Category: folk


Laura-Beth Salter (Mandolin) – New CD “Breathe” – Jenn…

On tumblr I have found the announcement of a new CD by Laura-Beth Salter. Laura-Beth Salter sings and plays the mandolin. She performs together with Jenn Butterworth as a duo, but mainly she is a member of the band Shee, a band composed of five women. The new album Breathe will be published on July 1st, the first song from this album Carry Me is available at bandcamp already.

Laura-Beth Salter’s debut album ‘Breathe’ will be released on the 1st of July 2013. You can pre-order now and download a free track at

The style of Laura-Beth Salter is influenced by the Celtic tradition of her country, but also by American root music, blues, oldtime and bluegrass. The recordings that I have found made me curious for the coming CD.

In my playlist I have also added recordings with The Shee. This band with fiddle, guitar, accordion, harp, flute, singing and also step dance has very successfully played at folk festivals in the UK, and some great videos can be found at youtube.

Let’s start with a great video with Jenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter:

Jenn Butterworth & Laura-Beth Salter – ‘Come to Jesus’

A great performace of  The Shee – Troubles:

The Shee – Troubles – Live Crawley Folk Festival 2010

Playlist Jenn Butterworth & Laura-Beth Salter / The Shee

Additional Information

Website Laura-Beth Salter:

Laura-Beth is a mandolin player and vocalist from Lincolnshire who is now based in Glasgow. Her background is in the Blues, Oldtime and Bluegrass music that her parents play, but after studying the Traditional Music Degree in Newcastle she became heavily involved in the folk scene and met her fellow members of of ‘The Shee.’

Website Laura-Beth Salter and Jenn Butterworth:

Jenn Butterworth (vocals / guitar) and Laura-Beth Salter (vocals / mandolin) hail from award winning female super-groups The Anna Massie Band and The Shee.

On this page you can find anothe rgreat video aith Laura-Beth Salter and Jenn Butterworth recorded by the BBC.

Website The Shee:

Recordings by Laura-Beth Salter at Bandcamp:

Recordings by Jenn Butterworth at soundcloud, including some recordings with Laura-Beth Salter:


Quetzal – Great Music from LA – Son Jarocho…

In the youtube channel of Smithsonian Folkways I have discovered some videos with a group named Quetzal. I was immediately fascinated by the music of Quetzal, and so I want to present those videos here.

In those videos you can see a number of Mexican pucked strings instruments, but I am not completely sure which instruments are really played in those videos. The instruments are most probably the instruments from the region of Veracruzin Mexico, similar to jarana jarocha and guitarra de son / requinto jarocho – you can find descriptions of those instruments in the Atlas of Plucked Instruments.

I have found the following information about Quetzal in wikipedia:

The band was founded by Quetzal Flores, with the intention of pushing the boundaries of Chicano music and is currently one of Los Angeles’ most important and successful groups. They play a mix of Mexican and Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music, supercharged by the dynamic vocals of the singer Martha Gonzalez. Their commitment to using art as a tool for social change is informed and inspired by global grassroots movements. They have also been instrumental in developing Fandango Sin Fronteras, a dialog between Chicanos from California and Jarochos (musicians from Veracruz, Mexico).

I have also found the following information about  the Son Jarocho:

Son Jarocho is a traditional musical style of Veracruz, a Mexican state along the Gulf of Mexico. It evolved over the last two and a half centuries along the coastal portions of southern Tamaulipas state and Veracruz state, hence the term jarocho, a colloquial term for people or things from the port city of Veracruz. It represents a fusion of indigenous (primarily Huastecan), Spanish, and African musical elements, reflecting the population which evolved in the region from Spanish colonial times. Lyrics include humorous verses and subjects such as love, nature, sailors, and cattle breeding that still reflect life in colonial and 19th century Mexico. Verses are often shared with the wider Mexican and Hispanic Caribbean repertoire and some have even been borrowed from famous works by writers of the Spanish “Siglo de Oro”. It is usually performed by an ensemble of musicians and instruments which collectively are termed a “conjunto jarocho”.[1]

The instruments most commonly associated with Son Jarocho are the jarana jarocha, a small guitar-like instrument used to provide a harmonic base, with strings arranged in a variety of configurations; the requinto jarocho, another small guitar-like instrument plucked with a long pick traditionally made from cow-horn, usually tuned to a higher pitch and with a four or five thick nylon strings; the arpa jarocha, and sometimes a minor complement of percussion instruments such as pandero(especially in the style of Tlacotalpan), cajón and quijada (an instrument made of a donkey or horse jawbone).[2] Son Jarocho is often played only on jaranas and sung in a style in which several singers exchange improvised verses called décimas, often with humorous or offensive content. The most widely known son jarocho is “La Bamba”, which has been popularized through the version by Ritchie Valens and the American movie of the same name. Other famous sones jarochos are “El Coco” and “La Iguana” and “El Cascabel”, all of which have a call and response form, and “El Chuchumbé”, “La Bruja”.

Quetzal Performs “Estoy Aqui” at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival


“Todo Lo Que Tengo (All That I Have)” by Quetzal from “Imaginaries”

Estoy Aqui – Quetzal

“Imaginaries” by Quetzal from the Smithsonian Folkways album “Imaginaries”

Playlist Quetzal

Additional Information

NPR – Quetzal on Mountain Stage:

Wikipedia about Son Jarocho:

Atlas of Plucked Instruments – North America and Mexiko:

Website of the band CONJUNTO TENOCELOMEH with further information about the Son Jarocho:

Podcasts with Son Jarocho:


John Cohen (The New Lost City Ramblers) joins the…

A new CD with the Dust Busters has just be released by Smithsonian Folkways – a collaboration between musician and filmmaker John Cohen and the Dust Busters.

The following video presents John Cohen:

American Standard Time Presents John Cohen

In the following great animation video John Cohen tells about his first meeting with Harry Smith:

Some Crazy Magic: Meeting Harry Smith

The following press release gives all the details about this new and interesting CD release:

Press Release


On Aug. 14, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release ‘Old Man Below,’ a collaboration between Brooklyn, New York-based folk trio The Dust Busters and their mentor, folk music legend John Cohen of The New Lost City Ramblers.

The 20-song collection features old-time American folk, jug band blues, fiddle tunes, and ballads passed down through earlier generations of folk musicians and learned from 1920s and ’30s recordings. John Cohen has helped guide The Dust Busters (all in their 20s) since the group formed in 2008 and began visiting Cohen’s home in Putnam Valley, New York, to jam, cook, and soak up as much of the music and its history as possible.

“The Dust Busters start where the New Lost City Ramblers left off, evoking the golden age of the 1920s and 1930s.” – John Cohen

“The words and music in these songs reveal human stories that anyone can relate to.”
–The Dust Busters’ Eli Smith

Listen to a sneak preview of ’The Old Man Below’:

Watch a performance of “Two Soldiers” live from the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, NY:

Read more “John Cohen (The New Lost City Ramblers) joins the Dust Busters on ‘Old Man Below’ – New CD Release by Smithsonian”


Smithsonian Folkways – Folklife Festival – Bluegrass and more

Recently I have been listening to some resources from the Smithsonian websites, especially the radio programs.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities.

A set of radio programs with many interesting recordings is available at:

This includes a Bluegrass radio witha set of recordings of some of the important bands:

The Folkways collection contains some of the most influential early American bluegrass recordings and features such giants as Red Allen and Frank Wakefield, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, the Stanley Brothers, and The Country Gentlemen. Listen here to these influential artists and experience this dynamic American roots tradition.

In the Smithsonian Folkways youtube channel you can also find some bluegrass recordings like this:

If you are a teacher you can also make use of the freelesson plans and other resources for teaching, like the following

Bluegrass Music: A Toe-Tapping Exploration of an American Art Form
Grades: 3-5
Students will be introduced to American Bluegrass music and Appalachian songs through singing, listening and conversation. A number of songs will be compared leading to a conversation the characteristics of Traditional American music.

I did also listen to the Festival Radio that  is available on the Smithsonian Festival site: which also includes some great bluegrass performances from the Smithsonian Folklife Festivals.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival was first held Juli 1 – 4, 1967 and has been a big success. Since then the festival took place every year. It is a festival of all folk arts including music and dance, craftsmen like carvers, blacksmiths, potters or quilters, and folk artists of all kinds.

You can find scans of the interesting programs of the festivals since 1967 on the website:

This is an excerpt from the program of the first festival:

July 1-4, 1967 

America's grass roots culture provides abundant material 
for the four-day Festival of American Folklife presented by 
the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall over the 
July 4th weekend. More than doubling previous peak attendance 
at the Smithsonian for this holiday weekend, the first program 
in July, 1967 attracted 431,000 spectators, according to 
National Park Service figures. The exceptional public response 
to this first event has lead the Smithsonian to establish the 
Festival as an annual Independence Day tribute to our folk 

Fifty-eight traditional craftsmen and thirty-two 
musical and dance groups from throughout the United States 
demonstrated and performed at the first open-air event. 
Mountain banjo-pickers and ballad singers, Chinese lion 
fighters, Indian sand painters, basket and rug weavers, New 
Orleans jazz bands and a Bohemian hammer-dulcimer band from 
east Texas combined with the host of participants from many 
rural and urban areas of our country to weave the colorful fabric 
of American traditional culture.

This is the playlist of the most popular youtube videos of the Smithsonian Folkways youtube channel:

Most Viewed Smithsonian Folkways Videos

Additional Information

Smithsonian main website:

Smithsonian Folkways Website:

Website Smithsonian Festival: