Friday, August 29, 2008

Smithsonian Folkways Podcasts FREE on iTunes

The Smithsonian Folkways collection is a vast treasure trove of the history of American music from the last century or so. Now iTunes is making available FREE a series of 24 one-hour video episodes from the Folkways collection, consisting of music, spoken word, and sound recordings. The episodes are available in the iTunes University section of iTunes.

The Folkways recordings episodes cover music styles from country to bluegrass to blues, and each covers a particular artist. This is a great way to get an education (and a free one, at that) about the history of American musical styles and forms. As the iTunes description notes, "the music of modern day giants like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Ani Difranco is interwoven with original Folkways recordings to demonstrate the lasting legacy that Folkways Records has on popular music."

Of course, you'll find older musical pioneers including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Leadbelly, as well as the noted author Studs Terkel.

You can learn more about Smithsonian Folkways and their projects, and buy their recordings, at the Smithsonian Folkways Web site.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Wailin' Jennys Craft Beautiful Harmonies in Weehawken

Heather Masse, Nicky Mehta, and Ruth Moody of the Wailin' Jennys

The free annual summer music festival in Weehawken, New Jersey wrapped up for the year not with a bang, but with the lovely harmonies of the Wailin' Jennys. The acclaimed female trio played their brand of folk/pop/traditional tunes with the Manhattan skyline in the background, and showed why they have developed a loyal following in their native Canada and in the U.S., despite a few personnel changes.

The Wailin' Jennys have been together for over six years, with Ruth Moody being one of the original members. The latest addition is Heather Masse, an American now living in Brooklyn. (Moody and the third member, Nicky Mehta, are from Winnipeg, Manitoba.)

The band performed mostly their own compositions, but also did some worthy covers, including "Deeper Well" by Emmylou Harris and fellow Canadian Neil Young's "Old Man." You can hear some of their songs at the Wailin' Jennys MySpace page.

This is at least the second season of the free concerts in Weehawken at Lincoln Harbor, part of the Hudson River Performing Arts Center series. Kudos to Bruce Sherman and all the members of the HRPAC team and the Township of Weekhawken for continuing to put on these great shows in a gorgeous location.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All Points West Wrapup: Looks Like a Winner

The sets went off on time, the weather mostly cooperated, and the inaugural All Points West Festival has attracted good notices.

There was some griping, of course, mainly about the long walk to mass transit (the promised shuttle buses were nowhere in sight) and about the restrictive drinking policy (attendees had to line up to get wristbands to drink, then were limited to five beers a day, which had to be consumed in fenced-in pens). Other reviewers noted that for the price ($89 per day), the festival should have have more big-name artists, which I can agree with to a point. But seeing festival-length sets from a number of groups I'd been interested in, plus what was pretty much a full Radiohead concert, seemed like a fair bargain to me.

For a first-year festival with dozens of acts spread over three days, I thought the session I attended (Friday) was very well run. Entertainment Weekly offered a review of Friday's All Points West show, while reviews of Saturday's proceedings were available from sources ranging from The New York Times, Yahoo, and The Gothamist, which summed up Saturday's show as "more Radiohead, more crowded."

Friday's show did seem sparsely attended (walk-up tickets were available at least as late as 2:30 p.m.); I guess not enough people have summer hours on Fridays.

New Jersey's Star Ledger offered a hometown review of the festival, noting that the organizer of All Points West (and Coachella) is a Jersey native.

I'll have more later on the specific sets I enjoyed most.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Radiohead (and Lots More) at All Points West: Friday Tickets Still Available

If you're a Radiohead fan and will be in the New York area Friday, you can still get tickets to see the band... and a whole bunch of other great musicians... at the inaugural All Points West Festival at Liberty State Park, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

You can buy tickets for All Points West at Ticketmaster. If there are any tickets available as of tomorrow, they'll also be on sale at the gate.

Radiohead is the All Points West headliner and is scheduled to perform from 8:30 to 10:30. Other bands on Friday's bill (which starts at 1 p.m.) include The New Pornographers, Underworld, Duffy, Girl Talk, Mates of State, The Duke Spirit, and CSS.

You can get to All Points West easily by ferry or by the light rail system, which goes right to the park. From NYC, you can connect to the light rail via the PATH trains.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Live Webcasts from Newport Folk Festival

The 2008 Newport Folk Festival is on, and NPR is Webcasting much of the proceedings. You can check their Newport Webcast schedule and also see who is playing the festival and when.

You can also find links to the artists and interviews with various performers and the Newport Folk Festival organizers through links on that same page.

It's possible some of these music sets might find their way into free podcasts later on; NPR Music has a regular series of free concert podcasts available for download (and others for streaming only).

Friday, August 01, 2008

Set Times Published for the All Points West Festival

The set times have been announced for next weekend's All Points West Festival in Liberty State Park, one of the most high-profile music festivals to take place in the New York area for some time. With any luck, it will be a recurring event.

You'll find set times for all three days of All Points West at the Festival's Web site. I'm going Friday and am getting excited about seeing many of the acts, but as with any multli-stage festival, there is of course at least one conflict (Go! Team and The Duke Spirit are playing at almost the same time).

Radiohead, the headliner for Friday and Saturday, is scheduled for 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. both nights. Maybe it will be two 45-minute sets with a break in between?

Tickets were previously sold out for Saturday, but I got an e-mail today saying that record companies had released some tickets, so apparently it's no longer sold out. Friday still hasn't sold out from what I've heard, so if you're interested in hearing Radiohead and a bunch of other artists, by all means head to the All Points West Web site.

Should be a great (and long) day of music. Considering that I'll be outside for more than 10 hours hearing live music, I'm praying for good weather.