The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky has honored 64 bluegrass legends during the museum's "ROMP, the River of Music Party." The event, which involved introducing the musicians onstage, evolved (as might be expected) into a jam session after a round of storytelling and reminiscing. The musicians attending the festivities were: Eddie & Martha Adcock, Homer Bailes, Kenny Baker, Lloyd Bell, Gloria Belle, Bud Brewster, Carlos Brock, Jimmy Case, Gene Christian, Bill Church, Jimmy Cox, Noah Crase, J.D. Crowe, Doug Dillard, Rodney Dillard, Ward Eller, Tony Ellis, Bill Emerson, Tom Ewing, Ernest Ferguson, Connie Gately, Bill Grant, Al Hawkes, Bobby Hicks, Jerry Holt, Tom Holt, Ramona Jones, Pete Kuykendall, Katie Laur, Lance LeRoy, the Lewis Family, Tex Logan, Rose Lee Maphis, Mac Martin, Gerald McCormick, Haskel McCormick, William McReynolds, Bob Moore, Bonnie Lou Moore, Tom Morgan, Dewey Murphy, John Murphy, Bobby Osborne, Sonny Osborne, Hisashi Ozaki, Yasushi Ozaki, Carl Pagter, Bud Reed, David Reed, Ralph Reed, Tommy Scott, Curly Seckler, Jim Smoak, Roni Stoneman, Margie & Enoch Sullivan, Arnold Terry, Bill Thomas, Roland "Smokey Val" Valliere, Roland White and Paul Williams.
All four nominees in the New/Emerging Artist category are scheduled to perform at the Americana Music Association's Americana Honors & Awards ceremony on Sept. 18 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Joan Baez will receive the "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award during the evening as well. The yearly awards event is part of the 9th Annual Americana Festival and Conference, which will offer seminars, panels and tons of showcases featuring Americana artists. This year's nominees for New/Emerging Artist are: Ryan Bingham, Justin Townes Earle, the SteelDrivers, and Mike Farris. And, you know these guys are hip and happenin' because most of their websites are MySpace pages. Tickets are available for the ceremony through Ticketmaster.
Red House Records Celebrates 25 Years with Anniversary Concert at The Birchmere
June 17, 2008
WAMU's Bluegrass Country and the Americana Music Association join Red House Records in presenting Our Side of Town: A 25th Anniversary Concert with Jorma Kaukonen, Robin & Linda Williams and Guy Davis at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia - Saturday, June 28th. Featuring some of the hottest Americana talent on the scene today, the night is sure to be one to remember with unique performances and special door prizes, including passses to the 2008 Americana Music Festival and Awards Show taking place September 17-20 in Nashville, TN. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. For more information about the concert, visit The Birchmere website.
Guitar legend Jorma Kaukonen is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a founding member of The Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Released last year on Red House, his latest solo CD Stars in My Crown continues the American roots journey he began on his Grammy-nominated album Blue Country Heart, mixing country blues, gospel and bluegrass. A perfect fit with Jorma's down-home sounds, Americana songwriting veterans Robin & Linda Williams have been bringing their "no-frills, boiled-down country" to audiences for three decades. Their latest release Radio Songs featured the best live performances from the duo's last 20 years on the popular public radio show A Prairie Home Companion. While Robin & Linda started off as musicians, Guy Davis began in the theater. Now known as one of the key members of the black string revival, he has become a world-renowned guitarist, banjo player, harmonica player, singer and storyteller. His latest Red House release Skunkmello was hailed as "the most outstanding blues album of the last few years," receiving a rare 5-star review in the jazz magazine DownBeat. Together Guy, Robin & Linda and Jorma will cook up a tasty evening of blues, bluegrass and country music that will leave you full and satisfied.
In conjunction with Red House's yearlong anniversary celebration, the label released a special new CD called Our Side of Town: A Red House Records 25th Year Collection, which will be available for sale at the June 28th event along with special edition men's and women's t-shirts. This album shows the colorful landscape of the place that is home to today's finest acoustic artists--Jorma Kaukonen, Robin & Linda Williams, Guy Davis, Lucy Kaplansky, Storyhill, Ray Bonneville, The Wailin' Jennys, Greg Brown, Jimmy LaFave, Lynn Miles, Cliff Eberhardt, John Gorka, The Pines, Eliza Gilkyson, Peter Ostroushko, Bill Staines and Meg Hutchinson, the latest addition to the Red House roster. A finely woven collection of some of the staff's favorite recent performances, it is a perfect snapshot of the label in its 25th year.
For more info about Red House Records and its 25th Anniversary, please visit the RHR website. To set up interviews with the performing artists or Red House Records' new president Eric Peltoniemi, call Ellen Stanley at (651) 644-4161.
Richard "Dick" Rodgers, a familiar face on the Washington, DC, folk scene died of a heart attack following surgery. He was 70. The Youngstown, Ohio native and graduate of The Ohio State University moved to DC in the early '60s where he became the first dues-paying member of the Folklore Society and started the Washington Folk Strums newsletter (basically so he could get into concerts for free). He was known for his encyclopedic knowledge of traditional folk music and for playing, among other instruments, a homemade hurdy-gurdy in concert and at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
Singer/Songwriter Stuart Ripley fell to his death while working on renovations to the Edinburgh University library. He was 33. The musician was well liked and a big part of the local music scene. It is thought that he was working to save money for a trip to Australia.
With the release of their newest CD, Hideaway, The Weepies are offering you (or people like you) an opportunity to create a video for the album's title song. They're working through Imeem and there's $10,000 in it for the winner (along with being able to say that they are professional video producers). The Weepies are really working their way into America's pop culture consciousness with a couple of songs finding their way into TV ads and popping up on the new Sex in the City soundtrack. Hideaway debuted at #31 on the Billboard Top 200 chart (as my mother would say: "Big time Charlie Bubbles!"). The contest runs now through July 3rd.
Jack Johnson Named Top 'Green 10' Artist by Billboard
May 20, 2008
Responding to the increasing focus that many musicians put on environmental issues, Billboard has assembled a 'Green 10' of artists taking action. The list includes Australian singer/songwriter Missy Higgins at #9, UK singer/songwriter KT Tunstall at #5, top-40 jamband Dave Matthews Band at #4, and renegade Willie Nelson at #2. The artist atop the list is Hawaiian surfer/singer/songwriter Jack Johnson. His new LA studio was built using denim for insulation and solar panels for power. His tour buses run on bio-diesel fuel, tour catering uses organic and locally grown food and venues along the way are being asked to recycle. On a side note, we hope to have a Folk Alley booth at the June 17 concert at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. I'll bring a recycling bin, just in case.
Even though this year's February 3rd deadline has past, the website www.nobelprize4pete.org is still collecting signatures to have his name put on the ballot for the Nobel Peace Prize. One of, if not the most, prestigious awards in the world, the Nobel Peace Prize is given out annually in December in Oslo by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Nobel Prizes were established in the will of Alfred Nobel (1933-1896), a Swedish chemist who invented a powerful dynamite. By the end of his life, Nobel had become concerned about the use of his invention in modern warfare. Along with international acclaim, the Nobel Prize carries a hefty monetary reward.
According to Eleanor Walden (who is heading the effort), "Pete Seeger is an ambassador for Peace and Social Justice and has been over the course of his 89-year lifetime. Using his prowess as a musician he worked to engage other people, from all walks of life and across generations, in causes to build a better and more civilized world: His work show up wherever you look in the history of labor solidarity, effort to end the Vietnam war, ban of nuclear weapons, work for international diplomacy, support of the Civil Rights Movement. He spread the Civil Rights Movement through promotion the SNCC Freedom Singers and making songs such as We Shall Overcome knows all over the world.
Pete Seeger taught Peace through song all his life; he used a cultural medium to promote social justice. His life proves that cultural workers are not just performers. We can help nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize so that the whole world is aware that a man with unassailable integrity, doing cultural work, can shape the hearts and minds of his generation."
When choosing nominees, the Nobel Committee solicits, among other sources, former award recipients. So, after you sign the online petition, you can always drop a line to Al Gore and Jimmy Carter.
Singer/Songwriter Sara Bareilles Helps Celebrate National Train Day
May 7, 2008
Singer/Songwriter Sara Bareilles will perform a free concert at Washington DC's Union Station this Saturday (May 10) to help mark Amtrak's National Train Day. Bareilles currently has a massive hit with "Love Song," a song written about how much she didn't want to placate the suits at her label by writing a love song for Little Voice, her major label debut.
National Train Day culminates 6 weeks of celebrations meant to raise awareness of passenger rail travel across the U.S. On May 10, 1869, the "golden spike" was driven into the final tie in Promontory Summit, Utah, that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways, creating the country's first transcontinental railroad - tying together the East and West Coasts.
Bob Childers died April 22 of lung disease related to emphysema. He was 61. Childers was an influencing figure in the "Red Dirt" music genre, a sound specific to Oklahoma that included elements of country and folk and owes a great debt to the work of Woody Guthrie. He recorded his first album, "I Ain't No Jukebox," in 1978 with the help of Jimmy LaFave. After following the industry to Nashville and Austin, Childers returned to Oklahoma, releasing records and acting as narrator of LaFave's Guthrie tribute, "Ribbon of Highway."
Music god Bob Dylan was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize during the super-prestigious organization's April 7 awards ceremony. It was the first time the Pulitzer judges have rewarded a rocker. His citation is for "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."
Todd Haynes' freaky sort-of film biography of Dylan, I'm Not There, which stars a variety of actors as the singer (including a very female Cate Blanchett - who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance), will be released on DVD on May 6.
This isn't something I get to say everyday, but an artist on the Folk Alley playlist has taken home multiple trophies in a major awards contest. Of course, that artist is Leslie Feist who is hotter than melted butter right now, but still... Feist picked up Canadian Juno Awards over the weekend for Album of the Year (The Reminder, which is sitting on my desk by chance), Pop Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Single of the Year (for "1234," aka "that iPod song"). Other winners making Folk Alley's hit list: Blue Rodeo for Group of the Year (esp. impressive since the award is based mostly on CD sales), Video of the Year and Adult Alternative Album of the Year (Small Miracles); David Francey for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Solo (Right of Passage); and Nathan for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group (Key Principles).
The Skirball Cultural Center presents "Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966," now through June 8. The exhibit traces Dylan's development as one of the most-influential songwriters in American folk and rock music. The multi-media exhibition offers a variety of rare and very personal Dylan memorabilia, along with music and evidence of Robert Zimmerman's transformation and growing cultural footprint. This exhibit was assembled by Seattle's Experience Music Project and has toured the U.S., including stops at New York's Pierpont Morgan Library and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
Singer/songwriters Leslie Feist and Corb Lund have picked up Independent Music Awards during Canadian Music Week in Toronto, Canada. Feist's solo album, The Reminder, has made a strong showing on both the U.S. and Canadian Billboard charts - thanks, in part, to the song "1234," which was used in an iPod Nano ad. She picked up prizes in the Favourite Album of the Year and Favourite Solo Artist of the Year. Lund took home the trophy for Favourite Folk/Roots Artist of the Year for Horse Soldier, a collection of original songs with a horse theme (it being Corb Lund, it's a lot better than it sounds on paper). Newcomer Jenn Grant earned the Galaxie Rising Stars Award of the CBC for her CD, Orchestra for the Moon.
The Roots Music Association, an organization dedicated to promoting and advancing all roots-based music genres, has announced that San Antonio, Texas will host the group's annual awards show. The awards will be presented as part of the Roots Music Association's Radio Seminar, Music Conference and Festival in the Alzafar Shrine on June 26 to 29.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Jamboree album, Gibson Guitars is issuing the limited edition Earl Scruggs Flint Hill Special Banjo. The name refers to "Flint Hill Special," a Scruggs-penned piece that opened Flatt and Scruggs' first Columbia LP. The banjo is based on the Gibson Earl Scruggs Standard styling, except that it's super fancy and comes in a custom case. Only 20 will be made and the first 5 in the run will be signed by Earl himself (in a couple of places - he will sign all 20 banjo heads). The banjos also come with an instruction book, in case you're really rich, think it's pretty, but have no idea what to do with it once you get it home.
On March 9, Dave Siglin retired after running Ann Arbor's beloved folk music venue, The Ark, after 40 years at the helm. The Ark held four concerts as a farewell to Siglin, culminating with a singer/songwriter song circle including, among others, Arlo Guthrie and David Bromberg.
Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, the famed Berkeley folk and trad music venue, will break ground on their new facility in Berkeley's Arts & Cultural District on April 1. The new building will double the seating from the current venue, which the organization moved into during the '80s. The new concert space will have 440 seats, providing more space for educational and outreach programs as well as expanded presenting opportunities. The Berkeley Society for the Preservation of Traditional Music, which currently operates Freight & Salvage, plans to open the venue in 2009.
Master singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a speech by Lou Reed. Damien Rice performed "Hallelujah" in tribute. Cohen, who is amazingly 73, begins a world tour in June - his first in 15 years. So far there are no U.S. dates on the schedule (4 words - "road trip to Canada"). Here is the video from the induction ceremony. Watch it quick before VH1 pulls it down.
No Depression magazine has been a victim of the changing world of the music business and has stopped publication. Despite the continued growth of Americana music, they could not cover their print and distribution costs. The service will continue in an online format. Listen to a story about the men behind No Depression on NPR Music.
Willie P. Bennett, a pioneering singer/songwriter in the contemporary folk movement, died on Feb. 15 of a heart attack at age 57. One of a number of Canadians who produced songs that inspired the next generation and made waves into U.S. music culture, Bennett's work prompted the formation of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, a "supergroup" made up of Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson that focused on Bennett songs. For the past decade, Bennett has toured with Fred Eaglesmith, playing harmonica and mandolin. He suffered a heart attack in May and was finishing his rehabilitation, apparently on schedule, when a second attack silenced him during a daily workout. Bennett won a JUNO Award in 1998 for Heartstrings.
Steve Earle picked up a statue for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for Washington Square Serenade and Levon Helm was honored for Dirt Farmer in the Best Traditional Folk Album category at the 50th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Other interesting wins of note included Herbie Hancock winning Album of the Year for his jazzy tribute to Joni Mitchell, Country megastar Brad Paisley beating out a lot of good trad players to win Best Country Instrumental Performance with an electric guitar, and Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience winning the first award presented for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album (pulling those two genres out of Folk and/or World). Earl Scruggs and The Band were among those honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
More Grammy wins by Folk Alley artists (there are 110 Grammy categories - no joke):
Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals - Gone, Gone, Gone, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Best Pop Instrumental Perfomance - One Week Last Summer, Joni Mitchell
Best Country Collaboration with Vocals - Lost Highway, Willie Nelson & Ray Price
Best Bluegrass Album - The Bluegrass Diaries, Jim Lauderdale
Best New Age Album - Crestone, Paul Winter Consort
Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album - Salt of the Earth, Ricky Skaggs & The Whites
Best Native American Music Album - Totemic Flute Chants, Johnny Whitehorse
Best Hawaiian Music Album - Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Various
Best Traditional World Music Album - African Spirit, Soweto Gospel Choir
Best Contemporary World Music Album - Djin Djin, Angelique Kidjo
Best Polka Album - Come Share The Wine, Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra
Best Comedy Album - The Distant Future, Flight of the Conchords
Best Historical Album - The Live Wire-Woody Guthrie in Performance 1949, Woody Guthrie
Best Classical Crossover Album - A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane, Turtle Island String Quartet
Best Short Form Music Video - God's Gonna Cut You Down, Johnny Cash
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has announced nominees for the JUNO Awards - Canada's highest honors for the country's recording industry. Awards will be presented at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta on April 6. Along with a giant pile of noms for Celine Dion (NOT on the Folk Alley playlist), Here are some nominations of interest:
Roots & Traditional Album: Group
Compadres (James Keelaghan & Oscar Lopez)
Harry Manx & Kevin Breit
John Reischman & The Jaybirds
Roots & Traditional Album: Solo
Instrumental Album of the Year
Adult Alternative Album of the Year
Blue Rodeo (also up for Group of the Year and Video of the Year)
Rufus Wainwright (also up for Songwriter of the Year)
East Coast Music Awards Presented in New Brunswick
Proving once again that Canada is cooler than the U.S. when it comes to music, the East Coast Music Awards handed out prizes during the organization's annual conference and festival. Categories cover the gamut. Artists winning awards that, as best as I can figure, fit the Folk Alley profile (they aren't all necessarily in the playlist, the music just seems appropriate) include:
Female Solo Recording of the Year: If You Were For Me - Rose Cousins
Male Solo Recording of the Year: House For Sale - Dave Gunning
Rising Star Recording of the Year: Brand New Skin - Stephanie Hardy
DVD of the Year: Back Stage Pass - The Rankin Family
Bluegrass Recording of the Year: Saddle River String Band - Saddle River String Band
Francophone Recording of the Year: 11:11 - Vishten
Folk Recording of the Year: Looking Back - Volume 2: House For Sale - Dave Gunning
Instrumental Recording of the Year: Live From the Music Room - Troy MacGillivray
Roots/Traditional Group Recording of the Year: Reunion - The Rankin Family
Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year: Falling On New Ground - Kimberly Fraser
The Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) presented their 34th annual Bluegrass Music Awards Feb. 3 at the organization's national convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Awards were presented based on fan votes. Winners included:
Bluegrass Song Writer: Tom T. Hall & Dixie Hall
Album of the Year: The Road Headin' Home - Grasstowne
Bass Fiddle: Mickey Harris
Dobro: Phil Leadbetter
Guitar: Josh Williams
Mandolin: Danny Roberts
Banjo: Kenny Ingram
Fiddle: Hunter Berry
Female Vocalist (contemporary): Rhonda Vincent
Female Vocalist (traditional): Alecia Nugent
Male Vocalist (contemporary): Larry Stephenson
Male Vocalist (traditional): James King
Gospel Group (contemporary): NewFound Road
Gospel Group (traditional): Paul Williams & the Victory Trio
Vocal Group: Rhonda Vincent & the Rage
Instrumental Group: The Grascals
Bluegrass Band of the Year: The Grascals
Song of the Year: Lefty's Old Guitar - J.D. Crowe & the New South
Entertaining Group of the Year: Nothin' Fancy
Entertainer of the Year: Rhonda Vincent
Singer/songwriter John Martyn was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by Phil Collins at the 2008 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (see video - it's not on YouTube or I would post it). Martyn released his first album, London Conversation, in 1967 and has put out 22 collections since - becoming a legend along the way. Other Folk Award winners include Martin Simpson (Best Original Song for Never Any Good and Album of the Year for Prodigal Son), Andy Cutting (Musician of the Year), Julie Fowlis (Singer of the Year), John Tams and Barry Coope (Duo of the Year), Lau (Best Group), Bellowhead (Best Live Act), Shirley Collins (Exceptional Contribution to Folk Music) and Rachel Unthank (Horizon Award). The 9th annual BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards were hosted by DJ Mike Harding in London.
In support of their album Raising Sand, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant are heading out on a world tour beginning in April. The CD combines both of their talents in a sound that I describe as Rock-a-billy (others disagree, but Gone, Gone, Gone did just win a Grammy - so I feel justified in enjoying it). T Bone Burnett, who produced the CD, will be joining the pair onstage. On a side note, Krauss' extensive tour without Union Station probably explains Adam Steffey's decision to leave Mountain Heart for the Dan Tyminski Band.
Martin Hayes Wins "Oscar of the traditional music world"
Irish fiddler Martin Hayes has been honored with the 2008 Gradam Ceoil Award for Traditional Musician of the Year from Irish language TV channel TG4. The Gradam Ceoil is the highest prize a traditional Irish musician can receive. Hayes, who currently lives in the U.S., was born in County Clare and has captured six All-Ireland titles.
Riders in the Sky Honored by Society for American Music
Modern-day cowboys Riders in the Sky will be honored Feb. 29 with honorary membership in the Society of American Music. Each year, the organization picks a well-known, prominent figure to receive this honor. The Society for American Music was founded in 1975 to promote the study and performance of American music.
In a sea of songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz for the Disney film Enchanted, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova have picked up an Oscar nomination for "Falling Slowly" from their movie Once. The film, which contains lots of music written by the pair, tells the story of an Irish busker who meets and falls in love with a fellow musician who recently immigrated from the Czech Republic. Hansard, a member of the Irish band The Frames, and Irglova, who is indeed Czech, performed together before shooting the film and are now a couple in real life.
As if to prove that this song is on the Folk Alley playlist, when I logged in to post this story, "Falling Slowly" was playing.