News / Arts & Entertainment

American Roots Music Sound Continues to Evolve in 2011

The Civil Wars' album, "Barton Hollow"
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 Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Trumpeter, percussionist and bandleader Etienne Charles was born in Trinidad and blends island rhythms with modern jazz. He and his stellar band perform a rich gumbo of jazz, calypso, reggae, and rock-steady that Charles calls “Creole Soul” on "The Hamilton Live."