CD: Dave & Phil Alvin Play & Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy

The great talents who created and established 20th Century American roots music have almost all passed. Will the raw ingenuity of the talent ever be heard again? The answer here is a not just resounding but stunning yes. The Alvin brothers were the singer (Phil) and guitarist/songwriter that led the 1980s rockabilly (and more) band The Blasters, and after decades apart, they reunite to create a shimmering gem that brings the varied songs and styles played by bluesman Broozy to life anew. Thoroughly drenched in authentic spirit, the disc in anything but a museum pieces as the infectious energy and masterful performances the Alvins and the combo backing them prove that the past can not only be renewed but made fresh and bracing. The brothers may have grown up in suburban Southern California, but their almost lifelong love for the masters has matured into a timeless set of music that proves they now stand head and shoulders with their heroes as peers.

TV Show: ‘Secrets of the Tower of London’

This PBS documentary gets inside the walls and behind the doors of the landmark aside the Thames built by William the Conquerer in the 11th Century. Best known as an infamous prison where beheadings were a regular ritual during the reign of later British kings like Henry VII, it’s also a royal palace, the place where the royal jewels are kept safe, and once housed an exotic zoo, among other notable and intriguing facts. The famed Tower Bridge adjacent to it was later built as an architectural companion and remains a feat of engineering. The Tower is still residence to the Beefeaters that guard it, truly living history.

CD: ‘New Songs From The Old Country’ by TriBeCaStan

If you’re a world music fan, you are in for a delightful treat from this New York City-based band. They glean from across the Southern Euro/Asian regions to create a delicious polyglot of modernist, playful yet respectful ethnic sounds. Performed with musical skill and inspired imagination, it’s like a travelogue film soundtrack that doesn’t need the visuals to transport you to exotic places.

From The Progressive Populist, August 15, 2014


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