I don’t know very many folk singers who touch on modern life as successfully as Vance Gilbert. His newest, Old White Men, was inspired by a bad neighbor experience. He’s written about his failed marriage and his best friend leaving town. That’s real folk music, songs that reflect what really happens in our day to day lives.
I’ve heard a rumor that Crooked Still is taking at least a year off after their current tour is over. Needless to say, if that’s the case, we should snatch up every bit of new music from the bluegrassish quintet while we can – even if Friends of the Fall is only an EP. The band – Aoife O’Donovan, Gregory Liszt, Brittany Haas, Tristan Clarridge and Corey DiMario – is made up of some of the hottest musicians of their generation and give new meaning to "string band" with their use of violins, upright bass and cello in the mix.
Ryan Adams has had an interesting career. From a very Alt-Country start with Whiskeytown, he got even folkier as a solo artist before veering into indie rock with his band The Cardinals. And, then he put out a Metal album. In between, he worked through substance issues, developed Meniere’s Disease and married Mandy Moore. Adams is back with Ashes & Fire, a new solo CD filled with great songs that return the singer/songwriter to his pared down, acoustic roots.
Before there was Neil Young, before there was Bob Dylan, before there was Pete Seeger, there was Woody Guthrie. A true folk singer, Guthrie traveled the country telling stories about the true America. His music and his legend have endured, with many of his songs becoming permanent fixtures in the musical firmament. Singer/Songwriter John McCutcheon pays tribute to the master with This Land: Woody Guthrie’s America. The collection of Guthrie songs – familiar and less so – includes tales of rough and tumble life in the U.S. as well as what have become recognizable anthems. McCutcheon is joined by a host of top-notch artists (Willy Nelson, Tommy Emmanuel, Kathy Mattea, Tim O’Brien and others) in this loving tribute to Guthrie.
More new music – just in time for the holidays: