B i o g r a p h y
Carl Weingarten is an American guitarist, photographer and founder of the independent music label Multiphase Records. Described as "one of the best indie musicians working today" by the San Francisco Chronicle, Carl is best known for his atmospheric sound and his innovative use of the slide guitar and Dobro. Weingarten has played a significant role in the progressive independent music scene since the 1980s, recording numerous solo and collaborative instrumental albums.
Weingarten's records have received praise by media outlets including All About Jazz, Billboard, Musician, Keyboard, Guitar Player, Muze.com, Music Web Express, Exposé, and Allmusic. With influences spanning jazz, blues, rock, soundtracks, experimental and world music among other genres, his albums have often been described as sounding more akin to a thematic score than a more formal collection of songs, and his innovative style-blending and experimentation have been widely commended.
Before acquiring a taste in music, Weingarten became interested in photography early on; at seven years old, he received his first camera as a Christmas gift. By junior high, Weingarten moved on to shooting Super 8 films, and as a junior was recognized in The Kodak Teenage Movie Awards. In high school, he also aspired to teach himself how to play slide guitar after his first exposure to blues.
Weingarten later earned a degree in cinema production which would go hand in hand with the atmospheric music he would later become known for. According to Weingarten, "The cinematic tone in my music comes from my visual arts background. I paint in sound." However, living in the Midwest, breaking into the film industry proved difficult, and he began writing and recording his own film scores and music for modern dance companies. This led him to join the indie label movement.
Weingarten founded Multiphase Records in St. Louis in 1980. The following year, he released its first album, Submergings, in collaboration with choreographer Gale Ormiston and guitarist Phil Neon. That same year gave birth to Weingarten's instrumental electronic rock band, Delay Tactics. An early practitioner of the recording/performing technique called looping, the group featuring Walter Whitney on synths and guitarists David Udell and Reed Nesbit, took heavy influence from Brian Eno, and served as more of a recording unit than live act. They were, however, among the first of such indie groups to use digital delays in both studio recordings and live looping performances. The group produced two albums, Out-Pop Options (1982) and Any Questions? (1985).
In the mid-1980s, Carl and Walter Whitney formed a duo and released the acclaimed ambient LP Dreaming In Colors (1986) and followed with Primitive Earth (1989). During this same period, Weingarten released his first solo recordings, Living In The Distant Present (1984) and Laughing At Paradise (1988).
From 1986 to 1988, Carl toured as a solo artist, driving cross-country in a Ford Escort with an electric guitar and an array of pedals. Carl’s one-man band performances of ambient and eclectic soundscapes foreshadowed the looping performance trend that followed decades later. Carl performed at universities, music clubs, live radio shows and other performance spaces across the Midwest, southern and eastern Unites States, including as the opening act for Bill Bruford’s Earthworks band in July 1987 at Nightstage in Boston.
In the 1990s, Weingarten moved to the San Francisco Bay area and produced a broad catalog of studio recordings. This includes Critical Path (1991) with percussionist and hammered dulcimer player Joe Venegoni, Pandora’s Garage (1992), Redwood Melodies (1994), The Acoustic Shadow (1995), and Blue Faith (2000).
In 1993, a group of Western and East Indian musicians were brought together by producer Kavi Alexander of Water Lily Acoustics in Santa Monica California under the Court Musicians moniker to record an album, At The Court of The Chera King (1993), fusing various cultural styles. Two of the tracks featured Weingarten on Dobro, and his experience with the project's Indian themes had a profound influence on him musically.
In 2002, Weingarten released one of his most critically acclaimed works, escapesilence. Produced with bassist Michael Manring and percussionist Brian Knave, the record would become an NPR staple and that year’s winner of the "Listeners Choice Award" from the syndicated PRI program, Echoes. The trio reunited again for Local Journey’s (2004).
The following year, Carl released his first retrospective CD, Hand In The Sand – A Collection 1990-2004, a largely up-tempo compilation of guitar-based instrumentals covering material over his previous seven CDs. Lost In The Air (2008), a limited edition release featured Carl with Michael Manring, Joe Venegoni and others, in live studio and radio broadcast performances. In 2012, Carl’s CD Panomorphia, was honored by the Zone Music Reporter during an awards ceremony in New Orleans as ZMR’s best “Chill/Groove” CD of the year.
Carl’s follow-up CD, Life Under Stars, was the first of two ambitious instrumental ensemble albums. The CD was nominated in 2015 by Zone Music Reporter in the Best Instrumental Album category. Carl followed with This Is Where I Found You (2018). The CD includes two songs that have received extensive radio and streaming play, Sing Like Water, and Deittaloo, a song co-produced with synthesist Ulrich Schnauss, a member of the German electronic group, Tangerine Dream.
Several of Weingarten's early Multiphase releases are being reissued in vinyl in the United Kingdom by Emotional Rescue/Juno and Azure Vista Records including Dreaming In Colors, Living In The Distant Present and a Delay Tactics compilation called Imperfect Strangers.
Ember Days (2021) was produced during the Covid shut-in, with Carl performing and recording nearly all the instruments. The CD contains 10 new instrumentals that range from the smoky jazz club mood of Geola, to the rock-fusion guitars of Goodbye Sun, to the elegant choral inspired title track, - all composed around Carl’s signature guitar sound. Several guests artists make appearances including Michael Manring (bass) , Ulrich Schnauss (synthesizers), Peter Calandra (keyboards), Kit Walker (piano) and Tate Bissinger (vocals). Ember Days was widely acclaimed in reviews and received extensive airplay including the number 1 spot on the NACC College radio charts, and ranked #4 on the Echoes radio 30 Top Albums of 2021.
Carl performs with the group Blue Eternity, an ambient-jazz trio featuring Michael Manring on bass and Jeff Oster on trumpet. The trio has toured nationally, including performances at Yoshi’s jazz club in Oakland, CA, The Gatherings in Philadelphia, PA, and live on WXPN-FM. The trio is most notable for their performances “under the stars” at the California DeAnza and Chabot planetariums.
In addition to his success in the music industry, Weingarten is an avid photographer, filmmaker and film archivist. Carl's short video documentary, The Rocket Movies, was featured in Adobe Creative Magazine in 2017. Today, a gallery of photos can be viewed at his website focusing on subjects like aerials, urban landscapes and architecture, natural landscapes, concerts, and nightlife. The site also offers digital restoration of old photos, and his work has been featured in exhibits such as the Frank Bette Center for the Arts.
Weingarten’s latest release Stop Me Try is an album of evocative downtempo cinematic themes woven with Weingarten’s unique and expressive slide guitar. Stop Me Try will be released on CD and available for download and streaming in February 2022.
"Carl Weingarten, a great, unheralded and underrated, often experimental guitarist." --John Diliberto - Echoes
"Carl Weingarten is the quiet subversive who applies his guitar experiments within unassuming New Age digs." --S. Victor Aaron
"Honing his art over three decades has produced a singular voice that honors the slide’s history while pushing it into the future.” --Guitar Moderne