BONUS TRACKS: Jimmy Carter, Poison & Wine, and Real Talk about Race in Americana
Life moves pretty fast, a wise prophet once said. And sometimes it’s hard to make time to look around. But at No Depression we’ve always got our eyes open for what’s useful, interesting, or just delightfully weird in the world of music news, and our new weekly column, “Bonus Tracks,” offers the best of the bunch to you.
Here’s what we’ve been reading lately, so you don’t miss it.
A new documentary shows us a side of former President Jimmy Carter that some may not know about: his passion for music. He’s pals with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson (even after he smoked weed in the White House), Gregg Allman, and many others, and his ties to music helped him reach out to voters during his political career. Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President releases in theaters and virtual cinemas Sept. 9, with a home entertainment release slated for Oct. 9 and airings on CNN starting Jan. 3. Here’s the trailer:
In a livestreamed panel titled “Black Equity in Americana: A Conversation” last week, Black musicians and music industry veterans talked frankly about how the genre views artists of color (“I always feel like I’m the permanent guest,” said blues singer-songwriter Adia Victoria) and how meaningful inclusivity can be achieved. Fellow artists Rev. Sekou, Kamara Thomas, and Lilli Lewis (who also works at a record label) as well as festival director Jason Galaz offered advice to white people in the industry as well as to people of color, offering no easy fixes but some actionable advice that can move the genre in a better direction. Here’s just one quote that stuck with me: “I want to challenge the white artist and record execs and labels to invest in the life of their Black musicians, to be in community with them,” Sekou said. “Break bread, go to basketball games, be awkward, be in community with people and something might happen to you.” You can watch a replay of the livestream here, and the panel will come together again at the Americana Music Association’s Thriving Roots event next month.
Speaking of Thriving Roots, the Americana Music Association has released the full schedule for the virtual conference taking place Sept. 16-18 (instead of the in-person AmericanaFest), and there’s a lot of good stuff, including Judd Apatow in conversation with The Avett Brothers, “Music Without Boundaries: Sierra Hull + Béla Fleck,” and “The Milk Carton Kids’ Sad Songs Comedy Hour.” Check out the full schedule here, and find out more about purchasing passes and other details here.
Do you ever just have one of those days where you miss The Civil Wars a whole bunch? Brandi Carlile is here to help, along with singer and now talk-show host Kelly Clarkson. They teamed up (remotely, of course) for a cover of “Poison & Wine” that’ll knock your socks off:
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and soundbites No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Justin Townes Earle – The Saint of Lost Causes and all the other great stuff he created before we lost him this week
Juni Ata – “Philadelphia”
Buena Vista Social Club
Elliott Smith – “Alameda”
The Allman Betts Band – Bless Your Heart