Posts Tagged ‘bluegrass’

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Do they yodel in the USA ? (or is it in China ?): Abigail Washburn

24 August 2008

Another woman, another style, another time.

Abigail Washburn is American but she has studied Chinese language and music. She integrates these influences in her music that is also inspired by the traditions of the Appalachian like old time and bluegrass. She played first in Uncle Earl, then made a solo album and is now part of the Sparrow Quartet (Béla Fleck, Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee are the other musicians). Together they made a wonderful album oscillating between american old time and chinese classical music. And she yodels ! Her yodels are completely different from the ones of Carolina Cotton, they are long and languorous, dreamy and quite celestial.

In Overture, the non-lyric vocals have a yodel style, along the sounds of the banjo that is infused with oriental style. She does it again in Great Big Wall in China, with her fragile and delicate voice. And the rest of the album is great too, it is one of my favourites for the moment ! Go buy it, you won’t regret it.

Overture

Great Big Wall in China

Link 1: Abigail Washburn’s official site, with her discography

Link 2: myspace

Link 3: review of the album

Link 4: Great Big Wall in China live

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Can they cover Jimmie Rodgers ?: Blue yodel No.1

29 June 2008

From top to bottom, left to right: Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra, Merle Travis, Jim Eanes, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Half Japanese and Dwight Yoakam

Lots of singers covered Jimmie Rodgers. So here is a new serie: the blue yodel covers. I found already more than 70 versions of the 12 different songs. Some of the artists are not used to yodel, but try it anyway. Some others just don’t sing the yodel (like Lynyrd Skynyrd or blues artist Pee Wee Crayton).

Let’s begin with the beginning: the Blue Yodel No.1 or T for Texas. Here’s a selection:

Six months after the original was recorded, in 1928, there were already covers of the song. Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra makes a dance band version that can be played by any urban orchestra. There’s no yodel but it is a good instrumental version.

In 1948, Merle Travis sings T for Texas in western swing style, with a nice yodel. The song was recorded for a radio show, The Country Barn Dance for KXLA Los Angeles.

Jim Eanes & His Shenandoah Valley Boys sings a classic version of song, with a stringband, in the early days of bluegrass, in 1951.

In 1957, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the country folk singer dressed in Levis and Stetson hat was in England since two years. English audiences were interested in his renditions of Woody Guthrie but he sang also country, folk and blues from the United States. The recording of T for Texas was made on a yacht at the Isle of Wight, just with a guitar, and has a beautiful yodel, full of energy.

Half Japanese recorded a completely crazy experimental lo-fi rock version of the song in 1986, with Jad Fair an Eugene Chadbourne singing and yodelling (I don’t know who does what).

In 1997, Dwight Yoakam, modern country singer, sings it with no yodel, there’s just some slight falsetto. The song has this really slow, laid-back modern country feel.

Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra – Blue yodel no.1 (T for Texas)

Merle Travis – T for Texas (Blue yodel #1)

Jim Eanes & His Shenandoah Valley Boys – Blue yodel #1

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – T for Texas

Half Japanese – T for Texas

Dwight Yoakam – T for Texas