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Dom Flemons calls himself “The American Songster,” and being that the term first came about in the late 19th century to describe a traveling musician who works in a wide variety of genres, it’s a fitting description of the Washington D.C.-based musician.

Flemons spends a great deal of time on the road performing old-time music from various traditions — everything from old Piedmont blues to country-western. He is also a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays banjo, fife, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills and rhythm bones.

We should also add musical historian to the list. As a co-founding member of the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, as well as a solo artist, Flemons has delved into the history of the African-American contribution to American roots music. His most recent solo project, “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys,” is an extensive exploration of the cultural and musical contributions of black cowboys in the American West.

Read more here.


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We’ve teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. This week, Grammy winner and American Songster Podcast host Dom Flemons talks with us about the legacy of ‘Shady Grove.’ He says it’s a song that is synonymous with North Carolina.

“I think about Doc Watson when I think about Shady Grove. I also think of many old time versions and rarely do I think of Shady Grove outside of that context.”
Read more here.

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One of the Thanksgiving traditions many fans observe is heading to Black-Eyed Sally’s on Friday for the Christine Ohlman Beehive Birthday weekend. This year the Beehive Birthday bash meets “Ape’s Night Out,” a remembrance of Bruce Rieder who always brought a crowd to the party.

Ohlman will rock Black- Eyed Sally’s on Friday, with an earlier starting time of 8:30 p.m. The Beehive Queen gets down seriously with Cliff Goodwin, Michael Colbath and Larry Donahue for her annual Thanksgiving Friday xtravaganza at Sally’s and to continue, for her late friend Bruce Rieder, his legendary “Ape’s Night Out” with family and friends. Throw the leftover turkey in the fridge and join the Queen for a hip-shakin’ blues-fling, while enjoying great Southern cooking from Sally’s kitchen.

Read more here. 


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Following yesterday’s announcement that Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters will make a keynote speaker appearance at the 2020 conference, South by Southwest rolls out another 210 performers, including influential UK art punks Wire, big personality Memphis rapper Jucee Froot, and Sigur Rós-affiliated multi-disciplinary musician Alex Somers.

Music week, running March 16-22, taps former Hop Along force Frances Quinlan, old-timey folk scholar Dom Flemons, slowcore upstarts Milly, Philly punks Control Top, and Major Lazer member Walshy Fire. Also on deck are lysergic sludge punks Weeping Icon, Anti Records-signed folk-pop songwriter Boy Scouts, Detroit bummer-pop songster Anna Burch, lovable indie trio Dehd, extremely chill L.A. shoegaze project Launder, and fellow post-punk-influenced Angelenos Automatic, who recently signed with Stones Throw and appeared locally at last weekend’s Levitation.

We can also thank Los Angeles for the least genuine offering on the entire list: a Runaways-esque girl-group contrivance Charli XCX put together for upcoming Netflix series I’m With the Band: Nasty Cherry.

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NEW YORK, Oct. 10, 2019 — Recently named winners of the 51st annual ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards for outstanding print, broadcast, liner notes and new media coverage of music span a broad range of musical subjects, including black cowboys, the Korean percussion genre samul nori, The Band, the New York City Opera, classical composer Vincent Persichetti and drummer Laura Davis-Chanin’s experiences with Blondie and David Bowie in the 1970s.

Established in 1967 to honor the memory of composer, critic and commentator Deems Taylor, who died in 1966 after a distinguished career that included six years as President of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards are made possible by the generous support of the Virgil Thomson Foundation. Virgil Thomson (1896 – 1989) was one of the leading American composers and critics of the 20th century, and a former member of the ASCAP Board of Directors.

The ASCAP Foundation Paul Williams “Loved the Liner Notes” Award for pop music honors multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons for his work on the liner notes for his recording, Black Cowboys, released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Flemons illustrates the complex cultural exchange that happened on the frontier in the 40-page liner notes booklet, reminding us that the American West was a much more diverse environment than old Western films would have us believe. This award was established in 2016 and is funded by The ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams.

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Over the years, we have produced many broadcast segments that celebrate music in the Carolinas and those who bring it to life.


Several years ago, we produced a segment with the Carolina-based group, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, on stage at McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a good interview and I recall how amazed we all were with the performance. When the onstage energy was combined with the telling of the history of the music, the audience enjoyed an authentic time-travel experience.


Dom Flemons was a founding member of the band. It was his ability to master various historic instruments which left the audience spellbound. Some were common, and others were new to most audience members. I think that was what made the performance so engaging and entertaining. You dared not take your eyes off the stage for fear of missing what he might play next. It really was a special evening.

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On September 16, the world lost John Cohen, a founding member of New Lost City Ramblers, one of the most iconic groups in the history of Folkways Records, and a preeminent musicologist, photographer, and collector. Many of us here have had close personal relationships with John, and we’re all going to miss him. We have collected some thoughts on John and his influence from members of our staff, as well as friends of Folkways and friends of John.

Dom Flemons (The American Songster)

“Rest well John Cohen! John and I got to spend many moments together laughing and joking and talking music! He is one of the true pioneers of the Folk Music and Old-time Music Revivals!

I met John Cohen through Mike Seeger back around 2007 or 2008. I had read and seen so much of John’s work in all of the early stages of my musical development. He was so prolific as a photographer, writer, documentarian and a musician.

In all the years I knew him, he remained just as prolific, if not more so, because he was not only doing new projects, he was constantly repackaging all the other projects from his entire career.

I remember discussing his compilation “Back Roads to Cold Mountain” when it was released on Smithsonian Folkways. We discussed philosophies, past and present, and shared more than enough bad jokes and puns which were the staple of John’s extended repertoire.

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Dom Flemons discusses the African roots of country storytelling.

I was born in Phoenix, AZ, and grew up with a passion for American folk music. My music-playing has led me to become a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter.

I love this music because there are a lot of different stories in the African-American community that can be told through the story of the West. People are able to go into their own cultural heritage and identity, and represent that in music. And there’s nothing better than that.

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This is part one of the Jack Dappa Blues Podcast Series in affiliation with Lonestar Blues & Heritage Festival about Henry Thomas, also known as Henry Ragtime Texas Thomas featuring our recurring guest The American Songster Dom Flemons.
On this episode we delve into the unique and wide musical range of Henry Thomas whos songs represent the oldest of the African American Traditional music. He also played a traditional African American instrument called the “Quill”. The history and role of the A&R. Early recording industry methods, and the fact that Henry, as well as other early African American Songsters, played songs of the plantation. Henry Thomas was one of the oldest black musicians whoever recorded 23 cuts on Vocalion Records between the years of 1927 – 1929. his music is a great opportunity to hear what African American Traditional music sounded like near the end of the 19th century. And in this era, they are just introducing the world to folk music through records/Vinyl.

Read more here.