Shawn’s Top 10 Live Sets Of 2014

I’m fortunate enough to live in an area with a tradition of supporting live music.  It’s not Austin or Nashville, but Santa Cruz holds its own when it comes to getting some great Americana tour stops.  I’m also lucky enough to be able to travel to some music festivals every year.  So while I don’t […]

Mayer’s Picks – More Favorites from 2014

Here, in no particular order, are a few more favorites from 2014. And the War CameShakey Graves The Shipwreck From the ShoreAnthony D’Amato HealStrand of Oaks Parker MillsapParker Millsap All or Nothin’Nikki Lane Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill BroonzyDave Alvin and Phil Alvin Eli Paperboy […]

Billy Strings & Don Julin – Fiddle Tune X

Fiddle Tune X is for bluegrass fans with attention deficit problems.  The new album from Billy Strings and Don Julin nearly captures an entire bluegrass festival in 59 minutes.  The Michigan based duo, with just a guitar, a mandolin, and their vocals, cover ground from speed-picking, self-written tunes all the way to slow gospel harmonies. […]

Americana 2014, The Sounds, Part 3

Every fall, The Americana Music Association gathers members, artists and music fans together in Nashville for its annual conference. Starting with the annual Americana Music Awards and continuing through four days of showcases and panel discussions, it is a tremendous celebration of Americana music. Here are my highlights among the many live performances I saw […]

Front Country – Sake Of the Sound

Six one, half dozen another.  That old saying is supposed to be all about things being the same, but I think there’s a perspective difference that gets lost.  As an example, many bands have a wide range of genres on an album in part because they’re still looking to find their sound.  A few, relatively […]

Lost & Nameless and Other EP Gems

Several good EP’s have crossed my listening desk over the summer, and while individually there wasn’t quite enough material in each of them for a full review, they’re all worth a listen. First up is the latest from Lost & Nameless, When You Walked Into the Room.  I first ran across this group early in […]

Photos that ROCK! Newport Folk Festival 2014

When the e-mail arrived confirming my press credentials for the Newport Folk Festival, I did a little dance around my living room. Not only is this the holy grail of music festivals (you may remember an incident with Bob Dylan and an electric guitar in 1965…), but I have been not-so- patiently waiting 12 years […]

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – Cold Spell

By the late 60’s and early 70’s bluegrass had evolved from Bill Monroe’s radical take on old-timey music to a relatively known and expected performance and sound.  The Stanley Brothers, the Foggy Mountain Boys, The Osborne Brothers, and many of their peers followed a set framework and style with matching dress and choreographed solos.  It’s hard […]

Missy Werner – Turn This Heart Around

You just can’t have a good summer mix tape without some bluegrass.  Whether you’re getting liquored up at a festival down at the fairgrounds or spending some quality time with the family at the annual church picnic, bluegrass just sounds like a carefree, sunny day.  Yes, there are plenty of songs about heartbreak and angst, […]