Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bluegrass Revelation

Couch-bound due to a wisdom teeth operation, I've had plenty of time in the past few days to soak in the boob tube. One program that I've found and particularly enjoyed is PBS's "WoodSongs." They bring on whole ranges of bluegrass and other acoustic performers, all of them exceptionally talented.

On the show tonight was bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Lawson, an aged mandolin player who grew up in Tennessee growing up to the sounds of bluegrass and gospel, learning from his father, has tended to glean away from his own voice in favor of 3 and 4 part harmonies. As a result, he and his band Quicksilver have won the International Bluegrass Music Award for Best Vocal Group seven years in a row.

I was blown away by the musicianship both instrumentally and vocally. Two songs that the played stopped me dead in my tracks, and I'm anxious to share them with anyone who will give them a listen. Unfortunately, I cannot find the recordings from the show on YouTube, but these videos will have to do.

The first one is an a capella number that is truly stunning. "He Made it All Right" by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver:

And the second one is a bit more upbeat, its sure to knock your socks off. "Blue Train" by Doyle Lawson:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Spider Concept-- Oscar Howe

Recommended to me by a friend from South Dakota, this artist produced significant and innovative work that followed in many of the Native American art traditions as well as created new forms and styles reflective of its time. Arguably influenced by Cubism, Oscar Howe's work transcends the style as a hashing of many different artistic influences and ideas. It was really very exciting to take a look at this work, and as I read more about it and see more of it I become more interested in it.

A brief biography written by John A. Day, director of University of South Dakota art galleries, sums up the scope of this artist's work: "In retrospect, O'Neil finds the frequently-stated opinion that Howe was influenced by Cubism during his graduate education to be unfounded. Rather, he believes that Howe returned to the abstract traditions of Plains Indian art and utilized its linear patterns to add dimensionality or illusion to a style that had become flat and static."

John A. Day. Director, University of South Dakota- University Art Galleries. The South Dakota Magazine. July/August 1996.