Archive for September, 2008

Makem and Spain Brothers

September 24, 2008

The Makem & Spain Brothers

Makem and Spain Brothers on stage

Makem and Spain Brothers on stage

My friend in Indiana recently heard this group of harmonizing brothers at an Irish Fest. You can hear snippets of their songs on iTunes.


That High Lonesome Voice

September 18, 2008

The country brother duos like the Everly Brothers and their predecessors are often described as having a “high lonesome voice.” Wayne Erbsen, in Origins & History of Bluegrass Article-Native Ground Music, makes the case that this vocal style is related to the Scots-Irish (or Scotch-Irish, as my mountain relatives always say) way of singing the old ballads, most notable among the women. Bill and Charlie Monroe of the Monroe Brothers, and later of Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, sang in the tight vocal style of their Scotch-Irish ancestors. The same vocal style can be heard among many of the other country brother duets of the 1930s, such as the Delmore Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys, as well as in later duos like the Louvin Brothers and Everly Brothers.

Bloggin fae the ‘Burn: The Louvin Brothers and brother duets

September 16, 2008

Mark Thompson has some great videos of the Louvin Brothers here: Bloggin fae the ‘Burn: The Louvin Brothers and brother duets.

I’m Stuck

September 15, 2008

I am writing my dissertation proposal. I know boat loads about my topic. When I go out for my run every day, I practically write chapters in my head. But I can’t seem to get my proposal done. I have a lot on paper, but I am convinced it’s all in the wrong order or it’s not clever enough or convincing enough or it lacks clarity. I read what I have and think what exquisite crap I have committed to the page. And all of this self-loathing has given me the proverbial writer’s block. I am frozen in place. I’ve tried my usual tricks: do housework, re-organize my office, torture my family with endless moaning about my lack of writing skill, go running, do yoga, listen to loud music, soft music, classical, rap, country, sit in silence. Nothing is working. Lest I spend the remainder of my days searching the internet for funny Sarah Palin videos with glassy eyes and drool leaking out the side of my mouth, I have to find a solution quick.

Then I read this blog by Jonathan Bellman, The Writer in the Mirror and another one by Phil Ford, Adventures in Bad Writing. And I was reminded that, even though I think me and my problems are pretty darn special, I am not unusual. I am not even in an unusual spot. I am not the only with the hair shirt and I won’t be the last. 

So I kind of feel better. Still wish I could make a lit. review flow and that my thoughts would magically reorganize themselves on paper and sound “wicked smaht.” In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing laundry and know that I have company.

Palin Comparison: Which Ticket Would Be Better for Music?

September 5, 2008

This just in:

Palin Comparison: Which Ticket Would Be Better for Music? | Listening Post from

Word is that Alaska governor, Republican vice presidential nominee and airborne wolf huntress Sarah Palin gave one of her children the middle name “Van” so that his name would rhyme with Van Halen. After all, one of its best-selling albums, 1984, did come out the same year she competed in the Miss Alaska pageant.

John McCain (who may or may not have been aware of her predilection for the guitar legend) played the …Read more…

This does not bode well, people. So fire up those DVD burners and start ripping as fast as you can. And check your collection for CDs that Ms. Righteous will want banned. Except Van Halen? She likes them? If I were a fan of Eddie & Co., I would be hiding those tapes and CDs right now!

This highlights the way in which music is contextually placed and how that context can change and shift reception over time. Van Halen–cool when they came out, not cool later, wicked cool as old guys (when they’re straight anyway), and possibly pariahs or maybe heros now, depending on your political orientation. And poor old Abba. They’ve really ridden the roller coaster of taste. They were high again, but McCain may have given them the kiss of death.