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The Grammy Museum Presents The Drop: Joy Williams Aug. 19

Posted by Amoebite, August 6, 2015 06:06pm | Post a Comment

joy williams

Amoeba is proud to sponsor folk singer Joy Williams at the Grammy Museum Aug. 19 for their live program "The Drop." She’ll appear for an intimate performance and discussion at the museum’s Clive Davis Theatre, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

joy williams venusWilliams came into fame as one half of the popular folk-rock duo The Civil Wars. Along with bandmate John Paul White, the band won four Grammy Awards, including Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2014 for “From This Valley,” from the band’s self-titled album.

That same year, the band broke up. Since then, Williams has returned to her solo career, which began prior to The Civil Wars, with the releases By Surprise (2002), Genesis (2005) and a number of EPs.

Now the singer/songwriter has released a new album called Venus, which came out in June. Williams collaborates on the album with Michael Einziger and Charlie Peacock, among others. Listen to the upbeat “Woman (Oh Mama)” below:

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Saturday Night at the Carter Family Fold

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, May 30, 2015 08:20pm | Post a Comment
carter family fold hiltons virginia appalachia mountain old time country bluegrass venue A.P.Sara Maybelle music history johnny cash

Deep in the hollows of Southwestern Virginia, near the Tennessee border and about thirty miles or so from any kind of reliable cellular signal, you'll find a low wooden structure pitched into a sloping hillside that faces an unbroken wood, settled at the end of endlessly snaking mountain back-roads that, depending upon your approach, terminate in two right turns around a rusted out passenger railcar resembling a forsaken submarine (what with it's porthole-like windows) swamped by high country grasses. This is Hiltons, Virginia and the venue is the Carter Family Fold, or the Carter Fold, or the fully realized results of local efforts to preserve and present bluegrass and old time country music in honor of traditional American folk pioneers, The Carter Family (specifically A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and her sister/his brother's wife Maybelle). You'll know you've arrived when clusters of casually parked cars come into view, for that's how I found out for myself last Saturday night, after nearly an hours' passage through pastoral outlands and more than one are we there yet? Here follows a bit of a personal narrative of that night, garnished with a few of the photos I managed to capture.

carter family fold venue sign A.P. Sara Maybelle hiltons virginia bluegrass country music history preservation hall dance flat footin tappping appalachian american folk traditional old time music
Before stetting foot into the Fold itself, the frantic meter of "Cotton Eye Joe" became more discernible with every step I took, the muffled twangs and drawls of banjo and fiddle battling for supremacy in the space between verse and chorus only just audible behind the front entrance. Once through the door, another sound altogether becomes jarringly apparent: the arrhythmic clatter of untold multitudes of tap shoes scuffing up a hard surface like lazy rain drizzling hot fryolator oil. The cacophony is hypnotizing. Inside, at the ticket booth, my father proceeds to pay the price of admission for all us kin and then some, and brooks no refusals as usual. I pay a smidge extra for a Carter Family placard fan for good measure - no telling what the weather's like all the way inside.

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The Top Ten Merle Haggard Albums

Posted by Joe Goldmark, October 21, 2014 02:50pm | Post a Comment

It’s been said that during his heyday, 1966-1976, Merle Haggard wrote a good song every day.  I’ve only heard that said about one other artist: Stevie Wonder.  Indeed, Merle’s albums during this period showcase his talents as a songwriter and performer.  When he wasn’t recording his own tunes, his covers of mostly Bakersfield songwriters further displayed his unique ability to get to the heart of a song.

Merle started out playing bass in Wynn Stewart’s band and soon cut some singles for Tally, a small Bakersfield label.  After scoring a top 20 country hit with “Sing a Sad Song,” Merle got signed to Capitol and was teamed up with producer Ken Nelson.  Ken let Merle use his own band, supplemented with some L.A. studio guys like James Burton, to get his Bakersfield sound.  The key components were the hot but sparse sounds of guitarist Roy Nichols, steelers Ralph Mooney and Norm Hamlet, and the stark harmonies of Merle’s then wife, Bonnie Owens.  Merle had more hits when he moved on to MCA, Epic, Curb, Anti- and others, but the hard-biting brilliance of his early Capitol works defines Bakersfield C&W music.  There were also five excellent, mostly instrumental albums by Merle’s band, The Strangers, that are worth seeking out if you like slinky West Coast country pickin’.

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The Rural Upsurge -- A Brief History of Country Cool and Uncool

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 2, 2014 02:20pm | Post a Comment
Country Mouse and Town Mouse
Arthur Rackham illustration for The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Since the US's founding, Americans have steadily moved from the countryside to the city but the story of our pop culture has always been the product of a dialogue between the two worlds, with urban and rural fashions coming and going. While being country might not be cool again, it does seem that American television's landscape is once again overwhelmingly rural in character -- a world populated by catfish scammers, catfish hand-fishers, Sasquatch hunters, morbidly obese Mennonite mafioso, bootlegging bigamist Baptist beauty contestants, and other cryptozoological specimens. 43 years ago the television landscape was similarly dominated by rural caricatures when, at the end of March, the so-called "Rural Purge" resulted in a deliberate shift away from rural-themed shows to those set in cities.
 

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Americans have long generally migrated to the cities and their environs, including the suburbs, and today the percentage of America's population who live in the country is at an all time low -- about 16%. However, it wasn't until the 1910s that America's urban population overtook its rural. 

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Pan-American Blues -- Black Country

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 27, 2013 06:32pm | Post a Comment

If one listens to a “hillbilly” record like, say, Jimmie Rodgers’s “Blue Yodel” back-to-back with a “race” record like Lead Belly’s “Cow Cow Yiki” it should become immediately clear to the listener that often the distinction between these two genres has for many years been (and continues to be) more of an industry marketing rather than musicological one. After decades of segregation, one needn’t watch the CMT Music Awards to know that Country music has for a long time been almost totally dominated by white performers. However, there have always been black country musicians and more continue to emerge. Whether or not they're embraced by the Nashville industry or public is another question.



WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DIRTY SOUTH?

To Americans for whom there are only two coasts (the East and West), the South is with tiresome regularity portrayed and imagined to be a homogeneous region populated entirely by menacing, toothless, racist rednecks (whereas the North is totally free of racists, naturally). If these regionalist haters ever bothered to explore the South they’d likely be surprised by the physical and cultural variety of the Appalachians, the Delta, the Deep South, the Old South, the Ozarks, the Piedmont, the Upper South, the cities and countryside and so on. It would probably surprise many of them to learn that almost every single county in the country with a majority black population is located in the South since they imagine everyone there to be a white Republican.

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