Artists I listened to a lot during 1996, on recordings and/or live:
Kate Campbell - In February of '96, I finally had the opportunity (twice, no less) to hear this Nashville-based singer/songwriter live - at a brief in-store at Hear Music, and in a full concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music/Chicago. A discovery recommended to me by some Internet friends in Washington DC, Campbell's material reminds me of "the levee meets bluegrass". Her own introduction to her album, "Songs From the Levee", credits the writings of Eudora Welty, particularly "One Writer's Beginnings". (possibly familiar to fans of Mary Chapin Carpenter as the writer and book which sparked Carpenter's "Halley Came To Jackson"). That concert included material from her current album as well as new material (at the time - much of which then ended up on her 1997 release, "Moonpie Dreams", in similar or differing arrangements). The new songs continue the wonderful descriptive powers and way with the language that are featured in Kate's current [first] album. If you have a chance to see her, don't miss it!
The Drovers (their current album, "Little High Sky Show" was released in 1995 on Tantrum Records/Thermometer Sound Surface (7007-1-41962-2-7). Their page has details and sound samples. A Chicago-based band with a growing national presence, you may recall a previous lineup of this band from the film Blink with Madelaine Stowe, and a brief appearance at the wedding reception in Backdraft.
Fiddler Sean Cleland is frequently found playing traditional Irish music around Chicago pubs, especially every couple of weeks at The Augenblick, and Monday nights with The Tide at Martyr's on Lincoln near Damen and Irving.
Susan McKeown & the chanting house - Susan McKeown interweaves myths, images & tunes from her Irish homeland with rock, progressive jazz & world music influences, using her voice as one of the instruments in her band to produce a captivating evening of listening (check the tour date listing for the band's fall appearances) Plus, if you find the songs haunting you afterwards - or if you want to hear the magic - their album, "Bones", is now available on cassette and CD (details are also in these linked pages). If you have the album, for a taste of the spine-tingling of her opening at the last show I attended, play "Gorm"", followed by the "Westron Wynde/Westlin Wind"" track!.
(ok, I plead guilty: when I finally had the opportunity to hear Susan perform live - in April of 1995, I was so taken by her music magic that I now work with her to maintain her Official Website!)
Maura O'Connell. Hannibal/Rykodisc had a bio / press page for her wonderful album, "stories", but it seems to have escaped cyberspace now (1998). I'll post a URL when I find it. Sometimes I can't tell which I enjoy more: listening to her wonderful song interpretations, or to her comments during interviews, talking *about* music. Yet another of "those voices". If you see her performing in your area, do take the chance and go. She does wonderful things with songs!
During 1997, she has been touring the US in support of her new album, of celtic music this time (with a wonderful inlay booklet introduction describing how the birth of her son directed her memories back to the music of her childhood)
Susan Werner: My own description of this Philadelphia-based Iowa native is guitar playing reminiscent of Patty Larkin, Sarah Hickman and Shawn Colvin, with lyrics that use language with the simplicity yet complexity of Nanci Griffith, Sarah McLachlan or Joni Mitchell. Yet making the language and the instruments (guitar & piano) her own. a turn of the musical phrase which particularly caught my ear ... "... wonder why passion is always half impossibility..."
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