Welcome to the front porch of The Real Easy Ed, where each week I curate, aggregate and update news, events, images, ideas, sound, fury, odds and ends. Just a little place to pause for a few minutes, get out of the sun and cool down.
New Music Rising
By using the term ‘roots music’ as a description of what I listen to and wax about, you might come to think that I spend all my days listening to stuff like the Fruit Jar Guzzlers, Jelly Jaw Short, Wade Maniner…with a little Bull Moose Jackson and H-Bomb Ferguson thrown in for good measure. And while those musicians were indeed on this morning’s playlist, my taste runs deep, wide and inclusive…a tent so far and wide that I can barely see end to end.
Five years ago this week I published an interview…it was actually the first one I had ever done…on No Depression‘s post-print online website, my home away from home where I contribute a column called Easy Ed’s Broadside. I’d first seen and heard Massachusetts-based musician and artist Marissa Nadler on a few videos that she had uploaded to the Couch By Couch West online anti-festival that ran concurrent to that thing in Austin. Her music captivated and mesmerized me. It was right before her thirtieth birthday, and she’d already released five albums along with several side projects, amassing a highly-engaged international fan base that kept her on the road.
In my article and our conversation, which I do hope you can find the time to read or at the very least watch some of her videos that I’ve included, The Demystification of Marissa Nadler starts out with the words of others who’ve tried too hard to come up with a genre-box to explain who she is and what she does.
“The indie-folk pinup girl and mistress of the murder ballad.”
“She’s hacked away the art school whimsy, tossed out the crystals and burned the floaty headscarfs.”
“Simple, melancholic fingerpicked folk ballads that take advantage of her sonorous, spine-tingling vocals, narrating tales of damsels in distress or lovers absent or dead.”
“Compelling medieval twang.”
My take? I think Marissa makes incredible folk music. Maybe not your parents folk music, but it comes from a place where an eighteen-year-old Marissa would sometimes leaf through those early No Depression magazines and as she describes… ‘spend my awkward adolescence copying master paintings in my basement and listening to music on the boombox. A lot of this music was prog rock and classic rock. A lot of it was folk and Americana. I loved Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams and they really spoke to me. Also, Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels. Elizabeth Cotton.’
On May 20th Marissa will release her seventh full-length album titled Strangers, and she’ll be doing April dates on the USA West Coast, followed in May and June with dates in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland and Denmark. Here’s the link to her site.
This week she released the new video which she shot, directed and animated herself. I’ll let her own words set it up for you.
“With ‘All the Colors of the Dark’ I wanted to marry my love for the moving image with the song in a compelling visual that pulsated with the same rhythm. I’ve been inspired by the beautiful phantasmagoric worlds created by Svankmejer and Francesca Woodman, The Brothers Quay, among others. In the video, everyday objects move on their own, representing a lingering presence in my life.
Every Picture Tells a Story
The image at the top of this page was shot by my long-time-we’ve-only-met-online friend Sandy Dyas, who is a visual artist based in Iowa City that I’ve written about often. You can visit her website here and check out her work, books (buy them…really) and blog. And more of her images can be found on this site….including this one I originally published back in January 2014 at No Depression.
From The Pages of Kithfolk: The Howard Rains Pictorial
There’s a marketing and publicity company that works out of the Shoreline Washington home of the Leger family called Hearth Music. They are musicians, wordsmiths and designers, with a passion for traditional music and art that goes beyond simply running a business. KITHFOLK is their digital roots music magazine of long-form interviews, engaging articles, video and audio streaming premieres, album reviews, and columns from guest writers. Most of the time they don’t write about the artists that they are currently working with, but the people and places and sounds that catch their attention.
Wandering around the site the other night, I happened to come across a gallery of paintings from a gentleman by the name of Howard Rains that really jumped out at me. Here’s a self-description by Howard of his work…the full story will take you to the visuals.
I have painted since I was a kid, but for many years I have been painting old time fiddlers, drawing only from life and documenting living traditional musicians as they played. These portraits go through the filter of my style and I have often been told they look nothing like the individual I am painting; other times I have been told they look exactly like them. I have done this because I love to do it. Because I am obsessed with traditional music and the incredible people I meet through the music. Click here for the full story and gallery.
From The New Yorker: The Awkward, Enduring Influence of Hank William’s Jr.
There seems to be an avalanche of press focus on the music and life of Hank Williams Sr. with the release of the biopic I Saw The Light, but David Cantrell has written an expansive and absolutely fascinating piece on his son.
Here’s just a little taste, but you should most definitely click here for the full story.
Hank Williams, Jr., was raised to be an echo, not an influence. His mother, Audrey Williams, pushed him to perform as Hank Williams, Jr., (his given name is Randall) and to play songs pulled almost exclusively from the catalogue of his father, who died when Hank, Jr., was three. He made his stage début, warbling his father’s first hit, “Lovesick Blues,” when he was only eight years old; he débuted on the Grand Ole Opry at eleven. He released his first album, “Hank Williams Jr. Sings the Songs of Hank Williams,” for his father’s old record label, M.G.M., just after turning fourteen, in 1964.
His father remains the genre’s key repository of myth and tradition (though he’s lately moved it on over a bit to make room for Johnny Cash). But listen closely to country radio’s defining sounds and points of view at almost any moment over the last four decades and Hank Williams, Jr., is right there—often, he was there first. When it comes to anticipating the direction of country music, Jr. has mattered more than Sr. for a long, long time.
In that picture above, which is from an old copy of Billboard Magazine, Junior is standing next to my cousin, the late Arnold Maxin. He was a true music man…playing horn in the big bands when he was fifteen, selling records for a Philadelphia distributor after the war, working A&R at Okeh Records, producing a number of hits including Screaming Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and pretty much every Connie Francis album, and ending up as head of MGM Records in the sixties. Here’s one from the kid.
Lucinda Williams Takes Me Far Beyond The Blue
On a Tuesday morning, Lucinda Williams’ husband Tom sent me a message asking how far I was from Tarrytown. I punched out “ten minutes” although it’s probably closer to twenty, and hit the send button. She was playing at the old theater there on Saturday night, and up until the day before, I held out hope that I could arise and attend, but it wouldn’t happen. I sent my apologies on Friday afternoon and said “Another time, for sure.”
My column this past week at No Depression is mostly about me and some trouble I’ve had, but also about how Lucinda and her music moved my needle last June on a stormy night. Click here to check it out.
On the day you fly away, far beyond the blue
When you’re done, and your run is finally through
I’m forced to let go, there’ll be no greater sorrow
On that day you fly away, far beyond the blue
OH NO…A FACEBOOK FRIEND SUPPORTS DONALD TRUMP…WHAT WOULD PETE SEEGER DO?
I’ll make this quick. I used to be a serial-social-media -politicalized-poster. You know…that guy. The friend on Facebook who links every left (or right) leaning story on the internet because they think YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS!!! It’s ok….I’m in recovery. Here’s my story about what I now ask myself before I hit the button. What Would Pete Seeger Do?
Videos You Wouldn’t Know Existed, Unless You Found Them By Mistake.
This is a cross-post from my site therealeasyed.com and is a slightly abridged version minus some imagery.
I aggregate and post daily on my Twitter feed:@therealeasyed and Facebook page:The Real Easy Ed: Roots Music and Random Thoughts.
My every other week Broadside column is published at No Depression and you can follow me here if you’d like.