Townes van Zandt

Alex Culbreth #1323

Alex Culbreth & The Dead Country Stars’ latest album, Heart In A Mason Jar, has sent the Virginian across the country on a long-term DIY tour, playing any venue he can find in hopes of seeing the country and sharing his songs.  With influences from other songwriting troubadors like Woody Guthrie and Townes Van Zandt, and fellow DIY songwriters known only to small circles, Culbreth writes songs that are finding a path for himself and seeking out fans.  He writes a lot of music and records much of it, yielding a wide range of projects for someone whose name is still mostly unknown.  As he tours and plays, he refines his work, in search of the right song to play for you. Culbreth has just been added to the lineup for the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, one he mentions in our conversation.

Liner Notes

Video

Podcast

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

Heartworn Highways

The song “Waitin’ Around To Die” from For the Sake of the Song album, as seen in the documentary, Heartworn Highways, directed by James Szalapski.

Be Here to Love Me

From the official trailer:

Trailer for Margaret Brown’s documentary on musician and songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Featuring interviews with Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Guy Clark, Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Cowboy Junkies and more.