Carpenter & May


Carpenter & May perform a combination of genres, all rooted in the acoustic music tradition. They are fine vocalists, published songwriters, and have contributed their instrumental skills to Grammy nominated projects. Their repertoire features elements of bluegrass, swing, rock, blues, jazz, Celtic, and original material.

FRED CARPENTER: Fred Carpenter started violin lessons at age 7 and turned to fiddling by age 17. He recorded his first fiddle album ‘Cut Loose’ at age 20. In 1980, Fred moved to California, where he joined The Tony Rice Unit. He toured with Tony Rice for three years and recorded two albums, ‘Still Inside’ and ‘Backwaters’. Fred spent the next three years playing fiddle with The Dillards. In 1987, Fred joined Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band, touring with Emmylou for two years. From 1989 to 1992, Fred toured with several artists including Paul Overstreet, Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Mandrell, Suzy Bogguss, Ricky Van Shelton, and George Strait. In 1992, he recorded his second album, ‘In the Stillness’, a collection of original instrumentals. In the year 2000, Fred received an IBMA award and a Grammy nomination for his fiddle work on ‘Murder on Music Row’, a CD recorded with Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time. Established in 1988, Fred’s Nashville business – The Violin Shop, has grown to prominence. ( In addition to a fine inventory of violins and bows, in 2005 a live music venue was added to The Violin Shop. Since then Fred has hosted and produced an incredible series of live performance DVD’s called ‘The Fiddle Masters Concert Series’. In 2006-7, Fred toured with Kathy Mattea, until joining guitarist Tim May in 2008 to form “Carpenter & May”. Their first self-titled CD allows Fred to feature his fine lead vocals for the first time.

TIM MAY: Tim May has been working in the Nashville area for over 20 years as a sideman, session player, band member and performer. Tim has toured with Patty Loveless, Eddie Rabbitt, John Cowan, and has worked as a regular on the Grand Ole Opry with Mike Snider. He was the solo guitarist on Charlie Daniel’s ‘I’ll Fly Away’ (from the album ‘Songs From the Long-Leaf Pines’), which was nominated for a Grammy in 2005. Tim is a contributing writer to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and is a clinician for Breedlove guitars. For fifteen years Tim was a member of Crucial Smith, a powerful bluegrass act that released two CDs before disbanding in 2003. Tim has kept his chops up playing a mix of Irish, Scottish, Old Time and Bluegrass tunes with his band, Plaidgrass. The group released their first CD in January 2008. He is also on the roster of Radiola, and performs in a hot-picking ensemble with Brad Davis and Dan Miller. A great singer as well as a flatpicker, Tim’s vocals can be heard on his first solo album, ‘Find My Way Back’ and on ‘A Bluegrass Tribute to Neil Young’, a CD that Tim produced for CMH Records. Tim joined with Fred Carpenter in the fall of 2008. Their first self-titled CD, ‘CARPENTER & MAY’, is scheduled for release in the fall of 2010.

What Others Are Saying:

“Fred Carpenter and Tim May play roots music at its best. Their versatile new trio with bassist Charlie Chadwick is a solid equilateral triangle of tone, taste, and timing. Using guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, and vocals, they can mow down backyard bluegrass, tug the Celtic heartstrings, or even croon a jazz standard.”
– Tim O’Brien

“Fred and Tim are a one-two punch: two virtuosos who share a passion for acoustic music from many different traditions. Both have a musical maturity and depth of phrasing that instantly complement and play off each other. From achingly beautiful ballads, through celtic airs, jigs and reels, to hot jazz and fiery bluegrass, they bless us with their talent, their vision and the generosity of spirit with which they play.”
– Kathy Mattea

“Carpenter & May are everything you could ask for in an acoustic act. They are the cream of the crop, both as solo players and side men, and together they make a beautiful musical statement: fiddle and guitar with heart and soul and a whole lotta fun! We have a high standard for live music here at Stone Mountain Arts Center, and Fred and Tim had no trouble living up to it.”
– Carol Noonan, Singer, Songwriter and owner of the Stone Mountain Arts Center

“I predict time will prove Tim May to be one of the legends of flatpicking guitar.”
– Dan Miller, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine