beabadoobee is the stage name of 20 year old British-Filipino singer Beatrice Laus. “Care” is the first single off her forthcoming debut album, Fake It Flowers. The song came out back in mid-July, but I heard it for the first time this week. It has a real 90s female rock vibe going on that I am digging. I’m pretty much into anything that makes me nostalgic for times that aren’t these at the moment. Take a listen.
So I have another twofer for you this week. I spent most of the week thinking I was going to write about Devon Gilfillian’s new song, but then this morning I kept hearing songs off of The Killers new album that came out today and I was more in the mood to write about that so I thought I would just switch out my song choice. But then I felt bad not writing about the Devon Gilfillian song so I’m doing both.
Cracks in the Ceiling by Devon Gilfillian feat. Joseph
“Cracks in the Ceiling” is a song that Devon Gilfillian wrote with the sisters from the band Joseph as part of NPR’s Morning Edition Song Project in which they are enlisting artists to write songs about this moment. Devon Gilfillian was thinking about a difficult conversation he had with a friend who grew up in the South and voted for Donald Trump about Black history and his own experiences as Black American and wrote this song about needing to seize this moment when the world has stopped to have difficult conversations about race and racism.
My Own Soul’s Warning by The Killers
The Killers are a band that I like okay and generally enjoy when I hear a song by them, but I also have never gotten super into them. I’ve never bought one of their albums nor felt compelled to go to one of their concerts, which should pretty much tell you what you need to know. But as a band that has now been around for 20 years and still very much has an identifiable sound, even their new music makes me feel a little nostalgic for what now seems like much simpler times. As I said above writing about The Killers today was not on my radar at all, but I heard two different songs off the album this morning and they just really felt like music I wanted to listen to right now. The sort of grandiose sweeping sound of their songs was just what I needed today. I probably never would have listened to this entire album except for the fact that I heard these songs in the exact moment that I did. I’m digging the whole thing especially the songs that feature k.d. lang and Weyes Blood even though I’m not sharing either one of those songs. I just went with this song because I felt like it exemplified The Killer’s signature style and the mood I’m going for.
I bet you thought I wasn’t going to have a New Music Friday post for you today. I actually wanted to listen to several new albums that were out today before I decided on what to write about. That meant I couldn’t write up anything until after work instead of first thing in the morning. I couldn’t even settle on one song after that, so you get two today.
Birds on a Feeder by Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards put out her first album, Total Freedom, in eight years today. She had actually quit her music career and opened up a coffee shop called Quitters in Ottawa, Canada. Then Maren Morris apparently invited her down to Nashville to do some songwriting together and it ignited a spark. So here we are with a brand new album most people thought would never happen. The whole album is lovely. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. Even better go watch the online album release concert she did from her coffee shop for World Cafe.
I’m going to highlight the song “Bird On a Feeder” because it feels like being wrapped in a warm blank on a cold winter’s day to me. It just makes me imagine sitting in front of a fire in a cabin wrapped in a blanket with a dog sitting at my feet. I feel like it’s a song I’m going to be coming back to a lot this winter.
Just a House by Ashley Ray
Pauline is Ashley Ray’s third album and hopefully the one that helps break her out in the country music scene because it is amazing from top to bottom. It’s a very personal record, which I’ve seen called a photo album of her life growing up in Kansas. I feel like that’s a very apt description. The album title comes from her grandmother and the song of the same name on the album is about all the good and bad things she inherited from her. It’s full of fiddle and banjo and I love it, but it’s not even the song I’m going to talk about. One of the things I love about the album is how much it features the aforementioned banjo and fiddle as well as pedal steel. I love all these things, so it’s no wonder that I’m highly attracted to Americana and country music for which these instruments are staples. Oddly then I’m choosing to highlight a song that features none of those instruments.
I couldn’t resist “Just a House” though. It’s co-written with Natalie Hemby and is all about Ashley trying to encourage her mother to leave the house that’s sort of falling down around her, but her mother doesn’t want to leave because it’s where she lived with Ashley’s father who died in a tragic fall on their farm when she was a child. It’s a very sad, but beautiful song.
It seems like it’s pretty hard to come by good things these days, so I want to make sure I’m documenting them when they do happen. There were a number of things that made me happy over the past week or so, so I thought I would write up a quick post about them.
- We have now entered one of my favorite times of year when all the noisy bugs of summer are out in full force in the morning and the evening. Cicadas, crickets, katydids are all out there humming away now and I love it.
- I got a couple of surprises from friends that made me feel loved and it reminded me that I have some really great friends even if I don’t really get to see them much in person these days. Some friends went out to a farm and cut a bunch of sunflowers and dropped one off to me as a nice little surprise. That happened on a day when I was feeling really down on life and people, so it was perfect timing and very sweet.
- The other day I was watching TV and a character eating popcorn for some reason really made me crave the caramel/cheddar popcorn mix from Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago. I looked into how much it would cost to have some shipped to me and decided I didn’t want popcorn that much. I did find two different brands of cheddar/caramel mix popcorns at the grocery store that I decided to do a taste test of. The Cretors came closer to the Garrett’s, but still wasn’t as good. The Smartfood I didn’t care much for. I posted about all this on Facebook, and then a couple days ago I opened up my door to a tin of popcorn from Garrett’s that one of my friends sent me after seeing my post. I have the best friends y’all.
- I got to actually see some friends in person this weekend. Some friends from DC drove up and we got carry out brunch and sat socially distanced in the grass behind my house. It’s a friend I’m used to getting together with fairly regularly, but who I hadn’t seen since we parted ways in the Tampa airport after going on what was in retrospect a very ill-advised trip to St. Pete Beach on the very week that the world decided that COVID-19 was a pandemic. Had our trip been one day later we would have canceled, but literally up until the point we were in the air flying to Florida the media was still downplaying how bad this was going to be. It was really good to be able to see each other again. I’m trying to be a little bit braver while also being completely responsible to see friends in person while the weather is still nice enough for us to sit outside because unless things change I don’t see myself spending time with people inside this winter. It’s going to be a long, lonely winter.
- Blacksauce biscuits are also making me very happy. Blacksauce is beloved staple at farmer’s markets and festivals in Baltimore serving up delicious biscuit sandwiches and more. I always got a Blacksauce biscuit for breakfast every Saturday morning pre-pandemic. For 3 months we did not eat any food that we did not cook in our own house. After the research kept reiterating that it was unlikely you would get it from eating carryout, we finally started getting carryout on my birthday. That opened the door for me to also finally start eating Blacksauce again. They are not at the farmer’s market right now. Instead they’re cooking out of a restaurant that closed last year and are doing scheduled pickups in their parking lot. The sandwiches rotate every weekend and some of my favorites only ever come around once or twice a year, so it’s been a nice stretch over the past three weeks with some of my very favorites: fried green tomatoes, roasted figs, and fried chicken with spicy honey. It’s summer so the roasted peaches have been in heavy rotation. I love that one too and will get it as soon as one of the rare ones that I love isn’t on the menu.
- Both universities that my library serves announced last week that they are going virtual for the fall semester. There was one day where it seemed like one would be virtual and one in person, which was going to make life very complicated. So I’m happy they got on the same page and that my co-workers who were going to have to go back to campus and interact with a bunch of students get a reprieve from that. I’m also grateful that I was and still am able to work from home through this.
- And that leads into my perpetual reminder to myself that as terrible as all of this is I have it really good. I am as I just said able to work from home. I still have a job. I enjoy spending time with my husband and my cat. We’re doing this in a time where it’s possible to still stay connected with people virtually instead of being completely cut off. And I’m not having to make any agonizing decisions about what to do with my kids this school year. I am extremely privileged in this situation, and I don’t want to lose sight of that either despite it still generally sucking.
Thanks to COVID-19 the 2020 Newport Folk Festival was canceled. Anyone who knows me or who has been reading this blog for any length of time should know that Newport is my favorite weekend of every year. It is a completely soul restoring event that has been sorely needed in the last few years and ironically was unable to happen this year for some of the reasons that it was needed more than ever.
In lieu of an in-person festival, this year they put together a series of online events to celebrate the history of the festival and use it as a fundraiser for the Newport Festivals Foundation, which supports music education and this year has extended their work to support artists who are out of work due to COVID-19.
They dug into their 60 year archive and put together a radio festival that mimicked the actual festival as much as it could. It ran for the same hours that the festival happens every year. It included broadcasts of some complete sets from previous years as well as themed compilation sets full of songs from the full history of the festival. That mirrors what the actual festival does as there are always compilation sets full of a number of artists who will come out and sing together around a common theme whether it be a tribute set to an artist like the Grandma’s Hands Band set, which was a tribute to the music of Bill Withers that they replayed as part of this or something like civil rights songs. They even had a surprise set on the setlist for the weekend. Jay Sweet who organizes the festival has long said that he would love to not even let people know who is playing until they show up to the festival that day, so he always sprinkles in some sets over the weekend that are listed just as a surprise set. The surprise set for this was a Joni Mitchell set from the early years of the festival.
It was actually really great to listen to festival for the most part. I spent a lot of time texting back and forth with a friend who is also part of the Newport Folk Family. It was nice to relive some of the things from the festival that I really loved. I could picture being at the festival and seeing them. There were also a couple of sets that I was happy to get to hear because I missed parts of them the first time around because there are three stages and you can never be everywhere at once. It was cool to listen to some of the music from long before my time as well. There were a couple of things like the set from Jack White that I skipped the first time around and this made me know that I made the right decision about. I’m also not sorry that I skipped out on the Beck set because it was raining and I don’t care that much about Beck, though I will say that now having listened to it he definitely gets the festival and did not get up and do a “Beck set”. He really made it a set for Newport. I always love when artists realize the importance of where they are playing and don’t just get up and do what they do everywhere.
In addition to the radio festival they did special after hours events as well just as there are during the actual festival. I never go to those because I am done with crowds by the time the festival proper is over for the day. On Friday night you could pay for an airing of one of the three concerts they did for Mavis Staples’ 80th birthday last year. I had really wanted to go to one of them, but they were in New York, Nashville, and L.A. and based on timing I just couldn’t make it happen. So one of the few good things about this pandemic has been able to see some things like this that were just hidden away in a vault somewhere and which probably would never have seen the public light of day otherwise. It was wonderful and I’m really glad I got to experience it even in this limited way. As I’ve said many times before Mavis Staples is a national treasure and it was so delightful to see so many artists I love celebrate her.
Saturday night was another paid show. This one involved an actual concert at Fort Adams where the festival is held every year. Deer Tick who are a local Rhode Island band who have a huge connection to the festival did an in-person socially distanced (for the band, no audience) concert that they recorded with special guests who appeared from their respective homes. As many online concerts as I’ve watched since this all began it was really nice to see an actual band performing together rather than connected in their little boxes via Zoom or whatever even if I still had to watch it through a screen.
Sunday night there was a free film called Our Voices Together. Looking back now they never said it was going to be a documentary about the festival, but that is somehow what I got in my head it was going to be and is sort of what I wish it had been. I was looking forward to seeing footage of previous festivals and hearing people talk about the history of the festival. There was a little bit of that, but mostly it was favorite Newport artists playing songs either alone or in the little Zoom box style with their bands that I was just saying feels a little soulless compared to people actually playing together. I mean I love all the music and the artists that were in the film, but it wasn’t really what I was expecting or necessarily hoping for. I will say that the cover they did of “What the World Needs Now is Love” featuring a metric ton of artists from festivals past was amazing and I wish they would at least make that one song available to rewatch again since the entire film is only available for 24 hours from it’s premiere.
I’m really glad they pulled all this together. I definitely ran through the gamut of emotions listening and watching everything all weekend. Sunday I did hit an emotional low point of sadness thinking about there not being an actual festival this year. There were a lot of tears, but there were also lots of moments of joy. I sincerely hope we can get our act together so that there will actually be a Newport Folk Festival in 2021 because it cannot come soon enough.