Archive for the ‘ Videos ’ Category

Eilen Jewell

Sarah Jarosz clawhammers her way to the top

Sarah has been named Female Vocalist of the Year, Country/Bluegrass Band of the Year, and Folk Band of the Year by the Austin Music Awards! I can see why. At only 18, this little lady from Austin sure can sing and play just about anything: mandolin, clawhammer banjo, guitar, and piano. We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing more of you in the near future.

The Devil Makes Three

“The Devil Makes Three” is out of Santa Cruz, California. Yes, California. They play an awesome brand of acoustic music that’s a blend of bluegrass, old time music, folk, blues, ragtime, and rockabilly. Guitarist Pete Bernhard, upright bassist Lucia Turino, guitarist/tenor banjo player Cooper McBean.

“What’s more quaint, and out-of-time, and culturally beside-the-point than bluegrass?”

A recent article featured on Slate described bluegrass as “quaint, out-of-time, and culturally beside-the-point”. Really? The author, Nathan Heller, or his editor obviously didn’t do much fact checking on such a broad and ignorant statement.

Well Mr. Heller, Bluegrass music laid the foundation for much of the rock and country music we enjoy today. I have included a little video to help you be better informed.

Now that you have a better idea of where bluegrass has been, I would challenge you to check out where bluegrass is today. While the form continues to evolve, bluegrass continues to be relevant to the times. Check our archives for many articles and artist features for further proof that this genre is in fact still very much alive and on the rise.

In the future we would love to see Slate cover more of what’s going on in the Newgrass scene. Perhaps then you would be better informed.

Larry Clark / Bluegrass Activist and Founder of Newgrass Magazine

Original Slate Article

Murder in the Mountains – Ballads of Love, Betrayal and Murder

Murder Ballads typically recount the details of a mythic or true crime — who the victim is, why the murderer decides to kill him or her, how the victim is lured to the murder site and the act itself — followed by the escape and/or capture of the murderer. Often the ballad ends with the murderer in jail or on their way to the gallows, occasionally with a plea for the listener not to copy the evils committed by the singer.


Pretty Polly is a song that tells of a young woman lured into the forest where she is killed and buried in a shallow grave. Many variants of the story have the villain as a ship’s carpenter who promises to marry Polly but murders her when she becomes pregnant. When he goes back to sea, he is haunted by her ghost, confesses to the murder, goes mad and dies.


Silver Dagger is an American folk ballad, likely dating to the late 19th century though possibly much older; the first published version appeared in 1907. In the song, the narrator turns away a potential suitor, as her mother has warned her to avoid the advances of men, in an attempt to spare her daughter the heartbreak that she herself has endured.


Banks of the Ohio Is a 19th century murder ballad, written by unknown authors, in which “Willie” invites his young lover for a walk during which she rejects his marriage proposal. Once they are alone on the river bank, he murders the young woman.


Long Black Veil is a 1959 country ballad, written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell. It is about a man accused of murder who refuses to provide an alibi because he was having an affair with his best friend’s wife at the time, and would rather die than reveal this. Subsequently, he is executed by hanging, taking their secret to the grave. The chorus describes the woman’s mourning visits to his gravesite in her long black veil. The song is sung from the point of view of the executed man. The writers later stated that they drew on three sources for their inspiration: Red Foley’s recording of “God Walks These Hills With Me”, a contemporary newspaper report about the unsolved murder of a priest, and the legend of a mysterious veiled woman who regularly visited Rudolph Valentino’s grave.


Little Sadie is a 20th Century American folk ballad that is known by many names like “Cocaine Blues” (see below) it tells the story of a man who is apprehended after shooting his wife/girlfriend. He is then sentenced by a judge.


Cocaine Blues

Bluegrass, Newgrass & Hip Hop

Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who prefers Hip Hop to Bluegrass and I felt the dialog was worth sharing, since most of us have friends who might not know what all Newgrass has to offer.

I think the first thing to note is that Newgrass is not necessarily traditional Bluegrass. While Newgrass is definately kin to Bluegrass, the lines between genres are blurring. Our generation is taking our grandparents’ traditional bluegrass music and evolving it into something new and exciting. Much like traditional bluegrass chronicled the lives of mountain folk before us, Newgrass communicates the struggles and accomplishments of today’s culture, while taking into account the cultural influences we experience day to day-which includes Hip Hop among many other genres of music.

One doesn’t have to look far for these influences. Check out the chart topping Newgrass band, The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ take on the song “Hit ’em up style”.

Crazy Heart – The harder the life, the sweeter the song.

Crazy heart has been nominated for a passel of big Hollywood awards, including several Academy Awards, Oscars and Spirit Awards. And why wouldn’t it. While it’s fiction, the story is very real. Amazing talent adds to the mix; Jeff Bridges (nominated for best actor), Maggie Gyllenhaal (nominated for best supporting actress ) and Singer-Songwriter Ryan Bingham (nominated for Best Original Song “the weary kind”) and let’s not forget the musical genius of one T-Bone Burnett.

I love this quote from T-Bone Burnett when discussing Crazy Heart and old time music.

“There’s so many beautiful musicians and writers and painters, creative people in general, and what most of us get is squeezed through this tiny bottleneck of ‘American Idol’ and things like that. I think it’s incumbent upon us who care about old time music and other kinds of music and art that isn’t in the mainstream to spread the word however we can. Movies have become a great radio station; people are in the dark with a good sound system for two hours, and I see that as a great opportunity to DJ.”

This formula seems to be working so far. One doesn’t have to look far to see the success old time music has had on the big screen. Look at the success we all have had since O’ Brother hit the screen.

Check out the movie. Give the soundtrack a listen. You won’t be disappointed.