Americana Artists Tap into Their Roots

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If you're an avid public-radio listener in this country, there's a good chance your station plays a fair amount of music from the so-called "Americana" format, a sound the Americana Music Association loosely defines as "American roots music based in the traditions of country." In the last five years, Americana programming has jumped by 65% on public radio. Alison Krauss, Ryan Adams, Wilco and the Jayhawks are a few of the hot Americana stars. For avid fans, Weekend Edition Sunday Music Director Ned Wharton suggests these titles:

Viktor Krauss

Viktor Krauss Album Cover

Alison Krauss' brother, Viktor, has long been one of the solid supporting artists on the Americana music scene, playing standup bass for Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris, among others. But he's also a talented composer and bandleader in his own right. Many of his compositions are evocative instrumentals, inspired by the movie soundtracks Krauss remembers listening to as a child. His new CD, simply called II also has some vocals, with singers including Lyle Lovett and a magical version of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" sung by Shawn Colvin.

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Harry Manx and Kevin Breit

In God We Trust Album Cover

Our neighbors to the North also tap into Americana. Harry Manx and Kevin Breit have produced genre-bending music in their album In Good We Trust. Originally from the Isle of Man, guitarist Manx ended up in British Columbia after wandering the globe from South America to Asia to Europe. While in India, he mastered a slide guitar called the mohan veena. The Appalachian traditional "Death Have Mercy" or "Oh Death" — once performed by bluegrass players such as Ralph Stanley — has a spooky new interpretation backed by Indian sounds. Manx and Breit's CD has all the ingredients: solid blues roots, rock and roll, some traditional bluegrass and a hint of Indian spice.

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II

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II
Artist
Viktor Krauss
Label
Back Porch
Released
2007

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In Good We Trust

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In Good We Trust
Artist
Harry Manx, Kevin Breit
Label
Stony Plain Music
Released
2007

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