Listed alphabetically. Some of the CDs listed below came out before 2005 but this is the year in which I first heard them and, therefore, the first year in which they improved my life and graced my radio show.
BOOK: Dave Van Ronk, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, DaCapo. A wonderful, insightful, informative, funny, provocative account of the birth of the folk music revival from someone who was in the midst of it but retained broad perspective and objectivity. Published posthumously in 2005.
VIDEO: Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, A Martin Scorcese Picture. Inadvertently, almost the video version of the Dave Van Ronk book. If you weren’t yet born in the 1960s, this gives a great image of what was happening musically and why people still talk about that period so much. If you were there and even if you were paying attention, this will deepen your understanding of the period and appreciation of Bob Dylan’s music and life.
|Roy Book Binder||Live at the Fur Peace Station||Peg Leg||Another delightful collection of great country blues and stories about other musicians sung and told by Roy with skill and humor he has shown in the past, but even more warmth and heart. Along the way, it’s a great way to learn about some of the early blues musicians he knew.|
|Alison Brown||Stolen Moments||Compass||More great banjo-driven bluegrass-jazz instrumentals, combined with some familiar songs, like Homeward Bound and One Morning in May, sung by the Indigo Girls and others.|
|Hans Theessink Band||Bridges||Blue Groove||Hans has a great, eclectic band that combines American and African blues-roots sounds with his own Austrian roots on his own songs mixed with a few surprising numbers by others.|
|Rolly Brown||This Vagrant Heart||Aussie Dog||This latest album features fine folk/jazz playing from this finger-picking guitar champion and some fine songs as well. Hearing Rolly’s rendition of a Thelonius Monk tune made me go out and buy my first Monk CD.|
|Mark Cosgrove||Sweet Reason||FGM||More great tasteful bluegrass-style guitar picking from this Bucks County, PA national flatpicking champion. Some original tunes and a few good interpretations of others' songs too.|
|Mary Flower||Bywater Dance||Yellow Dog||A delightful album featuring Flower’s guitar, lap-slide guitar and vocals, along with a number of other musicians, on a great collection of songs and tunes. Including, for example, great versions of “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me,” and “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime”.|
|Tim Grimm||The Back Fields||Wind River||This is the 3rd album of Grimm’s I have heard and really liked. He sings with a great voice fine, unusual songs he has written loosely focused on farming life in the Midwest.|
|Arlo Guthrie||Live in Sydney||Rising Son||This double album of a concert given in 2004 in Australia made me a born-again Arlo Guthrie fan. He nicely takes advantage of the fact that we all know much of his life story to create an evening of unusual intimacy and gentle humor, along with some great stories. (i.e. Who knew it was Arlo who introduced Janis Joplin to Me And Bobby McGee?).|
|Michael J. Miles||New Century Suite||MilesMusic.Org||Wonderful subtle, intricate banjo playing with a few great songs.|
|Maria Muldaur||Sweet Lovin’ Ol Soul||Stony Plain||An album of songs from women blues players, all lovingly and wonderfully sung and played by Maria with some other great musicians including Taj Mahal, Del Rey and Tracy Nelson.|
|Dana and Susan Robinson||Native Soil||Threshold||More than any of the other albums on this list, this is folk music by any definition – mostly traditional songs and tunes. The Robinsons keep them sounding traditional but add a wonderful feeling that makes them feel new. They describe the album as “new time old-time music” which is what it feels like to me. I’d just put “wonderful” in front of their phrase.|
|Tom Russell||Hotwalker||Hightone||Almost a radio play about some great individuals of the recent past and how there’s no places left for folks that talented and unusual and cantankerous anymore.|
|Various||Goodbye, Babylon||Dust-To-Digital||A box-set of 6 CDs of “living, stirring, sacred songs, odes and anthems,” mostly from the 1920s-1940s with a very informative and handsome book all in a beautiful wooden box.|
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