Americana Archive

Paula Boggs: Soulgrass with a Message

Paula Boggs has one of the more unusual biographies in music. Before devoting herself full time to performing and making albums, Boggs was an Army paratrooper, a U.S. Attorney, general counsel for Starbucks, and a vice president at Dell Computer Corporation. But there’s a definite thread running through her history that led her to where

New Music Review Roundup, Part 3

Today I wrap up three days’ worth of reviews of new music. Dig if you will. The Pollyseeds – Sounds of Crenshaw, Vol. 1 As far as I know, none of the music on Sounds of Crenshaw Vol. 1 is used on the soundtrack of the Amazon Original series Bosch, but – like that crime

Album Mini-review: TajMo

File next to: BB King, Ry Cooder The cover of John and Yoko’s Two Virgins features a Paul McCartney quote: “When two great saints meet, it is a humbling experience.” While – then as now – it’s difficult to receive that quote with a straight face, if applied elsewhere it can actually mean something. Case

Album Mini-review: Russ Tolman — Compass & Map

File next to: Dream Syndicate, late-period Byrds True West swam in the rootsier, countrified end of the 1980s “paisley underground” pool. Once that band folded, founder-guitarist-singer Russ Tolman began a solo career; to date he’s released seven albums of new music and several singles. But most of that material was released in Europe and largely

Album Review: Cowbell — Haunted Heart

File next to: Flat Duo-jets, The Cramps, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes Discerning listeners may turn a skeptical ear toward news of yet another guitar-and-drum duo. There’s a strong argument that the format is completely played out. But British duo Cowbell has expanded its instrumental arsenal for its American debut release, and far from

Album Review: Laura Blackley and the Wildflowers — Tell it to the Darkness

An engaging Southern gothic troubadour, Laura Blackley is a beloved fixture on the regional live concert circuit. On Tell It to the Darkness, her well-honed strengths are on prominent display. Chief among her assets is a skill at crafting thoughtful lyrics — word pictures, really — that work as well on the printed page as

Album Review: Zoe and Cloyd — Eyes Brand New

High quality musicianship is rarely in short supply, especially in Western North Carolina. That fact –coupled with the presence of several top-notch recording studios in the region – means that the bar is set quite high for a new album release. This is especially true in the crowded field of Americana and its related genres

Resonant Rogues’ Musical Welcome Mat

Led by the duo of Sparrow and Keith Smith, Asheville-based band Resonant Rogues combines flavors of Appalachian old-time, early jazz, and Eastern European folk to create a distinctive and original sound. The group’s latest album, Hands in the Dirt uses that sound as a backdrop to lyrics that focus on universal – and sometimes very

Finn Magill: World Music, World Traveler

In his native Swannanoa, N.C., Finn Magill may be thought of as a vastly accomplished musician in the idiom of traditional Irish music. But his interests and musical explorations have long taken him far beyond that style. He recorded an album of Malawian flavored music, Mau a Malawi, and he leads a traditional Brazilian quartet

The Wooks in Their Natural Habitat

Kentucky-based band the Wooks came together in early 2015; the group quickly established its core sound: an acoustic approach that bridges the gap between bluegrass, old-time music and the modern jam band aesthetic. The latter influence would seem to be reflected in the band’s name: if Wooks is short for wookie, then it may be