Monday, April 03, 2006

You're Gonna Be Disappointed...

...that you tagged me (twice) for a music list of ten artists , two songs each, unless you actually listen to some of the music I recommend. I play the violin, so pardon my prejudice in favor of others who do the same.

1. Brilliant young fiddler Michael Cleveland is just breaking into his twenties, but plays like he's lived a hundred years. His first major label solo album, Flamekeeper, is absolutely breathtaking, and I'd recommend Dance Around Molly, Lee Highway Blues, and the very pretty Blue Violet Waltz.

2. Ricky Skaggs sings like an angel and plays every instrument he touches like a house on fire. He can fiddle, but I'm crazy about his his mandolin playing, which is dead-on perfect. On Bluegrass Rules, he really nails the odd Bill Monroe tune entitled Get Up John. His vocals are exquisite, and I love a tune from Soldier of the Cross entitled Seven Hillsides. It's about a preacher who has to speak at the funerals of seven soldiers in one day.

3. Alison Krauss has a voice like no other. She's also a first-class fiddler, having won contests before literally finding her voice and making a name for herself as a semi-bluegrass bandleader. My favorite Alison CD is So Long So Wrong, and I'll choose the title tune for one of her tunes. I'm also very fond of a fiddle tune she plays called Ride the Wild Turkey which Darol Anger composed. I believe she recorded that on the live CD.

4. People looking for a taste of straight bluegrass without all that twangy hillbilly sound that so many find off-putting might like the Bluegrass Album Band, featuring ace guitarist and singer Tony Rice, fiddler Bobby Hicks, and resonator guitarist Jerry Douglas, lately of Alison Krauss and Union Station. Everything they play is great, but I'll pick Wall Around Your Heart from Volume 3, and Model Church from Volume 1.

5. Speaking of Tony Rice, he has a wonderful album called Manzanita. It's not precisely bluegrass, because there's no banjo, and there's just nothing like it. Tony sings on this album with Ricky Skaggs on tenor, and some of the best musicians you'll ever hear anywhere, ever. Two outstanding tunes from this album are the title cut, composed by Tony, and Gordon Lightfoot's Home From the Forest.

6. Bluegrass roots run deep, and none deeper than those of the late and maniacal Jimmy Martin, who got his start as the lead singer for American musical icon Bill Monroe. No one quite had his drive, rhythm, taste in headwear, or blatant lack of decorum.

I pick every single song from You Don't Know My Mind, particularly the title tune and Jimmy's theme song, Sunny Side of the Mountain.

7. My favorite fiddler for many years was Byron Berline, who's recorded with everyone from Bill Monroe to gram Parsons to the Rolling Stones. He has wonderful CD called Dad's Favorites, and I'll pick the intricate Limerock and the simple Redbird from that CD.

8. I'm going to get out of bluegrass for now, just to prove that I can, and select Graham Parker as a killer singer/ songwriter. He has an unforgettable song on The Real Macaw called You Can't Take Love for Granted. His classic and best album Squeezing out Sparks is now available on CD bundled together with live versions of all those songs for just $11.98 (!), with a version of the Jackson 5 hit I Want You Back, at no additional charge.

For a second Graham song, though, I'll pick Temporary Beauty. Bruce Springsteeen stated Parker was the only singer he'd pay to see.

9. I grew up very fond of Ray Davies and the Kinks, mostly for the ironic wit and observations they were able to add to the music. It's very tough to pick two of their tunes, but I'll go with Victoria and the heartbreaking Young and Innocent Days from their thematic album Arthur. The Beatles were not the only ones back then doing clever things with music.

10. But the Beatles were clever indeed. I'll have to pick Julia as one of my very favorites, and the fact that my daughter's name is Julia has absolutely everything to do with it. I'll also pick the ballad For No One.

That's it. But don't get too close to me or I may tag you as well.

Update: I've tagged Tom Moore over at I Who Can't. Check out his site, and don't miss his great series of articles from Slate.

I've also tagged my favorite political blogger, reality-based educator.
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