Joe Carr was a talented musician, songwriter, and superb guitar, mandolin, and fiddle player, as well as an author and a music professor at the commercial music program at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. Joe had been living with Multiple Sclerosis for many years, but he was always joyous and exceedingly funny. He died quietly in his wife’s arms from a stroke, after entering the hospital with an infection.
Originally from Denton, Texas, Joe performed with Texas bands Roanoke in the 1970s and Country Gazette in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s. He moved to Levelland in 1984 to teach at South Plains College and served for many years as the director of Camp Bluegrass. Friends of Joe Carr will always remember his irrepressible sense of humor, characterized by comic one-liners and word switches. Joe once said about his adopted home: “Levelland, Texas is the truth-in-advertising capital of West Texas.” For 30 years Joe was, to SPC students, like Johnny Appleseed, planting musical inspiration.
Joe Carr was the author of many instructional books and videos for mandolin, western swing guitar, flat-picking guitar, banjo, and ukelele for Mel Bay Publications and Texas Music and Video. He was coauthor (with former South Plains colleague Alan Munde) of the 1996 Prairie Nights to Neon Lights: The Story of Country Music in West Texas and a two-man musical comedy called Two Swell Guys from Texas. Joe was a regular columnist for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and Mandolin Magazine and frequently contributed to Fiddler Magazine. He also edited Mel Bay’s webzine “Mandolin Sessions.” He was an IBMA Distinguished Award recipient.
Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, December 19, at South Plains College in the Sundown Room, 1401 College Ave., Levelland.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Joe Carr and Alan Munde Scholarship, South Plains College Foundation, 1401 College Ave., Levelland, TX 79336.