening, balancing a cocktail in one hand and auction items in the other.

Stultz definitely leaves an impression with the people that surround her: not just with good taste in local bands but with her optimism and focus.

A crutch question, but considering your current battle: How are you?

It's a funny thing having cancer, you think I'd be down & depressed, but it's been the opposite. I'm more hopeful & optimistic. Focusing on getting healthy & being in touch with people that truly care has helped. Physically, it varies day to day, with more good days than bad lately.

Are you able to continue your work?

I wasn't able to maintain my full-time, office job, as I was out so much for appointments, then treatment. Also, I was really sick throughout chemo & had a compromised immune system. Finally saw the writing on the wall, needed to focus on getting better & that would be my new "job". Friends & family have stepped up to help support me & I still have an online campaign.

As far as booking, I haven't done that in an official capacity for several years. I do help folks connect for shows, here & there, but don't expect anything more than a "Thank you" for it.

Are there other things you'd like to do in the music world? We could use more like you!

I'm good where I am, being a spectator. I'd like to become a fan again & go see more shows. When I was in the business, I was attending shows several times a week. I got burned out. Then I moved for a year, came back to Dallas, was nesting, sobriety, then cancer, so not really going out as much.

Going out last month helped ignite the passion to see live music again, on a local level, as well as some of my fave national acts. Hope to make it out once a month to stay connected, after I get through this cancer crap.

I'm open to helping out behind the scenes, from time to time. People still contact me for advice on venues & bands around the country and I'm happy to help, if I can.

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Carlin Stultz, handling it.

Was there a profound moment in your life where something happened that permanently turned you into a music person?

Nothing profound, just was always surrounded by music. I grew up in the church, so always had singing there & in choir to express myself. Coming down to Dallas (from Nebraska) to visit my brother, I'd listen to alt-radio and take in as much as I could, then go home & order that music from the local record shop. Then when I got into college, I started to going to shows regulary. My 1st "real" concert was Kings X, at the Ranch Bowl, in Omaha. Also, something that was cool, in my hometown, was a thing called 5 Bands/5 Bucks. It was just that, area bands throwing all ages shows, at the Knights of Columbus Hall. I was just talking to someone about trying to do something like that here.

Was there lots of music in your family line?

I have relatives that play in bands, mainly cousins. One brother plays bass & I did piano lessons, as a youngster. I would go on the road, with my Dad, who was an OTR truck driver & would listen to old country. My Mom would take me to concerts growing up, seeing everyone from Mickey Gilley to Johnny Mathis, even Gloria Estefan.

Out of every DFW artist you've worked with and booked a show for, who delivered the biggest home run for you onstage?

Wow, there's so many that have really inspired me and made me feel something. I guess I'll say Cartright, from Denton and they live in Austin now. Young band of three brothers and a gravelly voiced singer, who really pack a punch. When I first saw their live show & saw the crowds reaction to their songs, fists in the air, singing along, stomping the ground, it just felt electric. I was lucky to have worked with them & even had the opportunity to go on a tour with them & Prayer for Animals. Cartright is still going strong, but Prayer for Animals has split off into other projects. It's been fun watching them progress over the years. Proud of all those guys.

Alternately, who was the biggest letdown?

Everyone delivers in some way, it seems, but there was one artist that didn't and I honestly can't remember the name. He didn't show up on time and when he did, appeared inebriated. During his set he just played on and on. The sound person cut the mic and I had to ask him to leave the venue.

I think I know that guy! How about an artist that delivered a completely different show than anything you would have expected?

As far as a different show, when Dale, with New Science Projects, was starting out, it was just him. I had booked him for a New Music Tuesday & you see this kid with glasses take the stage, not knowing what to expect. Well, the brother could wail! It was awesome to see. I knew Michael, with Gutterth, was working with him, so knew he had to be good, but live was ace. That's one reason I wanted to see the full band, at my benefit show, last month. Wanted to see the evolution and glad I did. He can still wail, but has a whole band assaulting you too. Great show!

Advice for young ones who want do what you did?

1. Keep a day job! I tried to do booking as my only gig for a few years & went through my savings. About the time I was making a name for myself, money ran out & health issues started coming up, so I had to get a day job, with no time for music after that.

2. Work well with others and don't hold grudges. There seem to be a lot of booking agents around right now and they probably all have different views on how things should run. It doesn't make it wrong, just different. In the same respect, be consistent with how you run things. Always be respectful of bands & their time & they should do the same in return.

3. Lastly, stay in touch with people. It's easier than ever to do, living in the facebook world, but still hard to keep a genuine connection. During my cancer battle, you wouldn't believe who stepped forward, including people I met in the music world. Offering words of advice, care packages, etc... If you stay in touch with people and genuinely connect with them, they will remember you and care. So next time you need to book your band in their town, maybe they can help you promote the show or offer you a place to crash.

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