Monday, November 23, 2009

holiday gift list: American harvest

From the California coastline to the Arizona deserts to the Rockies in Montana, from the Kansas plains to the Texas hill country to the lakes of Minnesota, from the apple orchards of Michigan to the peach trees of South Carolina, from the Gulf Coast to the Maine Coast. the United States is a beautiful and varied country, with people, landscapes, and music to match. Here are several suggestions about music which reveals parts of that, for your holiday gift list, and for gifts to yourself as well.

Albert & Gage Dakota Lullaby

Christine Albert and Chris Gage call Austin, Texas, home these days, and they are fine singers and songwriters, together and separately, so they know a good song when the find one. Recently the pair came across an an old tape made by Tom Peterson, a writer Gage used to know in his native South Dakota, and decided to do a whole album of his work “As we listened to the tape in the truck one night, I felt like we had just struck gold in the Black Hills,” Albert says. Find out what she’s talking about in the haunting past and present of the west in the title track, the funny dash of Louisiana spice If I Die Tomorrow, the affirmation of hope after loss In Tender Loving Care, and the happy swing of Does She Have a Future with Me?

Gretchen Peters One To The Heart, One To The Head

Another take on the American west comes from Gretchen Peters, also a top notch songwriter who decided to lend her gifts to others’songs . Notable tracks include Ian Tyson’s Blue Mountains of Mexico and Stephanie Davis’s Wolves, and an original instrumental by Barry Walsh, North Platte. Tom Russell sits in too.

Tim Grimm, Michael White, Krista Detor, Tom Roznowski, Carrie Newcomer
Wilderness Plots
These five artists look at a different sort of frontier, building their songs around a time where the Ohio Valley, where they all live, was just beyond the edge of civilization. There are songs of hardships, imagination, joy, sorrow, distances, and choices, all framed in the stories that time and place, set in time yet timeless. .

Claire Lynch Whatcha Gonna Do

Claire Lynch’s music is rooted in bluegrass, a bluegrass that lends itself to crossing borders into swing, country, and folk without ever losing its bedrock authenticity. Lynch, who has won a number of awards and been nominated for a Grammy, has a warm, engaging soprano, and she chooses songs of substance that often include a dash of humor, and are just as likely to include a dash of faith. A train song, a song about false lovers, a meditation on love’s hardships and the strength it takes to learn from them, and really fine road song are just a few of the gems she shares here,. accompanied most of the time by her road band, and with a guest shot from Jesse Winchester.

Steve Wariner c.g.p. My Tribute to Chet Atkins

If you’re looking for excellent guitar work on tunes you may know and others you won’t have heard before, then this is the recording for you. You get some history along the way, too: Atkins was a legendary Nashville guitarist and producer who worked with artists ranging from The Carter Family to Mark O’Connor, to a young guy from Indian, Steve Wariner, who became a close friend ( and certified guitar player -- thats’ what the c.g.p stands for). Wariner decide to frame this tribute to his friend, who died several years ago, as a sort of chronology of Atkins’s life, with some original pieces to mark certain times and places mixed in with music Atkins played, composed, and produced. The result is a flowing set of music that’ll keep you engaged and interested through many listenings, . If you’ve a guitar player on you holiday list, be sure to consider this one..

you may also want to see

Music Road: holiday gift list: music of Canada

Music Road: holiday gift list: Irish music

Music Road: Robin & Linda Williams: The First Christmas Gift

if you are looking for non musical gifts
here's a roundup with ideas for pet lovers, readers, travelers. lovers of Hawaii. Martha Stewart fans...and the list goes on

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your wonderful gift lists!

12:33 PM  
Blogger Alexandra Grabbe said...

I'm going to treat myself to Dakota Lullaby. Your description made it irresistible.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great list of ideas to explore. I love the album cover for Dakota Lullaby.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscjer said...

This is a great list, and what a moving intro. I'm adding this gift list to my roll call of gift lists at my site.

10:02 PM  

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