Pick of the political pops: Leon Rosselson “World Turned Upside Down”

In April 1649 about 20 men assembled at St. George’s Hill, Surrey, and began to cultivate the common land. These Diggers held that the English Civil Wars had been fought against the king and the great landowners; now that Charles I had been executed, land should be made available for the very poor to cultivate. (Food prices had reached record heights in the late 1640s.) The numbers of the Diggers more than doubled during 1649. Their activities alarmed the government and roused the hostility of local landowners, who were rival claimants to the common lands. The Diggers were harassed by legal actions and mob violence, and by the end of March 1650 their colony was dispersed. Many people have covered this particular track including Billy Bragg on his ‘Back to Basics’ album from 93, but the great folk-singer Leon Rosselson’s original still sounds fantastic today.

With thanks to Andy Clarke

John Hiatt to receive performing-rights honour next month

Rolling Stone is reporting that americana legend (and he genuinely is) John Hiatt, whose songs have been recorded by everyone from Bonnie Raitt and Willie Nelson to Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop, is going to be honoured in September by the performing-rights organization BMI with the presentation of its Troubadour Award. Continue reading “John Hiatt to receive performing-rights honour next month”

“Silver Jews” David Berman dies

Really sad news this morning of one of American UK’s musical heroes – only last month we gave his new Purple Mountains album a 9 out of 10 – “Not a single mention of any majesties”. The Guardian reports: “David Berman, who was regarded as one of the most poetic voices in US indie rock, has died aged 52. His record label, Drag City, confirmed the news, but hasn’t confirmed the cause of death. Continue reading ““Silver Jews” David Berman dies”

Songs for the apocalypse: The Adventures “Don’t Blame it on the Moon”

One of our writers Paul Villers is running a terrific series on AUK at the moment called “What Is This Americana Thing Anyway?” (or WITATA as we say in the business) about how AUK writers got into the genre in the first place, and for me, Belfast band The Adventures’ ‘Trading Secrets With the Moon’ album from 1989 was looking back one of those records that crept up unawares and hooked me into a sound I’d never heard before, having been saturated in the 80s as a teenager with, well, the 80s. The whole record from start to finish is just a delight, and the track ‘Don’t Blame it On the Moon’ has one of my favourite outros to any song, ever. Sadly the band never had a significant commercial breakthrough but they leave behind a small but impressive back catalogue. It’s sobering this is now 30 years old!

Ruston Kelly covers Carter Family classic – Listen

We leave you this weekend dear reader with a little treat in the form of a new cover of the Carter Family’s ‘Weeping Willow’ by Ruston Kelly, whose ‘Dying Star’ album was one of our highlights of 2018. He told Stereogum: “To say I’ve been influenced by the Carter Family is an understatement. When I first heard their 1927 recordings—considered the ‘Big Bang’ of country, folk and Americana music—I was changed forever; Maybelle Carter remains one of my greatest musical influences.” Apologies for it being in annoying Spotify format but beggars and choosiness. Have a good one.

Tyler Childers: “The stuff we used to call ‘good country’ is now getting called Americana”

There’s an interesting interview with Tyler Childers in this morning’s Guardian in which he again lays into the parlous state of modern country music, telling them: “Americana [started as] a place to recognise people being ignored by their own genres, but now it’s a hindrance. The stuff we used to call ‘good country’ is now getting called Americana. We’ve not fixed the problem of bad country.” If you’re not sure what he’s on about, try tuning into Chris Country for an hour. Continue reading “Tyler Childers: “The stuff we used to call ‘good country’ is now getting called Americana””

Songs for the apocalypse: Colin and Caroline “Like Home”

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Colin Healy and Caroline Mauck attended high school together, and after years of pursuing music in different directions, they were reconnected at a local spot in their hometown. Known for their lowkey covers but describing their sound as “folk rock”, they occasionally conjure up something original, like this delightful three-minute ditty from 2015 which isn’t a cover of the Eminem song of the same name.

The Highwomen perform with Dolly and Isbell – Watch

The Highwomen, if you haven’t heard, are a like a new up to date female version of the Highway Men (geddit?), the country supergroup from the 80s which included Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. The Highwomen are Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby, and they performed the song ‘Eagle When She Flies’ at the Newport Folk Festival Saturday night, with backing from Mr Shires, Jason Isbell.  Their self-titled debut album is coming out in September.

Johnny Cash official website relaunches with extensive content

We leave you this weekend dear reader with news that the official Johnny Cash website over at johnnycash.com has relaunched and now includes Cash’s tour history, both solo and with the Highwaymen, with nearly 4300 show dates listed – according to RS – “from his 1954 debut in West Memphis, Arkansas, to his last public performance in 2003 at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia — arranged chronologically and supplemented in many cases by setlists. Some feature photos and video from the respective concert date.”  Which sounds like a lost weekend coming up to us. Have a good one.