Americana Archive

Capsule Reviews: January 2013, Part Two

Here’s another installment in my occasional series of capsule reviews, this time covering new releases by indie/self-released artists. My self-imposed limit for this particular exercise is 150 words on each album. War Poets – Dulce et Decorum Est Every so often an act comes along that is – or at least seems to be –

Happy Birthday, Van Dyke Parks!

Owing to the distractions of the holiday season, today’s scheduled blog entry isn’t quite ready. So while I finish it, I invite you to celebrate the 70th birthday of acclaimed songwriter / arranger / producer Van Dyke Parks by reading a pair of interviews I did with him. (Parks, of course, is perhaps most well-known

45rpm Roundup

The 45rpm vinyl format isn’t dead. In fact, I see more of those little seven-inchers in my mailbox these days than I did even a couple of years ago. Here I take a look at four recent submissions. None is at all musically like the others, and seven out of the eight songs are highly

Fiddler Paul Crouch: An Appalachian Treasure

Some stories write themselves. Oftentimes a writer does some research, interviews the subject, and then weaves the resulting information into a narrative. But when the subject is Asheville, North Carolina fiddler Paul Crouch, it’s best to get out of the way and let the 82-year-old Crouch tell it himself. “The first thing I remember about

The Leigh Glass Band – Even Southern Gothics Get the Blues

Asheville-based blues troubadour Leigh Glass put the first lineup of her band together in 2003, but her own musical history goes back much farther. “I took piano lessons when I was little…but it didn’t stick,” she laughs. With deep roots in Western North Carolina — her family is from Bethel (Cold Mountain) in Haywood County

Album Review: Los Lobos – Wolf Tracks: The Best of Los Lobos

Reviewing best-ofs is a dodgy proposition; if the artist in question is good, then by definition the disc is good…generally. It’s simple enough to point out a shoddy compilation, taking issue with any number of issues (song selection, poor remastering, lack of bonus/rarities, clumsy sequencing, lousy packaging, etc.). With all that in mind, then, how

Album Review: Hayseed Dixie – A Hot Piece of Grass

Hayseed Dixie is bluegrass music’s answer to Dread Zeppelin. But then, who asked the question? Hayseed Dixie’s high-concept approach recasts hard rock songs in a bluegrass context (for a secret message, say “Hayseed Dixie” out loud, over and over, until you get it). These guys most certainly have a sense of humor — how else

Eliza Lynn: Music as an Emotional Safe Haven

“I don’t remember not singing,” says folk/blues/jazz/Americana musician Eliza Lynn. “I remember being on the way to preschool, riding down Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive, making up songs.” “It’s just sort of a way of being for me. I’ll be driving, waiting at a stoplight, writing songs about sittin’ on empty.” In fact, she explains, “I write

Tom Dudley Does it Right

If a musician attends the famed Berklee College, then goes on to work as an electronic technician at Moog Music, and then chooses bluegrass music as a career, he must be a musical carpetbagger. Right? Wrong. “My mother was from southern Ohio, near Kentucky…almost Appalachia. My parents sang Carter Family songs around the piano,” guitarist