Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch)'s Blog (30)

"He is the guitar." Blues Pioneer Michael Bloomfield Finally Gets His Due

Michael Bloomfield From His Head to his Heart to his Hands: An (Columbia Legacy) 

Finally, this extraordinary Chicago-born guitarist is no longer playing the blues in history’s alleyway. Al Kooper -- who met Bloomfield when both played on Bob Dylan’s epochal “Like a Rolling Stone” -- curates this "audio/visual scrapbook" with love…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on March 12, 2014 at 12:00pm — 3 Comments

Robert Hilburn's "Johnny Cash: The Life" Reads like the Definitive Biography

Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn (Little, Brown) $32  679 pages

 The steely quaver in Johnny Cash's voice seemed to ring out of the blackest, most-bedeviled corner of the male American psyche. It conveyed the resolute self-assurance of a guy you could count on standing up for the little guy -- if not for showing up for a concert date. But to know the man's life story is to understand all the fault lines cracking the foundation of…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on March 3, 2014 at 2:00pm — 7 Comments

Amiri Baraka: A Native Son of Racial Reality and Necessity

Mediasanctuary-AmiriBarakaObamaPoem472 Pioneering black music critic, playwright, essayist, and former Poet Laureate of New Jersey Amiri Baraka died at 79 on Jan. 9 in a Newark hospital. I thank jazz critic, author and educator Howard Mandel for posting a tribute to Baraka on his Facebook page, which prompted this blog post.

Part of Baraka's rhetorical gift was his way of offering incisive insight while often pushing to the edge of provocative (and sometimes offensive) polemics that could undermine his posture as…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on January 14, 2014 at 7:00am — 9 Comments

A Coen Brothers movie reaches for a rootsy wrinkle in time

Joel and Ethan Coen do a fine job of making us feel the experience of a fictional Greenwich Village folk singer in their new film Inside Llewyn Davis. We feel sorry for this poor schlub who can barely score a bed to sleep in, much less a gig for a meal or two. This is the way it was for Dave Van Ronk and probably many other striving troubadours who believed in the need to get out there and sing something with their guitar in front of a bunch of people who seem to care about…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on December 28, 2013 at 5:30pm — 33 Comments

Digging (up) the Roots of Vernaculars. Best CDs of 2013

The Best Roots Music Albums of 2013

I continued to be amazed by the strong quality and artfulness in vernaculars presumed to be mere "folk" musics.

These rankings make some fine distinctions between albums but the points stick, for me. Tedeschi-Trucks’ extraordinary blues-R&B-jazz-rock collective tops the list for all its musical artistry and exuberance, to bolster the high level of lyric writing one expects of today’s roots purveyors. Vocalist…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on December 18, 2013 at 9:00am — 19 Comments

John Mellencamp and Stephen King conjure the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

“Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow.” The image from 1985 shows John Mellencamp’s knack for literary horror, 15 years before he began writing a musical with iconic horror writer Stephen King. The song about a dying Heartland farm was one of the singer-songwriter’s first indelible artistic statements.

Some years ago, Mellencamp bought a lake cabin which turned out to be allegedly haunted -- by accidental deaths and restless spirits -- the inspiration for Ghost…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on October 21, 2013 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Bluegrass inventor Bill Monroe (Sept. 13, 1911-Sept. 9, 1996) Springs a Surprise

I interviewed Bill Monroe -- born 102 years ago today -- between his sets at Summerfest in 1981 for The Milwaukee Journal. He is credited for inventing bluegrass in 1939 when his Bluegrass Boys auditioned at the Grand Old Opry and caused a high, lonesome stir that has never quite died down, rather coming and going through American culture like the wandering…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on September 13, 2013 at 7:00am — 2 Comments

The Tedeschi Trucks Band: As Timeless as the Red Rocks of Colorado

 From a Westerly Cultural Travel Journal, Vol. 3.

MORRISON, CO. -- The scenery on my drive to Colorado diminished as I headed west: the farmland of Northern Illinois and Iowa are verdant but without the rolling sumptuousness of “God's country” in Southwest Wisconsin, which I forsook for a quicker route. Nebraska unfolds as increasingly flat. I didn’t find it boring though, as it put me into an expansive Zen-like mode wherein I tune into the sky more with land as backdrop.…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on July 13, 2013 at 6:30am — 5 Comments

Aldo Leopold's naturalist message is made into rootsy music: Sand County Songs by Tim Southwick Johnson

One brooding afternoon I walked along Dunn’s Marsh in Fitchburg WI when a chilling cry pierced the rustling breeze. It sounded like a call of the wild through time, echoing the ancient history of life cycles. I looked up and saw an array of long, craggy wings floating on air. The majestic creatures descended…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on June 2, 2013 at 10:00am — No Comments

If Dylan wanted to back him up, he must've been a hell of a leader. On mountains, he was.

Notice mountaineer Bills Briggs' ski tracks zig-zagging down from the summit of The Grand Teton, an unprecedented feat he accomplished on June 15, 1971, a few years before I climbed with him. Photo by Virginia Huidekoper.

Do I start by saying that Bob Dylan once backed up Bill Briggs on mandolin -- at a wedding reception performance -- while Bill sang and played banjo? Ah, that's a story for the other side of the summit.

Bill Briggs seemed like pretty much a…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on May 2, 2013 at 8:00am — 1 Comment

Live Review - The Flatlanders head for the hills, or was it for a sure-bet payday?

The Flatlanders with Jimmie Vaughn and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band in concert, Northern Lights Theater. 

The Flatlanders seem to embody the restless and intricate cultural development called roots music. When they performed last night at Potowatomie Casino in Milwaukee, you could immediately sense the communal and, in this case fraternal, motivation at work. They’re surely brothers in Lone Star spirit, if not blood, having all been born in dusty West Texas as they…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on April 6, 2013 at 1:30pm — 11 Comments

Paul Geremia Dwells in the Obscure Depths of the Blues He Brings to Light

A bit like the Wizard of Oz, avuncular Paul Geremia toils in relative obscurity, as if behind a curtain while mustering his musical wonders. This remains true despite some critics asserting that he's as good as anyone playing country blues. He dwells in the murky corners of the blues history he sheds light on.

Yet Geremia also seems to know which side his humble crust of bread is buttered on. He opened a recent recital at the UW-Milwaukee's MKE Unplugged series with a…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on April 5, 2013 at 6:00am — 2 Comments

Following the Inextinguishable Flight of the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star"

Dicks Pick's Volumes One and Two --The Grateful Dead, released in vinyl limited editions of 2000 in late November 2012.

Many Deadheads will nod knowingly at my comments, but I've never been a true head, who ritualistically followed the Grateful Dead on their pied piper tours. Yet I can imagine doing it, especially after hearing them perform in Columbus, Ohio on the recording from October 31, 1971 from the bootleg series Dick's Picks Volume…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on March 24, 2013 at 9:00am — 11 Comments

Jeffrey Foucault's Cold Satellite Transmits a Yeats-like Vibe

“Cast a cold eye On life, on death. Horseman, pass by!”

W. B Yeats’ chilling epitaph for his own grave has always haunted me, since I first read it. I suspect it might also haunt singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault.

Because it is the final statement of modern poetry's greatest bard, I see more in it than simple nihilistic abdication.

Casting a cold eye is a striving to understand life and death as clearly as possible, once sentiment is set aside. It is…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on March 20, 2013 at 1:00pm — 4 Comments

Rodney Crowell's long and winding road back to Emmylou

This is a mystery story of sorts, with a twist or two, yet the mystery’s not impossible to solve. The question: Why Rodney Crowell is still emerging from the shadows, even though he ranks among the most esteemed singer-songwriters in Americana music today.

I maintain he’s a singer-songwriter comparable in talent to Steve Earle or Lucinda Williams, or in the conversation with a Townes Van Zandt (a big Crowell influence), even if he isn’t quite as prolific as those during…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on March 19, 2013 at 7:00am — 10 Comments

My (belated) best albums of 2012

  1. Various ArtistsThis One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark * (2 CD set) When writers as esteemed as John Prine, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kris Kristofferson, Darrell Scott and Ray Wylie Hubbard interpret a man's songwriting, you know he's a “songwriter's songwriter.” But Clark’s no esoteric technician. He carves rough-hewn tales illuminated by glimmers of the heart, traced with bittersweet memory, toughness…
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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on December 17, 2012 at 8:00pm — 4 Comments

Live Review: Malcolm Holcombe - Another too-slippery-to-peg critter of Americana

I'm rootin' around again today but hey, it's spring right?

Actually Mr. Bill and Ms. Kitty, proprietors of Café Carpe in Fort Atkinson, gone done it again. They have a knack for digging up genuine borderline geniuses for their small corner of the roots music universe, with the creaky stage chair.

Saturday night it was Malcolm Holcombe. Seeing as he's North Carolina-born, he might’ve evoked something of a historical namesake, one of those original “high, lonesome…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on December 4, 2012 at 11:00am — 3 Comments

Yo. Wither Kevernacular?

Just a brief note about what appears to be a new moniker for me, Kevernacular.

It's actually the byline for my blog Culture Currents (Vernaculars Speak) at www.kevernacular.com , where most of my NoDep blogs originate. You'll find roundaboutly postings on virtually all the arts at CC  (VS). 

So I figured I'd shore up a little continuity in my online identity. And a tip of the hat to those of you who…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on November 29, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments

They've got the back of the Man in Black: A Johnny Cash Celebration

The Legacy CD/DVD set We Walk the Line proves that The Man in Black “came around” consistently throughout his career. Now his fellow artists have, and on this night their collective chemistry was something to behold, perhaps a matter of professional pride in the face of peer competition. Time after time, they dug down to a deeper place than you'd imagine. It’s a moving testament to a great American life because Cash embodied integrity, suffering, perseverance, redemption,…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on November 20, 2012 at 7:00am — 2 Comments

CD Review - Kathy Mattea "Calling Me Home"

“Coal kills.” Or can it possibly be “clean”?

The presidential candidates debated the issue because coal remains central to our traditional energy production, which now contributes greatly to pollution, damaging of the ozone layer, and the human toll on those who work in the industry.

We know continued reliance on such carbon-based energy will be environmentally devastating. You don't need to be trapped in a suffocating coal mine to feel the heat. As the earth’s ozone…

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Added by Kevernacular (Kevin Lynch) on November 9, 2012 at 9:30am — 13 Comments

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.