All posts tagged: Alison Krauss

Saturday Music: Aoife O’Donovan

This Saturday I’m featuring the second of the three members of the roots music trio I’m With Her, the gifted singer and songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. A native of Newton, Massachusetts, O’Donovan grew up spending her summers in Ireland and singing songs with her extended family. She studied contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music, and joined together with another classmate, plus two Berklee College of Music alums, to form the alternative-bluegrass band Crooked Still. That band, and their impressive debut album Hop High, was where I was introduced to O’Donovan.* Fiddler Brittany Haas (sister of Saturday Music musician Natalie Haas) and cellist Tristan Clarridge joined the band in 2008. Their version of When First Unto This Country is a lively tune representative of O’Donovan’s work during this period. The band is now on hiatus as the members pursue other projects. Many people know O’Donovan through her song Lay My Burden Down, which Alison Krauss included on her Paper Airplane album. For several years, the soulful O’Donovan tune Oh Mama, from her debut solo album Fossils and heard in this live version from …

Redwoods and Coastlines…The Main Course

Wednesday’s visit to see California’s redwoods and coastline turned out to be the appetizer.  Beautiful as it was, it couldn’t hold a candle to today’s visits to forests, coasts, and wine country. Thursday – the 14th day of our cross-country tour – was the main course. As is the case with much of the best cuisine of California, it did not disappoint. Claire and I left Eureka around 9 a.m. and headed south on Highway 101.  About 45 minutes into the drive we stopped for gas, and as fate would have it the manager had come out to fix the printer on our gas pump. When he saw our license plates he struck up a conversation, and finding out we were traveling cross-country, he immediately said, “You have to drive the Avenue of the Giants route.  This is the old road that criss-crosses 101, and in slightly more than 30 miles it has many of the huge redwoods in the region.” Oh my…was he ever right. And are we ever glad we took his advice. …

Oh Happy Day! – Merlefest 25 Wraps Up

Sunday is “Go to Meeting” day in the South, so it figures that the final day at Merlefest has a heavy gospel flavor. But because it is Merlefest – and therefore eclectic – you have your choice of shape-note singing, bluegrass gospel, Sunday blues (which should appeal to the non-believers and sinners alike), and black gospel. I opted for the black gospel sound this year, mostly by default.  (Not surprisingly, I was “late” for church because I slept in after a night of the blues with the Tedeschi Trucks Band.) But the Lord moves in mysterious ways.  And with the Benedict College Gospel Choir (photo at top of post) the Lord definitely moves! By the time I arrived, the choir had an enthusiastic crowd at the Watson Stage swaying and singing to that gospel standard Oh Happy Day!  There was testifying by some of the best voices of the weekend (and that’s saying a lot).  It was the perfect way to kick off Day Four – the final day – of Merlefest 25. The only …

The (Musical) Circle Never Ends

This is a post about music.  But it begins with swimming. Earlier this summer, I wrote that I was going to savor the last swim team season.  And I did just that, up to and including adding an extra meet onto the calendar to watch Andrew and his relay mates set a new team record in the All-Star meet.  We were thrilled he got to compete in that best-of-the-best meet in a hotbed of swimming! But this past Saturday got off to a great start, helped by the fact that I didn’t have to be at the pool at 7 a.m. for the first time this summer! So here are a few remembrances from a nice summer weekend that kept bringing thoughts (and connections) back to music. Candice and I were at the local farmer’s market on Saturday, looking to get some great Evensong Farm eggs from our friend Julie.  (Quick aside:  I didn’t realize how tasteless store-bought eggs are until we missed our Evensong eggs for six straight weeks!)  Julie’s father is bluegrass bass …

Sleep is Overrated When You’ve Got Music to Fuel the Soul

At the end of a busy first day at the National Preservation Conference in Nashville, I took off to the Grand Ole Opry House with about 20 close friends for the taping of a PBS special celebrating 40 Years of Rounder Records.  (Look for the show on March 10, 2010.)  While it started late and ended even later, it was an amazing evening of music. Here’s just a few highlights: Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas playing that great accordion-driven dance music from Louisiana, where the “crawfish got soul and the alligators got the blues.”  My accordion-playing friend Jim Harrington would have loved it.  As my colleague and seatmate  Caroline Barker said, “If I could move my feet like Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas I’d be a dancer instead of a preservationist (perhaps).” Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn singing and playing Keys to the Kingdom.  I heard them do the tune at Merlefest, but it was even better in the controlled setting of the Opry House.  Then Bela and Jerry Douglas played a duet …

Watching the Grammy’s Part II

After closing out last night’s More to Come… post on the Grammy’s, I caught the final award for album of the year, which went to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss for Rising Sand.  There is some justice when a rock icon who never won a Grammy with Led Zeppelin suddenly wins five when he teams up with – as the Washington Post’s J. Freedom du Lac termed her – “bluegrass goddess” Krauss. I loved it when Plant – that Led Zeppelin screamer – thanked old time musicians Mike Seeger and Norman Blake, along with bluegrass fiddler extraordinaire Stuart Duncan and the wonderful independent roots record company Rounder Records in his acceptance speech.  We haven’t heard names like that from the Grammy stage since O Brother swept the awards show.  Woo hoo! More to come… DJB

I Believe Thanksgiving is my New Favorite Holiday

I’m not sure what has been my favorite holiday, but I think Thanksgiving has now taken over the top rung on the ladder.  I think it may be the fact that big business hasn’t yet figured out a way to commercialize it.  Or perhaps it is the fact that food plays a big role.  I like the focus on the act of being thankful for all we have in a country that’s been abundantly blessed. Then again, maybe it is just that we’ve figured out how to get together with people we really enjoy and have a very relaxing time.  Whatever the reason, it is my new favorite holiday. Candice and I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving.  For many years we traveled over the mountain from Staunton to a wonderful inn, Prospect Hill, for a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner.  It was especially meaningful to us because we honeymooned at Prospect Hill while we were very poor graduate students.  Little did we realize that just a year after our wedding we’d move to Virginia and be an hour away.  With …