Multi-faceted musician Jon Carroll takes a reflective look back at some of what he’s learned about relationships in one of his latest songs, “Love Came First,” which he will perform Thursday at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.
“It’ll be the first time I’ve been there,” said the Virginian, who was born in Fredericksburg. Carroll was only 19 when he won a Grammy for arranging the summer hit “Afternoon Delight” in 1976 with the Starland Vocal Band.
Carroll will perform with his current band of equally experienced musicans as part of the “Third Thursday at the BlackRock Bistro” series.
Patrons are invited to reserve a table with friends and bring dinner. BlackRock also sells beer, wine and snacks during the evening. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Joining Carroll at BlackRock will be Eric Scott on bass and vocals, John Thomakos on drums, Bennett Scher on guitar and Wes Lanich on organ and vocals.
“They’ll be five of us,” Carroll said. “It should be nice and full and rockin’.”
Carroll, who plays keyboard and guitar, said they will also be singing some of his older songs, along with covers.
“I’ll be performing some old stuff and some covers you might not hear somewhere else and some Laura Nyro,” he said. “I usually go with the flow of the show.”
A well-known song writer in the late 1960s and 1970s, Nyro wrote “Stone Soul Picnic” and “Wedding Bell Blues.”
Carroll said “Love Came First” slated for his new album is about relationships and the dilemmas they sometimes present.
“To be there or not to be there, we make calls like that every day,” said Carroll, adding that there are gray areas where you wonder if a relationship is good or bad and if it matters.
“You do look back, and you do know what your regrets are,” said Carroll, who is known for his pop, rock and R&B music.
Also in the works for the new album is “Strangers and Neighbors,” which he describes as “a straight up, funky dance thing” and a song called “Can’t Afford Not To.”
“I continually write and also continually work with other folks,” said Carroll, who last week worked a gig with Eric Lindell at the Jammin’ Java music club in Vienna.
A songwriter and arranger, Carroll wrote “Get Closer” sung by Linda Ronstadt and two songs sung by Tom Jones, ”Old Flame Blue” and “Walk Tall.” He also tours with singer Mary Chapin Carpenter.
A Washington Area Music Association (Wammies) award winner, Carroll has released two albums. One is “Love Returns,” a studio album, and the other is a double-CD set recorded at the Barns at Wolf Trap in Virginia called “Live Returns.”
One of the songs he will perform at BlackRock is “On the Front Porch,” which is on both albums.
Despite a busy schedule, Carroll said he sets aside time each week to write down ideas for lyrics, write a poem, essay or work on a screenplay.
“For the songs, I approach them more as an editor,” said Carroll, who might have as many as eight pages of notes for a single tune.
He spreads the pages out, and often what emerges is the essence of the song, which he polishes into the final piece.
“In the process of editing, the true character of what it is reveals itself to you,” Carroll said.
“Most of the songs I’ve done about halfway, and if it’s a good one, I know I’ve got to finish it,” he said. “There’s never a time when I’m not looking at every line and deciding whether it’s good enough to stay.”