American by birth, Liz Meyer has lived in Europe since 1985 and has been active in promoting bluegrass and American roots music on the continent. She has been a performer, songwriter, producer and the creative force behind the European World of Bluegrass festival and workshops. I have played her music on Festival Radio.
Note from woodsmeister – This is a guest article from regular FolkBlog contributor and Australian correspondent Sue Barrett. Published by permission. All rights, credits, plaudits, etc., belong to her alone.
Celebrate Canada – 2011
By Sue Barrett
Be who you are! It’s the best course to take!
Stick to your own kind,
Although your heart may break,
Think of your mother, how it would bring her joy
If you dated a Canadian boy
(Nancy White – ‘Ballad of the Wannabe’, Stickers on Fruit)
When Elizabeth Taylor died earlier this year, American singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash shared a story via Twitter about how the film star (born 27 February 1932) used to send a birthday telegram every year to Rosanne’s father Johnny Cash (born 26 February 1932), which read: “Remember, I’m younger than you!”.
Amongst Johnny Cash’s music is a live album recorded in 1969 at San Quentin State Prison (Johnny Cash at San Quentin), with its intriguing line: ’cause I’m the *bleep* who named you “Sue”. Of course, these days, the bleep has been demystified, courtesy of YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=T678ic45k98)!
Canadian Buffy Sainte-Marie is another *bleeped* performer, with at least one of her singles (‘She Used to Wanna be a Ballerina’/ ‘Moratorium’) affected – *bleep* the war and bring our brothers home.
Some time after Johnny and Buffy released their records, two American performers met at a folk festival in Toronto – Cathy Fink (who had spent a number of years living in Canada) and Marcy Marxer. Later, working as a duo, Fink and Marxer included the Lou and Peter Berryman *bleeped* song, ‘A Chat With Your Mother’ (aka The F-Word Song), on their 1995 album, A Parents’ Home Companion.
Also appearing on A Parents’ Home Companion is Canadian Nancy White’s song, ‘Daughters of Feminists’ (“How do they get so girlie? How come they want a Barbie?”). Nancy White (www.myspace.com/nancywhitemusic) has two musician daughters – Suzy Wilde (StoneFox, Flashlight Radio) and Maddy Wilde (Spiral Beach).
In Canada, at this time of year, there is a series of Celebrate Canada events – National Aboriginal Day (21 June), Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (24 June), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (27 June) and Canada Day (1 July).
Six musicians from Canada now share their story – Mary Kastle (Vancouver), Annette Campagne (Regina), Little Hawk (Winnipeg), S. Lynn Phillips (Random Order) (Toronto), Faith Nolan (Toronto) and Tanya Davis (Halifax).
Canada has the right idea about many things, including this one – honor your artistic legends while they are living. Bruce Cockburn, along with Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Robbie Robertson & Ginette Reno will be honored with postage stamps in the Canadian Recording Artist stamp series. Alas, Kate McGarrigle did not live to see the day, though the other artists honored are still living. For those who may not be familiar with her, Ginette Reno records mostly in French and has put out over 60 albums.
Just found out that one of my favorite young singer/songwriters, Rebecca Loebe, will be appearing as one of the contestants on the new NBC show The Voice tomorrow night (4/26). So, check the TV schedules in your region. And, so you’ll recognize her when she comes on, here’s a brand new video for her song, “The Bees.”
Jack Hardy, a leading light of the New York City folk music scene and mentor to singer/songwriters such as John Gorka and Christine Lavin, has died. Hardy hosted a regular dinner at his home for singer/songwriters, and was instrumental in forming a club for folk singer/songwriters in which they could hone their craft, as well as the Fast Folk Music Magazine.
For years, many in the folk community have been begging for a collection of the best of Canadian folk legend Stan Rogers. Finally, it has been released on Borealis Records. If you are unclear as to why Stan Rogers is worth your time, see the video above. The CD is available on Amazon as an import, but I recommend buying directly from Borealis Records. I’m not affiliated with Borealis Records in any way, so I don’t get a cut.
Oysterband has posted to Facebook their intent to enter the studio soon to record a new album with June Tabor:
We’re in making-a-record mode at the moment, and will be going into Rockfield Studios very soon with June Tabor. 21 years after Freedom and Rain, we thought it really was about time to make a follow-up. Freedom and Rain took us to many strange places, so who knows what might happen this time?
I know – it’s already mid-January and I’m just getting around to posting my favorite CDs of 2010. I wait because I still discover new music in December when everyone is writing their annual obituaries for the year that has not yet died. Anyway, here is the annotated list of my favorite recordings from 2010:
1) April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Songs From a Sinking Ship
A wonderful, eclectic mix of high-energy toe-tapping pop with a folky, jazzy edge.
2) Natalie Merchant - Leave Your Sleep
A fascinating, genre-hopping collection of entertaining poems set to music
3) Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More
Indie music’s darlings of 2010 are really worth all the hype, with their appealing, energetic acoustic pop. When was the last time you heard the pop music world this excited at a group that so prominently features banjo? I mean, really?
4) Lynne Hanson – Once the Sun Goes Down
Canadian singer/songwriter Lynne Hanson has a voice made for singing Americana – world weary and husky like Lucinda Williams. On this album, she benefits from smart, full production and brings a strong crop of songs.
5) Catherine MacLellan – Water in the Ground
Another Canadian singer/songwriter, Catherine MacLellan has a lush, rich, entracing voice that rises above sparser, acoustic production.
6) Johnny Clegg – Human
Welcome back, Johnny Clegg. Your new album is like getting a letter from an old friend. Please write sooner next time.
7) Richard Thompson – Dream Attic
The best smoking hot rock and roll album Richard Thompson has released in years. There’s definitely an edge from the live recording. Yet, somehow nominated for a GRAMMY in one of the folk categories.
8. Red Molly – James
Red Molly just continues to produce solid folk recordings built on multi-instrumental wizardry, tight three-part vocal harmonies and well-chosen covers. I particularly love their cover of “Black Flowers” by Lynn Miles, one of the great recent coal mining songs
9) Rebecca Loebe – Mystery Prize
Singer-songwriter Rebecca Loebe mixes wit and humor into a thoroughly interesting album filled with lyrical twists and turns.
10) David Wax Museum – Carpenter Bird
I am a sucker for the interesting things that happen when genres and cultures collide, so it should be no surprise that I’ve fallen hard for the exciting blend of Mexican folk music and Americana provided by David Wax Museum.
Every list like this leaves out a lot of really good music. Here is the short list of artists on the edge, in alphabetical order:
Brooks Williams – Baby O!
Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig
Darrell Scott – Crooked Road
David Rawlings Machine – A Friend of a Friend*
Freedy Johnston – Rain on the City
Great Big Sea – Safe Upon the Shore
Johnny Flynn – Been Listening
Lake Street Dive – Lake Street Dive
Maura Kennedy – Parade of Echoes
Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone
Noah Earle – This is the Jubilee
Peter Himmelman – The Mystery and the Hum
Robert Plant – Band of Joy
Roosevelt Dime – Steamboat Soul
*Released 2009 but I didn’t get my hands on it until 2010
2011 is already off to a good start with really fine new releases from Lynn Miles, Amos Lee, Kate Jacobs, Abigail Washburn and David Wax Museum in my hands and the year is only two weeks old.
woodsmeister’s note: Sue Barrett is a music journalist from Australia who occasionally provides articles for the FolkBlog. This article is provided with her permission and all rights, credits and copyrights belong to Sue Barrett.
By Sue Barrett
Music is such a communicative tool.
[There are] not many people in the world who don’t listen to music.
And whether they actually listen to it and hear the content of it, or not, some part of every piece of music that everybody hears affects them.
Simply because of the vibration.
(Deb Morrow, Rhythms, July 2000)
In a tiny gallery/bar, a few months ago, a young musician was setting up her drum kit – quite a challenge really, with a “stage” not much bigger than the top of a kitchen table and a vintage couch just inches away from her snare drum.
Now Anastassijah Scales, performing that night as part of The Lucky Wonders, joins Bree van Reyk and Melissa York in sharing insights into the world of drums and percussion.
Australian Anastassijah Scales grew up in Armidale and Coffs Harbour, studied music at Southern Cross University (Lismore) and currently lives on the north coast of New South Wales. Anastassijah began performing, singing and playing guitar in her early teens, and drumming in bands when she was about seventeen. Late in 2009, Anastassijah joined the roots/pop/folk group, The Lucky Wonders, which spent 2010 touring Australia – from coast to coast – promoting its debut album, Thirteen O’Clock. The Lucky Wonders, who recently released two new songs (‘Anyway’ and ‘Thing About Leaving’), also includes songwriters Emma Royle and Jessie Vintila, with Sam Parker on bass.
Australian Bree van Reyk was ten when she started learning percussion, later going on to complete a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours from the School of Music, Australian National University, Canberra. Bree began her professional music career playing triangle with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra in an Opera Australia production of The Barber of Seville, when she was twelve years of age. Since then, Bree has been a member of the indie rock group, The Rebel Astronauts, and has played percussion, drums and/or other instruments with a range of classical, popular and new/contemporary music performers and groups, including Holly Throsby, Darren Hanlon and Ensemble Offspring. In addition, Bree is a member of Synergy Percussion and plays with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (the orchestral partner of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet). Bree also writes and records music for dance, theatre and film – recently combining with Nick Wales on the soundtrack for the dance theatre work, Happy As Larry, and composing music for, and performing live as a solo instrumentalist in, Bell Shakespeare’s 20th anniversary production of King Lear.
Melissa York is a self taught pop-punk drummer, who grew up in New York City and New Jersey and now lives in North Carolina. As her family’s apartment wasn’t big enough for a drum set, Melissa began playing flute in about 8th grade, then moved on to clarinet, bass clarinet and tuba. When she was in her early 20s, Melissa finally took up drums. Since then, she has performed with many bands, including The Manacled, Vitapup, the Rings, Sugar Shock, Ex-Members, The Butchies and Team Dresch. Melissa York is currently the drummer with the indie/Americana/folk-rock band Humble Tripe, as well a member of Amy Ray’s band.