The roots of the roots

When American roots music is celebrated, it’s usually done so with the Ken-Burns-like solemnity of PBS specials like American Epic — eminently worthwhile, but also studded with the kinds of celebrities (Willie Nelson, Jack White) who can tart up the joint enough to guarantee a least-embarrassing rating. All well and good, and if PBS can […]

Cephas & Wiggins play “John Henry”

I’m feeling distinctly ambivalent about yesterday’s election results; as I sort this out, a little classic American music may be appropriate. According to Bruce Bastin’s Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southwest, the American traditional “John Henry” was usually among the very first songs that Piedmont blues musicians would master. “Many bluesmen in […]