“I’m new here”
An acquaintance just emailed me via Facebook to say she’s interested in learning more about alt-country (whatever that is), folk, and roots music, and did I have any recommendations? Any artists she has to check out to introduce her to the genre?
Naturally, I suggested she immediately discover Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle. I gave her some newer folks like Danny Schmidt and JTE. I told her about Chuck Prophet and Gillian Welch, and kind of left it there. I figured that’s a good enough start for someone who just got a whim to find new music. Then I told her to come here and see what you people have to say.
Personally, my gateway drug was Woody Guthrie, by way of Ani DiFranco. It was kind of a long, twisted path I followed past Laura Nyro to CSNY to Dylan and Seeger, then back again to Johnny Cash and eventually the present date. (By “present date”, I mean “past 20 years”.) So these questions are always head-scratchers to me. Musical discovery is such a personal thing. One man’s ELO is another’s Hank Williams, so to speak.
So, what do you have to say? What do you tell someone when they ask for recommendations? Do you go straight to the basics and the old reliable stand-bys? Or do you throw out a band like Blind Pilot? A gateway drug like the Avett Brothers? Or do you just insist they start with Johnny and Merle?