Garland Carter passes

Garland Carter, bass player with Summer Wages in the 1980s, passed away last week. He is thought to have died in his home near Martinsville, VA on Thursday (6/24), but was not found until Saturday afternoon.

Summer Wages was very popular in the Southeast, and traveled all across the US from 1981 to ’87, with 3 albums on Rebel Records. The band featured Barry Berrier  on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Kenneth Berrier on resonator guitar, Rick Allred on mandolin, Craig Smith on banjo, and Carter on bass.

Garland also worked briefly with The Bluegrass Cardinals after the demise of Summer Wages, but had not appeared professionally again in bluegrass since that time, working instead in flooring and auto sales. A Summer Wages reunion album was in the works a few years back, but was short circuited when Carter was in a serious auto accident that required a significant recovery time.

Arrangements will be handled by Bassett Funeral Services, but no information is yet available.

Summer Wages was known particularly for their tight, country-flavored vocal harmonies, in which Carter contributed as the baritone singer. Barry Berrier came to national attention with this group, and went on to memorable stints with Lost and Found and Lonesome River Band after the dissolution of Summer Wages.

Allred had been a member of Country Gentlemen before joining up, and has continued to perform regionally. Kenneth Berrier and his wife Linda host the Local Grass radio show, which spotlights talented bluegrass acts which do not tour on a large scale. Craig Smith has recorded and toured sporadically with Laurie Lewis, and is an in-demand guitar and banjo instructor near Greensboro, NC.

Jim Mills joined Summer Wages towards the end of their tenure on Rebel, and appeared on their final release, Can’t Stop Now. All three albums are available in iTunes.

Here’s a video that includes snippets of several songs from a show in 1983.

RIP Garland Carter.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • Angela McCloy

    My name is Angela McCloy, I am the sister of Garland Carter. While I appreciate the recognition of my brother, I want to update you on the information. When I read the blog I must admit I could not get pass the first couple of sentences pertaining to his death. I thought “oh my God this sounds terrible on our behalf” So to help clarify I visied him on thursday, he seemed great. I called him on friday an did not get an answer. I just thought “well it’s friday so he is probably gone somewhere” and usually with his caller ID he would return your call. I guess I just got preoccupied and really didn’t realize that he never called me back. Then at 7:27 PM, on saturday, our brother Randy had called to say that my aunt and uncle that lived behind him was concerned because they knew he did not leave out on friday and now saturday as well and when they called there was no answer, but his car was in the drive. So they took their key and went in to find that he was laying in his bed and had passed. I live all of 5 minutes away from him and rushed over to find my precious brother lying in his bed, peaceful, on his side, under the covers. He showed no signs of distress. If you didn’t know any better, you would really just think he was sleeping. So he actally died in his sleep sometime thursday night or early morning and was found on saturday evening. I just don’t want anyone to get the impression that he was left for days before someone found him. He was very loved and honestly we have all raked ourselves over the coals for not discovering this on friday……The funeral director told us that he appeared to be in good health, but that they did notice a lot of blood clots. So we are assuming that was the cause of death. He was so talented and will truely be missed! Please keep our family in your prayers, and him always in your hearts!