Robert Earl Keen, Leftover Salmon Among Suwannee Springfest Headliners

Gifted Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen and influential Colorado jamgrass band Leftover Salmon are among the headliners slated to play this year’s Suwannee Springfest.

The 14th annual festival of Americana, folk, country and bluegrass music is slated for March 25-28 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, a sprawling, scenic campground in Live Oak, Florida.

Leftover Salmon, who rarely play Florida, are celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band. Salmon mandolinist Drew Emmitt, lately busy with the Emmitt-Nershi Band, recently told Glide Magazine that Salmon won’t be getting back to its hard-touring days anymore. The group last played Dec. 30-31 in Boulder, and currently has just five shows (including Springfest) on its 2010 calendar.

“There’s been the possibility of doing a string of shows, but even that’s far-fetched now,” Emmitt said. “We’re really enjoying the one-off situation, to tell you the truth: do festivals or a couple of shows, and go home. What we’ve worked for and where we’ve gotten to now is a situation where we can do that and not do the full on thing. And I think the fact that we have all our side projects really helps the freshness when we do get back together.”

What to expect at Salmon shows:  “We’re doing a little bit of the music from our most recent records, bringing in a bunch of songs from our solo records, and maybe if Vince has some new songs, we’ll work those in,” he said. “The main focus is to bring back the old Salmon material, and keep it the reunion feel. We’re kind of leaving the idea of newer stuff to the side.” Click here for the rest of the Glide magazine story.

Also slated to play are two groups associated with Americana favorites the Duhks (now on hiatus) — Duhks leader Leonard Podalak is bringing the Turtle Duhks, while original band vocalist Jessie Havey is debuting a new band at Springfest.

Springfest, as laidback, wel-organized and full of high-quality music as any outdoor festival I’ve ever attended, for its 2010 edition will also include new group 18 South, led by singers Jon Randall and Jesse Alexander, and including former members of the Del McCoury Band and Emmylou Harris‘s group; and the Belleville Outfit, from Louisiana, a 2009 nominee for an Americana Music Association award.

Also expected to play are several Springfest regulars, including singer-songwriters Peter Rowan and Guy Clark, Southern jamgrass group Blueground Undergrass, and multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven.

Springfest is sister to the fall’s Magfest, also organized by Randy and Beth Judy. For more details and ticket information, go to the festival’s official site.

Grammy Noms (2): Blind Boys of Alabama and other picks worth recommending

Blind Boys of Alabama

Blind Boys of Alabama

It’s almost too easy to beat up on the Grammy Awards.

And they deserve the slaps, too, given the cluelessness, historically, suggested by some of the picks: Milli Vanilli? Jethro Tull in the “metal” category? Christopher Cross? The Jonas Brothers?

It’s worth mentioning, too, that if there are going to be categories for best tropical Latin album, best regional Mexican album, best tejano album, best banda album, best Hawaiian album, best Native American album, best surround sound album, and other obscure areas, then FOR PETE’s SAKE it might be time to have categories for  New Orleans/Louisiana artists, jambands, and altcountry artists, and give Americana its own category (separate from folk).

On the other hand, the Grammys sometimes do provide much-needed attention to deserving artists.

Herewith, a few of the Grammy nominations for releases by worthy musicians and bands that you might not have heard about:

  • Best bluegrass album – Cherryholmes, Cherryholmes III: Don’t Believe; Del McCoury Band, Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
  • Best new age album (?) – Jack DeJohnette, Peace Time
  • Best traditional gospel album – The Blind Boys of Alabama, Down in New Orleans – check out my review
  • Best traditional blues album – Buddy Guy, Skin Deep; B.B. King, One Kind Favor; Elvin Bishop, The Blues Rolls On
  • Best contemporary blues album – Marcia Ball, Peace, Love & Barbecue; Solomon Burke, Like a Fire; Dr. John and the Lower 911, City That Care Forgot (good playing and funky grooves, but not one of his finest); Taj Mahal, Maestro; Irma Thomas, Simply Grand.
  • Best contemporary folk/Americana album – Ry Cooder, I, Flathead; Rodney Crowell, Sex & Gasoline; Emmylou Harris, All I Intended To Be; Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
  • Best zydeco or cajun music album – releases by Michael Doucet, Pine Leaf Boys, BeauSoleil, and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
  • Best reggae album – Burning Spear, Jah is Real; Lee Scratch Perry, Repentance; Sly & Robbie, Amazing
  • Best traditional world music album – Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu
  • Best contemporary world music album – releases by Gilberto Gil; Youssou N’Dour; and Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju & Giovanni Hidalgo