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Iron and Wine

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Iron & Wine's Sam Beam

Iron & Wine's Sam Beam

photo: Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

Description of Iron & Wine's Music:

Singer/songwriter, indie folk

Comparisons:

Ever since his rather whisper-voiced debut, Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam) has been influencing and inspiring a sort of indie folk revolution. Along with bands like the Decemberists and the Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine could be considered at the helm of that aesthetic movement. Similar artists include Boston-based singer-songwriter Kris Delmhorst, who is pretty much the female equivalent of Beam. Other comparisons include some early Cat Stevens, Elliot Smith, John Fahey, and maybe even the Indigo Girls.

Iron and Wine Lineup:

Sam Beam - vocals, guitar
Occasionally, Beam is joined by his wife Sarah Beam on vocals or by members of Califone, Calexico, and other bands. He has welcomed Marketa Irglova of the band Swell Season on backing vocals in the past and has toured with anywhere from zero backup players to around a half-dozen.

Iron and Wine Trivia:

When he released his debut solo EP Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) taught Film and Cinematography at the University of Miami.

Recommended CDs by Iron & Wine:

The Sea and the Rhythm (SubPop, 2003) compare prices

Our Endless Numbered Days (SubPop, 2004) compare prices

Woman King (SubPop, 2005) compare prices

In the Reins with Calexico (Overcoat Recordings, 2005) compare prices

Purchase/Download Iron & Wine MP3s:

"Flightless Bird, American Mouth (from The Shepherd's Dog)
"Tree By the River" (from Kiss Each Other Clean)
"Love Vigilantes" (from Around the Well)

Biography of Iron and Wine's Sam Beam:

Sam Beam was born and raised in South Carolina. His mother was a teacher and his father worked in land management. He spent a lot of time growing up on his grandfather's farm in rural Carolina. He got his Bachelor's Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University before eventually moving to Florida to study film at Florida State University. After receiving his MFA from FSU, he moved south and began teaching courses in film and cinematography at the University of Miami.

Though he had been casually playing and writing songs since the mid-1990s, it wasn't until the early 2000s when a friend lent him a tape recorder that Beam got to work on his first EP. He felt good enough about the recording that he passed it out to some friends, and the collection eventually raised the attention of folks at Seattle-based indie label Sub Pop. That label released his first album - The Creek Drank the Cradle - in 2002, making it one of their first singer-songwriter or indie folk releases (though they had previously occasionally released records by singer/songwriters such as Rosie Thomas and Danielle Howle). It should be noted since then Sub Pop has become one of the foremost forces in the emergent indie folk scene, releasing albums by Cave Singers and numerous other (mostly Seattle-based) indie folk outfits.

The Creek That Drank the Cradle (2002) was recorded and produced entirely by Beam himself at his home in Miami. On it, Beam can be heard playing all the instruments and singing in a hushed, secretive, but still rather melodic voice. His songs range from in-depth literate narratives ("Jesus the Mexican Boy") to love songs ("Naked As We Came"), and have helped to usher in a new generation of folk-pop singer/songwriters.

Since releasing The Creek, Beam/Iron & Wine has developed a fierce following. His music has appeared in the background of several television shows (including Grey's Anatomy, where so many artists have gained a much wider audience) and on the soundtrack for the major hit motion pictures like Garden State and Twilight.

As of early 2012, Iron and Wine had released four full-length albums and seven EPs (including two iTunes-only live recordings).

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