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Postable audio:

Flemons and Arthur (host of the show) wrote their song at Macon’s Grand Opera House, where Miller performed several times and premiered the song in a live performance at Capricorn Studios. “Good Old Days” evokes Miller’s song “Lovesick Blues,” which would later be made famous by country music pioneer, Hank Williams. Flemons and Arthur explore the controversial history of Emmett Miller, a blackface, minstrel and his influence on the roots of popular music. The episode aired on PBS in January.

Flemons says, “It is not an easy task to address Emmett Miller’s musical legacy and influence on popular music. Co-writing “Good Old Days” with Ben Arthur made for a shocking yet informative exploration into the history of race and entertainment in America.”

Flemons is a founding member of the GRAMMY AWARD WINNING Carolina Chocolate Drops, the first all-black string band to perform at the Opry ten years ago. This time he was the only solo performer on a night that celebrated Carrie Underwood as a 10-year Opry member and also showcased Old Crow Medicine Show, Riders in the Sky and others.

Read more here. 

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The nominations for the 2019 Grammy Awards have been announced. And we know that, despite all the glitz and glamor of the star-studded cast of nominees, what you really care about is the all-important Best Bluegrass Album category.

And the nominees are:

  • Portraits In Fiddles – Mike Barnett
  • Sister Sadie II – Sister Sadie
  • Rivers And Roads – Special Consensus
  • The Travelin’ McCourys – The Travelin’ McCourys
  • North Of Despair – Wood & Wire

A number of artists nominated who may be of interest to bluegrass fans include Dom Flemons (Black Cowboys) and Punch Brothers (All Ashore), both nominated for Best Folk Album; Jeremy Kittel for Best Instrumental Composition (Chrysalis); and Richard Martin and Ted Olson for Best Album Notes (4 Banjo Songs).

Well done all!

See more here. 

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Caught in the Act: We have such a huge respect for what you have dedicated your career to do.

Dom: Oh, thank you so much! It’s been a very interesting and wonderful journey into music, as well as history and culture. It’s been pretty amazing. I’ve also gotten to travel to quite a few wonderful destinations in my time of doing music. Quite a transition from busking on the streets of Phoenix.

CITA: You represented the United States at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia recently.

Dom: Yeah. There were 47 different countries representing. I was the first artist they’d ever had that was representing American historical music. That was a real honor and a real treat. That’s one of the things I’ve tried to do from the beginning, is to be able to showcase a lot of different angles of American culture.

CITA: For any of our readers who may be hearing about you for the first time, can you describe what it is you do with American historical music?

Dom: Sure. That all goes back to my first years performing music. As I started getting into listening to records, first it was CD’s, then I got into LPs and cassettes a little bit growing up. Once I got into LPs, I really started to notice some amazing music. That got me into early rock and roll like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, stuff like that. And Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Hank Williams, and that was where I started. From there it turned into folk music, through Bob Dylan, of course. I got into the sixties’ folk revival … Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf, and Lightnin Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Boggs, Doc Watson, a whole bunch of different people. So that’s where I started out. Just listening to music and wanting to learn those styles.

After that, I went to an event called the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, North Carolina. I started studying the African and African American Banjo. So that was when I started the group Carolina Chocolate Drops. I moved from Phoenix over to North Carolina, and I lived in Chapel Hill for a little while and Hillsboro for a little bit, as well. I got connected with a fellow named Tim Duffy, who did a lot of photos in the most recent project … old tintype photography. Tim runs a nonprofit called Music Maker Relief Foundation and I got to meet some amazing older blues singers that were obscure singers, even in of themselves. That was something that gave me a different perspective on music. I was able to interpret that music is listened art. Then I was able to really incorporate vernacular southern music in the style, the lifestyle into my performances.

Read more here. 

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MAGNET’s Devon Leger picks the best indie-roots releases of the year

1 Jeremy Dutcher Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (Fontana North)
2 Anna & Elizabeth The Invisible Comes To Us (Smithsonian Folkways)
3 Kaia Kater Grenades (Smithsonian Folkways)
4 Hannah Read Way Out I’ll Wander (Hudson)
5 Dom Flemons Black Cowboys (Smithsonian Folkways)
6 Marc Ribot Songs Of Resistance 1942-2018 (Anti-)
7 Lonnie Holley MITH (Jagjaguwar)
8 Colter Wall Songs Of The Plains (Young Mary’s)
9 Kristina Murray Southern Ambrosia (Loud Magnolia)
10 Socalled Sings Di Frosh And Other Yiddish Songs (Membran)

Read more here. 


Americana is a peculiar label, isn’t it? Whenever we attempt to identify the most authentically American musical form, the one that most accurately captures the history and culture of the United States, we end up debating all night, just as we do every year here in the PopMatters offices and recreation areas when it’s time to write our year-end Americana list. What we can all agree on is that Americana music ought to be music that incorporates some traditional elements of any number of American musical forms (blues, country, jazz, folk, gospel, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll) and works those traditions into a new roots-based hybrid.

However, too often the contemporary Americana category is limited to twangy (and, let’s face it, white) singer-songwriters strumming acoustic guitars. Or those acts labeled as Americana tend to be country-leaning artists who are either too classicist or indie-oriented to be embraced by today’s country mainstream. But the rootsy releases of 2018 proves that Americana is (and always has been) actually experiencing a Rainbow Wave. Our Top 20 Americana albums of the year is a multicultural, polysexual, cross-genre lineup of cool Americana music that, as with the best parts of the American promise, pays tribute to the musical wells from which they spring but also takes the artform wherever their rugged individualism and talent-rich hearts lead them. (Steve Leftridge)

Read more here. 



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Official music video for “Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” by Dom Flemons, from ‘Black Cowboys’ out March 23th, 2018 on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings //…

“Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” is a favorite of the old-time string bands. Square dance music was a big part of the cowboy’s life on the range when the instruments and players were available. In an article written for the Saturday Evening Post in 1925, Will C. Barnes explained, “These singers did much toward keeping up the range songs and spreading them through the cow country.”

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It was a night of multitasking in an already multifaceted space this past Saturday, as mActivity — gym by day, and now, thanks to Fernando Pinto and his East Rock Concert Series, concert venue and café by night — hosted Kevin Burt and Dom Flemons in a double feature

Both musicians never seemed to just play one instrument, whether it was Burt’s virtuosic harmonica or Flemons’s quills, bones, or otherwise.

The room was filled with locals, many familiar faces in the East Rock neighborhood, sipping suggested-donation wine or beer, bundled lightly against the harsh November chill and creating a very folky vibe in the room itself. Everyone seemed very excited to see the two musicians. About half the room had been to mActivity for a show before. The other half was in for a treat of transformation.

The front café area of the fitness facility lent itself strikingly well to a coffee shop vibe — something that appealed to Pinto, himself a sometime mActivity gym member and neighbor of the space.

“I saw the monthly parties that they [mActivity] do for their members, and seeing the people talking, and drinking wine, and I thought it would be really great if we had shows here,” Pinto said. That emphasis on community carried through: This felt like a neighborhood venue, as a steady trickle of faces looking in the window demonstrated. The crowd was attentive, tuned in, like one imagines might have been at the Greenwich Village landmark the Gaslight in the ‘60s. (The music programming is now frequent: Sunday saw a double billing of two more folk singer-songwriters, with many more musicians booked well into the spring.).

Read more here. 

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The musical experiences and resulting career of Dom Flemons have been all over the place, from what he was listening to as a kid to the range of instruments he’s learned to play to a long run as a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops right up to his current phase as a solo artist. Which is how he’ll be doing a show, featuring songs from his newest recording, “Black Cowboys,” at Club Passim on Nov. 25.

Reached by phone at his home in Silver Springs, MD, Flemons, 36, who grew up in Phoenix, said he started with drums and percussion, dating back to his grade school days. Fascinated by a PBS documentary on the history of rock ‘n’ roll when he was in junior high school, he became interested in “everything from Louis Jordan and Muddy Waters all the way through Elvis and Carl Perkins and Fats Domino. One episode was on the folk revival of the ’60s and how it transformed into the Summer of Love in California, so that got me listening to the stuff from the Monterey Pop Festival.”

He began playing guitar and then harmonica when he was about 16, his musical interests led him into early New Orleans jazz, and before long he was playing the banjo. By the time Flemons was earning his English degree at Northern Arizona University, he was regularly playing out, either in coffeehouses or busking on street corners, accompanying himself on guitar, coming up as a folk act with a penchant for interpreting old-time songs, often tossing in a couple of originals.

Read more here.