Jayme Stone’s Folklife follows the bends and bayous through the deep river of song and story. Evolving out of Stone’s Lomax Project, this gathering of versatile musicians blows the dust off of old songs and remakes them for modern ears. With spellbinding singing, virtuosic playing and captivating storytelling, the album reworks songs found in the Library of Congress’ Archive of American Folklife.
The recording features singer extraordinaire Moira Smiley (tune-yArDs), Grammy-winning songster Dom Flemons (Carolina Chocolate Drops), cornetist Ron Miles (Bill Frisell), singer Felicity Williams (Bahamas) and more. A powerful chemistry and camaraderie amongst the musicians can be felt throughout the record.
Pack your picnic basket, drive down a quiet pastoral road and end up — not at grandmother’s house, but somewhere almost as cozy.
The Common Fence Music series, which takes place at the Common Fence Point hall, 933 Anthony Rd., Portsmouth, is a regional success story. It’s lured well-known local and national artists to the very tip of Aquidneck Island for twenty-four years.
The series has all the elements of a good house concert, but you can bring your own pre-show food and beer without offending the host. By the time a band or musician takes the tiny stage, the audience members, filled to the gills with goods of their own making, are rapt and grateful for the entertainment. The hall, which recently received a renovation grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, is more conducive to listening than crowd surfing. But who really wants to crowd surf to an earnest singer-songwriter in suspenders? Read more here.
If any East Tennessee musical icon could give Dolly Parton a run for her money in terms of class, character, showmanship and musicality, it’s probably Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong.
The two local legends may be worlds apart in terms of background and cultural heritage, but both made an enormous impact on their respective genres, and both are remembered fondly by those in East Tennessee who knew them. Of course, Armstrong never attained the financial success of his Sevier County contemporary, and even though he’s been dead for almost 14 years, he has yet to become a household name in the sense that Dolly Parton is.
Members of The Carpetbag Theatre troupe, however, are doing their best to change that. The organization — founded in 1969 and charted in 1970 and now a resident artist company at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus — will present its long-running musical, “Between a Ballad and the Blues,” starting next Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Clayton Center, and the idea behind the musical is to make East Tennesseans more familiar with the life and musical legacy of a man whose name is synonymous with a little-known tradition of African-American stringband music. Read more here.
Noted Canadian banjo player/composer Jayme Stone has announced an April 7 release for his next project, Folklife, on Borealis Records. The project is a continuation and extension of his current fascination with the traditional folk music of many cultures, incorporating what he describes as “Sea Island spirituals, Creole calypsos, and stomp-down Appalachian dance tunes” in the same spirit as his Lomax Project from 2015.
The songs were chosen from the Library of Congress’ Archive of American Folklife, all classics that have survived over multiple generations. Stone’s chief collaborator is again Moira Smiley, a very talented and versatile vocalist uniquely suited to a project that crosses so many genres. Former Carolina Chocolate Drop Dom Flemons also makes an appearance. Read more.
At the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev., storytelling is king. It’s stories of family, stories of history and heritage, stories of ranches, rodeos and rolling cigarettes, mountain ranges and meadows – stories of the west – that bind together generations who’ve spent their lives working land and cattle. The stories are the reason thousands of bronco-busters and city dwelling desperados have descended on Nevada’s cowboy country for the 33rd installment of this week long festival celebrating the music, poetry and craftsmanship that defines the modern rural west.
Poems on the Range
Cowboys and poetry may not seem to go hand in hand. But a week at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will change your mind. Maybe you have a particular vision of a cowboy; the stoic high plains drifter who rides into town with a pistol by his side. Or a man who hawks Marlboro cigarettes. Read more here.
Dom Flemons isn’t exaggerating when he says I’ve caught him at a good time. A week earlier, he played his first show in his hometown of Phoenix since he left Arizona in 2005. A few days later, he took the stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for a New Year’s Eve performance which was picked up and broadcast on the Grand Ole Opry. All of this closing out a year in which he was named to the board of directors of Folk Alliance International and performed on the Washington Mall as part of the grand opening of the National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture. Read more here.