music review Archive

Did you know it’s National Midyear Music Award Day?

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June 30, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Every Christmas, my mom, a high school French teacher, would take her seasonal decorations out of storage. She had four wooden blocks, one for each letter of the originally French word Noel. My brother and I had a tradition of our own: reversing the letters to spell the name Leon. My mom would find Leon, sigh, and transform him back into Noel. This cycle repeated itself dozens of times throughout the Advent season. First presented in 2014, and again in 2015, the awards resume this year after I celebrated Take a Yearlong Hiatus Day in 2016. Unbeknownst to my brother […]

Roll Columbia: Woody Guthrie’s 26 Northwest Songs

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April 7, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Woody Guthrie wrote 26 tunes during one month of 1941, working for a Depression-era government project in the Columbia River Valley. The tunes reflect the struggle of those who work hard and still struggle to survive. The tales rewind the pain of those wandering the country looking for a job, a better place to live, and a way to raise their families. These new versions, recorded mostly by artists based in the Pacific Northwest, start the two-disc set with “Pastures of Plenty,” featuring the wonderful guitar work of Jon Neufeld and Michael Hurley. The tunes seem to be from another […]

Aoife O’Donovan

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March 4, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

As a photographer I often seek the magic hour to shoot photographs, the hour when the light bends during its passage through the atmosphere and the color of this light becomes warmer-toned and the shadows grow longer and more intriguing. With that in mind I was curious why O’Donovan would name her newest album with that moniker. O’Donovan inhabits the music of her roots, and not all is darkness. “Porch Light” exposes the struggle between the urge to live totally self-sufficiently and a life that is lived with a commitment to another human. You wanna live a life of restlessness […]

Sierra Hull

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February 5, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

Sierra Hull has been wowing audiences with her mandolin skills since she was a teenager. It was years ago that I had the chance to see her live in concert. Then she already played with amazing skill, but she also shared the space generously with her band, and created a fully entertaining experience. Hull hasn’t released a CD in five years—time for her to embrace the questions and quests that come with traveling through the early 20s of life. Weighted Mind opens a window into what those five years contained. Hull is now so much more than an amazing mandolin […]

National Mid-year Music Award Day

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July 24, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

You may not know this, but today is National Recycle Your Own Mediocre Ideas Day. It is Exploit Your Creative Shortcomings Day. Lest we all forget, today is also Plagiarize Yourself Day. By this point, you might think it’s National Lie to Your Readers Day. Or maybe it’s just All of the Above Day. Truth be told, it is actually National Thermal Engineers Day today, which I scoffed at until my computer started overheating; now I’m a believer. Frankly, legitimate holidays just aren’t enough. If we have to make up reasons to be goofy and celebrate, then so be it. […]

Mandolin Orange

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June 5, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

Mandolin Orange, the duo of Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin, offers a gem with the release of their latest album. They have been touring regularly over the last few years, but this album whispers of the desire to be home. The last cut, “Of Which There Is No Like,” ends with: The fiddle, guitar, and mandolin blend with the voices surrounding you like a comfy blanket in the chill so you can settle back into your rocking chair or porch swing and enjoy life as the sun sets over the horizon. Hold me tight tonight my darling Out of the […]

Lost Treasures?

May 8, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

Lost and Found: Buena Vista Social Club Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes Two recent musical releases dig into hidden gems and leftovers to create new albums. Lost and Found, from the Buena Vista Social Club, and Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes. On Lost and Found you will experience a wonderful mix, from Manuel Guajiro Mirabel’s trumpet solos of “Habenero,” taken from the vaults when it didn’t make it onto a planned solo album in 2004, to the infectious live tune that starts the album, featuring Ibrahim Ferrer and more than a dozen other musicians. […]