While it’s impressive that professional guitarist and songwriter Jaden Carlson is only 16 years old, her raw musical talent is really what defines her as an artist.
At age 6, Carlson experienced her first Michael Franti show during the Copper Mountain summer music series. She was intrigued, afterwards asking for a guitar and writing her first song at age 7, giving rise to her reputation as a child prodigy.
She went on to become the youngest person ever to perform live on stage at Red Rocks at age 11. She played two nights in a row, the first with Franti, ironically enough, and the second night with Blues Traveler. Of Franti, Carlson said she’s since played with him a few times. “He’s pretty awesome.”
Carlson has also shared the stage with Umphrey’s McGee and Twiddle. “They are good friends and extremely impressive musicians. Playing with Umphrey’s was mind-blowing for me.” Down the road, she aspires to perform alongside Big Gigantic, Lettuce, Snarky Puppy and Break Science. Her venue of choice is The Fox in Boulder because of its “great sound, good crowd and sweet stage.” Dreams of future venues include San Fransisco’s Filmore, the Ogden in Denver and Madison Square Garden.
Early on, Carlson was influenced by the music of Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Tedeschi Trucks Band. Now she leans towards the sounds of Tristam, dubstep producer and DJ Martin Vogt (known on stage as Haywyre,) Big Gigantic and Tycho. Carlson is also a producer of electronic dance music, or EDM. “I like how they put things together so fluently. I like seeing it come together like that,” she said. Fans may hear her projects on Sound Cloud and Band Camp.
Today, her instrument of choice is an Indiana-made purple Harper guitar, and she describes her style as soulful rock and funk evolving into electro funk. Her band has recorded one all originals studio album, and Carlson is writing the music for her second album now, which she hopes to record this year or next. “It’s similar to our first album, but it has a more electric, more of a live feel.”
An only child, Carlson said neither of her parents plays music, but she intends to stick with it. “I really like it. I’ve put my whole life into it, and I definitely see myself in music.” She’s home-schooled, primarily due to the rigors of touring and to allow more time for writing music. At one time she competed in Nordic skiing races but now migrates towards extreme downhill skiing. Her favorite Colorado resort is Loveland and she looks forward to skiing in Utah someday.
During her live shows, Carlson aims for her audience to “experience some musical integrity and a night of dancing.” The Jaden Carlson Band will perform live at Victoria Tavern in Salida at 9 p.m. Friday, April 14, and at The Lariat in Buena Vista at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 15.