Americana Archive

Album Mini-review: Rhiannon Giddens — Freedom Highway

File next to: Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Mary Gauthier Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens is the well-deserved darling of the burgeoning Americana movement. As a person of color, Giddens adds some diversity into the otherwise largely lily-white scene, but it would be a gross miscalculation to chalk her success up to that fact. As the

Album Mini-review: Valerie June — The Order of Time

File next to: Rhiannon Giddens, Ali Farka Touré, Shovels & Rope If with The Order of Time, Valerie June Hockett sought to create a resolutely unclassifiable record, she’s succeeded beyond a doubt. For the Memphis-based singer-songwriter’s fourth full-length, she’s come up with a dozen tunes that will delight the adventurous listener, but likely confuse and

Album Mini-review: Willodean — Awesome Life Decisions Volume One

File next to: David Bowie, Todd Rundgren, Ben Folds Way back in 2005, Los Angeles-based Randy & the Bloody Lovelies released their second album, Lift. The album straddled Americana and power pop, with songwriting that recalled another Randy (Newman) with its inventive wordplay and wicket yet subtle humor. Predictably in a market dominated by Coldplay,

Hilary Scott Gets the Balance Right

Though she’s formally trained in classical and opera – she studied voice and piano in Italy – Washington state-based Hilary Scott chose the musical path of singer-songwriter more than a decade ago. From a very early age, Scott was more concerned with expressing her thoughts and ideas via words than playing with the other neighborhood

Gaelynn Lea: Accessible Looping

The career of violinist and singer Gaelynn Lea got a big boost when she won 2016’s second annual Tiny Desk Contest; that allowed her to perform on the popular NPR podcast hosted by Bob Boilen. More than 6,000 artists submitted homemade videos, and the Minnesota musician’s entry stood out among those of her competitors. On

Del McCoury and Steep Canyon Rangers: Mutual Admiration Society

Bluegrass legend Del McCoury remembers vividly the first time he saw and heard the Steep Canyon Rangers. It was at a street festival in Raleigh or Charlotte, not long after the group had formed. “The boys might have still been in college, or just out of college,” he recalls. Even then, he was struck by

Trampled By Turtles’ Two Daves Take it Slow and Steady

Trampled By Turtles is a darling of the Americana scene and the festival circuit. And while the Minneapolis-based group played a number of shows this summer – including sold-out performances at Red Rocks – they’re currently on hiatus, and their future is uncertain. All five members are busy with other musical projects, and two members

Rising Appalachia: Relationships and Resiliency

There is a wide consensus that the United States is entering a challenging era, especially for those fighting for civil rights, environmental protection and sustainability. For creative artists who seek to combine their art with activism, this new reality has the potential to demoralize. Yet it’s possible to look at our current reality with perspective

Devils in Dust: The Hazards of Hi-Fi

After years of local and regional success with groups of their own, Corey Bullman and Leigh Glass have now combined their musical projects into a single one, Devils in Dust. Along the way, they also fell in love and got married. When faced with the chicken-or-egg question – which came first: the musical relationship or

Best Music of 2016: Concerts

There’s a bit of overlap where my best albums and best concerts of 2016 are concerned. And there are some old favorites, too. John Mayall Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte NC March 11, 2016 It was only around this time that I pivoted to writing as a full-time job (in other words, how I make my living).