Oh, how time flies. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we were seeing the birth of a jamband movement emerge to throw a wrench into the music industry. They helped define how artists can be successful without mainstream radio play or multi-platinum records by relying on grassroots ventures and dynamic live concerts. One of those burgeoning groups from that era are amazingly celebrating their 25th birthday this year, that being Colorado’s own progressive jamgrass outfit Leftover Salmon.
It’s hard to use the term super-group without a couple of obvious stigmas surfacing. It usually constitutes musicians who were sensationalized with other bands coming together to benefit off of the novelty of their collaboration with other already successful players. Often the results are under-inspired, a lucrative opportunity to make a quick buck off of an established name. Not every band assembled of already established players constitutes super group.
Only a year into her teens, and boasting a wide smile at every concert, Jaden Carlson seems to be doing what she loves, and it shows in her playing. There’s no comparison to the crashed and burnt refugees of the entertainment industry; no label issued stranglehold on her creativity and self-motivated drive. She writes her own songs and lyrics and even finds time to do her homework between band practice.
From their debut performances at the Village Gate, a historic jazz club located on the west side of Lower Manhattan, to their high-profile collaborations with an eclectic variety of musicians, avant-jazz funk trio Medeski, Martin & Wood have developed a signature style that has continued to push the boundaries of American jazz for the last 23 years.
This all started with Lizzy Grant—back before Lana del Rey’s somehow-transcendent Born to Die managed to convince the vogue among us that trailer park chic was most certainly in, there was this beautiful young girl singing tortured-soul musings out of a doublewide, claiming that hell and salvation could all be found just cruising down Main Street in any blue collar town—simple as that.
The first Lotus pressing I ever got my hands on was their last, Monks, this tight little package that threw-back to the glory days of trip-hop you’d never hear about unless you were in—(see Deltron 3030, Doctor Octagon, et. al.)—and, in the process, brought the mellow-fellow known as Doodlebug and his “Cloud 9” musings into my life. Here was, far as I could say, a honed-vet jam band biting hip-hop, and I dug it.
Handmade Moments’ first album is a collection of fun, sultry, inspiring, thoughtful tracks. With songs stretching from political to simply lovely, the duo (Anna Horton and Joel Ludford) offers an expansive array of styles and lyrics through their 12 songs. Musically, the album is rooted in strings and jazz; bluegrass, folk and Americana float in throughout the album. Horton and Ludford’s musical and vocal styles complement each other well; her voice sails, while his tethers.
The McCoury family legacy is one of the richest in bluegrass. Father Del McCoury was a crucial member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys and achieved legendary status with his souring lead vocals on signature Monroe songs and originals. His band is a family band, and has been for a while.
As the web of Americana continues to be woven, artists connect the past and present through musicianship and songwriting that reflects a fluid agreement between contemporary and roots qualities. Too often is nostalgia misrepresented as authenticity, and bands afraid to develop their own sound generally don’t last the test of time. Of one Northern California’s most promising ensembles that reflects true individualism through songwriting and playing is Achilles Wheel.