What’s it mean to be folk-rock anyway?

…if you ask this question of www.epitonic.com, you will find that folk-rock is considered an “additional genre”  along with the likes of Avant pop, dronology, and neo dada music. It may be just me, but none of these terms are anywhere near as accessible as that of folk-rock itself, nor as “underground” as found sounds or exotica recordings. However, one of the things that I do like about Epitonic’s page is their description of what folk-rock–

 Folk-Rock
The concept of folk-rock is simple: take the winsome acoustic arrangements of folk and play them with a big rock and roll backbeat. The style began as an ancillary to the ’60s folk revival, with The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas and the Papas, and The Lovin’ Spoonful among the most noteworthy practitioners. The style continued to carry weight into the ’60s, as evidenced by the success of people like Jackson Browne and The Eagles. Folk-flavored rock music has waxed and waned in popularity over the years since. In recent years however, a number of outstanding indie rock bands — many on the periphery of the alt.country movement — have sought to place folk elements within a rock foundation, often to sensational results.

Epitonic’s list of related artists includes groups like Belle and Sebastian, Neil Halstead, Bright Eyes, the Decemberists, I Am Kloot, My Morning Jacket, Okkervil River, Mojave 3, Sufjan Stevens, and Pinetop Seven. These names got me thinking…I haven’t shared http://stereogum.com with you yet! 
Each week, Stereogum posts free MP3s from artists like those that I just mentioned under the first left-hand tab on the site labeled simply “MP3s & Streams”. For those with some time on their hands, or the inclination to hunt down a favorite group, scrolling down through the week’s songs to the line entitled “More MP3s” will bring you to their archives, which, if you love folk-rock and other more obscure groups, is sure to get your heart pounding.
What’s more, you can divvy the archives up by artist, or, if you are feeling adventurous, by post date. Sorting by post date helped remind me of the fact, for example, that I learned about Two Gallants in 2007, around the same time I first learned of Laura Veirs. For anyone who wants to know more about the “origins” of an artist they like, or what other recordings/reviews/tours might exist for them, this is a good way to find ’em, all in one sitting.   And just to name a few who are available through Stereogum’s hallowed “halls”…
Blitzen Trapper’s “Shady Grove
Ferraby Lionheart’s “Dear Corinne
Iron & Wine’s “Boy with a Coin
Josh Ritter’s cover of “The River
Laura Veirs’ “To the Country
Two Gallants’ “Despite What You’ve Been Told
the list goes on and on…
 

Where the Poem Stops and the Lyrics Begin

The rain continues…one can only hope the water table is being replenished by this slow drizzle, gradually percolating down through the soil, and (as a teacher of mine once bitterly pointed out), drowning all the worms. Gloomy weather makes me want to curl up with tea, poetry, and, you guessed it, folk music, so here are today’s recommendations for all of those things–

Tea:
-Good Earth’s Original “Sweet and Spicy” blend
-Tazo’s Full Leaf Chai (a black, not green, tea)
-Newman’s Own Green Tea (I know it sounds crazy, but I like its flavor!)
-Yogi Tea’s Lemon Ginger green tea (excellent for when you have sinus congestion, affectionately called “iron lung” tea by my close relations)
-Stash’s Breakfast Blend
-and Lipton as the old standby…but only consumed cold.

and poetry? Today, I have a Walt McDonald poem stuck in my head, and there’s something so folky about it, I feel like it could/should be a folk rock song–

The Waltz We Were Born For

I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with the fiddles
and the charming songs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music’s on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she’s mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She’s gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I’ll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.

And speaking of music that could be poetry…today’s a Sam Beam kind of day, and I don’t mean some long-lost cousin of Jim Beam, though I suppose it’s entirely possible.
I mean Sam Beam of the Iron and Wine variety. Not folk-rock so much as folk-thought, but “Naked As We Came” has been wandering listlessly in my mind, so I urge you to get it stuck in yours by visiting FreeIndie.com http://www.freeindie.com/folk/ and enriching your mp3 collection with ‘im. While you’re on that page, check out the rest of the groups too, they all have SOMETHING delicious to offer.

Without a word: Instrumental Folk Rock of the Hour

I was biking the other day, thinking about who or what I should next post, yet, while a score of artists came into my thoughts, I couldn’t get too terribly excited about doing a write-up or a “share” for any of them. Then I saw a friend of mine who is an Irish folk dancer. This, and the passing of St. Patrick’s Day, got me thinking, nothing classifies folk rock as needing words, so why not post some of my favorite instrumental folk rock? So, in honor of last week’s green shenanigans, allow me to introduce you to a group called Stonecircle. The group is made up of 4 women and a man, and, despite what you might presume given their sound, they actually hail, as a group, from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Stonecircle

Stonecircle

While they identify themselves as being “Celtic fusion,” the fact that they’ve covered such standards as “Shady Grove” and “She Moved Through the Fair” prove to me that they’ve got some major folky blood running in their musical veins. Anyway, a look-see at http://www.stonecirclemusic.com will provide you with bios of the members, as well as a pretty solid list of songs to stream.

However, to get four free songs will require a trip, (as always, as ever) to the iLike application of Facebook (see prior posts for the how-to if you are unfamiliar with how to install or use it.)

My personal favorite, for rocking out on St. Paddy’s Day or whenever is “Road to Lisdoonvarna” but “Apples in Winter” (of the freebies) is a close second. This address will bring you to both, plus two more that have, *gasp!* lyrics- http://ilike.com/artist/search?artist_qp=stonecircle

So, even though the holiday has passed, you now have the right tunes to go try out your jigging toes and make up whatever words you want to go along with ’em…

If you haven’t filled your jonesing for rockin’ traditional tunes, check out SongHenge, http://www.songhenge.com an online database and community that prides itself in archiving and sharing “free and legal Celtic music downloads” and is run by a dedicated individual named Marc who also does downloadable playlists and podcasts each month(although the podcasts are part of a subscription service, and so will not be free).  While there, you can even sign up to receive FREE issues of Celtic MP3s Music Magazine, so that you can regularly have a new set of tunes to track down and check out!

Right now, there a zip file of 17 songs for St. Patrick’s Day up for grabs, and I definitely encourage you to get it before it’s gone!

Want a Free Sample of Song Henge?
See Marc’s article “17 Free Celtic Music Downloads for St. Patrick’s Day”. You will receive a ZIP file like this nearly every month. Download “17 Celtic Music Downloads for St. Patrick’s Day” (64 MB ZIP)

13 Songs about Traveling and Home

A backroad can take you home or to somewhere new!

A backroad can take you home or to somewhere new!

As promised, here are 13 more or less “unsung” folk rock gems about traveling, heading home, looking for a place you can call your own, or trying to share a space with someone you care about…
all of them are accessible either through the iLike application *check the earlier posts for the what and hows of this Facebook goody* or through any number of streaming sites (my personal favorite is www.seeqpod.com). I have found free copies of all of them on the web before, but am unsure whether they are all still up and downloadable. You’ll just have to try your hand at it and see what works.

David Hopkins-“Jackson”
(“Don’t go to Jackson/I’ll make it worth it…I know that I barely know ya/but I want to be where you are”)

Kevin Bilchik-“Long Ride”
(“Take me for a long ride/I don’t want to get off…as long as there’s wheels on this black truck/we can still drive around”)

The One A.M. Radio -“Sioux Falls” cover (originally done by Golden Birds)
(“No use the map pocked with coffee stains /Crumpled in my lap all that still remains/Of the course which yesterday seemed to funnel the very air/Straight through Sioux Falls”)

Josh Ritter-“Idaho”      
(“Packs of dogs and cigarettes/For those who ain’t done packing yet/My clothes are packed and I want to go/Idaho oh Idaho”)

Damien Jurado-“Texas to Ohio”     
(“from Texas to Ohio is too long a walk/even if it’s with someone you love”)

Hem-“He Came to Meet Me”     
(“we walked for half the day/got lost in my neighborhood/came back another way/just like I knew we would”)

Joshua Radin-“Star Mile”
(And if you burn the road/ That’ll lead you back to her in time… You watch the stars fade
They gather you back to their home”)

M. Ward-“To Go Home”     
(“Sailing on a sinking ship/Into the sunset and back/Dark night on a long highway…I go home”)

Stymieblue-“Coming Home”
(“I’m coming home/my bags are packed and I done wrote my last song…rest assured I’m coming home”)

Great Lake Swimmers-“Where in the World Are You”     
(“I’ve been looking in churches and looking in bars/Thought that I saw you in the oncoming cars…Where in the world are you now?/Oh where in the world are you?”)

J. Tillman-“Seven States Across”
(“There are seven states across/I’ll never seen the ending of while I am young…Now, the home that we live in/is a tree with broken limbs”)

Backyard Tire Fire-“The Places We Lived”      
(“I don’t know who lives there now/but I sure know we did/ain’t it strange how we forget sometimes/ the places we once lived?”)

Rocky Votolato-“Montana”                                   
(“There’s nowhere I’d rather be than on my way home to you tonight driving north on 35… maybe Memphis TN, maybe New Orleans maybe Arizona, I guess we’ll see”)

 Also, as an aside to the above list, J. Tillman is one of the artists I plan to share with you soon…the label he is on, Yerbird, released a worthwhile lil compilation in 2007 that is still worth a listen as well, entitled “Folk Music for the End of the World.” You can stream the tracks and read the mini- bios  at  http://yerbird.com/comp/index.html

Artist of the Hour: Ferraby Lionheart

So, it’s raining here, and I’m scrounging for some upbeat folk rock to pull me through the fourth day of dismal drizzle. While there are plenty of folk rock artists who fit the bill right now, I’ve decided to take it back two or three years to Ferraby Lionheart’s self-titled EP (first released in 2006) and his debut album “Catch the Brass Ring,” released in 2007. What brings me to this decision is the fact that so few people have heard of or anything by Mr. Lionheart, even though he made it high up on the CMJ charts with his EP and is well-known in the Los Angeles area, where he currently resides. 

The talented Mr. Lionheart

The talented Mr. Lionheart

What’s more, he’s on tour right now, (and a string of the dates will be with my favorite folky group of the moment, Noah and the Whale) which means… If you live near where he’s touring, you should make the effort and see them!!! (I, however, do not, so I must live vicariously through those who do). Check out the tourdates at www.ferrabylionheart.com.

A full cast: Noah and the Whale

A full cast: Noah and the WhaleThere's several downloads of both Noah and the Whale AND Ferraby Lionheart available under the Session Archives tab of Daytrotter's homepage... http://www.daytrotter.comThe Daytrotter

What’s more, the songs are all recorded at the Daytrotter studios, so a) the quality is really good and b) they include in-depth interviews and reviews with the artists if you want to learn more about ’em. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!

Songs about Place and Space

It has quit raining, and my spring wanderlust has settled in again.  The daffodils are beginning to straighten their backs after being beaten by the past week’s constant precipitation, and the creeping phlox has begun its inevitable spread along the rock retaining walls around here as it has ever so slowly gotten warmer. All this movement, of one kind and another, along with a recent reading of Doreen Massey’s journal article, “A Global Sense of Place” (first published in ’94) has got me thinking about folk music that has to do with traveling and the definition of “home,” what makes up one’s sense of place and space with today’s mobile lifestyle.

In talking of her own hometown of Kilburn (near London, England), Massey writes,

 ” People’s routes through the place,  their favourite haunts within it, the connections the make (physically, or by phone or  post, or in memory and imagination) between here and the rest of the world vary enormously. If it is now recognized that people have multiple identities then the same point can be made in relation to places.” (p. 6)

In music, travel and one’s sense of belonging (or not belonging) are key points that have been strummed, plucked, wailed and whispered since time immemorial. Think about it…

from Billie Holiday’s “Travelin’ all Alone”  http://www.last.fm/music/Billie+Holiday/_/Travelin’+All+Alone
 to Doris Day’s “Sentimental Journey” http://www.imeem.com/people/kACzd8/music/K5Ay7mSq/doris-day-sentimental-journey/
 The Eagles’ “Take it Easy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScG0ilS0dgI
The Box Tops “The Letter,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD9mCp8SifM ,
Michael Buble’s “Home,” http://www.imeem.com/kanasaikuat/music/-tCVlTqz/michael-buble-home/ 
U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2e04u_u2-where-the-streets-have-no-name-l_music 
or even Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam,” http://www.last.fm/music/Metallica/_/Wherever+I+May+Roamhttp://www.last.fm/music/Metallica/_/Wherever+I+May+Roam

Music has a way of getting around. In the words of Johnny Cash, “I’ve been everywhere, man.”

So, I’m going to leave it pretty open-ended…do you have a favorite song about travel or about home? Later, I’ll post a list of my favorite folk rock gems (think Damien Jurado, Rocky Votolato, the list could very well be endless…) for you to consider. If you want another list of assorted goodies, check out Brave New Traveler’s post “30 Songs That Capture the Spirit of Travel” at http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/05/02/30-songs-that-capture-the-spirit-of-travel/

Safe Travels and Happy Trails!

Artist of the Hour: Blitzen Trapper

So, I can’t even remember how I learned about Blitzen Trapper now, but , if you are intrigued (which you should be) two of their songs, “Furr” and “Wild Mountain Nation” are available for free download through the iLike application on Facebook… (to learn how to get it if you don’t got it, read the last bit of this post*)

From the blog http://www.largeheartedboy.com, here is just one take on the music of the folk rock band Blitzen Trapper…

‘Indeed, I hear Bigfoot in the music of Blitzen Trapper… I hear darkness, and menace, and the solitude of vast stretches of nature. It is a rock band, but a rough-hewn, low-fi one that finds darker trails than most, with an indie-band’s GPS for following the songs to where they lead. Blitzen Trapper put out an album in 2007, Wild Mountain Nation, that earned some critical attention, drawing an audience of “music-nerd type people, people actively seeking out unusual music,” Early says. Last fall the band released Furr, drawing further applause. National Public Radio featured the band, and its audience expanded to, as Early puts it, “normal people.”‘

Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper

*To access iLike–

1)Sign in to your Facebook account–if you don’t have one, I’m afraid I can’t help you there…
2)Go to your “Home” page. On the right-hand side, choose “Edit.”
3) This will bring you to a page showing your recently used Applications. In the far left-hand bottom corner of the screen, a “Applications” tab will appear. Click on it and choose “Find More” in the top right-hand corner.
4) In the search bar on the page, look up “iLike” (sans quotation marks).
5)The first iLike application (entitled simply “iLike” by iLike, Inc.) is the one you want.
6) Add it and enjoy! Under “Charts” you can find the 50 free hourly updates via iTunes and iLike, and there is usually at least one good thing, if you are willing to do a little “listen and sift.”

Folk punk? Artist of the Hour: Paul Baribeau

Paul Baribeau, Sept. 2008

Paul Baribeau, Sept. 2008

Now, being that I owe wordpress for providing this space, I feel I owe it to the site and to my readers to actually send you to another wordpress blog for a change. While this may seem like a deviation from my “toolbox” idea of providing you with my music “supplier” sites, Backseatsandbar’s site actually has free music downloads on it too-rejoice!

Today’s post brings me to one of my most recent lyrical crushes in the form of Paul Baribeau, accessible via

http://backseatsandbar.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/review-paul-baribeau-and-good-luck-at-skull-alley-sept-13/

On Backseat’s site, as well as on Paul’s myspace page and several other music blogs, the word “folk” is repeatedly tossed up to describe Baribeau’s sound. While it often comes in conjunction with some other genre related term (“folk punk,” folk rock,” “folk pop,” and “folky acoustic” being just a few of the ones that came up), I believe that all of these many instances mean that I can rightfully label him “folk rock” and move on. I’m not the only one on wordpress unwillingness to peg him as a specific genre either…
Christy Hulsey is also a wordpress user, and has, like me, taken a shine to Baribeau’s lyrics on “Strawberry.” also mentions not putting him in a category, albeit for slightly different reasons… you can access her happy little write-up, with the lyrics for “Strawberry” posted at http://christyhulsey.wordpress.com/2007/11/20/strawberry-by-paul-baribeau/.

If you prowl YouTube, you’ll find a small collection of summer outdoor shows and a number of dim indoor “shows” that seem to have been recorded on a hand-held camcorder in a couple different dorm rooms. The best rendition of “Ten Things” (my “inspirational” song of the month) can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVjmDGAkJVI].

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