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Stephen Deusner

The Year of the Songwriter

March 12, 2012

Here’s another song in C
When I play piano, it’s my key
If I was playing guitar
I’d probably be in G.
That’s Loudon Wainwright III, who visited Duke Performances just last season, singing “In C” on his upcoming album, Older Than My Old Man Now. It’s a spry, up-tempo number full of clever rhymes and sing-song

“Try to Reconstruct the Dead”: Numero Group Office Visit

November 14, 2011

On a quiet, tree-lined avenue in Chicago sits a nondescript brick house with white trim. A wrought-iron fence separates a bit of grass from the sidewalk, and an old wooden staircase leads up to the front door. There is no sign, nor does loud music emanate from within. If you strolled by on your own,

The Many Muses of Chris Thile

November 9, 2011

On his 2006 album How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, mandolinist Chris Thile transformed the ominously descending chord progressions of the White Stripes’ “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” into a fleet bluegrass jam. At least on the surface, the cross-genre cover seems so unlikely it threatens to become a mere stunt, like

Coming Around on Jim White

February 16, 2011

More than a decade ago, I reviewed Jim White’s second album, No Such Place, for the Memphis Flyer. I praised his ambition, writing that “White is obviously—and admirably—grasping for something new and meaningful, a revival of certain Southern musical traditions through modern production quirks.” That was about it for praise. I was not kind.
“White plays dress-up,”

Ramblin’ Men

November 9, 2010

Growing up in southwest Louisiana, vocalist and fiddler Linzay Young went to parties thrown by his Creole-French-speaking grandfather, large gatherings that combined good company, good cooking, good music, and lots of dancing. Years later, those experiences continue to inform the music Young makes with the Red Stick Ramblers, a group of former LSU students who

Almeda Riddle’s Strange Journey

September 17, 2010

In 1959, Alan Lomax plotted a trip through the southern United States to document the breadth of the region’s disparate musical traditions. With financial backing from Atlantic Records allowing him access to some of the most up-to-date equipment available, Lomax and his entourage (which included British musician and folklorist Shirley Collins) recorded semi-professional bluesmen, Sunday