folk Archive

Life Like Water’s Trance-folk

Songwriter and musician David Matters has a background playing bluegrass and old-time music. And while he maintains a love for those styles, the music he started writing a few years ago didn’t fit comfortably into those idioms. So he launched Life Like Water, now a trio with a sound that draws from American and European

Album Review: The Black Tones — Cobain & Cornbread

Ice-T (among many others) has long made the point that African Americans’ role in the creation of rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. While I agree, I suspect that in part the reason for that is that comparatively few people of color work in the rock idiom. I recall vividly just how

Album Review: Rachid Taha — Je Suis Africain

Are you familiar with a musical genre called Chaâbi? Me neither. Put simply (and reductively), it’s North African folk music, sort of a cousin to another style, raï. One of the foremost artists to combine that style with rock was Rachid Taha; the Algerian musician released more than a dozen albums under his own name,

Album Review: Abraham Jam — White Moon

Customarily, when multiple artists each having his or her own successful career come together, it’s for one of two reasons. They might collaborate simply because it’s fun, because it gives them a chance to step outside whatever stylistic box they may be in, because they’re up for what used to be known colloquially as a

Ben Phan Follows His Creative Path

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Ben Phan has been making music for most of his life. Through formal and informal study, he has immersed himself in classical, jazz, funk, African dance music, folk and bluegrass. His debut EP featured songs he wrote on a five-month hike along the Pacific Coast Trail. Phan recently released his second

Album Review: Zoe & Cloyd — I Am Your Neighbor

The student and feminism movements that came to prominence in the late 20th century both made use of the slogan, “the personal is political.” And whatever side of an issue one might come down upon, there’s little disagreement regarding the truth in the phrase. In today’s interconnected world, our actions take on a political dimension.

Blu-ray Review: Echo in the Canyon

The creatively fertile and incalculably influential Laurel Canyon scene if the middle 1960s is explored in Echo In the Canyon. It’s not quite a documentary in the sense that it concerns itself nearly as much with current artists in the studio and onstage as it does with the moves and shakers of five decades ago.

Joan Baez: Consistently on the Right Side of History

Joan Baez is American folk royalty. Her name would be an important one within the folk idiom even if she had never sung a note; as an early and prominent supporter of Bob Dylan, she helped expand the influence and popularity of acoustic American music in the early 1960s. That fact – and her personal

Hope Griffin: A Shining Light of a Singer-songwriter

Hope Griffin is a Western North Carolina-based singer-songwriter. She sings and plays acoustic guitar in a soulful, rootsy style. But she arrived at that singular style via a somewhat unconventional route; her background isn’t at all typical of Appalachian songsmiths. Griffin was born in Alaska, and that state’s “nomadic quality of life” influenced her eventual

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2019, Part 1

Once again, it’s time for a passel of quick reviews. Twenty in all – ten today, as many tomorrow. All deserve a listen. Titles on vinyl are noted as such (LP). Waiting for Henry – The Gospel of Moby Grape As a serious fan of the star-crossed band name-checked in the title, I had to