Roots Music

One Track Mind: Lee DeWyze, “Blackbird Song” from The Walking Dead (2014)

One Track Mind: Lee DeWyze, “Blackbird Song” from The Walking Dead (2014)

Utterly engrossing, and full of dusty portent, Lee DeWyze’s “Blackbird Song” couldn’t have put more space between his time on American Idol and where he is now. DeWyze, who won Season 9 of Idol, issued the more country pop-leaning Frames last summer. Forget that

Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca – Flaco and Max: Legends and Legacies (2014)

Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca – Flaco and Max: Legends and Legacies (2014)

Theirs is a meeting across the generations, and a bold illustration of the way time, ultimately, surrenders to tradition — and of the utter agelessness of the rich musical folkway of conjunto.

One Track Mind: Ray LaMontagne, “Supernova” from Supernova (2014)

One Track Mind: Ray LaMontagne, “Supernova” from Supernova (2014)

Somehow, Ray LaMontagne lost his mojo. A year went past after the release of his Grammy-winning God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise project. Then two. Then four. Other than the stand-alone track “Empty,” LaMontagne simply walked off the musical map.

Across the Great Divide: The Band, “When I Paint My Masterpiece” from Cahoots (1971)

Across the Great Divide: The Band, “When I Paint My Masterpiece” from Cahoots (1971)

The introduction of a new studio to experiment with might have felt like a happy challenge for another Band, in another place. Instead, Albert Grossman’s just-opened Bearsville facility ended up feeling, as Robbie Robertson once said, “too bright and cold.” Much of the music on 1971′s Cahoots, to be honest, did too

Gimme Five: Unreleased Songs by Bob Dylan

Gimme Five: Unreleased Songs by Bob Dylan

The title is a misnomer, of course. Bob Dylan has been releasing lost treasures for so long now — his Bootleg Series, which dates back to 1991, is up to Volume 10 — that you can find official versions with ease these days.

Benmont Tench – You Should Be So Lucky (2014)

Benmont Tench – You Should Be So Lucky (2014)

The songs, after a long time away, just started floating to the surface for Benmont Tench. He’d been a member of Tom Petty’s staggeringly underrated band the Heartbreakers forever, had even had a Nashville writing gig for a time.

Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition – Dark Night of the Soul (2014)

Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition – Dark Night of the Soul (2014)

Rattling out like a loose-mufflered muscle car, Dark Night of the Soul is a more raw-boned version of Jimbo Mathus’ typical roots rock — darker and harder, like a grittier, more visceral take on the mythical parables of the Band.

Across the Great Divide: Levon Helm, “Kingfish” from Electric Dirt (2009)

Across the Great Divide: Levon Helm, “Kingfish” from Electric Dirt (2009)

This absurdly fun street parade of song finds Levon Helm winking and growling through a darkly humorous lyric about the galvanizing rule of Huey Long in Depression-era Louisiana.

One Track Mind: Luther Dickinson, “Vandalize,” from Rock ‘n Roll Blues (2014)

One Track Mind: Luther Dickinson, “Vandalize,” from Rock ‘n Roll Blues (2014)

You might have expected the solo music from Luther Dickinson — he of the blues-bending North Mississippi All-Stars, and also the son of Deep South producing legend Jim Dickinson — would have a rootsy feel. You would be wrong.

‘I’ll have your ticket there tomorrow’: Steve Cropper’s role in the founding of Derek and the Dominos

‘I’ll have your ticket there tomorrow’: Steve Cropper’s role in the founding of Derek and the Dominos

Steve Cropper’s contributions to Booker T. and the MGs, Otis Redding and the Blues Brothers Band have become legendary over the years. But Derek and the Dominoes? Turns out, Cropper played a foundational role there, too.