(Soundbite of song, "My Poor Old Heart")

Ms. ALISON KRAUSS (Singer): (Singing) Don't expect too much from my poor, old heart.


If you're an avid public radio listener in this country - and we know you are -there's a good chance you're hearing a fair amount of this kind of music from the so-called Americana format.

In the last five years, Americana programming has jumped by 65 percent on public radio.

The Americana Music Association loosely defines the sound as American roots music based on the traditions of country. Alison Krauss, Ryan Adams, Wilco and the Jayhawks are just a few of the hot Americana stars.

In today's edition of Director's Cuts, WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY music director Ned Wharton reviews a couple of new discs for the Americana music fans.

(Soundbite of music)

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

(Soundbite of song, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond")

Ms. SHAWN COLVIN (Singer): (Singing) Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine. Shine.

WHARTON: Our neighbors to the north also tap into Americans. The online magazine, Pure Music, noted that Canadian roots musicians share the same dusty roads as American roots musicians in a kind of parallel universe.

(Soundbite of music)

WHARTON: This genre-bending music was made in Canada by the duo of Harry Manx and Kevin Breit.

Originally from the Isle of Man, guitarist Harry 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. Here are the Appalachian traditional "Death Have Mercy" or "Oh, Death," once performed by bluegrass players such as Ralph Stanley, now has a spooky new interpretation backed by Indian sounds.

(Soundbite of song, "Death Have Mercy")

Mr. HARRY MANX (Singer): (Singing) Oh, death. Oh, death. Death be easy now. Death be easy. Oh, death, pass me over 'til another year. Another year. Another year.

WHARTON: The sound of Harry Manx and Kevin Breit's CD, "In Good We Trust," has all the ingredients: solid blues roots, rock and roll, some traditional bluegrass, and a hint of Indian spice - all part of the global melting pot of Americana music.

ROBERTS: Ned Wharton's Director's Cuts can be found at npr.org, where you can hear full music selections from Viktor Krauss and guitarists Manx and Breit.

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