I’d long been fascinated by the tale of Naomi Wise, murdered by her lover in a river near my hometown. In 2021, No Depression magazine gave me the opportunity to explore this legend that’s become an iconic American folk ballad, covered by artists ranging from Doc Watson to Bob Dylan.
Sam Andrew’s death follows those of bandmates Janis Joplin, who famously died from a heroin overdose in 1970, and James Gurley, who died of a heart attack in 2009.
Before the worst president in American history incited a deadly insurrection at the White House, singer-songwriter Nathan Bell asked me to write the liner notes for his latest album, Red, White and American Blues (it couldn’t happen here).
Early on in what’s come to be slandered by the right as “cancel culture,” Ani DiFranco angered fans by planning an artist retreat at a former plantation. The irony was that DiFranco had spent her entire career as a stanch political ally, not just of Black Americans, but of all people of color, all gender identifications, the poor — basically, all people marginalized by the dominant culture. She survived the controversy with her fanbase intact.
In 1991 I had the great honor of getting to meet and interview Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the world’s greatest singer of qawwali, a devotional vocal style associated with the mystical Islamic practice of Sufism. Sadly, in 1997, I was tasked with penning his obituary.
“Phil Ochs was like Lenny Bruce – he just totally uncensored himself. He wrote the songs nobody else would.” — Butch Hancock
Leaving Eden tells the story of countless small towns across the South since the days of slavery.
Easily the most influential female African American singer that popular music has ever produced, Aretha Franklin took the gospel music of Mahalia Jackson out of church and onto the pop charts.
TweetIn 1989, the legal and artistic implications of sampling were reaching a boiling point. Old-school rockers called it “stealing,” forgetting that their own heroes of rock guitar […]
TweetThe following roundtable discussion was published in Option magazine 25 years ago. The points made in this discussion by members of the L.A. community and […]