November 16: The Louvin Brothers released Satan is Real in 1959

satan-is-real

The Louvin Brothers – Satan is Real

What is it about this album?
Why is it so important in the americana /country/gospel music canon?

Satan Is Real is a gospel album by American country music duo The Louvin Brothers.

Released November 16, 1959
Recorded August 8–10, 1958
Genre Country, Gospel
Length 31:54
Label Capitol
Producer Ken Nelson, John Johnson (Reissue)

The gospel/country duo Charlie and Ira Louvin was born and grew up in the Sand Mountain region of Alabama, they lived on a cotton farm south of the Appalachian Mountains, that’s where they developed their distinct harmony style in the deep Sacred Harp tradition of the Baptist church.

Ira Louvin died in a car wreck in 1965. Charlie Louvin died two years ago at 83 just a few months after publishing his story about The Louvin brothers.

In The recently published book, Satan is Real, the ballad of the Louvin Brothers, Charlie talks about their singing style.This is not a straight quote, but it goes something  like this:

…people who saw the Louvin Brothers perform were mystified by the experience. Ira was a full head taller than me, he played the mandolin like Bill Monroe and sang in an impossibly high, tense, quivering tenor. I(Charlie) strummed a guitar, grinned like a vaudevillian and handled the bottom register. But every so often, in the middle of a song, some hidden signal flashed and we switched places — with Ira swooping down from the heights, and me angling upward — and even the most careful listeners would lose track of which man was carrying the lead. This was more than close-harmony singing; each instance was an act of transubstantiation.

I could not find any live footage from Satan is real, but this clip of them singing, I don’t belive you’ve met my baby is a fine showcase for their intricate singing style:

“It baffled a lot of people,” Charlie Louvin explains in his fantastic memoir. “We could change in the middle of a word. Part of the reason we could do that was that we’d learned to have a good ear for other people’s voices when we sang Sacred Harp. But the other part is that we were brothers.”

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November 14: Gretchen Peters was born in 1957 – Happy 60th Birthday!

Gretchen Peters (born November 14, 1957 in Bronxville, New York) is an American singer and songwriter. She was born in New York and raised in Boulder, Colorado, but moved to Nashville in the late 1980s. There, she found work as a songwriter, composing hits for Martina McBride, Etta James, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, George Strait, Anne Murray, as well as for rock singers Neil Diamond and co-writing songs with Bryan Adams.

She won the Country Music Association Song Of The Year award for McBride’s “Independence Day” in 1995. She was twice nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Song, in 1995 and 1996, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 2003.

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November 6: The late great Guy Clark was born in 1941

guy clark

“Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.”
– Bob Dylan (on the question about favorite songwriters asked by Bill Flanagan in 2009)

I have no reason to sit home and write songs all day without going out and playing for the folks. And I have no reason to go play for the folks unless I’m writing new songs so they can sort of feed off one another. And I just try to do the best I can.
~Guy Clark

Guy Clark doesn’t just write songs, he crafts them with the kind of hands-on care and respect that a master carpenter (a favorite image of his) would have when faced with a stack of rare hardwood.
~Kurt Wolff (allmusic.com)

Desperados Waiting For A Train (FANTASTIC version from the legendary “Heartworn Highways” DVD):

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July 14: The Late American Folk Legend Woody Guthrie was born in 1912

“Take it easy, but take it.”
― Woody Guthrie

“The most important thing I know I learned from Woody Guthrie”
~Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan liner notes)

From Wikipedia:

Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is “This Land Is Your Land.” Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jeff Tweedy and Tom Paxton have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence.

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July 6: Happy 64th Birthday Nanci Griffith

I got to know Nanci Griffith through the seminal music paper Beat (norwegian music magazine), this music magazine has been extremely important in my musical upbringing. They made it ok to say that you loved country music. This was a big step for us rock/punk youth. Anyway, they praised Nanci Griffith very early and we listened and we agreed, this was very special indeed.

Her voice, her way of singing, especially other people’s’ songs, it was and is beautiful. My first entry into her world was John Prine’s The Speed of The Sound of Loneliness, it is still the best song in her catalogue. Hell, it would be the best song in almost anybody’s catalogue!

Speed of the sound of Loneliness (with John Prine who wrote this masterpiece):

Nanci Griffith, (born Nanci Caroline Griffith, July 6, 1953, Seguin, Texas) is an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter based in Austin, Texas.

Straddling the fine line between folk and country music, Nanci Griffith has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled “folkabilly” singer, Griffith began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-’80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter through hit covers of Griffith’s songs by Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss. Finding no luck with commercial country radio however, Griffith recorded several pop-oriented albums and then returned to her folk roots by the mid-’90s.
-John Bush (allmusic.com)

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6 Great Americana videos summer 2017

It’s time to present some of our new favourite videos, collected here for your convenience. When I say new it just means that they’re new to us. We just found’em and want to share them. They may be from the 30s and up to the present. Enjoy!

Colter Wall’s performs songs for CBC Music’s First Play Live. Set list:
0:00 Railroad Bill
2:57 You Look to Yours
8:14 Codeine Dream
11:47 Thirteen Silver Dollars
14:54 Motorcycle
17:24 Mule Skinner Blues
20:59 Kate McCannon

King Leg – Great Outdoors (directed by Gregory Alosio & Dwight Yoakam), new to me but clearly a Yoakam influenced act, with a bit of Roy Orbison thrown into the Bakersfield stew:

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