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Through the Lens

Focusing on the finest roots music photography

Amos lives in West Virginia, where he works with Mountain Stage and takes stunning photographs of live music performances.

Through the Lens

Focusing on the finest roots music photography

Amos lives in West Virginia, where he works with Mountain Stage and takes stunning photographs of live music performances.

Rhiannon Giddens: Artist of the Year in Photographs

Tomorrow Is My Turn is a sublime record.  Saw her live early last fall, one of my favorite shows in recent years.  She is a stunning, compelling singer.  Not sure who named her Artist of the Year, but hell yes!

 

I was fortunate to see Rhiannon with the Chocolate Drops at a roots concert in 2012 and then with another acclaimed singer and her good friend Laurelyn Dossett (Polecast Creek).  One of the most impressive all around musicians I have seen in over 4 decades of listening to roots music.  We have been fortunate in my home state of North Carolina of having a lot of noted homegrown talent ranging from Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs to Thelonius Monk. Rhiannon ranks right up there.  I'm elated at her success and recognition.

I'd seen Giddens with CCD, when she was pregnant with her second child and complained about wind problems.  It was a wonderful concert, with a great deal of conversation about the history of the music and of her experience -- anecdotes about her time as a competitor in gaelic song competitions, about the black gaelic community that actually existed in the Carolinas, about the interplay of African and Irish/Scottish music.  And so on.

So, I was listening to the new CD Factory Girl and had the thought "She should be on a Transatlantic Sessions show".  That's the BBC series featuring Scot Aly Bain and American Jerry Douglas, and a host of performers from the folk traditions on both sides of the Atlantic.  Which led me to google Transatlantic Sessions to see what was up with them.

And what should I see but Rhiannon Giddens getting rave reviews for live performances as part of the Transatlantic Sessions crew throughout the UK.  With luck, this might mean a new series is being recorded that might become available to the rest of us.

I have all six series, many many hours of fine music, on DVD and would kill for a seventh with Giddens.

Wow, Ron.  Thanks for digging those connections out.  Rhiannon is so well versed in so many genres already.  Now we can add gaelic.  I was totally intrigued reading in other places the rediscovery of african american connections to string band music through CCD, their mentor Joe Thompson, and the acclaimed blues artist Otis Taylor (Rediscovering The Banjo CD).   Sort of related is the experience I had a few years ago at Merlefest with the Afro-Celt Sound System, described as "a musical group which fuses modern electronic dance rhythms with traditional Irish and West African music". It just goes to show the universal nature of good music and the results of creative artists who are willing to follow their muse. 

The Gaelic repertoire may actually have come first, or at least first after opera.  I think it was the Gaelic language song she did at the Llewyn Davis Concert (Another Day Another Time) that really brought her into focus.  She did two songs, Waterboy first, then that one, mostly acapella, brought the house to its feet, a triumph.  Only standing ovation at the concert, and considering the performers (Gillian Welch/Dave Rawlings, Jack White, Marcus Mumford, the Avetts, the Punch Brothers, Joan Baez, etc), that's saying something. The concert was produced by T Bone Burnett, who subsequently took her into the studio to record her big album.

I just had the opportunity to see Rhiannon Giddens perform four times in eight days at two festivals. As much as I like Tomorrow is My Turn, it doesn't prepare you for how damn good she is live. Just awesome.  

Can't add much to the commentary here...she sort of leaves genre identifying and pigeon-holing in the dust...it is just great music, and more or less defies categorization.. amazing singer, musician, musicologist, historian...