Monday, December 19, 2011

Americana: gift ideas and seasonal music

Melting pot, salad bowl, tapestry: the many and varied cultures and landscapes of the United States find voice in the music that has come to be known as Americana. At the holidays as well at other times of year, it holds many things to explore.

Ideas for gifts, and for Americana music for the winter season, as well:christmas ornaments music copyright kerry dexter

Kyle Carey draws in her interests in the music of Scotland and Cape Breton with her knowledge a love for the music and landscapes of Appalachia on her debut album Monongah.

Suzy Bogguss is a gifted songwriter and interpreter of contemporary song. She started out singing American folk music and often includes that in her concerts, too -- and she became concerned when she noted that many members of her audience didn’t know the words to songs such as Red River Valley, Banks of the Ohio, and Wayfaring Stranger. Whether it proves a refresher course or an introduction, her album American Folk Songbook is a fine choice for gift giving and for adding to your own collection.

Matraca Berg writes songs that a long list of Nashville superstars record. Her album The Dreaming Fields is a collection of stories by turns funny, reflective, and thought provoking, tales of people of the American south which resonate with people across the globe.

Carrie Newcomer knows a bit about those across the globe connections. She had an unexpected chance to spend time giving concerts and workshops in India. She’s connected that experience with her midwestern Americana ideas in her album Everything Is Everywhere.

seasonal music
Kathy Mattea has two holiday albums well worth your attention, the southern gospel tinged Good News and Joy for Christmas Day, which holds both traditional and contemporary songs of Christmas. The title song of the latter speaks of the place of Christmas amidst the hard knocks of life.

Matt and Shannon Heaton make their music where Irish tradition meets Americana. To experience what that means, take a listen to their seasonal album Fine Winter's Night, which includes traditional Irish and Shetland tunes, an original song for which Matt got the idea from looking a Victorian house down the street, and a piece which is an African American song turned Celtic lullabye.

Gretchen Peters knows that the holiday season goes beyond jingle bells and festive Santas, too. On her album Northern Lights she includes traditional, original, and contemporary songs which look at the many sides of sides of the holiday season with a compassionate and thoughtful gaze. It’s all good stuff, but especially take note of her original song Waitin’ on Mary and her cover of Kim Richey’s Careful How You Go.

you may also wish to see
for more Americana holiday music suggestions
Music Road: listening to Christmas

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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