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Archive for the ‘Folk’ Category

RIP, Maggie Roche (January 21, 2017) The Roches

Posted by themusicsover on January 21, 2017

Maggie Roche
October 26, 1951 – January 21, 2017

Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns

Maggie Roche, along with her sisters, Terre and Suzzy, wrote and performed primarily folk music as the Roches.  Formed in Park Ridge, New Jersey in 1973, the group went on to release numerous critically acclaimed albums.  They got their first break when Maggie and Terre were invited to sing harmony on Paul Simon‘s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.  Before they knew it, the due was signed to Columbia Records who released their debut in 1975.  Suzzy soon joined and they re-christened themselves as the Roaches and released their Robert Fripp produced self-titled debut in 1979.  The album included two of their best known songs, “Hammond Song” and “The Married Men,” both written by Maggie.   In later years, they slowed down in terms of touring but continued recording as a trio, as duos, and individually. Their last studio album as the Roches, Moonswept, was released in 2007.   Maggie Roche died of cancer on January 21, 2017.  She was 65.

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RIP, Leonard Cohen (November 7, 2016) Canadian Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on November 7, 2016

Leonard Cohen
September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016

Photo by Takahiro Kyono

Photo by Takahiro Kyono

Leonard Cohen was a revered Canadian poet, author, and most famously, singer-songwriter.  Over a career that spanned almost 50 years, Cohen provided the dimly-lit smoky-bar soundtrack for people who needed hope, lost faith, felt despair, or longed for love. Initially planning a career as an author and poet, Cohen wanted to reach more people, so he switched gears and found himself singing and performing in New York City at the relatively late age of 33.  He quickly became an unlikely pop star – rugged baritone voice, simple chord structures, and a private, guarded life within a profession that celebrated extroversion. His career might have seemed over when upon the release of his most famous song, 1984’s “Hallelujah,” his label head reportedely told him, “Look, Leonard; we know you’re great, but we don’t know if you’re any good,” before dropping him.  But his songs eventually caught on, and younger generations of singer-songwriters borrowed them to include in their own canons.  “Hallelujah” alone was recorded by over 200 artists, including Bob Dylan, Justin Timberlake, k.d. lang,  John Cale, and most famously, Jeff Buckley.  In all, Cohen’s tunes have been covered by more than 2000. That list includes such greats as Johnny  Cash, Nick Cave, Willie Nelson, R.E.M., and Tori Amos. In 2008, at the age of 74, and facing financial ruin, Cohen embarked on an ambitious (and triumphant!) world tour that would last about three years before his health started to get the better of him. After getting well, he hit the road again doing a seemingly endless series of impassioned shows that ran north of three hours a piece.  That lasted through December of 2013, when he fell ill again.  But Cohen refused to be bound by his health and set out to record what would be the final two albums of his lifetime, 2014’s Popular Problems, and this year’s You Want it Darker, recorded in his home with him in a wheelchair and singing many of the sessions in physical pain.  That album was released just two weeks before his death, and served as a profound self-eulogy in much the same way as David Bowie‘s Lazarus.  It has been reported, thankfully, that exluding his last album, his late-life career revival earned him around $10 million. Leonard Cohen was 82 when he passed away on November 7, 2016.

What You Should Own

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Click to find at amazon.com

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Died On This Date (May 17, 2016) Guy Clark / Revered Texas Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on May 17, 2016

Guy Clark
November 6, 1941 – May 17, 2016

guy-clarkGuy Clark was the true embodiment of a “songwriter’s songwriter.”  Born in Texas, Clark’s name is rarely excluded when conversations turn to the greats from that state. Alongside contemporaries like Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker, Clark laid down the foundation for what is now simply called Texas Music or Texas Country.  His lyrics, served over mostly sparse blues folk instrumentation, tended to come as close to being called literature as songs could get.  As a performer – and most of the time armed with little more than his acoustic guitar or maybe a second and a fiddle, Clark could leave an audience holding its collective breath in anticipation of the next word coming from his mouth – and many times, that was during his talk leading up to the song. He eventually settled in Nashville where he and his wife, Susanna Clark, often welcomed local songwriters into their home where they could work on perfecting their craft in informal workshops.  This open houses often hosted the likes of Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Steve Young.  Clark’s songs have been hits for such country luminaries as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, and Rodney Crowell.  For his own recordings, Clark garnered numerous accolades, including a Best Folk Album Grammy for his 2014 release, My Favorite Picture of You.  On May 17, 2016, Guy Clark died following a courageous battle against cancer.  He was 74.

What You Should Own

Click to find at amazon.com

Click to find at amazon.com


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Died On This Date (June 6, 2015) Ronnie Gilbert / Folk Music Great; The Weavers

Posted by themusicsover on June 6, 2015

Ronnie Gilbert
September 7, 1926 – June 6, 2015

ronnie-gilbertSimply put, Ronnie Gilbert was folk music royalty.  Along with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman, Gilbert formed the Weavers in 1948.  Based in the folk mecca of New York’s Greenwich Village, the band was arguably the most influential folk group the scene had ever produced.  Artists and activists like Joan Baez, Bob DylanMimi & Richard Farina, and Peter, Paul & Mary were all products of the folk revival they kicked off by putting a contemporary spin on folk music.  The band gained popularity, mostly by word of mouth, while their songs resonated with so-called progressive causes like civil rights and workers’ rights.  Their recordings of “If I Had a Hammer,” “This Land is Your Land,” and “Goodnight Irene” – among many others – became folk music standards.  During the 1950s, the Weavers became a victim of the “Red Scare,” causing them to become blacklisted from radio stations, television and beyond.  Due to a lack of bookings and recording opportunities that followed, the band broke up.  But in 1955, they reunited for a much-heralded performance at Carnegie Hall, which lead to renewed interest in their music.  The group continued on, though with Erik Darling replacing Seeger, over the next decade before calling it quits again.  Gilbert went on to enjoy a career in theater as well as as a solo recording artist.  In 1980, the surviving Weavers reunited once again to a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall.  Ronnie Gilbert was 88 when she passed away on June 6, 2015

What You Should Own

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Click to find at amazon.com


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Died On This Date (June 1, 2015) Richard Watson / Guitarist; Grandson of Doc Watson

Posted by themusicsover on June 1, 2015

Richard Eddy Watson
DOB Unknown – June 1, 2015

Photo by Lonnie Webster

Photo by Lonnie Webster

Richard Watson was an accomplished guitarist who was born into American folk music royalty.  His father was the last Merle Watson, after whom the yearly MerleFest music festival is named, and his grandfather was the late great Doc Watson.   A regular fixture at MerleFest throughout the years, Richard joined countless acts on stage. He regularly performed with Doc as well, both at the festival and beyond, until Doc passed away in 2012.  In 1991, Richard produced Third Generation Blues by him and his grandfather for the Sugar Hill label.  Richard Watson was 49 when he passed away on June 1, 2015.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

What You Should Own

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Click to find at amazon.com


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