As Ken Graydon Lay Dying

By Ross Altman

Painting by Phee Sherline
Forgive me, Ol’ Pard, but I want to get this one in for you before your great heart stops beating. Something in me rebels against the thought of writing in the past tense of a man who is larger than life, “a genial bear of a man” who has inspired as many songs as he has written, who represents the last of the dying west, and perhaps the last of the just, and proves every day that as long as the sun sets in the west, there will be a cowboy to watch it go down.

You have been that cowboy for me. Oh, I know you tried to fool us modern sodbusters and “Death Valley 49ers” by writing songs of the sea too, like your classic Whaler’s Tale, and even train songs like your Coyote Special, but we both know where your heart came from—the days when your father was a working cowboy in Seligman, Arizona in the 1920s, from whom you inherited your love of horses, boots and saddles. So humor me, Ken, and let me hold off on the sails and rails for a few minutes. You were a man who wore many hats, but your cowboy hat fit best. I hope

doesn’t mind, either.

Ken and Phee (Ken Graydon and Phee Sherline) are rarely seen apart; they appear almost like one musician with two instruments—she plays the hammer dulcimer and he plays a big twelve string guitar—matching his booming bass voice with its powerful bass runs. Ken doesn’t play anything “fancy on a stick,” as Woody Guthrie once described his own playing, just the right chord and the right strum at the right time, always keeping the song and its story front and center.

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The Irish Enigma of
Kíla's Rónán Ó Snodaigh

By Hearth Music via New Depression

Rnn__Snodaigh_2Kíla's the kind of band that's lived on the edge of musical scenes their whole lives. They're Irish and they can play the hell out of Irish trad music, but their albums have spun off into Afro-pop explorations, or Chinese literature inspirations, or world-beat ministrations, or compositional meditations. To call their music experimental might be going a bit far, though some of their more eclectic compositions push far enough beyond the boundaries of what we'd come to expect from the band that they could be termed experiments. Really, it seems that Kíla simply has a roving mind. Their minds rove as they travel and as they experience and are influenced by sounds and ideas from around the globe. They're a truly global Irish band, at once rooted in their traditions, composing in Gaelic and involving traditional instruments like the Uilleann pipes, but looking forward to collaborations with other global musicians of like minds.

Read more: Kíla's Rónán Ó Snodaigh