Vote today for a future based on hope, not fear

Forgive me dear reader for the break in service for 5 minutes. Today is undoubtedly the most important election of my lifetime.  While you come here for your daily dose of americana and not to be lectured on which way you’re going to vote, I’ve written before that americana comes from a rich history of standing up for the underdog, and that its icons both present and past – Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger – have a pedigree of solidarity, community and resistance. Politics is about life, and music can’t bypass it without appearing irrelevant. Continue reading “Vote today for a future based on hope, not fear”

Why country music sings about drugs

Great article in RS Country today on a subject dear to my heart (since my other “head” is being a researcher in this field – not so much field work mind you) on a new study which finds that country lyrics contain more references to weed, cocaine and meth than rock or rap.  They report: “Drug references in music could be heard as far back as the 1930s. Jazz musicians, bluegrass artists and swing bands were among the first to sing about drug use, though the mentions were mostly casual. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s when pop stars, folksters and rock bands would talk about pot, cocaine, heroin, speed and other mind-altering substances on a regular basis.  Continue reading “Why country music sings about drugs”

MerleFest 2017 – RS lists the 11 best things they saw

We’re too lazy to reproduce all the photos they took although you can overcome our laziness by reading the original article here. Or you could just scroll here, you’re the boss. Rolling Stone Country reports: “This weekend’s celebration of the 30th MerleFest stirred up a North Carolina homecoming like no other. Native Tarheels and adopted sons and daughters such as the Avett Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Tift Merritt, Mandolin Orange, Chatham County Line and the Steep Canyon Rangers poured onto the campus of Wilkes Community College to pay homage to America’s biggest roots music festival, created by the legendary folk singer and guitarist Doc Watson in memory of his son Merle, an admired strummer in his own right, who died in a tractor accident at the age of 36. From the 1985 tragedy arose a tradition that this year drew 80,000 fans, who seem ready to ride the festival into the next three decades.   Continue reading “MerleFest 2017 – RS lists the 11 best things they saw”

London based and fancy reviewing gigs for us?

We get a fair amount of offers to cover gigs by americana artists here at AUK but particularly with showcases and album launches, they are often London based which is awkward since precisely one of our writers lives in London and his whole life would be spent going to see live music if he attended them all. Which doesn’t sound like such a bad thing when you come to think about it.  Anyway, as is common knowledge it’s grim up north where we’re based, so if you are one of those new-fangled London people, can write well, produce copy quickly and fancy seeing some Americana for free from time to time (normally on week nights) then please get in touch with us. A lot of the artists are “up and coming” as they say, but today’s fresh faces are tomorrow’s Ryan Adams.  Or Ryan Adams-es.  And you could be the person to tell the world about them.

Here’s 10 socially progressive country tunes for you

We love country music here at AUK, but the politics of mainsteam country can be something of a turn off in these weary times, so this is a nice article from Billboard reporting on country anthems with a progressive bent. They report: “Last week, Garth Brooks revealed an alternate version of the music video for his 1992 single “We Shall Be Free,” an inspirational song from his album The Chase that features the sort lyrics rarely heard on country radio: progressive. The newly unearthed clip, which Brooks debuted on his Facebook Live chat “Inside Studio G,” had been updated from its original version in 2002 and incorporated footage from 9/11 alongside cameos from celebrities like Al Gore and Michael J. Fox. Brooks had never released the updated video, but decided to do so after seeing a renewed interest in the song, which turns 25 this year.  Continue reading “Here’s 10 socially progressive country tunes for you”

“Why Americana is one of the most deceptive labels in music”

A great little article from the Guidelive.com site which was published a couple of weeks ago and we’ve just come across, which discusses the difficulty of defining the genre. Believe me, we’ve had some heated discussions ourselves. If you can guess their final definition you win a Twix. They report: ” The musical genre Americana is nearly as vast as the country it’s named for. Take a look at award-winning Americana musicians and you’ll see the problem: Legendary soul singer William Bell won a trophy for Best Americana Album at the Grammys recently. Bon Iver topped Billboard’s Americana/Folk Albums Chart for its electronic-focused, completely twangless album 22, A Million. That same chart more recently listed albums by pop poster boy Ed Sheeran, classic soft-rockers Simon & Garfunkel and even “Fire and Rain” man James Taylor. Major label country artists Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson topped the same chart. But, hey, it’s all Americana?  Continue reading ““Why Americana is one of the most deceptive labels in music””

Loudon Wainwright III – ‘Survivng Twin’

It’s fair to say that growing up Loudon Wainwright III had some mixed feelings about his father, a columnist for LIFE magazine which he has summed up himself in a typically forthright and candid manner: “When they first were published in the magazine in the 1960s and 70s I mostly ignored them because having a famous father had been, by in large, kind of a drag. I was the son of the famous LIFE magazine writer Loudon Wainwright. Wasn’t that great? Wasn’t I proud? Those 2 questions always led to a third, which I invariably asked myself: How the hell was I going to top that?”. Continue reading “Loudon Wainwright III – ‘Survivng Twin’”