How did bluegrass become the new sound of political protest across the US?

The Guardian ran a superb article over the weekend on a genre we don’t cover enough here on AUK –  bluegrass – partly because it appears to be the marmite of americana. The article focused on the genre’s recent gravitation towards activism: “Bluegrass has no history of protest music. Or rather, its protest has always been a passive, melancholic one, the sound of displaced workers longing for their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains far away. It is a music whose roots are bedded so deep in its nostalgic view of America that it can seem estranged from the modern world – and vice versa.” Continue reading “How did bluegrass become the new sound of political protest across the US?”

Who? What? Where? Why? & Werewolves “Greatest Hits” (Independent, 2019)

Indie bluegrass from Philadelphia? Complicated moniker? Super ironic album title? Hipster alert senses are tingling with this reviewer. However, let’s not judge a book by its cover. These guys (Andrew Fullerton and Matt Orlando) were formerly the crux of Philly rock scene stalwarts The Tressels, which is a much shorter, manageable band name. Continue reading “Who? What? Where? Why? & Werewolves “Greatest Hits” (Independent, 2019)”

The Lonesome Ace Stringband “When The Sun Comes Up” (Independent, 2018)

There is something life affirming when Americana music is stripped back to the basics and this Canadian trio (Chris Coole – banjo, John Showman – fiddle and Max Heineman- double bass) head to the hills with this excellent string driven selection of songs old and new.  They might hail from north of the 49th parallel but their roots are in the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrie and John Hartford, a century’s worth of picking and singing to which they add their own fine compositions. Continue reading “The Lonesome Ace Stringband “When The Sun Comes Up” (Independent, 2018)”

Viper Central “The Spirit of God & Madness” (Independent, 2017)

Viper Central have been known as a first-rate Bluegrass band since their debut album The Devil sure is hard to please appeared in 2008, but this latest release – Viper Central’s third album – sees them heading off in some new directions. The Canadian quintet have taken the bold step to incorporate a more modern folk band feel onto several new tunes, as well as some western swing (the Mariachi trumpet infected Losing My Mind) and country-folk, it certainly makes for an eclectic mix and something quite different from their previous offerings. Continue reading “Viper Central “The Spirit of God & Madness” (Independent, 2017)”

The Andrew Collins Trio “And It Was Good” (Independent, 2017)

This is a difficult album to review simply because I’ve never heard anything quite like it before. For a start, it’s totally instrumental; unusual in the Americana genre, though the music does have its roots quite firmly in Bluegrass.  It’s also a concept album, something else that’s quite rare in this genre. And not just any old concept – this album takes the rather grand biblical story of creation as its theme. You certainly can’t accuse Andrew Collins and his band mates, Mike Mezzatesta and James McEleney of lacking ambition. Continue reading “The Andrew Collins Trio “And It Was Good” (Independent, 2017)”