Rhiannon Giddens' first solo album is a clever collection of songs spanning American music's history, including tunes made famous by Nina Simone, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and Odetta, among others.
When you dare to combine genres of music, you dare to combine more than simply sound and style. An audacious blend of music can bring together diverse cultures, and in the realm of American society there are few backgrounds more disparate than that of small-town bluegrass and the deep urban flavor of hip-hop. On Thursday night, the 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center made easy work of the task, lead by the prototypical alchemist of the genres, Gangstagrass.
This has felt like the official year of "Well, it's about time!" recordings. There seemed to be so many albums from top-flight players who haven't released anything in, literally, years. In all cases, it was worth the wait.
Whether he's singing a song written over 100 years ago or penning his own tunes, St. Louis native Ryan Spearman draws on his expansive knowledge of Americana and folk to create a living, breathing history of traditional music.
The Foghorn Stringband is an example of a growing interest in the music of the '20s and '30s, music created at a time when roots music was less formal and formalized.
"Tender Is the Night" is the fifth solo collection from Old Man (Chris) Luedecke, and it feels like some of the musical ideas he's been working with are really beginning to gel. His writing has always been very strong, remaining true to the roots of American folk and country music, though dealing with modern themes and ideas.