EASY ED’S BROADSIDE: New Music for Troubled Times
Photo via Pixabay
I was planning on sleeping in late today since I had the day off. I’ve been telecommuting these past few weeks, which has been keeping me busy and in touch with people beyond my four walls. Between my workmates scattered throughout the country and Canada, as well as my social media friends and connections, I’ve been lucky to remain in almost constant contact via chat, phone, and online conferencing, which certainly helps tamp down feelings of loneliness during these strange times. It’s also given me time to reconnect with folks I haven’t been in touch with for decades, and I appreciate those moments of sharing memories and catching up.
It’s been almost two weeks since I last went out to my local market, and with nothing else to do this early in the morning, and the fact that we older folks have an hour to shop before the rest of y’all can come in, I gloved up, put on my mask, and grabbed the illegible list left on the kitchen counter by my son. Do you know why most 20-somethings can’t spell or write on paper with a pen or pencil? They grew up with autocorrect and keyboards. I don’t really believe that, but doesn’t it sound like something a grumpy old man would say?
Ain’t gonna bore you with the details, but when I arrived at the store there was a line a quarter-mile long because the seniors think that six feet of social distancing really means 15. But things moved fast, and within an hour I was on my way home with $200 worth of stuff in the trunk of my car. I was even able to grab a half-dozen rolls of toilet paper, which I considered for a moment putting on eBay as soon as I got home and selling ’em for $100.
The biggest benefit to working at home, other than not having to get dressed or take a shower every day, is that I’ve been able to listen to my tunes through speakers rather than headphones or earbuds. It’s something I no longer do very often with the exception of when I’m driving, and as the days have passed I have substantially increased my consumption. I’ve also been monitoring a lot of the livestreams that people have been doing, and while that’s not as much fun as a concert, I like to look beyond the players and check out their furnishings and see how they live. Brings out those voyeuristic tendencies, I suppose.
So let me shut up now and share some music. Plenty of new albums have been released in preparation for a summer festival season that has now faded into unlikelihood, so marketing plans and the ability to get the word out is making tough times tougher. And of course I’ve found a few older videos you might enjoy seeing. I’m gonna link to each artist’s website and let the music play. Take care and stay safe.
Laurie Lewis – And Laurie Lewis
An album of duets from the queen of West Coast bluegrass. A champion fiddler who also sings, writes, and plays guitar and other string instruments, Lewis has been releasing albums since the mid-’80s. She has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and Prairie Home Companion, and her discography is a gold mine. Here’s one with Leah Wollenberg from the new album that they performed last November.
Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter
Originally planned for a late summer release, Marling actually pushed this forward to April. Her summer tours were suddenly canceled, and speaking on NPR she said, “I suddenly realized that not only was I going to miss performing, but I was also going to miss that opportunity to connect with people in that way, and I hadn’t anticipated feeling like that. I felt like the only thing I could offer was the album.” This is a complete Tiny Desk Home Concert from her living room.
Logan Ledger – Logan Ledger
With T Bone Burnett producing and playing guitar on half the tracks, as well as a stellar band that played on the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Rising Sand collaboration backing him up, this is a steaming hot debut. I give Ledger all the credit for making this album sizzle, with an amazing vocal range and style.
Buck Curran – No Love Is Sorrow
Formerly of the duo Arborea, this is Curran’s third solo album, and this video was filmed and edited by his daughter Shylah. Currently living in Bergamo, Italy, Curran is a luthier, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer who has opened my ears up over the years to what one may call “cult-Americana.” This album takes me back to the later-’60s folk era, reminding me of Pearls Before Swine, Tom Rush, Tim Hardin, and the balladry of Marty Balin.
Eliza Gilkyson – 2020
This is a beautiful new recording featuring a great band of musicians from Austin, where Gilkyson resides. Her website describes the album much better than I could:
“A blend of new and old, reflecting the protests and activism that have defined her generation, including her interpretation of some folk favorites by Bob Dylan, ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,’ and Pete Seeger’s ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone.’ Eliza also adapted a new song, ‘Beach Haven,’ from a letter written by Woody Guthrie in 1952 to Fred Trump, who at the time was his landlord, regarding his segregationist renter policies. Ever the optimist, Woody pleaded to Trump to ‘open your doors’ and ‘rip out the strangling red tape’ that kept the apartment from embracing all races.”
Mark Erelli – Blindsided
I can’t imagine a more appropriate title for an album released during these times. Over two years in the making, and with a full tour lined up and ready to go, veteran folksinger Erelli turned it up a notch on this project and then got kicked in the gut. I think I have over a dozen albums of his and various side projects, but this one is really special. From his blog:
“Though the reviews have been fantastic, it’s been a very confusing time for life in general, never mind for self-promotion. An album’s release pales in comparison to the real challenges ahead. And yet Blindsided is the culmination of over two years’ hard work, my own and others’, and I will continue to look for appropriate ways to honor this. If you’d like to contribute, the best thing you can do is to buy this record, listen, and encourage others to do the same.
In this challenging time, aside from following public health guidelines and keeping my family safe, it’s difficult to know what to do. Honestly, supporting my wife (who works in health care) and maintaining structure and a sense of normalcy for my boys keeps my plate pretty full. But as Rosanne Cash put it, ‘artists are the premiere service industry for the heart and soul,’ and I’d like to do my part.
So, what do you need? More goofy Instagram story songs? A YouTube Live fan Q&A? Online concerts? Is there a way I could be of service to you right now? How can I help?”
Imagine, he’s asking how he can help us. Here’s three songs from the new album and something he posted to help first responders in his home state, Massachusetts.
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed here at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.