Tag Archives: folk music

Maddy Prior, Hannah James and Giles Lewis’ Shortwinger

Maddy Prior has been in the public eye for about 50 years. Starting out in a duo with Tim Hart, they both took part in starting Steeleye Span, the only folk rock band to make an impact on the singles … Continue reading

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Aallotar’s Ameriikan Laulu

To me, the sound of a fiddle and accordion together is exemplary of folk dance music. So many European-based cultures have dance music traditions that feature these two instruments, from the Roma, Italians and French, to the English, Irish and … Continue reading

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McDermott’s 2 Hours v Levellers, Claws and Wings

If you’re thinking this a strange name for a band, you’re not alone, because so did I. But it’s the music that’s important, not what they want to call themselves. In fact, the album appears to be a collaboration between … Continue reading

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Very Be Careful’s Daisy’s Beauty Salon

Anyone who’s paying attention to world music in the past 20 years or so knows about cumbia. This Colombian folk music style has taken the world by storm in the 2000s. But its cousin vallenato (“vai-yeh-NAH-toh”) is less well known … Continue reading

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John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness

John Prine is the folk singer America deserves. And needs. Since his debut self-titled album in 1971 he has been ministering to our malaise with his unique blend of humor and pathos, comedy, tragedy and tragicomedy that perfectly reflects and … Continue reading

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Dana Sipos’ Trick of the Light

If like me you appreciate deeply rooted folk music that’s recorded with the sort of post-modern studio wizardry that enhances that music’s moods and meanings, then you owe it to yourself to check out Dana Sipos’ Trick of the Light. … Continue reading

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Beatrice Deer’s My All To You

Beatrice Deer is a singer-songwriter from Nunavik, the icy region of Quebec north of the 55th parallel and home to Quebec’s Inuit people. My All to You is her fifth record since she left her tiny hometown of Quaqtaq for … Continue reading

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Oslo Kammerkor’s Kyst, Kust, Coast; Voces Nordicae’s Nordic Voices

The Olso Kammerkor, based in the Uranienborg Church in Oslo, is an internationally known chorus with an extraordinarily wide repertoire, ranging from Gregorian chant to jazz and folk music. The group has been most widely recognized for its translations of … Continue reading

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Anna & Elizabeth’s The Invisible Comes To Us

Anna & Elizabeth quickly became one of my favorite roots music acts with their self-titled sophomore release in 2015. They gave some hint about the direction they were taking their love of traditional ballads with a vinyl single they released … Continue reading

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Odetta At The Gate of Horn

Albert Grossman, who among other things managed Bob Gibson and a number of other prominent folk artists, opened The Gate of Horn in Chicago in 1956. It became quite arguably the performance venue for the burgeoning folk music scene in … Continue reading

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Joan Baez’s Whistle Down The Wind

It’s just great to know that Joan Baez is still out there falling in love with good songs, singing them to her fans, and putting them on record. She’s been doing that since the year I started kindergarten in 1960, … Continue reading

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Sunny War’s With the Sun

Blues music, Appalachian music with roots in the British Isles, punk rock and more go into the potent music made by Sunny War. A young African-American woman who grew up in Nashville and Los Angeles and is now based in … Continue reading

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Eric Brace’s Cartes Postales

I’ve been reviewing the music of Eric Brace for perhaps 15 years now, and I didn’t think he could surprise me much. I’ve enjoyed him solo and in various permutations – with his band Last Train Home, with Peter Cooper … Continue reading

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Saz’iso’s At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me

This is a momentous collection of folk music. Not least because it’s the first project produced by the renowned Joe Boyd in 17 years (and also apparently resulted in his getting married to one of the participants). This album of … Continue reading

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TRADarrr’s Cautionary Tales; Further Tales of Love! Death! And Treachery!

Let me sum it up: TRADarrr’s debut album is one of the best first albums I have ever heard from anyone. But is it really a debut album? Three of the five members on that album (PJ Wright on guitars, … Continue reading

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Jack Cooper’s Sandgrown

Jack Cooper’s two-man band Ultimate Painting has made three albums and is working on a fourth, but in the meantime he has released his first solo album. Sandgrown is a song cycle that paints a sonic picture of his hometown, … Continue reading

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Anna Tivel’s Small Believer

Anna Tivel, whose Heroes Waking Up rose to the top of my best-of list in 2016, has a new record out already this year, and Small Believers lives up to the high mark set by that record. Portland’s Anna Tivel … Continue reading

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Alan Jabbour, James Reed, and Bertram Levy’s A Henry Reed Reunion

Due to the demands of my life as a music reviewer, I have created a new category in my musical library: despite my reputation in some quarters as a highbrow with a taste for the esoteric, I am developing a … Continue reading

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Rhiannon Giddens’ Freedom Highway

Rhiannon Giddens’ Freedom Highway is one of those rare recordings that grabs your attention right from the first note and won’t let go. Giddens was one of the founders of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a seminal folk group that brought … Continue reading

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Suzzy and Maggie Roche’s Zero Church

No’am Newman penned this review. The Roche sisters have a long track record of off-beat acoustic releases, and this item falls squarely into their canon. The title comes from the address where many of the rehearsals were held for the material … Continue reading

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Fred Hellerman RIP

Howlin’ Wuelf Media Fred Hellerman, the last surviving member of The Weavers has passed away. The NY Times ran a lovely and informative account of his and the band’s career mentioning the role Alan Lomax played in their ascent from … Continue reading

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S.J. Tucker’s Haphazard

You watched me walking in; I know you did viper’s glance like I’ve never seen, taking me in Like a vessel, like a parcel, like a package, like a dream. Did you notice, oh, I wonder: our meaning didn’t correspond, … Continue reading

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S.J. Tucker’s For the Girl in the Garden and Solace and Sorrow

Given Catherynne M. Valente’s interest in interstitial art, it is unsurprising that creators in all media have been drawn to her Orphan’s Tales duology. As part of the October 30th launch for the second book, In the Cities of Coin and Spice, Valente … Continue reading

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Anna Tivel’s Heroes Waking Up

Anna Tivel sings her songs of world-weariness and hope in a voice that sounds a lot younger than her words. The Northwest-raised Tivel currently calls Portland home, but she’s spent a lot of time on the road and with her … Continue reading

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Taj Mahal’s Taj Mahal: Autobiography of a Bluesman

Born in New York, Henry Saint Clair Fredericks has been known as Taj Mahal for most of his sixty years. The original Taj Mahal is an icon of beauty and remembrance representing love and amazing craftsmanship which stands outside of … Continue reading

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Down From The Mountain / Grateful Dawg

When I received a DVD player for my 50th birthday last August, my two sons had visions of using it to watch crystal clear wide-screen versions of Jackie Chan and Jean-Claude van Damme movies. Not when I’m around! Well, once … Continue reading

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Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer: Child Ballads

American singer-songwriters Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer have taken something of a middle tack in their superb little album Child Ballads. They do take a strictly acoustic and folk approach, but with arrangements and production that somehow have a modern … Continue reading

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Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer’s Child Ballads

The songs known as Child Ballads were collected by the American scholar Francis James Child in England, Scotland and America in the late 19th century. They have influenced the folk music of Britain and America ever since, forming the backbone … Continue reading

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Charles de Lint’s Old Blue Truck

I’m not sure what I expected Charles de Lint to sound like as a singer. Whatever it was I expected, it wasn’t what I got. We’re calling Old Blue Truck folk/trad-singer/songwriter music, and I suppose that’s as good a description … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Music from Montenegro

Music from Montenegro is a single-disc collection that showcases the variety of Montenegro’s folk music styles, with 28 tracks covering nearly 76 minutes. Variety is the key word here, and the musical variety echoes Montenegro’s ethnic and geographic diversity. With … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Heroes & Horses: Corridos from the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands

Songs that tell stories have long been a major component of folklore worldwide. And in the arid lands where the southwestern United States meets northern Mexico, a type of ballad called the corrido is still an important component of everyday … Continue reading

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Nolan Porterfield’s Last Cavalier: The Life and Times of John A. Lomax

“John Lomax got Leadbelly out of prison.” That’s the commonly accepted story; you can still see it being bandied about if you do a web search under his name. But as every biblical scholar and IRS auditor knows, the truth … Continue reading

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