Subversive to the society of standard bluegrass fare, the Punch Brothers have created a collection to follow up their debut Punch that is pulled as tight as a banjo string between aesthetics of avant-garde oddity and bluegrass bobble. Just as evident on Antifogmatic as Chris Thile’s other releases, the Punch Brothers seem to be trying as hard as humanly possible to cling to their bluegrass instruments while making incredibly unique, innovative concoctions of eerie, brilliant insanity.
Bluegrass is a genre of standards; standards that the Punch Brothers continually choose to disobey. Stylistically, the Punch Brothers strive to inject calculated distraction in to every mix – elements seem to be slightly out of place, but perfectly so. Sometimes presenting as an eerie fiddle sweeping across the right ear, sometimes it’s an... Read More
The Punch Brothers - You Are
The Punch Brothers - Rye Whiskey
I for one really hate covers… for the most part. There a
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re some instances where a cover is better than the original recording – Clapton’s version of “Who Shot the Sheriff” comes to mind – but I generally feel like the artists covering a song should have left well enough alone. The popularity of YouTube has exacerbated this peeve of mine as any schmuck with a guitar (or other instrument) and a camera can post their terribly grating (seriously, I can’t even imagine talking to some of these people, let alone letting them sing to me) voice and mediocre (if you’re lucky) playing skills in order to torture the rest of the world.
Still, there are some diamonds in the rough, and that’s what I’m highlighting for you today. I’ve waded through the dirt... Read More
1918, Wilmington, Delaware. So far, the folk legends we met have been
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what we expected. Grungy looking, ragged freight hoppers who didn’t really have the kind of voices you’d write home about. And then along comes Cisco Houston. Tall, extremely handsome, even donning a mustache (and wearing it well). But then he opens his mouth to sing, and he is good. He croons with such smoothness that one would wonder how he could ever harmonize with Woody Guthrie.
Cisco, despite his John Wayne good looks and heartwarming voice, was not spared from his own tragedies. Born in Delaware as Gilbert Vandine Houston, his family up and moved to California when he was still young. He decided to change his name when he visited the small town, Cisco, California. He was an extremely bright kid, too–imagine that you’re... Read More
Cisco Houston - Deportees
For those of you who haven’t spent time at seminary recently, the word “psalter” generally refers to some type of collection of the Hebrew psalms, which are ancient songs in praise and worship of God. Additionally, the word “psalter” could also refer to a person whose specific vocation in life was to perform these psalms in a professional capacity.
With those definitions in mind, it is a perfectly understandable reaction when seeing the pierced, tattooed, and dreadlocked contemporary 8+ member Psalters walking down the street to turn and briskly walk the other direction. And in addition to not resembling one’s typical image of a Christian band, their nomadic lifestyle and resistance to commercial consumerism may also be surprising. (In fact, they don’t actually sell their albums. To get... Read More
Psalters - Sword
Psalters - Scarf Dance
Psalters - All who are weary
1919, Manhattan, New York. Little Pete Seeger
was born to two musicians, Charles Louis Seeger Jr., a composer and ethnomusicologist, and Constance de Clyver Edson, a violin teacher who ultimately left her family for her career. Seeger and his many siblings were raised by their father, (an amazing feat for that era, if you ask me) and they grew up playing instruments and singing together. It was in his youth that Pete decided to learn how to play the ukulele, and later the banjo. He hasn’t put it down since.
Pete Seeger, one of the most influential and outspoken folk singers of the twentieth century, went to Harvard University. It was there that he joined the Communist party, sang his heart out, and eventually left both. He took a job with Alan Lomax, a man who I will get to later with great zeal, sifting... Read More
Pete Seeger - Waist Deep In The Big Muddy
There has been no other genre that has so defined music as folk has. Not only defined, but created practically everything we listen to (and critique on this website) today. I realize that folk was not the beginning of music, but it's a hell of a good place to start. It hits all the high points of what music ought to be: catchy tunes; an organic sound; lyrics that empower, provoke, and actually change the culture around you; and of course, artists that inspire. Not only the kind of inspiration you get when you hear a song, but when you see the motivations and meaning of the voice behind the song. I’ll explain.
Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry, and The Almanac Singers are only a few of the many incredibly talented folk artists that changed our lives forever. They were all incredibly... Read More
Weavers - So Long It's Been Good To Know You