All posts tagged: Bearfoot

The Tastes of Vacation: Farmer’s Market Edition

Vacations in the Brown family are wonderful times to try new foods and restaurants – even when staying at home for two weeks. As yesterday’s post noted, I jumped out of the “vacation mode” gate early. The wonderful food and drink at Biga on the Banks in San Antonio simply whetted my appetite – literally – for the week ahead.  Last evening, Candice, Andrew and I spent a delightful evening at the tapas restaurant Barcelona in Cathedral Heights.  Candice and Andrew highly recommend the white sangria with the spring seasonings of lavender, sage, and rosemary.  We had a wide array of tapas, and all were tasty.  Some of my favorites included the mussels al diablo, the shrimp with a gazpacho dipping sauce, and the lamb chops. But my vacation didn’t officially begin until today. So in the spirit of yesterday’s post, I’m going to report – as frequently as possible – about the meals and other foodie treats we’re going to enjoy these next two weeks. It is a terrific time to sample what the …

Acoustic Music Old and New

Airline travel has its occasional benefits. Earlier this week I had a trip to Boston booked on Jet Blue Airlines.  When I sat down in the seat, I glanced at the arm rest and thought, “Hot dog – Jet Blue is the airline with free XM radio!”  I whipped out my ear buds and settled in for 90 minutes of the XM station Bluegrass Junction. I love to listen to my own iPod playlist, but it also great fun to settle in to an airline seat or a rental car to catch XM radio’s bluegrass station.  Every time that happens I always end up hearing some great new music, and my Boston trip was no exception. On one leg of the trip, the station was featuring one of its staples:  a program entitled Track By Track where the DJ plays a full album by a featured artist who provides commentary along the way.  This week’s show featured the new Compass Records album Somewhere South of Crazy by the Southern songbird Dale Ann Bradley. Now I’ve …

More Strings Make Beautiful Music

Several weeks ago the Spring 2010 issue of The Fretboard Journal showed up in my mailbox.  I was traveling a great deal at the time, so I popped in it my briefcase and caught up on all the news from the world of beautiful instruments in airplanes and hotel rooms. Ricky Skaggs, the young acoustic band Bearfoot (which I caught at last year’s Merlefest), and Bedford County, Virginia luthier James Jones are all featured in this issue.  But my eye was immediately taken to an article on harp guitars. I had never seen a harp guitar until I attended the Shenandoah Valley’s Oak Grove Music Festival one year and Stephen Bennett pulled out the strangest instrument imaginable.  But then he began playing the most beautiful music, and I was transfixed.  I’ve since met Stephen through my friends the Pearsons and Harringtons, and I’m always amazed at how someone can play such lovely music on such an awkward looking guitar. Stephen Bennett and Gregg Miner (whose guitar photo from harpguitars.net leads off this post) are featured …

Compass Records Artists Shine at MerleFest

I know that when I travel to MerleFest, I’d better take along some spending money for CDs.  The MerleFest Mall includes what I’ve heard described as “the world’s best Americana music store” and I wouldn’t disagree. This year’s store was sponsored by Compass Records, which was appropriate since so many of their artists were playing at the festival.  Compass is a label that over the past 10-12 years has grown to be one of the best in Americana and roots music.  Their website tells the background story: Co-founded in 1994 by musicians Alison Brown and Garry West, Compass is a new breed of roots-music label: eclectic, sophisticated, and artist-friendly. Called “one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade” by Billboard Magazine, Compass Records has provided a thriving haven of creativity for artists and a reliable beacon of quality for music fans. Its 2006 acquisition of the Green Linnet catalog and the 2008 acquisition of the seminal Mulligan Records label has made Compass the place to go for Celtic and roots music. Brown is …

Bright Morning Stars

Every day at breakfast before heading off to MerleFest, I’ve sat down and planned how I’m going to negotiate the day and the 14 stages.  This morning I had penciled in some old favorites, but when I arrived at the festival site I had a change of heart and decided to spend my morning listening to new bands.  You could call them the bright morning stars of the Americana music world. Saturday is the longest day of the festival, so I’m just back into my hotel room after midnight and have downloaded my pictures.  Rather than write a long, involved review, I’m just going to hit some of the highlights of the day for me: Hearing the young band Bearfoot from Alaska.  They sing beautifully and write interesting songs such as Drank Up All the Whiskey and Good in the Kitchen.  Angela Oudean is a promising young fiddler and Odessa Jorgensen is a fine songwriter and singer. I love the energy of the New Generation Super Jam on the Watson (main) stage.  The SteelDrivers played great straight-ahead …