Granted, it doesn't go down til April, but MerleFest always kicks off the summer festival season with some of the finest roots, folk, and bluegrass music on the scene. You can bet they'll be paying some tribute to the late Doc Watson in 2013, with performances from Sam Bush, Charlie Daniels Band, the Black Lillies, Eilen Jewell, Tift Merritt, Mountain Heart, Peter Rowan Band, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, and more. In other words, a great gift for any folk or bluegrass fan.
Bob Dylan Bootlegs and Original Mono Recordings
Nowadays in music journalism, a rumor is good as a fact. And when the longtime Bob Dylan fanzine Isis leaked the rumor of The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 earlier this year, it immediately went viral. As per normal, word of any new Dylan release is explosive information, and every major music blog—even Rolling Stone—joined in the hype. Finally in August, Columbia Records confirmed the October 19 dual release of The Bootleg Series Vol. 9, The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964, along with a new limited-edition box set, The Original Mono Recordings.
Pete Seeger's career has spanned decades and influenced generations, inspired and fueled the labor and civil rights movement, and carried with it some of the most timeless songs of community and empowerment. This biography by David King Dunaway is a tremendous account of the great folksinger's life and work, and by extension, of American history.
Every music fan loves new music, so if you're looking to stuff a few stockings with great CDs, there's no place better to start than with the year's best records. Here's a look at the best albums of 2011 to give you an idea on where to start. Or, when all else fails, a gift card for iTunes or a membership to a streaming service like Rhapsody or Spotify is a failsafe fall-back plan.
Every good folk fan needs to try their hand at banjo picking. Trust me, it's different from learning to pick guitar. If your favorite folk music fan already has a banjo and is making a go of it, the Banjo Encyclopedia would be the perfect gift. It's perfect even for armchair banjo enthusiasts who wouldn't pick up an instrument to save their life. It'll teach them everything they need to know about bluegrass banjo, which will be delightful for dinner conversation.