Brandi Carlile, Lukas Nelson, Jeff Tweedy & More Pay Tribute To John Prine

The loss of singer/songwriter John Prine due to complications associated with COVID-19 has hit fans and members of the Americana community hard. Few artist of his stature were as generous of spirit and touched so many lives.

His death has created a vacuum in this world where an unlikely ex-mailman and towering talent once existed.

Members of the Americana and country music community aired their grief in the best way possible. They paid testament in covering Prine’s songs.

Brandi Carlile – “Hello In There”

Jeff Tweedy – “Please Don’t Bury Me”

Lukas Nelson – “Lonesome Friends of Science”

Ani DiFranco – “Angel From Montgomery”

BJ Barham – “Paradise”

Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires – “Angel From Montgomery” “Clocks And Spoons.” “Illegal Smile.”

Andrew Bird – “Souvenirs”

Ryan Bingham – “Illegal Smile”

Watch Out! Jeff Tweedy on Portlandia

Jeff Tweedy On Portlandia

There’s so much to love about this Portlandia skit featuring Uncle Tupelo/Wilco’s own Jeff Tweedy.

To me Portlandia suffers from much of the preciousness it aims to lambast. On occasion it hits dead on. This is one of those times. Some in the Americana/roots/folk music camp (me) can go on and on about the old elusive chestnut of “authenticity.” Usually over many beers. Mostly this level of music geekery is tedious and pointless. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, with the help of Mr. Tweedy, make it hilarious.

“Were you in a coal oil fire?” Ha!

Tweedy will is doing a TV tour of sorts and will also be in the season finale of Parks and Recreation alongside members of Yo La Tengo and the Decemberists.

Listen Up! Mavis Staples Collaborates with Jeff Tweedy on “One True Vine” – Releases Funkadelic Cover

MAVIS One True Vine

Mavis Staples comes from Gospel, soul and R&B royalty. Singing in the family band The Staple Singers, led by family patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples, she made history by being one of the moost ground-breaking spirituality-based group in America. By the mid-1960s The Staple Singers, helped support the civil rights movement when Pops became close friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. They also had hits with covers of contemporary secular pop hits with positive messages, including Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and a version of Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth.”

According to her Bob Dylan was so taken with her that he asked Pops for Mavis’ hand in marriage. I assume Pops didn’t care for that idea.

With that legacy it’s hard to believe that Staples’ first Grammy was won for the Best Americana Album category You Are Not Alone in 2011. I was at the event and in her acceptance speech a crying Staples said “This has been a long time coming.”

On her upcoming release ‘One True Vine (June 25th – Anti Records) will again partner with You Are Not Alone producer and collaborator Jeff Tweedy.

Tweedy and singer-songwriter Nick Lowe wrote songs specifically for the album. The Wilco frontman and his 17-year-old son Spencer played nearly every instrument on the record. Recorded at The Loft in Chicago, the 10-track album also includes Staples covering Funkadelic and Low.

Listen to her version of Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That” and check out the full One True Vine track list below.

One True Vine Track List:
1. Holy Ghost
2. Every Step
3. Can You Get to That
4. Jesus Wept
5. Far Celestial Shores
6. What Are They Doing in Heaven Today
7. Sow Good Seeds
8. I Like the Things About Me
9. Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind on Jesus)
10. One True Vine

Grammy Wrap-Up – Americana Represents

Now that I’ve had a few days to recover from the whirlwind Grammy event in L.A. I ma going to try and make some sense of it all to determine what I saw and what I saw, what I learned and what I’d like to see changed.

2011 marked the third year that the GRAMMYs (branding, people) have organized a formal social media initiative to allow a bottom-up perspective, mostly-unvarnished perspective from bloggers that have established their own brand credibility in various genres. The cool thing is that it’s not just the major genres – pop , hip-hop and rock being asked to participate. Other pre-telecast awarded genres like my own Americana/folk participating were country (still a bridesmaid after all this time),  jazz , classical , soul , gospel were represented as well as social media strategy and fashion.

I believe the GRAMMYs are looking at the seismic changes in the music industry and are being proactive in addressing their own relevance and consumers changing relationship with music. I believe our efforts in coordination with ‘s wider social channels via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube led to a successful outcome I hope continues to grow and expand.

Case in point was the Social Media Summet. This was a Grammy-week event, which was open to the public and streamed live on the Grammy website, explored how the industry engages fans and consumers in sharing new music and what impact it has had on the business.
.  Held at the beautiful Conga Room the event former MTV News anchor John Norris hosted the panel which featured Facebook director of platform product marketing Ethan Beard, Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai and Pandora founder Tim Westergren as well as American Idol runner-up phenom Adam Lambert and rapper Chamillionaire won a Grammy in 2007 for his No. 1 song, “Ridin’ , which went on to become the top selling ringtone of that year with 3.2 million in sales, and the first to gross $1 million.

Quick take-aways from the panel were that social media is a double edged sword for muscians who want to make themselves available to their fans but are scrutinized by the media for any single misstep (“Don’t drunk tweet.” Advised Adam Lambert) and not all fans you hear from are, well, sane.

Lambert also said that while he loves when fans take pictures and recording video footage at his concerts, he feels like they’re cheating themselves by not being present at the moment of the experience. It’s like pre-mediation and self-inflicted removal from an experience thats most powerful attribute is immediacy.

Rapper Chamillionaire said he engages in social media because unlike the major labels “There’s not a suit standing there telling me I can’t do something. I stand or fall on my own action and my fans let me know what they think really fast.”

The panel bemoaned the demise of the record store and Ethan Beard  hoped that Facebook could take up some of the slack to connect fans to musicians. “Music is social activity … and buying music on iTunes is different than in CD stores,” Beard said. “(But) using social media makes it more social.”

I would like to see the Americana field get more cred for using social media to expand the fan-base and scout out touring destinations. And I defy anyone to find a more active community site that No Depression.

In the end I was glade to be asked to the party and able to witness the Best Americana Album GRAMMY awarded to Mavis Staples (her first !)  for You Are Not Alone, her collaboration with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and see the Carolina Chocolate Drops claim the GRAMMY in the category of Best Traditional Folk Album for Genuine Negro Jig. Meeting Cajun-music legend D. L. Menard, Hank Williams’ daughter Jett and the fine people at Time -Life that helped her release the fantastic The Hank Williams Complete Mother Best Recordings….Plus! box set, Margaret and Arthur Warwick – proprietors of the legendary Louisiana Hayride.

Then there was that whole Avett, Mumford, Dylan thing..that was pretty cool as well.


Jay Bennett, Ex-Wilco Member, Dead at 45

Jay Bennett, the former Wilco multi-instrumentalist, passed away in his sleep on early Sunday morning (May 24) due to unknown causes. He was 45.

Bennett was best known for his work with Wilco, the group for which he wrote and recorded on 1996’s “Being There,” 1999’s “Summerteeth” and 2002’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” as well as the band’s Woody Guthrie themed albums with Billy Bragg, “Mermaid Avenue” and “Mermaid Avenue, Volume 2.” He was currently living in Urbana, Illinois and working on his fifth album, “Kicking at the Perfumed Air.”

Bennett’s turbulant departure from Wilco was well-documented andplayed out in the public eye. Earlier this month, Bennett filed suit against Wilco leader (and founder of Uncle Tupelo) Jeff Tweedy for “breach of contract” for alleged non-compensation for his appearance in the 2002 Wilco documentary, “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” as well as “unpaid royalties” for work throughout his tenure with the band. The suit was said to be for at least $50,000.

There is speculation that a working musician like Bennett is always at risk, like a majority of Americans, because they lack adequite health insurance.


Poodies Locke Tributes, Jeff Tweedy Sued

  • Jay Bennett, a former Wilco member, is suing band leader Jeff Tweedy in Cook County Circuit Court, claiming Tweedy owes him money from the band’s 2002 documentary and royalties on songs written during Bennett’s seven years with the group.

William Elliott Whitmore made a stop on the Jools Holland Show in England to perform Old Devils.


The 32nd Annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival Line-up

The Annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival, a fundraiser for Ann Arbor’s famous Ark Coffee House , will celebrate its 32nd year with some of the finest in traditional and contemporary artists. The Festival returns to Hill Auditorium for two nights of folk and roots music on Friday, January 30, and Saturday, January 31, beginning at 6:30 p.m. each night. In keeping with the Festival’s longstanding reputation, each night will feature a blend of renowned and up-and-coming performers, providing audiences with the opportunity to hear popular artists working at the top of their field while discovering terrific new talent. All funds raised through the Festival benefit The Ark, Ann Arbor’s non-profit home for folk, roots, and ethnic music.

Friday evening will feature Jeff Tweedy as headliner and will also feature Old Crow Medicine Show along with a host of artists who are known for pushing the boundaries of their art, bringing a progressive sound to the folk music scene. Saturday night will delve into the heart of folk and roots traditions showcasing styles well known to folk and roots audiences. Headlining on Saturday night is Kris Kristofferson. Also featured is the legendary Pete Seeger.

The 32nd Annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival
Friday, January 30 & Saturday, January 31, 2009
at Hill Auditorium

The 32nd Annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival Line-up


Jeff Tweedy
Old Crow Medicine Show
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Ryan Montbleau Band
Katie Herzig
Chelsea Williams
The Ragbirds
Jim Lauderdale, MC


Kris Kristofferson
Pete Seeger
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Luke Doucet & The White Falcon
Claire Lynch Band
Misty Lyn & The Big Beautiful
Jim Lauderdale, MC

**Program subject to change**