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Downhome Streaming on the Folk Side

June 9, 2020

We’ve been diligently posting upcoming streaming events in our weekly Stream This! feature, and we’ve provided our recommendations for great listening for classical music, opera, jazz, and new music to get you through these tough times with no live concerts. Here are a few picks in the folk vein featuring some local musicians, a few from around the country, and some from further afield.

In our own backyard

The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse is a local institution with an international reputation. While the bricks-and-mortar venue is shuttered, the good folks there have been providing a regular roster of streamed live performances — some fresh-made at home, some recorded on the Freight stage before the shut-down. Here are a few videos that represent the breadth of Freight programming.

Brothers Miles and Teo Quale are founding members of the Crying Uncle bluegrass band, and they having been making a big name for themselves around the country. The pair are powerful duo unto themselves, as they make clear in this casual concert live from the steps of their home in Alameda.

Rhonda Benin’s annual “Just Like a Woman” show is one of the highlights of the Freight calendar, but fans mourning the lack of a 2020 show can console themselves with this show from March 30, 2019. Blues, jazz, and beyond.

You can see and more Freight at Home concerts at the Freight & Salvage’s livestream page.

We’ve written about the Thompson family on numerous occasions, and it should come as no surprise that Eric, Suzy, and their daughter Allegra haven’t been sitting on their hands while sheltering from the viral storm. They’ve been doing regular shows from their home in Oakland, and this episode featuring rags and blues from the ’20s and ’30s is terrific.

Marin County’s Marla Fibish and Bruce Victor perform a wide variety of traditional and original songs and instrumentals as Noctambule, and they have been offering a daily “serenade” from their own home via their Facebook page. This installment from June 6 features a children’s song from Belfast, a happy caper song from the Noctambule collection, and a few sweet instrumental tunes.

From Around the Country

Bruce Molsky is a much-admired master of American old-time mountain music. He’s a triple threat on fiddle, banjo, and guitar, and his rich voice is a wonderful vehicle for old songs and ballads. Here’s a full-length solo concert live from his living room. Settle in and get a first-rate tour of great American music.

Chris Thile took over A Prairie Home Companion from Garrison Keillor and transformed the variety-show format into Live From Here, a program featuring fewer skits and a lot more music performed by a crackerjack team of regulars and guests. Since SIP, Thile has been carrying on with Live From Home. Those familiar Thile know him as a mandolin wizard and musical chameleon who has earned bragging rights with his blistering chops and versatility in pretty much any idiom, from bluegrass to Baroque. Here he plays a solo-mandolin take on an early Wilco song.

  

The Tiny Desk concert series has been going strong since long before the pandemic, it’s archive is deep well of downhome-style performances by artists of all stripes, recorded live in an NPR studio. Since SIP, artists have been sending in tapes recorded in their own homes for inclusion in the "from-home" edition of the series. Here is a lovely set of four traditional pieces from Rhiannon Giddens and her partner Francesco Turrisi.

Further afield

The annual Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Scotland, lives up to its name. Musicians from Ireland, Scotland, England, Brittany, Galicia, Cape Breton, Quebec, all corners of the U.S., and beyond meet up for a week of concertizing, jamming, and general revelry. New connections are forged and some great music arises from the impromptu sessions there. This video features a collaboration between fiddler Tomas Callister from the Isle of Man, Juan Jimenez Almaraz from Cadiz, Spain,  on Irish flute, and Asturian musician Rubén Bada on the Irish cittern, on a set of tunes they first played together at Celtic Connections.

Mia Marine is a dynamic five-string violist and teacher at the forefront of the traditional music revival in Sweden. She arranged this lovely “Summer Medley” of two traditional polskas and one original piece for her university students and colleagues to play alone/together to mark the upcoming season during this “strange and lonely Corona spring.”

I sang Väsen’s praises in an article about great music from Scandinavia a few years ago. The trio’s intoxicating blend of traditional nyckelharpa, five-string viola, and 12-string, open-tuned guitar has earned them plaudits everywhere they’ve performed. They are doing some isolated performances while sheltering, but none that are available for sharing at the moment. We’ll turn back to the Tiny Desk series for this wonderful performance.

For a daily dose of old-time music

For fans of old-time music, it’s hard to beat Quarantine Happy Hour, a live happy-hour featuring concert music from a different person or musical household every day via Facebook. Sponsored by the The Horsenecks, an old-time/bluegrass outfit from Oregon, the aim is “to keep us connected and supported during the quarantine.” Each day, a scheduled performer from will play an hour of live music starting at 5:30 p.m. PDT. The videos are not coded for embedding here, but they are all archived and available on the QHH Facebook page. Some of our favorites include Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains’s show from May 30, Joe Newberry’s on May 28, Paul Brown’s on May 14, and Alice Gerard’s on May 9, and many more.

Paul Kotapish is the managing editor for SFCV.  You can learn more here or at guitarfish.net.