You only have to hear them once to become fans of Tripping Lily. This young quartet might be described as a string band with pop music sensibilities, or perhaps a cutting edge vocal quartet with acoustic instruments. Last year was a big year for Tripping Lily, highlighted by winning 2 Independent Music Awards for Best Folk Record and Best Acoustic Song, opening for Jazz artist Chris Botti, and being a featured guest for the Cape Cod Symphony’s Holiday Pops Spectacular.
Mt. Vernon, Iowa, is where Dan Bern was reared, the cello-playing, baseball-loving progeny of two Old World artists in the American heartland. In time Bern found the guitar, and his way to the West Coast, whre he got his footing in the neo-folk music scene in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. He put out his first album in 1997. Breathe is his seventh. In between, he's amassed a strong underground following, built in part on his prodigious output of intellectual and topical songs.
Pirate ships, rail yards, skee ball machines, blackberry brandy, and the Coney Island boardwalk—these are just some of the sights, sounds, and smells found in the dimly lit thoroughfares of A Plea For Dreamland, Jason’s third full-length album and first since relocating to Brooklyn.
John Fannon’s parents gave him his first guitar…a black Silvertone acoustic…and at the age of 15 he set off on his long musical journey as a highly regarded sideman and vocalist in several established groups as well as being one of the founding members in several others.
Lori McKenna’s first name is actually Lorraine. Now you know. She is named after the mother she lost when she was only seven, but whose impact on Lori’s life reverberates to this day. In her sixth album, Lorraine, she considers the influence of her mother, who died at roughly the same age Lori is now, as well as her own place in relationship to her husband, family and community. It is her most personal album to date.
Tim O’Brien listens to bluegrass and hears the music’s roots in modal Irish ballads and vintage swing. He insightfully re-examines and reconstructs those styles, and many others, in his own music, throwing off new sparks by reawakening the tension and interplay of the colliding components at the heart of American music. “Over the years,” he explains, “my music has become a certain thing. Each time I go into the studio to make a new album, I could make an Irish record, or a bluegrass record, or a country record…but it seems artificial to sift anything out.
The trio won this year's Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Return to Forever, Chick Corea won an individual Grammy for Best Jazz Solo, and we have a magnificent live festival performance from their tour, in Surround Sound.
On August 1, 1981 MTV was launched. It was an idea that most people thought ridiculous and doomed to failure. Most people associated with the start up of MTV, on the air and behind the scenes, had had no previous experience in the media. If that wasn’t daunting enough, when MTV started there was an incredibly slim selection of music videos to play. But it soon became obvious that MTV would play an important role in shaping the musical tastes of Middle America as well as having a dramatic impact on the artists whose videos were shown.