I ignored Holly Williams's new album, The Highway, as long as I could. It arrived in a swarm of padded envelopes, among a flurry of other CDs I also didn't listen to right away. The cover photo showed a pretty blond woman, her hair in her face, close up. She looked tired or urgent, or maybe like she was waiting for something, it was hard to tell which. Besides, the idea of an Americana album called The Highway seemed oh so preciously cliche.
I had tried to…Continue
Posted on December 4, 2013 at 7:30am — 11 Comments
Hang out in Americana circles long enough, and you'll start to hear people toss around phrases like "real country music". More than an ethnocentric down-the-nose judgmnet about fakery, the phrase tends to be employed when describing music that comes from a desire to tell stories about things that matter to real country people, not only those interested in purchasing something from a certain section of a store (or, a certain page on iTunes). Sure, plenty of real country people…Continue
Posted on November 25, 2013 at 2:00pm — 7 Comments
It takes a lot of nerve to imagine you can sing a song better than - or, at least, as well as - Alison Krauss. Let's just start there.
Granted, Aoife O'Donovan wrote "Lay My Burden Down", the song Krauss included on her last Grammy-nominated album with Union Station, Paper Airplane. But Krauss has become famous precisely because she is able to immediately hone in on the essence of a song and sing straight at it. From "The Lucky One" to "Down to the River to Pray",…Continue
Posted on November 18, 2013 at 6:30am — 13 Comments
I'm writing a book about Zilphia Horton - the small-town Tennessee music teacher from the 1930s-'50s who influenced Pete Seeger and Rosa Parks, fueled the labor and civil rights movements with music, and gave us universal anthems of empowerment like "This Little Light of Mine" and "We Shall Overcome." Learn more.
After studying classical music my whole life, I spent eight or nine years moving around the country, hopping from music scene to music scene, touring, and trying to make a living as a singer-songwriter. Then, in 2003, after a very long and fascinating ride on a Greyhound bus, I moved to Seattle and decided to try writing about the music I play and have grown to love.
In addition to managing this community site for No Depression, I'm the About.com Guide to Folk Music. I was, from Feb-Oct 2008, Editor of Seattlest. My work has appeared in Billboard, at Rollingstone.com, NPR.org, in Seattle and CityArts magazines, The Mountain XPress, and a handful of other publications.
If anything on this site seems out of wack, confusing, wrong, or missing, please let me know. And, if you have any ideas about how we can make this community better, I'm always open to those.