I first found out about Old Man Luedecke (who is, BTW, not that old) through my Canadian connection. Canada seems to offer an environment that encourages musicians to be true to their own sound, a spirit that may have helped the old-time banjo picker from Nova Scotia win the 2009 Juno for Best Roots Album – Solo for "Proof of Love." He’s back with a new collection of fresh folk songs tinged with nostalgia: My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs.
Not to make this issue of the Chat too banjo heavy (as if you could ever have too many banjos!), Noam Pikelny is out with an album of originals. Equally as charismatic as sometimes-partner-in-crime Chris Thile, Noam’s work with the Punch Brothers has taken up a lot of his time lately. Beat The Devil & Carry A Rail puts the spotlight back on his stellar musician with the help of friends including Steve Martin, Aoife O’Donovan (from Crooked Still), Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Bryan Sutton and yes, even Chris Thile.
Much like Thile’s former band, Nickel Creek, Bearfoot released its first CD when the band members were still youngsters. The Bearfoot teens came out of Alaska with a love of bluegrass that was exciting in its promise. The band, like most groups of high school friends, has felt some growing pains. Members went to college – some in Alaska, some in the lower 48 – and now, Bearfoot is reconfigured in Nashville with original members Angela Oudean and Jason Norris joined by singer/songwriters Nora Jane Struthers and Todd Grebe (also an Alaska transplant) and multi-instrumentalist P.J. George. Check out their new beginnings in American Story.
Dan Zanes has had a rather improbable musical career. He started the indie rock band the Del Fuegos right out of college and had enough success that Rolling Stone called them the "Best New Band" of 1984. Then, Zanes got married, had a baby and – before you know it – he’s playing a banjo and recording super hip folk CDs for kids. His songs have been heard on the Disney channel and Nickelodeon and his 2007 CD, "Catch That Train," won a Grammy Award. Zanes’ latest (recorded with cool friends like Sharon Jones and Andrew Bird) is Little Nut Tree – his sixth all-ages CD.
More new music (possibly featuring banjos):