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Great new music from the USA

Mike Harding | 12:08 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

I was in the US last week scouring and snooping around looking for good
music, mostly in Virginia and West Virginia, and I was lucky enough to
lay my hands on quite a lot of stuff, including two cracking albums by
quite different performers - Karen Ashbrook and Richard Shindell

Karen Ashbrook is a terrific hammer dulcimer player who has made a number of terrific records on the Maggie's Music label.

The one I got hold of 'Knock On The Door' isn't her latest, but it is a terrific collection of mostly Irish tunes played on a variety of instruments including dulcimer, flute and concertina.

The playing is very much in the American style rather than the trad Irish style which I think gives it a really nice feel.

She's well worth checking out if you are into good traditional dulcimer playing.

Anybody who listens to the programme on a regular basis will known that I'm a great fan of Richard Shindell; his song 'The Ballad Of Mary Magdalene' is simply stunning and his version of Springsteen's 'Born In The USA' and Pete Seeger's 'Waist Deep In The Big Muddy' are real classic versions of great songs.

His new album, Not Far Now, is a collection of songs written since he moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and there is some great stuff on it, my particular favourites are 'Gethsemani Goodbye', 'Balloon Man' and 'State Of The Union'.

All the tracks have a simple but very open acoustic feel to them and Shindell has taken up the bouzouki which works really well on many of the songs.

I'll be playing some tracks from the CD in future programmes.

The CD isn't out here for a while, but if you want an idea of what the man sounds like check out 'Cry Cry Cry' which he recorded with Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky or 'South Of Delia' - both of them cracking albums.

By the way, did you know that John Doyle and Liz Carroll played a special concert for president Obama on St Patrick's Day? Apparently it was fantastic.

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