Favorite Music of 2011
I’ve never been a big fan of year end lists. Especially if I have to number them. If it’s a top ten list, I can usually get to 6 or 7 easily and then have to make up the rest. And do I really want to spend the time ranking them in order? If I don’t care, why would anyone else?
Every once in a while, someone will come up to me after school or library music time and ask for a recommendation for different kid CDs to play after listening to Mister Cooper all afternoon (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Some parents ask about female artists or something uptempo with drums. I try to keep up with what’s available and new CDs that have come out. I always enjoy talking about music whether it’s for kids or grown-ups. Here are my favorites of 2011, in no particular order.
Dan Zanes has long been one of my favorites. He had a great rock band back in the ’80s called the Del Fuegos. Now he records 21st Century folk music for the whole family. He released two recordings this year, “Contradance” and “Little Nut Tree.” I listen to “Contrdance” all the time. Both are fabulous.
In my humble opinion, Frances England is the best songwtier of kid’s music. She has a wonderful way of writing from a child’s point of view. Her kindie (indie for kids) style always sounds fresh to me ears. “Mind of My Own” is her best yet.
Elizabeth Mitchell has a beautiful voice, perfect for kids. She was the first new children’s music artist signed to Smithsonian Folkways in the 21st century. Her main musical partners are her husband and 10 year old daughter. “Sunny Day” is getting great reviews.
Ry Cooder is a long time favorite and influence. He’s been much more prolific over the past few years. A CD filled with lefty protest songs in a variety of musical styles. This is how a guitar is supposed to sound.
Todd Snider is one funny guy. And a fantastic songwriter. This 2 CD set is culled from live concerts. The stories in between the songs alone are worth the price. I’m a big fan.
Greg Brown has the deepest voice of anyone I can think of and a veteren of the Americana folk scene. He has put out better records, but I enjoy this one every time I listen to it.
Danny Barnes used to lead one of my favorite acoustic bands of the ’90s called the Bad Livers (great name). He’s now a solo artist and every CD he releases is a gem. A banjo player extraordinaire, singer, and songwriter with music flowing from every pore.
Steve Earle has put out many CDs over the past 25 years. This one was produced by T-Bone Burnett and nominated for a Grammy. Protest songs, love songs, it’s all here. One of the great songwriters of our time.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have released a beautifully recorded and performed CD. She describes the music as “dour” and “bleak.” So it’s not for the weak of heart or everyday listening. Still, it’s been listed at the top of many year end lists.
There you go. Now you know. Listen to samples on Amazon or iTunes and let me know what you think. And to everyone everywhere…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!