Several of the early seasons of The Walking Dead contained so absolutely awesome background/incidental music. Not songs that were written for the show by Bear McCreary, but music by other artists that just perfectly fit moments in the show.
I always had Shazam at the ready on my phone on Sunday nights so I could find and save the songs I liked, which given the size of my TWD playlist was pretty much all of them.
The last few seasons didn’t have nearly as much in the way of not-written-for-the -show music, which is a bit of a bummer. Besides adding another layer to the feel of the show, I feel like I’ve lost a source of some great music and artists.
Peter Hollens is a singer/songwriter who has been involved with acapella music for over 20 years. In 1999 he co-founded the first official collegiate acapella in the state of Oregon.
Among his many musical endeavors, Peter has a Youtube Channel where he posts many multi-track video covers. For those of you who have known me for more than 40 years, tou can imagine the things we could have done with this kind of tech.
Delightful and imaginative, his videos are worth checking out.
Bluegrass covers… don’t laugh, don’t scoff, don’t dismiss the idea. I’ve been a bluegrass fan for decades, and have a particular fondness for bluegrass covers of music from other genres. There’s something about bluegrass style that just lends itself to adapting songs from other musical styles and applying that unique bluegrass twist to it. Rock, classical, pop, even hip-hop.
There’s some really good stuff out there, and some really bad, there’s even some that is so bad that it’s good. Some are a serious attempt at covering a song and some are pure novelty.
The Tragically Hip is a little band out of Kingston, Ontario. I first heard their music in the late 90’s on a CBC comedy titled “Made in Canada”. “Blow at High Dough” played during the closing credits each episode. Around since 1984, The Hip had managed, over the years, to become a Canadian treasure.
Their folk/rock/bluesy music was driven by the songwriting and vocals of Gord Downie, who, to me, had a real Michael Stipe kind of vibe going on. In 2015, when Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the band did one last tour of Canada. The band’s final concert took place in their hometown of Kingston, and was broadcast live by the CBC, on television, radio, and streamed on the internet.
There is a documentary, “Long Time Running” which follows the band through their last tour and final concert. It took several sittings to make it all the way through, it was so beautiful yet heart-wrenching.
Blow at High Dough – This is the song that got me stuck on The Hip. The title was a phrase that Downie’s grandmother used to say. It meant basically, “don’t get ahead of yourself”.
Ahead by a Century – Things our grandparents knew and taught us, they really were “ahead by a century”. Stuck in the past when you significant other is living in the present, they’re “ahead by a century.
Don Ellis was a 20th century jazz musician, composer and bandleader. He started playing professionally in the 1950’s in The Glenn Miller Orchestra, then spent a couple of years in the US Army’s 7th Army Symphony orchestra.
By the early 60’s he had moved to Greenwich Village and became involved in the avant-garde jazz scene. This experience, in conjunction with travels abroad helped form his trademark exotic time-signature compositions. Bouncing around from 4/4 to 5/4 to 7/4, or perhaps 33/16 in an arrangement was the norm for the Ellis band. It was a running joke that the only thing he ever played in 4 was “Take 5“
The Ben Miller Band out of Joplin Mo has been around for 15 years or so, playing folk, bluegrass, country type music the band calls “mudstomp”. Traditional yet something more, instruments include electric spoons and washboard with a wah-wah pedal.
When they opened for ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons said he didn’t watch an entire openers set, but he couldn’t seem to walk away from these guys. I kinda feel the same way.
Abigail Washburn is a clawhammer style banjo player originally from Evanston IL. Hers is an amazing life story.
Long story short, after majoring in East Asian Studies and spending time in China, she intended to become a lawyer there. Shortly before that move she spent 5 days meditating at a center for Buddhist studies, which was a life-changing experience. As a result her life changed course and she pursued a career in music. China’s loss was our gain.
So, ferociously intelligent and incredibly talented, I present to you Abigail Washburn. Oh yeah, she’s married to Bela Fleck.
Dirtwire is a 3-man band from California, and much like California, defies explanation. My first exposure to that band was an Americana cut, but as it turns out, these guys are are truly global in both musical style and instrumentation. Electronic, acoustic, experimental and world instruments and style, this band has it all, literally.
Road Goes All Night – The first thing I heard by Dirtwire. I thought, “nice bluegrass/Americana band”. Man, was I wrong.
Cannonball – My first indication that these guys were “something more”.