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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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12 Exclusive Releases to Look for on Record Store Day, Plus Highlights From the Rest

Posted by Billy Gil, March 18, 2015 09:40am | Post a Comment

12 Record Store Day Releases to Look For

Record Store Day 2015 is upon us, taking place Saturday, April 18. The list of limited edition releases coming out exclusively on Record Store Day is up now (download the full list here). While there’s tons of great stuff to choose from (while supplies last, of course), here are 12 highlights to look for. 

neko case fox confessor brings the flood lp record store day

Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Neko Case released her best album in 2006, a perfect distillation of her country-meets-indie-rock style, featuring the ethereal and confessional “Hold On, Hold On,” ’50s-style ballad “That Teenage Feeling” and Biblically inspired “John Saw That Number.” The long-out-of-print LP comes on red vinyl with a Record Store Day slipmat.
 

 

johnny cash record store day lp

Johnny Cash – Koncert v Praze (In Prague Live)

Sing a song of eiderdowns

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 26, 2014 05:12pm | Post a Comment
It's blustery and breezy in Los Angeles today. A barely measurable amount of precipitation fell which inevitably resulted in chaos on the county's concrete freeways. I climbed out of bed at 5:30, an act made almost Olympian due to the combination of pre-dawn darkness, drops and drizzle, and the warmth offered by my eiderdown. 

Little Nemo in Slumberland
Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland

An eiderdown (according to the Collins English Dictionary) "a thick warm cover for a bed, made of two layers of material enclosing a soft filling" and thus not necessarily stuffed with the epidermal growths of the Common Eider for which the garment is named.

Eider Ducks
Eider duck female and chicks (with their eider down intact -- source: Thomas Reich)


As I fried hashed browns and veggie bacon in a wok and brewed coffee in the French press, my thoughts returned to eiderdowns, and to the songs which have celebrated... or at least mentioned them. "It's an eiderdown kind of day," as they say.

Live Concerts From Prisons and Mental Institutions

Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2013 08:08am | Post a Comment

The Cramps Live at Napa State Mental Hospital(1978)

In Bay Area rap history there are several instances of artists rapping live from jail - perhaps most notably the late great Mac Dre rapping over the phone from Fresno County Jail back in the early nineties and X-Raided at that same period rapping over the phone on series of occasions that would finally be released as the 1995 album Xorcist (in later years the still incarcerated rapper would get smuggled in recording gear to record albums). But there are also many instances of artists performing for inmates at jails and prisons, as well as other institutions.

Of the performances in mental institutions perhaps the best (and the best known) is from when The Cramps, in June 1978, did a live show from the California Mental State Hospital in Napa. Also performing were San Francisco's wonderful post punk act The Mutants. It was when the pioneering psychobilly gods had just had just finished up recording Gravest Hits - to be released the following year that would include the track "The Way I Walk" that they are captured performing in the Napa hospital concert clip above care of Target Video.

The great Leonard Cohen also did a series of free concerts about forty years ago in mental institutions but without much media attention at the time. According to Sylvie Simmons' bio I'm Your Man Cohen performed, like the Cramps, at Napa State Hospital as well as at Henderson Hospital (in the UK), and at an unnamed facility in Montreal (Canada). Reportedly he booked these shows "without fanfare" and on his own dime, reportedly telling a reporter a few years later that he was drawn to mental hospitals because he had "the feeling that the experience of a lot of people in mental hospitals would especially qualify them to be a receptive audience for my work." Cohen later commented, according to Simmons, that “I’ve always loved the people the world used to call mad.”

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10 Holiday Albums That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 12, 2013 10:38am | Post a Comment

10 Holiday Albums that don't suck

If you’re like me, most Christmas music makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a sharpened candy cane. Luckily, since everyone and their mother has attempted a holiday album (I mean, most of them are X-mas-centric), there are some gems in the mix.

 

The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album/Christmas With the Beach Boys

beach boys christmas albumThe Beach Boys and Christmas music go together like Christmas and getting drunk. It’s an obvious choice, sure, but this album also wins because of the originals, which they put just as much effort into as their regular classics. “The Man With All the Toys” kicks enough ass to be listened to all year round.

 

 

A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector

a christmas gift for you phil spector cd amoebaSome would say the greatest Christmas album of all time, featuring classic productions by Phil Spector, with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love and other Spector favorites. Every other version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sucks compared to this one.

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