Sunday, July 14, 2013

Just Wait

I can't say as I have any clear memory of "discovering" music as a pass time or an art form to consume. Coming from a family of talented musicians, music was just something that was all around and always had been. Not having any particular musical talent of my own I didn't participate in its creation, I just thought that everyone had constant free musical entertainment (ah, the joys of childish ego-centrism). Sometime in my early teens I ended up at a bluegrass festival via a recommendation from one of my dad's band members. I've been hooked ever since. My ear can hear a banjo or a fiddle from miles off... the rest of my body shortly follows to figure out who's playing.

I'm not any kind of music snob. For me, it's like wine: I know what I like and what I don't like and those two bits of knowledge are all the expertise I need for an evening of enjoyment. When it comes to bluegrass/folk I like it all: the hard core twangy shit and the dabbling that pop and rock groups will do sometimes. What I do know for sure is that bluegrass was not AT ALL popular with wider audiences when I was in my teens. Country was having a popularity surge where it crossed with pop but bluegrass was still TOO COUNTRY. Well, ha! Apparently, you just have to wait and eventually what you like will be on the radio, too.

So here's me lifting a glass in thanks to all the listeners who have become part of an audience for my old musical favorite.

Lately, I've been obsessed with a song by Mumford & Sons called Roll Away Your Stone due to this line:

And so, I'll be found
with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking its territory of this newly impassioned soul

Something about that line speaks to me with equal parts comfort and inspiration. What an idea! The chance to stake out territory for a soul's second chance. Listen to the entire song here.

Here are a few of my favorites to call up when I need my bluegrass/folk fix. Listed in order from classic bluegrass through pop to straight up rock with folksy inspiration.

Mike and Amy Finders Band
--they don't seem to have much of an internet presence and that link only accesses one of their albums.  :(
Carolina Chocolate Drops
--just discovered this band in the last few years. one of the best concerts i've been to in the last decade.
Alison Krauss and Union Station
--i think i've been listening to this band since their debut (or before? i heard them the first time at a festival performance). they are much pop-ier than they used to be. 
Mumford & Sons
--of this list, this is the only group i haven't seen live. i always turn them up on the radio.
Alabama Shakes
--very much a rock band but the folk influence is definitely there and their lead singer is captivating even in a video and live? you won't ever forget her!

As it inevitably does, listing a bunch of bands makes me think of a bunch more I like, too (Wilco likes banjos, too), but instead of going crazy with this list I'll ask if there are any other bluegrass lovers out there who have a recommendation for me.


  1. I'll give these a listen, Rachel. Thanks.

  2. Awesome! Do let me know if you end up enjoying any of them. And, d'oh! I had steaks at first. hee! And I'm a vegetarian. Fixed it. typots...

  3. Shut UP, omg this is like a super-extra-secret club of awesomeness: People Who Revere Laura Kinsale Novels And Love Bluegrass. We may be the only two members! YAY for Mumford & Sons - but I don't like the 2nd album so much - and love the Chocolate Drops. I of course also have a deep affinity for old timey country, because of my grandparents, but I won't inflict Bill Monroe or Charlie Poole on you - but Loudon Wainwright did an homage to Charlie Poole and much fun banjo is involved in some of the tracks.

  4. Rhonda Vincent! I forgot to say Rhonda Vincent. So there, I did.

  5. Beth! Awesome! Our club is going to be so exclusive but totally by accident. It's a niche market, ya know??? :) Thanks for the artist tips. Heading off to have a listen.