Tag Archives: Americana Music Association

Music, News and What Not: The Pirate Broadside


For those of you who visit No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music website for the latest music news, reviews and columns…May 2017 marks the month that the site has hit the pause button on fresh content in order to run a subscription drive for their quarterly print journal. You can read about it here, but the deal is this: you commit to just $6 USD per month and you receive four copies of incredible music journalism each year delivered to your doorstep. And you can cancel at any time. Took me a second to punch in my numbers and take the plunge.

To give you an idea of the quality of writing you’ll be getting, No Depression has sidelined all new content this month in favor of running some of their past long form stories that originally were published in the print journal. So if you want a sampling, here’s a few complimentary stories to check out:

Songs from The Gut: A Conversation with John Prine from Holly Gleason

Sweet Freedom: Jason Isbell Has Hit His Stride by Kelly McCartney (No relation to above pirate.)

Re-Trace: Jay Farrar Looks Back on 20 Years of Son Volt from David McPherson

So there it is…my personal Public Service Announcement; a swing and a pitch to keep No Depression alive and well. Keep in mind this is a non-profit organization, and most of us who contribute do it for literally peanuts or soy beans. Money and writing are like oil and water these days, so unless you’re James Patterson or Stephen King, flipping burgers is in your future.

Enough….let’s pull something new out of the ether and take a music break. Even though No Depression is in ‘send me money mode’…there is plenty of news, music and what not. Here’s Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performing ‘If We Were Vampires’ live in TV Studio A at KCPT in Kansas City, Missouri. This is on the new new album and it sounds great.

The 2017 Americana Music Awards‘ nominees announcement ceremony included special performances from the Milk Carton Kids, the Jerry Douglas Band, Caitlin Canty and more — but it also featured one particularly special moment: Jason Isbell and the Drive-By Truckers‘ Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley coming together for an acoustic performance.

Isbell, Hood and Cooley sing “Outfit,” originally from the Truckers’ 2003 album Decoration Day. Written by Isbell alone, the song is one of two songs that the then-24-year-old penned for the album; the other, also written solo, is the record’s title track. Earlier this year, in late January, Isbell — now, of course, a solo artist — reunited with his former bandmates during a Drive-By Truckers show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. (From theboot.com)

Speaking of the AMA awards, I was taken aback by the announcement of Van Morrison receiving a lifetime achievement award for songwriting. No disrespect: Van is indeed The Man, and we know that the organization loves to recognize those from the UK (Richard Thompson and Robert Plant were past recipients), but I just don’t get it. Although I know this guy probably doesn’t give a damn and wouldn’t show up anyway, I think he might be deserving of anything with the tagline ‘Americana’ in it.

The folks over at Pitchfork have published a User Guide to The Grateful Dead that focuses not on their studio work but rather the gazillion of live tracks that are out there. Which reminds me…Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter…a songwriting team that deserves acknowledgement from the Americana cabal. You know, since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame people are often slapped around for missing folks like Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, the AMA might be moving into their elitist territory. Sad…to quote the POTUS.

By now you’ve heard about the sad passing of Austin singer-songwriter Jimmy LaFave. Local radio station KOKE-FM published the statement from his label and family, and you can find it here. And No Depression co-founder Peter Blackstock covered LaFave’s Songwriters Rendezvous for the Austin American-Statesman, and I think it’s a beautiful piece of writing. Click here to get there. This video was recorded at SXSW in 2011. Rest in peace.

“Every day, every minute, someone in the world is singing a Pete Seeger song. The songs he wrote, including the antiwar tunes, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and those he popularized, including “This Land Is Your Land” and “We Shall Overcome,” have been recorded by hundreds of artists in many languages and have become global anthems for people fighting for freedom.” So begins a story of Pete, and how we keep his spirit alive.

Writer Susanna Reich and illustrator Adam Gustavson have produced a book dedicated to that objective. In 38 pages of text, paintings and drawings, Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice provides a wonderful portrait of Seeger, focusing on how his strongly-held beliefs motivated his music and his activism. The book introduces children to the notion that music can be a powerful tool for change. As Reich notes, Seeger saw himself as a link in “a chain in which music and social responsibility are intertwined.”

Read more about Pete and his music in this wonderful article posted at Common Dreams.

This year marks 50 years since Otis Redding died. He’d ignited the crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967; later that year, he and his band were en route to a show in Madison, Wisc., when their plane hit rough weather and crashed in an icy lake. Redding was 26 years old. Half a century later, Redding’s influence as a singer and spirit of soul music remains. Author Jonathan Gould, who’s written a new biography called Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life and you can read more about it here.

Guess it’s time to close the ‘pirated’ version of my Broadside column out with something that captures Mr. McCartney’s early acting career. In the meantime, while I’m officially on hiatus, please feel free to come visit me at therealeasyed.com ,  The Real Easy Ed: Roots Music and Random Thoughts which is my Facebook home where I aggregate daily and feel free to subscribe to my Flipboard e-mag of the same name.






Easy Ed’s Favorite Un-Americana Albums of 2016

Last week the Americana Music Association released its year-end list of songs that got the most airplay on Americana radio, and in the next few weeks No Depression and other like-minded music websites and mags will publish their own music polls. If I were a betting man, I’d lay down a few hundred dollar bills that there’ll be little variation or surprises between them. Ever since the term roots music has morphed into a more definable mainstream “Americana” tagline, diversity has seemed to have left the building. While you won’t get much disagreement from me on the quality of music on AMA’s list since virtually all of the artists are located somewhere in my digital jukebox, it seems that lately I find myself taking the road less traveled.

Every year I designate much of my listening time on studying music from the past, and this year I dipped deeply into the catalogs of Norman Blake, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Delmore Brothers, Doc Watson, and a lot of jazz: Lucky Millinder, Chick Webb, and several anthologies from the 1920s and ‘30s culled from lost and found 78s. For a few weeks this summer I blasted through the box set This is Reggae Music: Golden Era, which covers only 15 years beginning with 1960, and breaks it down into mento, rocksteady, ska, R&B, early reggae and the birth of roots. Good stuff.

As for albums released in 2016, I’ve come up with a short list of my own favorites that somehow have failed to make the “official” Americana chart, and consequently may be missed in this endless parade of polls and lists that’ll stalk the internet with killer click bait titles. I’m choosing to call it Un-Americana … and that’s a name and a genre descriptor that just might stick.

The Handsome Family – Unseen

“Unseen finds Brett and Rennie Sparks two years after an unexpected spike in popularity due to True Detective fame, while simultaneously finding the duo displaying an outward reverence for the genre and subsequent fan base that has bolstered them to alt-folk antiheroes … one would be hard-pressed to find more true-blue progenitors of the darker side of American music who are still working hard to get you to question a bump in the night.” Jake Tully/Elmore Magazine

Jack and Amanda Palmer – You Got Me Singing

Amanda Palmer has long been divisive – dedicating poems to bombing suspects, dressing up like a conjoined twin, doing things that make outraged thinkpiece writers jiggle with glee. Her latest album, however, a collection of folk, blues, country, and contemporary covers with her once-estranged 72-year-old dad, Jack, strikes the right chord.” Kate Hutchinson/The Guardian

Marissa Nadler – Strangers

“Marissa Nadler, the galaxy-gazer of American somni-folk, is not of this world. She is an extraterrestrial unloved, a wanderer nonplussed, an inhabitant of a realm that aligns dissonance with wonderment. She is ethereal, moody, and dark like early morning, and with Strangers, Nadler’s seventh full-length album, our indelicate eyes are able to adjust to her clear, clairvoyant lens.” Cassidy McCranney/Slug Magazine

Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms – Innocent Road

“On their new album Innocent Road, Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms stake a claim as two of the finest traditional musicians in America. Their sound is a throwback to the heyday of rural American dance-hall music.” Jerad Walker, NPR Music

Tom Brosseau – North Dakota Impressions

“Tom Brosseau’s unique tenor is instantly recognizable, and it imbues his songs with a palpable feeling of loss, regret and nostalgia. His phrasing, the emotional quiver in his voice and the bare-bones production evoke the feeling of a late-night, working-class living room with friends sharing their most intimate secrets.” j. poet/Magnet 

Kaia Kater – Nine Pin

“The banjo’s recent return to favor has seen the likes of Otis Taylor and Rhiannon Giddens reclaim the instrument as part of African America’s musical roots. Twenty-three-year-old Kaia Kater from Québec studied mountain music in West Virginia and writes songs from the here and now. Her second album manages to triangulate bluegrass, Nina Simone, and Toni Morrison.”  Neil Spencer/The Guardian

Dori Freeman – Self-titled

“For the love of God just let the songs speak out and choose their own path, and that’s what happens in this self-titled release. The sentiments are so naked and pure, and as potent to stirring the spirit as the smell of a baby’s head that it awakens more than just an appreciation for music, it awakens an appreciation for life.” Trigger Coroneos/Saving Country Music

Freakwater – Scheherazade

“The darkly austere alt-country group Freakwater has kept their simple, gothic sound consistent through the years, but on their eighth album they overhaul it almost completely. It’s their most cinematic album yet, with the music functioning almost as a soundtrack to their short, violent songs.” Stephen M. Deusner/Pitchfork