Songwriters on Process interviews songwriters in depth about their writing process. They've talked to everyone from Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) to J.D. Cronise from The Sword. Where else can you find both Patrick Stickles from Titus Andronicus talking about Faulkner and Eric from Foxy Shazam admitting he's never read a book in his life?
Within that small and very specific sub-genre of musical Americana identifiable as the train imitation, there is one amazing performance, from 1926, that set the standard: Pan-American Blues. The man who recorded it did a fine and fanciful job of evoking the sounds of a fox chase as well, and his rhythmically compelling solo rendition of John Henry stands as testament to the potential for musical greatness achievable by one man and a humble harmonica. He was an African-American who was a founding member of the Grand Ole Opry, a musical institution that we rarely (as in, never) today associate with black people, and his touching and tragic story, documented here, is one that will be of interest to those concerned with the racial, economic and socio-cultural history of American popular music. He stands at one of its more unexpected intersections: his name is DeFord Bailey. [more inside]
The Manganiyar Seduction "The Manganiyars are a group of hereditary professional folk musicians from Rajasthan, India.">
"In a mass marketing culture a revolutionary song is any song you choose to sing yourself." - Utah Phillips
Full Utah Phillips concert from 2007: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. If you don't know who Utah Phillips is, be prepared to meet one of the great performers of our age, telling funny stories and cracking jokes, singing great songs, and generally being a world treasure. If you want to know more about this great singer, songwriter, and peace and labor activist, you can watch an hour long documentary on him from Democracy Now that was made after he passed away in 2008. [previously]
It’s maybe a little early yet for year’s end retrospectives, but who cares: we’ve got 157 songs, 10.5 hours, 1.12 GB of “some of the best and most notable music from 2010... covering indie, pop, rock, punk, folk, rap, R&B, soul, dance, country, modern classical, ambient and electronic music, and in many cases, hard-to-classify genre hybrids.” —Curated by FluxBlog’s own Matthew Perpetua.
This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant; that's just the name of the song, and that's why I call the song Alice's Restaurant. [more inside]
Peter Grudzien lives in New York and makes psychedelic country music or at least used to, since only two albums of his material ever came out, The Unicorn in 1974, and The Garden of Love, which is mostly a collection of demos. His songs are varied, ranging from noise music to straight up country, and their subject matters are equally wide-ranging, from strange fare, such as lyrics about his clone being at Stonewall, to straight-up love songs. His best known original is probably The Unicorn, a beautiful song whose lyrics recast the early 70s New York gay demimonde in terms of a barren zombie-filled wasteland which will be reborn when the titular unicorn is found by the queen. Other songs on YouTube are White Trash Hillbilly Trick, New York Town and an instrumental cover of the Georgia Gibbs hit Kiss Me Another. Finally, here's a lovely cover of The Unicorn by Calgary folkie Kris Ellestad.
A new urban dance craze is sweeping across the UK, taking it back to old skool. (SLYT)
"Parallelograms is an album by American psychedelic folk singer Linda Perhacs. Her first and to date only album, it was all but completely ignored when originally released on Kapp Records in 1970. Discouraged by the lack of commercial attention and the label's reluctance to promote the album, Perhacs returned to her career as a dental technician. In the 30 or so years that followed, the album gradually developed a cult following, particularly on the Internet. Young listeners found appeal in her subtle instrumentation and delicate harmonies..." Parallelograms::Chimacum Rain::Hey, Who Really Cares?
It's October, a fine time to learn some spooky stories to tell while you're gathered around a campfire.
Let's dust off our turntable, and the hash pipe and break out the C.O.B., which is Clive's Own Band, Clive being Clive Palmer, one of the founders of The Incredible String Band, who left after the success of their first album, took his money, and left England to live in alone in India. Later, in the early seventies, living off porridge and crackers in a caravan with Mick Bennett and John Bidwell, he released two 'progressive folk' albums, Spirit of Love and Moyshe McStiff and the Tartan Lancers of the Sacred Heart, which some have called the best folk albums to have ever come out of Britain. Produced with Ralph McTell.
Northumbrian Storyteller, No-age Musician and Ante-Folk singer Sedayne performs his own Primal Myth Reinvention of The Holly and the Ivy to the tune of Searching for Lambs. [more inside]
American Ethnography Quasi-Weekly is a somewhat gonzo cabinet of curiosities -- a mix of photography, academic essay, archival materials, and bloggy postings on "outlaw aethetics" and outsider culture, presenting glimpses of American subcultures past and present, from Califormia low-riders to "hoochy-coochy" dancers to blackface tambourine jugglers, and plenty more. [more inside]
In the late 90s EMI's Songbook Series released an album, "Where Were You When The Fun Stopped" with tracks chosen by author Hunter S. Thompson along with detailed liner notes. Since you can't get the cool notes or photos, why not enjoy Hunter's country and folk flavored taste at your July 4th revelry of choice? Ballad of Thunder Road - Robert Mitchum : I Smell A Rat -
Howlin' Wolf Big Momma Thornton : Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum : The Hula-Hula Boys - Warren Zevon : Maggie May - Rod Stewart : The Wild Side of Life / It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels - Hank Thompson feat. Kitty Wells & Tanya Tucker : Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band : Mr Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan : Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed : If I Had A Boat - Lyle Lovett : Stars On The Water - Rodney Crowell : Carmelita - Flaco Jiminez feat. Dwight Yoakam : Why Don't We Get Drunk - Jimmy Buffett : American Pie - Don McClean : White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane : The Weight - The Band : Melissa - The Allman Brothers Band : Battle Hymn of the Republic - Herbie Mann (cover) [more inside]
She's been called "the greatest posthumous success story in music history." But when she died of melanoma at age 33, few people outside of the Washington DC-area had heard of Eva Marie Cassidy. [more inside]
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than we'll know. And I think to myself: What a Wonderful World
You may not know who Israel "Brudda Iz" Kamakawiwoʻole was, but you're probably familiar with his medley of "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," which has been included on several movie soundtracks and used on television shows & commercials throughout the world.... [more inside]
Julia Kotowski, otherwise known as entertainment for the braindead, has released several rather good albums under a Creative Commons licence: Hypersomnia, Hydrophobia, Seven (+1), Raw Timber and the banjo-heavy Roadkill.
Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine became friends in Canadian high school band. They now make up Dala, an accoustic folk pop duo who sing songs like the cutesy pop song Levi Blues, Alive about a hellish New Years Eve in an old cabin, Marilyn Monroe about coming of age, and the more serious Horses, a song dedicated to a paraplegic teenager. They have opened for Neko Case, Tom Cochrane, and Matthew Good and covered Neil Young.
Born in Big Sandy, Texas in 1874, Henry Thomas was one of the oldest black musician who ever recorded for the phonograph companies of the 1920′s and his music represents a rare opportunity to hear what American black folk music must have sounded like in the last decade of the 19th century. [more inside]
Showing Off is a series of videos, audio clips and articles in which noted music journalist and Frankie Goes to Hollywood mastermind Paul Morley explores various facets of music. Each month has a theme, [warning: most links have autoplaying video] Michael Jackson, Kraftwerk, classical music, disco, The Beatles, folk music, The X Factor, the Noughties, the next big thing, UK hip hop, jazz, and dance. Here is some of what's on offer: MeFi faves Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip on hip hop, These New Puritans' Jack Barnett, Johnny Marr on folk (parts 1, 2), but isn't all just interviews, there are also a lot of performances, e.g. Michael Nyman and David McAlmont, Badly Drawn Boy, Susanna Wallumrød covers Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak, and Cornershop cover Norwegian Wood.
The Alabama Museum of Wonder. Butch Anthony has a word – a word which he concocted himself. A word which he designed to precisely describe his unique personal style of art and artistic discovery. That word is “intertwangleism.” [more inside]
"Broadside was a small underground magazine smuggled out of a New York City housing project in a baby carriage, filled with new songs by artists who were too creative for the folkies and too radical for the establishment." The entire back catalog of this influential magazine - which helped set the visual standard for underground zines until desktop publishing - is now avalable online, in PDF.
Music! - A 1968 documentary by the National Music Council of Great Britain, featuring folk singing, The Beatles, and even early electronic music produced by tape splicing. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.
The Victor Talking Machine Co. of Camden, New Jersey is proud to present the following Orthophonic Recordings by bluesman Mr. Ishman Bracey: Leavin' Town Blues - Trouble Hearted Blues - Brown Mamma Blues and Saturday Blues. And remember, for best results, use Victor Needles. [more inside]
A BBC Documentary on Hank Williams ( incomplete) 1 2 4 5, The History Of Country Music 1 2 3 4 [more inside]
Folk America: Excellent BBC 3-part documentary tracing folk music from the '20s to the folk revival of the '60s, encompassing the depression and the civil rights era. part 1: Birth of a Nation (59.21) part 2: This Land is Your Land (59:30) part 3: Blowin' in the Wind (58:49) [more inside]
Much-missed acoustic guitarist Isaac Guillory thrilled audiences around the UK, accumulating die-hard fans wherever he went. For those who never had the chance to see him perform, this extremely rare broadcast-quality footage of a classic 1991 concert (made available on YouTube by one of the cameramen who filmed it), is the next best thing. [more inside]
Bobby Charles 1938-2010. Songwriter, musician's musician and cultural treasure, he died on last Thursday in Abbeville,Lousiana. In the 1950s, he wrote Fats Domino's Walking to New Orleans, Bill Haley and the Comet's See You Later, Alligator and recorded for Chess records. His eponymous Bearsville album recorded in Woodstock in 1972 has been described as the best Band album released under another name.(Check out Small Town Talk there.) He appeared as well in the Band's farewell concert filmed as The Last Waltz. He made an enormous contribution to American popular music. [more inside]
Riabina who come from near Augustow in NE Poland where established in 1988 are apparently the only musical group of "Old Believers." [more inside]
Boys dared to grow their hair and girls dared to wear mini skirts and in Korea indecency officers patroled the street with scissors and rulers, publicly cutting hair too long and checking if skirts were too short. Shin Joong-hyung, was there with his 70s hit, Beauty, as were other musicians and artists like Sanullim and the Key Boys. [more inside]
Taylor Mitchell, 19, was a promising Canadian folk singer. Her life was cut short by a rare coyote attack. Her music can be heard on her Myspace page. Mitchell on Facebook. From her bio: Taylor has just released her debut full length recording "For Your Consideration"- a collection of mostly original songs that showcases a range of styles, from folk to country-rock to pop, and reflects the diversity of her talent.
Chanteur puissant à la voix rocailleuse. And here is bluestab's blog And here, via Babelfish is bluestab's blog in an English of sorts. Then, while, looking for mp3s to match the tabs, I came across the universe of African American history and culture that is AfricanAfrican aka NegroArtist.com, a site so big it has two URLs. [Billy Mays] But, wait--that's not all! [/Billy Mays] [more inside]
Fiddle, accordion, and a singing drummer. Seven minutes and fifty seven seconds of Gypsy music from Ukraine, live in Budapest. The real thing. Totally wailing. Kickass. Técső Banda at Kertem.
Mercedes Sosa, a beloved Argentinian folk singer, passed away today. Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has ordered an official period of mourning. [more inside]
Common Rotation is a three-piece folk/indie band out of Los Angeles. They write you a song a day (ish), and they make documentary films. (first link autoplays music) [more inside]
Richard and Mimi Fariña. I doubt I'll ever forget his song, Bold Marauder, or his cult novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. He and Mimi, Joan Baez's sister, made three fine albums before his tragic death. Youtube has a live version of "Bold Marauder." Also, a nice cover by Kendra Smith, and a fanvid for the pirate romance, "Frenchman's Creek," using a cover by John Kay of Steppenwolf.
Mary Travers died today, at 72, of leukemia. According to the NY Times, she provided the sex appeal to Peter, Paul and Mary, which in turn provided mainstream production values for a number of Dylan songs. However, many remember her contributions to (the creepily titled but awesome) kids' record Peter Paul and Mommy. Peter and Paul have written tributes to her.
Shane MacGowan is the face and name most often associated with The Pogues. Unraveling Shane's psyche would require a book-length study but the crux of his identity lies somewhere in that conflict between English experience and Irish heritage. The abbreviated story of his life starts with his birth in England, but he was raised in Ireland, and moved back to England some years later. He won a scholarship to the renowned Westminster School, where he was possibly enrolled alongside Thomas Dolby and other notable people. MacGowan was involved with drugs and publicized hooliganery before being in a band, the first of which was The Nipple Erectors in 1977. [more inside]
Sometimes called The Barnsley Nightingale, British folk singer Kate Rusby was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1999, and has won four BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Her cover of The Kinks' "Village Green Preservation Society" is the theme song for the TV show "Jam & Jerusalem." The Daily Telegraph called her "England's answer to Dolly Parton. Not in terms of the wigs and the sequins, but in her quaveringly sincere ability to tell a simple, downhome story in a song and make your heart ache for it." BBC says she performs "folk music for people who don't like folk music." [more inside]
September 9, 2005 - Flight of the Conchords performed six songs and chatted with the audience as part of HBO's One Night Stand, not quite two years before the TV series would air. The show is online for your viewing pleasure (29 minute MySpace video, also available as a youtube playlist of 6 videos). [more inside]
Mike Seeger, folk musician and folklorist, passed away on August 7, 2009. Half-brother to Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger was self-taught at banjo, fiddle, guitar, autoharp, and dulcimer, among other instruments. Additionally, Seeger spent decades traveling the country to collect and document American folk musicians, many of whom would have been forgotten were it not for his efforts. In the late 50's, Seeger, Tom Paley, and John Cohen founded the old-time string band The New Lost City Ramblers. The Ramblers countered the rising tide of bluegrass music with a return to old-time traditionals and were a significant influence on the mid-century folk revival. Seeger's death coincides with the upcoming release of an Arhoolie Foundation documentary about the Ramblers (warning: the documentary link contains an embedded video). On Youtube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. [more inside]
...The narrative of the blues got hijacked by rock ’n’ roll, which rode a wave of youth consumers to global domination. Back behind the split, there was something else: a deeper, riper source. Many people who have written about this body of music have noticed it. Robert Palmer called it Deep Blues. We’re talking about strains within strains, sure, but listen to something like Ishman Bracey’s ''Woman Woman Blues,'' his tattered yet somehow impeccable falsetto when he sings, ''She got coal-black curly hair.'' Songs like that were not made for dancing. Not even for singing along. They were made for listening. For grown-ups. They were chamber compositions. Listen to Blind Willie Johnson’s "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.'' It has no words. It’s hummed by a blind preacher incapable of playing an impure note on the guitar. We have to go against our training here and suspend anthropological thinking; it doesn’t serve at these strata. The noble ambition not to be the kind of people who unwittingly fetishize and exoticize black or poor-white folk poverty has allowed us to remain the kind of people who don’t stop to wonder whether the serious treatment of certain folk forms as essentially high- or higher-art forms might have originated with the folk themselves.From Unknown Bards: The blues becomes apparent to itself by one John Jeremiah Sullivan. I came across it while browsing Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers On The Albums That Changed Their Lives. For Sullivan, that album was American Primitive, Vol. II: Pre-War Revenants (1897 - 1939), which is my favorite CD of the year. Which came out in 2005 while I just got around to buying it this year. Foolish me. It is a piece of art in itself in every respect--all CDs should have such production values. [more inside]
The 2009 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod competitions have concluded, with the Pavarotti Trophy for Choir of the World being awarded to The Westminster Chorus. The Eisteddfod includes choral, solo, instrumental, and dance competitions. Video of the competitions can be seen here.