"The Sunny Side Of Life"
CAROLYN EYERLY - Singer/songwriter, rhythm guitarist.
Carolyn was awarded the 2022 WAMMIE Award
(Washington Area Music Award)
for Best Bluegrass Artist / Group.
A native Northern Virginian, Carolyn grew up listening to Southern Rock and Bluegrass. Carolyn is a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and anticipated returning to acting after her children had grown but found music to be an overwhelming draw.
In 2010, Carolyn was a founding vocalist for the acclaimed Washington, D.C.-based folk group, Shenandoah Run. After discovering the warm community which is bluegrass music Carolyn became a founding member of
Sweet Yonder, an all-women bluegrass band, in 2014.
In 2019 Sweet Yonder was nominated for a WAMMIE Award in two categories,
Best Bluegrass Band and Best Bluegrass Album.
The Sunny Side Of Life is Carolyn’s first solo project which includes
seven of her original compositions.
Carolyn has been Membership Director of the DC Bluegrass Union since 2018. She currently is also serving DCBU as Vice President.
"The Sunny Side
by Carolyn Eyerly
Carolyn shares her heart and soul in this album of originals mixed with bluegrass standards. She has created some of her most compelling work to date. Experience her clear vocals mixed with her phenomenal instrumentalists.
"Next To You"
by Sweet Yonder
This album features five originals and five traditional bluegrass songs. Lush vocals, exciting instrumentals, and outstanding recording and engineering make this recording a delight to the ears.
February 11, 2021
The Sunny Side Of Life
Written by Bob Allen
Posted on March 1, 2021
Patuxent Music Cd-344
Northern Virginia native Carolyn Eyerly’s dulcet voice has long been familiar to bluegrass fans in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Eyerly co-founded and was lead singer for a D.C.-based folk group called Shenandoah Run. Later, she was a founding member of Sweet Yonder, an all-women bluegrass assembly that enjoys regional popularity.
On her debut solo album, Eyerly deftly explores and mixes and matches her disparate musical influences. On the title tune, a timeless Carter Family celebration of prevailing optimism, her introspective rendition balances out the thematic darkness and light she explores in the course of these 12 cuts, seven of which she wrote.
No less moving is her spirited cover of Curtis Mayfield’s and The Impressions’ gospel-soul classic “People Get Ready.” Eyerly’s songwriting is also inspired, and is at times tinged with a somewhat mysterious otherworldly bent. “Grandpa’s Garden” is a reverential and ethereal tribute to sweet childhood memories and the sort of unconditional love that so many of our grandparents blessed us with.
The emotional flip side is “Your Anger Is A Wall.” This bluesy lament is charged with bitterness and deep romantic frustration over a significant other who refuses to face up to serious anger management problems.
“Red Toad Road” is a particularly strange and haunting ode that paints a sinister and almost hallucinatory vision of some unspoken mystery and menace that may await in the fog and darkness ahead.
P.O.B. 572, Rockville, MD 20848
With her pleasing disposition and a consistently upbeat attitude, Carolyn Eyerly makes it clear on this, her first album released under her own aegis that its tunes remain true to the title, The Sunny Side of Life. While many of the songs — Take Me Home, Lord, Over in the Glory Land, Angels Band, and Heavenly Flow in particular — mix faith with finesse, she freely shares her positive approach in each, making it clear that her happiness simply can’t be confined to either temporal or spiritual domains. Indeed, when she does opt to take a strong stand — as witnessed in the plea she makes to an obstinate lover on the jaunty yet descriptive, Your Anger Is a Wall (“I want to bring you joy…to fill your life with peace/And to keep my promise my love will never cease”) — she still manages to do so under a positive pretext.
Then again Eyerly’s expertise is no accident. A founding member of the Washington, DC based band, Shenandoah Run, she later honed her chops as part of the award-winning, all-woman bluegrass band, Sweet Yonder. The Sunny Side of Life finds her responsible for composing seven of the twelve tracks, and each of them creates a seamless blend alongside the album’s covers. Likewise, as both a singer and rhythm guitarist, she holds her own in the company of an adept group of guest contributors.
That said, it’s her affable intent that creates the most immediate impression. The title track, one of her originals, sums up her sentiments perfectly, but when she follows it with a surprisingly sweet take on Curtis Mayfield’s, People Get Ready, the giddy vibe doesn’t become diminished at all. She maintains that mantra with Heavenly Flow, leaving no doubt as to why her praise is so indelibly tied to her purpose.
Carolyn has been part of the active bluegrass scene in northern Virginia for the past decade, having been a founding member of Sweet Yonder, the Capitol region’s all-female bluegrass band. 2019 saw them receiving WAMMIE award nominations for Best Bluegrass Band and Best Bluegrass Album.
Her new album is called Sunny Side of Life, and includes seven of her original compositions among the 12 tracks. She is accompanied by some of the top pickers in NoVA – Danny Knicely on mandolin, Chris Luquette on guitar, Mike Munford on banjo, Ronnie Simpkins on bass, Ron Stewart on fiddle, and Fred Travers on reso-guitar. Harmony vocals are provided by Eyerly’s Sweet Yonder bandmates Mary DeGuire Romagnoli and Janine Lewis. Sunny Side of Life is available now wherever you stream or download music online. CDs and downloads can be purchased from Patuxent Records, and radio programmers can get the tracks at AirPlay Direct.
Roots Music Report
March 30, 2021 by Joe Ross
Carolyn Eyerly's debut album The Sunny Side of Life piqued my curiosity when it appeared on the Roots Music Report's Top 50 Bluegrass Albums Chart in early 2021. A Northern Virginia native, Eyerly has produced a very appealing project with bluegrass gospel favorites and seven of her own compositions. She's accompanied by Danny Knicely (mandolin), Chris Luauette (guitar), Mike Munford (banjo), Ronnie Simpkins (bass), Ron Stewart (fiddle), and Fred Travers (Dobro). Vocal harmonies are sung by Mary DeGuire Romagnoli and Janine Lewis.
Eyerly's alluring voice has beautiful tone on classics like "Over In The Glory Land," "Angel Band," and "Keep On The Sunny Side." With joy and optimism, she digs reverently into the lyrics she interprets. The juxtaposition of The Carter Family's song with her passionate cover of Curtis Mayfield's soul-infused "People Get Ready" displays Eyerly's eclectic musical tastes. Seven tightly crafted originals have her distinctive, traditional stamp on interesting contemporary material. Self-penned gospel material, "Heavenly Flow," "As Though They Were King" and the 3/4 time "Take Me Home, Lord" are presented with heartfelt, emotional messages. "Grandpa's Garden" is a beautiful visionary tale of discovery of a moss-covered glen where her grandfather now resides in the sweet yonder. In a similar vein, "Red Toad Road" is a cautionary tale that tells of a mysterious place where secrets and temptations abound. "Your Anger is a Wall" is a powerful, bluesy lament of love-gone-wrong, and "Christmas In a Dive Bar" presents light-hearted holiday fare. Along with a four-voice women's choir, Carolyn Eyerly closes the album with an a cappella cover of Leon Patillo's "Go" and proclaims, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, go, go, go. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, go, go, go."
Besides presenting a positive outlook for the future, her debut album, The Sunny Side Of Life, also has liner notes that encourage us to reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse in an effort to curb plastics pollution. All in all, a very nice album that introduces us to Carolyn Eyerly, her music, and messages.
The album is at #45 on The Roots Music Report's Top 50 Bluegrass Album Chart for the Week of March 27, 2021. Congrats to Carolyn and company!
The Bluegrass Standard
by Susan Marquez
Carolyn Eyerly never strayed far from home, but she's had experiences around the world. "I was born in Philly," she says, "but when I was young my dad found a job in the Washington, D.C. area. I've lived in Vienna, in Fairfax County, Virgina most of my life." Married to her high school sweetheart, the couple has many mutual friends."We used to have a big mid-year party and invite everyone we knew, but over the years, it simply got too big!"
Those friends encouraged Carolyn to do many things in her life, including releasing her solo project, The Sunny Side of Life, in December 2020, featuring Gospel bluegrass cover tunes as well as seven of Carolyn's original compositions. "I chose the songs carefully, like building a setlist for a show," she explains. "The songs tell a story of human frailties, of angels, and the promises of God. "She jokes that she could have titled the album Issues and Answers. "These are mostly Christian songs that I wrote and really wanted to record. I sold my dream car, a 1966 Mustang convertible, to pay for it! I really miss that car but don't regret what I got for it; not one bit."
Carolyn was surrounded by an outgoing and talented family. "My dad was a musical theatre guy. He played lead roles in plays in college. My brothers and sister and I were all singers, but unfortunately, we had no money for instruments." Carolyn finally got her first guitar when she was in middle school. "I lent it to a friend's big brother, who later said it was stolen. So that was the end of that. "I finally started playing as a Girl Scout leader."
During college at age 19, Carolyn started working as a carpenter's helper with her fiancé. She soon had the fervent desire to pursue her dreams and enrolled in the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. Later Carolyn found that working in the theater and being a mom didn't mix. While she had intentions of acting after her children had grown, music had an overwhelming draw for her.
Carolyn has been active on the bluegrass scene in Virginia for over a decade. "I used Meetup.com to find people who wanted to sing." That led to Carolyn co-founding a D.C.-area folk group called Shenandoah Run. She then co-founded an all-female bluegrass band called Sweet Yonder, a group nominated in 2019 for WAMMIE awards for best bluegrass band and best bluegrass album.
As a Christian, Carolyn used her conservatory training to lead theater programs at her church as well as singing in the choir. "One of our outreach ministries is to sing comfort songs to the homeless." Experiences with the unloved and downcast led Carolyn to write As Though They Were King, which she says is her real "message song." The song is on her solo project. "It reminds us that we should be ambassadors for Jesus, not his henchmen." One of her favorite songs on the project comes from an unplanned, but memorable experience. "Christmas In a Dive Bar" was inspired by a family trip to Patagonia in Chile. "We had just finished our trek of the Patagonia trail and it was Christmas Eve. All the restaurants were full by the time we got into town, so we hit up a local dive bar. We had a wonderful time together - one we will never forget. Sometimes you find Jesus in the most unlikely of places."
The album ends with an a cappella cover of Leon Patillo's "Go." Carolyn arranged the four part harmonies for the ladies choir. The lyrics proclaim, Go ye therefore and teach all nations... Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Go, go, go. "It's the great commission of the project, the one that sends people out into the world to do His work. I wanted this project to convey my message based on my experiences and understanding."
Carolyn loves that the bluegrass world is such a wonderful and welcoming community of people. "Everybody embraces and mentors you. We have some amazing, talented folks in this area." One of those people is Dede Wyland, one of the pioneering women in bluegrass. "Dede has been a mentor to me and she agreed to produce my album. That's the level of support we have in this bluegrass community."
Now that the Covid pandemic shows signs of slowing down, Carolyn says she looks forward to going to festivals again in the Sprinter van her husband customized for traveling. "We mainly play in this part of the country." Besides performing, one of Carolyn's favorite things to do at festivals is to participate in informal jam sessions. Be on the lookout -she might mosey into your jam circle!
March 20, 2021
Top 50 Traditional Bluegrass Album Chart
#15 The Sunny Side of Life by Carolyn Eyerly
Top 50 Virginia Album Chart
#8 The Sunny Side of Life by Carolyn Eyerly
for the week of
January 7, 2022
#9 Over In The Glory Land
by Carolyn Eyerly
from The Sunny Side of Life
From her heartfelt originals to the old traditional numbers, Carolyn’s vocals along with these talented musicians take you on a wonderful musical journey. So just sit back… turn it up… and enjoy the ride.
“The sunny side” indeed! Carolyn Eyerly’s pure voice shines brightly on this album. Even when the mood turns darker, there’s a sweetness in the singing that soothes and reassures. And behind the beautiful vocals, some of the mid-Atlantic’s most masterful pickers provide the bluegrass backbone.
A fine debut from a fine singer!
Combine a love for bluegrass music, a strong personal faith, and a fresh, beautifully nuanced voice and you’ll have Carolyn Eyerly’s first solo project, “The Sunny Side Of Life.” Through Carolyn’s original songs and select bluegrass standards she touches on life experiences that are sure to resonate in the hearts of her listeners.