kentucky

James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg Release Guitar Duo Album

Albums of guitar duets are rare. Albums of guitar duets featuring one American and one Englishman, synthesizing their particular geographically specific approaches in a collection of new compositions, are even more rare. Not since Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn's partnerships of the 1970s has there been such a happy reconciliation of Merrie Old England and the good old USA, in which baroque meets the blues, music-hall steps out to ragtime, and Benjamin Britten sits down with Blind Blake.

James Elkington moved from London to Chicago around the turn of the millennium and has since released a string of albums as leader of The Zincs for Thrill Jockey Records.  After dissolving the band in 2008, Elkington has concentrated on acoustic, folk-tinged music with his band The Horse's Ha (that he shares with Freakwater's Janet Bean), culminating in the release of their debut album, Of The Cathmawr Yards in 2009. He is also the owner/operator of a clunky solo career, and moonlights convincingly as the guitar player in Jon Langford's (of The Mekons) Skull Orchard.

Nathan Salsburg is best known as an archivist and producer for the Alan Lomax Archive, curator of the Twos & Fews vernacular-music imprint on Drag City Records, and host of the "Root Hog Or Die" program on East Village Radio. But after a 2007 move from New York City back to his childhood home of Louisville, Kentucky - and the inclusion of a track on Tompkins Square's "Imaginational Anthem, Volume 3" compilation - he discovered adequate time, space, and energy to devote to guitar playing.

Elkington suggested a leap of faith into a collaboration, despite the fact that the two had never previously played guitar together. Avos, then, hither and thither over several seasons, between a porch in Louisville and a kitchen in Chicago, slowly took shape. Aptly, the name comes from the Russian word for the confident approach to new situations, and the faith that nothing tragic will occur once in them.

James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg play their record release show on Sunday, October 9th at The Hideout in Chicago. More shows will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Brian Setzer Gives Bluegrass a Rockabilly Spin

With its forays into bluegrass and traditional jazz, Brian Setzer's new album 'Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!' (out April 19 on Surfdog Records) has the guitar legend testing new waters and putting his signature Stray Cat stamp on a few instrumental favorites. Setzer didn't set out to create an all-instrumental affair but couldn't resist temptation when the music started heading in that direction.

"I didn’t start writing an instrumental record, per se," says Setzer. "I wrote 7 songs with lyrics, and then all of a sudden I just took a turn and started fooling around with 'Blue Moon of Kentucky,' except without any vocals. I started playing melody chords and thought, 'Wow, this is pretty cool!'  So the direction turned about halfway through my writing. I had never done an instrumental record, but I thought, well, now’s the time."

Setzer wrote six originals and revitalizes five jazz-bluegrass classics – “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” "Earl's Breakdown," "Cherokee," "Be-Bop-A-Lula," and "Lonesome Road." Recording each gave Setzer the chance to revisit old techniques and try new tricks, such as playing banjo on the Earl Scruggs' classic “Earl’s Breakdown,” or substituting jazz chords into traditional bluegrass on the Bluegrass Boys’ “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

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'Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!' Tracklist

(all songs written by Brian Setzer, unless otherwise noted)

1. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" (written by Bill Monroe)

2. "Cherokee" (written by Ray Noble)

3. "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (written by Tex Davis and Gene Vincent)

4. "Earl's Breakdown" (written by Earl Scruggs)

5. "Far Noir East"

6. "Intermission"

7. "Go-Go Godzilla"

8. "Lonesome Road" (written by Gene Austin, Nathaniel Shilkret)

9. "Hillbilly Jazz Meltdown"

10. "Hot Love"

11. "Pickpocket"

Brian Setzer Remakes Bluegrass Classic Blue Moon of Kentucky

"Blue Moon of Kentucky," the opening track on Brian Setzer's 'Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!" (out April 19 on Surfdog Records), has withstood over 65 years of remakes and covers, but it's never been put to the test quite like it is by Setzer.

Setzer goes jazzy, muscled and completely instrumental on the bluegrass standard -- enshrined in 1989 as the official bluegrass song of Kentucky – turning what Bill Monroe wrote as a "country waltz" into a western swing anthem that finds the rockabilly legend picking his way through a series of lightning quick riffs.

Originally written in 1946 for Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Bluegrass Boys, "Blue Moon of Kentucky" has been covered countless times by a number of esteemed artists. Setzer joins a list that includes John Fogerty, Patsy Cline, Ronnie Hawkins, LeAnn Rhimes, Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Jerry Reed, Jimmy Martin, and Elvis Presley.

Read more about this release on Brian's website.