BONUS TRACKS: Record Store Day Returns, The State of the Blues, and Banjo Trading Cards
Photo by Fotographia Basica via Getty Images Signature
Vinyl shortage be damned, Record Store Day is back this year with the usual slew of goodies for record collectors. Back to a single day this year after two years of pandemic-prompted multi-day “RSD Drops” to avoid crowds, the big event will take place April 23 at independent record stores across the globe. (There will be an additional RSD Drop on June 18, however, for items that can’t get made or shipped in time for the main event.) Record Store Day ambassador Taylor Swift is helping to spread the word in 2022, the event’s 15th year. Get more info about this year’s Record Store Day and find the list of titles (more than 300!) that will be on offer here.
Rolling Stone spoke with Buffalo Nichols, Robert Cray, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, and others about the state of the blues today, especially for Black performers in a landscape where many of the most successful contemporary blues artists are white. “When somebody younger comes along, they don’t even see a place for themselves” in the genre, Nichols says. “It’s already been so far removed from anything recognizable from what Black people have ever done. And then you have this really difficult question of, ‘How do I fit in — or do you even want to fit in?’” Read more about the challenges of attracting both fans and young artists to the genre here.
“Wanna trade a Series One Ralph Stanley for a Kristin Scott Benson? I’ll throw in a Ron Block, but you’re really killing me.” That’s a line of conversation Bluegrass Trading Company hopes to inspire with its Banjo All-Star Premium Trading Cards, now available for preorder. The cards, each with a painted portrait of the player on the front and stats and key facts on the back, feature 42 banjo players. The packs of eight (randomly assorted) will ship in April. Read more about the project in this feature from the Associated Press (via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette).
Drummer and Memphis Sound shaper Howard Grimes died last weekend from kidney failure at age 80. Nicknamed “The Bulldog,” Grimes kept the beat on landmark albums from Al Green, Ann Peebles, and many others as a member of the Hi Rhythm section. Grimes recalled his part of music history and his personal triumphs and struggles in last year’s memoir, Timekeeper: My Life in Rhythm (ND review here). Read more about Grimes’ life and musical contributions in this remembrance from Memphis’ Commercial Appeal.
Much like in Canada, the capital city of New Zealand has been under siege this week by anti-government, anti-vaccine protesters who are making themselves a barrier to transportation and commerce as well as to public health. Officials have tried talking it out and even turned on sprinklers to try to dislodge protesters around the Parliament building. When that didn’t work, the building’s PA system was drafted into service. The speaker of the nation’s House of Representatives chose songs from a playlist of most-hated songs to try to drive protesters away. His picks included a 15-minute loop of Barry Manilow, “Macarena,” “Baby Shark,” and an off-key recorder version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” (shudder). The move sparked some criticism, and as I write this, the protesters are still firmly in place. But it got me to thinking about what songs I would weaponize if needed, or which songs would work to get me to vacate the premises, and I invite you to take your own journey with that. Meanwhile, you can read more about the Wellington protests and the playlist of awfulness in this piece from NPR.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Brennen Leigh – “If Tommy Duncan’s Voice Was Booze,” from her upcoming album, Obsessed With the West, coming in May
Cinder Well and Jim Ghedi – “I Am a Youth That’s Inclined to Ramble”
Hurray for the Riff Raff – Life on Earth
Kieran Kane and Rayna Gellert – The Flowers That Bloom in Spring
Jade Brodie – “Open Roads”
Anna Ash – Sleeper
Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul
Soul Coughing’s Mike Doughty and Sebastian Steinberg, reunited earlier this month during the Watkins Family Hour – “Super Bon Bon” and “True Dreams of Wichita”
Michaela Anne – “Who You Are”