But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out the three videos below. Mayfield writes classic retro-roots-pop tunes; here are two of his best and a wonderful cover of “Sea of Heartbreak,” the old Don Gibson hit.
I mentioned this on Frequency’s Facebook the other day, but had no link to provide. Well, I’ve since found a link, but it’s a Soundcloud, so it could go away at any time, so you should just go ahead and listen right now.
Because I’ve listened to several great albums in the first quarter of 2011 (look for a roundup coming soon), but the best thing I’ve heard so far this year is a three-song EP of stray tracks that Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold released for free via his Twitter account several weeks back.
This stuff is gorgeous. The first — an aching duet with Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste — is my favorite. The second is a beautiful Simon & Garfunkelian tune that features some of Pecknold’s trademark vocal soarin’. The third is a cover of an old song from the ’70s by New Zealand folkie Chris Thompson.
The overall sound of the three songs is very influenced by ’60s/’70s British folk, with a totally vintage vibe, like you’re listening to old, timeworn Bert Jansch records on a dusty thrift-store turntable.
Of course, streaming these songs on Soundcloud is like the exact opposite of that, but it’ll have to do:
(Psst: The upcoming Fleet Foxes album sorta might’ve shown up magically in my iTunes and it is terrific. Friends, Pecknold is well on his way to becoming one of our finest songwriters. Dude is for real.)
Country traditionalist Marty Stuart visits the Tower Theatre in Bend tomorrow night, exactly four days after he picked up the fifth Grammy award of his career. This time, Stuart won for “Best Country Instrumental Performance” in recognition of “Hummingbyrd,” a song from his lauded 2010 album “Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions.”
Here’s Stuart and his band playing “Hummingbyrd” on his show on RFD TV.
By now, you’d think most artists would’ve learned this lesson: Finding and sticking to your strengths no matter the direction of the trend-winds is always a better look than switching up your look/sound/style in an effort to stay relevant. Marty Stuart certainly knows this. He sang gospel as a kid, picked bluegrass with Lester Flatt in the ’70s, spent time in Johnny Cash’s band in the ’80s, scored a few country hits along the way, and has blossomed into one of the most acclaimed and appreciated ambassadors of traditional twang in modern times.
Marty Stuart’s showy duds and shapely hair may not qualify him as “cool” among your buddies, or on the Internet, or in what’s sold as country music these days. But believe this: Marty Stuart is one cool cat. I can’t wait to see him play.
Marty Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; $30 or $35, available at www.towertheatre.org, 541-317-0700, or the box office at the Tower Theatre, 835 N.W. Wall St., Bend.
One of the truly nice guys on Central Oregon’s music scene, folk singer-songwriter Willie Carmichael, won the Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest at this past weekend’s Sisters Folk Festival.
Carmichael was one of five finalists who performed their songs at the festival on Saturday. As the winner, he received a $750 cash prize, a return booking at next year’s event, and a chance to play a 15-minute set to open the main stage on Saturday night.
“Playing on the main stage in front of about a thousand people was really fun. That’s WAY more people than I’ve ever played for. I was floating,” Carmichael wrote to Frequency in an e-mail. “The SFF audience is amazingly appreciative and supportive. They kind of embrace the contest winner — I’ve seen this many times there — and hold him/her like a precious treasure for the weekend. It’s like winning the contest gives you favored nation status. They cheer when you come on stage even if they’ve never heard you before.”
Carmichael is the second local artist to win the contest, after Sisters’ Dennis McGregor in 2003. He’s also a terrifically honest and funny man who talked — or, typed, really — about the lesson he learned over his winning weekend in Sisters.
“This part is pretty personal, and I don’t quite know how to say it. I’ve never really been the performer I’d like to be. All my judgment and negative self-talk have been about not being good enough, not being cool enough, being too old, whatever. But what I’m learning, from being around and talking classes from performers like Jenna Lindbo, Martyn Joseph, Ellis, Beth Wood, Ruthie Foster, and others, is that what really breeds success is approaching it with an open heart.
“I’m trying to get a handle on this, and I think that was reflected in winning the contest. Last night my wife Jeanie said the coolest thing about this. She told me, ‘You’ve got clever down cold, and clever is only going to take you so far. The rest is about heart.’ I think she’s right, and I have a lot of work to do on that front if I’m going to be the musician I want to be.”
Carmichael said he thinks two of the songs he played were most effective, and he sent one of them, “Out Beyond The Moon,” along to Frequency for our readers to check it out. “It’s just a demo I did in my garage, but it’s audible and it’s what I sent when I applied to the contest,” he said.
So do it. Check it out:
The Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest is named in honor of the first folk festival concert winner, Dave Carter, who won in 1995. Carter went on to an acclaimed career before his untimely death in 2002. The contest has also boosted the careers of songwriters such as Darryl Purpose, Chuck McCabe, McGregor, Beth Wood and BettySoo.
This year’s other four finalists were Julia Baucke from Santa Barbara, Calif., Marc Douglas Berardo from Westerly, R.I., Cary Cooper from Richardson, Texas and Dan Weber from Vancouver, Wash.
As I said earlier, I spilled a lot of ink on the Sisters Folk Festival this week, but probably could’ve written even more. One artist playing the festival that I really wish I could’ve done more on is Todd Snider, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who plays tonight on the Village Green main stage from 9 to 10 p.m.
I’ve been a fan of Todd’s since back in 1998, when I first heard the first track on his album “Viva Satellite.” It’s called “Rocket Fuel,” and I still think it’s one of the best pure, simple rock ‘n’ roll songs I own. I found a live version you can hear. Be sure to listen to the lyrics; I’m not sure they’d qualify for a poetry competition, but for me, they capture that whole young/carefree/immortal ethos that, as a 33-year-old working dude with bills to pay, seems so dumb and yet so appealing at the same time:
“Viva Satellite” is a pretty rockin’, full-band affair. And I haven’t been able to keep up with everything Snider has released since, so there may be some more rock-oriented albums among his more recent output, but for the most part, I think in the past few years he’s been focused on the folk-blues troubadour thing.
That format, of course, tends to shine a light on songwriting, and for Snider, that’s a good thing. The guy can spin a story and set it to a tune just about as well as anyone going these days. Click through the jump to watch three videos I found that showcase his skills. Bonus! Two of them have distinctly Northwest themes, and one is set in Oregon!