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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”