The rogue western figure has been making its way back into pop culture recently, not only with musicians like country artists like Jamey Johnson and Kacey Musgraves, but also in television and movies, most notably with the Elmore Leonard (RIP) adapted FX series Justified. Between Justified’s season finale Tuesday night and the Archer season surrounding Cherlene turning into an outlaw country star (“OUTLAW COUNTRY!”), here are our 10 favorite country outlaws.
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Today, we are looking at the top ten folk artists of all time. I think at the end of piecing this list together, none of us were particularly happy that some of our individual favorites didn’t make it. But that’s what happens when three individuals make a list this comprehensive. Setting that aside, let’s venture into the wonderful world of folk music through a little exercise I like to call Folk University – or Folk U. Sorry about the bad pun, but I couldn’t help myself this time.
Folk music has a lot of definitions, so we tried to stick to artists that have a wealth of material that would widely be considered “folk music”. This cut a couple borderline people out, but thus is the process of trying to form these lists. Each of the next ten artists holds a special place in our heart for one reason or another. Let us know who we left out, and who some of your favorite folkies are. Enjoy!
10. Nick Drake
Nick Drake burned extremely bright for a few years before dying of a drug overdose. He remains mysterious in almost all ways except for his talent, highlighted by his breathy vocals and vocal style that Trey Anastasio has clearly taken a few cues from.
Folk U Mandatory Listening: “One of These Things First”
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I don’t have quite enough time to give the new Jason Isbell album, Southeastern, proper thrift. So instead I’m gonna just throw out a few country-ish songs I’ve been listening to a lot lately. These range from rock/country hybrids to pretty pure country fare. I have been listening to a lot of this stuff lately, and I can’t exactly tell you why. Maybe its summer. Maybe its my mood. Or maybe there’s no reason at all. Enjoy, and feel free to recommend some of your favorite country tunes.
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To be honest with you, I wasn’t completely sold on the first season of Treme, David Simon’s follow-up creation to his smash hit The Wire. The acting and shooting was pristine, but the pace moved at such a crawl it was hard to become engrossed in so many characters whose story-lines were going nowhere quickly. The real star of the show was the city itself and the musical scene captured by Simon and his crew. While watching an expose on the styles and history of the music of Louisiana is interesting in and of itself, it simply wasn’t cutting it as a compelling dramatic tent-pole on HBO.
So, when I finally got around to starting season two, I was not at all excited. It was kind of like watching one of those Academy Award nominees that you know is going to be worth watching, but is a little hard to pump yourself up for. Surprisingly, by the end of the first few episodes of season two, I found myself hopelessly caught up in the characters Simon set up throughout season one. The musical backdrop is still there in full force, the stories of each character take center stage, giving the show a more human feel. With all this drama, the music of the show snuck up on me and I am now simply obsessed with everything roots, blues, folk, jazz, and hip-hop that New Orleans and Louisiana have made a mark on.
I bring to you today five of my choice favorites I’ve discovered throughout season two of Treme.
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