01. Oh My Sweet Carolina
02. Ashes & Fire
03. If I Am a Stranger
04. Dirty Rain
05. My Winding Wheel
06. Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)
07. Invisible Riverside
08. Everybody Knows
10. Let it Ride
11. Rescue Blues
12. Please Do Not Let Me Go
13. English Girls Approximately
14. Chains of Love
16. Lucky Now
18. New York, New York
20. The End
21. 16 Days
22. Come Pick Me Up
23. Nutshell (Alice In Chains cover)
24. When Will You Come Back Home?
There is still plenty of time to hit up one of the many fine Colorado music festivals this summer. If you sign up to like the brand new Grass Roots Revival facebook page (www.facebook.com/grassrootsrevival) by August 22, you will be entered to win one of two pairs of three day passes to the 15th Annual Four Corners Folk Festival in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado over Labor Day weekend (September 3-5).
This year’s lineup includes Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Bush, the Infamous Stringdusters, Crooked Still, Sarah Jarosz, and many other great performers. Each pair of these tickets would run you $210 if you purchased them at the door, so sign up now if you have a Facebook account!
Other upcoming festivals include the following:
August 14-15: Eighth Annual Manitou Springs Craft Lager Festival featuring craft brews from 25 different breweries along with music by Elephant Revival, Grass It Up, and others. This festival has been ranked among the top 10 beer festivals in the nation by USA Today.
August 20-22: Newhoma Music Festival, a first year festival in Florissant with an eclectic lineup of bluegrass, jazz, rock and roll, jamband and more from artists including Oakurst, Henhouse Prowlers, Grass It Up, and Grayson Capps & the Lost Cause Minstrels.
August 20-22: YarmonyGrass, back for another year at Rancho del Rio in Bond, the premier jamgrass festival in Colorado welcomes the return of Railroad Earth to be joined by Head for the Hills, Elephant Revival, the Nershi-Law Duo with Pete Seeger’s talented grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, and almost every member of the String Cheese Incident in one scide project or another.
August 21-22: Wet Mountain Western Jubilee, a celebration of cowboy culture with performances by Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, http://www.sonsandbrothersband.com/ and Pueblo newcomers The Haunted Windchimes.
August 28-29: 12th Annual NedFest, nestled in the mountains above Boulder, promoter Michigan Mike has put together another exceptional roster of musicians that includes Cornmeal, Great American Taxi, Spring Creek, Elephant Revival, Hot Buttered Rum and other great jazz-fusion and rock acts.
You have no excuse to miss out on live music this summer — get out there and enjoy! The concert calendar is up to date, and remember that you can now listen to the Grass Roots Revival webcast here at www.rockymountainhighway.com.
Six to go. The year-of-our-lord 2010 was one half way over this week. A good time to take a look at the best releases of the year. Not a bad year so far; as I look back throught the media files tagged 2010 I had no trouble at all coming up with 10 pretty good ones. And who knows, maybe this new Fred Eaglesmith will grow on me. Maybe not.
First-off, though, how about the top 2009 release that I wasn’t that fond of initially that’s demonstrated it’s greatness through repeated listens in 2010. That would be Son Volt’s American Central Dust. Sorry Son Volt. I shouldn’t have doubted you. Oh, and how about best foreign release in 2009 that we weren’t aware of until 2010? That would be Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (see video below).
Now let’s look at the 2010 releases we’re liking half way through the year:
Hard Times:Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor
Genuine Negro Jig: Carolina Chocolate Drops
Courtyard Hounds: Eponymous
New Pornographers: Together
Pernice Brothers: Goodbye Killer
Peter Wolf: Midnight Souvenirs
Reckless Kelly: Somewhere in Time
Rocky Erikson/Okkerville River: True Love Cast Out All Evil
Did you miss the Academy of Country Music awards a few weeks ago? No surprise — most of the nominees were pop singers hand-selected by industry insiders.
However, I was pleased to see that Randy Scruggs (one of Earl’s sons) earned the nod for Top Speciality Instrument Player of the Year and that Stuart Duncan took home honors as Top Fiddle Player of the Year. Maybe all hope is not lost for “country music.” Bizarre factoid — the ACM annually recognizes a Casino of the Year (Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas has bragging rights this year).
I predict that the summer of 2010 will be remembered by music fans as the summer of Darrell Scott. His new 2-CD collection of all original music called A Crooked Road just came across my desk, and it is good.
Darrell plays every instrument on the album, which is out on his own label Full Light Records, and a particular standout track is “Colorado.” His tour schedule brings him to the Soiled Dove in Denver on June 5 with a stop the following day in Pagosa Springs for the fantastic Folk N Bluegrass Festival. Then Darrell joins fellow Americana stalwarts Buddy Miller and Patty Giffin as part of Robert Plant’s new project on Rounder Records, which was just acquired by the Concord Music Group. Yes, that Robert Plant. Plant and the Band of Joy kick off a United States tour in Nashville on July 13, but unfortunately the closest they will come to Colorado is the Sandia Casino Amphitheater in Albuquerque. The official release date for A Crooked Road is May 24 but you can download “Colorado” right now for free at http://www.darrellscott.com/colorado.
Other notable new releases in the bumper crop that just arrived in time for airplay on the Grass Roots Revival for Festival Season include Things That Fly from The Infamous Stringdusters (Sugar Hill), Natalie Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep (Nonesuch), a new collection of crazy covers called Thief from Keller Williams and the Keels (SCI Fidelity), a solo release called The Garden from former Wailin’ Jenny Ruth Moody and Storyhill’s Shade of the Trees (Red House), Crooked Still’s Some Strange Country (Signature Sounds), Merle Haggard’s I Am What I Am (Hag/Vanguard), Willie Nelson’s Country Music (Rounder), The Grascals with The Famous Lefty Flynn’s (Rounder), self-titled debuts from Summertown Road (Rounder) and Deep Fryed Acoustiblasters (Self), Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs with Medicine County (Transdreamer), Trampled By Turtles’ Palomino (Banjodad), Chely Wright’s Lifted Off the Ground (Vanguard), which was produced by Rodney Crowell, Black Prairie – Feast of the Hunters’ Moon (Sugar Hill), a re-issue of Roland White’s 1976 release I Wasn’t Born to Play Rock & Roll (Tompkins Square), Wes Weddell, By the Side of the Lake (Dusty Shadows Music, 2010), Anders Osborne’s American Patchwork (Alligator) and Mary-Chapin Carpenter’s The Age of Miracles (Zoe).
The Greencards (nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental), Great Lake Swimmers (nominated for a 2010 Juno award for best roots music album, Grant-Lee Phillips, Gregory Alan Isakov, the Grant Gordy Quartet (new guitarist of the David Grisman Quintet), Martha Scanlan (formerly of The Reeltime Travelers), Elephant Revival, and many more. It’s going to be a wonderful event and this year we have a tent to protect the audience from the rain and a new Friday night VIP event headlined by Grass It Up. Limited camping is available – make your reservations now and buy those tickets!
P.S. Looking ahead, next month New West recording artists Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans from Canada will bring their high energy alternative country music to Chico Basin Ranch for a benefit performance that is not to be missed. GO SEE LIVE MUSIC!
…it’s festival season. After the way way last summer flew by, this year we are going to make an extra effort to enjoy the months between days Memorial and Labor. After all, we are in God’s country. So let’s air out the tent, WD-40 the lawn chairs, hose down the Weber, de-fungify the cooler, and spend at least one blissful weekend underneath the Colorado pines; music wafting over us like the scent of patchouli at a medical pot dispensary. You can think of a festival like a Caribbean cruise without the ass-whip of “formal night”, and well, the Caribbean. And the giant ship. Unless you do that Cayamo deal.
Attending a festival can be a mini-vacation; much like a cruise you can start drinking early in the day, take a nap, start back up, and finish the day in the privacy of your own accommodations. The drink/drive equation? Irrelevant. Dude, you are bedding down under the stars tonight.
So, starting Memorial Day weekend, how about MeadowGrass at the beautiful LaForet Conference Center in Black Forest. This year’s MeadowGrass lineup features The Greencards (left), Grant-Lee Phillips, and Great Lake Swimmers. A great way to officially welcome festival season.
The grandaddy of Colorado Music fests, Telluride Bluegrass, is the weekend of June 17-20. There are so many great acts at Telluride this year, the Telluride Bluegrass people should be embarassed, ever hear of sharin’ the love Telluride Bluegrass people? How about Lyle Lovett, Alison Krauss & Union Station (no Bob Plant? good), Court Yard Hounds (2/3 of the Dixie Chicks), Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon (better than fresh salmon), Béla Fleck (no Flecktones?), Del McCoury Band, The David Rawlings Machine, and the fantastically fantastic Carolina Chocolate Drops (above right). Whoa.
The folks at Planet Bluegrass have come up with a July/August one-two punch: Rockygrass July 23-25 and Folks Festival August 13-15. Both festivals take place at the lovely Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons. Rockygrass features Doc Watson, Patty Loveless, Tim O’Brien, Sam Bush, and the Travelin’ McCourys. But for my money, Folks Festival has the best lineup of the summer: Richard Thompson, John Prine, The Swell Season, Ani DiFranco, Michelle Shocked, Tift Merritt and Darrell Scott. On-site campground at Planet Bluegrass comes with a 3-day festival pass and is $170, or you can camp a few blocks away at the Meadow Park campground with a single-day festival pass.
Labor Day weekend or EOTSMFS (end of the summer music festival season) weekend, as we like to call it, falls on the weekend of September 3 this year. That weekend, the Four Corners Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs rounds out the summer music festival season proper. Four Corners has a pretty impressive lineup this year including Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Sam Bush, the Infamous Stringdusters, Crooked Still, and young phenom Sarah Jarosz (below right). Wow, that’s a lot of music. Rockymountainhighway.com gives you a stay-cation every month in the summer of twenty-ten. ‘Cuz thats the way we roll.
Visit the festivals page for a complete list of front-range festivals in 2010. The bottom of the page features a comprehensive listing, the top features our favorites. Rock on festivalarians.
Steve and I have an interest in front range artists that have been successful elsewhere, as well as the behind the scenes folks that have interesting music industry jobs right here at home. We’ve tossed around the idea of doing features on some of these artists, and the opportunity has finally presented itself. We hope this to be the first in a series – Drew Smith from Colorado Springs (part 1):
We “discovered’ Drew playing a couple of songs on acoustic guitar before a Band of Heathens show at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs a couple of months ago. When Heathen Ed Jurdi mentioned Drew was a friend from Austin in town visiting his folks, we thought to ourselves, “Google this dude when we get home”. What we discovered was that Drew is indeed from Colorado Springs, and that he is quite popular in Austin. His 2008 CD “Drew Smith’s Lonely Choir” (Fat Caddy) was release nationally in 2009 to rave reviews (here and here are examples). Drew has several shows during South by Southwest this week, including a showcase Saturday Night at Momo’s. See the complete schedule below. Our interview was interrupted by Drew traveling to New York to record an EP and by South by Southwest. This is part 1 of our interview; part 2 will be posted as soon as there is a part 2.
Rocky Mountain Highway: Your family lives in Colorado Springs, did you grow up here?
Drew Smith: I am an Army brat. The military moved my father around about once a year – Ft. Hood to Leavenworth to Shape, Belgium to Washington D.C. and eventually to Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs. We moved away from C. Springs once or twice, but our family was pretty much there from the late 80’s on. My father retired in the 90’s and has a house there with my mother.
The city seemed to explode since then. I get back every couple of years and I am amazed by something new each time. This last time, I was particularly amazed to find out that the family pizza joint most of us went to in high school is considered a “bad part of town” – as well as the club I played when I was back this last time! What?!? I think my sources were off. Is anything that is more than 20 years old considered to be a bad part of town now? For the record, my wife and I felt very safe in that part of town. I hope to play that joint again sometime.
RMH: Where did you go to high school? Did you start playing music start back then?
Drew: I went to Air Academy High School. Took Piano lessons from my neighbor in elementary school. Got my first Yamaha acoustic guitar from my 7th grade math teacher – I mowed her lawn in exchange for it.
I was always participating in choirs and musicals and things – luckily that footage is safely locked up at my folks place. That was the outlet available to me, and I enjoyed being on stage as I do now. However, I feel it kind of put me behind the 8ball as far as rock n roll goes. I didn’t listen to music like The Beatles or Neil Young until college. I definitely had a firm grasp on folk music, musicals, and Catholic hymns though – and that all helped musically I am sure. But I believe my writing and composition benefitted the most from exposure to bands and artists that I now consider my idols. Musicians like Harry Nilsson, Ray Davies, Neil Young, Paul M. and John L.
RMH: Musicals? Did you take any flack about that in high school?
Drew: Well, I guess you just kind of sign up for whatever is offered to you when you’re looking for a creative outlet. Unfortunately, Eagleview Middle School wasn’t offering a Songwriting class or a History of Rock n Roll class. So I signed up for things like Show Choir and musicals. When I turned 16 and got my drivers license, I started playing slots at Kafeo, a local coffee house downtown near Acacia Park. I got $30 and a free Italian Soda when I played there.
RMH: Any other fond memories of the area?
Drew: I miss having all four seasons. Austin’s seasons are Summer, Hot Summer, Summer, Cooler Summer and then Summer again.
How about the Hungry Farmer? Is that place still around? The waiters would perform acrobatic pours of coffee – like put the mug in the back pocket and pour from over the shoulder kind of stuff. That was the first restaurant that I ate at in Colorado Springs the night my family drove into town.
Digital Hill! There was a company called Digital (I think) and they had a campus over by the Safeway in Rockrimmon. There was a huge hill that made for pretty amazing sledding. Something Austin could never provide.
RMH: So did you leave here right after high school? How’d you end up in Austin?
Drew: After high school, I went to Creighton University in Omaha, NE and was in my first band. like i said before, i hadn’t really discovered rock n roll yet, and i was really REALLY into Bela Fleck and his band (still admire the hell out of him, but I lean towards pop music these days). I had graduated from high school a semester early and started at Creighton that spring semester. Somehow, immediately I started playing jam music with a few older college guys and we unfortunately called ourselves “Brothers on the Slide”, but it was fun. I was 17 years old and got a crash course on playing the Omaha bar scene. Looking back, the music was awful, but the lessons and musical friendships were completely grand! We shared rehearsal space with Cursive and sometimes Bright Eyes. I would have spent a lot more time picking their brain if I was more musically mature at the time.
Being in that band changed my life. Before, I had bought into the idea that music was a hobby and that I needed to find a proper “career path”. Now, i knew that if I wasn’t writing music i couldn’t function. It is how I get through the day and over my anxieties. If i can’t create, than I will just not be happy. At the time, one of my brother’s lived in Austin and he sent me a KGSR mix CD – the local Austin station’s annual christmas CD of live performances from the past year. I started listening to KGSR on the internet and hearing all of the local support for live music. So I made plans to come to Austin right after graduation. I literally told my professors things like “I am just trying to get through this with a passing grade to get my degree” and I even slept through my graduation ceremonies. I had a bad attitude about education, but i was ready to move on. All I could do was day dream about being in Austin. After a short deviation from plans that caused me to move to Kansas City for a summer, I was in Austin – summer of 2001.
RMH: So why Creighton? What is your degree in?
Drew: Both my mother and father went to Creighton. After my dad retired from the military, he got a job at Creighton and that meant free tuition for me. So the thinking was “great education for free”, and that is how it came to be. I left my high school a semester early and moved to Omaha with my parents and little brother in an extremely bitter cold winter and took a few classes at Creighton that spring semester. That’s when I met some other musicians, was in my first band, and started playing in bars.
I got a degree in Marketing. Everyone says “oh, that must help with marketing yourself in the music business!” It really hasn’t, but I suppose it is nice to say that I have a degree. I always wonder if the Music Business Degrees that some colleges offer actually help. The music business so heavily relies on connections and networking.
RMH: So you went off to school with your whole family-how did you feel about that?
Drew: I remember liking it just fine. I did the whole dorm room thing the following year and got the good ol’ American college experience. I feel fortunate that I went to college, but I wish I could go back and get more out of it. I would be an English major or something with much more reading. History maybe or Theology. I was never a reader growing up and I feel that I am still “catching up” for it in my writing now.
Watch for part 2: Drew in Austin.
Find out more about Drew Smith at http://www.sonicbids.com/epk/epk.aspx?epk_id=24850
Saturday, March 13, The Parish, 9pm – Pre-SXSW Concert
Tuesday, March 16, Rusty Spurs Lounge Stage, 9pm – Music tech Mashup Showcase
Wednesday, March 17, Zach Scott Theatre, 8pm – Zach by Zach Scott
Thursday, March 18, Patio at Jaimes, 2pm – Beatles Complete Showcase
Friday, March 19, Momos Club, 240pm – Real Live Music Showcase
Saturday, March 20, Momos Club, 1am – Official SXSW showcase
Don’t despair if you can’t travel to South by Southwest next month! During the first two weeks of March you can find an exciting roots concert almost every night, right here in the shadow of Pikes Peak.
I recommend that you start the musical odyssey with a double “paper” bill TONIGHT at Stargazers Theatre featuring local favorites Edith Makes A Paperchain and the Denver-based collective Paper Bird — seven guys and gals who, like Edith, combine indie folk strings and horns to create an exciting new sound.
The following night songwriter Sarah Siskind is set to appear at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church in Palmer Lake with hubby Travis Book of the Infamous Stringdusters, who was raised here locally. Bill Forman of the Indy reports that the concert is a charity fundraiser complete with pie and coffee.
Vince Herman – a founder of the influential jamgrass band Leftover Salmon – brings his new project Great American Taxi to the Black Sheep on Thursday March 4. In addition to celebrating the release of Taxi’s recording debut “Reckless Habits,” Vince & the boys are fresh off of a tour with Todd Snider that included stops in Denver, Boulder and Nashville.
On Friday March 5, you can opt to check out the Zac Brown Band – the recently-crowned “Best New Artist” from this year’s Grammys — at the World Arena, or for a less expensive evening wander over to Venue 515 in Manitou Springs for another Edith Makes A Paperchain show with rising folk star Cahalen Morrison.
The fun continues the following week with Ozomatli at the Black Sheep on March 9 and two notable events on March 12 — folk singer Joe Uveges plays the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, while multi-instrumentalist Tony Furtado performs at a special house concert with Trina Hamlin.
You can wrap up the first half of Musical March Madness at the Black Sheep on March 14 with Stockholm Syndrome, a Widespread Panic side project featuring the talents of bassist Dave Schools, Wally Ingram and Jerry Joseph, among others.
Finally, for the northern Colorado crowd or anyone willing to drive for tunes – Cracker plays “Unplugged” at Swallow Hill Daniels Hall on February 28, Bob Weir & Phil Lesh bring Furthur to Broomfield on March 5-6, and YMSB’s Jeff Austin invites some hippie friends to join him for two shows on March 12-13 in Denver and Boulder.
Go out and see live music! I’m back on the air this week with another edition of The Grass Roots Revival — catch it streaming live at 8:00 p.m. MST on www.krcc.org or as a webcast here within a few days after the live broadcast!
Somebody asked me the other day if I was going to see Billy Joel and Elton John in Denver. Well, it was a bartender. And I did see her at the Elton John show when he was here last year. What can I say, curiosity got the better of me. Anyway, I like it when bartenders recognize me and talk to me. Especially if it means I might get my beverage faster.
Steve did put that show on the calendar; in case you’re interested. I’d highly recommend against it. Wonder if that new Live Nation/Tickmaster conglomeration is selling tickets to that one at their new reduced fees? I’ll be we can find something better than two old washed up old fuckers tickling the ivories and singing those old songs at a fraction of their original voices. Let’s see…
Not much in the way of big shows the next couple of weeks, but some pretty nice smaller ones. Hows about Guy Clark Tuesday at the L2 Arts and Clltural Center? Or maybe Justin Townes Earle at The Bluebird Friday? Next week there’s Scott H. Biram at the Black Sheep in the Springs, James McMurtry at the Fox in Boulder, or Steep Canyon Rangers and Great American Taxi at the Boulder Theater.
One more thing, anyone else notice Alejandro Escovedo was dropped from the Los Lonely Boys Show in the Springs? After I paid full retail price for my ticket. (Of course, the Gazette still thinks he’s coming – one of many ways those boys are a little out of the loop) Check it out, the bill is the LLB’s with Carrie Rodriguez, and Alejandro in Grand Junction, Beaver Creek, Aspen, and Boulder. By the time the Acoustic Brotherhood Tour hits the Springs they’ve dropped Alejandro. Shit.
Sunday night marks the arrival of the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards
ceremony, an often pretentious and self-congratulatory spectacle during which the Recording Academy perennially hands out honors to the most flamboyant, good-looking, and/or best-selling musical insiders. Many are successful because they are “marketable” and not because of songwriting talent or instrumental ability; nowhere is this more evident than in the so-called “Country Music” categories. The formulaic songs of commercial country sensations like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood bear little resemblance to the body of work produced by traditional country pioneers including Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.
One of the oft-overlooked gems of the Grammys, however, is the category for “Best Country Instrumental Performance.” Since the pop country superstars seldom go to the trouble of producing instrumental music, they are mostly ineligible for consideration, leaving the door open for emerging artists who build on traditional foundations — The Greencards, Sarah Jarosz and Alison Brown. Although you aren’t likely to hear much about roots music during the tomorrow’s network television broadcast of the ceremony, here are my analyses and predictions for Best Country Instrumental Performance and three of the categories now grouped together under the “American Roots” heading.
My Prediction: Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
My Selection: Wilco – Wilco (the album)
For the first time in its history, the Academy will present an award for “Best Americana Album” of the year. My guess is that the Academy will reward one of its old guard – Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel, or Levon Helm (known for his ground-breaking work with The Band). These are all celebrated artists who have rightfully received critical acclaim for their accomplishments. Wilco is an interesting foil in this category, having previously earned a 2004 Grammy for “Best Alternative Album” for “A Ghost is Born.” Although I also truly enjoyed Levon Helm’s “Electric Dirt,” the follow up to the 2007 Grammy-winning Best Traditional Folk Album “Dirt Farmer,” I hope the Academy gives the nod to Wilco for keeping Americana exciting and fresh.
Best Bluegrass Album
My Prediction: Steve Martin – The Crow
My Selection: Rhonda Vincent – Destination: Life
Three of this year’s Bluegrass nominees already own phonograph statues. Jim Lauderdale has earned Best Bluegrass Album awards for his collaboration with Ralph Stanley in 2002 and for 2007’s “The Bluegrass Diaries.” Outstanding guitarist Bryan Sutton took home two awards for his work with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and then one for Best Country Instrumental in 2006. I believe that sheer star power probably gives comedian Steve Martin an edge in this category – Martin picked up two Grammys for Best Comedy Recording in the 1970s and was also honored for his contribution to the Best Country Instrumental winner in 2001, an all-star Earl Scruggs recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” However, I’d reward one of the two nominees who don’t have a Grammy, either cowboy poet Michael Martin Murphey or multi-instrumentalist Rhonda Vincent. Rhonda gets my vote because I don’t want to jinx Michael’s Martin Murphey’s chance of winning Best Traditional Folk Album next year for the new release “Lone Cowboy — Live & Solo” that was produced here in Colorado Springs by the Western Jubilee Recording Company.
Best Contemporary Folk Album
My Prediction: Elvis Costello — Secret Profane & Sugarcane
My Selection: Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
There are mostly familiar faces in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category. Shawn Colvin received the award in 1990 for “Steady On” and later earned Record of the Year honors for “Sunny Came Home” in 1997. However, her latest live solo recording offers up little new material (a notable exception is a Talking Heads cover) — the album more or less recreates a previously released 1988 performance twenty years later. Steve Earle beat out the competition twice in the past decade in 2004 (“The Revolution Starts Now”) and 2007 (“Washington Square Serenade”), although in my opinion his collection of Townes Van Zandt covers does not rank among his best material. Although Tracy Chapman has four Grammys (including three during her debut in 1988), she has not won an award since a 1996 Grammy for Best Rock Song. Surprisingly, Elvis Costello has only one Grammy award on his resume, for a pop vocal collaboration with Burt Bacharach in 1998. If I was King the award would go to the incorrigible trailblazing indie newcomer Neko Case for shaking things up — “Middle Cyclone” is an innovative, inspired and literate modern take on folk music.
However, the best bet is that Elvis Costello will take the category with “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane,” both because of his lack of prior significant recognition and the involvement of golden touch producer T Bone Burnett, the soundtrack architect for “O Brother Where Art Thou” and the forthcoming Jeff Bridges movie “Crazy Heart.”
Best Country Instrumental Performance
My Prediction: The Greencards, “The Crystal Merchant,” Fascination
My Selection: The Greencards, “The Crystal Merchant,” Fascination
And finally, even though the Academy could only come up with four nominees for Best Country Instrumental, they are great songs. Young bluegrass darling Sarah Jarosz garners her first nomination for the quirky “Mansinneedof” from her debut Sugar Hill release “Song Up In Her Head,” and banjoist Alison Brown is back again after winning this category in 2000 for her duet with maestro Bela Fleck. But my money is on The Greencards –Australian, English and Nashville influences combine to produce some of the most exciting bluegrass/Americana music available today. Their Sugar Hill release “Fascination” was #2 on the Grass Roots Revival charts in 2009. Although The Greencards’ “Mucky the Duck” from “Viridian” was nominated but failed to win the Best Country Instrumental last year, I am hoping the second time is the charm. And mark your calendar now – The Greencards will be headlining MeadowGrass in Black Forest this coming Memorial Day weekend – details to follow very soon.
Musicfest left the building a week ago, but a few Texas bands are hanging around the old front range before heading back to warmer climes. Reckless Kelly (below) has shows in Ft Collins (Aggie Theater) and Denver (Grizzly Rose) this week. Those Braun boys are great live and highly recommended. The always-entertaining Cross Canadian Ragweed and the Randy Rogers Band will share the bill at Cowboys (Springs) and Grizzly Rose. He didn’t play Musicfest, but Pat Green is playing Grizzly Rose this week as well. And last, and maybe least, Leann Rimes plays Arnold Hall at the Air Force Academy Friday night. Though not totally on board with this one, the wife is – so we will be in attendance. I learned from her web-site that Leann’s battling psoriasis. I promise to make it my mission to personally check Ms. Rimes for any signs of that dread disease. Because that’s the way I roll.
That’s it for the Texans until February when Steve Earle, Hayes Carll, James McMurtry (left), and Guy Clark come a callin’. Other late January highlights include Split Lip Rayfield at the Black Sheep in the Springs, Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard at the Boulder Theater, and AA Bondy at the Hi Dive in Denver. And be forewarned – the Van Zant playing “World Famous” Cowboys in the Springs on January 30th is the Lynyrd Skynyrd variety and not the Townes variety (which is spelled Van Zandt). Now you know.