alphabet wars…or may the G force be with you
Going through the library and sharing things I like, and things you might. If you missed the earlier posts, find them on my page by clicking on my name or avatar, and then find my featured blogs. (To answer the questions as to why I’m not providing links, clips, videos or pictures…it takes too long and I figure if you want to know more, you’ll find it.)
Graham Lindsey shouldn’t be a complete stranger since the Madison Wisconsin singer songwriter has three albums out and had been written up a few times in No Depression. I must admit that although I own his stuff, it took writing this series to remind me that I’d been meaning to give it a little deeper listening. Sometimes you hate to play the “sounds like” game but you could say he falls into the Dylan, Earle and Prine axis at least in voice, with the instrumentation having a prairie, old time feel to it. The 2008 title We Are Alone In This Together might be a nice place to start.
Since I have a feeling this alphabet thing is more for me than you and there aren’t that many people following it, I might get off easy with this next observation. As much as I love Gram Parsons, several years ago I came to the realization that I much preferred the cover versions to the originals. Not all mind you, but a lot of them. My iTunes library is liberally sprinkled with all sorts of tunes and oddities I’ve collected, and I’ll rattle off a few of my favorites. Australian Kasey Chambers does a smoking hot version of “Still Feeling Blue” on Barricades and Brickwalls that just jumps out of the speakers and bites your ears. There are a few “Sin City” covers I like including a Steve Earle and the Bluegrass Duke’s live set from Fargo, the Dwight Yokum version he’s done a few times and places, and The Kennedys. Ryan Adams and Elton John also do it as a duet from TNN’s Crossroads. For “Return of The Grievous Angel” I think it’s Lucinda Williams and David Crosby’s duet that hits the mark. Others of mention are “Juanita” by Flor De Mal and The Lemonhead’s doing “I Just Can’t Take It Anymore”. The Return to Sin City DVD produced by a few people (including Polly Parsons and Shilah Morrow) is probably the best of the various tributes out in the market. This entire show is a damn treasure and celebration and I think the highlight is Keith Richards taking an uncomfortable looking Norah Jones into his arms to sing “Love Hurts” for it’s “there’s something very wrong about this” moment. His “Hickory Wind” is also amazing as is Jay Farrar doing “Devil in Disguise” and John Doe and Kathleen Edwards on “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning”.
Although I tend to keep away from bootlegs because of their sound quality and the fact that I think live performances are better seen then heard, there are a ton of websites offering up some really interesting sets. Not long ago I stumbled unto a Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings performance from Newport in August in 2009 that comes with their cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and all the stage patter, stories and intros. Makes me pine for those white covered record albums of days long gone. By the way, on the High Noon Salute to Hank and Townes, there’s a version of “Pancho and Lefty” they perform that kills.
For much of the six years that we lived in Minnesota, we were either too busy with the boys growing up, or too busy trying to keep warm to really indulge ourselves in the local scene. More often I was flying out of town than sticking around, so in hindsight I missed out on a lot of great music and such. In our fifth year the neighbors ran over one day to invite us along to a Prairie Home Companion show with Garrison Keillor…they had tried to get tickets for like a million years and so they were pretty excited. I’d had a notion of what to expect, but when he came onstage and did a dead-on Elvis Presley medley as a warm up before the show actually started, I kind of sat up in my seat. I knew of him as a writer, humorist and host but not a singer. On the movie soundtrack where he duets with Meryl Streep and Jearlynn Steele, as well as the album he put out just called Duets you can really hear his vocal abilities. I should probably also take a sec and also acknowledge the house band The Guy’s All Star Shoe Band for their versatility and heavy duty chops across all the various releases and shows they’ve done.
I thought the 2007 debut from Griffin House called Flying Upside Down held a lot of promise for this young man. Very well crafted songs and a top notch production…although some of it was a little too pop for my ears. There’s a new one coming in June and the label’s offering a free mp3. Not my cup of tea but I’d still like to hear more.
The No Depression Readers Poll for 2007 shows Gina Villalobos‘ Miles Away as the twelfth most popular title. If you missed that one, go and grab last years Days on Their Side. Gina is an LA based singer on tour this month up and down the coast and she’s got a strong repertoire and vocal style that’s a little Lucinda-ish but with the range of Lucy Kaplansky. At the risk of chasing away the alt people here, this is straight ahead rock sprinkled with those Americana roots and branches.
I don’t know where I heard about Golden Bones. Maybe it was here, maybe not. This is a Brooklyn based band that is giving away (at least today it was still there when I checked) a free download of their debut album on their website. Not much information on these guys…the site is barren and their My Space page isn’t much better. Low Anthem, early Jayhawks…I don’t know, it’s pretty mellow and lo-fi. They may not even still be together but worth checking out I think.