Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

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Labor Day Weekend 2018 offers myriad music festival opportunities for fans in Virginia, North Carolina

Listen up music festival lovers: Labor Day Weekend 2018 has plenty of opportunities in North Carolina, Virginia and beyond. Continue reading

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First Listen: Couldn’t Be Happiers release ‘His and Hers’ tunes on Spotify

A year after the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based dynamic musical duo, Couldn’t Be Happiers, formed, they will release two tracks — “Cajun Spider-Man” and “Mad” — on July 24 that couldn’t be more different or more reflective of the artists. The two-track CD is appropriately called “His and Hers” and is available on Spotify.

Jordan Crosby Lee (vocals, guitar) is a tattooed Texas troubadour who blends melodies and shares harmonies with a Jodi Hildebran (vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion), a sassy blonde country crooner from North Carolina. Hildebran is a singer/songwriter whose love of pop and Americana music permeates her writing.

I have written in the past that the Couldn’t Be Happiers combine all the best things about classic country music.

That hasn’t changed with the release of the duo’s latest two tracks. I find Lee’s up-tempo “Cajun Spider-Man” tune reminiscent of the storytelling song genre the great Tom T. Hall and Roger Miller, among others, made famous. It’s outlandishness also reminds me a bit of Bruce Springsteen’s more recent “Outlaw Pete.”

Hildebran’s “Mad” is unique in its delivery allowing her the depth of her vocals to shine with a Rhiannon Giddeons’ quality I haven’t heard from Hildebran until now. “Mad” sounds like it should be listened to in a dim speakeasy lit only by candlelight while sipping on a Manhattan.

But don’t take my word for it. Take a listen for yourself:

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Year in Review: My favorite musical picks for 2017

While 2017 will be remembered for many things, it turned out to be a great year for new music. Artists including Steve Earle & the Dukes, Lee Ann Womack, Chris Stapleton, Rhiannon Giddeons and Jason Isbell turned out some amazing albums over the past 12 months, but you don’t need me to tell you that.

Instead, I am going to focus on my own purely subjective list that evolves mainly from music festivals I attended, interviews I conducted and stories I published online on this blog, or on HuffPost that features my favorite genres (primarily folk, Americana, country, rock) and up-and-coming artists that I hope you will take the time to listen to in the coming year and beyond.

And now, in no particular order, here’s my picks for the best listens of 2017. Happy listening! Continue reading

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First Listen: Couldn’t Be Happiers debut EP on Saturday, Dec. 23, at Granite Falls Brewing Co.

The promising duo,  “Couldn’t Be Happiers,” is releasing its debut EP at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 23, at Granite Falls Brewing Co. in Granite Falls, North Carolina (map).

But you can get an exclusive first listen of this fresh, new music, “Let’s Not Bury the Obvious,” here:

The Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based duo, “Couldn’t Be Happiers.”  is made up of Jodi Hildebran (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Jordan Crosby Lee (vocals, guitar). They remind me of all the best things about classic country music.

“Right now, since we are such a young band, we put together the best representation of ourselves we could in three songs,” Lee explains. “We’re songwriters first. Live performers a close second and recording artists third. That will come.”

The Couldn’t Be Happiers plan on selling hard-copy and digital EPs for $5 “just to recuperate cost, including studio time,” Lee adds. “It will also be on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. We’re basically giving it away to gain exposure and book more live shows.”

You can learn more about the duo here.


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Taylor Swift vs. Ed Sheeran: Models for releasing new music continue to evolve


Music artists are faced with a conundrum today that is worthy of a song. And it’s not just music artists. Ask anyone who is trying to promote a book or any other form of artistry. Do you give your artistic works away to gain exposure? Or do you try to get fans to pay for your hard-earned efforts, instead?

For example, many musicians these days are giving away new tunes on Amazon Prime, Apple Music, SoundCloud and Spotify, just to name a few, in order to try to build a following in the hopes that the masses will then seek out live shows. Continue reading