1. What a force Bettye Lavette is! Her smoldering take on the Stones' "Salt Of The Earth" is what covers are all about and she delivers many more on her album Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. I loved reading her life story in the December 2012 issue of Relix -- get to know her and you can appreciate this jam even more.
2. Hard to put my finger on what it is I enjoy so much about Frontier Ruckus -- a sort of hipster bluegrass / Americana band. They rock the hipster moustaches hard in the video for "Dealerships", but they also touch on some pretty melodies and provocative themes. Thumbs up.
3. Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers' Van Sessions have really took off -- viral sensations in their own right. I admit to be charmed by quite a few of them, but the Deadhead in me was just tickled by this stripped down, lovely version of Jerry Garcia's "Deal".
4. I do enjoy when I can't exactly place how the sounds on a particularly noteworthy recording are being made. I was really captivated with the melody on Cave Singers' "Swim Club" and this video provided a nice view. Frankly, it wasn't what I expected -- not the least of which was what the band looked like -- but that makes the finished product that much cooler.
5. It was almost 14 years since I was present for one of Widespread Panic's biggest bust-outs: the return of David Bromberg's "Sharon" to the repertoire a the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1999. I'd never heard of the song, nor Bromberg, at the time and since them I've become a huge fan. This version of "Sharon" is a perfect capsule of that free-wheelin' folk sound that he had cultivated in the early seventies that probably has had more influence on the music on some of today's folk revival than people realize.
6. Ben Harper has always been a musician who I appreciated much more than I listened too. That changed with the release of his latest collaboration with the blues harp legend Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up. The songs just seemed to have so much more teeth than some of Harper's solo work -- this is a great one from that album with superb title: "I'm In I'm Out And I'm Gone".