If you’ve been searching for a new country artist for flip your hats to, MYNASHVILLE suggests the raspy soul of Justin Carder. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, this small-town southern boy is on his way to doing big things in Las Vegas and Nashville, including performing over 300 shows, releasing his first album, and so much more! After cultivating his own style through years of performing and touring, Justin defines his sound as country with soul, and we just can’t get enough. From the church to the stage, Justin can be found at a ‘Nashville Unplugged’ show at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas- but, by next year, he might just be playing the Grand Ole Opry.
When Justin was a boy, he was raised in a musical family– his mom, the concert pianist for his church, and his dad, the musical director who can play pretty much any instrument given to him– and both encouraged Justin to learn, play and perform. Justin likes to call this his “first gig,” as he was drafted to step out on stage and entertain at the age of 10 with the church band. He gained much of his musicality from these young days, as he would jump from instrument to instrument until he was great at each one.
By the age of 16, Justin was already a professional musician, signed to an independent record label and playing drums with rock n’ roll bands, with members 10 years older than him. He would attend high school from Monday through Thursday and take Friday and the weekend to tour and play shows. This drive lasted until he was about 26– touring with members of Evanescence, and was a member of a band named the Feds, a rock n’ roll band from Dallas, TX, and much more in between. He stated that during his young adult years, he has probably played and performed in about 44 states, and it is just mind-blowing where passion and commitment can lead you if you let it.
Justin landed with both feet back in Little Rock, AR, and quickly realized that he needed to be surrounded by music. He moved to Las Vegas, NV, in 2008, where his sister lived and could help him jump-start into performing. Chance led him to meet James “Bonzai” Caruso, a music producer and engineer, that could help him receive song placements on radio, TV, movies, and more. Bonzai has worked and recorded with Grammy nominated artists such as Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, and Alicia Keys. Together, they began writing songs together and creating, meanwhile, Justin started waiting tables at a couple of places on the strip before landing at the House of Blues Restaurant & Bar in Mandalay Bay Casino.
With influences from Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas surrounding his home town, Justin found that his sound is a nice blend of all of it, with some soul to back it up. And from performing weekly, to waiting tables, he was itching for his next gig. It only took one time seeing a man up on stage during one of his shifts at House of Blues, with one guitar, a spotlight, no backing track, singing country, to know that’s what he wanted to do. As much as he wanted to write his own music, and still does, this town is made of cover bands that fill bars, lounges, and stages across the strip. So, that night, he learned to play and sing 100+ songs of a variety of genres. Plus, with all the time Justin has spent in the back of the stage on a kit, he explains, “I can do a way better job, up there, entertaining and speaking to the people than I can from back here.”
It must be the sweet talking or just his innate talent that landed him a residency every Sunday at the House of Blues, playing an acoustic gig for patrons and country fans. It also might have been the way he takes over a stage the minute he starts singing. Either way, he enjoys every moment he gets to brighten someone’s day or make them feel special from behind the microphone.
One night, he was jamming like usual on stage, finishes his set and walks off to thank a group of people for coming to the show and listening. A man approaches him, just a little-bit tipsy, and told him he has a great voice and needs to sing his own songs. Justin agreed and laughed, and the man introduces himself as Jim Patterson. Unbeknownst to Justin, Jim is the producer and writer of the world-renowned show, “Two and A Half Men,” as well as a new(er) show on Netflix, called “the Ranch.” After an exchange of words and information, Justin sent Jim a new country song he had recorded, called “The Wine and the Whiskey.” A few weeks past, and his song was placed on the hit TV show, The Ranch. (Season 3, Episode 7) Check out the show on Netflix if you haven’t already!
When writing and recording “The Wine and the Whiskey,” Justin worked with Travis Howard, a #1 hit record producer and singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, CA. Beside the excitement of getting a song placed on a great TV show, there are even more exciting things to come this year for Justin. He is working closely with Travis Howard to release his first EP this year, with the goal to sing and play 6 original songs, that each have their own style and remanence of the culture he grew up around. The album has a country feel but includes a blend of all kinds of genres, as well as his own southern flare.
Justin puts the work in, and the reward he receives is only the mere satisfaction of the crowd he plays. And that is all he needs. In his eyes, he has already made it. But he definitely has bigger dreams and us, at MYNASHVILLE, believe he will get there. He is on track to perform at least 300 shows this year, all the while continuing to record his album, not to mention driving the success that his led him so far already. Currently, Justin performs 5 nights a week in Las Vegas: Sunday at the House of Blues, Tuesday at the Caesars Hotel, twice a week at the Paris, and Saturday at the Barbershop Lounge at the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino. You can stay up to date with his performance schedule at www.justincardermusic.com, and join his mailing list to never miss a show