News / Arts & Entertainment

American Roots Music Sound Continues to Evolve in 2011

The Civil Wars' album,
The Civil Wars' album, "Barton Hollow"
Katherine Cole

In the “old days,” folk singers sang folk songs, rockers were always loud, and bluegrass never mixed with the blues or jazz. But today, you’ll find all kinds of American roots music living under the umbrella of “Americana.”

One of the big “buzz bands” of the year was The Civil Wars. Joy Williams and John Paul White may sound like they’ve been making music together for years. But in reality, the two paired during a songwriting camp not too long ago. They come from totally different parts of the country: Joy is a westerner, from Santa Cruz, California, while John Paul is from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in the southern United States. But when they met at songwriting camp, the two realized they had a very special chemistry. It wasn’t romantic - both are married to other people. In fact, both Joy and John Paul have said in interviews that they believe their onstage partnership works so well because they aren’t a couple - singing songs about love or a “heartbreak tune” night after night would be too difficult!

The Civil Wars released their debut CD “Barton Hollow” at the start of 2011. It kicked off what turned out to be a very good year for fans of American roots music, whether they preferred the smooth sound of the Civil Wars, Abigail Washburn’s blend of American and Chinese folk traditions or anything in between - like the stark, gritty songs that Rod Picott wrote for his critically acclaimed “Welding Burns.”

Bluegrass artists also offered plenty of stellar releases in 2011, both traditional, modern, and unexpected. Actor and writer Steve Martin has incorporated the banjo into his work from the earliest days of his comedy career and is finally being respected as a premiere picker.

This year, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers released the follow up to the 2009 Grammy-winning best bluegrass CD “The Crow.” “Rare Bird Alert” has also been nominated for that honor, and is one reason Steve and the band took home the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Entertainer of the Year” award this year.

This was also a standout year for The Gibson Brothers. The upper New York state-based band had the number one album on "Bluegrass Unlimited" magazine’s Top 10 chart for about eight months. “Help My Brother” also claimed the top spot on the Pop Matters website’s “Best of Bluegrass 2011” list, and was also the International Bluegrass Music Association’s pick for Album of the Year.

One of the final releases of 2011 was also one of the year’s most eagerly awaited. “This One’s For Him,” is a double-disc tribute to acclaimed Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark. Featuring performances by top roots stars including: Rodney Crowell, Joe Ely, Patty Griffin, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and James McMurtry, who chose to sing “Cold Dog Soup,” it will surely be a topic of conversation well into the new year.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures