Archive for the Mountain Stage Category

Notes & Ways to Pass the Time While Remodeling

Posted in Mountain Stage, The Jayhawks on April 4, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

***Before I get into today’s post, I need to give you a link to something cool that popped up on the internet yesterday. I was recently interviewed by a web-zine called The Alternate Root for a new feature they started this month that focuses on music blogs and music bloggers. I am honored to be the first blogger chosen to be featured in that space and hope I can live up to the praise. You can read the interview by following this link and turning the magazine to page 16.

***Of course, I feel a little guilty that the interview is posted during a time when most of my free time is being devoted to something other than this blog. I’ve been spending 12-14 hour days working on my new house to try and make it a livable space. That leaves little time for blogging, but (as I wrote earlier this week) it provides lots of time to listen to music. (I’m on the air at WDVX tonight… so that gives me enough time to rush out this post.)

Today, I spent a good deal of time listening to The Mountain Stage podcast archives. The Mountain Stage is a syndicated radio concert series that tapes in Charleston, West Virginia. I used to go to tapings all the time when I lived in Kentucky (about a two-hour drive from Charleston), and the show helped introduce me to some of my favorite artists. I saw Kasey Chambers, Rodney Crowell, Dar Williams, and James McMurtry all for the first time in Charleston. I saw lots of other great acts there too… Guster, Sam Bush, Martin Sexton, Tift Merritt, Joseph Arthur, Jessi Alexander, The Mutual Admiration Society, Grant Lee Phillips, and several others that I know I’m forgetting right now.

The Mountain Stage isn’t on the air in Knoxville, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed listening to the show. The good news is that you can listen to archived shows on their website and download podcasts on iTunes. Today, I just cued up a few podcasts in iTunes and listened to great performances from Patty Griffin, Luke Doucet, Sarah Borges, Eric Bibb, and The Red Stick Ramblers among others. The show never disappoints.

***Late last week, I found myself with a little spare time one morning and made my way into one of the local record shops to snoop through their $1 CD bin. It’s the sort of place where you will find tons of unremarkable discs that you wouldn’t want if they were given to you. Sometimes though… there are a few treasures in with the trash.

That’s exactly what happened on this trip as I found a used promotional copy of The Jayhawks’ 2000 album Smile… for a buck. It’s the only Jayhawks album I had never heard, and one I had always avoided buying due to some unfavorable reviews I had read way back when I was first discovering the band. I also was largely unimpressed with 1997’s Sound of Lies, the band’s first offering after the departure of co-leader Marc Olson, and I had always heard that the two albums were similar in their departure from the band’s signature sound.

After giving Smile a spin, I found that the main points of those reviews are accurate… the band does trade a bit of its early, rootsy sound for an edgier pop/rock vibe. It’s also clear that Gary Louris was trying to take the band in a different direction without Olson. In this case, however, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Smile tosses out the melancholy of Sound of Lies and replaces it with joy… as the titles of the two albums might suggest.

Sure… it’s pop music… but “pop” doesn’t always have to be a four letter word. I wish I hadn’t waited 5+ years to finally buy this album.

Here’s a track from Smile that showcases that pop polish while still retaining a little rootsy rust.

The Jayhawks: I’m Going to Make You Love Me (Buy Album)