Archive for May, 2009

Wednesday is Todd Snider Day

Posted in Todd Snider on May 27, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

While I possess none of the executive powers necessary to actually do so… I hereby declare Wednesday, May 27 to be Todd Snider Day in the city of Knoxville.

Todd will be performing twice in Knoxville on Wednesday, and both performances will be aired live on WDVX.

First is an appearance on The Blue Plate Special at noon. It’s a live, lunch-hour concert that we put on every weekday downtown. Todd will be one of three guests on Wednesday’s show and will probably play for roughly twenty minutes. You can listen in live at noon eastern at

Later in the night, Todd will be onstage at the Bijou Theatre for Tennessee Shines. This time he’ll share the stage with Pieta Brown, Blue Moon Rising, The Danny Barnes Acoustic Trio, and Tennessee Shines host Jim Lauderdale. The show begins at 7:00 eastern and will also be broadcast on WDVX.

There’s no reason to miss these performances. I’ll be attending the Blue Plate in person and running the board in the studio for Tennessee Shines. I hope you’ll all be listening too.

I should, of course, mention that Todd is out promoting his upcoming album The Excitement Plan that’s due to hit stores next month. I’ve got the whole thing streaming here… so I’m not going to post anything from the new album. But I will say that the new disc features Todd at his best, and I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit.

Here’s a classic tune from Todd that is one of my favorites, and might just reveal a few of his influences as well.

Todd Snider: Vinyl Records (Buy Album)

Wonderful Musical Weekend in Knoxville

Posted in Belleville Outfit, Ben Sollee, Paul Thorn on May 22, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Yesterday, I told you that there is some great live music that’s coming to Knoxville this weekend. Now I need to tell you exactly who is going to be here and when.

The Belleville Outfit kicks off a great weekend on Friday afternoon (today) with an appearance on WDVX’s Blue Plate Special live from The Square Room at noon. The Belleville Outfit is a six piece group from Austin who are certainly no strangers to us here in East Tennessee. They’ve already played in Knoxville several times including an appearance at Tennessee Shines last September. Their new album, Time to Stand, was even mastered right here in Knoxville.

This is a great emerging group* with influences ranging from jazz to bluegrass to swing with a lot of other stuff mixed in for good measure. The group likes to say the only music that hasn’t influenced them is the music they haven’t heard yet.

If you haven’t heard The Belleville Outfit yet… tune in to Friday at noon (EST) for their appearance on the Blue Plate Special. I’m sure you’ll get to hear a few new tracks from Time to Stand… like this one…

The Belleville Outfit: Sunday Morning (Buy Album)

*According to their website, The Belleville Outfit have been nominated for Best New/Emerging artist at this year’s Americana Music Awards along with Justin Townes Earle, Sarah Borges, and The Band of Heathens. You can find the full list of nominees here. I can also promise you that I will be giving you an in depth look at all of the nominees between now and the award show in September… just like I did last year.

Friday night, Ben Sollee returns to Knoxville and The Square Room for what is sure to be an intimate evening of music. Sollee is a cellist from Kentucky who gained some attention by playing with Otis Taylor and Abigail Washburn before breaking out to record his debut album Learning to Bend. On it, Sollee challenges the boundaries of his chosen instrument as he explores genres from country to folk to gentle jazz. He held a sold out crowd at The Bijou Theatre in rapt attention during a recent appearance on Tennessee Shines and promises to do the same Friday night at The Square Room.

Ben Sollee: A Few Honest Words (Buy Album)

It’s The Square Room again on Saturday night for a performance from Paul Thorn. Thorn has been a favorite of mine since my days at Morehead State Public Radio where I was first introduced to his music when he performed at one of our Americana Crossroads Live shows.

Thorn is the son of a Pentecostal Preacher who was born and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi and spent several years as a professional boxer (he once fought Roberto Duran in a nationally televised fight). All of those influences can be found in his music. Thorn’s sound bears the mark of the distinctly southern styles of gospel and blues while carrying a hard worn edge he earned during his years in the ring. It combines to create an authentic swamp of southern soul drenched in the Mississippi mud.

Paul Thorn: Downtown Babylon (Buy Album)

Unfortunately, life and work will conspire to keep me away from most of these shows… but I do plan on catching Those Darlins Saturday night. Hopefully all of you can get out and catch something live this weekend.

Today’s Notes Brought to You by Rhett Miller

Posted in Rhett Miller, Those Darlins on May 21, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

**Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know how I feel about the Old 97’s. They are one of my favorite acts around, and a lot of that has to do with their charismatic frontman Rhett Miller. Should I, then, find it odd that I never seem to enjoy Rhett’s solo material as much as I do his work with the band?

Probably not, since he seems to go out of his way to ensure that a Rhett Miller solo album has a totally different feel from an Old 97’s record. The solo albums generally tread a more pop-laden path. The excursions always produce a couple of gems, but ultimately leave me wanting to revisit my 97’s collection.

With that, I bring you the news that Rhett Miller is releasing his new, self-titled, album in June. There’s a review posted at Twangville that has me eagerly anticipating the release and willing to give Rhett’s solo career another chance. You can hear “I Need to Know Where I Stand” from the self-titled album over at Twangville.

**I know I’m not the first person to post this next tidbit either… but Paste Magazine is in a bit of financial trouble. So much trouble, in fact, that the magazine is asking readers for donations just to help keep them afloat. I’ll admit to not reading Paste as much lately as I used to. I even let my subscription lapse in the new year… so I guess I’m partly responsible for their current situation. Even so, I still don’t want to see them go away.

I’ve been reading Paste since the very first issue, and the magazine has introduced me to so many new artists over the years that it’s impossible to count. We’ve already seen No Depression and Harp cease publication along with countless others. I don’t want to lose Paste too.

**This weekend is shaping up to be another solid couple of days for live music here in Knoxville, and I hope to tell you about a few artists who will be making their way through town in a separate post a little later. For now, though, just let me make brief mention of a group that I hope to catch Saturday night at Barley’s.

Those Darlins are from Murfreesboro, TN just outside of Nashville and first came to my attention during the SXSW festival in Austin when they were featured on USA Today’s Pop Candy blog. They were described as “honky-tonk punk (with a) sassy attitude and sweet harmonies.” I had to know more. Saturday night, they’re coming to town with their music that reminds me a bit of a slightly unhinged Loretta Lynn circa “Fist City.”

Here’s a track from their upcoming album that’s due out next month.

Those Darlins: Wild One (Buy Album)

Madison Violet

Posted in Madison Violet on May 18, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Quick post today to introduce you to a Canadian band I discovered recently called Madison Violet.

Madison Violet is primarily composed of singer/songwriters Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac. The two both had similar upbringings in small towns in rural Canada and began singing and playing together a few years ago after a chance meeting in a Toronto bar. The two musicians bonded over a shared desire to shed their country music roots and branch out into something new.

After playing together in other projects for a while, MacEachern and MacIsaac formed Madison Violet in 2004 and released a pop-flavored debut that garnered some Top 40 airplay on Canadian Radio. It wasn’t long however, before the duo’s country roots began to show once again. The pair’s sophomore album Caravan received a nomination for “Folk Album of the Year” at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2006.

That folk influence carries over on their upcoming release No Fool For Trying. The two blend beautiful harmonies over gently strummed acoustic melodies and atmospheric steel guitars on songs like the album opening “The Ransom.” For eleven tracks, Madison Violet delivers solid melancholy folk that covers similar ground as their Canadian compatriots The Be Good Tanyas. I don’t think I can give a much higher endorsement than that.

No Fool for Trying from Madison Violet will be released June 23 from True North Records. You can pre-order (and stream) the album now on the True North website.

Madison Violet: The Ransom (Buy Album)

Stream the New Wilco

Posted in Wilco on May 14, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Wilco releases their new album on June 30th…. but you can stream the whole thing now at their website for free.

I’m still going through it for the first time right now, and I’m really enjoying it so far. It already feels a little punchier than Sky Blue Sky. It’s sounding like a winner so far.

You can stream Wilco (the album) here.

Back in the Swing of Things

Posted in Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnnie Irion, Theresa Andersson on May 12, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

I know it’s been a while… and I’m sorry. I’ve been rather busy and distracted lately with not a lot of time to write (or listen really). I’m hoping things can get back to normal a little from this point forward with a couple of posts a week. I’ve stockpiled some great new music recently, and I still have some stuff in the hopper that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. I’m going to do my best to get “back in the swing of things” from here on out.

In fact, here’s a song called “Swing of Things” from Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnnie Irion (pictured above).

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion: Swing of Things (Buy Album)

The true purpose of today’s post, however, is to introduce you to Theresa Andersson… one of the aforementioned artists that I’ve been meaning to share for a while.

Andersson is a singer/songwriter from Sweden who now lives in New Orleans where she recorded her 2008 album Hummingbird, Go! in the kitchen of her apartment. What makes her unique is the way she plays and records her music.

When you hear Andersson’s music for the first time, you envision a stage full of musicians… drums, back-up singers, violins, guitars… the whole bit. What you don’t know is that she does it all by herself, all at once. Andersson uses loop pedals to record snippets of drum beats, vocal scales, guitar riffs, hand claps, and just about anything else she can fit in. As a result, she becomes a one woman show by building complex rhythms and harmonies on stage piece by piece until all the parts blend together into a whole.

Andersson played Tennessee Shines in March with Scott Miller, Donna the Buffalo, and The Gourds. I’m sorry I didn’t share her music with you then, but I simply wasn’t aware of her then. When I listened to her performance on Tennessee Shines, I thought I heard something familiar in her songs. After checking back through my inbox, I realized that I had been alerted to her music several months earlier before the release of Hummingbird, Go!

It was my mistake for not sharing her with you then… or before Tennessee Shines… or after. I’m hoping to fix that mistake now.

Here’s a track from Hummingbird, Go! called “Birds Fly Away” along with a YouTube video of Theresa Andersson performing “Na Na Na” in the same kitchen where she recorded her album.

Theresa Andersson: Birds Fly Away (Buy Album)

Oak Ridge Boys vs. The White Stripes

Posted in The Oak Ridge Boys, White Stripes on May 1, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Remember these guys?

I do. I was three years old in 1981 when The Oak Ridge Boys released their smash hit, “Elvira,” and it was possibly the only song I listened to that entire year.

Obviously, I don’t remember much from 1981 (I was only three). But I remember that song, I remember my worn out .45 single, and I remember singing “Giddy-up-a-boom-bop-a-mow-mow” at the top of my lungs every chance I had. “Elvira” and The Dukes of Hazzard theme song may have been the first two songs I ever learned.

I probably haven’t heard that song in about fifteen years now, and I know I haven’t thought of The Oak Ridge Boys much over the last two decades. Today, however, I found a link on USA Today’s Pop Candy blog that reminded me the boys are back…

Yes… The Oak Ridge Boys are singing The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

Please know that I’m not posting this because I think it’s good, or that I think everyone else should hear it. It’s really more of a, “Holy cow, can you believe this?” kind of thing.