Article

Music Got Me Through 2017

Kaia Kater on the Woods Stage at Pickathon - the best place on the planet to experience music. And you'll be hearing a lot from Kaia in the future.

Every day a new tweet that summons the darkest aspects of humanity.  Every day another assault on the rule of law, on the norms of decency and the common good.  I’ve been working to make the world a better place for nearly forty years.  There have been some bad years, even some not so good decades, but 2017 takes the cake.

Sure, there were moments of hope and inspiration, but that were quickly ambushed by an infantile tweet or an actual natural disaster left unattended or a cold-hearted attack on food stamps, health care or any number of basic standards that keep our air clean, our workplaces safe and our internet accessible to all.

I did what I was called to do – fight, write, and organize – racking up 96,063 miles on airplanes, tons of meetings, presentations and phone calls - lots and lots of phone calls.  But I also did what I needed to do – find refuge from the chaos and despair of 2017 in music, lots and lots of music.  Old music, new music, live music, streamed music, old-fashioned car radio music. I found songs that inspire, songs that educate, songs with great guitar licks, fabulous harmonies and songs that just make you tap your feet.

The summary:  I saw 78 different performers live – a few twice, I bought albums of music by 51 different artists.  I went to two festivals, saw concerts in six cities (taking advantage of work-related travel in NY, Nashville, DC, Oklahoma City, Berkeley, Los Angeles.)  And, I did my small part for musicians – donating to five musicians working on new albums and wrote an article to share what I learned about how fans can help working musicians.

So, here’s the mother of all “best of 2017 lists”– the 101 artists I saw, bought and definitely admired. There are too many great ones to do anything but list alphabetically. They made 2017 the best music year and a survivable year overall.  Thank you.

  • Aaron Lee Tasjan
  • Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne
  • Amanda Shires
  • Angaleena Presley
  • Anthony D'Amato
  • A-Wa
  • Betty LaVette
  • Billy Bragg
  • Billy Strings
  • Birds of Chicago
  • Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
  • Blind Boys of Alabama
  • Brent Cobb
  • Charles Bradley
  • Chastity Brown
  • Courtney Granger
  • Courtney Marie Andrews
  • Danni Nichols
  • David Luning
  • Digging Roots
  • Don Bryant
  • Dori Freeman
  • Drive by Truckers
  • Dustbowl Revivial
  • Eilen Jewell
  • Erin Rae
  • Faye and the Fayettes
  • Gil Landry
  • Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings
  • Gretchen Peters
  • Hiss Golden Messenger
  • Hurray for the Riff Raff
  • Huur Huur Tu
  • I Draw Slow
  • Iris Dement
  • Jason Isbell
  • Jim Lauderdale
  • Joan Osborne
  • Joe Henry
  • John Prine
  • JT Nero
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Kaia Kater
  • Kasey Chambers
  • Lake Street Dive
  • Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards
  • Lauren Ruth Ward
  • Lindi Ortega
  • Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
  • Lizz Wright
  • Lori McKenna
  • Lorin Rowan
  • Lynne Hanson
  • Mandolin Orange
  • Marc Broussard
  • Margo Price
  • Marlon Williams
  • Mary Gauthier
  • Mavis Staples
  • McCrary Sisters
  • Melissa Etheridge
  • Melody Gardot
  • Molly Tuttle
  • Nellie Clay
  • Nellie McKay
  • Nicole Atkins
  • Otis Taylor
  • Patterson Hood
  • Paul Thorn
  • Po' Girl
  • Prophets of Rage
  • Raul Malo
  • Osagyefo Sekou
  • Rhiannon Giddens
  • Robert Cray
  • Rodney Crowell
  • Rose Cousins
  • Roseanne Cash
  • Ruthie Foster
  • Sarah and Sean Watkins (and Ed Helm)pen
  • Sarah Jarosz
  • Sarah Potenza
  • Secret Sisters
  • Stephen Fearing
  • St. Paul and the Broken Bones
  • Sturgill Simpson
  • Susto
  • Tank and the Bangas
  • Tedeschi Trucks
  • The Brother Brothers
  • The Mavericks
  • The Waifs
  • Trombone Shorty
  • Turnpike Troubadours
  • Twisted Pine
  • Valerie June
  • Van Morrison
  • Wailin Jennys
  • Wildwood Kin
  • Willie Nelson
  • Yola Carter