Music

Valerie June and Dan Zanes - "Take This Hammer" (audio) (premiere)

Photo: Anna Zanes

Dan Zanes teams up with Valerie June on the brilliant remake of a 1942 Lead Belly single.

Acclaimed family music artist Dan Zanes has long harbored a love for the incomparable music of the legendary Lead Belly. Zanes discovered Lead Belly's music at the age of seven after acquiring his first library card and checking out a record of his. Now Zanes has turned that life-long affection for the artist into an exciting new project Lead Belly, Baby! which features new versions of Lead Belly's classic country blues/folk tunes performed by Zanes with a raft of guests, including Chuck D., Billy Bragg, Aloe Blacc, and Valerie June.

The new album releases August 25th via Smithsonian Folkways, and we've already heard Billy Bragg and Zanes get their groove on in "Rock Island Line". Today we have another brilliant album track as the sublime Americana artist Valerie June teams with Zanes on "Take This Hammer", which was a single Lead Belly released in 1942 and is a version of the tune "Nine-Pound Hammer".

Dan Zanes tells PopMatters that he loved June's music the first time he heard it. Zanes says, "we met backstage at a Blind Boys of Alabama concert in New York, and she told me she'd bought a stack of my old sea music song books at a used bookstore in Brooklyn. About a year later we were on the same bill at the Kennedy Center to honor Lead Belly on his 125th birthday. Valerie was the first guest to sign on to this record. We sat around and jammed, told a few stories, and sang the song. There's not much to say when working with Valerie; she's already deep into the music.”

TRACK LIST

1. More Yet (feat. Shareef Swindell)

2. Rock Island Line (feat. Billy Bragg)

3. Ha-Ha This-A-Way (feat. Tamar Kali)

4. Julie Ann Johnson (feat. Jendog Lonewolf)

5. Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie (feat. Madame Marie Jean Laurent & Ceddyjay)

6. Polly Wee (feat. Father Goose and Little Goose)

7. Boll Weevil (feat. Aloe Blacc and Pauline Jean)

8. New York City (feat. Claudia Eliaza)

9. Skip to My Lou (feat. Chuck D. and Memphis Jelks)

10. Take This Hammer (feat. Valerie June)

11. Cotton Fields (feat. Sonia de los Santos, Elena Moon Park, & José Joaquin Garcia)

12. Red Bird (feat. Ashley Phillips)

13. Whoa Back Buck (feat. Donald Saaf with Isak and Ole)

14. Stewball (feat. Marley Reedy)

15. Relax Your Mind (feat. Neha Jiwrajka)

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image