Tag Archives: mountain music

Silencio.

So, I started this site to talk about novel writing and travel, but I haven’t done much of either since Asheville in August (and I still haven’t written about that).

What I have done, though, is listen to a LOT of music. I guess that counts as travel. Bristol Rhythm was particularly blissful this year, if a little overcrowded. But the biggest news? I just brought this beauty home from Richmond, Va., this past weekend:

Mando1

So far, I am stunningly bad at it, and OW THE PAIN. Who knew pressing down two steel strings could hurt so much? But it’s so much easier to play than the guitar ever was, and I’m progressing.

More news from the music front: Bryan Simpson announced a few nights ago that he is leaving Cadillac Sky to do as-yet-unspecified work for Jesus (is that like going undercover?). They’re filling his spot on the C-Sky roster with:

Wow. I love his style, but… Different!

But onward and upward. Guess who I saw again tonight?

As for me, I saw The New Familiars again tonight in Fredericksburg, MD at Café Nola, an odd and tiny little venue with a stage about the size of my desk. At one point they somehow managed to fit all five guys AND their instruments on it and played through “New River” without significant bodily injury. It was, however, one of the most joyless crowds I’ve ever had the misfortune to share a concert with, and the lighting was weird. No one was dancing, most people were sitting at tables, and I swear, I felt like I was in the red curtain scene of a David Lynch movie. I half expected the guys to start singing Roy Orbison in Spanish while a red-suited dwarf waddled out on stage.

(Actually, if they sang Roy Orbison at all, I would have fled. That movie has forever ruined that song for me. I’ll have nightmares now just from looking up this video. You wait and see.)

There was next to no one there and the guys looked bored, so I talked to some of them for a bit. They were super friendly, and I didn’t make too much of a jerk of myself. Then I left early because I suck I live almost two hours away from there, and I’m still a wage slave. All the more reason to get back to that novel. Soon, soon, I promise.

But, yeah. TL;DR: The New Familiars – A+ as always for being awesome. Café Nola: C for being kinda creepy, but a good effort overall. I may go back for the food. I really hope the restaurant can draw a livelier crowd for their other acts, though.

Thinking a lot about music lately and the music business such as it is. If there was any justice in the world, every band I saw at Bristol would have at least one Rolling Stone cover a piece. I’ve got a Lester Bangs anthology out of the library, and my mind keeps going back to Almost Famous. I just hate it that there’s nothing left of that. The music business and music journalism is a sad, sorry shell of what it once was. Have we really traded Hunter S. Thompson for TMZ? No wonder the man shot himself. But the music’s still there and always will be as long as there are strings to pick and young people who can’t resist them. I just wish there was more of an industry to support them financially so they could make a real career out of it and keep on inspiring the rest of us for years.

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Go on, get rhythm

This weekend at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion I have seen…

and

and

and so many more, and I am so happy. My only disappointment is I didn’t spend any time in The Happiest Place on Earth (a.k.a. Java J’s) because it was always packed. (But good for them, though!)  Monday morning, though, I return to D.C. and reality (for the moment).

I want a gigantic grandpa bass to jump and flail around on. I think that just might be my instrument. I have enough energy for it.

NOTE: Videos not mine and not even from Bristol, but they’re good ones, aren’t they?

Mountain Music Hijinks

It’s a rare trip south that I don’t find more new music I like than I could ever afford. The southern Appalachians’ wealth of traveling acts and NPR stations willing to promote them is an untapped resource. It’s not anything you’ll ever hear over the airwaves anywhere else.

Try these links to a few such songs (or some of the  artists in general below them):

The Elders, “American Wake”

Ellis Paul, “Snow in Austin”

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “Home” (or the entire album, actually)

The New Familiars (I’m a Last.fm top listener! Figures! But there’s no free preview of my favorite songs there, unfortunately.)

Hoots and Hellmouth

Far from the mountains? You can still listen online to lots of artists not mentioned here:

“East Tennessee’s Own” WDVX (89.9 Clinton, 102.9 Knoxville).

WETS (89.5 Johnson City, TN).
(Sadly, this one has changed their weekday schedule to a news format, but weekends are still filled with amazing blues, americana, and mountain music.)

Whichever you try, best not to be near an Amazon or iTunes one-click purchase source when you do if you’re on a budget.