Carnival Season were a band in the wrong place at the wrong time; if they'd been based in Seattle in 1988 or Minneapolis in 1983, they would have fit right in with their peers, but in Birmingham, AL in 1985, their mixture of hard rock guitar, thoughtful but streetwise lyrics, and tunes that were aggressive and tuneful at once made them an anomaly, and in a community where alternative rock had trouble gaining a foothold, they never gained the larger audience their music deserved.
Originally named Karnival Season, the band was formed in 1984 by guitarist and singer Tim Boykin and bassist Brad Quinn, both of whom were fresh out of high school and interested in playing rock & roll. Boykin and Quinn teamed up with guitarist Ed Reynolds and drummer Mark Reynolds; the band started gigging regularly at a Birmingham club called The Nick and launched short tours through the South. Karnival Season released a three-song 7" on Rat's Bane Records, and the group caught the ear of an A&R man from MCA Records, who arranged for the band to cut a set of demos with Tim Lee of the Windbreakers producing. MCA passed on the band, but the British label What Goes On liked the tapes, and having worked with another Birmingham act, the Primitons, they signed the now correctly spelled Carnival Season to a record deal. Mats Roden of the Primitons produced a three-song EP that was released by What Goes On in 1986, which marked their first recordings as a trio following Ed Reynolds' departure from the band. Carnival Season continued to tour and played frequently on their home turf, opening shows for the likes of the Meat Puppets, Redd Kross, Drivin' n' Cryin', and the Replacements, whose guitarist Bob Stinson talked up the band in Matter magazine, saying "You couldn't help but like ‘em, they were just that good."
In early 1987, Carnival Season made their way to Rockville, MD to record their debut album, Waiting for No One, with pop guitar icon Tommy Keene producing. The few reviews Waiting for No One received following its release in early 1988 were enthusiastic, but for the most part the music press ignored the disc, and a subsequent West Coast tour (with new second guitarist Chuck Quinn) was little short of disastrous. Convinced they'd missed the brass ring, Carnival Season played a handful of local gigs before calling it quits in mid-1989. Tim Boykin went on to play with a variety of rock and pop bands in the South, including the Shame Idols and the Lolas, while Brad Quinn has recorded and toured extensively with Tommy Keene and Mark Reynolds has remained active in music. In the fall of 2007, Carnival Season played a reunion show at their old stomping grounds The Nick, and in 2010 Arena Rock Recording Company released Misguided Promise, a comprehensive compilation featuring everything the band released along with several previously unheard demos and live recordings. ~ Mark Deming