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American Legacies on Huffington Post's list of best albums of 2011

Huffington Post Grammy Preview: The Best Albums of 2011 From Top to Bottom
Michael Giltz

I’ve traveled to the future and can reassure you that Adele will have a fun night at the Grammys on Sunday. Her album is one of those inevitable triumphs at an awards show that feels right. Adele has dominated the charts and the radio and critics; if she’d been able to tour, we’d probably be saying how much better her songs sound in concert than they do on the album and realize she has room to grow. Her smash hit 21 is in every sense the album of the year.

So I was surprised in my recent trip down South to realize how few people actually own it. Five million copies is nothing to sneeze at in the North American market, but a lot more people should snap it up. If and when they do, here are some other albums you might want to consider purchasing as well. These days, you can check them out first on Spotify or MySpace so you won’t have to take my word for it before spending your precious entertainment dollars. I have an embarrassing lack of classical music this year (I just wasn’t exposed to much), but there’s something for almost everyone — pop, rock, country, jazz, gospel, world music, film scores, ambient, folk and more. If you’ve liked the artist before or enjoy the genre, I’ll bet it’s worth your time.
Now make sure you read the list and immediately chide me for not including so and so (Wilco! Jayhawks! Tuneyards!) or for foolishly including so and so (Panic! at the Disco? Really?) or for having one act too high (Glen Campbell in the Top 10?) or too low (Frank Ocean at the bottom?). Hey, it wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t argue. I’m especially looking forward to getting tips about any albums I haven’t heard yet. Chances are if an act is on a lot of year-end lists that I probably already gave it a listen. But little known favorites of yours are very welcome comments indeed. That’s certainly all I hope to achieve with my picks: point you in the direction of an album or two I think you’ll love. And now, the list! Come back over the weekend and I promise to add in some comments explaining my choices.

BEST ALBUMS OF 2011

1. FLEET FOXES Helplessness Blues (CSN rocks out)
2. TOM WAITS Bad As Me (bohemian troubadour in top form)
3. KING CREOSOTE & JON HOPKINS Diamond Mine (quirky concept album, gorgeously done)
4. GILLIAN WELCH The Harrow and the Harvest (simple, straightforward, striking folk)
5. TEDDY THOMPSON Bella / kd lang Sing It Loud /RON SEXSMITH — Long Player, Late Bloomer (pure pop by pure pros)
6. WYNTON MARSALIS AND ERIC CLAPTON Play the Blues / BRANFORD MARSALIS AND JOEY CALDARAZZO Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (trad jazz)
7. GLEN CAMPBELL Ghost on the Canvas (haunting country pop)
8. BOMBINO Agadez (Tuareg rocks!) / BOUBACAR TRAORE Mali Denhou (gentle African guitar) / LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO Songs From a Zulu Farm (ecstatic and playful children’s music)
9. VARIOUS ARTISTS This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African American Gospel on 45 RPM (1957-1982) (lo-fi, high flying gospel that’s so good you’ll convert)
10. ADELE 21 (unstoppable soul diva)
11. GROUPLOVE Never Trust a Happy Song (raucous LA pop-rock)
12. PANIC! AT THE DISCO Vices & Virtues (sterling but overlooked pop-rock)
13. NICK LOWE The Old Magic (vintage wine, vintage bottle)
14. WILD FLAG Wild Flag (giving super groups a good name)
15. BRAD MEHLDAU Modern Music (dependably adventurous jazz trio)/COLIN VALLON — Rruger (bold EU trio following in Mehldau’s wake)
16. JAY-Z AND KANYE WEST Watch the Throne (braggadocio taken to new heights)
17. BON IVER Bon Iver (stares down success with quiet confidence)
18. BALLAKE SISSOKO AND VINCENT SEGAL Chamber Music (delicate instrumentals)
19. PAUL SIMON So Beautiful or So What (mortality, musically)
20. BETH HART & JOE BONAMASSA Don’t Explain (the blues, thumpingly good)
***
21. PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND AND DEL MCCOURY BANDAmerican Legacies (an institution finds new life via collaboration)
22. AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE When the Heart Emerges Glistening (quietly probing jazz)
23. JAMES BLAKE James Blake (trippy pop)
24. VARIOUS ARTISTS Live From the Old Town School (folk’s beating heart)
25. GIRLS Father, Son, Holy Ghost (interesting identity crisis)
26. TINARIWEN Tassili (bluesy, distinctive, campfire sing-alongs)
27. JOY FORMIDABLE The Big Roar (noisy pop)
28. DARI0 MARINELLI WITH JACK LIEBECK Jane Eyre soundtrack (the year’s best traditional score)/ MATTHEW COOPER Some Days Are Better Than Others (the year’s best untraditional score)
29. THE CORAL Butterfly House/THE MAGIC NUMBERS Runaway (pop, unimported, unrecognized)
30. PISTOL ANNIES Pistol Annies / MIRANDA LAMBERT Four The Record (country’s top gal and friends)
***
31. THE LOW ANTHEM Smart Flesh (brainy Americana)
32. CHARLIE HADEN AND QUARTET WEST Sophisticated Ladies (female singers, jazz swingers)
33. THE BLACK KEYS El Camino (rock, no fuss)
34. M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (ambient pop)
35. ALISON KRAUSS AND UNION STATION Paper Airplanes/ JOHN HIATTDirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns (old dogs, old tricks, happily so)
36. BEASTIE BOYS Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two (feisty hip-hop from the old-timers)
37. BEN HOWARD Every Kingdom (gentle pop)/MIKE BLOOM King Of Circles (WARM singer-songwriter vibe for this solo debut)
38. VINICIUS CANTUARIA AND BILL FRISELL Lagrimas Mexicanas (two great guitars, one great voice equal haunting Latin music)/
39. THE GOURDS Old Mad Joy (rootsy celebration) / MARC BROUSSARD Marc Broussard (bluesy rock)
40. SUZANNE VEGA Close-Up Volume 3: State Of Being (acoustic songs, electric songwriting) for fu

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Delloween: Halloween weekend shows with Keller Williams announced

Delloween

The Del McCoury Band

Keller Williams

And The Travelin McCourys

Friday, October 28th – Madison Theater – Covington, KY

Saturday, October 29th – Jefferson Theatre – Roanoke, VA

Tickets on sale: June 21st

Halloween: A time for costumes, sweet treats, trickery, AND quickly becoming a holiday known for hot music collaborations.  The Del McCoury Band and Keller Williams have a long history together as well as a history of cutting edge Halloween extravaganzas, so the progression to creating a Halloween event together seems only natural.  Delloween will close out the festival season with a 2 day, 2 city indoor festival on wheels with a loopless acoustic set from Keller Williams to start the night, followed by  a set with The Del McCoury Band, and ending with a special late night set featuring both The Travelin’ McCourys and Keller Williams playing together!

The Del McCoury Band, Keller Williams, and The Travelin’ McCourys are festival veterans hitting just about every major festival in the country this summer and Del even has his own festival – DelFest, so that festival spirit will be the backbone of Delloween.  All the Delloween artists are known for pushing the boundaries of music; Williams debuted his Show For Kids this summer at several heavy hitting festivals (with music from his album KIDS) while The Del McCoury Band has been touring and playing in support of the American Legacies album with Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Travelin’ McCourys have been promoting the wildly successful Bluegrass Balls series. Delloween will follow suit with innovative sets that all but erase the boundaries of a regular theatre gig.

Del McCoury Band:

Led by a living bluegrass legend (whom The Washington Post alls a “national treasure”) and featuring four immensely skilled musicians (including sons Ronnie on mandolin and Rob on banjo, with Jason Carter on fiddle and Alan Bartram on bass), The Del McCoury Band has rightfully received numerous accolades including more than three dozen International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, a Grammy, and multiple Grammy nominations.  This world-class ensemble performs original and traditional compositions with eloquent harmonies and “ferocious, purebred musicianship” (USA Today) that has earned them a wide range of fans, from their diverse group of “Del-Heads” to such respected musicians as Steve Earle, David Grisman and members of Phish and The String Cheese Incident.  In 2008, Del started his own music festival, and DelFest has quickly become one of the premiere music festivals on the east coast.  The band also regularly appears at some of the top festivals in the country including Newport Folk Festival, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Bonnaroo, Philadelphia Folk Fest, High Sierra, Grey Fox, and Austin City Limits Fest.

Keller Williams

Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Keller Williams has defined the term independent artist. And his 16 recordings tell only half the story. Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike. Williams’ solo live shows—and his ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band—quickly became the stuff of legend, and his audience grew exponentially when word spread about this exciting, unpredictable performer. Today, whether performing as a one-man band (a stage show constructed around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs while accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar connected to a Gibson Echoplex delay system that allows him to simulate a full band), with a backing band (of which he has many – Keller and The Keels, Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe, Grunge Grass among others), or solo acoustic with simply he and his guitar, Keller always reveals himself as an artist of great stylistic breadth and infinite imagination. He is a singer, songwriter and musician, always on a quest for the new. Keller Williams has never followed the prescribed path laid out by the conventional music business but rather one of his own making. It’s a path that has served him well.

The Travelin’ McCourys

The Travelin’ McCourys do not stand still. They are on the road—and online—entertaining audiences with live shows that include some of the best musicians and singers from all genres. It’s always different, always exciting, and always great music.

No other band today has the same credentials for playing traditional and progressive music. As the sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo continue their father’s work—a lifelong dedication to the power of bluegrass music to bring joy into people’s lives. And with fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram, the ensemble is loved and respected by the bluegrass faithful. But the band is now combining their sound with others to make something fresh and rejuvenating.

What:                  Delloween

Who:                  The Del McCoury Band, Keller Williams, and The Travelin’ McCourys

Where/When:         Friday, October 28th – Madison Theater – Covington, KY

AND Saturday, October 29th – Jefferson Theatre – Roanoke, VA

On sale date: June 21st

Upcoming shows

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