Are you one of the 450+ people waiting for the new Mumford & Sons album, Babel? No reason to sit idly by until that hold arrives at your local library. Check out these great artists who paved the way and discover the rich tradition of American roots music behind these British folksters.
Like other revivalists, Mumford & Sons have put their unique stamp on the sound but much of it harkens back to earlier eras of bluegrass and country. Here are some of my favorite artists and collections that exemplify some of the same soulful singing, tales of love and yearning, and driving instruments that have made Mumford such an exciting band to see rise up so quickly and pack venues with thousands of foot-stomping fans.
Southern rock can be likened to a tree with many branches and even more roots. Tapping deep into the ground, it draws nourishment from blues, country, soul, folk, and a whole lot of other genres, all tangled together. The up-and-coming group Blackberry Smoke is the real thing, and their brand new album, The Whippoorwill, is distilled Southern goodness.
Channeling the heyday of Lynyrd Skynyrd before the plane crash that killed three band members and a crew member in 1977, BBS captures that essence with a sound that has the power to transport listeners straight to Jacksonville. With edge, humorous storytelling, and skilled musicianship, they put together songs rich with a sense of place and time. See for yourself in this recent performance of "Everybody Knows She's Mine":
July 14th, 2012 marked what would've been Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. Although he passed away in 1967, his legacy is as vibrant as ever.
Like many of my generation, I was introduced to Woody in my elementary school music class. Along with songs such as "And the Green Grass Grew All Around" and "Rainbow Connection," "This Land Is Your Land" was a staple of our teacher's singing selections. Of course we sang the sanitized version which excluded the political verses. I don't remember knowing who actually wrote it but it just went into the mental category of "Songs Everyone Knows."
If music was like sports, the Flobots might be Denver's home team. This socially conscious hip hop band is a major local community player, and they have both an upcoming album and a couple of concerts happening in the very near future.
No song by the Flobots is unremarkable, but listeners less familiar may remember them by their first major hit from the 2005 album Fight With Tools, "Handlebars," which captivated minds and gained the group international recognition.
Musician, programmer, recording artist, composer, sound designer and ninja...but on top of all that, a futurist with a pulse that is always beating ahead of it's time.
Born in Brazil, artistically blossoming in Portugal, England, and San Francisco, then settling in Montreal, Amon Adonai Santos de Araújo Tobin's music is much like his passport- all over the place. Beginning as Cujo in the early 90s, he wrote jazzy trip-hop that got him noticed by England's powerhouse trip-hop label Ninja Tunes, where his over-the-top sound design and production values earned him a top spot on their eclectic roster.
With two weeks of 95+ degrees heat, it's easy to realize we're in the thick of summer. But at the end of the day, as the sun grants us reprieve, the evenings are ripe for spending time outside with a cold drink, friends, and music.
I can enjoy some of the catchy summer radio hits such as We Are Young or Pumped Up Kicks but here are a batch of recent albums that offer more substance without losing their backyard BBQ appeal.
Do your shower acoustics assist in delusions of stardom? Do you secretly await the lone elevator ride or duck into a stairwell to break out in song? Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a choir?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you won't want to miss over 6,000 voices and 200 performances of the GALA Festival 2012. The streets of downtown Denver are going to be filled with the sound of music. Gleeks and groupies of Gareth Malone, choirmaster who is changing communities one song at a time on BBC's The Choir, will turn out in force.
Maybe it's her background as a child immigrant from the former Soviet Union to America in the late '80s that informs her fascinating lyrics, but as for Regina Spektor's interesting musical compositions and gemlike vocals, it's got to be raw talent. Get on the library's hold list sooner rather than later for her new album hot off the press, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.
After recently coming across Spektor's performances of the songs "Small Town Moon" and "Ballad of a Politician" from this album, aired on the Colbert Report, I immediately regretted having previously put off listening to her music.
It's loud, it's crazy, and it has been known to destroy sound systems from N.Y. to L.A., but Colorado is its third-largest market in the US. It may be scary, but it's growing an army of fans here...it's DUBSTEP, and it's packing every venue in the state with its bass embrace!
Forged in South London in early 2001, dance producers started taking the tempo of 2-step and merging it with the dark bass of Jungle/Drum & Bass music to form a new genre that record label Tempa called "Dubstep" in 2002. Championed by U.K.
The recent death of The Band's Levon Helm brought back fond memories of watching The Last Waltz. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film documents The Band's final show in 1976 at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom and is considered one of the best concert films ever produced.
Listening recently to his 2007 Fresh Air interview, I learned that Helm wasn't very keen on having a big farewell but went along with it. The concert featured all the major players in the folk, country, and rock scenes of the time including Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Van Morrison (in a very memorable bedazzled maroon leisure suit giving a passionate rendition of Caravan complete with high kicks).