AmericanA to Z: Old Crow Medicine Show

I was privileged to see Old Crow Medicine Show as an unknown emerging band in the UK, when they stole the show at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2004. I caught them at the Mojo press tent, doing a busking set, at that time they weren’t on the festival bill, their high energy set drew an enthusiastic crowd, and they went down a storm. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Old Crow Medicine Show”

AmericanA-Z special: Interview with Willie Nile

I’ve been lucky enough to see Willie Nile live on two occasions. Given that they were in Colwyn Bay and Macclesfield respectively, no geographic disrespect implied, it proved to be very much a case of seeking and ye shall find. On both occasions, the performance, personality and the music came together well and Nile was lively, engaging and everyone’s idea of a confident voluble New York rocker. Continue reading “AmericanA-Z special: Interview with Willie Nile”

AmericanA to Z: Marah

It’s an age-old story; idealistic young things are awe-struck by the rhetorical and transformative power of rock n roll, which fills their head full of dreams and raises their eyes to the skies. They form a band and, with a burning belief in their own ability to communicate and connect through music, set out on their mission to conquer the world. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Marah”

Americana A to Z – Lyle Lovett

It was about 2015 that I first developed a love of country music. Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘don’t start talking about how much you love Dolly Parton’, but let me finish. It didn’t take long for my family members to also take an interest in country music, but like me they weren’t particular fans of the now ever-present pop-country, but much more fans of things that could definitely be described as Americana. Continue reading “Americana A to Z – Lyle Lovett”

AmericanA to Z: Karen Dalton

Many artists go unrecognised in their lifetimes. Some of them end up with a “cult” following, and some end up with such a huge weight of myth surrounding them that their music often fails to live up to the hype. The obvious exception to this is Judee Sill, whose two magical albums surpass all expectations. If the film of her life currently in production is a success, then the next subject for a movie could well be Karen Dalton. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Karen Dalton”

AmericanA to Z: Justin Townes Earle

When you are the firstborn of one of americana’s iconic roots musicians AND given the name of one of the great songwriters of his era, it’s kinda preordained that you will end up in this business, one way or another. Justin Townes Earle – JTE – son of Steve, named after dad’s idol, Townes Van Zandt, has carved himself a piece of americana that was perhaps unlikely given the number of chairs thrown in his path in the shape of addictions in his early years. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Justin Townes Earle”

AmericanA to Z: Jason Isbell

In Nik Cohn’s history of pop and rock Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, his chapter on The Beatles opens  “Next come the Fab Four, the Moptop Mersey Marvels, and this is the bit I’ve been dreading. I mean what is there possibly left to say about them?” And in Americana, these days, it’s easy to feel the same way when writing about Jason Isbell. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Jason Isbell”

AmericanA to Z: Brittany Howard

There have been some pretty impressive entries in the AmericanA to Z feature under the letter “H” already. We’ve had Ed Hamell and Emmylou Harris. It’s a letter so loaded down with talent that no-less-than Ray Wylie Hubbard had to get in where he fit in under “R” (or was it under “W”?). Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Brittany Howard”

AmericanA to Z: Golden Smog

Golden Smog is a loose and occasional association of musicians centring around various members of The Jayhawks, Wilco and Soul Asylum. On occasion they have also been joined by members of The Replacements, Big Star and The Honeydogs. The only members to play on all their recordings are guitarist Kraig Johnson from the lesser-known Run Westy Run, Gary Louris and Marc Perlman from The Jayhawks and Soul Asylum’s Dan Murphy. To all intents and purposes, they are what we might have referred to in the past as a ‘supergroup’. But we would not use such crude terminology today, would we? Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Golden Smog”

AmericanA to Z: Simone Felice

When Simone was thirteen, he died. He flatlined in a frozen New York state January after suffering a brain haemorrhage. No one expected him to make it, but somehow he did. The doctors had to remove a part of his brain associated with music, art, and creativity. He should never have been able to play music, but somehow he did. Felice has spoken about this experience on stage, and about the resultant feeling that his life is borrowed, or somehow not his own. He speaks with a strangeness and intensity that seems to flow out of the depths of his very being. This same, almost spiritual, intensity is embodied in all his music, from the frenetic, joyful caterwauling of The Felice Brothers, to the intimate vulnerability of his solo records. He is Lazarus Presley. Risen from the dead to play rock’n’roll. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Simone Felice”