Sunday, May 4, 2008

(Re)Covered V: More Covers of and from
Richard Shindell, Cindy Kallet, Doc Watson, James Taylor

News, new releases, and new discoveries leave us no choice but to bring you yet another long-overdue installment of our popular (Re)Covered series, wherein we recover songs that dropped through the cracks too late to make it into the posts where they belonged.



A huge news trifecta this week from Cover Lay Down inaugural-post favorite Richard Shindell: he's started a blog, he's decided to reopen sales of his recent live album as a digital download, and he's decided to try financing his next record by offering every single one of us the chance to become a producer.

Shindell's blog is already proving to be a vibrant space for thoughtful, well-written treatises on the world and how it is changing, though we'd expect nothing less from this articulate singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter; the first two entries offer a short journalistic report from his adopted homeland of Argentina, and an artist's-eye reflection on how changes in the music industry have altered the relationship between musicians and fans, primarily for the better. And the news that others will soon be able to order his well-produced and wonderfully organic live album, which I wrote about in our six-month anniversary post, is just plain great.

But I'm especially excited to see Shindell join the growing ranks of folk artists who are not only embracing the new, digital world, but tapping into its fullest potential. Album microfinancing through the fanbase is a gutsy move, but it is a viable one, as singer-songwriters Kris Delmhorst and Jill Sobule have successfully demonstrated; the multi-tiered approach Shindell is using to finance his new work seems creative, and offers real return for investors: at the entry level, you're basically buying the album in advance; from there, investment return climbs all the way up to house concerts and housepainting.

As Richard points out in his most recent blog entry, working with "big music" and the RIAA has its costs, and often require that artists work in ways which are not consistent with their own value systems. But the file-sharing landscape offers new opportunities which greatly improve the potential for the relationship between artists and fans. Fan financing is just one example of this; a second is Shindell's creation of an open guitar case, where those who have downloaded his work for free, or just appreciate it, can choose to stop by and support Shindell directly. Here's hoping that this is only the tip of a very big iceberg.

Please join me in supporting the creation of Richard's new album, and celebrating yet one more musician who has decided to leave behind the crumbling, artist-unfriendly industry. Even if you aren't interested in purchasing a full album, or participating in microfinancing at this time, if you like the songs I've included here, or enjoyed previously-posted covers from Richard Shindell, including songs by Springsteen and Ritter, Leonard Cohen, and Jeffrey Foucault and Dar Williams, please consider donating to Shindell via his open guitar case.




In other (Re)Covered-worthy news, I just recieved my review copy of Heart Walk, the new album from the trio of Cindy Kallet, Ellen Epstein, and Michael Cicone. As expected, it's a beautful work, full of robust harmony and sincere emotion, primarily comprised of coversongs of underappreciated folk artists who share the same social and ecological sensibilities of Kallet and co. Like the trio's previous two albums, which I wrote about in our previous feature on Cindy Kallet, Heart Walk is both an especially powerful musical experience, and a great and loving introduction to the work of other folk musicians you may not have heard of, but should. Kudos, all around.

Order Heart Walk and hear samples here; if you live in the Boston area, come join me at First Parish Church in Watertown on May 17th for the Kallet, Epstein, and Cicone CD release party, a rare opportunity to see the trio (and friends) perform live. In the meantime, these two covertracks from the new album -- a cover of an old Judy Collins tune, and an absolutely stunning cover of Peter Mayer's Holy Now featuring Michael's warm, clear lead vocals -- are a great way to whet the appetite.




Our recent vacation to North Carolina was lots of fun, but being without the bulk of my music collection meant a relative dearth of music availability for the posts I produced while on the road. Happily, since my return, my continued search for songs from fathers to daughters and more old folk song covers from Doc Watson led me to Daddies Sing Good Night, a decade-old compilation from bluegrass label Sugar Hill records. This great coveralbum, which turned up in my daughter's vanity, was the source for the Seldom Scene cover of Sweet Baby James I included in our recent James Taylor coversongs megapost; it also includes these two great father-to-son cuts from Doc Watson.




And finally, speaking of ol' JT: thanks to all my readers, especially long-time reader and fan Carol, for the many songs and suggestions that poured in after the aforementioned James Taylor megapost. Though I'm saving most of my newly-embiggened collection of Taylor covers ever-hopefully for a future post on other members of the mightily talented Taylor Family, here's that Alison Krauss and James Taylor cover of the Louvin Brothers I'd been looking for -- it's even better than I hoped it would be.

14 comments:

Richard Shindell said...

Howdy. Looks like you've pretty much covered it all here. Very nice job. I could learn a thing or two. Just a note to thank you for the support.

Richard Shindell

boyhowdy said...

Thanks, Richard. We're honored by your presence, and your stamp of approval. Hope this weekend's "recording binge" is going well!

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