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** Debuts

A greatly expanded and enhanced makes its debut today, is edited by No Depression co-founder Peter Blackstock and will feature contributions from many of the magazine’s longtime senior editors and contributing editors, as well as content from the magazine’s back-issue archives. The site was created by The Old State, a web design and development firm in Dallas, Texas. No Depression received significant assistance in creating the new site through contributions from its Founders Circle, a cast of more than 200 donors whose names appear on  the Founders Circle page.

A series of 15 Launch Shows will be held October 15-23  in conjunction with MusiCares, a foundation designed to assist musicians in times of financial, personal or medical crisis. Plans are also in the works for a July 2009 No Depression Festival to be held in the Seattle area.

Also appearing in early October is the first No Depression “bookazine,” part of a new twice-annual series of print publications issued through University of Texas Press. The bookazine, edited by Blackstock and ND co-founder Grant Alden, combines book and magazine elements to carry on No Depression’s tradition of publishing long-form music journalism. Launch Shows:

Oct. 15: Nick Lowe, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
Oct. 15: Alejandro Escovedo, Fine Line, Minneapolis, MN
Oct. 16: Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet, Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, TN
Oct. 17: Jimmy Webb, Schubas, Chicago, IL
Oct. 17: Lucinda Williams, War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Oct. 17: Chatham County Line and Thad Cockrell, Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
Oct. 17: Minus 5, Mission Theate, Portland, OR
Oct. 18: Minus 5 and Band Of Annuals, Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA
Oct. 18: James McMurtry and Mando Saenz, Granada Theater, Dallas, TX
Oct. 18: Crooked Still, Iron Horse, Northampton, MA
Oct. 19: Crooked Fingers, Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO
Oct. 19: Lucinda Williams, Pageant, St. Louis, MO
Oct. 20: The Duhks, Smith’s Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA
Oct. 21: Rodney Crowell, Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
Oct. 22-23: Carrie Rodriguez, Cactus Cafe, Austin, TX

Pitchfork’s Amanda Petrusich Surveys Americana Music In New Book

Amanda Petrusich has interviewed Liz Phair and Feist for, not she turnes her talents to documenting the vast and rugged territory that is Americana.

From “It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music. (Her first book was last year’s entry on Nick Drake’s Pink Moon in the 33 1/3 series.) Part memoir and travelogue, part sociological study and piece of criticism, It Still Moves features stories and interviews that explore the history and current state of Americana, “from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash  to Will Oldham,” according to a press release.”

She’s taken on quite a task here but I look forward to reading “It Still Moves.”

A few events celebrating It Still Moves’ publication are scheduled throughout the coming months.

It Still Moves events:

09-11 Brooklyn, NY – Book Court
09-18 Brooklyn, NY – WORD
09-19 Nashville, TN – Americana Music Association Festival
09-23 New York, NY – KGB Bar
10-09 Oxford, MS – Thacker Mountain Radio
10-10 Nashville, TN – Southern Festival of Books
11-01 Austin, TX – Texas Book Festival

Review – Kathy Mattea – Coal (Captain Potato)

On her latest release Grammy-winning singer Kathy Mattea has assembled a collection of songs that pay tribute to the Appalachian music of her home of South Charleston, West Virginia and tells the stories of miners, their families, and the impact that mining has had on Appalachia. But “Coal” is more than a study of her Southern upbringing, it’s a personal testament of Mattea’s roots. Both her grandfathers were miners, her mother worked for the local UMWA. Fortunately her father was rescued from the mines by an uncle who paid his way through college.

The catalyst for “Coal” was the 2006 Sago Mine Disaster, which killed twelve miners in West Virginia. The tragedy dredged up memories Mattea had as a child of the 1968 Farmington Disaster when 78 miners were killed at the Consol No. 9 coal mine near Farmington, West Virginia. From her site: “When Sago happened, I got catapulted back to that moment in my life and I thought, ‘I need to do something with this emotion, and maybe this album is the place to channel it’. And so I knew the time was right.” “This record reached out and took me. It called to me to be made,” Mattea says. “If you go through your life and you try to be open, you try to think how can you be of service, how can your gifts best be used in the world…if you ask that question everyday, you find yourself at the answer. And it’s not always what you thought it would be when you asked.”

Choosing that material on the release needed to be particularly exacting. “When I decided to do this, I wanted to be very careful about the songs I chose. I wanted some labor songs, some songs that articulated the lifestyle, the bigger struggles, and I wanted a wide variety musically,” Mattea says. “Most of all, I wanted it to speak to the sense of place and the sense of attachment people have to each other and to the land.”

In the choice of material by some of the greatest songwriters in country and roots music – Jean Ritchie, Billy Edd Wheeler, Hazel Dickens, Si Kahn, Utah Phillips, Merle Travis, and Darrell Scott – Mattea succeeds greatly, as she does in her choice in Marty Stuart as a producer as well as the musicians that accompany her, Byron House on upright bass, longtime collaborator Bill Cooley in guitar Stuart Duncan offers mandolin, banjo, and fiddle, John Catchings on cello, Mattea band member and studio veteran Randy Leago contributes keyboard and accordion accents, Marty Stuart pulling double duty on plays guitar, mandolin, mandola and legendary steel player Fred Newell makes a guest appearance.

The album leads off with two selections from traditional songwriter Jean Ritchie, “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” with a mournful fiddle intro, and “Blue Diamond Mines” featuring Marty Stuart and Patty Loveless on background vocals. Both songs are testaments of the cultural and economic hardships faced by the poor Appalachian communities and their dependency on the coal industry for not only livelihood but for some small connection with outside world.

The Billy Edd Wheeler tune “Redwing Blackbird” is a metaphorical lament on a miner’s hardships. Mattea’s voice takes an almost sorrowful Gallic phrasing atop a sparse arrangement. Another Wheeler tune “Coal Tattoo” is a spry piece detailing an escape of the miner’s life and dreams of better things to come. Si Kahn‘s “Lawrence Jones” is a cautionary tales about the dangers of mine work and is contrasted next by Utah Phillips’ “Green Rolling Hills” idone as a Spiritual-style sing-along which allows a moment of hope.

Stuart Duncan then displays his adept banjo skills on the traditional instrumental transitional track, “Sally in the Garden.” Darrel Scott’s excellent “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” is covered with a beautiful despondency by Mattea.

The first time I heard the classic Merle Travis’ “Dark as a Dungeon” was on Johnny Cash’s “Live at Folsom Prison.” Cash’s booming voice boomed this lament about the danger and drudgery of being a coal miner in an Appalachian shaft mine that was later used as a rallying song among miners seeking improved working conditions.

Mattea makes it her own beginning with a single looming piano accompaniment that slowly breaks into a sparse guitar, mandolin, and cello compliment.Another Wheeler’s song “Coming of the Roads” Features a cascading acoustic guitar, and violin (not really a fiddle-style on this piece) tells the story of the double-edged sward of the pathway to the outside world brought by accessible roads that bring economic opportunity

Finally, Mattea leaves us with a lament from the great songwriter activist Hazel , Dickens entitled “Black Lung.” The hazards of deadly mine environmental conditions on the health of the poor miner sung a cappella as a chillingly mournful conclusion to this dazzling if somber work.

Kathy Mattea – Coal Tattoo – Joe’s Pub – New York City


Steve Earle Speaks on Music and Activism

Texas expat and roots rock legend will take time from promoting his latest album, Washington Square Serenade (9/25) and shooting HBO’s The Wire, where he stretched and portrays an ex-junkie, and heads uptown from his Greenwich Village residence (near where Bob Dylan’s Freewheeling cover photo was taken) to drop into the 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Avenue @ 92nd Street New York, NY) on October 9th and take a spin class….er I mean talk with music journalist Anthony DeCurtis about, what else, music and activism (tickets).

Earle joins a roster of politically active artists who have appeared at the Y including Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Tony Kushner and Alec Baldwin(!).The event probably won’t be as interesting (or contentious) as it might be if he held it in Lubbock Texas, but whether you agree with him or revile him, Steve Earle is anything but uninformed

Earle will also appear in concert at Town Hall on September 26 and also hosts a weekly radio show, Hardcore Troubadour Radio, on Sirius Satellite Radio.