AmericanA to Z: Zeitgeist (The Reivers)

It’s the end of an era. After three complete journeys around the alphabet we finally reach the end of our A-Z series, and what a way to finish. In the first flush of early ’80s college rock bands there was Zeitgeist, a talented, locally adored, critically lauded quartet from Austin, Texas. They were part of an Austin indie subgenre called New Sincerity, supposedly named by The Skunks’ Jesse Sublett, which also included Daniel Johnston, Glass Eye, and Doctors’ Mob.
Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Zeitgeist (The Reivers)”

Americana A – Z: Chris Whitley

Chris Whitley’s itinerant childhood in the southern states seemed to be reflected in his restless musical output, a determined musical quest that often meant the last album was not necessarily a guide to the next and thus often a bit of a puzzle for fans. Whitley was never a great commercial success but was something of a musician’s musician and his status was perhaps summed up best by John Mayer: Continue reading “Americana A – Z: Chris Whitley”

AmericanA to Z: The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip are the biggest (and some might say best) Canadian band to not make much of an impact outside of Canada.  The band from Kingston, Ontario consisting of five school friends who played together for more than 30 years, releasing 13 studio albums, could be viewed as a rock band by some but are much more than this.  They spent their time together celebrating Canadian culture and inspiring many bands in their wake.  Their first few albums probably fit best within the Americana tag consisting of bluesy roots rock with their sound developing into more commercial rock and more experimental music in their later years. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: The Tragically Hip”

Americana A to Z: Sand Rubies (Sidewinders)

Jimi Hendrix doesn’t really qualify as Americana but a quote from his lyrics can come in handy here – “Is it love, or is it confusion?” Both things can really apply to this Arizona band that started out in the Eighties, a somewhat strange period for Americana artists. They started out as Sidewinders but had to change the name after two albums to Sand Rubies. It all started well (with love) with a couple of songs even reaching the charts and ended up in confusion when things started going downhill, irrespective of the quality of music. Continue reading “Americana A to Z: Sand Rubies (Sidewinders)”

AmericanA to Z: Paul Robeson

In any pantheon of American music there should be a space for the monumental figure of Paul Robeson.  Whole biographies have deservedly been dedicated to describing his kaleidoscopic talents and a life of commitment and spirit.   It makes little sense to listen to his music removed from context so the following is a short precis of a titanic cultural figure;  an abbreviation of a life that seems to gather up the themes of the 20th century into one person. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Paul Robeson”

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”