Today is Iris DeMent's birthday, and I've been listening to some tunes by this delightfully idiosyncratic singer and songwriter, whose sound harkens back to an earlier era of American music. I thought some of you might enjoy hearing them today as well. Here's Out of the Fire, God May Forgive You (But I Won't), He's Not You, Easy's Gettin' Harder Every Day, Sweet is the Melody, Let the Mystery Be, Our Town (featuring harmony vocal from the wonderful Emmylou Harris), He Reached Down (with Joan Osborne and Bruce Molsky), and finally, here's Iris dueting with John Prine on his hilarious number In Spite of Ourselves.
The other day, I woke up humming Guy Clark's "Dublin Blues." That terrific performance is from Transatlantic Sessions, a long-running project uniting musicians from different countries and varying musical backgrounds. "For almost two decades, the sessions have been inviting American musicians – from Rufus Wainwright to Emmylou Harris to James Taylor – to the UK to collaborate with British musicians steeped in the folk tradition, and filming the results. Imagine Later with Jools Holland, if all the acts played on each other's songs. And with more accordion." Drawing from Wikipedia's list of performances, I offer for your listening pleasure... Transatlantic Sessions. [more inside]
In the wake of the tornados and armageddon, perhaps some happy news is in order. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band have released the third volume in their Will the Circle Be Unbroken series. This series which began 30 years ago and continued with Volume 2 in 1989, features the boys in the Dirt Band getting together with country legends like Johnny Cash, members of the Carter Family and Vassar Clements and inheritors like Emmylou Harris and Ricky Skaggs and doing some astonishing versions of old traditional tunes, hymns and a few originals. I'm listening to Vol. 3 right now, which features first timers like Dwight Yoakam, the lovely Iris Dement and even Tom Petty, and I'm tellin' ya, it's a worthy addition to the tradition, my freinds. Traditional music is enjoying a revival right now and that's great, but these folks have done an enormous amount to keep it alive and vital between the vogues and created some music for us in the bargain.