Tag - americana

More ‘Joy Of Making Music’ – Sid Griffin Album Cover

sidgriffinCDWay back in February of this year, I got a call from my friend (and partner in The 1861 Project) Thomm Jutz inviting me out to his studio in Mt. Juliet to photograph a recording session with somebody named Sid Griffin.

I was not familiar with Sid at the time, but have since learned that he’s quite a fixture in the world of Americana and bluegrass music.   He’s the front man for the critically acclaimed group “The Coal Porters” and, according to Billy Bragg, “Sid Griffin was playing ‘Americana’ music before that term was invented…”

I didn’t hear much from Sid after the session and shoot.  So imagine my surprise when I discovered yesterday that not only has Sid’s new CD “The Trick Is To Breathe” (Spotify / iTunes) been released, but he’s used one of my photos for the album cover!

Needless to say (though of course I’m saying it anyway) I’m thrilled to see my work being put to good use.  I’m particularly pleased with the shot that Sid selected. It’s one of only three that I shot with him standing in the doorway entrance to Thomm’s studio control room.  Window light.. God’s own lighting (maybe next time a reflector? or… maybe not…)

I can hardly wait to get a copy of the CD for myself to see what else he might have used inside.  In the meantime, here’s a slide show of the photos form the session, featuring Thomm at the controls along Justin Moses on banjo and fiddle and Sierra Hull on mandolin.

Watch the slides and listen* to Sid’s take on The Youngblood’s “Get Together,” and anthem from the days when we was all young and idealistic…

* that’s assuming that by the time this slide show goes public, Zenfolio will have fixed an issue on their servers that’s keeping the music from playing as I create this post.  If not, well, enjoy the silence…

Now Playing on the Celestial Jukebox: Bonnie Bishop

Bonniebishop After the Americana Conference last month, I sat down with the showcase listing and Lala.com and started listening to the performers (someday I’ll explain why I hate the word “acts”) whose performances I’d missed.

One of the first performers I discovered was Bonnie Bishop, out of Austin.  The tune that sunk the harpoon is the second cut from this album, “Lucky Ones.”  With Bonnie’s throaty, softly growling vocals and a unique take on the vagaries of love, here’s the sort of song you will likely never hear on the radio that makes you — well, me, anyway — so grateful to have access through this channel I’m calling the Celestial Jukebox.

I listened to “Lucky Ones” about a half dozen times, and decided this morning I need to spring (right, the whole buck…) for the entire album.  And the rest of the record is just as strong as Lucky Ones.  But I’m going to hold out until Bonnie plays a show here in Nashville later this month before I spring to the actual CD, and maybe get Bonnie to sign it for me.

Photo of Bonnie Bishop by jbwutx via flickr.com

Notes from AmericanaFest – 1

I spent most of Wednesday through Saturday of last week at the Americana Music Festival and Conference in Nashville.

I went to a lot of panels, and I took a lot of notes using an analog device known as “pencil and notebook.”  This antiquated technology works really well, at least until I go back and try to read what I scribbled.  But it was more convenient than trying to find an outlet in every room so that I could type notes on my laptop.

Jedhilly

First, a general observation: “Americana” seems at times like a brand in search of a genre.  Musically, the category covers a broad swath of the musical spectrum. Jed Hilly, the Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, did his best to narrow it down when he defined “Americana” (for the purpose of a new Grammy Awards category) as “contemporary music that honors and derives from American roots music.”

That does, indeed, cover a LOT of territory.  But more important than what the brand or genre represents musically is what the concept embodies as a movement.  Musically, this may be “roots” music, but market-wise, this is music that is coming up from the grassroots.  And, based on what I heard over this past week, it represents in some respects the very best of what the new grassroots paradigm has to offer the listening audience.  I mean, these people are GOOD and deserve the recognition that “mainstream” cultural forces are too often too slow to provide.

With that as a premise, here’s a note from the first panel I attended early on Thursday morning.

I didn’t realize until I got there that a discussion of “Raising The Next Generation of Americana Fans” would turn out to be a discussion about bringing this music to children, which is not generally speaking an area of my own personal interest.

Well… duh.  Music is sorta like cigarettes – if you want them smoking it when they’re adults, you gotta start ’em out as kids.  So (politically incorrect tobacco reference aside), what could be more important than a discussion of bringing “Americana” music to kids?

So once I realized where I was and why it was the right place to be, I started paying attention to Jason Ringenberg (aka “Farmer Jason“) and Miss Melba Toast as they described their experiences bringing music to children.

Khussey

Panelist Kathy Hussey said the one thing I found most encouraging: When she shows up for her songwriting-for-kids workshops, she said, “they start out wanting to write a rap song,” but their interest is very easily redirected.  “Kids are learning that they don’t have to consume what’s on the radio.”

When I was growing up, “what’s on the radio” was all their was, and we all grew up wanting to be The Beatles or The Stones.  But the impact of an infinite variety of cultural choices is beginning to have a diversifying effect on a new generation.

Kids today may show up wanting to replicate what they hear in the media.  They may think for a moment that that’s what’s expected of them  But if Kathy’s experience is any indication, the commitment is shallow.  They wind up wanting something resonates personally on a deeper level.

That’s a consequence of a world of infinite choices instead of just a few dominating channels.  More choice forces us to dig a little deeper to find what matters.  Mark that down as another upside of the new era, Music 3.0.

The Best of AmericanaFest Playlist

Americanafest09

OK, I've figured out how I can create and embed a playlist of the music I heard — and heard about — while attending the Americana Music Conference in Nashville last week. The list now appears to the right of this post, and visitors to this site should be able to listen to the tracks in their entirety "first time for free."  I'll be adding to the list in the days ahead, so just update your browser and the revised list should appear. Lemme know if you run into any problems…