Recorded in a remote cabin studio set in the San Isabel National Forest in Buena Vista, Colorado, San Isabel, the third full-length record from Austin-based duo Jamestown Revival has them taking full advantage of the buzz that is being created with the upcoming music documentary Echo in the Canyon set to be released in September. The documentary, much like the band itself, evokes the essence of the Laurel Canyon artist enclave just North of L.A.’s Sunset Strip along with the spirit of Crosby Stills and Nash, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and many others.
There is a strong early Bob Dylan vibe blowin’ in the wind of J.S. Ondara’s debut album Tales of America released earlier this year. The record, a sublime set of stark sometimes melancholy tunes that perfectly frames the boyish vocals and nuanced delivery inherent in Ondara’s voice has earned him a nomination for emerging artist of the year to be presented by the Americana Music Association later in the year.
Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya listening mostly to rock music, Ondara apparently always thought that “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” was a Gun’s ‘N’ Roses song. After he lost a bet to a friend who told him that the song’s true origins, folk music became his passion. And so began his travels down the Dylan rabbit hole that eventually lead him to Minneapolis, in Dylan’s home state, to pursue his career.
Having originally been considered to be the lead-off single when Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water album was released in 1970 (eventually losing out to the title track), the catchy and upbeat “Cecilia” eventually peaked at number 4 on the U.S. charts. Interestingly enough, the song also resonated quite well across the pond as it peaked at number 5 on the U.K. charts whereas the title track “Bridge Over Troubled Water” never cracked the top 75 there.
Over the years, it has been pretty firmly established that the song is not paying tribute to a specific musical muse named Cecilia. It is more likely that the reference is to Saint Cecilia the patron saint of musicians in the Catholic church. At the time “Cecilia” was released, it was fairly well established that the personal relationship between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel was in serious turmoil and this was the last S&G before the initial breakup.
When a song appears on one of the most iconic albums of all time, Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A., and has to compete with “Dancing in the Dark,” “Glory Days” the title track, and “My Hometown,” a song like “I’m On Fire” can easily get lost in the musical shuffle. After all, the song was a bit of a throw-in to begin with, having been written two years prior and originally intended for 1982’s Nebraska.
When Jason Isbell was asked to contribute a song to A Star is Born, after reading the screenplay he dug deep into his well of past demons to guess the struggles Bradley Cooper’s character Jackson Maine might have been going through. Drawing on his own path to becoming sober with help from his wife Amanda Shires, Isbell sums up the journey perfectly in 2:40 of near-perfect song: “I’m glad I can’t go back to where I came from / I’m glad those days are gone, gone for good.”
In the back of Houston’s folk music club The Sand Mountain Coffee House in the late 1960s hung a mural in full view of the artists performing. It paid tribute to five of the best songwriters of the day: Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Don Sanders, and Mickey Newbury. It was to this spot – where Townes lived upstairs, where Jerry Jeff wrote “Mr. Bojangles” – that Steve Earle made a pilgrimage from San Antonio in order to meet Van Zandt. Earle not only met the troubled troubadour, but began a life-long friendship that resulted in naming his firstborn son Justin Townes Earle, and, in 2009, the release of Earle’s tribute album Townes, covering many of his greatest songs.
After meeting Townes, Steve left Houston and headed for Nashville in search of another one of his idols, Guy Clark. He found him in the back room of a bar playing pool. Here, history seemed to repeat itself as the two met and became very fast friends with Earle quickly joining Guy’s band as the bass player. And now, in 2019, ten years after the release of Townes, Steve Earle is set to release a set of his favorite Guy Clark songs, simply called Guy.