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Old 01-01-2008, 01:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
killedmyraindog
 
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Default Post a Folk Article

Beyond the White Stripes

There’s a blues and old-school R&B resurgence rumbling in the indie-music underground, and it goes well beyond the icky thump of the White Stripes. Its first populist signs are fresh albums featuring Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant collaborating with bluegrass diva Alison Krauss and soul survivor Bettye LaVette teaming with Dirty Southern rockers the Drive-By Truckers.
This creative movement began percolating in the mid ’90s, when the Fat Possum label released the nastiest, punkiest authentic juke-joint blues in decades. Through shrewd marketing, hip-hop remixes, and the support of rockers like Iggy Pop and Jon Spencer, old Mississippi dogs like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough found a new audience of young pups. Those pups — including Jack White — began digging back to ’60s icons like Fred McDowell and to acoustic Delta kingpins Son House and Robert Johnson, whose songs have since been covered by, among others, the White Stripes (House’s “John the Revelator” and “Death Letter”) and Juliana Hatfield (Johnson’s “Malted Milk”).

In 2000, bluegrass got a big bump thanks to the smash soundtrack for Ethan and Joel Coen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? The resulting rediscovery of mountain musicians like Ralph Stanley, Doc Boggs, and Bill Monroe triggered a bluegrass and old-time-music renaissance, with more new bands than you can shake a mandolin at. Charlottesville’s King Wilkie and Boston’s Tarbox Ramblers are among the established exponents. This year, younger outfits like Portland’s Blitzen Trapper and Seattle’s Cave Singer have stepped to the fore.

Now, it seems that blues and R&B are getting their turn. An eruption of new bands, labels, festivals, and musical surprises like Plant & Krauss’s Raising Sand (Rounder) and LaVette’s The Scene of the Crime is generating cultural heat.



The White Stripes, North Mississippi All Stars, and the Black Keys have been the grungy point men. But a generation of newer bands also informed by the roughshod sounds of the South — much the way the Allman Brothers had been — is staking its claim. Nashville’s Black Diamond Heavies and the Dynamites, Kansas’s Moreland & Arbuckle, Memphis’s Richard Johnston, Oregon’s Hillstomp, and Texas’s Jawbone are among the sharpest new knives in a cutting-edge strain of dirty blues and R&B spiked with rock-and-roll energy. Most of them convened back on August 18, in River Falls, Wisconsin, for the Deep Blues Festival. It was billed as the first punk-blues fest, and its small-but-rabid audience came from throughout the US and abroad. Last year, however, a bunch of Mississippi musicians got the drop on the Midwesterners by debuting the North Mississippi Hill Country picnic in Potts Camp. That bill was mostly traditional, but this June the two-day event brought in the All Stars, Austin’s Goshen, Cary Hudson of Blue Mountain, and the funky rock polyglot Taylor Grocery Band, featuring Kimbrough’s drummer son Kinny. Both festivals will reconvene in 2008.

Although this is a cautious time for the CD biz, a few hip labels have dived into the new-dirty-blues fray. Yellow Dog is doing its part with a hybrid R&B of the Soul of John Black (whose latest album was helmed by legendary Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell), the string band Asylum Street Spankers, and powerhouse soul groovers the Bo-Keys. But the riskiest route belongs to King Mojo Records of Smyrna, Georgia, which delivers nasty modernist blues from Big Shanty and Little G. Weevil along with good ol’ Allmans-style Southern rock.

Most surprising is the resurgence of Stax. The Memphis label was ground zero for unadulterated soul and blues in the 1960s and early ’70s, and a force in the civil-rights movement. Thanks to financing from Concord Records, a flood of classic Stax recordings and previously unavailable filmed concerts is seeing the light of day. The label plans to release its first new discs since 1972, by Stax vets Isaac Hayes and Eddie Floyd and newcomer Angie Stone. Floyd’s album was cut in Boston by producers Michael Dinallo and Ducky Carlisle.

The next 12-month business cycle of the music industry should determine the impact of this emergence of vital contemporary music with weathered roots. From LaVette’s perspective, something has taken hold — at least for her. After 40 years in obscurity, the powerhouse R&B singer’s 2005 I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise (Anti-) earned her an ardent following that cuts across age and racial demographics.

“It’s extremely flattering to have a brand new audience,” says the 59-year-old. “They’re young, but I tell them they have to behave as if they were at their grandmother’s house, because I expect their attention.” She earns it with honey-and-grits singing and dramatic performances.

“I don’t take them for granted, because people can be fickle,” LaVette adds. Right now, she’s in the clear. For At the Scene of the Crime, the Truckers sublimated their garage instincts to create the best Muscle Shoals soul album in more than 30 years.

Meanwhile, Raising Sand has all the hallmarks of an artistic watershed. Plant has delved into world music and blues ever since Led Zeppelin’s inception in 1968. Krauss, who contributed to the O Brother soundtrack, is already a country and pop-crossover success.

On Raising Sand, they put their well-established musical identities at the service of a sonic universe of 1920s blues and pop, traditional country, and the breed of rickety rock and roll that Tom Waits favors. Plant croons with tranquility and grace and rarely sounds like his usual muscular self. Krauss’s breathy delivery works as a wonderful foil. Most important, Raising Sand makes old American music sound new. And, more and more, it seems that old American music is the new paradigm.
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Old 01-01-2008, 02:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBig3KilledMyRainDog View Post
Beyond the White Stripes

“It’s extremely flattering to have a brand new audience,” says the 59-year-old. “They’re young, but I tell them they have to behave as if they were at their grandmother’s house, because I expect their attention.” She earns it with honey-and-grits singing and dramatic performances.

“I don’t take them for granted, because people can be fickle,” LaVette adds. Right now, she’s in the clear. For At the Scene of the Crime, the Truckers sublimated their garage instincts to create the best Muscle Shoals soul album in more than 30 years.
Nice post Big3.

LaVette has waited so long to break it in the way she should have done all those years ago.
She's one of the finest singers never to have made it big.
Amy Winehouse is an admirer and reportedly modelled her style around this sleeping giant.
This album is easily the best album to emerge from 2007 IMO and the blend of Soul/R&B/Country makes this an album well worth listening to, if only to hear The Drive-By Truckers play in such a complimentary and understated way to Lavette's brilliance.
Sheer magic.
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Old 01-01-2008, 02:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well written post. Sounds like there is some music I will have to dig around for.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing In The Hands (2004): Reviews

Possessed with a nimble fingers and quivering vibrato, Devendra Banhart's approach to both British and American folk forms catapulted him to the forefront of a burgeoning folk set faster than you could say "revival." He wowed Young God head Michael Gira with a clutch of homemade tapes recorded over the course of his travels that later became his debut, Oh Me, Oh My.... Granted, while his skills and craft as a songwriter were generally excellent, the tunes were sometimes aimless, locking in on his high-pitched braying and tape hiss that sometimes threatened to strangle his songs. Rejoicing in the Hands, his second proper full-length (and the first of two slated for release this year), comes as a bit of a shock, then. Any waifish naiveté or lingering lo-fi has been ditched. In fact, it sounds almost as if Banhart has aged ten years in the past two.


What the record represents is a distillation of the material he presented earlier. Recorded with Lynn Bridges over the course of a couple weeks in his living room in Georgia, the tracks here feel more intimate and yet still spacious, framed by the occasional chirping of cicadas and subtle arrangements that laconically pass through. When stripped of the tape hiss, Banhart's guitar is given room to breathe, giving his songs an openness and sense of urgency that was often lacking before - while "This Is the Way" is as breezy as a summer night on a back porch, "A Sight to Behold" bristles with a rising vocal line held against intricate guitar work and the occasional orchestral flourish.


Banhart has few tricks up his sleeve, but those he does possess he uses capably. "Dogs They make Up the Dark" touches on the blues, whereas the ramshackle piano and gentle pacing of "Will Is My Friend" stroll through country territory. He giggles his way through the Spanish verses of "Todo Los Dolores," and its references to Peter Pan and winsome melodies giving it the feel of a children's tale. But for this singer-songwriter, these are but various branches of the same tree, all united by his increasingly confident voice and the strums coming from his acoustic guitar. The two best songs on the record, however, are those that sound little like anything else Banhart has done, with "Fall" allowing space for a rhythmic percussion track underneath the spun guitar lines. "Autumn's Child" is the album's closer and its most haunting moment - a spare piano ballad with Banhart's voice reduced to a ghostly whisper.


Much as before, his influences still shine through to front and center in his latest collection. His trans-Atlantic take on the folk canon owes as much to Harry Smith as it does those in Joe Boyd's stable (a link cemented with a lithe duet with recluse Vashti Bunyan on the record's title track), and yet retains an earnestness that never feels studied. But the biggest difference between the two albums is Banhart's newfound sense of control - his picking is spot-on and his warble is kept in check. Banhart now gives his song ideas the ability to grow. While much of his debut felt tossed off, even the shortest of pieces here feel carefully plotted and exist only as much as they need to. Granted, there will be some that cling to the lo-fi eccentricities of that debut, but while Oh Me Oh My... may have won him heaps of critical praise, Rejoicing in the Hands is the album that backs it all up. Rather than shy away from the praise, Banhart reacted with confidence and made what is sure to be one of my favorite albums of the year.
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Much Brass, a Bit of Twang and Plenty of Ray Charles

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/ar...mars.html?_r=1

Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis first shared a stage at Frederick P. Rose Hall two years ago, finding common cause in the wide, slow river of American music. That interaction yielded an album, “Two Men With the Blues” (Blue Note), that flattered them equally. So there was recent precedent to draw on at the Rose Theater on Monday night, in the first of two sold-out concerts presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center.

To their credit, the headliners didn’t repeat themselves; they played just one song from the album. It was “That’s All,” by Merle Travis, and, as on the album, it appeared as a grace note. Instead, following the suggestion of Mr. Nelson’s manager, they played songs associated with Ray Charles, the artist who most credibly covered all the pertinent terrain: jazz, country, blues and gospel, along with R&B and soul.

This was a fine idea made finer by the inclusion of Norah Jones, whose style can suggest a well-tended middle ground between the home bases of Mr. Marsalis and Mr. Nelson. She emerged early on to sing “Come Rain or Come Shine,” taking adroit and thoughtful liberties, and stayed on to join Mr. Nelson on “You Are My Sunshine,” over a loping Latin rhythm. For the rest of the night, drifting on and offstage, she added hints of cool refinement and (to a lesser degree) sensuous comfort. But by and large it was a night for companionable tensions. Mr. Nelson, seated with an amplified acoustic guitar, sang in the appealingly modest, intractably casual style that has always been his calling card. Mr. Marsalis, armed with his trumpet and his quintet, advanced a dapper erudition.

Some of the best teamwork came on trudging, hard-luck fare like “Busted” and “Losing Hand.” But Mr. Nelson also worked small wonders with “Unchain My Heart” and “Crying Time,” which had Ms. Jones singing harmony.

The arrangements, by Mr. Marsalis and others, featured plenty of intricate maneuvers for trumpet and saxophone. At times this seemed at odds with the vocals: Mr. Nelson’s plain-spoken grace on “I Love You So Much (It Hurts)” was half obscured by the chromatic scrawl of Mr. Marsalis and the tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding. On some other tunes the solo sections stretched long enough that the singers appeared stranded, despite engaging work by the soloists, including Mr. Nelson’s harmonica player, Mickey Raphael.

And a few anticipated highlights fell short. “Here We Go Again,” which Ms. Jones recorded with Charles shortly before he died in 2004, sounded unrehearsed. “What’d I Say” and “Hit the Road Jack” were rousing but contrived. And the absence of “Georgia on My Mind” felt like a missed chance, though it appears on “Two Men With the Blues.” (It’s the song that best connects Mr. Nelson to Charles, and Ms. Jones could have nailed it.)

But the concert’s core results were compelling, largely because of a workhorse rhythm section: Dan Nimmer on piano, Carlos Henriquez on bass and Ali Jackson on drums. Whatever the groove, they were sharp and committed, making the others sound better. With that foundation, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Marsalis were free to move as far in each other’s direction as needed, with every ounce of their easy aplomb.
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Old 06-25-2010, 03:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Buy yourself a Ukulele

The Ukulele's Unlikely Renaissance - Blender

Covers of Radiohead by Amanda Palmer.

A "King of Carrot Flowers" cover - even Macca is getting in on the action.

This was posted because I'm pretty sure either song or artist is fairly popular here and I strongly encourage people to check out the music.
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