BONUS TRACKS: Planting Trees, Masking Up at Shows, and Considering Bob Dylan Through Seven Songs
Photo by R_Tee / Getty Images
The FreshGrass Foundation — the nonprofit organization that publishes No Depression — has had sustainability at its heart from the very beginning, but Earth Day seems like a good time to bring you up to date with some of our efforts. Last fall, we started a partnership with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every ticket sold to the FreshGrass Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts. This year, we’re expanding that pledge to the Bentonville, Arkansas, FreshGrass Festival (May 20-21) as well. So far, it’s added up to 5,999 trees planted via One Tree Planted’s Appalachia project. Other components of our Sustainability Manifesto include using recycled paper in No Depression journals and shipping our journals and merch in compostable or recyclable packaging. Want to learn more about the intersection of environmental stewardship and the music industry? “Going Green” was the theme of our entire Fall 2020 journal, which you can preview and purchase here.
If you follow your favorite musicians on social media, chances are you’ve seen a few of them regretfully cancel shows recently because of a positive COVID-19 test. It’s not only disappointing for them to have to do that, especially after two years without touring, but it’s also financially devastating. Increasingly, artists are asking fans to mask up — even though it’s no longer required in most cities and venues — to help keep them healthy on the road. Read more on those pleas, and the high stakes of touring while COVID is still with us, in this article from Variety.
While masks are the most pressing thing that artists are asking of their fans right now, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker has another request: Pay attention to the opening act. In a video message she posted on Instagram, Lenker makes her case: “What I wanted to ask is that when you come into this space where music is happening, even if you’re coming just to see a specific act play, be mindful if there is somebody performing and playing, to either listen or at least be quiet so that other people can listen.” People who are talking over the performer, she says, are “missing so much.” You can read a transcript of her entire message in this Stereogum article. Not that Lenker needs me to chime in, but I concur. It’s plain rude to have a loud conversation while someone’s on stage (they can totally hear you), but also you’re robbing yourself of a potential new favorite band. Show up early, pay attention, and prolong the magic of a concert for as long as possible.
It’s heartbreaking to see a storied festival come to the end of its road, as the Rhythm & Roots Music Festival in Rhode Island did last February — or so we thought! After announcing then that the family-run company that had started the festival in 1998 was suspending operations due to Chuck Wentworth’s health issues, the festival shared this week that it had sold the event to Goodworks Entertainment, who is reviving the fest for its usual Labor Day weekend timing and in the usual place — Charlestown’s Ninigret Park. The announcement said Goodworks does not plan any major changes to the festival, and Wentworth and his family will act as consultants as the 2022 event is planned. Read the entire announcement here.
Few writers have covered Bob Dylan more extensively than music journalist Greil Marcus over the years, but in a new book announced this week, he’ll tell Dylan’s story through the lens of seven of his songs. Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography in Seven Songs (check the cover image for some clues), comes out Oct. 11 on Yale University Press — just a few weeks before Dylan releases a book of his own, The Philosophy of Modern Song, due Nov. 8.
The Oscar- and Grammy-winning documentary Summer of Soul took us to the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, and now we can go again, live and in our own time. Revived and renamed, the Harlem Festival of Culture will be held in summer of 2023 at the same site shown in Questlove’s film. No lineup has been announced yet, but you can read more about plans for the updated event in this article from Variety.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
John Moreland – “Ugly Faces,” from his new album, Birds in the Ceiling, coming in July
Luke Sital-Singh – “Dressing Like a Stranger,” the title track from his new album, coming in September
Madison Cunningham – “Anywhere”
Roger Harvey – “Last Prisoner” (Benefits the Last Prisoner Project)
Rachel Baiman and Kris Drever – “Hard Times in Babylon”
Gaby Moreno – Alegoría
May Erlewine – “Easy”
Annelle Staal – “New People”
Barney Bentall – Cosmic Dreamer
Punch Brothers – Hell on Church Street
Pharis & Jason Romero – “Souvenir,” from their new album, Tell ‘Em You Were Gold, coming in June