There's been a lot happening in the world of roots music since I last did a photo roundup, and our ND photographers have been very busy in capturing a lot of it. They saw no fewer than 40 artists, from legends including Linda Ronstadt, Gordon Lightfoot, and Arlo Guthrie to just-announced AMA nominees Molly Tuttle, Brent Cobb, and Anderson East. Here's an overview, with a set of splendid photos that follows.
Chad recently traveled to Memphis to cover Lucero's 20th birthday party that also included Deer Tick, John Moreland, and Turnpike Troubadours. He returned to his Ohio home to catch the irrepressible Elizabeth Cook, AMA nominee Brent Cobb, and Caleb Caudle.
Our friend in North Carolina caught the singular talent from that state, Rhiannon Giddens. Readers of this column know my thoughts on her, and every performance is a special occasion. He also caught one of the most talked-about newcomers, Billy Strings, and 6 String Drag alum Kenny Roby, who is new to me.
At the opposite end of the country, the northwest, Peter caught two Chicano bands on the verge, Las Cafeteras and Los Lonely Boys. The former, from East Los Angeles, fuses folk with Afro-Mexican, with musical themes derived from labor movements. They take their social involvement one step further, naming their band with the feminine "las" even though its members are men. The latter, a power trio of brothers from Texas, fuses the great melting pot of that state's musical diversity. Both have been making the rounds for more than a decade.
Mark J. Smith
Coming back East to the Philadelphia area, Mark caught one of the best, if not the best, trio of singer-songwriters to team up, Cry Cry Cry: Dar Williams, Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky. They recently got back together after a near 20-year hiatus. He also caught Anderson East, who has to be the odds-on-favorite to take home this year's Emerging Artist award at AmericanaFest in September. He also saw a longtime member of that city's music scene, Lizanne Knott.
Elliott again demonstrates that she is the hardest working photographer in roots music by capturing legends Arlo Guthrie, Linda Ronstadt, Gordon Lightfoot, surf guitar king Dick Dale, Los Lobos, and Dale Watson. Watson recently decamped from Austin for Memphis. A lot of folks feel Memphis will be the next "it" town.
She also caught outstanding new artists, Dustbowl Revival, Shook Twins, and Sam Lewis. Lewis' just released album, Loversity, fully demonstrates why Rolling Stone named him one of ten new country artists to watch.
While Elliott saw too many even newer names to list, perhaps the most stunning of her photos are the ones of Shelby Lynne, who remains the rarest of talents. She has a low tolerance for BS, while being, based on my interactions with her, one of the kindest, most accommodating of performers.
Larry John Fowler
While Fowler's only photos are of Peter Rowan, they serve to remind us of someone who has been taken for granted. While based in the tradition, Rowan knows not to stand still. His latest album, Carter Stanley's Eyes, is not only the best bluegrass album of the year, its title song will bring tears to your eyes, even if you know nothing about bluegrass.
Speaking of AMA nominees, DrSax caught IMBA-winner Molly Tuttle. No one in the bluegrass world needs an introduction to her, but as Tuttle's exposure expands she's winning new fans every day. The Americana crowd has finally caught up. Having seen her on several occasions, I can attest that she's the brightest talent to come along in quite some time. He also caught the exciting the War and Treaty, who I cannot wait to see.
Phew! That was quite something. Now take a leisurely stroll through their photos, and a few more not mentioned above.