If you close your eyes and listen to the voice and virtuoso banjo playing, I am sure you’d visualise Sam Amidon as an older and more ragged individual. A modern-day Dock Boggs perhaps.
Instead, as you’ll see in this quirky video, he’s clean-cut and far younger than he sounds. The track – As I Roved Out – is from his excellent new album, Bright Sunny South, which I had the pleasure to review for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’.
Amidon was born less than 25 years ago into a music loving family in Brattleboro, Vermont (where the New Weird America genre took root after Matt Valentine’s free-folk festival).
His music has gradually evolved to embrace British influences, thanks in part to his marriage to Beth Orton.
All his songs are covers of old and new tunes but he adapts these so radically they could pass as his own.
The new album shows that he’s an artist brimful of talent and brimming in confidence.
In 2006, a Dutch filmmaker named David Kleijwegt made a TV documentary called ‘The Eternal Children‘ about the kooky sisters CocoRosie . It connected their music and petulant refusal to behave like sensible grownups with other musicians, including Devendra Banhart, William Basinski and Anthony & The Johnsons.
Six years on, something of the innocence and freshness of the New Weird America has faded but it seems to me that there are many artists who still want to preserve and promote a sense of childlike wonder both in the music they make and the tie-in visuals they commission. This is not so surprising when the alternative is the cynical adult marketing behind the crude bump and grind of MTV videos.
This fact struck me again when watching the beautiful animation by Crush Creative to Jónsi‘s Gathering Stories, a song from the latest Cameron Crowe movie We Bought A Zoo.
You can see the same spirit pervading the images in Ólafur Arnalds’ Hægt, kemur ljósið (directed by Esteban Diácono) from the Icelander’s 2010 album: ‘…and they have escaped the weight of darkness’.
You can then compare these with an older tune – The Lake by Antony and the Johnsons, a wonderful tune based on a poem by Edgar Allen Poe and animated by Adam Shecter.
Sad to see that, after just over 8 years of flying the free flag for a more enlightened America, Arthur Magazine is officially no more.
No more Arthur Radio, no more Arthur blog, no more Arthur anything. This is not a great surprise but a sad loss all the same.
You don’t need to be majoring in economics to realise that giving away a magazine every two months is not a viable business model but the fact that it was free was vital since it meant that the writers were not required to tailor articles to commercial interests.
The late great Jack Rose
“From drone thug to master primitive” is how one admirer describes the all too brief career of Jack Rose (1971 – 2009).
I’m sure that plenty of anecdotal evidence could easily be gathered in praise of the man but concrete proof of the range of artists and musicians who were inspired by his music and character comes in the form of a massive six and a half hour collection of 48 tracks curated by Cory Rayborn (Three Lobed Recordings) and called Honest Strings.
Because of the scale of this release it is only available from Fina download store at a bargain price of $15 (all proceeds go to Jack’s estate).
Anyone who is anyone in the underground folk / avant rock / New Weird America circuit is on it including Six Organs of Admittance, Black Twig Pickers, Hush Arbors, Sunburned Hand of the Man, MV &EE and many more. There are simple acoustic folk tunes, expanded drones, tribal freak outs and a even one hour reading from Joseph Mattson’s novel Empty The Sun.
Pleased to come across the mixwit music share resource and post some songs (all by women ) as my first (and last) ever mixwit mixtape.
Edit 27 December 2008 after receiving the following message from Mixwit:
We regret to announce that Mixwit will cease to exist at the end of the
year. The website and profiles will be turned off around Dec 27th and
all embedded widgets will stop playing before the end of December. We’ve put a year of work into Mixwit so this choice wasn’t taken lightly. I
won’t go into the details of our situation but state simply that we
boldly marched into in a position best described as “between a rock and a
hard place.” We’re very grateful to be have been part of the mixtape
revival of ‘08 and are satisfied to be able to to bow out while things
are still good.