Tuesday, September 07, 2004

If anyone knows what is coming up at the Coopers Arms on Sundays, can you please let me know. I went there last week to get the details and asked again on the weekend and they were supremely unhelpful. Not like I'm trying to give them publicity or anything. It's a cool little venue actually (despite that freaky red-amber-green sound monitor above the door; makes me nervous), particularly being situated amid the blonde-wood-and-stainless-steel pub scene on King St.

Sympathy for the Slave

Stephen Collins Foster is back on earth, wrestling with race: the entity in the woodpile

Though Foster's songs course through the culture from Derby Day to doorbells, they're rarely performed by contemporary artists. Previous collections by legit singers Joan Morris and Jan DeGaetani inflated Foster into a capital-C composer; Beautiful Dreamer attempts to haul him back to earth. The two instrumental pieces here sound irrevocably dated (despite Henry Kaiser's scorched-earth solo on "Autumn Waltz"), but the vocal works adapt well to a range of rootsy but not wholly retro styles: country (Raul Malo, Grey De Lisle), folk-rock (Roger McGuinn's gauzy "Jeannie"), and, too often, public-radio Americana ("Slumber, My Darling," with Mark O'Connor, Allison Krauss, and Yo-Yo Ma). If this disc proves anything, it's that the reasons musicians avoid Foster aren't musical.

Country music not just for hicks In New Zealand.

Gillian Welch

Emmylou and Buddy Miller

If only the boys back at the old mill could see Earl Scruggs now

On Saturdays, Earl Scruggs worked second shift at the mill in Shelby, N.C. From 2 p.m. until 10 p.m., he was a spare hand. Sometimes, he'd be in the spool room. Other times, somewhere else.

The best part of the day was dinner break. That was when he could get a little pickin' in.

''Me and Grady Wilkie would sit in the back seat of my '36 Chevy and play music,'' Scruggs said, sitting in a small room at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, a place that will present four weekly concerts from Scruggs, his family and his friends beginning Tuesday. At those shows, he'll display the same groundbreaking, rocket-speed banjo style that he perfected in the back of that Chevy.

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