EASY ED’S BROADSIDE: Roots Music on the Tube: Winter 2019
Like a prospector panning for gold, I usually spend an hour each night looking for live performance videos on YouTube that I can share with y’all. Sometimes it leads to a column featuring one artist or just a particular topic, and other times it gets tucked away for a rainy day … a euphemism for not being able to meet a deadline on time. But my time management failure this week is your win, because there are a few things I think you’ll enjoy checking out. Mostly roots music, a few not. Old or new, there’s a musical fortune to be found on the digital lost highway.
It’s been a few years since the Texas troubadour’s last album, and now Carll is set to release What It Is on Feb. 15, which is also the first date of his tour. Fiancée Allison Moorer co-produced the 12-song collection with Brad Jones, and she helped co-write a number of the songs. Carll told Rolling Stone Country that “She’s wildly eloquent but sometimes uses her own made-up language. She’s really practical, but will do things like paint the front porch ceiling turquoise because she believes it keeps the evil spirits out. She’s a unicorn and I just try to enjoy her magic and not screw it up.”
The Handsome Family
For over three years the Milwaukee Record has been hosting Public Domain. The music video series features musicians setting up at Colectivo Coffee Roasters to adapt some of the world’s best-known songs in ways never been heard before. “Home on the Range” was originally a poem written by Dr. Brewster Higley in 1872 and put to music by a friend of his named Daniel Kelley. It became popular in 1933 after crooner Bing Crosby released it, and it’s been covered endlessly and taught in schools and camps. Brett and Rennie Sparks do a fine job.
Although I knew her name, I’d never listened to Cassidy or knew much about her other than she had passed away at a very young age from cancer. When I recently was doing research for a column about cover songs, I thought about a Cyndi Lauper song I’ve always loved but thought should have been produced completely differently than the hit single. This is what came up when I poked around. Eva Cassidy’s performance of “Time After Time” took place at the Blues Alley jazz supper club in DC’s Georgetown neighborhood on the Jan. 3, 1996. Ten months later, she passed.
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper
Back in 1964 a film was released that was financed and produced by Hank Williams’ widow, Audrey. Country Music on Broadway was distributed by Howco International and packed with stars. Filmed in Nashville rather than New York, here’s a clip featuring Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, one of West Virginia’s best-known husband-and-wife country music teams. They performed for a decade on radio station WWVA’s Wheeling Jamboree USA, followed by 20 years at the Grand Ole Opry with their band the Clinch Mountain Clan.
Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno
One of my favorite albums from last year was Vivian Leva‘s Time is Everything. With the exception of two songs, everything was written by her between the ages of 14 to 19. Joined by her music partner Riley Calcagno, a talented multi-instrumentalist, she recruited others to add fiddle, banjo, pedal steel, and percussion. As Calcagno explains it, “We started and ended the session as a duo but it was her vision and material that completely drove the process.” It created enough of a buzz that Leva was named one of Rolling Stone Country’s “10 New Artists You Need to Know” for 2018.
While both Vivian and Rileyare still in college and separated by a couple thousand miles, they spend their time off traveling across the country together and playing dates in living rooms and concert halls as well as old-time and traditional music festivals, workshops, and camps. Leva also accepted an invitation to join The Onlies, a trio from the Pacific Northwest that got together in 2005 when they were only seven years old featuring Calcagno, Sami Braman, and Leo Shannon.
“We met Vivian at Voice Works, a great camp in Port Townsend Washington, and hit it off, playing late into the night a couple nights in a row,” says Calcagno. “We started playing with her more and more, and she really has brought something special and fresh to the group.” Although scattered around the country for now, they’re working on plans for the summer. In the meantime, here’s another from Leva’s album.
After last year’s debut EP Rise, Molly Tuttle took home a bucketful of awards. Her song “You Didn’t Call My Name” was Folk Alliance International’s Song of the Year, took home the Americana Music Award for Instrumentalist of the Year, and was the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year. She’s one of the brightest stars on the “this ain’t your grandfather’s bluegrass” scene today and will be releasing her first album, When You’re Ready, in April. Before she took off from her home in California to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and then Nashville, where she currently lives, she played in her family’s band, The Tuttles, featuring AJ Lee. Here’s an instrumental from 2010 showing off the talents of all three Tuttle kids, and I believe Molly is only 17.
So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star?
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed 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.