AmericanA to Z – Steve Forbert

When he first hit the scene in 1978 someone somewhere decided that labelling Steve Forbert with the “new Dylan” tag was a good idea. Unfortunately, the “new Dylan” arrived just when singer-songwriters playing folk rock on a guitar and harmonica weren’t exactly hot. Never a good idea to call anybody “the new” anything. Well, he did play the harmonica. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Steve Forbert”

AmericanA to Z – The Delmore Brothers

Before Americana, before Outlaw Country, before Nashville even; there was Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family and importantly The Delmore Brothers. From a dirt poor Alabama farming family, these boys fused blues, folk and gospel to create their close vocal harmony sound and help define a genre which came to be known as country music. Unlike their contemporaries, they also mixed in a tenor guitar, giving perhaps the first example of heavy twang – a cornerstone of what we all love about Americana. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – The Delmore Brothers”

AmericanA to Z – Carolina Chocolate Drops

It’s easy to think that the Carolina Chocolate Drops were all about “reclaiming the banjo” and taking back a strand of American vernacular music of the 19th and early 20th centuries that had been culturally appropriated.  And, despite the band members protestations to the contrary  in interviews there is surely something to that – for here’s a strand of folk music that had been debased through vaudeville and beyond.  Hard to credit but our own cultural bastion that is the BBC was still putting out the unbelievable abomination that was ‘The Black and White Minstrel Show‘ as recently as 1978.  Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Carolina Chocolate Drops”

AmericanA to Z – Peter Bruntnell

Since his 1995 solo debut ‘Cannibal‘ Peter Bruntnell has slowly built a canon of songs that would stand up next to the best of best within the Americana genre and way, way beyond. Sensible folk scratch their heads with incredulity at his lack of mainstream commercial success and marvel at the thrill of witnessing such a talent in small venues around the country on a regular basis. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Peter Bruntnell”

AmericanA to Z: Terry Allen

Today we’re re-starting a series we got going with a while ago before it abruptly came to a halt. Our favourite not so well known artists, going through the alphabet, week by week, starting this week with Terry Allen:  A conceptual artist, sculptor and painter as well as being a tremendous songwriter, Texan Terry Allen is perhaps the most “outlaw” of all the Texan musicians we regularly celebrate here at Americana UK. Much of his music is allied to his artworks with his debut album, Juarez, a suite of raspy bare boned songs telling the tale of four losers on the run from the law, beginning life as a series of lithographs, the songs added when a Chicago print company offered to print them with an LP telling the story with 50 copies eventually printed. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Terry Allen”

AmericanA to Z : The Byrds

Not every A-Z artist is a complete unknown, sometimes it’s good to remember just how good some of the seminal bands really were. The Byrds are the band that spawned a thousand jangly guitar bands, seemingly destined to be ‘rediscovered’ every ten years or so. The Byrds famously invented country-rock on ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo‘ – although even putting aside the many other contenders for that claim there is the small matter of previous material on ‘Younger then Yesterday‘ and ‘The Notorious Byrd Brothers‘.  Continue reading “AmericanA to Z : The Byrds”

AmericanA to Z : Bela Fleck

Americana, a form of music based, in part, on the traditions embodied in American folk music can’t neglect the huge influence of bluegrass in the 20th century. Bela Fleck is the preeminent living exponent of the banjo, his dazzling level of technical mastery is unquestionable and his influence is huge. Having recorded a series of keystone bluegrass albums for Rounder Records he branched out, taking the banjo into music it is rarely associated with – such as modern funk-jazz with the electric band The Flecktones. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z : Bela Fleck”

AmericanA to Z: Acres and Acres

Half forgotten bands, albums that slipped away – that’s what this part of the site is about.  Canada’s Acres and Acres were one of the first bands, possibly the actual first, that I reviewed a CD for back in the distant days of Americana-UK (but not the dim and distant days – that was before my time). They were basically a duo of Kris Pope and Dave Scolten at the time, although they were ably supported by friends on their debut recording ‘All Nations’. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Acres and Acres”

AmericanA to Z: Acetone

I was drawn to Acetone because they were on Vernon Yard Recordings alongside Low, on whom I had a major musical crush. It’s always a risky business but in pre-internet days you had to take a punt, and I did. It turned out that they were a kind of all male Mazzy Star or a cross between Spaceman 3 and Kris Kristofferson. They played a slowcore version of Americana over the span of 5 LP’s and one EP, before calling it quits in 2001 when bass player Ritchie Lee killed himself. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Acetone”