America’s Got Talent
In my review about The Voice show four years ago, I declared that I no longer believe in guilty pleasures. If I legitimately like something that most people – or even I – deem to be low brow, I embrace it. The truth is that I haven’t watched The Voice much since that column. That is probably because I only have room in my life for one reality TV show, and for the past two seasons that show has been America’s Got Talent. Unlike talent-specific shows such as singing-based shows The Voice and American Idol, or dance shows like So […]
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. While these musicians are old by any standard and the music they play is thick with tradition, the sounds always make my body feel like moving. 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 […]
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn
This is the first all-banjo album to be added to my collection, and a marvelous addition it is.
The Stray Birds
While The Stray Birds fit into the folk tradition, most of the songs don’t seem to cut into deep political ideas like those of former generations’ folk singers.
Matthew’s 2014 Media Matters Mix Tape
In the spirit of my National Mid-Year Music Award Day in July, I made up fake awards for these 14 songs. The awards may be bogus but the songs are legitimate winners.
This one is easier to digest than some earlier DiFranco work, but maybe not as filling.
Small Town Heroes
The lyrics sound like they connect with the canon of traditional music, but you need to dig deeper.
Woman to Woman
Love songs tend to offer only one side of the story, or one emotional response.
Look Again to the Wind
The album, though mostly ignored at the time, clearly positions Cash in the tradition of the folk singer. This revisit doesn’t seem nostalgic, nor does it seem old, but uncannily still important.
Matthew Kauffman Smith’s First Annual National Mid-Year Music Award Day
Anyone or anything can achieve some level of fame these days just by pronouncing something as important. This past week, ESPNheld the ESPYAwards, which are suddenly important because ESPNtold us it was (and aired the ceremonies, of course). And did you know that last week you missed Don’t Step on a Bee Day and Cow Appreciation Day (conveniently promoted by chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A)? Today, July 18, is National Caviar Day. The glass-is-half-empty guy inside of me says these are shameless, bogus events. The glass-is-half-full guy inside of me says we don’t celebrate enough so we might as well make […]