2013 GRAMMY NOMINEES
Of Interest To FolkWorks Readers
43. BEST REGIONAL MEXICAN MUSIC ALBUM (INCLUDING TEJANO)
44. BEST TROPICAL LATIN ALBUM
45. BEST AMERICAN ROOTS SONG
46. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM
47. BEST BLUEGRASS ALBUM
48. BEST BLUES ALBUM
49. BEST FOLK ALBUM
50. BEST REGIONAL ROOTS MUSIC ALBUM
52. BEST WORLD MUSIC ALBUM
THE COEN BROTHERS’ ROCKY ROAD TO GREENWICH VILLAGE
There were two versions of the Folk Revival available to viewers this evening: on PBS a rerun of John Sebastian’s hosting a program called Folk Rewind, with performances by the Kingston Trio, The Highwayman, The Limelighters, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins and others who made folk music a commercial success in the early 1960s, and on the big screen, the long-awaited premiere of the Coen Brothers “remembrance of things past,” a film homage to the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961, when Bob Dylan hit town in the dead of winter and joined a budding revival that was to move folk music out of the fraternity circuit and into a major cultural force that fueled the civil rights and antiwar movements. Based on a character modeled on Dave Van Ronk, herein called Llewyn Davis, a young, bearded folk singer in love with traditional music who runs into a burgeoning singer-songwriter crowd with whom he is decidedly and humorously out of sync.
AUTHOR: DONALD COHEN
PUBLISHER: MUSIC SALES AMERICA
RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 2013
My friend Donald Cohen has written a new book about Gypsy Music called Gypsy Voices: Songs from the Romani Soul. It is his third book about music; his earlier books include Fado Português: Songs from the Soul of Portugal and Tango Voices: Songs from the Soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond.
Like the earlier volumes, Gypsy Voices is filled with wonderful photographs, commentary on all 21 songs on the cd that comes with it, lyrics translations, and even sheet music. It’s everything that a music fan could want. It also was a labor of love, involving many difficult choices among the thousands of songs in the Roma diaspora (Macedonia, Russia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Serbia).
The Roma people have been misunderstood and maligned for centuries, experiencing repression and rejection wherever they went. Yet they have endured. Originally from Northwestern India, they were called “gypsies” because of their dark skin: people thought they came from Egypt. The word “gyped” as in “The salesperson gyped me…” (meaning ripped off) is an example of the negative attitude.
TITLE: 150 GEMS OF IRISH MUSIC FOR TIN WHISTLE:
WITH SUGGESTED ORNAMENTATION AND PHRASING
AUTHOR: GREY LARSEN
PUBLISHER: MEL BAY PUBLICATIONS
RELEASE DATE: 2013
Grey Larsen’s third instructional book and tune collection for the tin whistle (also known as the pennywhistle) presents a comprehensive explanation of pennywhistle performance in addition to a notated selection of 150 Irish dance tunes with suggested ornamentation. Following a similar organizational structure as his first two books, the first section of 150 Gems of Irish Music for Tin Whistle offers a concise explanation of pennywhistle technique as well as more detailed discussions of ornamentation, phrasing, and tune structure. It is assumes that the reader already has a familiarity with the basics of Western staff notation.
The 150 tunes included within Larsen’s book are divided into three groups based upon whether they are a) perfectly amenable to performance on whistle, b) non-wind in origin, or c) suitable for performance on whistles in keys other than “D,” the most common key for pennywhistles. This is a departure from the majority of tune collections, which are more typically organized by difficulty or tune type. Larsen’s choice to organize tunes in this manner, however, illustrates his commitment to developing a guide specifically for pennywhistle rather than another generic tune collection.
Conveniently included with Larsen’s book are two audio CDs consisting of recordings of all 150 tunes notated in the collection.
TITLE: THE BACH UKE BOOK
AUTHOR: ROB MACKILLOP
PUBLISHER: MEL BAY
RELEASE DATE: 2012
The Bach Uke Book is a surprisingly pleasing book for aficionados of classical music who also play the ukulele. The clean sounds of the Bach pieces arranged in fingerpicking style with some two, three, and four note chords mixed into the melody are at times reminiscent of the sounds of a harpsichord.
While the ukulele is mostly known for its origins as a Hawaiian folk instrument, and prior to that, as a Portuguese folk instrument, the classical pieces in this book will help any musician to become familiar with the whole instrument and to work on tempos and variations within the music.
The pieces range from easy to challenging but are not placed in the book in the order of difficulty nor is their any notation on the piece to indicate the level of difficulty of the piece. It is up to the musician to determine the level of difficulty for themselves. The more challenging pieces, such as “Minuet in F”, “Polonaise in Gm”, and “Sheep May Safely Graze”, include triplets, sixteenth and thirty-second notes and intricate phrasing.
Watch What You Wish For:
The Settino Soprani 55
It is the old joke about the guy who leaves his car unlocked, and forgets that he has left an accordion (or a banjo or a set of bagpipes) on the back seat, and rushes back to find two of the instruments waiting for him.
We live in Aberfeldy, right in the geographical heart of Scotland, and in the last week we have become the custodians of approximately fifty accordions, part of a collection of over three hundred owned by a lady who lives north of here in Invernesshire.
TITLE: EVIE LADIN BAND
ARTIST: EVIE LADIN BAND
LABEL: EVIL DIANE RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: 2012
You don’t often hear words like “traditional,” and “authentic” paired with “innovative” and “unique,” but Evie Ladin has brought them together brilliantly in the self-titled, debut album of the Evie Ladin Band, and the result is truly a high point in new old-time music.
If you are not already familiar with Evie Ladin’s music, don’t let the term “debut” fool you. While the four multi-instrumental band members – Ladin, Keith Terry, Dina Maccabee, and Erik Pearson – have been playing together for three years, they are all seasoned professionals. And the polyrhythmic sound of Ladin’s clawhammer banjo, her clogging, and her beautifully modulated voice, have infused five previous albums with The Stairwell Sisters, as well as the 2010 release of her highly acclaimed solo album, Float Downstream. But in the 13 new old-timey, Appalachian-flavored tracks of Evie Ladin Band, Ladin surpasses herself.
What makes this album SO good? First there are the songs themselves: eight delicious, rootsy and rhythmic originals – six by Ladin, one by Maccabee, and an instrumental by Pearson; and 5 inspired covers (including songs from Lotus Dickey, Walter McNew, Carter Family, Ewan McColl, Dock Boggs, and John Ashby).
Then there is Ladin’s voice, more fluid and versatile than ever, sailing effortlessly on and around beautiful melodies with a seemingly effortless combination of strength and sensitivity. When joined in harmony by the silvery vocals of Dina Maccabee, the result is pure honey.
And then, there is the band itself, each member adding a wealth of talent to the mix: Dina Maccabee on violin and harmony vocals; Erik Pearson on guitar, banjo and harmony vocals; and last but far from least, Keith Terry on bass, cajon, pizza pan, metal toys, Engelhart Gankogui (a type of African bell), bass harmonica, body music (aka, body drumming) and harmony vocals.
A renowned percussionist and rhythm dancer, Terry, in fact, provides one of the most defining elements of this album: an incredibly compelling and often complex rhythm. And for Ladin as well, who started her career as a percussive dancer and choreographer, the rhythm is intrinsic to the sound of Evie Ladin Band (which Ladin produced, and Terry co-produced with Ivan Rosenberg).
The importance of this unique and varied percussion is evident from the very first track, Got You On My Mind (by Lotus Dickey). This catchy tune opens with just Ladin’s voice, which within five words is joined by Terry’s rhythm on metal toys. Only after the first verse of just vocals and percussion does Ladin’s clawhammer banjo join in and augment the rhythm; it is followed, in turn, by harmony vocals, violin and guitar. Like an underground river that surfaces, vanishes, and then resurfaces again, the intricate metallic rhythm appears and disappears, reappearing to play behind the instrumental solos. The result is a simple, lovely melody that builds into something very diverse and exciting.
This skillful building, layering, and counterpoint of voices and instruments is evident throughout the arrangements on this album. For example, in the second track, Come Down To The Door Of My Home, Ladin’s original composition achieves a richly textured sound, with her rhythmic, funky banjo beat answered by the fiddle, and her vocals swelling to 3-part harmony as the song progresses.
At this point, I should probably point out that every song on this CD is a winner. But I do have my favorites, of course, and they are all originals by Ladin. She is, among her many talents, an excellent songwriter, and Track 3 makes that very clear. He’s Not Alone sounds like a classic to me. Sung and played like an old-fashioned country song, with a drag and a catch in the voice, a great slide guitar, and harmony in all the right places, it packs an old-fashioned, true-to-life, emotional punch. Dime Store Glasses is another “classic-in-the-making.” In the country tradition of writing upbeat songs about heartbreak, this song is energized by a wonderful, prominent bass and body music. And for something “entirely different,” there’s Ladin’s quirky novelty song, Coffeeshop, with its interesting rhythms, fun lyrics and contemporary theme.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not call out one more song on this album. It is the song made famous by Roberta Flack – The First Time, by Ewan McColl – now reborn and transformed by the Evie Ladin Band. Whether you have never heard the song, or you have it stored away among your long-time favorites, it will, pardon the pun, be like hearing it for the first time. Roberta Flack’s version was slow and sensual, tinged with melancholy. But not anymore! In Ladin’s wonderful rendition, you will hear – for the first time – the pure joy in this song. It is a celebration of love, a quickening of the senses, that is simply uplifting.
I could go on and on about this gem of an album, but in the last analysis, you must hear Evie Ladin Band for yourself. It’s just that special.
A New York transplant to the tiny town of Carpinteria, CA, Jackie is a freelance writer by profession and a singer-songwriter by passion. Her newly-released third album of original Folk/Americana songs was among Top Folk Albums of 2011 on the Folk Music Radio Airplay Charts. Jackie is also an active member in such acoustic music communities as SummerSongs, SongMakers, and FARWest Folk Alliance.