“my heart pounds inside my head, like a beat without a drummer…”

I had the opportunity tonight to see a friend of mine named Hanna Ashbrook play at the Elbo Room in Chicago. It’s an interesting little dive bar/venue with decent beer, decent sound, and some pretty nice people.

I was particularly excited because I hadn’t had an opportunity to see her before, and from the little bits I had heard on the internet, I knew it had the potential to be a strong show.

The show started with a really wonderful opening set from a young Chicago singer/songwriter named Andrew Lothian. His strong, almost pop voice, coupled with his impish nervousness/charm makes me believe he’s only going good places. Check his demo recording of ‘My Sunflower’ out here:


Then, Hanna came onstage:

Strong turned out to be an understatement. It was absolutely beautiful. Hanna is a talented guitarist and vocalist with a penchant for catching those last bittersweet wisps of fading memories and turning them into heart-melting songs. She manages to simultaneously embody both an endearing naivety and a soul heavy with loss and hardship. It looks like she’ll have her debut album out sometime this winter, and what an exciting winter album it should be. Take a listen to her song ‘Make This Moment End’ and then head over to her Facebook music page to keep tabs on what she’s up to next.


I love nights of new music, good drinks, and a few great friends.




Switchin’ It Up

I know this blog is pretty folk-oriented, so throwing some hip-hop in might seem like a bit of a curveball. That being said, I love to take a break from my banjo-induced euphoria every once and a while and switch it up. Also, good hip-hop is just fucking wonderful live.
Macklemore, an incredibly talented artist out of Seattle released a pretty nifty track today called “Thrift Shop”. It’s a lot of fun, and y’all should check it out. That being said, if you’ve never listened to Macklemore before, then check out these two videos below. Both are stunning, and show his incredible versatility.

Astronautalis is an astounding, passionate hip-hop artist out of Minneapolis. His album “This Is Our Science” was one of my favorites last year. He recently released a video for one of my tracks from that album:

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/heB_gv_UIgI?p=1 width=”550″ height=”443″]

And last, but not least, perennial favorites of mine – Doomtree, a hip-hop collective out of Minneapolis. These guys (and gal) are just absurdly fun, and incredibly good at what they do. Check out their absurd music video for ‘Bangarang’ below, as well as a slightly more serious video of Doomtree members Dessa and Cecil Otter at the Fitzgerald in Minneapolis.

Well, that’s the hip-hop bender for the week. Stay tuned for this blog’s first mix (yay fall!) and some other new artists coming your way this week.

“it’s the simplest of love songs, but it’s all our hearts can take”

Heather over @ Fuel/Friends turned me on to this amazing talent out of the Pacific Northwest. Noah (with his sister Abby on violin and harmonies) finds a way to take timeless, simple Americana and weave it into an unbelievable tapestry of heartache, folk sensibilities, and astonishing power. I listened to his EP (buy it at http://noahgundersen.bandcamp.com/) on repeat for almost all of today. Here’s a track from it:

Also, even though this video has found it’s way to many of the blogs I read and love, I need to post it here, both because I’m still heartbroken I couldn’t make it to Doe Bay this year and because it’s ridiculously stunning. So, for your listening pleasure, Noah’s cover of Vic Chestnutt’s “Flirted With You All My Life”:

Also, for my fellow Chicagoans, Noah will be playing at SPACE on November 6th. I’ll be there. Will you?

“maybe dad was right, no summer without spring”

as the rain beats down on my balcony and the first few hints of autumn peek around the corner, I find myself again drawn to this incredible EP by Isaac Pierce, and his gentle, haunting music. Listen to this track, and then go buy the EP (http://tenspeedmusic.com/album/isaac-pierce-ep) and get ready for it to soundtrack those black coffee and falling leaves kind of mornings.




My close friend Dashi swears that he hates hipster culture, and the bespectacled, bearded, folksy bands that have (sort of) emerged from it. However, he was in fact the individual responsible for introducing me to TYPHOON, an amazing band out of Oregon that embodies much of what I love about the idea of communal music making.

The band is currently comprised of 13 members, some of whom are in fact bearded and bespectacled, playing an incredible variety of instruments, ranging from horns to strings and back again. While their music tends to wander a bit stylistically, there is a certain heartbeat, a wanting/yearning/deafening cry of music that absolutely NEEDS to be made in everything they do.

They are currently working on their 3rd full length album, details to be announced soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this video recorded by KEXP at Pickathon, and then head over to http://www.wearetyphoon.com and buy some amazing music.

20 Albums of my 20s

This past Saturday, I was at a close friend’s 25th birthday event at a bar – I hesitate to use the word party, as I’m not sure 25 year olds are allowed to have parties. As we were sitting around, having a beer or 5, it dawned on me exactly how close I was to 25 myself, and the true beginning of my mid-20s.

As I thought about this, and reflected on my 20s so far, I was struck by how many of my memories from my 20s were accompanied by a soundtrack created by yours truly. So, I thought it might be fun to celebrate my approaching birthday by making a list of the 20 albums that have been so influential on the last 5 years of my life. So, in no particular order:

  1. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
  2. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
  3. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
  4. Tyler Lyle – The Golden Age and the Silver Girl
  5. Anais Mitchell – Hymns for the Exiled
  6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium
  7. Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
  8. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart
  9. Doomtree – No Kings
  10. Allison Krauss – Forget About It
  11. Bowerbirds – Hymns for a Dark Horse
  12. First Aid Kit – The Big Black and the Blue
  13. Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days
  14. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
  15. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
  16. The National – High Violet
  17. Dawes – Nothing is Wrong
  18. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
  19. Dark Was the Night (Red Hot Compilation)
  20. Dessa – Castor the Twin

Each one of these albums reminds me of late-night car rides, porch drinking with friends, and the people I love with all of my heart. On top of that, all of these albums are beautiful, and each has a story to tell. If you haven’t listened to any of these, I highly recommend you take ’em for a test ride, you might even find a new soundtrack for whatever path you’re walking now.