Tag Archives: music

The Civil Wars

4 Jun

Living down in Dixie has changed me, no doubt. “Y’all” seems to pop out of my mouth a dozen times a day. I’ve taken a major liking to pickup trucks. And the one thing I swore I’d never like, I kinda like now… country music.

Okay, country music lite. The kind that “real” country music fans scoff at: Taylor Swift. Carrie Underwood. The Dixie Chicks. And then there are the folk artists: Ray LaMontagne, Mumford and Sons. Johnny Cash used to be the only exception to my distaste for country. But these days I’ve been known to sing along to a Rascal Flatts song. (Hey, that Broken Road tune is catchy…)

Which brings me to The Civil Wars. I call them folk, others call them country. Either way, they are damn good. So good that they were the opening act for Adele (before she cancelled her remaining tour dates due to illness), whose album is currently the best-selling in the country and whose single is sitting pretty at number 1 on the Billboard 100. If you’re opening for perhaps the hottest act in the country right now, you must be doing something right.

The story behind The Civil Wars is, well, boring. John Paul White and Joy Williams met at a songwriting session in Nashville and eventually decided to put their solo careers on hold and start a band. Their music is anything but boring. Minimalist, yes. But not boring. And people are starting to notice. The Civil Wars’ only studio album, Barton Hollow (Feb 2011), landed at number 12 on the Billboard 200 and number 2 on the Folk charts. The duo also put out two EPs: Live at Eddie’s Attic and Poison & Wine. The former is available for free digital download on their website.

First, my favorite: A haunting version of My Only Sunshine. Second, Adele’s favorite: Poison & Wine, the band’s first single.

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Guitar Hero: Benjamin Beirs

13 May

Say what you will about Facebook, but it fulfills its intended purpose: keeping people connected.

Yesterday I received a Facebook message from an old high school friend, who now lives in Baltimore, letting me know he’ll be playing live music during a yoga class in Asheville on Saturday. A two-hour yoga class, live music, and a friend I haven’t seen in years? Yes please.

Naturally, I started rummaging around on the web for videos of Ben playing guitar. I already knew that he teaches music and performs around the world (this info came to me via Stalkerbook, how else?). But I haven’t heard him play in ages, so a refresher seemed necessary.

About five seconds into the first video, I thought of you. Cheekie readers. You ought to start your Friday off right–with the delightful picking and strumming of Mr. Benjamin Beirs.

A little background: Ben trained at Peabody Conservatory with Julian Gray and has earned first prize in guitar contests such as the National Guitar Workshop Competition. In addition to his solo career, Ben performs internationally with the prize-winning Duo Transatlantique, a partnership between Ben and French guitarist Maud Laforest.

If you live in Asheville and would like to hear Ben and Michael Hynes play live (while stretching out those hamstrings in downward dog)… the Jivamukti yoga class is at West Asheville Yoga from 2 to 4 pm on Saturday.

Otherwise, enjoy the next best thing…

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Music For Your Monday: Lisa Mitchell

22 Nov

Lisa Mitchell finished sixth on the 2006 season of Australian Idol. What is it with Idol runners-up outshining the winners? (Hello, Jennifer Hudson!)

Though it’s not surprising that Mitchell didn’t win–she’s more coffeehouse artist than pop star. A pretty girl with a pretty voice, Mitchell’s album Wonder went platinum in Australia. She has since toured in Australia and the UK.

Born in England, Lisa Mitchell moved to Australia at age three. She credits a wide variety of artists as early musical influences, including Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Bright Eyes, and The Killers. Listening to Mitchell’s music, it’s hard to believe she’s only 20 years old.

Check out Mitchell’s neat videos for Incomplete Lullaby and Coin Laundry.

Happy Monday!

A Little Music for your Monday

8 Nov

Photo: Cameron Wittig, andrewbird.net

You know those people who have more talent in their pinky fingers than the rest of us will ever display in a lifetime? Andrew Bird is one of them.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) has just released video of Bird, a virtual one-man orchestra, performing at a TED conference in Los Angeles last February.

A creative genius on the violin, Andrew Bird composes unique music that is, at times, both beautiful and heartbreaking. But his whistling alone makes this video worth watching.

Bird’s call for “reckless curiosity” has me thinking… what would happen if I pursued life with reckless curiosity? Not just the big things in life, but all the minor decisions I make every day. At the very least, I’d spend more time listening to people like Andrew Bird.

If you’re not already familiar with TED, do yourself the favor of perusing the site. It could be your first step toward a more recklessly curious existence.

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