Down here in The Bunker at Americana UK Towers we have five lever locks and ten bolts on the door. Mostly this is to keep out the hoi polio – fans who want to snog us and get our autographs, depressed singer/songwriters who want to take us to task for dissing their life’s work, bailiffs who don’t get the joke that not paying the rent is a piece of performance art and politically savvy folk who vehemently disagree with our editorial policy of being politically neutral. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: The Gourds “Everybody’s Missing The Sun””
‘Horsebreaker Star’ came out as a double album back in 1994, the penultimate to be released by the late ex Go-Betweener Grant McLennan and it was a musical jump from his previous work, being recorded as it was in Athens, Georgia with US musicians, and including flashes of banjo and mandolin. “I wanted it to be the kind of record that could be played by anyone, but not too obvious. You know, the London Symphony Orchestra doesn’t have to do the ballads, Johnny Cash doesn’t have to do the country songs. I don’t like to be that predictable. I like surprises,” he said. It was on my CD player for most of the year and this track used to crush me several times a week.
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”
This week news reached us in The Bunker that The World and His Wife (by which we of course mean The World and His/Her Significant Other) had decided that what is happening in Venezuela is their business and that Venezuelans should damn well sit up and take notice of the pontifications of all non-Venezuelans everywhere. Donny John and the rootin’, tootin’ US of A demanded that Juan Marquez of The Voluntad Popular Party (“Popular Will” to us Bunker residents) be recognised as the President (supported in this view by notable ‘nice guy’ Jair Bolsanaro of Brazil but also, bizarrely, by Canada). Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Merle Haggard “Oil Tanker Train””
Richard Shindell writes songs that often break your heart more than once before the song has ended – this track taken from his ‘Not Far Now’ album from 2009 is one of those classic folk storytelling pieces that involves you with the character as much as a Raymond Carver short story, with the grand climax of the song focusing on one of Bush Jr’s state of the union addresses from the last years of his presidency: “The President’s up there grinning that grin, Thinking he’s some kind of John Wayne, We’re howling and jeering all his talk about shooting, And drilling our way out of this.” Lest we forget.
Bear’s Den have announced details of their third studio album ‘So That You Might Hear Me’ which will be released on 26th April in the UK. The new record was recorded at several studios in Seattle with the producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty) and was mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Metronomy). Continue reading “Bear’s Den are back with a new album and UK dates in April – Listen”
This month long-serving staff writer Paul Kerr gives us the lowdown on his introduction to Americana: Jim Reeves was the country crooner of choice in my household as I was growing up and it wasn’t until my pimply adolescence that Top of The Pops and Alan Freeman’s top 20 countdown entered my life. Continue reading “What is this Americana thing anyway…?”
Anybody who is a fan of the genre – by which we mean you our dear readers – is bound to have been asked at some point: “What kind of music do you like?” Your reply will have been “I really like Americana”. You will all, no doubt, have been met by the same blank faces or quizzical looks or maybe the classic question “What the hell is THAT?”. We’ve all been there. In this, a new occasional series, we attempt to get to the bottom of what the genre is (if indeed it is one thing) and how our particular love for it as writers for Americana-UK came about. As usual, your thoughts, comments and observations are warmly welcomed.
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”
The Editor, in his infinite wisdom, suggested that this week we don’t go with a Brexit themed Political Pops. Eagle-eyed viewers will understand that we didn’t go with this last week and that the majority of ‘Political Pops’ aren’t solely focussed on the most important political decisions facing our people since world War Two. That said, it’s quite difficult to ignore. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Josh Turner “Why Don’t We Just Dance””