California may not be the first place you’d think to look for new songs by emerging bands playing good old-school mountain music. But there’s a deep blue sea of acoustic revolution happening in this country, erupting like flying fish that explode from the spray before a racing sailboat. Two of the best right now are new releases from singer-songwriter Amber Cross and the ebullient Moonsville Collective.
Maine native Amber Cross has just released her first collection of songs, titled You Can Come In. With a bluegrass edge and a tender heart, “the little lady with the big voice” sings of love, loneliness and the land in the tradition of Hazel Dickens, Rose Maddox, and the Carter Family. She is supported by the cream of the crop of pickers and sawyers from the oldtime music community based around San Luis Obispo (a scene which has gained a reputation throughout the state for its vitality). The result is a rich harvest of Amber’s touching songs, and a bright reflection of the many folks who play and support oldtime music in the Central Coast area.
LISTEN: City Lights
Although they are based further south, Moonsville Collective is another group with roots in the SLO area. Band members Daniel Richardson and son Seth have family in Los Osos and apparently the Moonsville group grew out of the oldtime jams that are held regularly at the home of Jonas Richardson. One birthday party for Jonas lasted over 12 hours and during that time, the music never stopped. Moonsville Collective are addicted to the magic that arises from the heart of an oldtime jam session, and their live performances show it. Strong links to the past (the band name came from a cemetery in Indiana where Seth’s great-aunt lies at rest) separate Moonsville from the multitude of acoustic groups that currently emulate the popular Old Crow sound. Their unique energy won them the Best Live Band of 2012 at the OC Weekly Music Awards. Here’s a taste of their new record Cradle to the Grave. Enjoy!
LISTEN: Gone But Not Forgotten