I’ll be seeing her a couple times next weekend at MerleFest, but actually interviewed bluegrass/acoustic musician Sierra Hull recently for the Columbia Free Times in advance of an appearance this week at Newberry Opera House in South Carolina. Such an interesting, well spoken artist, and a pleasure to talk to.
Six years ago I covered my first MerleFest for Country Standard Time, and I’ve gone back every year since. In addition to writing about the festival on the site and on social media, I have also indulged a hobby while watching the various performances–drawing pictures of the artists on stage. I’ve been told my ‘doodle’ drawing style resembles some of John Lennon’s artwork, which I consider a huge compliment. They’re not meant to be exact, just a scribbled/doodled impression while listening to the music. I’ll be back at it for MerleFest 2017, where you can find my coverage on Country Standard Time but also follow me on Twitter @kevingoliver and Instagram @kevinolivercolawriter, because I’ll post this year’s doodles there as the weekend unfolds. If you backtrack far enough on my Twitter feed you can see pieces from the last couple years, but I’ll save you the trouble and post some of my favorites below:
Columbia, SC hip-hop artist Cole Connor dropped one of my favorite records of 2016, Soda City; this week Czar Records released a slick video for one of its tracks, “Tarzan”. Complete with Grandmaster Flash lyrical nod and a message of not forgetting who you are (But thankfully no loincloths in sight), it is another reminder of how far hip-hop in South Carolina has come.
Shot and directed by The Foto Bros. LLC.
Mastered by STEF FisheyeMusic Mastering
SODA is available everywhere now.
Camden, SC born songwriter Patrick Davis once penned songs for the University of South Carolina baseball team’s national title run, and for the football team as well, so it’s only natural he come up with something for the men’s basketball team and their improbable Final Four berth this weekend. Win or lose, Davis is celebrating the achievement in song, and it’s stirring this old Gamecock alumn’s heart.
wrote some words about The Distributors’ new EP in this week’s Free Times… via Review: The Distributors’ Take It All | Music Reviews | free-times.com
There are lots of R.E.M. shows on YouTube including some very early ones with varying quality… this one from 1982 includes all the between song back-and-forth typical of a local club show between band and audience, and Stipe is endearingly engaged and not yet into his spaced-out frontman persona he’d adopt not long after this…asking for requests, dedicating songs to people, and acting like every local band playing their favorite bar.
Now that Columbia Free Times has published its annual ‘best albums not from South Carolina’ list that I contributed to, here
I can post my own full list below, which shows it was a pretty good, diverse year for music.
1. Drive-By Truckers, American Band: The album that captures how I feel about this year better than anything else.
2. David Bowie, Blackstar: Tragic start to the year with Bowie’s death, but this parting statement is all the more powerful for his knowing absence.
3. Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker: Tragic end to the year with Cohen’s passing, but his dedication to the word and the song was strong all the way to the finish.
4. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service: Phife Dawg may be gone, but he lives on in the tracks here, and the Tribe manages to come back and say goodbye in the same instant with class, style, and precisely drawn vibes that nail the current state of things.
5. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth: Simpson doesn’t need today’s country music, but today’s country music sorely needs Simpson.
6. Volbeat, Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie: Groove metal with hammerblow intensity and a fun-loving streak that’s sadly absent from the music of their peers.
7. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book: Kanye gets more props but my favorite rapper right now is probably this guy, who wraps funk and gospel into one big crazy mess like a kid with an actual coloring book who refuses to draw inside the lines.
8. Bill Mallonee & the Big Sky Ramblers, Slow Trauma; Mule: America’s greatest living songwriter, he puts out albums at such a clip it’s hard to keep up. These two from 2016 are both top notch representations of the world-weary, faith-infused point of view he has perfected over the years.
9. Corinne Bailey Rae, The Heart Speaks in Whispers: Beyonce may be pushing more boundaries in more directions, but for late night jazzy R&B vibes, this lady put out the smoothest jams of the year.
10. Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad: I think I watched this album more than I listened, as the recordings done in various train stations were all filmed and posted online. Two of my favorite songwriters playing songs about trains and traveling, it’s a musical and historical journey all in one.