I grew up listening to a lot of country and folk music on Vancouver Island. Today, I still live on Vancouver Island, and I still listen to lots of country, folk, roots and Americana music - and I feel really lucky to get to write about it too!
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The Dustbowl Revival is a Venice, CA-based roots orchestra. Bluegrass, ethnic swing, swamp blues, jug-bop and let me tell you, when it comes to leg shaken goodness, they got ya’ covered.
Their new album ‘Carry Me Home’ is a full-speed ahead kind of an album. They start off with a beautiful cover of “Swing Low” (Yup, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot) and than all hell breaks loose soon after that. What I love most about this album is the energy that comes from a blend of old-school traditional songs with some really wonderful originals.
“Imagine Old Crow Medicine Show meeting Louis Armstrong’s Hot Seven Band in New Orleans or Bob Dylan and Fats Waller jamming with Mumford & Sons on a front porch in 1938.” DBR
I love this quote “This ain’t no fake-mustached hipster revivalism here; The Dustbowl Revival is the real deal, shouting and hollering the nearly derailed, buzz-saw crazed music of the American South that first inspired them. – Hearth Music
The Dustbowl Revival’s newest album will hit April 18, 2013 so keep your eyes peeled!
The Flannel Attractions are simply stunning. The perfect blend of roots, folk pop, and bluegrass will have you itching for more. Take one listen and you’ll feel like your at a good old hootenanny.
Here is a short biography about the band: Though they met by playing the renowned Jackson Hole Hootenanny – a decades-old Wyoming music tradition that has been graced by folk and bluegrass stalwarts like John Denver and Peter Rowan – The Flannel Attractions’ music has a far-reaching appeal that even attracts listeners with the blissful ignorance to call the mandolin a “mini guitar.”
Drawing from singer-guitarist Pat Chadwick’s experiences entering and leaving the tumult of city life, the band’s songwriting depth can be compared to modern folk revival acts, and their instrumentation lies somewhere between the loose folk pop of The Lumineers and the virtuosic and progressive bluegrass of The Punch Brothers. Meanwhile, the stunning harmonies offered by singer-violinist Emily Yarbrough are likely to evoke comparisons to The Civil Wars and The Head and The Heart.
In their first year of existence, The Flannel Attractions have honed that niche sound, walking a fine line between indie folk and bluegrass while steadily developing a fan base in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. In the dead of winter in Jackson Hole, the band self-produced their debut self-titled EP and celebrated the disc’s February 2013 arrival with a sold-out release show at Dornan’s – the current location of the Hootenanny.
With recent airplay on Wyoming Public Radio and positive press extending to the Pacific Northwest, The Flannel Attractions are currently growing their grassroots following with tours through Colorado, Montana and Idaho, as well as the pursuit of relevant regional festivals throughout the country. (Photo & Bio from The Flannel Attractions
If you love bluegrass and mountain music as much as I do, you probably won’t be able to stop yourself from playing Flight, the second album from Colorado’s Trout Steak Revival, on repeat. I know I can’t.
Sparked by jam sessions with close friends during backpacking trips and backyard parties, Trout Steak Revival formed in 2009. Amongst the cool clear streams and lakes in the Midwest Great Lakes region, where trout prosper, the band began to spawn and take flight. Colorado’s flourishing rootsy based mountain music scene beckoned and became home to Trout Steak Revival. Band members Steve Foltz (mandolin and guitar), Will Koster (dobro, guitar), Casey Houlihan (upright bass), Travis McNamara (banjo) and Bevin Foley (fiddle) follow in the bluegrass tradition, with each musician composing original tunes and adding harmonies.
With a blend of original songs and re-worked traditionals, Flight was released in the late fall of 2012. Band members share singing duties on the album, and it’s a great touch – they all have great voices, and it adds a lot of variety and gives them a unique sound. Beautiful harmonies combine with the lovely sounds of the fiddle, banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin and standup bass throughout the album. There’s a great mix of fun, higher-energy songs like the strong opener Black Jack Supper Club and softer songs like Spinning Wheel, which might be my favourite song on the album. I love the whole album, which has this feel of being in the same room with the band as they play. It’s fun and makes me wish I could see them live. I don’t think this one will leave my CD player for a while.
The band was kind enough to answer a few questions from the road.
FB: How is Flight different from your first album?
Steve Foltz (SF): We have a different lineup on this album. On our first album, Kirk Ranney, who is no longer in the band, wrote most of the songs. Flight has Bevin Foley (fiddle/vocals) on it, and everyone contributes at least one song. It was also recorded in a different space than our first album, which gives it a different feel.
FB: How did you all come together as a band?
Casey Houlihan (CH): I met Steve in college at the University of Minnesota, and we both moved out to Colorado (CO) after we graduated … we knew we wanted to play music together, and it just took some time before we knew what that would look like. I met Will and Travis in Michigan at a summer camp we all worked at. Will moved out to CO after he was done with school at Indiana University. Travis had a couple more years of school at University of Puget Sound and then made it out here. We met Bevin when we were invited to play the first Green Beer and Bluegrass in Denver. She sat in with us that night, and we really enjoyed playing with her. It wasn’t until we asked her a few times that she decided to join TSR.
FB: What is it about bluegrass/mountain music that drew you all to playing this type of music and makes you want to keep playing it?
Travis McNamara (TM): I was drawn to the idea of constant improvement on my instrument … the endless search.
SF: For me, it’s the technical proficiency required.
CH: I love the instrumentation … even when we play songs that aren’t “bluegrass.”
Will Koster (WK): Beer.
FB: You haven’t been together as a band for all that long – how do you think you’ve grown in that time? And what you attribute that to?
Bevin Foley (BF): We challenge each other to improve at our instruments. We all attended the Rockygrass Academy this past summer and received constructive criticism from the Punch Brothers and the Infamous Stringdusters, which was really helpful. We’ve been gigging a lot … working on harmonies, collaborating on songwriting.
TM: We’re operating on the notion that the rising tide raises all boats.
SF: Travis, Casey and myself also took a songwriting class at Swallow Hill with Kyle James Hauser that was really fun and informative … We’ve also asserted ourselves in the community of bluegrass. Whether it’s going to bluegrass picks or going to shows … we’re trying to always be around.
FB: Do you have a favourite song on Flight? And why?
CH: Rude Awakening … ‘cause I wrote it! (laughter)
FB: Can you please explain where your name comes from?
WK: We we’re originally only gigging at the Bucksnort Saloon in Sphinx Park near Pine, CO. We were calling ourselves the South Platte River Ramblers because Casey and I were living down on the river at that time. We didn’t have a consistent lineup at that time and we weren’t sold on the name. The summer of 2008, we went backpacking in Eagle County. We brought fishing poles, a little bit of food, some brandy and a mandolin. It pretty much rained the whole time we were there, with the exception of a few hours. During the hours it rained, we passed the mandolin from tent to tent, playing/making up songs. We were also passing the brandy around … (laughter) … Then there was a break in the clouds and we got after it fishing …. we slayed it and had a feast … somewhere in the middle of that, we decided that Trout Steak Revival was a great name for our band … (laughter) … yup … it stuck.
FB: What do you hope people think when they think “Trout Steak Revival”?
TM: High energy, great songs, tons of fun.
FB: What is next for you – do you have any gigs/festivals coming up that you are especially looking forward to?
BF: We just got back from Big Sky Big Grass, which was a blast. Our summer is starting to fill up, which is exciting … [this] month, we have the third annual Green Beer and Bluegrass at the Walnut Room in Denver! Brewgrass (Denver, CO) in June is going to be sweet, and we’re heading to the Sioux River Folk Festival (Canton, SD) in August, where we have a bunch of friends.
Some new old time, bluegrass music. I love these guys (not just because their based out of Seattle, WA), they have a new album that came out in September called Our Lady of the Tall Trees. The whole album is pure awesome, and I could listen to it all day long. The lrycs, rhythm and melody in Our Lady of the Tall Trees are beautifully done. Their previous album The Holy Coming of the Storm was also a big hit, and I highly recommend you check out that album as well. This album was independently released and was funded from a kick-starter program.
Here is a great bio from the bands site: Cahalen Morrison & Eli West are, simply put, two of the most innovative and subtle roots musicians today. Their music draws from old folk sources, but it sounds vibrantly alive. Cahalen Morrison writes songs that sound like a Cormac McCarthy novel: simple, beautifully crafted, and seemingly formed from raw natural elements. Eli West brings jagged, angular arrangements based in bluegrass and old-time, but refracted through a 21st century lens. Like Ansel Adams’ photography, their music is instantly accessible and built from the simplest materials, but at the same time seems to transcend its base fundamentals. Together, Cahalen and Eli tap the root of the old country and bluegrass duets. As the sparse landscapes of Cahalen’s vocals reflect the warm glow of Eli’s voice, it’s clear that this duo was made to sing together.
Cahalen Morrison & Eli West’s new album, Our Lady of the Tall Trees, is a stunning example of the power of great songwriting and musicianship. And we’re not the only ones saying this. They’ve been building buzz first and foremost among the top echelon of roots musicians, with Tim O’Brien, Dirk Powell, and Aoife O’Donovan actively singing their praises and spreading the gospel. Cahalen & Eli can easily back up that kind of expert acclaim, as they show on album standouts like the title track, “Our Lady of the Tall Trees,” or the opener, “Stone to Sand.” Their stripped-back cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Loretta” has been gathering early praise as well. Cahalen Morrison & Eli West’s music sounds eminently familiar, for they’re drawing from our common love of American roots music, but it also sounds entirely different. Even on the classic, or traditional covers on the album like “Church St. Blues,” or “Poor Cowboy,” they sound totally unlike the many, many roots music bands covering this same hallowed ground. Gone are the twangy accents, gone the overplayed search for the “old, weird America,” and gone the banjo-as-a-prop theatrics. This is music built on the joy of the craft, made by hand by two young masters with love for the traditions, but a bold vision for how the old sounds can fit into new soundscapes.
Off their new album Babel. Lover’s Eyes just may bring a tear in your eyes. The lyrics are beautifully written, and the instrumentals are simple yet so fitting and perfect for the song. I just love Marcus’s voice, so rugged you can just hear the smoke and alcohol that has shaped his vocal chords. A big assumption that he’s a smoker and a drinker I know, but that’s just my guess. If you haven’t heard of Mumford & Sons they are a great band out of the United Kingdom and have really been picking up steam since 2011.