In the fall, backstage at the Ryman doing my duty for the Americana Music Association's Honors & Awards Show (thanks again to Dick Clark for the cumbersome name) I ran into an old friend, which is the whole point of going to the thing anyhow. He looked at the t-shirt I was wearing, black because I was working backstage, and at the No Depression logo on my chest. He smiled, briefly. "Get over it, Grant," Jim said.
I hadn't really considered my wardrobe choice. It was a black…Continue
Apple has announced that future computers will not come equipped with a CD drive, because everybody can download or stream anything they want now and the drives are heavy and cumbersome and break and irrelevant.
Though I am painfully sell aware that my opinion and input are neither wanted nor needed, I have some complaints to register, and a problem to lay before the assembled working musicians on this site.
(1) I can't download or stream music, nor movies, nor youtube videos.…Continue
Greetings from the hinterlands. I suspect my long absence from this virtual community has been little missed, but for the two or three who might care please know that all is well. The challenges of helping to operate an independent bookstore and coffeeshop in this economy, while raising a child, diminish the time I might spend contemplating and writing about music. And, anyway, I'm trying to earn back my amateur status.
And yet, I still have a weekly radio show, which aired…Continue
Only opening the mail yesterday did I realize the conjunctions of my musical past were beginning to collide.
There, in a plain brown envelop, I found an expanded edition of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. As Peter is wont to point out, the first review of the Ryman show the performers used to wrap that project, filmed for what became Down From the Mountain, was reviewed in our pages. I can remember hearing somebody at Lost Highway tell me, when I…Continue
[Warning: This is, in my mind, anyhow, a continuation of the discussion begun in my previous post.] Last Sunday morning, 'round about our second cup of coffee, we noticed what appeared to be a juvenile blue heron standing still at the far end of our pond. This is a beautiful thing.
Last fall I was summoned to my wife's grandmother's house to view a bloodhound. A gaunt, friendly…Continue
As the resident curmudgeon emeritus I claim the right to vent here and again. As one of the co-founders of what once was a music magazine in print and all that foolishness I like to imagine that my music geek credentials are still well enough in order. Anybody walking through what passes for my office, which really looks like an unkempt storage locker with unpacked boxes of CDs supporting unhung artwork, shelves of LPs and 45s and all the rest...I think my geek credentials are in…Continue
Once again the kind folks at WMKY have renewed my, um, contract (yeah, that's it). And so my monthly hour-long show, listened to by an audience the counting of which does not yet oblige me to take off my socks, that deftly named monthly show called "Grant Alden's Field Notes" airs this Friday at 7 pm, EST.
You will note that no artist whose name might be alphebetised after S is included. I'm still unpacking,…Continue
“Behind every great fortune is a great crime.”
— Balzac, paraphrased
Limited exposure to business histories suggest they come in two flavors: morality tales (see: Madoff, Bernard) about the rich gone wrong, and amorality tales about how the rich got rich. History, as they say, is written by the victors.
That a biography of one or both Aberbach brothers needed writing is clear to anyone who has dabbled in the history of popular and roots music, for…Continue
In March of 2010 we took on nearly two feet of water, which is a bad thing when your family (my in-laws, to be precise) has a bookstore. Nashville had it a lot worse -- a whole lot worse -- but there's no insurance for this kind of mess. Mud and water play hell with refrigeration units, and the coffeeshop has nearly a dozen of the wretched devices, all told.
So we licked our wounds, swallowed whatever painkillers the doctors still allow, thanked our friends and neighbors and…Continue
This may all be silly, this gratuitous half-assed self-promotion, but I feel occasionally the need to explain my long absences from this space, and the airing of my once-a-month hour of radio this Friday on WMKY at 7 pm EST (long sigh) provides such an occasion.
Predictably, for the dozen or so folks who took note of my review of Robert L. Stone's book on Sacred Steel guitar, that music is the subject of this…Continue
Ordinarily I don't watch the Grammy awards. For years I didn't own a TV, and for more years I had somewhere better to be (a club, watching live music; or work), and then it became clear that what was being rewarded was a kind of commercial success that principally (but not always) masked the kind of artistic expression/achievement to which I believe myself drawn. To which I find myself drawn.
But I am not in control of the remote these days, owner of two homes and homeless,…Continue
It was 7 degrees outside this morning. I am indoors, in my mother-in-law's kitchen cutting up jalapeno thingies for a Pioneer Woman book release party at the family bookstore and trying to remember not to itch my eyes until the juice wears off. Which, inevitably, I will forget. All of Egypt appears to be in the streets on the television across the room, which my father-in-law has left soundless as he returned to his woodshop, and the…Continue
I realize I am mostly absent here but for these tawdry self-promotional notes. Still living in boxes, and, then, the couple things I'd like to write about aren't out for a month or two and so it seems...unsporting.
Back when I had CDs to spin (instead of move), I cut a Valentine's Day radio show for WMKY. It airs this Friday at 7 pm EST (and, yes, it streams, but doesn't archive). They're re-running my black…Continue
And so upstairs at the family store to shelves where advance readers copies sit, pawed over again and again until desperate eyes lit on Wesley Stace’s third novel,…Continue
Greetings, from the snowy woods of Eastern Kentucky. Now well into middle age, I find myself living in my in-laws' basement with most of my belongings in storage. One thing or another, it may be some months before we are able to move into our new home. Or some weeks. This makes regular correspondence here difficult, particularly since all my music and reference books has been buried in the back of some locked space.
The next edition of "Grant Alden's Field…Continue
In the midst of this moving madness (in which one wonders again at the wisdom of saving all that vinyl, all those CDs, all those books...and is grateful for what strength remains in the lower back), I had barely wit to notice that the last Friday of the month, the last Friday of 2010, coincided with the anniversary of Hank Williams' passing in 1952. Or 1953, depending on what time at night he died in the back of his Cadillac, a state over from where I sit typing over my morning…Continue
And so, because nobody wanted them, I took the magazines to the recycling center.
Two car-loads of them, saving out the boxes -- at least the newer boxes -- for our move.
Toward the end of March, when it became clear that we really would cause to be built a smaller, more energy efficient house out by the pond and the orchard and downwind of the chickens, it came time to begin this process.
Two truckloads of magazines came down from the attic…Continue
Every once in a while, it is necessary to obsess about a song. And so I have come here to confess that Ray Price's 1963 recording of "Night Life" is so extraordinary as to be out of time, a singular event, a startling sound across the ages.
It came my way by accident, for I am working on an hour-long tribute to Hank Williams, which is meant to air on December 31, the anniversary of his passing. Not to tip an unplayed hand, but I had gone hunting for one of his Hank Williams…Continue