Jun 262020
 

John HartfordOn the Road: A Tribute to John HartfordSongwriter, banjo-picker, old-time fiddler, dancer, tv star, radio dj, and, perhaps most importantly, professional riverboat pilot. Welcome to the weird, wide world of John Hartford.

Hartford was a cross between Bill Monroe and Mark Twain—he titled one of his albums Mark Twang. He was among the first to join hippie sensibilities with hillbilly ways. During the late ’60s and early ’70s, Hartford was both a vivid reminder of America’s past musical heritage, and also a harbinger of things to come; he shaped contemporary music almost in spite of himself. “Newgrass,” which in turn fed into the jam band phenomena, is basically Hartford’s concoction (though mandolinist Sam Bush gets some credit too). Even Americana, as it is currently defined, is impossible to imagine without him—the blockbuster O Brother, Where Art Thou project has Hartford’s fingerprints and spirit all over it.

So a new John Hartford Tribute album is most welcomed, and now we have one in hand: On the Road, from LoHi Records. It’s a dang good tribute album, too, starting with the opening cut (by Hartford’s co-conspirator Sam Bush), and never letting up.
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Jan 092015
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

“Hey Joe” ranks right up there with “Stagolee” in the list of deathless murder ballads, and we have Billy Roberts to thank for its existence.

Billy Roberts? Who he, you ask, as did I, long believing the tale that Tim Rose spun about it being trad.arr. It certainly should be, call and refrain being common features within the traditional canon, but there isn’t enough evidence to nail that theory, so Billy Roberts, a ’60s coffeehouse folkie, has the official rights thereto. (Never mind the theory that he “gave” the song to Dino Valente, author of the Youngbloods’ “Get Together,” in order to give Valente some royalty income while he was in prison.)
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Oct 052012
 

In the promo video for Traveler, Jerry Douglas tells the story: “I was in London walking to the Royal Festival Hall over the Thames and talking to Marcus Mumford on the phone and he said what about “The Boxer”? I told him I love the Boxer! I met Mumford & Sons and we  just glommed on to each other. They are like sons to me at this point, but we have a lot of fun. The respect goes both ways. They come over to our house and hang out with our kids.” The 13 time Grammy winner and dobro master’s latest album also features performances by Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paul Simon, Bela Fleck, Del McCoury, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Keb’ Mo, Marc Cohn, Omar Hakim, Sam Bush, Viktor Krauss, and others. Continue reading »