3 months ago
My new side gig is dangerous, y'all. I'm organizing and cataloging the vinyl collection of my main job's number one customer. While I work, I can listen to anything from his collection. And, uh... I've suddenly found a lot more records to want. Last week, after my first day at my side job, I picked up a copy of this record I'd discovered in the customer's collection- 'North Carolina Songbook' by the @steepcanyonrangers.
Now, I don't have any personal connection to North Carolina. A few of my good friends live there. I've visited a couple times. But I wouldn't say I have any special connection to the state, certainly not enough to buy a tribute to its music. BUT Y'ALL. This record is SO GOOD. (And it looks pretty cool, too.)
I don't know what you'd call this kind of music, exactly. Americana? Bluegrass? Folk? Traditional country? Hopefully, all those genres give you some idea of what this record sounds like. But in addition to the folk songs you'd expect to hear in a style like this -Elizabeth Cotten's "Shake Shugaree", Ola Belle Reed's "I've Endured", and Doc and Rosa Lee Watson's "Your Lone Journey", as well as traditional Appalachian songs "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" and "Drunkard's Hiccups"- you also get delightful down-home versions of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me", James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James", and maybe most unexpectedly, a wonderful cover of Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk"!
Too often, cover songs recorded in this style are done as jokes, like the "Pickin' On" series or Hayseed Dixie. But I feel like that's unfair, and the only reason people see this style as inherently funny is due to ethnic and classist stereotypes about people from Appalachia. This record, blessedly, does not do that. It has fun without being a joke, and pays genuine, loving tribute to songs from all of North Carolina's many musical traditions.
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