BONUS TRACKS: A Sales Record for Records and Bright Spots for the New Year
If you got or gave some records as holiday gifts, you’re in good company. Nielsen data showed that U.S. vinyl sales hit 1.842 million the week ending Christmas Eve, the highest figure since the service started tracking this data in 1991. That outpaced CD sales for the week by a good 100,000, which has happened four times in weekly comparisons this year. What does it all mean? Not much, honestly. We’re just glad people are buying music, no matter the format. But you can dig into the details in this Billboard writeup.
Applications are now open for grants from the Arnold Shultz Fund, which aims to support educational and performance opportunities for people of color in bluegrass. The fund, established by the International Bluegrass Music Association’s IBMA Foundation in 2020, is named for Arnold Shultz, a Black guitar and fiddle player who was an early mentor to a young Bill Monroe. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31. More information, including the application form as well as a page for donations, can be found here.
We always look forward to a new Steve Earle album, but we know his latest, coming out Monday, will be a tough one. Titled J.T., it’s a tribute to his son Justin Townes Earle, who died of an accidental drug overdose in August. For the album Steve Earle recorded his son’s songs, adding one original, “Last Words.” The elder Earle spoke to The New York Times about the making of the album and all the things he misses about his son.
We’re excited that you’re reading this safe and sound, we hope, in a brand new year, one that shows some promise at steering us out of a long darkness. Looking forward feels much nicer than looking back on 2020, but one thing we don’t want to bury from the year that was is all the good roots music that came to our ears. If you need a review, don’t miss our year-end Readers Poll and Critics Poll results. We hope you find something new to love, some sounds worth taking with you into the new year.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Our very own Best Roots Music Albums of 2020 playlist, highlighting songs from our year-end Readers Poll and Critics Poll.
Tony Rice – Manzanita
Karen Elson – Radio Redhead, Vol. 1
Amanda Shires – “That’s All,” a cover of the 1983 Genesis hit done in, erm, tribute to 2020: