The Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) is one of the most anticipated arts events in Western North Carolina each year. People who camp have been doing so for years, in the same spot they first picked out a decade ago. People who drive in come from just about every nook and cranny between Asheville and Knoxville, down to Greenville, probably even up to Abingdon. They throw on something made of hemp, delight in local…Continue
Each autumn, the Americana Music Association (AMA) gathers in Nashville for a conference and festival to celebrate the incredible music which has been made in the past year. The event kicks off with an awards show aimed at recognizing the artists and albums that have most stirred the Americana community. When all this goes down this year, newcomer husband and wife duo Shovels + Rope will lead the field with four nominations,…Continue
A few weeks ago on this site, we offered a free preview stream of the new disc from Kenny Roby - an artist most folks know from his old band 6 String Drag. That North Carolina-based alt-country troupe was loud and raw, embodying so many of the characteristics of the early alt-country movement which inspired the creation of the No Depression magazine. (Note Peter Blackstock's review from…Continue
Born and raised in Texas, Jones was one of the finest singers to ever touch a country song. A definitive force as to what a Texas country singer should sound like, he started playing guitar when he was just a boy, but didn't release his first album until he was in his mid-20s. By then, Jones had darn near perfected his craft. It wasn't long before he nailed a number-one hit with "White Lightning" - the first of more than a dozen chart-toppers throughout his career.
Back in 1998, the great folksinger Dan Bern (where has he been lately?) recorded an album called Fifty Eggs. On it, was a song called "Different Worlds" which addressed the precarious topic of racial relations in a rather humble and empathic way. Bern, in his sort of wryly humorous approach, made a long and awkward list of all the ways white people and African-American people are different. Instead of pointing out the frustration of history, the assumed burden of every…Continue
Syncopation is what happens in music when someone starts playing in a rhythm that's a little bit off the rhythm you expect to hear. Sometimes this happens when the rest of the song keeps going at a steady pace and all of the sudden, a horn player, or something, starts playing around the rhythm. It's so common in jazz, it's practically expected, but other styles of music use it frequently. Sometimes, it's the singer, who has to go off-rhythm for a minute to get out everything they…Continue
If you haven't figured it out yet, Holly Williams has made a country record which could, one might imagine, in a perfect world, reset the gauge as to what constitutes a country music album these days. If I had to name an Album of the Year right now, her new record would be duking it out with Kelly & Bruce.
That's what I thought, at least, the first time I hit play and heard her sing her way through the bitterness, anger, fear, and heartache to lines like "I raise your…Continue
Four years ago this week, we hit "play" on this thing. I was living in a studio apartment in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood. Kyla was in the same kitchen-office where she still works (presumably; I've not been to her "office" in at least two and a half years). I now juggle my time between two couches, a dining table, an actual office (in my house) and various coffee shops, where I live in Asheville, NC. It was just the two of us when we started, though Kyla was working at the same time…Continue
Well, Bonnaroo is going to contain a positive explosion of Americana music this year, with headliners including Mumford & Sons (naturally), Wilco, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and, as a bonus, Sir Paul McCartney. The full line-up was announced this afternoon during a major webcast featuring none other than Weird Al Yankovic (who will also be on this year's bill).
I attended Bonnaroo a couple years ago and had a bear of a time making my way…Continue
Added by Kim Ruehl on February 19, 2013 at 11:00am — No Comments
I didn't watch the Grammys this year. I'll just say that first. I did, however, watch the pre-telecast, which was sufficient, since I got to see Janis Ian (whom I love), and John Fullbright performed. The recipients of all the folk, roots, and Americana categories (of most interest to me, obviously) were there. I missed out on the Levon tribute, which only disappointed me because Mavis Staples is a hero. I was never a huge fan of the Band. I know, I know, how dare I, etc.
I share all…Continue
The first time I ever heard Samantha Crain, it was dark and late, I was tired, wandering back to my Pickathon tent from the barn. A voice came galloping across the hill from a stage somewhere, breaking the peace of the night with a certain crying cowboy sound. When I neared the stage, I could see a short woman with very long, very dark hair, crooning against the night with a collection of lyrics which were sort of dreamy and sort of all-too-real. That woman was Samantha Crain, and…Continue
It's been a while since I grabbed some CDs off the top of my review stack and just sat back to see what kind of impression they'd leave. I've been pressed for time this week, but wanted to take at least a couple hours to make a dent in that stack today. As the title of this post suggests, these are first impressions, not deeply thoughtful reviews. I know well that all the best albums take several spins to really sink in. I liked each of these enough to make sure I listen to them again. But…Continue
This will be quick, but I had to share.
Just when I start thinking some forms of social media are there only for people to show off their egos and the sandwiches they had for lunch, someone I follow tweets a link to something which stops me in my tracks. And so it was that Rose Cousins - we've established I love me some Rose Cousins…Continue
I rang in 2012 at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, South Carolina, at an Avett Brothers concert. It was one of two or three times that I'd see the Avetts in 2012. Another memorable moment came at the Austin City Limits Festival. Completely exhausted and overwhelmed with the absurd crowds, the downpours, the horrendous sound systems and football-on-big-screens interludes, my partner and I bailed a couple songs into the Avetts' set. On our way back to the car, though, we discovered we…Continue
I was born in 1977 - the year Elvis died - which places me squarely in the middle of generations X and Y.
Before Generation X came into its own (i.e. aged to a point where its members could run for office), we were looked upon as a slacker generation. A generation raised by television - MTV, specifically. While our parents, the Baby Boomers, were commuting from their day job to night school, or from job one to job two, we hung out at home, learning by example that working…Continue
Tonight, the Recording Academy gathered for a monster television special to announce a handful of the nominees for the next round of Grammy Awards. Among the presenters tonight were last-minute add-on the Lumineers (nominated for Best Americana Album and Best New Artist). Americana darlings the Alabama Shakes scored a few mainstream nominations, as did Jack White, Bruce Springsteen, and others. Holly George-Warren, who you may know from…Continue
I couldn't tell you for certain how I got into this field of writing about music. It was a sort of weird, twisted series of missteps and accidents, chance meetings, asking the right question at the right time. My favorite: I spilled a beer on Kyla just before she told me she was looking for a News Editor for the new NoDepression.com, the summer after the magazine went away. (Classy. She hired me anyway.) It's kind of been like that.
But here's why I have not gotten bored…Continue
"Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes."
This provocative quote came from Maggie Kuhn. If you're unfamiliar, she was an activist and member of the Silver Panthers - a radical organization which organizes to seek justice for older Americans. It's a popular quote, sure, but placed in the context of the woman who was speaking, it packs a real powerful punch. This is an intelligent, strong, dignified older woman who was speaking to an audience of older people who have…Continue
I've been doing this writing-about-music thing for about eight years, so I guess I can now safely admit (without fear of completely derailing my career) that I really don't enjoy reviewing albums. Climbing behind a bullyhorn to praise or damn the work of an artist is not my cup of tea. I have very strong and emotionally entangled responses to music - I know what I like - but I have no idea what might resonate with any single other individual on the planet.
It's important to…Continue
Four years ago, I was living in Seattle, in the heart of hipster haven, high atop Capitol Hill. I danced in the streets with my neighbors and hugged strangers and reveled in the joyous celebration of living in one of the cities which made up what the news media at the time lovingly referred to as the "Urban Archipelago" - the parts of the country which had voted, overwhelmingly, for Barack Obama.
I should say right now this post isn't going to be a partisan rant. I'm framing my point…Continue