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First Victoria's Secret, Now Starbucks

June 28, 2005

The word on the street is that the unofficial folk music 'poster child' -- none other than our beloved Bob Dylan -- has recently signed an exclusive deal with Starbucks for sale of his next CD release. "Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962" will be released later this summer and will be for sale at the coffee chain throughout the US. It will include previously unreleased tracks that were originally recorded at the Gaslight Cafe in New York City. What do you make of this? Do you view this as "selling out?" Is selling your CD through a Starbucks any different than through any other major record store chain? Are you just glad that there's a new Bob Dylan CD on the way, and not very concerned with where you purchase it? The times, they are a-changin'....

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:22 PM | Comments (38)

Ralph Stanley has Heart Surgery

Dr. Ralph Stanley had triple-bypass surgery yesterday at a hospital near his home in Virginia. The 78-year-old bluegrass pioneer is expected to make a full recovery. The surgery was scheduled following a routine physical. Stanley, who still actively tours, first made his mark in the late '40s performing with his brother, Carter, and their band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. After Carter's death in 1966, Ralph continued on as a solo artist, winning Grammy Awards for his work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. His most recent Grammy came in 2002 for the bluegrass album Lost in the Lonesome Pines (recorded with Jim Lauderdale). Last year, the Ralph Stanley Museum & Traditional Mountain Music Center opened in Clintwood, VA and is part of Virginia's Heritage Music Trail.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 1:17 PM | Comments (4)

Fairport Convention performs shortened US tour as a trio

June 17, 2005

When a band has been making music for over 35 years, members come and go. Fairport Convention’s recent tour of America was shortened as the band canceled the south-west and California dates during this acoustic tour. Unknown events caused bass player Dave Pegg, who joined the band in 1970, off the tour. Instead of canceling every show, the lads performed the remaining East Coast dates as a trio—featuring Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, and Chris Leslie. Reports from those shows have been very positive and the trio setting was certainly a rare treat for the Fairport aficionado. If the past repeats itself, Fairport will certainly continue their legacy. This recent bump in the road has not affected Fairport’s annual Cropredy Festival—taking place this year August 11-13. As to who will be behind the bass is still a mystery. Dave Pegg is credited with keeping Fairport Convention alive and well during these later years and he’s been organizing and promoting Cropredy since the beginning of the event in the early '80s. Will Peggy return? Can they survive without Dave Pegg? And if so, who will be his replacement? The fans certainly want Dave Pegg but where the future lies for this seminal group is still up in the air. Were you at one of the trio gigs? Do you have any Fairport memories? If so, post a comment for all to read. For more on Fairport Convention—visit their web site. “It All Comes ‘Round Again.”

Posted by Chris Boros at 9:09 PM | Comments (4)

Michael Doucet and Wanda Jackson – 2005 NEA National Heritage Fellowship Recipients

Cajun fiddler, bandleader and composer, Michael Doucet and the "First Lady of Rockabilly," Wanda Jackson are among the 12 recipients of this year’s National Endowment for the Arts - National Heritage Fellowships, the country’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts.

Twelve fellowships, which include a one-time award of $20,000 each, are presented to honorees from eleven states. The awardees were chosen for their artistic excellence, cultural authenticity, and contributions to their field.

For the first time in its 24-year history, the NEA National Heritage Fellowship goes to Michael Doucet who was first recognized through an NEA-funded apprenticeship grant in 1975 to study with master Cajun and Zydeco musicians, including Dewey Balfa and Canray Fontenot who were later recognized as National Heritage Fellows.

An award ceremony and concert will take place in Washington D.C. on September 23rd.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Posted by Linda Fahey at 2:12 PM

Bonnaroo Kills Again

June 13, 2005

The 4th annual Bonnaroo Festival took place this weekend, drawing more than 80,000 music fans to Manchester, TN. Attendance numbers were down from last year's all-time high. One fan didn't make it home, but the cause of his death appears to be a non-related health condition.

Aside from this tragedy, Bonnaroo was also listed as a cause in the Phish break-up earlier this year. Festivals like Bonnaroo and MerleFest present fans of jam-bands and their bluegrass and folk brethren a kind of one-stop shopping - all of your favorites in one location at one low price.

So, what does this mean for traditional summer jam-band touring? Will single weekend events eclipse the traveling caravans that started out following the Grateful Dead and moved on to other tours (including defunct Phish and defunctish Leftover Salmon and the still road-worthy String Cheese Incident and Gov't Mule) after the death of Jerry Garcia? Is the aging fan-base looking for an event that offers a lot in a small amount of time (so that bosses and families aren't tested) or are the bands losing steam? And, can a jam-band event really be created like lightening in a bottle unlike the organic growth surrounding the Dead Head movement? Bonnaroo tried to offer both sides of the coin with the Zooma Tour, which was cancelled due to low ticket sales. I've got my dancing bears bandana and I'm ready to go!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:31 PM | Comments (10)

Laura Ingalls Wilder - musicologist?

June 2, 2005

There's a new CD coming out on June 14 called Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder (for those who don't know, author of the "Little House" books). The album takes 18 tracks from the more than 120 songs - from the canon we now consider Americana - that were mentioned in 8 of Wilder's books, fictionalized accounts of her life in late 19th century on the American prairie. In her books, Pa was a fiddler and many events revolved around music and community. Happy Land is co-produced by Butch Baldassari, leader of the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, and features performances by Riders in the Sky, David Olney, Andrea Zonn, Deborah Packard, Pat Enright, Douglas P. Green, Keith Little and The Princely Players.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:34 PM | Comments (3)

Colorado Folk Alley Fan visits, and is immediately put to work.

June 1, 2005

I know it feels most of the time it's just you, me, and a box of CDs (wonderfully inventive and often overlooked CDs at that). I always want you to feel like that IS the experience, by the way; Folk Alley should never feel like a non-personalized commercially driven formula. There is, however, a lot of work behind the scenes. Loading songs into the hard drive, arranging the mix using the music software program, researching or even interviewing the artists. Saturday I was shorthanded and nearing trouble.

I often have a couple helpers, usually ambitious students. Last week they all disappeared. Ashley the singer was in St Louis, Andy the mandolin player was in Rome, and Adam had graduated. Lindsey could fill in a bit, but had to leave early. To top it off, I was expecting a visitor. Bruce Metzger, a listener from Colorado was passing through town and asked if he could visit. "Sure," I said, but as deadlines approached I called and asked him to delay his visit because I was behind. Thank goodness he had already left.

Besides being a mountain climber and a dog lover, Bruce is also a computer programmer. My brain began to fester with ideas. After Lindsey gave Bruce a tour and split for an important function ("Tommy's party, of course, didn't you know?"), I asked Bruce: "Say, you wouldn't be in for a real experience would you?"

In a matter of minutes I was teaching Bruce to load songs, arrange playlists, insert messages, even answer phones. (He thought he would get a tour, and if things went well, maybe a leftover donut...) We were giving away "Asleep at the Wheel" tickets and dozens of local listeners were desperately trying to solve my trivia riddle. "Get a name and phone number, Bruce," I said, "You've got another crisis to solve." It turns out an hour of music was missing.

Bruce finished with the callers, quickly wrapped up his computer work in Studio A, and joined me in my office. I told him: "There's an hour missing. What do you want to hear?" He answered: "You're asking me!?" I reminded him: "Bruce, there's no one else here." Mindful of our mix, and careful not to leave things out, Bruce chose the hour - under my watchful eye, and we returned to our respective studios. Time was running out.

We completed our work, and Folk Alley was not interrupted. Afterword, we both reflected on what had just happened. I was in need of help and I thought I had no one to ask. I thought I might be imposing on Bruce, but in actuality, he received a hands on behind the scenes experience. I felt sheepish. He was grinning like a Cheshire cat. We had worked together for 5 hours non-stop. I did think about offering him that leftover donut, but it was Saturday and there weren't any. I did accept his offer to go backpacking and climbing in Colorado.

Looking back, you learn something about perspective. I was worried about putting a listener off the street to work. Outside of a few e-mails I had never met the guy before. Bruce Metzger from Colorado, however, was living a dream. Thanks buddy!

Posted by Jim Blum at 12:10 PM | Comments (9)

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