Posts Tagged ‘folk alley’

(rhododendron Photo #232/365)

It’s a quiet evening after a very beautiful day (outside). I am streaming music from my favorite on-line radio station, folkalley.com and checking my email before I ruin the evening and start paying bills (ugh).

I love folk music and discovering folkalley was wonderful. I know you can stream music through Pandora for free, but folkalley is dedicated to the preservation of folk music. You can stream folkalley for free, but I pay a nominal membership fee so I can avoid the membership drive garbage. I think I’ve been a member for four years now (pauses to count the number of free CDs received with each membership renewal: yes, four years).

They don’t always play music I like and sometimes I am disappointed to discover that “folk” means ’70’s “soft rock (but since I am a child of the Seventies and most of the soft rock they play is from my coming of age, I can live with that).

Tonight they are streaming “all Irish music” in honor of St. Patrick’s Day (yesterday). I’m listening to Solas, Karan Casey, Altan, Niamh Parsons and more. If I wanted to listen to the normal stream, they’re playing bluegrass tonight.

When I first started listening to folkalley, I had no idea how much of the music world would be opened to me. I thought folk music was pretty much a thing of history, a movement lost in between the early 1970’s and the 1980’s: WRONG. The folk movement is alive and well, as is bluegrass and western.

Let me pause her: I do not mean “Country & Western” music, especially the cross-over type that is so popular today (don’t get me wrong: I love my Georges: Strait & Jones). I don’t mean the “country” of the 1930’s, either.

I mean, specifically, western music: music about cattle punching, horse riding, rodeoing, drifting. There’s an amazing variety of western artists still out there. I’ve discovered Dave Stamey (a cowboy poet/recording musician), Jim Pipkin (Arizona’s Ranger), Adam Klein, Jim Jones.

Of course, they also play a lot of music everyone is familiar with: Loreena McKinnit, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, the Duhks, Great Big Sea, Fairport Convention, and my all-time favorite: Emmylou Harris.

I keep a notepad by the computer so I can write down various artists and songs that catch my interest. I’ve discovered Abigail Washburn (who does some very interesting songs in Mandarin), Justin Towns Earle, Gandalf Murphy and so many, many more.

I could list musicians and music all night long: from the little-known local bluegrass bands to the big name stars and all the oldies.

I am not a musician. I did play clarinet (sort of) through Junior High and into high school, but I wasn’t that good. I can’t sing worth a lick (my kids actually banned me from singing in their presence when they were about 4 and 6 years of age. Of course my children are gifted musicians and love music. Go figure (must be the Presley gene). But I am not tone-deaf. I know I sing flat. Tone deaf would be someone who can’t hear how awful they sound. I can hear it.

I think that is why I am so drawn to folk music. Or it could be growing up with Peter, Paul & Mary and Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchel, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and the folk movement of the late 1960’s. It’s just so nice to find that genre still exists and that there are people out there who are dedicated to the preservation of our folk roots, from Pete Seeger and Malvina Reynolds to duets like Alison Krauss & Robert Plant (for the record, I love Led Zeppelin, too: I am not limited to folk music).

So tonight, I want to thank the folks at Kent State who run folkalley.com and the folks at the Smithsonian and anyone else out there who is working hard to preserve something of our collective past (that would be all those wonderful bluegrass musicians, poets, Celtic bands and artists like Abigail Washburn & Loreena McKinnit.

Another folk goodie: Bruce Springsteen. I love his Pete Seeger Sessions.

Just tell me to shut up now.

Love, Jaci. (Who wishes there was room to list all the good musicians and songs out there…)

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