Town Mountain‘s new album, Southern Crescent, will be out on April Fools’ Day 2016 on Todd Snider’s new record label, Lo Hi. We previously featured this IBMA Award winning band just prior to the release of Leave the Bottle. When we talked for this podcast at Revelator Coffee in Nashville during AmericanaFest, the band had not publicly announced the album and were shopping it around. Southern Crescent reflects the band’s loose, dance-able music, more reflective of their festival and club sets that a staid performing arts center straight-bluegrass set. I’m not sure if the Southern Crescent still runs from Atlanta to Boston like my relatives talked about taking to go “visit culture” in the Northeast, but I’m fairly sure it still runs down to New Orleans, where a more exhilarating culture has endured — an apt analogy for this album.
I learned about Alex Chilton from The Replacements. My parents listened to The Boxtops, but Big Star was not on my radar until I had to figure out the lyric from the song, “I never travel far/without a little Big Star.” I realized that I recognized some of the songs, but I had a lot to learn. Thankfully, I followed that thread and checked it all out.
I never saw Chilton play live in any format, so this impromptu recording that recently surfaced is pretty incredible, especially given the circumstances of its existence.
Buy Alex Chilton’s music here on Amazon.
From the album notes:
Electricity by Candlelight is a live recording of Alex Chilton released this Fall by venerable indie label Bar/None. On the night of February 13th1997, Alex Chilton and hisband were getting ready to play their second set of the night at the Knitting Factory in New York City when the lights went out. What happened was this album, a spontaneous off the cuff performance by Alex on a borrowed acoustic guitar with his drummer Richard Dworkin sitting in for half the set. It’s Alex Chilton thinking on his feet, totally in the moment, bouncing songs and ideas off the folks that stuck around for a real, one-of-a-kind exchange.
Old Man Luedecke may be new to US audiences, but the Canadian folk songwriter is well-known and lauded north of the border. As his photo indicates, he is not old, but the music that captures his interest and influences his writing is old. Luedecke references traditional music from the Smithsonian Folkways series, like the Red Clay Ramblers, but sounds more like a folked-out Paul Simon to me. (Interestingly, Simon is never referenced, but I cannot get the vocal comparison out of my ears with this record.)
Despite obscure literary references, Tender is the Night, is solidly present. Although F. Scott Fitzgerald or even Jackson Browne may come to mind, Luedecke has never read that book nor has he heard to catchy tune of the same name–although his mandolin player sings it to him often. (Luedecke says he is referencing Melville’s Billy Budd who is referencing Keats and a reflection on Thomas Payne’s “Rights of Man.”) Despite the heavy influences, the music is simple and accessible–producer, Tim O’Brien, gently decorated Luedecke’s songs.
While much more folk-y than most of the music we cover, the connection to the history of folk music and a modern reflection of it, tie these songs to the rest of the catalog. Luedecke’s use of humor and the absurd, Biblical topics and modern life, demonstrate how traditional lyrical subjects continue to engage listeners.
- Old Man Luedecke Tender Is The Night
- Tim O’Brien
- Del Barber Headwaters
- Ramblin’ Jack Elliott Sowing The Seeds – The 10th Anniversary “Don’t Look Twice”
- Sam Cooke One Night Stand – Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square Club, 1963 Luedecke tells a great tale of buying a Carter Family album on the same day as this one–and realizing that he could more easily imitate the Carters than Cooke.
- Barbary Ghosts The Ghost of the William Grey
- Roger Miller
- Townes van Zandt
- Red Clay Ramblers Classic Old-Time Music from Smithsonian Folkways