Folk Festival Edition: Rachel Baiman, Jon Stickley Trio, James Elkington & Jake Xerxes Fussell


Rachel Baiman: Shame

The Newport Folk Festival is imminent, coming up this weekend. While the festival does a wonderful job mixing big names with new discoveries, there are always fantastic artists that could have played the festival, but aren’t. So, it is my tradition to use the occasion to feature artists that may one day play the festival. First up is Nashville’s Rachel Baiman. Her new album is Shame which has all the elements of a folk classic. A throwback sound of banjo, mandolin, fiddlea and Baiman’s classic voice, but with an updated feel and topical songs with plenty of heart. Baiman is one to keep your eyes on.


Jon Stickley Trio: Maybe Believe

Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina is the Jon Stickley Trio. Stickley and his mates play a guitar-focused instrumental music that blends bluegrass/newgrass with a jazz trio vibe. Their new album Maybe Believe is an excellent introduction to the group, a bit of instrumental muscle flexing that swings one moment and then settles into a thoughtful chamber music another. The record was produced by Bad Plus drummer Dave King and brings some of his inventive ear to their sound. If you’re into instrumental acoustic music, this is a must-listen. Even if you’re not, I’d check it out.


James Elkington: Wintres Woma

James Elkington is one of those musicians that you may have heard before without knowing it. He’s toured with several musicians, including Steve Gunn and Jeff Tweedy as well as a previously RecommNed’d duet album with Nathan Salzburg. Now it’s time to get (re-)introduced to Elkington with his first solo record, Wintres Woma. The title translates to “the sound of winter” which is plenty lovely on its own. The music matches the mood, centered on Elkington’s crisp finger-picked guitar and a sound that has roots in British folk, but breaks through that frozen ground and becomes something wholly its own — cello, haunting harmonies and beyond … unique and comforting. Enjoy!


Jake Xerxes Fussell: What In The Natural World

A peek at the discography of Jake Xerxes Fussell reveals that What In The Natural World is the second release for the North Carolinian. But to listen to the record, you’d think he’s been playing and recording this music for decades and decades, maybe the better part of a century even. Fussell’s voice is so incredibly timeless, born precisely to sing these old-timey songs, an honesty and earnestness that you can’t learn. There is something pure and joyful in his singing and playing. Simple, lovely, perfect, exactly what you’d like to hear on a sunny afternoon at the Fort in Rhode Island. Maybe next year.