Sid Kingsley

Think about one of your favorite singers, and try to remember the very first time you heard him or her sing. Did it stop you in your tracks? Did you look around the room, like “What the hell is happening right now?”

That was my experience hearing Sid Kingsley for the first time. Listening through Good Way Home on its release day back in May was an uncanny experience, both because of the jolt I got from his voice and because the album includes covers of songs by artists who are near and dear to my heart. A new favorite vocalist. New versions of favorite songs. It was such a trip…

…which made having the opportunity to sit down with Kingsley and interview him for River City Magazine even more of a trip. We chatted on the patio outside Cary Street Café, and in case you’re wondering, yes, I did nerd out and bring my vinyl copy of Good Way Home for him to sign. He did so graciously, and the article that resulted from our conversation hit the interweb this week. Click here to check it out, and click here to see where you can snag a physical copy of the magazine.

Want to know what’s really crazy? The uncanny experiences with Good Way Home haven’t stopped. I’m seeing two concerts in the next two nights, and Kingsley’s album features versions of songs either written or made famous by both of them: “Moonshiner,” a traditional tune previously recorded by Bob Dylan, and “Sam Stone,” by John Prine. Both are embedded below.

If you haven’t heard Good Way Home yet, you’re in for a treat. Maybe you’ll even have your own “What the hell is happening right now?” moment.

Sid Kingsley — “Moonshiner” [Spotify/iTunes]

Sid Kingsley — “Sam Stone” [Spotify/iTunes]

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VOTE

Hey, Virginia! In case you hadn’t already gotten the hint from the terrifying commercials they’re showing between Jeopardy! segments, there’s an election today! A big one, too — we’re choosing a new governor, and we’ll either be promoting current lieutenant governor Ralph Northam (recommended by this blog) or handing the keys to the race-baiting Republican who turned our state into a gerrymandered mess and is suddenly retweeting Donald Trump (gross).

I’ve already voted, and I’d love it if you followed my lead and voted for the folks with a “D” next to their names, but regardless of which bubbles you fill in, I hope you vote. There are so many important choices being made today, and more people being involved means better choices. I truly believe it.

Here’s some info on what to bring with you to the polls:

And here’s a song to listen to on your way there. It has nothing to do with politics, as far as I know, but it’s what my phone decided to throw at me while I was driving to the polls. Then again, I guess a voting booth could qualify as an A/B machine? I dunno, just please go vote, y’all.

Sleigh Bells — “A/B Machines” [Spotify/iTunes]

 

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brb

Currently sitting in Reagan National Airport, fixing to hop on a Chicago-bound plane with the whole fam. Two parents. One three year old. One five month old. Pray for us.

Speaking of prayer, I thought I’d designate “Jesus, Etc.” as my musical away message. I found an original pressing of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on Wednesday, which still blows my mind. I’d even saved the repress on my Discogs want list, thinking I’d never find an original within a reasonable price range. The vinyl gods have clearly blessed this mess of a trip.

I’ll be sure to say hi to the Wilco Towers™ for y’all.

Wilco — “Jesus, Etc.” [Spotify/iTunes]

 

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Stockholm Syndrone

The return of Stockholm Syndrone! With a slight Halloween tie-in!

The three year old and I have been hitting the Trolls soundtrack pretty hard in the car lately. If she gets her way, we start with “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” (Their caps, not mine. And I’m not linking to it. I can’t risk the YouTube video playing before I can click pause.) If I get my way, we start with “Hair Up,” which is made more bearable by the fact that it incorporates the melody of “In The Hall Of The Mountain King,” the highly recognizable Edvard Grieg composition.

You’ve heard it, I swear. It’s used in all sorts of movies and songs, and I found a dynamite orchestral version on an album called Fright Night: Music that Goes Bump in the Night earlier today, so technically it qualifies as Halloween music?

Here’s my favorite version — the one from the soundtrack for The Social Network. Happy Halloween!

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross — “In the Hall of the Mountain King” [Spotify/iTunes]

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The Blackbyrds

This is a fun one.

First, I have to say thanks to Lacy, wherever you are, for damaging this copy of City Life enough that it ended up in Deep Groove’s sidewalk sale but not so much that a wood glue peel couldn’t bring it back to life. That’s the sidewalk sale sweet spot.

Second, I want to share the lyrics “Rock Creek Park,” the album’s impossibly funky opening track:

Doing it in the park
Doing it after dark, oh, yeah
Rock Creek Park, oh, yeah
Rock Creek Park

That’s the long and short of it. Direct, concise, perfect. Extra credit for how much I’m looking forward to playing this for Mrs. YHT’s parents, who live in Northern Virginia and drive through Rock Creek Park regularly. I’m positive they’ll get a kick out of it, if they’re not already fans. It’s hard to imagine people listening to this song and not digging it.

Speaking of widespread appreciation, I’ve also been having fun looking through WhoSampled at all the songs that incorporate snippets of “Rock Creek Park.” Here’s a partial list — see if you can pick out where it appears in each of these:

And here’s the real deal:

The Blackbyrds — “Rock Creek Park” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Dave Van Ronk

Another gem I snagged at Deep Groove’s sidewalk sale last weekend: Dave Van Ronk’s No Dirty Names LP.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw it, in large part because I spent a couple of weeks recently binge-listening to “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me.” I’m not sure how that started, but Inside Llewyn Davis must be involved on some level, given that Oscar Isaac performs the song in the film. Then again, I didn’t know until, like, right now that the movie was partially inspired by Van Ronk’s autobiography.

Looking through DVR’s discography I see that No Dirty Names came out in 1966, two years after he released a pair of albums in the same year: Inside Dave Van Ronk, which I’m assuming led to the film’s title, and Just Dave Van Ronk, which I pulled out of my dad’s collection a few years back. I’m not sure whether that was before or after the movie came out — just that the album had some value on Discogs and looked interesting.

I’ve come to admire his voice a great deal. You’ll often see the word “growl” associated with how he sang, and No Dirty Names is full of examples why. Opening track “One Meatball” is outstanding in that respect — so much attack in his voice. Same with “Keep It Clean,” which immediately sounded familiar, probably because of Willie Watson’s version. If memory serves, Watson may have even performed it with the Dave Rawlings Machine at the National in Richmond in 2015. Can’t wait for their show there in December.

I digress… but isn’t that what’s great about folk music? You bring up one album and next thing you know you’re three degrees of separation away with a whole mess of amazing music in between.

Dave Van Ronk — “Keep It Clean” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Emitt Rhodes

I don’t always hit up sidewalk sales, but when I do, it always seems to be at Deep Groove Records. There’s something about flipping through records in nice weather right there on Robinson Street… I love it.

I’ve had luck at their sales in the past, but nothing like this weekend. I snagged five items, and I’m going to try to do quickie posts about each of them, because I’m that psyched and can’t help sharing.

First up is Mirror, the third album from one man band Emitt Rhodes. All the instruments, all the vocals… all Rhodes, same as the self-titled album he released before this one. I have the kind folks from Sleepwalkers to thank for putting him on my radar when I first met and interviewed them. Fitting, given how versatile and studio savvy the guys from Sleepwalkers are.

The record was pretty cloudy, which might explain why it was part of a sidewalk sale, but a wood glue peel cleared things up considerably. I hadn’t heard a note of Mirror (it doesn’t seem to be available via iTunes or streaming), but much like his eponymous album, it’s excellent, especially when you factor in Rhodes’ solo approach. Right up there with Paul McCartney’s best post-Beatles output.

See what I mean:

Emitt Rhodes — “Better Side of Life” [YouTube/Discogs]

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