09 June 2020

Roots music and the present ongoing discontents

Illustration from No Depression, 30 May 2020

IN her article 'A note on equality and the role of a roots music magazine', Hilary Saunders, managing editor of No Depression magazine, writes: 'I’ve always believed in the power of music as a tool for social change, so telling stories that address equality and positive change through art is literally why I do what I do.'

Her examples of articles from No Depression embodying this aim include Allison Russell's 'Artist of the decade' essay 'Renaissance woman Rhiannon Giddens transcends borders and time', which mentions the influence on Giddens's songwriting of her minstrel-style banjo, and also provides this link to her 2019 keynote speech to the Americana Music Association UK (see also her 2017 IBMA keynote speech).

Another No Depression article singled out is Jake Blount's 'Across generations, the healing power of the banjo', with its emphasis on diversity in collaboration (exemplified by the admirable old-time album Pretty little mister by himself and Libby Weitnauer) and a link to the Black Banjo Reclamation Project.

The Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble have also issued a forthright statement associating themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement.
On 4 June, No Depression also published Henry Carrigan's review of Ravine palace, the latest album by fiddler Christian Sedelmyer, who should have been touring here last month as a member of 10 String Symphony. Guest musicians include Sedelmyer's old boss Jerry Douglas.

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