Re: Carter Albrecht, R.I.P.

As Eric alluded to before, I have some thoughts. They’re after the jump.

I’m not going to get into the events that led to Carter Albrecht’s death because that’s not how I, or anyone else who knew Carter, will remember him. We will hang onto the memories he gave us, and forget as soon as possible why that’s all we have left. The man who was shot that night was not the man we all knew.

My memories aren’t as important as some others you might hear, nor are they all that different, but it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t share. So indulge me. All day yesterday, from the time I got the phone call until I finally fell asleep around 4 a.m., Carter’s life — or at least the part of it I was lucky enough to share with him — flashed before my eyes. I have to get it out or I won’t see a good night’s sleep for quite a while.

I remember the first time I met him, around eight years ago at the Cavern. He was in a band called the Limes at the time, but I had yet to see them play live, and hadn’t really listened to their record. So that night I met a man rather than a musician. We could talk without our respective jobs getting in the way. When I left, I would have been fine had it stayed that way forever.

It was the first of many (but not enough) great conversations I had with him. Neither the subject nor the setting ever seemed to matter, since he always seemed to have time to talk about anything anywhere anytime. Whenever you happened to land in his orbit, it was special. Just getting five minutes with Carter was enough to make your night.

Though I would be amazed by the things he could do with a guitar or a piano or even just a microphone countless times over the next eight years , nothing he ever did onstage or in a studio was quite so impressive as what he could do, who he could be, when he was just milling around the bar at Barley House, where he will forevermore be the patron saint.

One of the memories of Carter that sticks more than others happened during one of those times. When he saw me walk into the bar, he came right over; he clearly had something to say that couldn’t wait. Carter told me that he’d been sitting on his porch a few days earlier, and a curly haired man walked up and asked if he lived there. The man looked familiar, and only after telling him that, yes, he lived there did he realize who it was: Mickey Raphael, Willie Nelson’s longtime harmonica player.

Turns out that Raphael used to live in the house, too, and he was just dropping by while he was in town. When Carter told him that he was also in a band, Mickey told him he was happy that the house was still occupied by a fellow musician. Carter, knowing I was also a huge Willie Nelson fan, knew I would appreciate the story. But the way he beamed when he told me, it was clear the story was about something else. The point wasn’t that Mickey Raphael used to live in his house. The point was that Mickey Raphael considered Carter a colleague. He had made it.

Maybe he’d finally made it as a musician. But he’d made it as a man a long time before that.

Services for Carter Albrecht will be held at Parkway Hill Baptist Church on Friday, September 7, at 2 p.m.

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