Tim Carter has never had any formal lessons in music. Despite this lack of training and some early encounters with stage fright, he is now part of a cover band that finds success performing on various national stages.
Even at a young age, Carter was aware of his family’s love for music and began to realize his own.
“I used to go to my grandpa's and beg him to get his guitar out and then he would finally. I was just thinking, this thing was magical,” said Carter. “I'm a lucky guy; I knew right away what I wanted to do. I wanted to play the guitar. I think it was like an obsession.”
Although his family couldn’t afford to place him in guitar lessons, Carter was driven to follow his passion on his own.
“I borrowed my friend’s chord book, which had notes on the staff that you would read. There's no way I could understand that, but the back of the book had charts that just showed where your fingers went. Well, that made a lot more sense to me, and so over time, I just learned the names of those chords.”
Carter learned to play music differently than most people; he plays by ear.
“When I played a minor chord, it sounded sad to me and the major chord sounded happy,” said Carter. “Maybe I was attaching emotions to them to read them in my mind. I have a way of understanding the guitar that’s just personal.”
Carter is no stranger to performance anxiety. In his early career, he remembers feeling nervous each time he was onstage.
“The number one fear is talking in front of people and I’m thinking: if that’s the number one fear, what’s singing in front of them?”
However, with his current band, The Chevelles, on its 1500th show, Carter can fully enjoy playing music. He believes that preparation is a big part of avoiding stage fright.
The band has played large venues and is especially known for playing the Tim Horton’s Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Yet, Carter’s favourite experiences did not happen during curling shows.
“We played on the lawn, under this gigantic tent and had Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra score background to five tunes,” he said. “We didn’t get to practice with them, we put everything together there. We started a song and the hair on my arms was standing up, it was so overwhelming.”
Another of his most memorable moments was playing to a crowd of over 10,000 at Kin Coulee Park in Medicine Hat, Alta. Yet, Carter — also known as Buck Chevelle — is not the only person to enjoy the band’s performances. Skyla Metz, a family friend and longtime admirer of Carter, remembers another experience at one of The Chevelles shows.
“The first time I went to one of his shows was at the Taber Corn Fest,” Metz said. “It was almost euphoric with the way the crowd was dancing and enjoying the show.”
With nearly 20 years of experience under their belts, The Chevelles are a recognized talent and have even been presented with the Calgary symbol, the white hat. Nevertheless, Carter’s biggest commitment is to his relationships. He has close bonds with his bandmates, has been with his wife for over 30 years, and is proud of the two children they share. His wife, Dianne, commented candidly on what it’s like to be a musician’s wife.
“Everybody loves him, he’s very charismatic. You want to kill yourself going out with him because he knows so many people that you can’t go 10 feet without being stopped,” said Dianne. “But the venues and the connections that I’ve gotten to be part of because of that is awesome. He’s just a really wonderful guy.”
Carter, reflecting on his career and accomplishments and says he feels grateful that at 55, he is still doing what he loves, with who he loves.
- By Megan Creig