The Harrisonburg, Va., band The Steel Wheels embraces a hand-hewn quality in its music, which is a collection of American sounds reaching from mountains to fields. The group's first album, Red Wing, showed more of the grain and rougher edges, but Lay Down, Lay Low has been buffed to a high polish. The new album is stronger in its use of the band's vocal talents, reminiscent of the four-part singing of the Mennonite communities where several of them once lived.
I remember so clearly when Paul Simon headed to South Africa. His trip there was controversial in the midst of growing boycotts surrounding apartheid. I imagined with odd certainty that somehow Paul Simon would be killed. I spent the better part of a weekend listening to his music, sad and scared. Fortunately, nothing happened — only my love for his music became stronger.
Ryan Seacrest's double/triple/quadruple fakeouts. Our host used to screw with the contestants by teasing the results before throwing to a guest performance or commercial. Now he gives those results using sentences so convoluted, with so many double-backs and twist-arounds, that you need a white board to diagram them and unpack their actual meaning. Frustrating the singers, yes. Confusing them entirely, no.
The ancient year marked seasonal changes with special festivals and rituals. Beltane, one of four quarter-day festivals, is recreated today in the modern Scottish capital with festivities to re-establish Edinburgh residents' links with the natural year. Join in our celebration with a Beltane-themed hour of music.