As spring draws us outside, away from radio and streaming out into Festival season, I’m finding myself still struggling to catch up with some great new Americana/alt.country/would have been Country before pop-Country killed Music Row releases. Tops among these through about the first of April: Dori Freeman, the Cactus Blossoms, and Loretta Lynn. This Winter has given us a promise for many Springs to come.
Hailing from the mountains of Southwest Virginia, 24-year old Dori Freeman‘s self-titled debut, released in February, earned early praise from the likes of Rolling Stone—but I gave her the benefit of the doubt any way, and am glad I did. With a strong acoustic opening, the 2nd track “Where I Stood” is my favorite, with a haunting torch on “Lullaby”. Dori builds on elements of Patsy Cline and Peggy Lee with modern sensibilities of songwriters like Lori McKenna or Tift Merritt. Dori Freeman gives me hope for the future of Country music built on a sold foundation of American Roots music.
Dori is playing HoustonFest bluegrass festival 10-11 June, which strangely enough is in southern Virginia, not Texas, but wherever it is the festival has a heck of a lineup.
Jack and Page are brothers who like to play music that’s 30-years older than they are. There’s a definite Everly Brothers vibe to The Cactus Blossoms that my parents first turned me onto, since the brothers hail from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and play music my folks like. Music I like, too, like Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison haunting Music Row. In January, The Cactus Blossoms released their national debut, You’re Dreaming, produced by J.D. McPherson, following up on a 2012 self-titled self-release I played the heck out of in my truck’s CD player. Two of those tracks made the new album, “Traveler’s Paradise” and my favorite, “Adios Maria”, both penned by Jack.
After Memorial Day, the Cactus Blossoms are playing a couple dates in Wisconsin before heading south thru Cedar Rapids, Kansas City, and OKC on their way to Austin City Limits Live 14 June.
The great Loretta Lynn comes Full Circle from her excellent 2004 album Van Lear Rose with her new March release. John Carter Cash and Lynn’s daughter Patsy Lynn Russell produced this legacy album with a mix re-recording Lynn classics (i.e. “Fist City”), old-time mountain classics (A.P. Carter’s “Black Jack David”) with countrypolitan classics (“Always on My Mind”). Hopefully, J.C. Cash does for the Loretta legacy what Rick Rubin did for Johnny’s legacy.
And believe it or not, at 80+ years old, Loretta Lynn is still holding events, with two Oklahoma casino shows 10-11 June, then 24 June up to Prairie’s Edge Casino at Granite Falls, a stone’s throw from my old Minnesota home.
And that’s not all folks…
Several other new album releases have caught my attention so far in 2016. Caitlin Canty‘s Reckless Skyline was the year’s first good Americana release. Margo Price‘s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, and Jane Kramer‘s Carnival of Hopes caught my ear over the colder months. I’ve also kept spinning Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzle and Sunny Sweeney‘s Provoked (along with their duet “But You Like Country Music”) from late in 2015.
I’m also really excited about my first Pagosa Folk ‘n Bluegrass Festival after Memorial Day. Come on over Wolf Creek Pass 3-5 June and kick off festival season right.