The Quarantimes Week 28: This Is the Music We Need Right Now

September 23rd, 2020

Is creative expression all we have left?

If so, I would like to give a shout-out to this new Tyler Childers album, Long Violent History, which I have been losing my mind over for days. I love everything about this album, every single little thing. I love the old time bluegrass theme. I love the brilliant, evocative fiddle. I love the crescendoing experience of listening to the songs in sequential order. And most of all, I love that last song. It’s the only song with words; it’s the only original song; it’s a real statement.

I know bluegrass is not for everyone. Having grown up largely neglected at giant bluegrass festivals from Vermont to Virginia, with a hard-partying dad who did not believe in actual parenting, I have a fraught relationship with traditional folksy bluegrass myself. I have many semi-traumatic memories of being cut loose at the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention in rural Virginia to fend for myself among the hillbillies and drunk hippies. Only those of us who grew up with a bluegrass-loving dad can truly get how loose ’70s childhood really was.

But as I have grown older, whether it’s a gene or just a nostalgic attachment, I have grown to love bluegrass and particularly the old time fiddle that my dad has always adored—along with the banjo he plays. This album feels like the culmination of my entire rich history with bluegrass as well as a major statement about what’s going on in this god-forsaken country today.

I also know that self-examination is not for everyone. That’s pretty much the whole problem, right? But I love Childers’ approach to it. 

And by the way, I did buy this album, because:

100% of net proceeds from Long Violent History will support underserved communities in the Appalachian region through the Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund.


And also because you gotta support artists, now more than ever. But because I could not figure out how to buy the digital version (is it me or is it impossible to actually buy an album through Apple now?) I bought the actual vinyl record and am waiting for it while I listen to the album on Spotify for now.

Tyler Childers also posted a 6-minute video about his intentions and vision behind this album that I want to marry. So eloquent, so brilliant, so controversial. 

And the introduction by another favorite artist of mine, Dom Flemons, swoon. Flemons is one of the musicians on this album and incredibly talented banjo player who was one of the last musicians I saw play in the beforetimes.

This is a true piece of quarantimes art if there ever was one.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

What I’m reading:

I have no idea where I read this little snippet, but apparently late at night I screenshotted it and sent it to myself because I liked it. Maybe The Atlantic?

I also love this:


What I’m watching:

Cultural appropriation: When you take something of profound spiritual or cultural significance from another people and use it as a fashion statement or interior design piece. Think: dreamcatchers as wall art, “Namaste” as a greeting, bindi dots as funky makeup. I love this woman’s beat-poetic take on the subject.

What I’m eating:

Can't stop. Won't stop.

Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

What I’m working on:

For SaverLife, a lovely nonprofit client of mine, the second article in a 5-part Get Out the Vote Campaign I helped write: Answers to Your 5 Most Common Questions About Voting and Everything You Need to Know About Voting by Mail

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One Response to “The Quarantimes Week 28: This Is the Music We Need Right Now”

  1. Hi Joslyn,

    I, too, have childhood memories of bluegrass. My brother, eight years older, was a folk “purist” who orginally distained Bob Dylan (and don’t even dare mention Peter, Paul, and Mary). He loved the old-timey players: The New Lost City Ramblers. Doc Watson was almost too commercial. You get the picture.

    Anyway, when I was learning guitar in dribs and drabs (every time Jeff came home from college, there would be new tunes and new techniques), it was traditional bluegrass. So I got a LITTLE tired of it after a while. And by about 1965, my music was greatly affected by the Beatles, the Byrds, etc.:folk ROCK. Heresy.

    Now, however, I’m leaning back. Molly Tuttle is dazzling. So is Billy Strings. And now on your recommendation, I will check out Tyler Childers. I like all the accompanying story you provide, too.

    The lasting image from this entry is you as a child, loose among the hillbillies and drunk hippies in Virginia.

    Great stuff as always!



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