Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Creative Differences"

"Creative differences."

That's the usual reason given when somebody leaves a band. The individual and the group were headed in different directions, so they had to break up.

Though fans of Old Crow Medicine Show have yet to receive a fully satisfactory explanation for why founder Willie Watson left the Appalachian string band in Fall of 2011, new releases from each—combined with dedicated tours (both coming through Vermont within days of each other)—have finally provided the reason for the split.

Judging by the stated intention of his solo debut album Folk Singer Vol. I, and recent appearing at Higher Grounds in South Burlington, Willie has redefined himself as a classic American folk singer. By all indications, he's establishing himself as one of the greats, and in very short order (yes, he's that good).

Even though this development reconnects him with his own musical roots grown in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, it all came about like a happy accident. When he first popped loose of Old Crow he didn't know which path to take. Start a new band? Go solo? He'd never pictured himself as a solo act. When friends coaxed onto the stage, and things started to develop, he was trying to perform new songs he'd written himself. But the audience reacted better to the older, traditional songs—and he enjoyed performing them better.

The rest is history.

For its part, Old Crow itself was facing a bit of a two-part identity crisis: How to define itself without Willie Watson, and how to make itself bigger than its monster hit "Wagon Wheel". That's what their new album Remedy remedies. As Sam Pfeifle of The Portland Phoenix puts it in his review of the new release: "Such is Old Crow’s magic. They make brand-new songs sound like traditionals and traditionals sound like songs you’ve never heard before."

This musical philosophy, combined with an outrageously fun—and hugely popular—roadshow that stopped at the Shelburne Museum—suggest the direction the band is increasingly going. And thus the divergence: Willie reverting to authentic relayer of traditional folk music, Old Crow recreating traditionals, or the traditional style, in a contemporary way.

Willie is all about rooting himself in traditional authenticity; Old Crow is all about reinterpreting tradition for modern audiences, even the popular mainstream.

These separate appearances in Vermont within days of each other, by the now-separate acts, indicate solutions have been found to their dilemmas. The solutions suggest that the break was necessary and good for each musical act—as well as for the rest of us who appreciate their music.

So what was the real reason Willie Watson had to leave Old Crow Medicine Show?

"Creative differences."

The Most Affordable Supercar

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Ocean Waves" (haiku)

Rhythmic ocean waves,
like love and hate, are sides of
the same coin, Passion.

by Judith Engle Hishikawa
(inspired by my much longer narrative poem, "When Love Met Hate on the Causeway")

Saturday, July 26, 2014

As the World Burns

"That's the Difference"

“You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend. That is the difference between a parliamentary government and a separation-of-powers government.”

"A Whole Lot Harder to Finish What We Started"

"If we lose these midterm elections, it's going to be a whole lot harder to finish what we started, because we'll just see more of the same out in Washington -- more obstructions, more lawsuits, and talk about impeachment."

Willie Watson Plays Newport Folk Festival

Diana Whitney Reads Poetry at Galaxy on Tuesday, July 29 @ 7pm

Join us in welcoming Diana Whitney for a celebration of her first collection of poetry, "Wanting It" on Tuesday, July 29th, at 7 p.m. at the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vermont.

Much of "Wanting It" was written in and about the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Diana graduated from Dartmouth College and Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and attended the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Her essays and poems have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Crab Orchard Review.

She has been a commentator on VPR and received writing fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Her parenting column, Spilt Milk, was syndicated for four years in several Vermont newspapers. Diana lives in Brattleboro with her husband and two daughters, and teaches at Core Flow Yoga & Sport in a small studio attached to her family’s Victorian farmhouse.

Diana Sabot once served as events coordinator for Galaxy, bringing in such readers as Galway Kinnell and Judith Jones.

"Wanting It" is being released by Harbor Mountain Press in June.

Galaxy Bookshop
41 S. Main Street
Hardwick, Vermont 05843