Canis Americana: A Musical Post

KLove trades are being proposed at a fast and furious pace as we approach the draft and ol' No. 42 will likely be gone in a couple weeks. Can Flip pull off a good trade? Don't know, but my normally half full glass is half empty now. The Wolves haven't been doing much lately to inspire confidence. In the meantime, in other Canis activities, we've had some excellent music posts lately featuring bluegrass, hip hop, and classic country. Thought I'd give one a try on another genre: Americana.

The name Americana was coined in the early 90s to describe music that incorporated influences from American roots music including country, folk, rock, blues, and gospel. There are other definitions, too. And some enthusiasts say that it's hard to define but that you know it when you hear it. The name alternative country was created about the same time. The terms are sometimes used synonymously, but Americana seems broader and more inclusive to me. Definitions aside, I've included a few of each in this post. (Warning: Some videos contain twang.)

Some of the roots of Americana can be traced back to the country rock sound created by the Byrds in the late 60s. Although the Byrds included a few country sounding tunes in their early albums, they totally merged rock and country in Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

Although Sweetheart is widely considered to be the first country rock album, band members Gene Clark and Gram Parsons each made country sounding recordings a year earlier. Take a listen.

Parsons and Chris Hillman left the Byrds shortly after Sweetheart was completed, moving on to form the Flying Burrito Brothers. The Burrito's first album- The Gilded Palace of Sin- was another classic. Sin City, one of Parsons' songs from the album, was written about the City of Los Angeles.

Back in the Twin Cities, the Jayhawks were making their own brand of alt-country. The group formed in the mid-80s and featured the excellent harmonies and songwriting of Gary Olson and Mark Louris. Waiting for the Sun is from their outstanding Hollywood Town Hall album.

Uncle Tupelo was one of the first groups to be labelled as alt-country after their No Depression album came out in 1990. The band formed in the late 80s, was together for a few years, and eventually split to form the excellent groups Son Volt and Wilco. Here's Uncle Tupelo's version of "No Depression," a gospel tune made popular by the Carter family during the Great Depression.

The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash started out in San Diego in the mid-90s before moving to Austin several years ago. BTW, they did ask Johnny for permission to use his name. Although his "people" recommended against it, Johnny said yes.

The Felice Brothers grew up not far from Woodstock in upstate New York. They're a little rough around the edges but they make good music and their concerts can be high energy and raucous events.

Freakwater started out in Louisville in the 80s. Their sound is spare and traditional. Some might say they're a little too folky to be called alt-country, but they're definitely Americana. Extra hoopus points if you know what the word freakwater would mean to Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and the folks back in Harlan County.

Here's a fun video featuring Stanley Dural Jr. (a.k.a. Buckwheat Zydeco), Dwight Yoakum, and David Hidalgo covering an old classic by Hank Williams. And hey, good lookin' women are included in the video too.

Thought I'd end with the closing song (I Shall Be Released) from the best concert movie EVAR (The Last Waltz). This might be the most amazing collection of Americana icons ever on the same stage at the same time. Bob Dylan is inspired and in good form, Richard Manuel sounds great, and Robbie Robertson and Neil Young seem to be having a high time (really high in Neil's case). What a great concert!

If you feel so inclined, link us to some music you've been listening to lately. If Americana isn't your cup of tea, cool, link us to your favorite new artist.

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