God and Country Music: Shovels & Rope’s Punk-Rock, Incidental Spirituality

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As a writer who covers predominately alt-country, Americana, and folk music, I say to my shame that I didn't know who Shovels & Rope were until they won Best Song and Best Upcoming Artist last month at the 2013 Americana Awards. Maybe you don’t either, so let me introduce you.Shovels & Rope is the alt-country project of Charleston, SC based husband and wife duo, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. They've made the rounds—touring with the likes of Hayes Carll, Justin Townes Earle, and t … [Read more...]

Denison Witmer: Songs To Grow Up To

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I first saw Denison Witmer perform in the spring of 2006 in some horrible east-of-LA venue. It was the kind of dark place you frequent when you’re fifteen, seeing local hardcore bands, and not the kind of place where you hang out in your twenties listening to 70s-inspired singer-songwriter folky pop, as I was doing. When the show ended, I convinced my fiance that we needed to say hi to Denison.  We had decided to play an instrumental version of his song “Are You a Dreamer?” in our wedding, and I … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: The Wise Blood of American Music

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Each week in God and Country Music, Nick Rynerson gives country music a chance and examines the world of Americana, folk, alt-country, and popular country music.To know the music of a society is to know that society. While much musical analysis is focused on the music itself, music tells a story much bigger than can be contained in the meter of a song. I once had a professor who said, “Music was the language of the soul.” Even the mass produced popular music of the FM stations is telling a st … [Read more...]


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