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Rosie Flores "Little, But I'm Loud"

It is time to fly. SXSW Music week starts today in sleepy old Austin, Texas. Which, for this week is anything but sleepy or old. In fact I would say it is rather caffeinated and ready for the party. I've been attending this yearly rite of passage into spring for the last couple of decades. I've seen it ebb and flow, changing from an industry heavy event, and now larger than life as the word continues to get out about what a good time it is.

This week, my radio station, Sun Radio, is broadcasting 45 plus bands from Maudie's Triangle in the morning, and from El Mercado on S.1st in the afternoon starting today. The schedule can be found here. Gonna see a lot of old friends, among them Jimmy Lafave, James McMurtryRay Wylie Hubbard, Band Of Heathens, and and get introduced to some brand new ones too. Not to mention how great it will be to be back in Austin!

Barbecue, Tex Mex and music everywhere, sounds like a bit of heaven set amongst the bluebonnets. The one thing I am already missing is the Music Fog crew. Not having an opportunity for Music Fog to film is a tad weird, but you can listen in on Sun Radio. Of course if you are in Austin, you are welcome to stop by, no badges or wristbands needed.

My comrade in arms, Mama Shi is doing something very cool this week too, as Freebirds is presenting their St Vincent DePaul stage on S. Congress with a stellar line up for 3 days and 30 bands. No badges or wristbands needed either, but give Mama Shi a hug for me when you see her. Rosie Flores takes the stage on Thursday at 4:15. The Foggers had the honor of filming Rosie once again at Midtown Live when she was in NYC touring with Dale Watson back in January. Here is "Little, But I'm Loud," done up Music Fog style.

-Jessie Scott


The Ebony Hillbillies "I'd Rather Be"

Recently on the Music Fog pages, we have been talking about the melting pot that is American Music. Today we shine a light on another historical era, and I suspect many people don’t realize that this particular seminal contribution was brought to our shores from Africa. Yes of course there’s The Blues, and Jazz, but I am talking roots here. It was the Black String Bands that gave birth to Country and Bluegrass.

I’m sure you know that the banjo was exported from Africa, and along with it came a tradition of front porch picking that seeded what has become Americana Music. It was Fiddle, Banjo, and more stringed instruments were added. It is the blending of Black and White, of Native American and African and European sonic traditions. It is what ultimately caused the Big Bang that the world has come to identify as pure American music.

Today we bring you a 'for real' string band from NYC, and one of the last Black String Bands in America. I first saw the Ebony Hillbillies play a couple of years ago at Christmastime in the NYC subway. I was consumed with unbridled joy as their music hit my ears. I have been wanting to film them since then. There aren't many bands around still delivering this easy and authentic of a musical experience.

The Ebony Hillbillies are led by Henrique Prince (fiddle, vocals) and Norris Bennett (banjo, mountain dulcimer, guitar, vocals) and feature Gloria Thomas Gassaway on vocals and bones, William “Salty Bill” Salter on acoustic bass with A.R. and Newman Taylor Baker on washboard and percussion. They have a new live album about to arrive called Slappin’ A Rabbit - Live! Bassist Tony Garnier sat in with them for the Music Fog cameras. Pure joy. Here is an instrumental version of “I’d Rather Be.”

- Jessie Scott