Dirk Powell is a musician whose emotional understanding of American tradition has enabled him to expand on roots extending back more than nine generations in the southern mountains. His new group is a hard-driving, exciting testament to the power of the living old-time music tradition. Powell’s ability to unite traditional and historical forms with modern sensibilities has led to work with many of today’s greatest artists, from Sting to Jewel to Loretta Lynn to Joan Baez.
Category: American Routes
Steve Riley and Racines
The late Dewey Balfa once said “A culture is like a tree, you have to water the roots, but you can’t go cutting off the branches every time the tree tries to grow”. Well, Racines (which means “roots” in French) both waters the roots and stretches outward. A collaborative project of five gentlemen who are all well-known Cajun musicians in their own right, Racines explores the varying musical traditions that call Southwest Louisiana home: Cajun music, Zydeco, blues, and more.
Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole
Spearheading the emerging generation of Cajun and Creole musicians, Cedric Watson is a fiddler, vocalist, accordionist and songwriter of enormous talent and potential. With an apparently bottomless repertoire of songs at his fingertips, Watson plays everything from forgotten Creole melodies to more modern Cajun and Zydeco songs, even occasionally throwing in a bluegrass fiddle tune or an old string band number.
Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole resurrect the ancient sounds of the French and Spanish contra dance and bourré alongside the spiritual rhythms of the Congo tribes of West Africa, who were sold as slaves in the Caribbean and Louisiana by the French and Spanish. Moving with ease between fiddle and accordion, and adding his strong blues-inflected vocals, Watson’s albums are a tapestry of pulsing rhythms and Creole poetry, and his live performances are unforgettable, at once progressive and nostalgic.
Charly Lowry, a musical powerhouse from Pembroke, NC, is proud to be an Indigenous woman belonging to the Lumbee/Tuscarora Tribes. Since her teenage years, Charly has established a career as a professional singer-songwriter with unique passion and voice. In addition to performing solo, for over ten years Charly has been the front-woman for the multi award-winning band, Dark Water Rising.
Among her community, Native women are traditionally barred from the hand-drum, singing behind the men’s drum and/or dancing instead. Lowry defies that norm, following in the footsteps of her mentor, an artist and heir to the Tuscarora Indian Nation, Pura Fé; choosing to battle with her songs, hand drum, and guitar to deliver songs that not only tell the plight of her people but all humankind that face oppression.
She serves as a voice for her ancestors, as well as the youth of today, and remains committed to music that honors roots but lives vibrantly in the here and now.
with special guest Dead Horses
I think she’s endless. I don’t see any boundaries. Talent like hers is so rare, and I don’t think it stops.”—Allison Kraus
In her first 25 years alone, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sierra Hull hit more milestones than many musicians accomplish in a lifetime. After making her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10, the Tennessee-bred virtuoso mandolinist played Carnegie Hall at age 12, then landed a deal with Rounder Records just a year later. Now 28-years-old, Hull is set to deliver her fourth full- length for Rounder: an elegantly inventive and endlessly captivating album called 25 Trips. 25 Trips reveals her profound warmth as a storyteller, shedding light on the beauty and chaos and sometimes sorrow of growing up and getting older. The album’s title nods to a particularly momentous year of her life, including her marriage to fellow bluegrass musician Justin Moses and the release of her widely acclaimed album Weighted Mind—a Béla Fleck- produced effort nominated for Best Folk Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
Dead Horses isn’t a band in the conventional sense. Rather, it’s an intimate, folk-inspired conversation between two close friends. At its core, the participants are guitarist/singer Sarah Vos and bassist Daniel Wolff. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based pair’s dialogue continues with an eclectic five-song EP, Birds (released February 7), which includes the band’s previously released singles “Family Tapes,” “Mighty Storm,” and “Birds Can Write The Chorus.”
Dead Horses weave together a vibrant patchwork of classic and contemporary influences that span trad roots, indie- folk, and other experimental musical idioms. Through it all, the union of Sarah’s emotive songwriting with Dan’s intrepid bass playing transcends the singer-songwriter-with-backup-musicians paradigm.
To date, Dead Horses has released three studio albums, an Audiotree Live Session, three singles, and a two-song EP. Along the way, the duo has charted on the Americana Top 50 radio charts, accrued over 20 million spins on Spotify, and earned placements on several Spotify, Amazon and Apple Music “Americana” playlists. A Rolling Stone “Artist You Should Know,” Dead Horses has received profiles from Billboard to Noisey, and have toured extensively, including appearances at Red Rocks Amphitheater and an invitation to open for legendary UK rockers The Who.
“Her voice stops you in your tracks.”—NPR
Latin Grammy nominee Gina Chavez blends the sounds of the Americas with tension and grace. A 12-time Austin Music Award winner, including 2019 Female Vocalist and 2015 Austin Musician of the Year, Gina explores the true meaning of “Americana” as she and her five-piece band take audiences on a high-energy journey through Latin America and beyond. Gina’s music is deeply personal. Her passionate collection of bilingual songs traversing Cumbia, rumba, and soul take audiences on a journey to discover her Latin roots through music.
She has completed a 12-country tour as cultural ambassadors with the U.S. State Department, uniting audiences from Texas to Uzbekistan and Venezuela to Saudi Arabia. Her bilingual album, Up.Rooted, topped the Amazon and Latin iTunes charts following a feature on NPR’s All Things Considered and her Tiny Desk concert has more than 900,000 views. Gina’s Spanish-language anthem, “Siete-D,” won the grand prize in the John Lennon International Songwriting Contest.
Grammy award-winning artist Aoife O’Donovan operates in a thrilling musical world beyond genre. Deemed “a vocalist of unerring instinct” by The New York Times, she has released two critically-acclaimed and boundary-blurring solo albums including In the Magic Hour, which Rolling Stone hailed for its “Impressionistic, atmospheric songs [that] relay their narratives against gorgeous pastoral backdrops.” O’Donovan spent the Winter and Spring of 2021 in the studio with acclaimed producer Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Rhiannon Giddens) recording her third full-length solo album titled Age of Apathy, which will release January 2022.
A savvy and generous collaborator, Aoife is one third of the group I’m With Her with bandmates Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz. The trio’s debut album See You Around was hailed as “willfully open-hearted” by NPR Music. I’m With Her earned an Americana Music Association Award in 2019 for Duo/Group of the Year, and a Grammy-award in 2020 for Best American Roots Song.
O’Donovan spent the preceding decade as co-founder and frontwoman of the string band, Crooked Still and is the featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions — the group with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. She has appeared as a featured vocalist with over a dozen symphonies including the National Symphony Orchestra, written for Alison Krauss, performed with jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, and spent a decade as a regular contributor to the radio variety shows “Live From Here” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”
The Haden Triplets
The Haden Triplets —Petra, Tanya, and Rachel—are three sisters “in love with the art of singing,” describes NPR Music, with a “traditional tone and effortless voices that only siblings can produce.” The daughters of world renowned bassist Charlie Haden, the Triplets share a common love for American country and traditional songs. Their self-titled 2014 album was produced by Ry Cooder (Jack White’s Third Man Records), and they’ve performed as the Fates on Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown. They have also performed or recorded with The Foo Fighters, Todd Rundgren, Beck, and Weezer. On their own, Petra is a member of Bill Frisell’s band, and can be heard on her a cappella album Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out, as well as Megan Mullally’s band, Nancy And Beth. Tanya is a multidisciplinary artist, and Rachel has performed with The Rentals and will have new music out with her band That Dog. The Triplets’ new album will be out in 2020.
From funk-laced beats and bass-heavy sousaphone blasts to the gritty warmth of singer J’Wan Boudreaux’s voice, New Orleans brass band-meets-Mardi Gras Indian outfit Cha Wa radiates the energy of the Crescent City’s street culture.
Enchanted by the music and traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians, Cha Wa’s Grammy-nominated album Spyboy (a nod to frontman J’Wan Boudreaux’s role in the Golden Eagles) is a modern mix of fiery, toe-tapping sounds and highlights the musicians’ personal ties to the street music of their hometown. “We wanted to take the roots of what we love about New Orleans brass band music and Mardi Gras Indian music and then voice it in our own way,” says the group’s drummer and founder, Joe Gelini.
“Fusing delta and hill country with elements of jam-band rock, he and his drummer packed an incredible punch, and never let the momentum die down.”—Nashville Scene
Born and raised in Mississippi Hill Country, Cedric Burnside—grandson of legendary R.L. Burnside and son of drummer Calbin Jackson—has been playing music all his life. This six-time winner of the prestigious Blues Music Award’s Drummer of the Year (2010–17) is widely regarded as one of the best drummers in the world and has begun to make a name for himself as a traditional blues guitarist as well.
Touring the world on his own, Burnside’s approach to the Blues has a rumbling style and is a hypnotic musical form of chugging rhythms, stinging guitar licks, snap neck drum licks, and singing that is filled with sharp changes and raw, cutting rhythms. His latest album, Grammy-nominated Benton County Relic, brings the blues alive for a new generation of fans weaned on the likes of White Stripes and the Black Keys.