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New Music for August

Artists often ask if Folk Alley plays music from "unknowns." The answer is yes, with an asterix. The songs must hold their own against the classics. When Jim heard Nora Jane Struthers, he thought just that – here was a young woman without a lot of history, but with a collection of fresh, original Americana songs. It doesn’t hurt that on her self-titled debut she is working with a top Nashville producer and all-star musicians Stuart Duncan, Rob Ickes, Bryan Sutton, Scott Vestal, Dennis Crouch and Tim O’Brien. Check her out and see what you think.

Speaking of Tim O’Brien, the Grammy Award-winner is back with Chicken & Egg. One of roots music’s most successful songwriters, O’Brien fills his latest with an effortless mix of sweet songs, funny songs and songs that will stick with you long past the first listen. O’Brien spoke of his father (who passed away last year) when he opened for Steve Martin at the Newport Folk Festival. His dad makes an appearance in Not Afraid of Dyin’ – facing his later years with humor and acceptance.

I also heard a lot of songs from Twistable Turnable Man at Newport. This new tribute to the late, great humorist Shel Silverstein includes contributions from multiple generations of musicians – from John Prine, Lucinda Williams and Kris Kristofferson to Andrew Bird, Sarah Jarosz and My Morning Jacket – all playing songs by the illustrator and author of such classics as "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "A Light in the Attic."

When Jim started talking up All the Good Summers, a CD he’d discovered by Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand, it was a little like deja vu. That’s because the VanNorstrands were one of Folk Alley’s featured Open Mic artists. Each month the Folk Alley staff comb through submissions to highlight up and coming artists. Several (like Jim Pipkin, Chris Castle and Chad Elliott) have had their CDs added to the stream.

Here are more CDs for your musical discovery:

Red Horse (John Gorka, Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky) – "Red Horse"

Abalone Dots – "Traveler" and "From a Safe Distance"

Lonesome River Band – "Still Learning"

Angel Band – "Bless My Sole"

Justin Townes Earle – "Harlem River Blues"

Bill Kirchen (feat. Dan Hicks) – "Word to the Wise"

Cherryholmes – "Common Thread"

Sally Spring – "Made of Stars"

Asleep at the Wheel & Leon Rausch – "It’s a Good Day"

Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore – "Saints & Sinners"

Gregory Alan Isakov – "That Sea, The Gambler" and "This Empty Northern Hemisphere"

David Mallet – "Alright Now"

Jory Nash – "New Blue Day"

Mike & Ruthy – "Million to One"

Chatham County Line – "Wildwood"

Indigo Girls (live) – "Staring Down the Brilliant Dream"

Nate Grower – "Nate Grower"

Michael Martin Murphey – "Buckaroo Bluegrass II: Riding Song"

Michael McGoldrick – "Aurora"

Justin Rutledge – "The Early Widows"

Storyhill – "Shade of the Trees"

Forest Sun – "Harlequin Goodnight"

Steve Smith, Chris Sanders & Hard Road – "Signs Along the Road"

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