folk music


Lots of young Brit folk in Alexandria VA last night – unfortunately the venue was barely a 1/3 full. The bill was a three act stunner. Starting out with Mumford & Sons for a jolly 30 minute set — a very fun foursome. They are an engaging group of lively young guys who seem to get a big kick out of singing their songs as we got from listening to them.

The second act was Johnny Flynn. An amazingly talented musician with a great band in support – Johnny played no fewer than 4 instruments including his wonderful vocal abilities. I suspect he has soul of elderly bluesman from a previous life. Had to pick up his CD A Larum after and love it already.

Finally, Laura Marling (subject of my July 25 entry) played a gorgeous set. I knew about her lovely voice but for some reason, I didn’t really focus on her talent as a guitarist (probably because I’ve seen little video of her in performance). I was alternately mesmerized by her fingers as well as her face. I get the feeling she is a rather shy person so I hope performing isn’t too much of a struggle for her. Her backing band was excellent (including Marcus Mumford on drums, other instruments and vocals) and the rapport was fun including a giggle fit at the beginning of the last song Alas I Cannot Swim. I would have loved to hear Typical and New Romantic but that’s just my personal preference.

My one picky note about the whole evening had to do with the sound levels at the Birchmere. It was a little loud for me. I had hoped not to need earplugs but since my ears are quite sensitive I found it to be just a bit wince making. It’s unfortunate that I suffer from tinnitus and loud sound levels really aggravate it. I was lucky in that I thought to bring my iPod with in-the-ear headphones and I could use them as an impromptu earplugs – just took the edge off the sound and I could enjoy everything without wincing or worrying. I hope I didn’t look rude wearing headphones to a concert – I really was listening!! ( I guess that’s just TMI on me or what!)

I wish I had thought to take my camera but I completely missed that one. Here is are videos from YouTube from all the acts so you can a feeling for the experience.

Mumford & Sons

Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit

Laura Marling

Mercury Music Prize nominee Laura Marling is learning to swim – Times Online

I downloaded Laura Marling’s EP My Manic and I last April and got the CD Alas I Cannot Swim earlier this month. She’s a singer/songwriter of incredible talent. She has a seemingly simple folk style and her lyrics are complex – especially for an 18-year-old. Her talent has not gone unnoticed. She’s been nominated for this year’s Mercury Music Prize in the UK.

Check out the video below and her music on iTunes or at her official site.

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Live! – washingtonpost.com

This time a not-so-shameless plug. My brother’s group, Woods Tea Co., is playing tonight at the Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center here in northern Virginia. The Washington Post called Howard (second from the left in the photo) for an interview and ran the linked piece in the Fairfax edition last Thursday. Soon I shall head out to see the show.

Check out the band’s website for sound clips and schedule.

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NPR : Krauss and Plant: Opposites Attract on a Sweet CD

I would never have paired these two together. I love Alison Krauss but I’ve never been a Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin fan (Stairway to Heaven reminds me too much of high school). Hearing the snippets of them singing together on this podcast makes me want to buy this CD.

I shouldn’t be surprised that I like this CD since it was produced my T-bone Burnett who has produced so many great artists – Tony Bennett, k.d.lang, the Wallflowers, O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack) including his wife, Sam Phillips.

The NPR site has three of the songs available for a listen. I especially liked Gone Gone Gone by the Every Brothers. Do listen to the interview if you can.

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Wood’s Tea founder dies

Burlington Free Press.com | Living

Rusty Jacobs, founder of the folk group Wood’s Tea Company, died Wednesday at his home in South Burlington. He was 56. The cause of death is pending, said band member and friend Howard Wooden.

Jacobs moved to Burlington to attend the University of Vermont and settled here. He was a rock ‘ n’ roll musician who became enamored of the Chieftans, a traditional Irish group and, influenced by their music, turned to traditional music in his own playing, Wooden said.

“Rusty was a master pennywhistle player and great rhythm guitar player,” Wooden said. “More than that, he was a personality. He had an engaging, soft soul. He was a gentle and peaceful man, and that came through on stage.”

Wood’s Tea Company is my brother’s band. I had the pleasure of meeting Rusty several times at gigs and at my brother’s home. He was a sweet man with a sparkling eye. I can hardly believe this news is true. Please read the linked article to learn more about this wonderful person.

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