Monday April 7, 2014
It's been nine years since I started building this site for the About.com network, so it is with a bittersweet heart that I now bid it adieu.
When I began working on this site back in 2005, the millennial folk music boom was so brand new, we didn't even know it was really happening yet. But, in the years that have passed since, American folk and roots music have come to dominate so many areas of popular music. I hope whoever finds their way to this site from this day forward will find a plethora of introductory information and great new artists to ease their way into an appreciation of traditional American music. Folk music is one of the most vibrant, versatile, and timeless ways we have to communicate. We've taken folk songs with us through every moment in American history, and I have no doubt we will continue to carry them - or rather seek their help to carry us through.
Of course, I am not leaving the profession of writing about American folk and roots music. You can look for my writing around the web, wherever folk, roots, and Americana music has a home. Or, you can follow me on Twitter (@kimruehl). Cheers, and thank you for nearly a decade of good times and great music.
Thursday March 27, 2014
T Bone Burnett is no stranger to high-profile folk-and-Americana-infused projects. From his involvement with O Brother, Where Art Thou? to Nashville, the collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and beyond, Burnett's stamp of approval has catapulted many a musical foray toward instant buzz among people who take these things seriously.
Now, he's teaming up with Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons), Rhiannon Giddens (of Carolina Chocolate Drops), Elvis Costello, Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) to produce a collection of songs pulled from the basement of Bob Dylan's storied career. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Back in 1967, two years after his decision to "go electric" at Newport Folk Festival threw his promising folk music recording career into a chaotic blend of backlash and worldwide megastardom, Dylan holed up with the Band to record what was released nearly a decade later as The Basement Tapes. That album has long been one touted as one of Dylan's finest musical moments, coming as it did, at the apex of the folk-rock revolution. Not to mention, of course, that the musicianship of the Band was unparalleled.
Now, nearly four decades later after the demos that comprised that record were made, this remarkable troupe of new folk music heavies is composing music to go with Basement Tapes-era Dylan lyrics. It'll be released in conjunction with a documentary film set to air on Showtime, titled Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued. No solid release date yet, but it nearly goes without saying that hardcore fans of American folk and rock and roll music will be waiting with bated breath.
image: T Bone Burnett promo photo
Saturday March 22, 2014
According to Billboard Magazine, Emmylou Harris is working on a memoir covering her four decades in the music industry, from her time singing with the late, great Gram Parsons, through her solo career and her innumerable collaborations since. Considering her incredible career, which has won her more than a dozen Grammy Awards and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Her HoF status notwithstanding, Harris has dabbled in areas of music far beyond the confines of what's popularly considered country music. She has taken up folk songs just as often, has collaborated with everyone from Parsons to Rodney Crowell, Patty Griffin, and beyond. And, next month, she'll re-release her hugely celebrated album Wrecking Ball, this time with a DVD and two additional discs of recorded material.
There are few people in the folk and roots music world who would not count Emmylou Harris as one of the most important singers of the past half-century, so this memoir will no doubt be met with considerable interest and praise. I know I personally look forward to reading it. In the meantime, learn more about Emmylou Harris with this introductory bio and profile, or check out these worthy folk music memoirs.
photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Wednesday March 19, 2014
Yesterday, I shared that Nickel Creek has joined the lineup for the 2014 Pickathon Indie Roots Music Festival in Happy Valley, Ore., just outside of Portland. They're not the only eyebrow-raising band on the lineup this year. They join the legendary X, as well as Jonathan Richman, Jolie Holland, Blind Pilot, Gregory Alan Isakov, Valerie June, Robbie Fulks, Angel Olsen, Della Mae, the Sadies, Mandolin Orange, and many more.
Pickathon will go down this year on August 1-3. I've been several times and consider it one of the finest festivals for folk, roots, and Americana music in the country. The Pendarvis Farm is an exquisite venue, complete with workshop stages, a gorgeous view beyond the mainstage, a mid-woods stage, late night picking circles and parties in the barn. There's a kids' area and a host of responsible methods of maintaining a safe and eco-friendly atmosphere. The best way to get there, for example, is on a bicycle. But they offer a number of shuttles for carpooling and utilizing public transportation. And, not for nothing, the food there tends to be pretty amazing - all locally sourced organic, made-with-love food, not the typical festival fare.
image: Jonathan Richman joins Pickathon 2014, courtesy Vapor Records