Lauderdale’s Country Super is super country

By Chris Cooper

The stellar songwriting talents of Jim Lauderdale have been tapped by a “who’s who” of country music and bluegrass stars — anyone from George Strait to the Dixie Chicks, blues grandfather John Mayall to newer country upstarts like Shelby Lynne.

Southern Cross set to test its metal

By Chris Cooper

If you can imagine an even more ticked-off Phil Anselmo fronting a hybrid of COC and Black Sabbath, you’ll have an idea of where mountain metal outfit Southern Cross is coming from.

The eighties uncovered

By Chris Cooper

It’s all too easy to dismiss the ‘80s as an era of day-glow clothes, poofy hair and painfully lame, glossy radio friendly “pop.” And thanks to the popularity of television shows like VH1’s “I Love the ‘80s,” a generation that did most of its growing up in the ‘90s now has nothing but the worst aspects of the previous decade to stare at and be glad they missed.

Fine playing on a Kinky collaboration

By Chris Cooper

I have to admit — I really don’t know much about Kinky Friedman. I mean, most of us have certainly heard the name, but beyond what seems like the sheer novelty of being a Jewish country artist and the rather non PC nature of a few song titles (“Ride ‘Em Jew Boy” comes to mind) I can’t say I’ve ever even heard a Kinky Friedman song.

Local pickers’ uncommon talent

By Chris Cooper

It would be pretty tough to find someone around here that hasn’t heard at least a little about the hard working congregation of local musicians that call themselves Commonfolk.

Newgrass with strong roots

It seems that in the realm of jam-oriented “newgrass” music, there are very clear lines between the things that work and those things that don’t.

Extended improvisations are fine, but they have to be grounded in actual songs, not mere canvases on which to scribble aimlessly. It’s great to have a variety of instruments at your disposal, but not as a novelty — that banjo player had better be able to flat-out pick. The same goes for anybody holding a mandolin, Dobro or violin.

Unique bluegrass musicianship

By Chris Cooper

For all practical purposes, the County bluegrass label is also the Rebel Records label. CD’s bearing the County brand are typically (though not always) early bluegrass and old-time gems that have been saved from the clutches of obscurity, such as last year’s Curly Seckler collection That Old Book Of Mine.

The Joy of Jammin’: Smoky Mountain Folk Festival celebrates 35 years of music and dance at Lake Junaluska

By Michael Beadle

What keeps people coming back year after year to the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival at Lake Junaluska each Labor Day weekend?

Maybe it’s the award-winning performers such as Marc Pruett, David Holt and Sheila Kay Adams. Maybe it’s the wholesome sounds of family string bands. Maybe it’s the chance to see Southern Appalachian clogging teams at their best.

Eric Johnson: Live at the Orange Peel 8/30/06

By Chris Cooper

OK, the title of this one is a bit misleading, seeing as how Eric Johnson’s appearance at Asheville’s Orange Peel technically hasn’t happened yet.

And since I was never able to get my hands on one of those time-traveling silver DeLoreans from the Michael J. Fox movies, I can’t say that I’ve already seen what I’m sure will be a tremendous and inspiring show ... but it sure would be cool if I could.

Strange happenings in music today

By Chris Cooper

Here are a few things about “modern” rock and pop that I’ve found interesting (in a morbid curiosity kind of way) or just plain depressing recently. Maybe I’ve too much time on my hands. Maybe some of this will actually make sense. Who knows? Read, then discuss amongst yourselves.

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