What do Ry Cooder, Steve Roach, Kaki King, Gustavo Santaolalla and Mark O’Connor have in common? A distinctly American sound, no matter how far afield they fly or what country they fly in from.
Some of you may have already heard our American Landscapes show, and the rest should enjoy it on July 4th. I don’t think of Echoes as a particularly patriotic show and our music certainly shows few signs of xenophobia. But it’s fun every now and then to hone in on the American side of our sound. You’ll hear it on American Landscapes with tracks from Ry Cooder, Sumner McKane, Jonathan Elias, Lanterna and Steve Roach. These artists, on the tracks we selected at least, tap into a uniquely American state of mind. It’s not the Americana of Gershwinesque urban exuberance, but of a mythological America powered by images of the west, many of them through cinema. Even Gustavo Santaolalla captured it on his soundtrack to Brokeback Mountain, despite being from Argentina and specializing in Latin Rock and the South American charango .
We got a taste right in the Echoes Living Room last week with two appearances by Richard Leo Johnson and Jack Rose.
Richard’s album, The Legend of Vernon McAlister is a vintage slice of Americana pie, not only in the music which consists of rustic folk strains filtered through avant-garde sensibilities, but the legend of the mythic McAlister that Johnson has created. We’ll hear more about that next month.
Jack Rose used to play in Pelt, but now he’s extending the epic finger-style guitar playing of John Fahey, creating raga journeys through the west, touched by the blues, Appalachia and more. He has a new CD called <a href=”Kensington Blues“. These artists aren’t just creating atmospheric music, but making commentary on the current state of fundamentalist jingoism that informs so much of this country’s politics and culture. Instead, they are offer the possibility of a better, more embracing America. Hear their sounds this week, and especially on July 4th on Echoes.