In 2018, I've made the time to listen to a lot of new albums. For me, listening to new records for the first time is like mining. In any type of mining, you spend most of your time digging and shifting. In the digs for new music, I'm trying to hear the golden songs that first hook my attention, and then work on my head and heart.
As AM/FM radio is a wasteland in San Diego except for NPR (including NPR Music), and Jazz 88.3, Amazon Music and YouTube are now my go to digging. I'll also mention the podcasts- WTF with Marc Maron and the Americana Music Show as great resources for expanding my search for fresh songs and learning about the musicians behind the music .
Music is such a personal thing for all of us. My wife and I love each other but our tastes in music would never have been the magical online dating algorithm to make us a match. I just love it when she gently yells up the stairs to me, "Would you please put your headphones on!"
As this blog took about 15 minutes to write, the playlist (now at 100 songs) has been going on for several months now. I publish it with the hopes that you will find at least a few golden nuggets of song that maybe you have never heard before.
My love of the female singing voice was blessed with the gift of several new albums by a wave of fantastic young women crafting great music. Although a few older folks also make my cut this week including, Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, and John Prine as the year is just warming up to my Americana music fix. Actually, John Prine's new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, doesn't come out until April 13, but I thought I'd give you a sneak peek of what has been released so far.
I'll start with one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Kacey Musgraves who just released her seventh studio album, Golden Hour. Musgraves is starting to get the national attention she deserves as she played on Stephen Colbert the other night. I have included a video here from her performance on the Late Show.
I'm currently up in Edmonds, Washington visiting family and spending a couple of days with my ol' bud Bill DeVoe in Seattle before he takes off for a trip to Mexico with his wife, Marie.
We're getting a good dose of rain which is nothing new up here, but I'm definitely the So Cal "fish out of water" with the rain steadily falling down this past week. Actually it's been fun wearing jeans, a down jacket and my Vibram sole shoes everyday like when it used to rain in winter growing up on the Central Coast in California. I love my shorts and t-shirt lifestyle down in San Diego, but I'm rather enjoying the cold and constant wet along with the nighttime fireplace with the missus. I also love to listen to the rain gutter drip while you lay in bed just before you go to sleep.
Being in the lovely small town of Edmonds is always fun, and this trip we had the pleasure of seeing Rosanne Cash and her husband, John Leventhal at the 700 seat Edmonds Center for the Arts. Both Mary Kit and I throughly enjoyed this venue as the acoustics of the theater was simply fantastic to match Rosanne's beautiful voice and the guitar playing of John Leventhal.
The boomer-aged audience were so respectful that you could hear a pin drop during every song. It was also nice not to see even one smartphone make an appearance as apparently everyone in Edmonds actually follows directions when the announcement of no photography was given at the beginning of the show. After seeing several stadium and arena shows in 2017, it was refreshing to hear music given the theater treatment and actually listened to by 100% of the audience. It's safe to say that we're now following the ECA schedule and we'll be back for future performances! (Darn, missed Randy Newman's show at ECA last October!)
Rosanne and John, billed as the Rosanne Cash Duo are currently on tour, that started here in Edmonds and moves on to several more shows in Washington state, back to Carnegie Hall in New York and then up into Canada. (I searched for a current tour setlist, but so far nothing has been posted online as of this date.)
This show is truly an Americana experience as Rosanne's set plays across her musical catalog including her 80's hits now performed with just the Duo's harmony with two acoustic guitars, or mandolin and piano accompaniment from John. At 62, Rosanne's voice is totally intact to present the couple's songwriting together from her most recent albums, 2014's River & the Thread, and 2009's, The List.
Rosanne is also a wonderful storyteller as she share's her life experiences and sets up each song so well. With The List she tells the story of her famous father giving her at age 18 a handwritten "list" of 100 "American roots music" essential songs. She still has that list as she learned and preformed many of the classics such as 500 Miles throughout her career. I enjoyed hearing about her going on the road right out of high school for two and half years with Johnny, Carl Perkins and the Carter family. On that tour, she learned many of the Carter family's lexicon backstage with Mother Maybelle Carter who played "badass" guitar along with the other Carter family members.
I also enjoyed learning about Rosanne and John's 23 year marriage and their "all getting along" with first husband, Rodney Crowell who is also a fantastic singer-songwriter. Being 62 myself and living a second marriage in a wonderful blended family with my wife Mary Kit and all our combined children and grandchildren, it is nice to hear their story as well. In fact, Rodney has a new song and video that I featured in My Favorite Songs of 2017, from his Close Ties album called, It Ain't Over Yet which features Rosanne Cash and John Paul White that you must listen to and I've included in this week's playlist. Life is that long winding journey filled with hope, regret and redemption that is often best captured in the written lyric with guitar in hand.
Both MK and I were struck by Rosanne's and John's total partnership- married and coupled with their musical careers, it must be quite a dance, and what a fine dance indeed to see in person. I only write about shows that I really like (you know what mom's say about "if you don't have anything nice to say...") well I have a lot of nice things to say here and that comes easy with such great people as Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal live on stage. Enjoy this playlist my friends.