Tim O’Brien

Old Man Luedecke #1305

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.

Liner Notes

Podcast

#1236 Town Mountain

Town Mountain brings the bluegrass-infused Asheville, North Carolina, music scene into its creative process. In a place where open and invitational bluegrass jams abound, there is little room for slackers, but there is always room for newbies. For a picker who really wants to learn to play from the best, jump in and try to keep up. For the members of the band, they do not join forces with either “side” of the bluegrass camps, and instead write music that appeals to the traditionalist while reflecting what is new and forward-thinking. Town Mountain are Big Tent pickers.

While individuals like Don Reno, Doc Watson, and Earl Scruggs who hailed from the regions made names for themselves, the proliferation of bluegrass jams has spawned many newer players and bands. Steep Canyon Rangers have made international headlines since 2009 when they joined Steve Martin as his “official back-up band,” but many other old-time and bluegrass peers, like Town Mountain, Red June, Balsam Range, and Dehlia Low, bring fresh ideas to the saturated Western North Carolina sounds. Jesse Langlais of Town Mountain sought out this rich musical haven, to hone his skills and make music his life.

With their most recent studio record, Leave the Bottle, Town Mountain keeps their recordings close to their live sound, while incorporating the process as part of the art. For them, this yields an “80% live” album. The band share writing responsibilities, not as a group, but as individuals who then bring some of their songs to the Town Mountain project. By allowing for the freedom to pursue solo projects and other permutations, Town Mountain never gets stale for its members, rather, it’s a refreshing return to a product that is more than the sum of its parts. townmountain.netYour purchase of these songs supports the musicians and this radio show: