From March to May: A Q & A Featured Article

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Seattle based duo March To May has just released their first EP The Water’s Edge, a continental-sounding folk project that blends the sounds of Celtic harp, Spanish guitar, soft percussion, and haunting strings with the lilting harmonies of the voices of Darren Guyaz and Beth Wesche.  The result is an understated but passionate journey through the halls of musical awakening, essence, and love.  There is fresh

CD Review: Donna Lynn Caskey–Nameless Heart Featured Article

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Donna Lynn Caskey’s new album Nameless Heart certainly won’t leave her as a nameless entity in the folk world.  Her old time banjo accompaniments are the perfect backdrop for her artfully written lyrics, traditional in nature and uplifting in message.  Track one, confident in its delicacy, seems to be a theme for the album as a whole.  She encourages the listener to, “Take off your watch/Hide all the clocks/Today we’ll tell time by the sun and the sky/Rest you head a while/Close your eyes/May

Interview: Jeff Place, Producer At Smithsonian Folkways Featured Article

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June 24, 2014 marks the offical release of the latest album from Smithsonian Folkways called Classic African American Songsters.  It is a celebration of the vast variety of repetoire that these “songsters,” or traveling African American musicians of the early part of the 20th century, performed.  Their songs were not only of the folk genre–they also covered tunes in the style of ragtime, country, Tin Pan Alley, pre-blues, blues hybrids, and old-timey stringband.  They were entertainers, and played to audiences in concert

The Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free) Featured Article

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If you have seen “The Passion of the Christ” movie, you may or may not realize that the title “passion” is derived from the Passion Play that originated in Germany in the 17th century.  In the small Bavarian village of Oberammergau in 1633, the bubonic plague hit, as it had many other places after the Thirty Years War.  One in two families there suffered loss of loved ones due to this plague, and in an attempt to stop its killing

Live Interview With Kevin Welch Featured Article

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Kevin Welch has had a long and prosperous musical career as a Nashville songwriter and touring recording artist.  His songs have been recorded by country greats like Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Tricia Yearwood, The Judds, Roger Miller, Ricky Skaggs, and the Highwaymen, to name just a few.  He was passing through Birmingham, Alabama on his way home to Austin from Nashville where he played an NSAI benefit

Live Interview with Kate Campbell Featured Article

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I attended a songwriting workshop March 21-23 at the Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama.  It was taught by seasoned singer-songwriter Kate Campbell of Nashville.  Her storytelling ability has been compared to Southern greats such as Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner, while her recording career as a performing singer-songwriter is iconic in terms of her output and the quality of her songwriting ability.  Her workshop

Inside the Music and the Making of The Gloaming Featured Article

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I have been a devoted fan of Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, the phenomenal fiddle/guitar duo who have pushed the boundaries of traditional Irish music to create a uniquely beautiful sound that is stunningly hypnotic and other-worldly.  I first discovered them in 1998 at Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Scotland where they put on a performance that held captive every open

CD Review: Thomas Hine–Forgive My Future Featured Article

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Colorado singer/songwriter Thomas Hine’s latest CD Forgive My Future (2013) is a modern folk album with that which is reminiscent of the sixties.  The new film LLewyn Davis comes to mind.  I can picture Hine in a smoky folk club rendering these songs to a captive audience.  The lyrics overall are thought provoking, at times a little hard to follow, but overall insightful.  The recording has a homespun sound to it, but that is not a bad thing.  The production is not overdone.  It’s more a raw project with all kinds of

Enjoying the Stephen Foster Old-Time Music Weekend Featured Article

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Florida is a state rich in the fostering and preservation of American folk culture, and I was fortunate to attend one of the numerous annual events hosted by the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, Florida.  Among the events during the year are a Quilt Show in October, a Dulcimer Retreat in November, a Festival of Lights in December, National Stephen Foster Day in January, and the 62nd Annual Florida Folk Festival on Memorial Day weekend.  The center, located on the banks of the Suwanee River,

CD and Live Show Review: We Banjo 3 Featured Article

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I have a special nook in my heart for Celtic folk music, born of my childhood adventures visiting the UK while living in West Germany, and then my actual residence in the UK from 1995-2000.  The annual festival Celtic Connections in Glasgow, loaded with fiercely talented musicians and bands, sealed the deal for me as an avid fan of the genre, and so when I hear of a good band touring in my neck of the woods, I like to take

Experiencing a Celtic Music Jam Featured Article

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The last Sunday of the month there is a Celtic Music Jam Session at the Black Market Bar and Grill at 5 Points in Birmingham, AL.  Its a great way to expose yourself free-of-charge to popular Irish tunes played on flute, penny whistle, and fiddle, accompanied by instruments like guitar, a Celtic drum called a bodhran, or in my case, a Celtic mandolin.  But there is room to be more than an audience member.  If you have played Irish music on one of the listed instruments or have a desire to

CD Review: Jefferson Ross–Isles of Hope Featured Article

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You will be taken on a journey through the rural and suburban Deep South in Jefferson Ross’s latest album Isles of Hopean acoustic collection of songs featuring  tales of, “murderers, shoplifters, car thieves, hypochondriacs, a voodoo witch doctor, a legendary blind blues singer, winos, a dustbowl farmer, Noah, a pothead Tupperware selling mom and a pair of Siamese twins,” as Ross puts it in his notes on the making of the album.  His vocal style and guitar playing are reminiscent of Delta blues, but his lyrics have a conversational quality that invites the listener to kick

An Interview With Linda McRae Featured Article

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Canadian folk artist Linda McRae, whose music career spans 25 years, is not only fresh off of a tour of the Yukon, but is enjoying the massive success of her latest solo album  Rough Edges, Ragged Hearts, which procured her a coveted nomination for Album of the Year from the Canadian Folk Music Awards.   Besides her four solo albums, Linda’s music has been included on twenty-seven other albums, either as a guest artist, or as a

John Henry: Hero of American Folklore Featured Article

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One of the most colorful characters in American folklore is the legendary John Henry.  Whether he was a true historical figure or a fictitious hero carved into the minds of common Americans by oral tradition, his story has given inspiration to generations.  Geoff Edgers said in his Analysis of John Henry Music, “John Henry, as ultimate working-class hero, has been embraced by disparate groups:  black prisoners,

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