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We made it. I made it. Winter could not take us.

I want to both berate nature for having inflicted all those cold, hellish months on me and thank it profusely for having whisked them away with chirping birds and blooming iris’ and sunshine. This is the conundrum of the Midwest clime and it is one that baffles me every damn year, despite 30 of them here. Here, when it turns cold, you grit your goddamn teeth and steal yourself against the wind and you pray it’s one of those seasons that ends sooner than the Farmer’s Almanac says it will. You promise things you cannot give to the Gods in exchange for a single blade of green grass and you convince yourself that last year’s winter taught you to survive this. The last 30 winter’s taught you to survive this.

For some reason, this winter was rougher to weather. It was not the worst I’ve seen and yet for some reason, it felt as if any day now I would just wither into steam.

While the Midwest might be the greatest of assholes for punishing the innocent with its wintertide grip, it is also a kind of savior for rescuing us with spring. It makes that first warm light seem so much greater than it probably is. To call it an awakening is restrained.

I’m so goddamn glad winter finally heeded my calls to fuck off. Here’s a mixtape to commemorate that.

DOWNLOAD What Winter Could Not Kill :: A Spring 2013 Mixtape [.zip]

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Langhorne Slim & The Law :: Summertime [mp3]

Seems like we waited for a thousand years…

DOWNLOAD the Summertime EP via Noisetrade :: FACEBOOK

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Hayden :: Blurry Nights [mp3]

So, let’s just be honest: This jam doesn’t necessary fit the mood of this here tape. However, I am right obsessed with Hayden and as such, will include one of his jams on every tape I make until that obsession subsides. Deal with it.

BUY Us Alone :: FACEBOOK

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Willy Mason :: I Got Gold [mp3]

Yeah, still obsessed with Willy Mason. It’s probably a certifiable mental health issue at this point.

DOWNLOAD Don’t Stop Now via Noisetrade :: FACEBOOK

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Branches :: I Believe In A Thing Called Love [mp3]

If you think that Branches doesn’t win the covers game, you’re a dolt. If you aren’t as in love with the man singing here, Tyler, then you can I cannot be friends.

DOWNLOAD Covers :: FACEBOOK

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Wake Owl :: Wild Country (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]

This song has soundtracked every hard thing I’ve endured for the past year. Turns out, the live version is just as stellar as the album version but in such a different way. It’s muted and the swells of the original are corked with calm. The song and it’s lyrics (which can easily stand next to some of the best ever written, I SHIT YOU NOT) are both nearly overshadowed and bolstered by the weeping violin. The original is an all seasons song; this version was made just for spring and the awakening that comes along with it.

DAYTROTTER Session :: FACEBOOK

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Smooth Hound Smith :: California Sway [stream]

Included because of reasons, that’s why.

BANDCAMP :: FACEBOOK

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Hollis Brown :: Nightfall [mp3]

If you’re not gonna include a Black Crowes or Tom Petty song on your mixtape, you might as well include one by a band that sounds like the lovechild of the two.

BUY Ride On The Train :: FACEBOOK

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Cayucas :: East Coast Girl [mp3]

If this song was released more than a week ago I’m gonna be really pissed because I could have been using it to usher in the sun. This jam feels like when you’re in your kitchen at 9 am in the morning trying to finish that last batch of jello shots as quickly as you can before you get on a boat on the lake.

BUY Bigfoot :: FACEBOOK

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The Hollering Pines :: Carla Cain [mp3]

Let’s slow it down right quick how about. I cannot place what it is about this song that feels like my home. Is it the name Carla, which is also the moniker of a woman I can see playing this in her kitchen while she fries chicken for Sunday’s family dinner? Is it that guitar, carrying on as if it were raised in a barn? Is it the words: Momma said what’s done is done?

I can not say but there need not be an explanation for this kind of love. Over the past two weeks I have turned this song up to maximum volume and sang my country guts out on at least 49 separate occasions. That’s some praise right there…

FREE DOWNLOAD of Demos :: FACEBOOK

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Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit :: TVA [mp3]

I did not grow up 2 hours north of Birmingham and I have not ever fished next to Wilson Dam. But all that doesn’t mean I cannot attach myself to this song.

If you grew up in the Midwest and you’re looking for a song that will take you home, here it is.

BUY Live From Alabama :: FACEBOOK

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The Avett Brothers :: Hammer Down (Jason Molina cover) [mp3]

Because there will always be an Avetts’ song on every mixtape I ever make. Because this one happens to be a Jason Molina cover. Because I saw the light is a lyric that perfectly describes what happens when Spring arrives.

From Cover Lay Down’s excellent Carolina Coverfolk, Vol. 5 :: SITE

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Whetherman :: Why Pretend [mp3]

To say that Whetherman’s Streams and Pastures has overtaken my ears and hearts is a vast understatement. I was driving the other day, the varied songs playing over the speakers and so very positively influencing my mood, and thinking that there should be a piece here about how glorious easy listening albums are. Not easy listening as in your mom’s favorite Richard Marx jams; easy listening as in albums that cover great and excessive stretches of ground in just 12 songs but manage to hold your attention entirely. Last year’s self-titled album from Denver did that for me and thus far this year, Whetherman’s jams have perfectly fit that bill. I’d like to say something really elegant and nuanced about this album because it deserves it but I can’t. I just love it. I love it real hard.

DOWNLOAD Streams & Pastures :: FACEBOOK

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The Cave Singers :: Shine [mp3]

I fucking love The Cave Singers. That is all.

BUY Naomi :: FACEBOOK

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Castanets :: I’m No Stranger To The Rain (Keith Whitley cover) [mp3]

The music of Keith Whitley is a certain sort of sacred here in the Midwest. Like John Denver and Bob Seger and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. You don’t touch it, you don’t cover it, you don’t shit talk it.

That said, I like this. I don’t know how my mother, who still cries when she hears a Whitley song, would feel about it but this ain’t her blog so fuck it.

BUY I’m No Stranger To The Rain 7″ :: SITE

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Edward Herda :: Western Room [mp3]

This song is perfect. That kick drum slays my heart.

DOWNLOAD The Wondrous Folly of Vaughn Frogg :: SITE

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Quiet Hounds :: I Get Up [mp3]

Here’s a jaunty little jam that reeks of summer because jaunty little jams that reek of summer are wonderful.

BUY Megaphona :: FACEBOOK

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Jason Eady & The Wayward Apostles :: Wild-Eyed Serenade [mp3]

What, y’all thought I wouldn’t include a country jam?

BUY Wild-Eyed Serenade :: FACEBOOK

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Paper Bird :: As I Am [mp3]

The whole of Paper Bird’s latest album is a true delight. You should probably just go ahead and get that into your life.

BUY Rooms :: FACEBOOK

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Shakey Graves :: Late July [mp3]

And here, a special treat to top it all off. Shakey played our house last summer. Ryan taped the whole thing because Ryan is a God among mere men and the result is a disc called Live at Folk Hive. The thing’s got a beautiful cover, complete with a photo courtesy of the ever-awesome Jarred. On the back it lists my tiny town’s name.

Let this be a lesson to all: Old porches have great acoustics. At the end of the album it is fully night and everyone is covered in sweat and the cicadas are so incredibly loud that they almost drown out the music. It was perfect. That is Missouri. That is Folk Hive.

There is no better reminder that summer exists and is a thing that is coming to fix your life all up than a jam from an album that was recorded live on your street in your tiny town of 1200. You should all get one of those, I say. One of the greatest antidepressants ever concocted.

And with that, a jam from the last house show we hosted last summer, we usher in the warmth. Here’s to so many more of those shows and summers, too…

If you have one of those dude-bro friends that repeatedly claims, while downing Bud Lights at the bar, that music these days sucks, this is the list you show him to prove him wrong. Maybe now he’ll shut the hell up. Also, you should stop being friends with that guy. He probably owns multiple  Nickleback albums.

I spent this year immersed in music and not once was “Man, music this year blew” a thought that entered my fuzzy brain. I’ll give you this: If you’re doing nothing but listening to the radio, the sentiment that things in music just aren’t what they used to be probably holds true. But on the other hand, if you’re a smart one, you’ve found your favorite blogs or you’ve taken the steps yourself to seek out beautiful jams and for you, 2012 was a fucking inspiring year of music.

Below, Folk Hive’s List of Most Revered. Here you will not find what’s called a Best Of List. We do not deign to know what was the best this year — we’re not critics so that job falls on someone else. We can only tell you what moved us these past 365 days and the reasons why. Below, a listing of 10 albums that did just that. Observe.

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tpt[Number TEN :: Turnpike Troubadours Goodbye Normal Street]

Bossier City Records

I recognize that the third and latest offering from Red Dirt heroes, the Turnpike Troubadours, is not up everyone’s alley. Goodbye Normal Street is a full on country assault of your ears and for some of your boats, this ain’t what floats it. But being from where I’m from, there is a comfort in music that is home to me, whether I like it or not. My childhood was filled with Garth Brooks and George Strait, recent Gods of Country, and they dominated my musical landscape from a young age. As I got older, I moved away from that because Christ if it isn’t a trite genre now, full of cliché and bullshit rhyme, but the Troubadours bring it back to where it should be. If this album had not been filled with heart, great stompability, and jams written by Felker (a man that fucking owns the words to his songs in a way I rarely witness), I’d still love it on the merits of what it says country music can and should be.

Turnpike Troubadours :: Good Lord Lorrie [mp3]

BUY Goodbye Normal Street :: SITE

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horse feathers[Number NINE :: Horse Feathers Cynic’s New Year]

Kill Rock Stars

It is perhaps true that never has a folk outfit so beautifully and perfectly blended words, vocal, and an array of instruments as Horse Feathers does and this year’s release Cynic’s New Year bolsters that statement. It is Bruce Springsteen in spirit for the Midwestern set. Cynic’s New Year is strife and poverty and happiness, if you can find it, within that, despite the odds. “Last Waltz”, one of our most favoritest tracks of the entire year, is a beauty …

Horse Feathers :: Last Waltz [mp3]

BUY Cynic’s New Year :: SITE

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strumbellas[ Number EIGHT :: The Strumbellas My Father & The Hunter ]

Maple Music

From the very first urge to stomp and clap on The Strumbellas excellent debut My Father & The Hunter, it’s clear that we’re in for a ride. For some time it was so that “Left for Dead” had a place on every personal mix I made. It was replaced by “Diane” and then “Carry My Body”. Beyond that there was “Underneath A Mountain” which has become one of our go to Feel Fucking Great Anthems. While taking stock at the end of year last it became obvious by play count that this album had dominated our listening not even on and off but consistently since we’d encountered it. While every album on this list is one that we have loved hard, this one in particular is one that we apparently loved long as well.

The Strumbellas :: Underneath A Mountain [mp3]

BUY My Father & The Hunter :: SITE

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Jurado[ Number SEVEN :: Damien Jurado Maraqopa ]

Secretly Canadian

Nothing written in the history of this album does its beauty justice. We have seriously genuine honest feelings of love for this album so great that words cannot ever do it justice. (That’s our review. Seriously.)

Damien Jurado :: Working Titles [mp3]

BUY Maraqopa :: SITE

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sheepdogs[ Number SIX :: The Sheepdogs S/T ]

Atlantic

This is one of only two non-indie label released album on this list and while we typically give all our love to bands and outfits that won’t garner Rolling Stone covers, the 1970s-tinged perfection of The Sheepdogs S/T release this year was too good to forgo on our year end favorites list. It should be noted that while this album was blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) by big label production (e.g. fucking Pat Carney, you guys) and promotion, the legwork for all The Sheepdogs success was done over years and years by the band itself and not some label machine ran by beardless dudes in goddamn ties. The band’s live show has been honed over an extended period of time spent toiling in bars and it shows from the bonafide groupie presence in the front row all the way back to the old Allman Brothers fan in the back row, jamming as if it were Duane Allman himself on guitar. Seriously, y’all we witnessed this first hand. (Two aside thoughts about that: 1. Goddammit, groupie bitches, I drove 4 hours for this show, I will rip that feather out of your hair if you cut me in line and 2. Highest of fucking fives, old dude in the back row with your badass handmade tie dye shirt and braid.)

While it’s obvious this album was produced by a major label it’s merit rests in the fact that the songs contained therein were either released previously on other albums fucking stellar in their own right or perfected on the road just the way they deserved to be.

The Sheepdogs :: Feeling Good [mp3]

BUY The Sheepdogs :: SITE

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avetts[ Number FIVE :: The Avett Brothers The Carpenter ]

Universal Republic

There are a million words we could write about The Avett Brothers: Of their perfection when they began, of their growth in their formative years as a band, and how they’ve changed into something that maybe their oldest fans do not worship as hard but that’s for another time. The fact of the matter is that even a shitty Avetts album is still a damn fine album. There are gems here, to be sure, and frankly a couple Avett Brothers gems are still greater than most albums released these days and as such, we love The Carpenter.

PS — But still, fuck Rick Rubin.

The Avett Brothers :: Down With the Shine [mp3]

BUY The Carpenter :: SITE

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i'm just gonna sit this here for you :: the lumineers new album[ Number FOUR :: The Lumineers S/T ]

Dualtone

Because seriously, you had to know this would end up here on our list. From the positively perfect first listen upon discovery of this album to the exceedingly righteous experience of seeing the band up on a mountain in a singing, dancing crowd of 75 or so, The Lumineers contributed to a glorious year of discovery when it comes to music. The band has moved on from the size of that mountain crowd to a rapidly growing fan base that is expanding even as we type and they are certainly folk’s success story of the year. Amazingly, it couldn’t have happened to a band that deserves it’s success any more than this one.

The Lumineers :: Elouise (Lost EP version) [mp3]

BUY The Lumineers :: SITE

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spirit fam[ Number THREE :: Spirit Family Reunion No Separation ]

Self released

Fans of stomp, clap, and holler, ye musical gods have arrived and they go by the name Spirit Family Reunion.

Spirit Family Reunion :: Green Rocky Road [mp3]

BUY No Separation :: SITE

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Father John Misty[ Number TWO :: Father John Misty Fear Fun ]

Sub Pop

There are things about J Tillman, man who changes his moniker Prince / Artist Formerly Known As style whenever he damn well feels like it.. that are well and true. 1. He’s a goddamn musical genius. 2. He sports the most righteous of all indie beards. And 3. There is no way we’d want to encounter the dude in a dark alley. Reason being? He’s witty, sarcastic, and intelligent as fuck, something that’s obvious if you’ve ever watched an interview he’s given (our favorite). He would slay us with his comebacks, he would laugh at our trivial knowledge, and he would balk at that shirt you’re wearing.

Still, Misty seems to be a swell feller regardless and this year’s release of Fear Fun was a gift to people like us, we obsessors over words (see the insert that came with the vinyl album). How a man manages to both frolic and maintain balls to the walls seriousness in his music while tackling what seems to be an unhappiness of epic proportions we’ll never know, but Misty pulls it off. We did not review this album, though we wanted to greatly, for we were worried that the artist would get wind of it and ruin us even though our thoughts on it are glowing bright and sprinkled with glittery bits of love. We just couldn’t take that risk.

When Tillman is Father John I cannot decipher his words for their meaning nor his songs for their true depth but I feel a kinship with them anyway. For us, that’s been the beauty of this record.

Father John Misty :: Only Son Of A Ladies Man [mp3]

BUY Fear Fun :: SITE

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denver 3[ Number ONE :: Denver S/T ]

Mama Bird Recording Co.

If there is any album this year that can be called underrated and underappreciated, it is this one right here.

We’ve went on about this album and this band before. The praise we heaped upon this album once proved well deserved for these songs have soundtracked road trips, river trips, and gathering with friends, however few and far between they’ve become as we’ve aged. In our minds, this band that originally warranted merit due solely to it’s makeup has now become greater than that — this is not Blitzen Trapper, this is not Alela Diane’s Wild Divine. Denver is The Highwaymen in camaraderie and Denver is a band that has perfected the beauty of stomp and holler music that belies, in its seeming happiness, something deeper. There is heartbreak and while that’s common in music (and in life) what’s different here is that there are lessons learned in those songs, too. No more howlin’ at the moon.

Plus, there’s a fucking banjo.

Denver :: The Way It Is [mp3]

BUY Denver :: SITE

Absent for a month and indeed, sorry for that. But here we are now: the fall has descended upon the Ozarks and year 30 has dropped into my lap.

Let me admit some things. I will admit that I have not written since early October. I will admit that I have not listened to music — not a mixtape in my car, not a snuck secular jam in my office, not a handcrafted playlist in my home — in more than a month.

I will admit that it’s likely due to a combination of the weather and mood. I now possess a 30 year old disposition and I am finding it unbecoming. It is anxious and frail and it has left me at a loss for words. It has left me drained and without the want or will to find the energy to even just listen. It is a sad state. Those things I will admit.

I will also admit that today I spent no less than 8 hours in front of a computer with no other goal than to reacquaint myself with my medicine, that which has healed me in the past. I forget occasionally how that works and I lose track of the glorious seconds where I encounter a song that moves me and I have to physically remove my hands from the keyboard so that I can place them on my chest and feel along with the person singing. It is their story, their lyrics, but they’ve released them into the ether and the beautiful thing about it (and music in general) is that I can take those songs and use them as my very own ladders. They are helpmates out of holes in which I’ve dug myself into. These songs are friends that talk me down.

Last weekend, I ventured out to a country show. I packed up my travel anxiety and I left town on a last minute whim. I was with a hastily obtained press pass and without a hotel reservation. I packed myself into a tiny bar with 600 others, 300 or so of which I’m sure were most likely breaking some sort of fire code regulations with their attendance, and I danced my ass off to a genre of music that I have not two-stepped to since my childhood. There were two beers in each of my hands and there were great friends to my left and right. At times, I sang so loud and with such gusto that I felt it breaking my heart free from the locked cage in which it had decided it would spend the winter. I attempted to take video of a raucous sing along, “Long Hot Summer Day” so I could remember the minute it happened later — I grounded my camera on the thick hewn log railing that bordered the area where we danced upstairs in the bar but the crowd was stomping so hard that there was just no stability to be found, even among the timber. Fucking music. It saves the day always and apparently not just for me but for hundreds of others crowded in a bar for the country show. Fucking music, man. It’s so perfect.

Here’s to the fall and here’s to the damned cold.

Here’s to making it through the season…

DOWNLOAD the Folk Hive Fall/Winter Mix.zip, y’all.

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The Avett Brothers :: The Fall

This is a literal fall and there is the fall which drops the leaves from the tree branches. And then there is this song by The Avett Brothers that reminds me of springs and summers during which I opened wide all the windows in the house and turned the speakers up to 11 so that I could hear these words while I planted flowers in the front garden. There was a beer beside me and there was sun on my tank-topped back. Those were the days, man.

Those days shall return, yes, but in the meantime there is old school Avetts to mind that gap.

(If you’ve yet to meet your awesomeness quota for the month, might I suggest a purchase of The Avett Brothers Four Thieves Gone that was just released in the most badass of vinyl packages? Get that here.)

BUY Four Thieves Gone :: SITE

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Adam Faucett ::The Way You See It (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]

My history with Faucett is both non-existent and storied. We have never met, will never meet. But if Six Degrees of Separation is a real thing then by God, we’re best friends. I once met two of his pals at a bar, musicians both, and saw his face in a facebook photo of those boys. My musical blogger instincts said that man too, with his beard rivaling that of his friends that I’d once encountered, probably had a band too. Indeed, he did. That bearded, legally blind man was Faucett and now that I am fully comfortable with his wail and his words, I am devoted.

We have never met, never we shall. But his music will ring through this house all fall and all winter. I assume that on the river next year even, I will hum this song in my head as I round bends to long, deep eddy’s.

Faucett’s DAYTROTTER Session :: BUY More Like A Temple :: SITE

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The Deep Dark Woods :: Sugar Mama [mp3]

This is most likely the best 2:39 of song I’ve heard in the past…forever. A song of lament and hope with a country-folk bent that’s right up our alley. This song has been played over 500 times in this house and will likely be played over 500 more. What with that lament of age and displacement of one’s youth and it’s summery, sunny sound, how could it not?

BUY The Place I Left Behind :: SITE

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Gin House :: Midwestern Mind, Southern Heart

There is a thing I like about this song. That thing looms large and that thing is a personal comfort and a knowing that lurks within these words. This, to me, is a gloriously written alt-country jam with a full on, lyrical country bent.

BUY Gin House EP :: SITE

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Passenger :: All the Little Lights [mp3]

Sometimes a mantra is needed, something to repeat as the warmth leaves this Midwestern state, something that will convince my heart that one day the sun will return. The chorus of this Passenger jam work just fine in that capacity: We’ve all got million of little lights shining in our hearts and they show us the way. The sun isn’t always necessary, not when you have all those little lights.

BUY All The Little Lights :: SITE

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The Oh Hellos :: The Truth Is A Cave [mp3]

At the ass end of 2011 The Oh Hellos put out a stellar album that I dug into just a few months ago. As it usual, I quickly fell in love.

Sometimes though, when one loves an album and a band so much, there is cause to worry. When an album reaches that pinnacle within your heart, one might be cincerned that the greatness of the second can never match the wonder of the first. But awesomely, in regards to The Oh Hellos just released second effort, Through the Deep, Dark Valley, one needn’t have ever concerned themselves with thoughts like that to begin with.

The last lines of this song utterly slay my heart. I was tired of giving more than you gave to me. And I desired a truth I wouldn’t have to see. A-fucking-men.

BUY Through the Deep, Dark Valley :: FACEBOOK

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Some Dark Holler :: Sweet Red Wine [mp3]

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t believe with all your heart that autumn is perfectly soundtracked with foot stomps, a violin and a dobro, and words about some form of booze then we were probably not meant to be friends.

BUY Hollow Chest :: FACEBOOK

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Aiden Knight :: Jasper [mp3]

Aidan Knight is a songwriter and a damn fine one at that but not just one man (as the moniker would imply) but instead a quintet of folkies from Canada. I think. In other news, Aidan Knight is awesome.

Also, dudes. Here is a video of Aidan Knight and Dan (fucking) Mangan singing “Jasper” in the snowy wilderness. It is glorious and you should watch it.

 

BUY Small Reveal :: SITE

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The Wooden Sky :: Take Me Out (Halfway House Sessions) [mp3]

I fucking love this song (and this band) and on the aforementioned roadtrip with my moms, she fell in love with it, too. I learned, after wondering all these years, from who it must have been that I inherited a need to play certain songs on repeat, over and over for days and days. My mother took over the stereo, hitting back again and again, until we realized that she had played this song approximately 32 times in a row as we passed over state borders and county lines.

WOODEN SKY Halfway House Sessions :: BUY Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon a Sun :: SITE

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Brett Detar :: Coasts [mp3]

Breaking circles, man.

DOWNLOAD Bird In The Tangle :: SITE

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Wake Owl :: Gold

Wake Owl’s “Wild Country” has, without a mathematical doubt, been played more in this house this year than any other song I’ve come across within the past 365 days. FACT. Want another fact? “Gold” is in the running for being the second most listened to jam. For  an EP release of just a few songs, that’s quite a fucking feat.

BUY Wild Country :: SITE

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Father John Misty & Phosphorescent :: I Would Love You [mp3]

No comment here because no comment can equal the utter awesomeness of such a duet between the immeasurable Misty and Matthew Houck.

FOUND on Aquarium Drunkard

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Lemolo :: Letters [mp3]

This is included because of…reasons.

BUY Kaleidoscope :: SITE

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Chris Ayer :: The Infinite Abyss of Space [mp3]

Listen to the first 7 seconds of this song, indie music fan, and tell me that you don’t like this. Do it, I dare you. See what happens…

BANDCAMP :: FACEBOOK

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Tumbling Bones :: Trouble Around My Soul [mp3]

Something about some dudes harmonizing a capella about the troubles that those of us in this land seem to innately understand from birth gets me every damn time.

Tumbling Bones’ Selections: 2011-2012 is a stunningly gorgeous collection of jams. I stumbled upon it a week ago and have had it on repeat since, all 8 bits of it. Highly (no seriously, bro, HIGHLY) suggest you snag it.

BUY Selections: 2011-2012 :: FACEBOOK

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Frightened Rabbit :: Old Old Fashioned

FRabbit is releasing a new album, Pedestrian Verse, in some months and I, for one, with my penchant for slightly depressing yet awesome indie rock, am jazzed for its arrival. To keep my whistle whet until then, I’ve dug out The Midnight Organ Fight and put it on repeat because it is good and I fucking love it.

BUY The Midnight Organ Fight / PRE-ORDER Pedestrian Verse ::  SITE

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Turnpike Troubadours :: Long Hot Summer Day

Remember when I told you about the time that I saw a band that had a crowd of 600 stomping so solidly that a building made of some seriously large logs actually shook so hard that it was impossible to even anchor a camera? This is that band that I spoke of and this is that song.

BUY Goodbye Normal Street :: SITE

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Shakey Graves :: The Waters [mp3]

YOU GUYS. Watch this:

 

I mean, Jesus, COME ON.

FACEBOOK

There is a place nestled within the confines of the towering mountains of the Midwest that has named itself after the plateaus in which it is embedded. The name of that whistle-stop, the name of that precipice, the name of the entire region itself are all one and the same. Ozark, Arkansas. Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks.

In the warmer Midwestern months, upon that place and atop it’s mountain, two tens of thousands of folks descend. You take a right (or was it a left?) after driving through places like Alpena and Wittier and the steep incline begins. 40 miles out from Wakarusa, the excitement of those multitudes that arrived before you is palpable. Even upwind, you can sense it.

In it’s 9th year, Wakarusa is a beacon in the Buckle of the Bible Belt that calls out and beckons. The rock fans, the jamband fans, and the bluegrass fans hear that call from a hippy horn and they move to it like moths to a camp lantern. Hipsters, stoners, drop-outs, professors, burn-outs, lawyers driving Jaguars, teenagers, and senior citizens converge, all heeding that call to unite. And unite they do.

Whilst settling in a field with your neighbor’s tent against the ass of your car and two skeevy bikers to your left might not seem like the environment best suited to generate love for your fellow man, it sure does. That love too might have something to do with nature – morning sunset views whose beauty rivals the best sex you’ve ever had. (I immediately regret that analogy.) Steam rising from rivers and converging upon treetops, a lit up ferris wheel in the foreground pushing forth tears because it’s just so goddamn pretty. The sound of a plucked banjo wafting over the hills and across a river. Wakarusa isn’t a festival; it’s an experience.

I’d love to be able to properly describe it all but it’s just not possible. You have to live the thing, really. And live it we did. Below, some of our favorite moments from this year’s Waka, in no particular order. Please note a couple things though. First, I did not stay up past midnight for any bullshit DJ sets. I’m sorry. You’ll have to ask your candy kid friend about how good Pretty Lights is live. Second is that I went to Wakarusa to see a few things. I saw all of them and more (save Blitzen Trapper, dammit!) and this is just some of what was seen. My brain is still raw and recuperating. I did not cover this as press so I did not go as press — I kept track of no setlist, I used no camera (because as dipshitty as it sounds, I wanted to just breathe in it and not worry about shot composure), I videotaped nothing. I could barely form words until three days after getting home. These are first thoughts but for the purpose of getting back to real life (and planning that trip for next year) this is what I want to say about it. This is really all I can say about it…

****

Mountain Sprout @ The Outpost (because I refuse to actually add Kum & Go to that stage name)

They drank. They played a fiddle and a banjo. And they brought forth the realization that it’s acceptable to wear overalls somewhere other than my town and for something other than farming.

Why Mountain Sprout was a band with nary a presence on my radar a week ago is baffling to me, for they sing of my life. A song called ‘River Float’? Dude playing a banjo, cigarette in hand? Jesus, it’s a travesty I was unaware of this business. But I digress for Mountain Sprout is about nothing if not the opposite of business. Playing to the hippies at the festival (who I presume hate the DJs as much as I), they brought everyone in close to the stage the second they struck about it and a raucous commenced.

Out of Eureka, the band clearly knows this crowd and the crowd clearly knew them, singing along and dancing under the white tent. What you could feel most about Mountain Sprout is that they’re genuine — they’re not just talking about living a country life, they’re fucking do it. That song about beer and not being able to find it because you’re in a backwoods dry county? That happened. That one about stinking like a turkey buzzard? I believe these boys have probably been there and will soon again. Mountain Sprout, however drunk they can get, however high they are, sort of epitomize the Ozarks. That might make us uncivilized or simple, but I’m okay with that. Mountain Sprout sounds just like home.

And bands should always follow that modus operandi: Live what you love, sing about it. If the size of Mountain Sprout’s crowd and their enthusiasm was any indicator of what that will bring, then you’d do good to get on that road.

Mountain Sprout :: River Float (Live) [mp3]

BUY some sweet ass Mountain Sprout Jams  :: FACEBOOK

**

The Lumineers @ George’s Majestic Backwoods

It’s one of the wonders of Wakarusa that nearly every set is able to bring together such a diverse crowd of music obsessors. But The Lumineers set was an anomaly. The crowd was more populated with the hipster set than any other I saw at the festival but despite common thinking, it detracted none. We arrived early so we could be guaranteed a spot 2 foot from the stage and were granted our wish. The bed of mulch under our feet and the trees surrounding us provided a stunning environment in which to sing ‘Stubborn Love’ at the top of our lungs. With a much fuller band taking the tour route, The Lumineers set was one of the highlights of the weekend. The initially sparse crowd filled in a matter of minutes after the band set in and by the third song, we were all sweating together in the Arkansas sun. The band kicked off shoes (if they’d worn them at all) and steam began to form and fall from band leader Schultz’s knuckles. Crowd participation and elation reached it’s high point when the band launched into their best known jam, ‘Ho Hey’ and from then on, we were all equally enthralled.

I knew this band was good. I’ve got every last inch of their album and EP memorized but when they were so good I actually shut my mouth and just felt the songs? Yeah. The Lumineers. Fuck yes.

500 people clapping in time, singing at the top of their lungs, and stomping their two feet never sounded so goddamn exalted as it did in those woods.

The Lumineers :: Stubborn Love (Live on KEXP) [stream]

**

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (w. Amanda Shires) @ George’s Majestic Backwoods

I delicately explained to my Waka companion prior to Isbell’s set that things were about to get a little country. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while they most certainly did, there was a good amount of southern dirt rock thrown in there for good measure. The great thing about the 400 Unit is that this band is insanely fucking tight live. Frankly, had I closed my eyes it very well might have been that someone had just throw a record on a turntable up on stage and stuck a microphone to it. And while typically, I like my bands to be a wholly different experience live, Isbell pulls it off so very well. Arguably one of the best songwriters of our generation — I’m not shitting you, I read this man’s lyrics like a book and weep sometimes — the band busted out some great jams from Isbell’s Drive By Truckers Days, most notably ‘Goddamn Lonely Love’ (and obvious Folk Hive favorite because fuck love!), and still managed to keep it current with cuts from their latest, Here We Rest.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit :: Heart On A String [mp3]

BUY Here We Rest :: SITE

**

The Sheepdogs @ The Revival Tent

I reviewed The Sheepdogs once, their album Learn and Burn, and it was all I could do then not to extract every ounce of sentimentality I could muster about the sounds of that album. I wanted to measure it out onto the roads of the internet in a trail I hoped you all would follow. There were a handful of reasons that I doled out my precious pennies for this festival and this band was sitting on the tip of my index finger when I pondered on my digits the justifications for that money spent.

If there’s a word to describe their set it would truly be incendiary. On a weekend when real and dirty-as-the-driven-fucking-snow rock was notably absent (save, apparently, the Gary Clark Jr set), The Sheepdogs filled that void. At one point, my Grown Ass Woman As Waka Accomplice best friend looked over to me, as we pressed up against the steel bars holding us back from the stage, and said something to the effect of, “I seriously needed this fucking rock in my weekend!”. While the band clearly focused on tracks from Learn And Burn and not some of the cuts from their back catalog (I would have danced so hard I knocked out the prissy girl next to us taking duck face facebook shots if they’d played ‘Greedy Man’ or ‘Push It Along’), it was the smartest way to introduce some of the newer fans milling around the tent to the sound that is The Sheepdogs.

It was certainly a shame that, midway through the ‘Dogs set, some listeners who’d obviously burnt out their brains on the shitty drugs floating around decided Primus was a better option but in thinking (and talking and talking) about this set, it’s obvious that’s not the crowd that will stand in line at a record store this fall when the boy’s next release makes it’s way to the masses. That’s okay, though. If I could grow a dick, learn guitar, and then join the band, I’d caution my bandmates that those aren’t the kind of fans we’d want anyway. These kind of jams don’t inspire Pretty Lights fans to ponder the awesomeness of the rock that is sadly missing from their lives. It motivates and gathers the kind of fan that remembers the first time they heard a Dickie Betts slide and what that did to them. Those are the kind of fans I’d want, those are the kinds of fans that I like standing next to me while I scream “That’s how I roll, son!”, heart full of nostalgia and love for that guitar lick.

This band has been seriously underrated in the States – but I wouldn’t sweat it, we’re the country that actually pays Nickelback to play at our fucking football games. They have been overshadowed by a contest involving a once badass music mag. But the fact is this band could have made it onto the cover of that rag 40 years ago, when they were still a trusted rock tastemaker, without having to endure a fucking trite contest to get them there. (Sorry, Rolling Stone. I still love you, Jann!)

At any rate, I was joyed to leave my proverbial balls in that dirt after the Sheepdogs set, for they were sincerely rocked off.

The Sheepdogs :: Southern Dreaming (Live at Pop Montreal via Daytrotter) [mp3]

BUY Learn & Burn :: SITE

**

The Del McCoury Band @ Outpost (I will not add Kum & Go. I will not add Kum & Go.)

This has been a sad year for bluegrass. We’ve had to let legends like Everett Lilly, Doc Watson, and Earl Scruggs move on to the Great Banjo Jam In The Sky. And that’s why Del McCroury is such a treasure — he always has been, he in his immaculate suit while the rest of swelter in a bikini top, but even more so now. Dude is balls to the wall badass. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the whole set and things like that tend to happen at packed festivals like these but to just gaze upon that man’s fingers on banjo strings was enough.

The Del McCoury Band :: Rain & Snow (Live at Bonnaroo, 2002) [mp3]

SITE

**

The Avett Brothers @ Main Stage

The Brothers Avett. Sweet Jesus. I don’t know if this is still cool to be so excited about, this band of siblings both real and made over the years, but I’m finding it hard to give a single fuck about that. While they certainly drew a massive crowd I find it hard to swallow that most had bought tickets on the merit of this one headliner which leads me to believe that at least within the Waka crowd, this band has oversaturated.

No matter though, for The Avetts are clearly another band at home in the woods. Moving seemlessly between live staples like ‘Talk on Indolence’ and ‘Salina’ onto excellent Doc Watson inspired covers like ‘Down To The Valley To Pray’ and ‘Blue Ridge Mountain Blues’ (during which I sang myself hoarse), the band was on. But ten, they’re always on. I suppose this is the thing about an Avetts show – each one is pert near perfect so perhaps, after time, they all begin to run together but as someone who has made a trek to see them twice this year, I can tell you they’re always worth it.

The Avett Brothers :: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues [mp3]

BUY I And Love And You :: SITE

**

{You see this utterly brilliant, absolutely gorgeous shot?! That’s courtesy of Mantlow Photography. You should click that bolded name, for this dude and his camera are fucking fantastic.}

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes @ Main Stage

We arrived early. Early enough to be just a few clicks back from the stage. And we were rewarded when Ebert took a shortcut to awesomeness right through the crowd.

I have no doubt that the Magnetic Zeroes, what with that crowd of 13 on stage, produces a euphoric show wherever they happen to play, but if there ever was a ‘mainstream’ band fit to play a stage like the main at Wakarusa, it is this one. Sorry Big Gigantic fans. Sorry Umphrey’s lovers. From ‘Home’, false starts and all, to Ebert’s slowed up solo material like ‘Truth’, every song was a party and hug from the band direct to the massive crowd. We met people, we bonded with kids who were literally born the fucking year before my best friend and I got acquainted in grade school, and we drank brandy from a camelbak. I don’t think that’s what those things were made for. It was genuinely 2 of the best spent hours of my life. ‘Man On Fire’ sums up my weekend in song better than I ever could in words…

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes :: Man On Fire (Live at Wakarusa, 2012) [mp3]

BUY Here :: SITE

****

In the days since we’ve came home, first descending down the mountain and then heavily into a bed, it’s on my mind, What happened up there, what we say, what we did, who I met.

I drank too much, I’m sure. Pushed the boundaries of my body and mental health with heat and substances and a lack of hydration. I forgot a screwdriver, which we needed. I encountered people who I’ll likely never see again in my years on this planet, and I probably put them off with far too much of my typical force. All those things are part and parcel to some of my flaws – things I do and regret. Things I don’t do and regret. But the mountain doesn’t give a damn. I should be more like the mountain.

Amongst the lingering bullshit self-doubt that I now momentarily have about myself that was born up there, there are still things that elevate me when I think on it. I lived on a goddamn mountain for three days, in a village built with and on love. A city among trees where neighbors really did wave politely and watch over your things for you while you were out. There were 20,000 that had converged upon that spot in nature and time and yet, nothing was taken from me. And I left nothing, save footprints, just like a good forest ranger would recommend. I moved through an immense crowd, parting for them and they for me and then all of us swaying together in a shared love of one thing: music. It’s power. Not greater than nature but just then, up there on that tree covered precipice, one with it.

Saturday night we packed into a car and headed down the road, all of us uncomfortably close but okay with it because hey, we’re all friends here!

There are never shows in Springfield. The third largest city in Missouri is a cesspool of college students and murder. In the city. I digress.

When a show is booked in that town, it’s always on my radar, particularly if it’s half decent and not The Oak Ridge Boys so we snagged a bunch of those Avett Brothers tickets and hit the road. For good measure, my small child accompanied us because I take exposing my child to the banjo jams of badass bands very seriously, despite the fact that doing so will keep him up past his bedtime.

If you know anything about The Avett Brothers you know that bassist Bob Crawford has a daughter, Hallie, and that health issues with his little girl keep Bob from touring with the band now and then. It was a total treat to see Bob walk out on that stage, upright bass in hand, when no one expected he would be there. (As a sidenote, if you’re interested, there’s a fundraising page for Hallie here – to date, Avett fans and family have donated over $48,000 to her medical care.)

**

Now, dudes. I have seen a show. I’ve seen Springsteen run for 3 hours straight and turn retirees into bumbling, dancing maniacs. I have seen Tom Petty encourage the crowd to spark a joint and plumes of smoke rise into the night air as if we, the masses, were signaling to the Gods. I have seen Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Paul Simon, men who have changed the face of music forever, stand upon a stage and sing. But this? This was something wholly different. The energy was thick enough to punch you in the face and the dancing on that stage was akin to what your grandpa would do if he heard that banjo and could get out of his wheelchair. It was a mesmerizing experience and justifies the entire cost  of my future trip to Wakarusa, if only because I get to see that band again. I was in love before; now I am in awe.

**

You can view the FULL SET here.

(Oh hey there, guys. Let me tell you something real quick: If you gank my pictures and use them without proper attribution to, at the very least, this blog it will make me sad. And then I’ll get angry. THEN I’ll find your house and maybe, I’m not sure yet, steal your dog/cat/daisies. The more you know…)

**

SET LIST

1. And It Spread [mp3]
2. I Killed Sally’s Lover
3. Die, Die, Die
4. Shame
5. Distraction #74
6. Down with the Shine
7. Go to Sleep [mp3]
8. Colorshow
9. January Wedding
10. Salina
11. Will You Return
12. One and Future Carpenter
13. Living of Love
14. Tin Man
15. Backwards with Time
16. When I Drink
17. Murder in the City
18. Just a Closer Walk with Thee
19. The Fall
20. I and Love and You
21. Cedar Lane
22. Left on Laura, Left on Lisa
23. Talk on Indolence
24. Kick Drum Heart

Encore
25. Prettiest Thing
26. Ballad of Love and Hate
27. HFOD/RFOP
28. Laundry Room [mp3]

SITE :: TOUR DATES

6am Repeat is a recurring feature here at Folk Hive in which we stream the latest track that plays incessantly in the earbuds when we awake at that hour and imbibe massive amounts of coffee and cigarettes in preparation for the advancing day.  Consider it your jam of the day — a sweet, sweet gift from me to you.  I love you, dude.

 

If I cannot figure out how to get this song off repeat, we’re going to have a problem.

I sent a letter. It was nice and it was heartfelt. It was picked up at a small town post office and read, I assume. It was meant as an olive branch and contained no words of accusation or blame. It was most likely surveyed on a deck, cup of black coffee in the recipient’s hand, while he stared out over a field he painstakingly cares for. And now I know that the words held no meaning — from my mailbox to that, they lost their strength.

This song is not helping…but it’s doing so in the most helpful way.

**
The Avett Brothers :: If It’s The Beaches [mp3]

BUY The Gleam :: SITE

In the next few days, when I gather up too many $100 dollar bills, I will spend them all on a fucking ticket. A ticket, my friends, to a motherfucking festival. Pardon the language but I tell you what, my ass is jazzed.

After a 2011 spent purchasing tickets (Cotton Jones, The Sheepdogs, Iron & Wine, and GAYNGS) and then realizing as dates approached that holy shit dude, I’m a single mom with a job, there’s NO WAY I’m making that gig, I had to bail. All that money down the drain, all those good times enjoyed by people that were not me. What a bogus load of utter bullshit. But it is what it is.

This year Folk Hive is heading to Wakarusa. Let me tell you something about this here festival, ya’ll. There are hippies (presumably), there is a goddamn river, and there are about 20 bands I adore. And to top it all off, this shit takes place in the Ozark Mountains, my home. A short jaunt down the highway and I’ll be camping (which I have a PhD in, by the way), lounging, and drinking a metric fuckton of shitty American beer, distributed and manufactured by foreigners. YES TO ALL THIS.

You guys need a mixtape, full of headliners and not-headliners. Full of sweet jams. I want you to be jealous. And then I want you to be motivated to get off your balls and head down to Arkansas with me. Just do it. I’ll share my booze.

**

The Avett Brothers :: January Wedding [mp3]

There are a bunch of people complaining about this headliner. They don’t play electronica!, they say. They wail, we need more reggae on this bill! How about this, brah? SHUT THE FUCK UP. Brothers got a banjo. They’re cool enough that my very own beloved mother wants one of their lyrics on her headstone. Fuck yeah. Keep calm and Avett on, as they say.

WEBSITE

*

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros :: Up From Below [mp3]

You guys know these people are like, modern-day god-like hippie creatures to the sect of the population that I’m a part of, yes? I will jam to these jams and when I’m over that I will hug the shit out of a tree. LONGHAIRS UNITE!

WEBSITE

*

G Love & Special Sauce :: The Road [mp3]

Way back in college one of my dear friends introduced me to G Love. At the time I was obsessed with Dave Matthews so basically I owe that rad bitch my life. I might actually dance at this set. At the very least, my doing so will thin the crowd and give me the band all to myself.

WEBSITE

*

The Del McCoury Band :: High On The Mountain [mp3]

I’m not even gonna use curses when talking about McCoury. It’s too sacred.

WEBSITE

*

Blitzen Trapper :: Furr [mp3]

I have no doubt that at least in Folk Hive Land (it’s a place, promise) certain sets will rise above the rest. This is one of those sets. I’m preparing to stomp my fucking feet off at this one.

WEBSITE

*

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit :: Codeine [mp3]

Holy God, this one. Occasionally there are bands that make me want to drive thousands of miles to see live (ref: GAYNGS) and this year, that band would have been Isbell and The Unit. Fortunately, these dudes have decided to come camp with the masses in a clearing on top of a mountain in Arkansas. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. (All those S’s were necessary).

WEBSITE

*

Head For The Hills :: If’n When [stream]

If I cannot have a bill that includes Trampled by Turtles, I’ll take a lesser known substitute. Banjos. I know very little about this band, admittedly, but I’m stoked to sit in the sun and get to know them.

WEBSITE

*

Nathaniel Rateliff :: Boil and Fight [mp3]

Over the past couple of years, despite only having one record by this man in my possession, it has endured constant rotation. My sister and I have pined to see him since I stumbled upon this music whenever the fuck that was, and I suspect that she and I will sit in the grass, a blanket stitched by my great-granny under our happy asses, while we listen blissfully to Rateliff yell at us. It’s going to be so goddamn awesome. Note that this is the one set where I might just throw my tiny bra onstage…in hopes that it’ll make it to Julie, the bassist. I MEAN THAT IN THE MOST HETERO WAY.

WEBSITE

*

The Infamous Stringdusters :: It’ll Be Alright (HearYa Session) [mp3]

Speaking of my great-granny, this is the show to which I will carry her spirit with me. That woman loved a good old-timey jam and was a square dancing master. I’ll gaze up, let the sun obscure my vision, and imagine her kicking up her heels. This is seriously the kind of music that instantly sets my heart flying.

Of note: This band sings a song called ‘Keep On Truckin’. And thus, I love them. I’m taking a Colt 45 to this one and if I don’t get to hear that jam, I will fucking riot.

WEBSITE

*

The Lumineers :: Hey Ho [mp3]

I’m guessing this is the mandatory indie (not bluegrass or country-tinged or rock or electronic or reggae) band on the bill but I could not be more pleased they’ve chosen this band to fill that slot. Every since a solid recommendation by Fuel/Friends, I’ve had this band in rotation consistently and was hopeful I’d get to catch them — their live shows look to be a fucking blast. In all honesty, if they’d have came close I probably wouldn’t have made a giant effort to see them though, so the fact that they’re being placed in my lap for this show is sweet.

WEBSITE

*

Pretty Lights :: Country Roads [mp3]

Now clearly kids, I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of music, this genre if you will. But any dude that can remix my beloved John Denver and not make me want to stab his balls completely off is okay in my book. And I’m excited about getting the chance to ignorantly dance around in circles under the stars with a bunch of folks that are into this bit. Broadening the horizons and such…

WEBSITE

*

Futurebirds :: Ski Chalet [mp3]

I am seriously fucking stoked for this. Any band that covers Stevie Nicks and Chris Isaak (yeah, I said it, shut up) so gloriously is awesome. End of story.

WEBSITE

*

The Sheepdogs :: I Don’t Know [mp3]

As if it weren’t obvious by the hundreds of words I’ve already written about it and by the fact that I only now have a subscription to Rolling Stone after 15 years of not because they put these bearded bastards on the cover, I’m on The Sheepdogs bandwagon. As if the weekend were not going to be perfect enough, we’re topping it off with some beers, Allman-esque jams, and undoubtedly, one too many Almost Famous quotes. All is right with the world, my friends. All is right.

WEBSITE

****

Seriously folks, for a gig so close to home I couldn’t have asked for a better lineup. IT’S ALMOST AS IF I CURATED THIS BASTARD MYSELF.

In other news, if any bloggers or just, you know, people are going, give a shout. We’ll camp and barbecue and river swim together. It will rock.

6am Repeat is a recurring feature here at Folk Hive in which we stream the latest track that plays incessantly in the earbuds when we awake at that hour and imbibe massive amounts of coffee and cigarettes in preparation for the advancing day.  Consider it your jam of the day — a sweet, sweet gift from me to you.  I love you, dude.

I’ve been sans small child this weekend and during these times, I always get all retrospective and shit.  Just happens.  I woke yesterday morning and in the odd quiet, I went about my routine.  Coffee, cigarettes, awaking.  I sat at the kitchen table and observed what seemed to be a warmth outside the window.  “There was a dream and one day I could see it.  Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it,” sang in my head, unprompted by anything and since yesterday I’ve been singing and craving the song.  I’ve heard it a thousand times, burnt myself out on it, but it feels really good.  Today.  Yesterday.  Everyday, I guess.

The Avett Brothers :: Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promises [MP3]

BUY I and You and Love :: WEBSITE