Mail Call Coverfolk: New releases from
The Deadly Gentlemen, Antje Duvekot, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker
The mailbag is stuffed to overflowing, so we’ll take the week to dig in, starting with news of three beloved folk artists whose work we’ve covered before. As always, if you like what you hear here (hear, hear!), don’t forget to follow links to purchase works and attend shows in support of these artists, the better to support the continued production of folk as a viable outlet for artists and fans alike. Enjoy!
I’ve made it to Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival a number of times over the years, and touted it on these pages almost as much as Falcon Ridge; this year’s roster is startlingly good, with double sets from The Deadly Gentlemen, Thile and Davies, Infamous Stringdusters, The Duhks, Devil Makes Three, and Carolina Chocolate Drops bringing extra energy to the usual stellar set of long-time legends. Sadly, I’ve a family obligation this summer that will keep me from its fields and stages, but this long-time winner of the IBMA’s “Best Fest” award is a delight; gates open in nine days, and if you can make it up to Oak Hill, NY the third weekend in July, I highly recommend it.
I will be making it to the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge this Wednesday, July 10 for what promises to be a smashingly funky second-night CD release party for newly signed Rounder Record recording artists and Boston Bluegrass experimentalists The Deadly Gentlemen, who we’ve been following since their founding at the hands of Crooked Still alum Greg Listz. As is made eminently obvious from first single Bored of the Raging – currently available free as a teaser – Roll Me, Tumble Me, the new album from this talented collection of young folks, is quite mature for a sophomore outing, with elements from playful jamband and jazz pushing the limits of whimsy and wit in bluegrass, resulting in a rich, crisp, substantive sound emerging from the band’s incredible mix of talent and craftsmanship. The originals it contains blow the mind, and so do these recently recorded covers; if you’re not a Bostonian but are equally eager to catch them live, either Grey Fox or their official release party in NYC Tuesday the 9th at Joe’s Pub with opening girl-group trio T.H.E.M. would serve.
- The Deadly Gentlemen: All You Fascists Are Bound To Lose (orig. Woody Guthrie)
- The Deadly Gentlemen: The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance (orig. Vampire Weekend)
- The Deadly Gentlemen: A Touch Of Grey (orig. Grateful Dead)
- The Deadly Gentlemen w/ David Grisman: Dead Flowers (orig. Rolling Stones)
As we noted to regular readers of the Cover Lay Down Facebook page back in November, Antje Duvekot’s 6-track YouTube covers series last summer featured stunningly sweet solo takes on Paul Simon, Jason Mraz, Hank Williams, and more, leaving us chagrined to find it so late in the game. Now, only three albums into a well-celebrated and highly respected rise to singer-songwriter fame, the German-born, Boston-resident artist brings the covers concept back for “Undercover with Antje“, a new monthly YouTube series featuring duets with what promises to be a strong set of fellow coffeehouse travelers. The mix currently includes collaborations with Falcon Ridge 2013 Emerging Artist Brad Yoder, Red Molly siren Molly Ventner, and young pianofolk singer-songwriter sensation Seth Glier, on some surprising choices of song; upcoming collaborations will feature Meg Hutchinson, Ellis Paul, Anne Heaton, and more luminaries from the Boston scene and beyond.
As a bonus for coverlovers and fans, Duvekot’s webpage notes an EP recorded over a May weekend, with three covers and two originals, to be released soon; her new take on Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’ alone reminds us just why we celebrate her performance. And a solo ukelele take on Richard Thompson’s Beeswing, posted just a few months ago, is gentle as the breeze.
- Antje Duvekot & Seth Glier: Fire and Rain (orig. James Taylor)
- Antje Duvekot & Brad Yoder: Mein Fahhrad (orig. Die Prinzen)
- Antje Duvekot & Molly Venter: it’s a Hard Life Wherever you Go (orig. Nanci Griffith)
Antje Duvekot: Beeswing (orig. Richard Thompson)
Among the familiar faces in the inbox this month we’re pleased as punch to find Josienne Clarke, whose small but growing body of work so impressed us when we discovered it back in 2011 on the backs of her stunning first collaboration with instrumentalist and producer Ben Walker. And we’re especially thrilled to find the two names tied together again: because pairing deepens the bond, sophomore duo albums often turn out stronger than their predecessors, and in this case, the stage is set, as Walker and Clarke have been hard on the road since we last checked in on them, touring on the strength of a small EP of originals even as they win awards abroad for their ongoing plumb of the depths of beauty in the old songs.
Sure enough, though the bar was set quite high by The Seas Are Deep – Clarke and Walker’s first take on the body of traditional music of and beyond their native British Isles – new release Fire and Fortune, which drops July 22 in the UK, and July 30 in the US on Compass Records, is easily equal to the task. Clarke’s mature, deceptively simple interpretation of timeless traditional laments and original ballads, Walker’s stunningly subtle fretwork, and inspired settings of low winds, gentle piano chords, and soaring strings combine marvelously, making a fragile atmosphere that welcomes even as it warns. The result: a tight, flowing work that remains “a perfect balance of both classical voice-and-guitar folk and traditional balladry”, “delicate, crisp, subtle and nuanced, and beautiful in every tiny moment” even as it cuts to the core. Check out the video for their title song – an eerie gospel hand-clap-and-stomp driven original that plays silence and darkness under a deceptive shell – a live track from 2011, and two tracks and an unreleased also-ran from the sessions that produced the upcoming album – then preorder here.
- Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker: The Outlandish Knight (trad.)
- Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker: Hares On The Mountain (trad.)
- Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker: My Donal (trad.)
Looking for more great coverfolk news? Stop in later this week for a huge New Artists, Old Songs feature, and a summer set of new and upcoming cover compilations and tribute albums…and don’t forget to like our Facebook page for bonus streams and videos!