New Music for 2013
One of the best live shows I ever saw was Cheryl Wheeler at the Kent State Folk Festival. Outside, there was a thunderstorm raging, but inside it was warm and cozy as Wheeler pulled together a set that included her funny songs (like "Potato" – honestly, the best!) and deeply touching personal songs, not to mention the wonderful on-stage banter. Now, you can experience Cheryl Wheeler in all of her glory with Greetings from Cheryl Wheeler Live (featuring piano great Kenny White).
Another artist I first saw at the KSFF (as we affectionately call it) was Seth Glier. He was just breaking out when he played the Kent Stage as an opening act. Since then, Glier has been earning more and more praise for his piano-based singer/songwriter style. Check him out on Things I Should Let You Know.
There has always been a strong connection between Ireland and American roots music. Philadelphia-based Solas has always been something of a Celtic bridge between the Old World and the New. In their latest album, Shamrock City, the story of immigration is told more directly. The songs track a young Irishman (in the form of Michael Conway, the great-great-uncle of Solas frontman Seamus Egan) in 1910 who moves hopefully to Montana, only to meet an unhappy end.
Pharis & Jason Romero are also inspired by days gone by, although less directly. The couple met at an old-time fiddle jam and it must have been true love because Jason (who also has a business making banjos) packed up and moved to a small town in British Columbia to be with Pharis. The pair now record heartfelt and honest songs that would sound at home in Dust Bowl-era Kansas. FolkAlley.com is pleased to offer Long Gone Out West Blues as a Hear It First streaming option on the website.
Other CDs welcoming in the New Year: