Something for the weekend: Dawes “St. Augustine at Night”

Well that’s it from us until Monday, and we leave you this week dear reader with a quiet but sparkly new song from LA’s Dawes: ‘St. Augustine at Night’ is taken from the band’s seventh studio album ‘Good Luck with Whatever’ which has been produced by Dave Cobb at Nashville’s RCA Studio A, and comes out 2nd October on Rounder. “‘St. Augustine at Night’ is a song about one’s relationship to their hometown,” says Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith, “but also is a song about the varying degrees in which we all watch our lives pass us by.” Look out for our review of the full album next month. Have a good one.

Pick of the Political Pops: Josh Ritter “All Some Kind of Dream”

2020 has obviously not covered itself in glory so far as a year although come November 4th it could look a lot worse still. If Trump does lose, future generations will no doubt look back at this period in US history in time with a kind of detached sense of curiosity, like viewing a horror-show aberration, and learn about it through cultural artefacts such as songs which were written by artists of the age. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Josh Ritter “All Some Kind of Dream””

Interview – Paul Kelly: “We are all incredibly interconnected”

Paul Kelly is an Australian institution and one whose reputation is still building within the americana community thanks to his way with a good old fashioned song – it’s not for nothing that he’s been described as the poet laureate of Australian music. For his latest endeavour, he’s joined forces with pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky for a new album ‘Please Leave Your Light On’ which includes new interpretations of some of his best-known songs, with some left-field twists and turns along the way. Mark Whitfield caught up with him about the new record, his take on the concept of genres, and how along with the rest of us he’s stayed sane over past few months. Continue reading “Interview – Paul Kelly: “We are all incredibly interconnected””

Kronos Quartet & Friends celebrate the music of Pete Seeger

The GRAMMY-winning Kronos Quartet has announced its new album ‘Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger’, a tribute to the music, political philosophy, and social impact of Seeger, which is due out 9th October on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Joining the  group are Sam Amidon who appears on Kronos’ 2017 album ‘Folk Songs’ (which came out on the Nonesuch label), Maria Arnal, Brian Carpenter, Lee Knight, Meklit, and Aoife O’Donovan. The artists give voice to the plainspoken songs of struggle that Seeger both wrote and collected in his seventy-plus years as a musician, while Jacob Garchik and Kronos’ arrangements translate his banjo-playing for the group’s two violins, viola, and cello. Continue reading “Kronos Quartet & Friends celebrate the music of Pete Seeger”

Something for the weekend: Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell play in support of Mighty Writers

Well that’s a wrap from us this week everyone. Enjoy the blistering weather, hopefully while listening to the wonderful new Charley Crockett album (but spare a thought for the poor folks in Abadan, Iran Climate change is “fake news” of course…) We leave you anyway this week dear reader with a clip of Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell playing three songs from the former’s album to kick off Literary Hub’s new video performance series in support of Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that teaches reading and writing to thousands of low-income and marginalized students every year. “One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was when I was studying at Sewanee University in the south,” Shires said. “My professor, Andrew Hudgins — who is a fantastic and wonderful poet — told me that a lot of times when you’re writing, the actual start of where you think the start is isn’t at the start.” Find out more in the clip. Have a good one.

Mandolin Orange and Hiss Golden Messenger support new North Carolina fundraiser compilaton

If you were going to rank US states for their contribution to music over the years, North Carolina would be right up there and for fifty years, Carrboro’s live venue Cat’s Cradle has been at the heart of it, but like many independent venues across the US, it’s now in trouble as a result of the pandemic. As a response to this, a new compilation comes out today via Bandcamp called ‘Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle’ which brings together some of North Carolina’s most notable artists across multiple genres but with a notable americana bent to support the venue including Chatham County Line, Hiss Golden Messenger, Iron and Wine, Mandolin Orange, Steep Canyon Rangers, Superchunk, Tift Merritt and The Mountain Goats among others. Each artist performs a cover version of a favourite song of theirs, with many recorded during the pandemic. Continue reading “Mandolin Orange and Hiss Golden Messenger support new North Carolina fundraiser compilaton”

Songs for the apocalypse: The Jayhawks “Smile”

My good friend and longstanding AUK comrade Keith Hargreaves and I had a debate recently about the best and worst of The Jayhawks. To be fair, there was agreement that there wasn’t much “worst” but of the best alas the waters between us got choppier. For me, ‘Smile’ is a patchy album but one with some of the best songs the band ever recorded – ‘Better Days’ and ‘A Break in the Clouds’ being two such examples, but the title track too for me just has a melody and arrangement that 20 years on from the first time I heard it still feels magical. “Wake up, put your shoes on, Take a breath of the northern air – And rub those eyes” – the song’s opening lines which are essentially my average day. And in a strictly Northern sense, it’s perhaps a more Beatlesy album than anything that came before or after it, but no bad thing for that. Chin up.

Cambridge Folk Festival at Home 2020 begins tomorrow

The Cambridge Folk Festival has announced Cambridge Folk Festival at Home 2020, a unique event to mark the Festival weekend by inviting the public to create their own festival atmosphere at home (bonfire in the garden, copping off at 2 in the morning, throwing up in the bushes) and enjoy a range of special entertainment and activities. Cambridge was forced to cancel this summer’s Festival due to safety concerns in light of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, which has led to the widespread cancellation of live events across the world. Continue reading “Cambridge Folk Festival at Home 2020 begins tomorrow”

Lucinda Williams discusses Trump and Tornadoes on new podcast – Listen

Rolling Stone Country have posted a really interesting interview with Lucinda Williams who despite having a new album out has barely left her new home in East Nashville since the advent of the pandemic. RS calls it nonetheless “an alt-country soundtrack to our modern times, filled with social commentary and pissed-off political jabs that, while written in 2019, remain eerily topical.” She says to presenter Chris Shiflett in his latest podcast: “Someone told me, “This must be a weird time to put your album out.” But I guess I was fortunate, because of the subject matter of the album. The timing was… I don’t want to say it was perfect… but there seems to be a need for it.” You can hear the whole interview below.

Something for the weekend: Buddy & Julie Miller with The McCrary Sisters and Steve Earle “Let It Rain”

Another week, another… some form of currency that begins with W. (Wonga?)  Hope it’s been a good one for you. If you can tear yourself away from Taylor Swift’s surprise new album for 5 minutes (which contains some gems like this track) we leave you this week dear reader with a collaboration between americana greats Buddy & Julie Miller, Nashville gospel music quartet The McCrary Sisters and Steve Earle himself – as Julie Miller told The Bluegrass Situation: “Our Black brothers and sisters have suffered so long. Their dehumanizing journey began 400 years ago. They lived lives of slaves and now of being distrusted by the law of the land, treated as ‘lesser than,’ been in danger from the stranger, danger from the law. Parents’ hearts are so worried, distraught, and broken. So much suffering and sorrow, discrimination, dehumanization, and hurt, and disappointment. This should all hurt our hearts too. It will if we have one. A beautiful revelation has been jump-started in the middle of a pandemic, no less. This is my song of solidarity. And it’s my heart crying with their hearts. Let the revolution live.” Amen to that revolution. Have a good one.