Category: metapost

FYI: Archived Files Temporary Down

October 18th, 2008 — 07:29 am

UPDATE: Monday, October 21, 3:55 pm: Problem solved! See here for newly impending archival policy.

Just a quick note to let readers know that, to my immense regret, confusion over the term “unlimited bandwidth” has led to a temporary hold on all files all songs from archived posts as of early Saturday morning.

Posts from the Denison Witmer Covers Project remain live, as does this week’s most recent post on covers of and from Harry Nilsson. New posts, however, will also be “on hold” until we have resolved bandwidth issues.

In the meantime, to listen to all other songs posted here at Cover Lay Down in the past year, please click here.

I apologize for the inconvenience and hope to have the problem resolved by Monday afternoon. Thanks for your patience, and your continued support.

962 comments » | metapost

Looking Back, Looking Forward: On Half a Year of CLD plus more covers of and from your favorites and mine

March 30th, 2008 — 01:40 am

Image copyright Adam Pesch, 2003

Six months ago today I jumped into the world of music blogging with both feet and no expectations. Since then, Cover Lay Down has become many things to many people.

To me, Cover Lay Down is sometimes a haven, often a playspace, always a way to try to put into words why I love what I love. But even though it is work, it is never a burden. And it is a place I am proud to call my home on the web.

But as a home is nothing without a constant stream of dinner companions, houseguests and couchcrashers, a blog is nothing without its readership. Though I only hear from a tiny percentage of the thousand or so of you who visit on an average day, it is clear from those who do share thoughts and songs that Cover Lay Down has served you well. The outpouring of interest, support, and kind words has been validating. I treasure every comment and email, and consider many of you friends.

More surprising has been the relatively recent recognition by promoters, labels, and artists themselves. It has always been my aim to support artists first and foremost, as organically as possible, but as a cover blogger, I never expected to hit the radar. Thanks to every promoter that reaches out to me, to every small label that works with me to keep the focus on artists and songs, and especially, to every artist who has not only shared their gifts, but more and more often, their words of encouragement.

It is a rare privilege to serve as a bridge between the music I love and the community I cherish. Thank you, all, for your trust, your recommendations, and your encouragement. Together, we really are making a difference.

For those who are curious about what this place looks like behind the scenes, it’s worth noting that careful hit-tracking shows a steady rise in readership pushed by periodic blips of discovery from the blogosphere and web-based press. It is neat to be noticed, and I really appreciate recent mentions from the likes of Muruch, Berkeley Place, Copy, Right via WFMU’s Beware the Blog, and many others I truly respect. I owe these folks, too, and am proud to consider them mentors and peers.

But even if not all posts make The Houston Chronicle, Weblog Wannabe, or what appears to be the German version of MTV, or garner notice on those carefully selected linklists of incredible folk and coverblogs you see to the right, I am proud that such recognition keeps driving the average size of our readership ever upwards. I may be wrong, but I’d like to think our growth after each blip underscores the fact that so many who find this place come back on their own — which in turn validates the continued good balance we’ve managed to create between featuring songs and songwriters, and the performers that cover them.

I enjoy writing them all, though I am proudest of the continued work trying to define the myriad ways and means of folk itself — a thread that wends its way through every post, whether it explores the possibility of a single subgenre or song, or focuses on a given singer or songwriter. And, now that labels and artists have begun sending me their work, I am increasingly excited about the unique opportunity to use cover songs as a vehicle for audiences like yourselves to find new artists.

But today is as much about looking back as looking ahead, and we meet here for the music more than anything. So enough about us — let’s get to the coversongs, shall we? Today, a very special installment of our (Re)Covered series, wherein we revisit the past, and add new value to older posts. After all, isn’t building bridges between the past and the now, too, what folk is all about?

One of the reasons I started this blog was that I was so blown away by South of Delia, the new cover album by singer-songwriter Richard Shindell, that I needed to share it with the world. Since then, I keep coming back to that amazing album, and to the artist who recorded it, who recently released the first in what promises to be a wonderful series of live concert recordings. It seems especially fitting to look back to that first post today, for a deeper look at Richard Shindell, plus young folk group We’re About 9 with an a capella cover of one of his most poignant songs.

  • Richard Shindell, Lawrence, KS (orig. Josh Ritter)
  • Richard Shindell, Fourth of July, Asbury Park (orig. Bruce Springsteen)
  • Richard Shindell, Darkness, Darkness (orig. Jesse Colin Young)
  • We’re About 9, Money For Floods (orig. Richard Shindell)

    Most of our first few months we were seriously under the radar. Though my early look at Britney Spears — a post originally intended as a Halloween “mask” — brought some recognition, it says something that even as family friend Sam Amidon garners mention in Rolling Stone and Spin, and even though my look at him was more exhaustive than any I have read, no one seems to remember that we, too, did a feature on Sam Amidon way back in November of last year, before many of the big guns spotted him. Here’s a trifecta of Amidon covers I originally posted way back when, one each from his new work and his two previous albums; pick up a bunch more of his cuts at that original post.

  • Sam Amidon, Head Over Heels (orig. Tears for Fears)
  • Sam Amidon, Louis Collins (orig. Mississippi John Hurt)
  • Sam Amidon, Little Johnny Brown (trad./ arr. Ella Jenkins)

    Just before the momentum really started to build, I put up a gigantic but generally unnoticed post about local folkfaves Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, and mentioned I hadn’t yet heard their newest album Big Old Life. Since then, I’ve made friends with the folks at Signature Sounds, a wonderful label/studio who first produced the work of Josh Ritter and Lori McKenna, and currently work with folkblog fave Eilen Jewell and previously-covered Jeffrey Foucault and Caroline Herring; they sent me a copy of Big Old Life, and I’m happy to report it was all I had hoped for: fun, quirky, and full of surprises. Rani deserves a real shot at my current audience, so here’s two of my favorite tracks; the Dylan, especially, is both wonderful and awesomely odd.

  • Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Farewell, Angelina (orig. Bob Dylan)
  • Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Heart with No Compassion (orig. Leonard Cohen)

    Speaking of Leonard Cohen: if email responses were the best measure of success, our Single Song Sundays would hands down be counted as our most popular entries. In almost every case, from features on tradfolk songs like House Carpenter and Amazing Grace to heavily covered singer-songwriter cuts like Joni Mitchell’s River and Dylan’s Girl of the North Country, posting multiple versions of a song has brought in choice submissions from fans and artists alike. I truly appreciate these emails, and love learning about new artists this way. Here’s the best of what came in after my most recent post on Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat, with much thanks to two new e-friends for introducing me to Antje Duvekot and Karen Jo Fields, two singer-songwriters I’ll be listening to over the next few months.

  • Antje Duvekot, Famous Blue Raincoat (orig. Leonard Cohen)
  • Karen Jo Fields, Famous Blue Raincoat (ibid.)

    What’s next on Cover Lay Down? Plenty. I’m working with several artists I love to bring forward some great covers they’ve done over the years, and anxiously awaiting word on a few “in the works” cover projects from folksters new and old. With the folk festival season soon upon us, I expect to be more in tune with what’s new in the folkworld, and hope, as well, to be able to renew and strengthen connections with artists, fans, and promoters.

    In other words, much of what you’ll continue to see here is that which we do best, only deeper. But even that is not static. Folk is culture, so as culture changes, folk changes, too. As long as new gems and rising stars shine among the new and unheard CDs that clutter my desktop, it is my hope to add more short features on newer artists still below the radar. I’ll have an experiment of sorts in that vein coming along later this week. But to the extent that we can say so, I think the model we’ve created together is largely a success. Expect more of the same as we go forward.

    One last word before I go. In the end, the purpose of this blog truly is to best support folk music, and the artists who make it. Regular visitors may have noticed that we disdain mass market commercial sources for music here wherever possible. My recent connections with artists and labels has only strengthened my belief that the best way to support the music we love is not just to buy it, it is to buy it through the artists themselves, at shows, on artist websites, and through distribution centers like CD Baby — sources which genuinely send the bulk of the profit back to the artist herself.

    Please, folks: if you like what you hear, buy, and buy local. Else one day, there might be nothing left for us to talk about except the oldies. And if I could ask for anything back from all of you, it would not be words. It would be that this community, this scene, this sound is still vibrant a hundred years from now, for our children and theirs.

    Thanks for staying with me for so long, both tonight and since you found this place. We’ll be back Wednesday, and again on Sunday, ad infinitum. But come back any time you like. For you, the door is always open.

  • 1,250 comments » | (Re)Covered, Antje Duvekot, Karen Jo Fields, Leonard Cohen, metapost, Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, richard shindell, Sam Amidon, We're About 9

    Good News, Bad News: A Metapost Interlude

    January 29th, 2008 — 06:18 pm

    The good news is, thanks to a totally random process involving a five year old and 29 small pieces of paper, one of YOU has just won an autographed copy of Shelby Lynne’s new Dusty Springfield tribute Just A Little Lovin’. Thanks to the fine folks at Filter for making this contest possible!

    Unfortunately, Shelby Lynne’s label has also requested that we NOT post any full-length songs from the new record — a real shame, as the new album has a few wonderful folk cuts among the pop and smooth jazz, most especially Willie and Laura Mae Jones and How Can I Be Sure. This label-approved half-sized streaming clip of Dusty classic Breakfast in Bed says what it needs to, though…

  • PARTIAL CLIP: Shelby Lynne, Breakfast in Bed

    As a consolation prize, the nice folks at Filter gave us a SECOND autographed CD for a very lucky secret second place winner — and this time, we let the dog pick the winning number. Show your appreciation by buying Just a Little Lovin’ from their store, instead of a megastore. You can also download the sole Shelby Lynne original from that album over at Twangville, just below info about the new Willie Nelson release. And you can still hear some two-minute song samples at Shelby Lynne’s website.

    In the meantime, the above confusion leaves me post-less at the eleventh hour. But never fear! I’ll have a Wednesday post up soon…

  • 1,380 comments » | legal, metapost

    Metapost: Covering the Coverblog

    October 11th, 2007 — 07:18 pm

    Welcome (back) to Cover Lay Down! Just a quick note between cover features today — I’ll try to keep these short, but every once in a while it’s useful to pull the curtain aside to speak out and clarify, I think.

    First, I am hoping to write up a more formal guide to Cover Lay Down eventually, but I’m focusing on the music right now. In the interim, if you have any questions (like “why is there a Richard Thompson cover of a Squeeze song in yesterday’s post about Teddy Thompson?”), the welcome post might be a useful place to start. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    Second, a word or two about the method behind the musicposting here at Cover Lay Down. As you have probably noticed, music is being posted on I like because it allows you to play a song before you decide if you want to download it. But capacity is low for free accounts, so songs will probably only be up for a week or two before I take them down again.

    This is okay, I think — after all, the purpose here is to expose and promote musicians and albums, in the hopes that you’ll buy the songs. But the clock is ticking on our first few entries, folks. If you haven’t heard anything from Richard Shindell’s stellar new cover album, or fed your ears with Eliza Gilkyson’s amazing Dylan and Greg Brown covers, you’re about to miss the boat.

    Finally, a thousand thanks to YOU for validating my efforts. In less than two weeks we’ve had over a thousand downloads, and are closing in on 100 unique hits a day. It’s especially nice to see that some of you have been following the links to artist websites and stores. Feel free to drop any suggestions for future post themes, songs, or artists in the comments at any time — you’ve all earned it.

    And a most special thanks to all who have driven traffic and good vibes my way. It is an honor to be found, and recognized, and welcomed so warmly by some of the very coverlovers and musicbloggers I’ve admired for years. If you’ve shown up circuitously, and have yet to visit Fong Songs, The Late Greats, Womenfolk, Cover Freak, Covering the Mouse, Coverville, and Retro Music Snob, head on over — you’re in for a treat.

    We’ll be back tomorrow with a second round of our Covered in Folk series, featuring folk covers of the songs of Neil and Tim Finn (cf. Crowded House, Split Enz). Y’all come back now, y’hear?

    787 comments » | cover lay down, metapost