We leave you this week dear reader in a similar place to the way we left you last week, with The Avett Brothers (whose name, thanks to this clip, I now realise I have been mispronouncing for years) playing a live version of a track from their lovely new album ‘Closer Than Together’ which is currently being dogpiled by Trump voters on Amazon for daring to have an opinion other than “USA! USA!” Stick with it boys, you must be doing something right. Have a good one.
It’s funny to think that when Quiet Loner recorded this song back in 2013 that we’d have had another two captains by the end of the decade but both essentially steering the same course, and each one in their own way being worse than the last. The lyrics are as pertinent today as ever: “I can see that storm ahead. We’re heading right for the eye. We’re the living and soon-to-be dead. And we’re all in this boat together as it rumbles, rattles and keels. As I cling to this rope I abandon all hope, when I look whose hand’s on the wheel.” You wouldn’t want the current captain’s hands on the wheel of a milk float. God help us all.
In early September 2018, on the eve of the announcement of his latest album ‘Bottle It In’, Kurt Vile decamped to the Catskill Mountains in upper state New York with friends and fellow musicians to rehearse, prepare and ponder the year’s road ahead. The brief getaway, which counted Matt Sweeney and Toronto’s The Sadies in its attendees, is captured in a short documentary film directed by Ryan Scott which you can watch below. In between hanging out and exploring the remote and rainy surroundings, (bottle back) catches a solo acoustic adaptation of ‘Bassackwards’, a performance of ‘Check Baby’ with The Violators, and a special backyard rendition of ‘Baby’s Arms’ featuring The Sadies. And it’s basically great.
Paul Kelly has more pathos in the index finger of his right hand than most songwriters do in their, er, heads – exhibit A is this track, the version of which you can watch below recorded with bluegrass band The Stormwater Boys. When I first heard this song it moved me to tears, partly because of the sublime melody but moreover because of the understatement, the humour and sadness, and Paul Kelly’s gift for storytelling, the story in this song of a journey home in the back of your parents’ car at night and the gulf there is between those rows of seats. Nobody does this more evocatively. I imagine one day this will be a song that I can never listen to again.
If you have 10 minutes to spare this afternoon you could do worse than spend it watching the clip below of Sturgill Simpson who played an intimate show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier this week which formed part of a small tour (both venue and lengthwise) he’s currently undertaking as a benefit for the Special Forces Foundation. During the show, Simpson played his recently released album ‘Sound & Fury’ back to front (which it’s fair to say we were fans of) including an epic version of its closing track ‘Fastest Horse in Town’ which has some extended solos in it if you’re a fan of that kind of thing.
Apologies for completely missing this last week – Josh Ritter played one of NPR’s magical little Tiny Desk concerts last week, as they described it “with the enthusiasm of a young child and the wisdom of an old soul”. Accompanying him was Amanda Shires on fiddle and Jason Isbell on acoustic guitar, both of who played on Ritter’s recent album ‘Fever Breaks’ which indeed Isbell produced. You can watch it below. Continue reading “Josh Ritter plays NPR Tiny Desk Concert with Amanda Shires And Jason Isbell: Watch”
We leave you this week dear reader with a track from the sublime new album from North Carolina’s Avett Brothers which is out today – ‘Closer Than Together’ is their most political record to date, a sign of the times, but none of that distracts from their ear for a melody and some arrangements which are so exquisite you suspect a divine hand in there somewhere. This track taken from the new album comes courtesy of a live performance just last night in Connecticut – it’s both musically and lyrically outstanding. Have a good weekend.
Unbelievably it’s that time of year again – the relentless march of time continues (it never gives up) – and so voting for the next AMAUKs is now open. A key event each year in the UK’s americana calendar, the next UK Americana Awards will be held on the 30th Jan 2020 as part of AmericanaFest UK 2020. Continue reading “UK Americana Awards 2020 nominations are now open, early bird tickets on sale”
Newcastle-based genre-hopping roots quintet Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra, who Uncut described as “evoking the spirit of Bob Wills and Django Reinhardt” will be setting off on a UK tour next week which runs from October 9th-25th, in support of their new EP ‘Eta Carinae’. The EP transcends the band’s roots of old-time jazz and blues to encompass the ‘modern’ influences of 60’s country and Beatles-esque psychedelia. Continue reading “Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra kick off UK tour next week”
‘Summerteeth’ was the album that turned the masses on to Wilco, well the masses by relative americana terms, and it’s crazy to think that it was twenty – twenty! – years ago that it landed. Creating their own rift of what americana should sound like, the album included moog, banjo, tambourine, and piano among other instrumentation, underpinning Jeff Tweedy’s cracked vocals. ‘She’s a Jar’ was the highlight for me with its almost dream-like arrangement which carries lyrics such as “watch me floating inches above the people under me.” It’s a timeless track from an album which still sounds like a modern classic today.