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Ranell Carpenter Band, Lighting Up Placerville's Music Scene

10/06/2015 02:39PM ● Published by David Norby

Best described as a rocking blues band, the Ranell Carpenter Band has been lighting up the local music scene with their signature tunes and inspired covers that make moving and grooving nearly impossible not to do. 

“We’re on the rock side with a touch of country and a lot of soul—you can definitely dance to it,” says lead vocalist Ranell Carpenter. “I try to write songs where everyone will know what I’m talking about or be able to relate to in some way.”

Carpenter—who was born and raised in Placerville—started singing as a teenager and writing lyrics as a child. Growing up listening to country, she began singing the blues the same year her father passed away—finding solace in the passionate genre and encouragement from the greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Etta James and Susan Tedeschi. 

In 2010, Carpenter met lead guitarist and co-writer Robert Foster, who at the time was a part of the band The Tombstone Taillights and happened to be rehearsing with the group on his birthday. “I heard one of the neighbor kids wanted to sing with us, so I was looking around for a kid and there was this tall blonde girl,” remembers Foster. “She came up to sing and we were all blown away—what a great birthday present.”

Foster and Carpenter, the remaining members of that former group, are the driving forces behind the songs the Ranell Carpenter Band produces. Often co-writing together, Carpenter will sometimes come with lyrics and no song and Foster with a song and no words; together crafting their soulful, spunky tunes.   

Bassist Joe Lev came on a year later, and just a few months ago keyboardist Gary Bennett joined full-time to round out the ensemble. The band performs at local favorites, such as Powell’s Steamer Co. and Pub, PJ’s Roadhouse, The Wine Smith, It’s Personal Wines and Red Hawk Casino. With Carpenter’s authentic and fun personality, sultry voice and dance moves, the group has quickly earned a loyal following amongst fans of all ages.  

“While I’m performing, I try not to take myself too seriously,” says Carpenter. “It’s very honest, and I love showing people the soul that I have in me. Singing in front of others releases any pressure, any anxiety.”

While expecting a new addition this fall, Carpenter hopes to use her down time during maternity leave to produce the album the band has been working on, which will be comprised of both originals and cover songs by favorites such as BB King, Jimi Hendrix and Bonnie Raitt. Once back in the full swing of things, the group will push itself even further by touring and playing at more music festivals throughout the region. 

For the band that’s truly become a loyal family, there’s nothing more amusing than playing together on stage and laughing along the way. 

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to play with these guys—they’re such good people and musicians,” says Bennett. “The thing about being a good, mature player is the ability to listen. We look at each and smile and know something is going great.”

—Heather L. Becker
Photos courtesy of Michelle Good and Vanessa Wagener.

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