Sunday, February 14, 2016

A virtual Sunday roots - Americana - bluegrass road trip.

This was sparked by a comment from a US friend about a band recently seen live (twice) and how good it was. Today I have listened on rotation to these three LPs whilst doing routine jobs around the house. I haven't had the good fortune to see any of these artists live, yet.

It prompted me to think about an artist whose début LP I happened across a couple months back and then never got around to mentioning.  Of the three that is the one that I shall start with and it is the only one that consists largely of traditional tunes and songs; they were both collected and arranged by the artist, Jake Xerxes Fussell. That is indeed his name from birth and splendid it most certainly is. Much of the music here is acoustic singer-with-guitar material but lap-steel and fiddle feature too. 

Released: 26 January 2015 (Paradise of Bachelors)
I could have chosen almost anything here. Not a single song showcases the diversity that is sampled from the original sources. In the end I chose 'Star Girl' as it displays more of the instruments on offer here than some other tracks.

The next that I shall mention is the one recommended to me this morning and therefore the seed from which this conceptual road trip grew. Originally hailing from a slew of places across the US the five members, none were known one to another before they found themselves in Portland, OR in 2014.  In a matter of months they became Crow and The Canyon. From that point on they toured solidly, mostly in the Pacific Northwest, writing what would become their first LP 'Leaving Soon'.
It was released 9 June 2015 (CD Baby).
To a great extent this is their own material and it covers, indeed fuses a wide variety of styles across the folk, country and bluegrass spectrum. As Crow and the Canyon had been recommended to me this was actually where I started this 'road trip' but in terms of story-telling it seems to fit best in the midst of the three. It is invidious to attempt to choose just one track to illustrate this, but I'm going to try anyway.

The final piece in this trilogy is The Lil Smokies from Montana. This is very much led by modern bluegrass.

It was released 28 June 2013 (CD Baby).

'Mending The Fence' live in Missoula, MT, 2013.

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