Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions
It was an idea that never should have worked. A British folk-rocker joins up with alt-country outliers to put music to the unreleased lyrics of Woody Guthrie. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it had diminished the reputation of all involved.
Instead, Mermaid Avenue, performed by Billy Bragg and Wilco and released in 1998, was a revelation, proof that Guthrie was far more than the populist, fascist-bashing folkie that he was often perceived to be. He was also capable of startlingly personal songwriting that was far ahead of its time. Volume 2 was released just two years later to more raves.
According to a note posted on Levon Helm’s website, the long-time drummer and singer for The Band is nearing the end of his fight with cancer. The note was signed by his daughter and wife.
Dear Friends, Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.
Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration … he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage …
We appreciate all the love and support and concern.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy
American Songwriter will post more information as it becomes available.
What do you get when you cross a soldier and a country music singer? You get Craig Morgan. The ten year army veteran is basking in the Top 5 debut of his latest release,This Ole Boy.Once dubbed “country music’s champion of the Everyman,” he is best known for monster hits that espouse the core values of the genre: faith (“That’s What I Love About Sunday”), good times, (“Redneck Yacht Club”) and helping others (“Almost Home”), for which he was awarded the Songwriter Achievement Award. Between his TV show, touring and charity work, it was hard to imagine finding time to make an album. The combination of changing to the Black River label and the inspired confidence in his career propelled his latest effort. The title track has spent 38 weeks on the Billboard country charts and is still in the top 20. Morgan took timeout to discuss his career from his home in Nashville.
You’ve said the new songs reflect a point in your career where you are extremely comfortable and confident.
I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I think I know more about what people expect from me and the kind of music they want to hear from me than I ever have. I think I was able to deliver that in such a way I never have in the past. A lot of that was due to the comfort that I’ve gotten from this label. They’ve shown me a lot of support and confidence that I haven’t had in a long time. And not just myself and my music but in this business; they’re happy and when you go to work and are around people who like their job, it makes your job a lot easier.
Norah Jones’ fifth solo album, Little Broken Hearts, is currently streaming in its entirety atNPR Music. Produced by and co-written with Eric Burton, a.ka. Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells), the new LP finds the Come Away With Me star covering new sonic ground. The album is due May 1 from Blue Note Records. Stream it here.
In our review, Stephen Deusner says Little Broken Hearts “may be the most dramatic and rewarding departure she’s made in her career.”
Meet 21-year-old singer-songwriter Anthony da Costa. Already a folk festival veteran, the New York City artist on the rise is currently a Junior at Columbia University, where he studies ancient Greek and Roman History.
“Secret Handshake is an album of several firsts for me,” Da Costa tells American Songwriter. “It’s the first album I’ve ever made live in the studio with a rhythm section. It’s the first album I’ve ever made in a big studio with space and isolation booths. It’s also the first album that I’ve made that doesn’t feel like a folk record in any real sense, except that the songs are organic and straight from my head and heart. It’s an album about learning how to take care of yourself, emotionally and other wise. It’s about trying to be happy for once and letting go of the things that are constantly dragging you down. It’s about learning to love yourself, because it’s the only way that you can love anybody else. I’m super proud of these songs and recordings and can’t wait for people to hear them!”
Read Axl Rose’s Breakup Letter To The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
After the February announcement that Guns N’ Roses would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, talk began circulating that band would not be performing at the induction ceremony. Putting the rumors to rest, Axl Rose released a letter this morning explaining why he will not be attending the ceremony this Saturday, and will be declining his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check out the entire letter below:
To: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N’ Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern,
When the nominations for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were first announced I had mixed emotions but, in an effort to be positive, wanting to make the most of things for the fans and with their enthusiasm, I was honored, excited and hoped that somehow this would be a good thing. Of course I realized as things stood, if Guns N’ Roses were to be inducted it’d be somewhat of a complicated or awkward situation.
Esteemed Southern clothier Billy Reid has been described as a “musician at heart.” So it’s no surprise that the designer is the perfect candidate to host the Shindig, a showcase during SXSW that featured some of the very artists that inspire Reid’s clothing line, including Brendan Benson, Delta Spirit (pictured above), Phosphorescent and Punch Brothers.
Be sure to check out our video of the event, where Reid waxes about the connection between music and fashion.
“Fashion and music are so interconnected,” Reid said. “So every six months, we’re basically putting together a new album, and then we put on a show and we’re out, trying to promote it. You just pray that people like it, and write something nice about it and people buy it … Those similarities create a lot of synergy that even behind the scenes doesn’t get talked about as much.”
Leonard Cohen Testifies Against Former Manager In Ugly Suit
After taking a long break from the road, Leonard Cohen began touring again in May 2008. The songwriter hadn’t played a full show in 15 years, and longtime fans were ecstatic to have him back. For Cohen, though, returning to the stage as a 74 year-old was a dark, desperate thing. His former manager, Kelley Lynch, had mishandled most of his money during the past decade, leaving the multi-millionaire with little more $150,000 by the time he fired her in 2004. Cohen took her to court in 2006 and won the case, but Lynch ignored the court’s order to pay back the $9.5 million she owed.
In other words, Cohen was dead broke. He needed the 2008 World Tour to keep himself afloat.
Four year later, the man is gearing up for another world tour. He’s still battling Lynch, too, now claiming that the 50something manager threatened him, harassed his family and violated the many restraining orders he filed against her after the initial 2006 lawsuit.
The only Canadians to win the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize, folk duoMadison Violet– comprising of Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac – release their new album,The Good in Goodbye, in March. With Americana inspired melodies and candid lyrics, the record was written as an “open diary” about their personal experiences. We chatted with the duo about their songwriting evolution, their inspirations, and their favorite Neil Young and Gillian Welch songs.
You became the first Canadians to win the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize in 2009 – what did it mean to you as writers?
BRENLEY: I think it’s given us more confidence knowing that Elton John, Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige, just to name a few, listened to a song we wrote and liked it. Winning this award is another accolade we’ve worked hard for, but I think the true reward is the temerity it gives us to make the next song better than the last one.