Here's a look at the artists and bands that truly folked it up in 2005:
Old Time Music is not exactly replete with female artists, but Uncle Earl emerged this year as a serious force to be reckoned with in this area. Old Time Music enjoyed a considerable resurgence this year, and these five gals from various cities around the U.S. seemed to be at the forefront, impressing critics and fans with their sweet harmonies and skillful playing. Their first nationally distributed CD She Waits for Night included Old Time classics, as well as originals, and their impressive live shows proved that these girls know how to do it right. Listen/Download Uncle Earl.
Meanwhile, Seattle-area alt.country artist Brandi Carlile struck out with her self-titled debut on Columbia Records. Her sincere brand of infectious lyrics and melodies and the tightness of her band thoroughly impressed fans and critics alike. Listen/Download Brandi Carlile.
Tim O'Brien has released a slew of great material over the course of his career, but there's just something about this recording of celtic Folk songs that was bordering on simply too good. The record won Tim a Grammy nomination, and raised eyebrows on all sides of the Folk world. Listen/Download
Meanwhile, much beloved singer/songwriter Dar Williams came out with one of her most poignant and political records to date. The impressive recording included Marshall Crenshaw and Ani Difranco among others, not to mention Dar's unbeatable live band. She took a real stab at the political climate with tunes like "Empire" and her cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." Listen/Download.
Best Bluegrass Breakthrough: CHERRYHOLMES
The Cherryholmes family has a heck of a story. For the past three years, this family band has been touring nearly 300 days out of the year, bringing their fierce bluegrass music and dancing to cities all across the U.S. But in September of 2005, they released their first nationally-distributed CD on Skaggs Family Records. Soon after, the recording received Grammy nominations, and scored the band the coveted title of IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) "Entertainer of the Year." Considering the Cherryholmes family only really started on their instruments in 1999, the voracity and craftsmanship with which they now command their music and impress fans and critics, is astounding. Listen/Download Cherryholmes.
Folk Music RIPs
Harold Leventhal (promoter who worked with Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan) passed away in October.
Fritz Richmond (jug and washtub bass player) passed in November.
Singer/Songwriter Cyril Tawney passed away in April.