A native Texan, Ruthie
Foster’s family tree was ripe with Gospel singers, but she quickly
absorbed the Lone Star State’s other musical identities, like Folk,
Blues, Country and Rock, to which she added her own soulful spin.
Sharon Van Etten’s first two albums revealed an emotionally visceral songwriter and performer who wasn’t afraid to explore love gone sour via a voice that’s as moving and expressive as any on the current landscape
Remember a few years ago when you couldn’t walk into a
Starbucks without hearing the words, “Three words that became hard to
say/I and love and you?” At the time, you probably rolled your eyes, but The Avett Brothers ended up becoming kind of a big deal. While “I and Love and You,” as a song, was mostly mellow
and Folk-ish, it’s far from a decent indicator of the sort of noise the
Brothers are capable of creating.
Talking about race is
always a dodgy premise, but Carolina Chocolate Drops and their music
practically encourage such discussions. “It's
a very strong statement to say that you're a black string band
musician,” said Drops' Dom Flemons in an interview with Fairfield Weekly. “That helps people open up the article or what-not
and then they get to find out a whole part of the Folk music history
that they might not have known before.”
Eight years ago,
guitarist/vocalist Justin Ringle relocated from his native Idaho to
Portland, Ore., and very quickly shifted his stylistic allegiance from
the aggressive Rock he had played at home to a gentler Folk sound. He formed Horse Feathers to pursue
his newfound acoustic passion and garnered rabid fans and critical
acclaim, with reviewers
consistently pointing out the wonderful tension between the dark
poignancy of Ringle’s lyrics and the expansive beauty of the music that
The local Roots music scene and its
fans have a cool new music venue to check out. This Friday-Sunday is the
grand opening of Plain Folk Café, a converted two-room schoolhouse
(originally built in 1913) featuring coffee, beer, food and regular live
music from area Folk, Bluegrass, Americana and acoustic acts.
Thanks at least partially to our proximity
to Appalachia, Greater Cincinnati has long had one of the finest
Roots/Americana music scenes in the region. And the finest band from
that impressive batch of artists right now is Magnolia Mountain, the
band formed by Rock veteran and singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
Mark Utley about five years ago.
Troupe Larry and His Flask (there is no actual Larry but
it’s a safe bet that there are several real flasks) was assembled nearly a
decade ago by the brothers Marshall. LAHF expanded to a sextet in 2008,
picked up acoustic instruments and jumped the tracks toward a Twangcore
sound, playing every dicey gig that was offered to them in order to
spread their new wild gospel.
This is one of those random weeks where
there are so many notable events involving local bands, we could have
done an all-music double issue of CityBeat and still not have room for it all. Thankfully, we do
have constantly updated Staff Blogs. So here’s what’s
up, lightning-round-style; check the blog throughout the week for more
I don't think I've ever written anything about Jake Speed without mentioning Woody Guthrie. Call me lazy, but the political Folk pioneer is such an obvious influence on Speed's songs and lyrics it almost seems dishonest not to mention it.