Top Ten Folk Music Sales

OUR PICK - Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8 - Bob Dylan

Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8
- 2 CDs with 27 songs in a brilliant box with a 60 page booklet.Bob Dylan's unpredictable nature has always kept his audience on their toes. Given his mood, a song performed on one day can seem like an entirely different composition on the next. On the two-CD Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8--certainly one of the most riveting of the Minnesota bard's collections of unreleased recordings, studio demos, alternate takes, and live tracks--two versions of "Mississippi," which Dylan originally wrote for Time Out of Mind, bear that out. The first, where he is backed only by producer Daniel Lanois' poignant electric guitar, finds him wistful in his memories of Rosie. But by disc two, where he reprises the song with a whole band, his reading of the same lyric is dispassionate, as if he were recounting the experience of "the stranger that nobody sees," as he puts it. While the second rendition disappoints, the 27-song album, which covers material from 1989's Oh Mercy through 2006's Modern Times, offers a king's riches. In replacing the banjo with cranked-up electric guitars on a blistering live performance of "High Water (For Charley Patton)," he makes the song nearly an angry manifesto. (Another live song, "Ring Them Bells," thrills with the stunning raw power of his early performances, and renders the studio original utterly bland.) Not everything seems up to Dylan's remarkable standards (conjuring a black R & B voice for "Can't Escape From You," an homage to early rock and roll, seems off kilter and silly). But the breadth and scope of the material (from sneering and tender folk originals, to covers of Jimmie Rodgers and Robert Johnson blues, to a collaboration with bluegrass king Ralph Stanley, and side excursions into ragtime and waltz) reinforce his position as the premier songwriter of his generation. -– Alanna Nash
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Top Ten Folk

Songs Around The World (CD + DVD) - Bill Moyers called it a remarkable example of "the simple yet transformative power of music... to touch something in each of us." Variety acknowledged it as "a great showcase for just what incredible, thoroughly accessible popular music is being made worldwide. Utilizing innovative mobile audio/video techniques, Playing for Change (PFC) records musicians outdoors in cities and townships worldwide. They've travelled from post-Katrina New Orleans to post-apartheid South Africa, from the remote beauty of the Himalayas to the religious diversity of Jerusalem. Their talents are captured in myriad environments: under the sun and beneath the streetlights... in public parks, plazas and promenades... in doorways, on cobblestone streets, amid hilly pueblos. Their performances are subsequently combined in allowing them to collaborate - albeit separated by hundreds, or even thousands, of miles.
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Live In London - For over four decades, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a figure whose body of work achieves greater depths of mystery and meaning as time goes on. His songs have set a virtually unmatched standard in their seriousness and range. Sex, spirituality, religion, power - he has relentlessly examined the largest issues in human lives, always with a full appreciation of how elusive answers can be to the vexing questions he raises. But those questions, and the journey he has traveled in seeking to address them, are the ever-shifting substance of his work, as well as the reasons why his songs never lose their overwhelming emotional force. Documentaries, awards, tribute albums and the ongoing march of artists eager to record his songs all acknowledge the peerless contribution Cohen has made to what one of his titles aptly calls "The Tower of Song."

In 2008 Leonard Cohen embarked on his first tour in 15 years. Quickly recognized as musical folklore in the making, 29 of the original dates sold out almost immediately, leaving fans and critics alike hailing the show as a once in a lifetime experience. By popular demand, the Canadian/UK tour was extended and by the end of that year it had reached 84 markets worldwide, selling more than 700,000 tickets. The Live In London release fully captures and recreates the extraordinary show from that tour that earned Cohen more than 80 five-star reviews for his performances.
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Far - Regina Spektor's gold album Begin
To Hope was honored as one of Rolling Stone's Top 50 albums of 2006. Far, her much anticipated follow-up, once again spotlights Spektor's daring piano pop,
vocal acrobatics and offbeat wit. Utilizing four esteemed producers-Jeff Lynne (ELO, The Traveling Wilburys), Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem), David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Strokes) and Garret 'Jacknife' Lee (Weezer,
R.E.M.) Spektor combines rich soundscapes with evocative and intricately structured melodies and a remarkable gift for crafting intelligent, refreshingly honest odes to life. With Far, major stardom draws near for Regina Spektor.
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Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison - George Harrison’s first-ever career-spanning solo hits collection, Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison. Special packaging includes a 28-page booklet featuring previously unseen and rare photos, and newly-written liner notes by Warren Zanes. The collection’s 19 tracks have been digitally remastered by Giles Martin at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. “Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison is a gathering of material that takes us far into the territory that was ultimately a place unique to George Harrison,” writes Warren Zanes in his liner notes essay for the new collection.

This collection is the first to span Harrison’s entire solo recording career, including the #1 Billboard Pop singles “My Sweet Lord,” “Isn’t It A Pity,” “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” and “Got My Mind Set On You." Let It Roll also features live recordings of three timeless Harrison-penned Beatles songs, “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Here Comes The Sun,” from his 1971 all-star Concert For Bangladesh benefit at Madison Square Garden.

“The keyhole into the world of George Harrison is the music itself. Yet his songs and the accomplishments for which he’s remembered are inextricably bound—and those accomplishments are, without question, eclectic in scope,” Zanes writes.

George Harrison is a twice-inducted member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a solo artist and as a member of The Beatles, and an 11-time Grammy Award winner for his recordings with The Beatles, Traveling Wilburys, and as a solo artist.
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Veckatimest - Grizzly Bear released Yellow House in 2006. It was a slow, steady and stunning ride, and given the album s otherworldly charm and staying power, it s hard to believe three years have gone by.

That might seem like a long time. But given Grizzly Bear s hectic touring schedule, including stints with Radiohead, TV On The Radio and Feist as well as several performances during a five-night tribute to Paul Simon at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a co-headlining show with the L.A. Philharmonic, and the release of Friend, a 10-song EP of re-recorded and re-worked songs, collaborations and covers all this seems reasonable. They ve been busy.

But about a year ago, singer/songwriter Ed Droste, drummer Christopher Bear, woodwinds player/bassist Chris Taylor and singer/songwriter/guitarist Daniel Rossen who s other band, Department of Eagles, released the sublime In Ear Park last fall began passing demos around, and working together creatively in different pairs and permutations. A few months later they set off with producer/engineer Chris Taylor s mobile recording rig to begin the recording process for Veckatimest, which would unfold over the next six months in three very singular locations. And in many ways, it is the recording process that reveals this record each space catalyzing different interactions, inspirations, and ultimately, songs.

In July, the band spent three weeks at the Glen Tonche house in upstate New York. Though still finding their feet, much of the album s groundwork was laid there. After breaking briefly for the Radiohead tour in August, the band convened at a house on Cape Cod, graciously provided by Droste s grandmother, where they re-addressed and solidified the compositions they d started at Glen Tonche. Lastly, Grizzly Bear came home, to a church in NYC, to fine-tune and complete the album named Veckatimest after a tiny, uninhabited island on Cape Cod that the band visited and was inspired by, particularly liking its Native American name. Artist William O'Brien created Veckatimest s colorful, hand drawn artwork a perfect compliment to the album s enigmatic title.

There is an unbelievable clarity of sound and vision to Veckatimest: vocals (a duty shared by all band members) are sharper and more complex, arrangements are tighter, production is more venturous and lyrics more affecting. Having opened the creative dialogue at such an early stage, Grizzly Bear was able to realize these 12 songs together as a band, making it their most collaboratively compositional album to date.
This yielded an unexpected mix of material that feels more confident, mature, focused and most of all, dynamic. From songs like 'Dory' (a gracefully psychedelic, ever-evolving work),'Ready Able' (a synth-y opus, and one of four songs that boasts string arrangements by composer Nico Muhly) and 'Foreground' (a plaintive, vocal-driven send-off, and one of two songs to feature choral arrangements also by Muhly) to more resounding pop songs like 'Two Weeks' (an other-worldly doo wop featuring backing vocals from Beach House s Victoria LeGrand) and 'While You Wait For the Others' (a triumphant and melodically cacophonous pop masterpiece), Veckatimest is an album of the highest highs and lowest lows an unbelievably diverse collection of songs that celebrates the strength of each band member, and the power of the whole. It was well worth the wait.
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Raising Sand - The musical collaboration of the decade, Raising Sand is the sound of two iconic figures stepping out of their respective comfort zones and letting their instincts lead them across a brave new sonic landscape. Despite hailing from distinctly different backgrounds, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant share a maverick spirit and willingness to extend the boundaries of their respective genres. This spirit, expertly honed by producer T Bone Burnett, has resulted in an album pitched three steps beyond some cosmic collision of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the untapped potential of the folk-rock revolution.

Supported by the unparalleled musicianship of Marc Ribot, Dennis Crouch, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, Norman Blake, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren, and Riley Baugus, Plant and Krauss -- as both solo and harmony vocalists -- tackle an intriguing selection of songs from such tunesmiths as Tom Waits, Gene Clark, Sam Phillips, Townes Van Zandt, The Everly Broth! ers, and Mel Tillis. Raising Sand finds Robert Plant and Alison Krauss exploring popular music's elemental roots while still sounding effortlessly, breath-takingly contemporary.

The song "Killing the Blues" is featured in the new JC Penney American Living Campaign.Perhaps only the fantasy duo of King Kong and Bambi could be a more bizarre pairing than Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet on Raising Sand, their haunting and brilliant collaboration, the Led Zeppelin screamer and Nashville's most hypnotic song whisperer seem made for each other. This, however, is not the howling Plant of "Whole Lotta Love," but a far more precise and softer singer than even the one who emerged with Dreamland (2002). No matter that Plant seems so subdued as to be on downers, for that's one of the keys to this most improbable meeting of musical galaxies--almost all of it seems slowed down, out of time, otherworldly, and at times downright David Lynch-ian, the product of an altered consciousness. Yet probably the main reason it all works so well is the choice of producer T Bone Burnette, the third star of the album, who culled mostly lesser-known material from some of the great writers of blues, country, folk, gospel, and R&B, including Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt, Milt Campbell, the Everly Brothers, Sam Phillips, and A.D. and Rosa Lee Watson. At times, Burnette's spare and deliberate soundscape--incisively crafted by guitarists Marc Ribot and Norman Blake, bassist Dennis Crouch, drummer Jay Bellerose, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Seeger, among others--is nearly as dreamy and subterranean as Daniel Lanois's work with Emmylou Harris (Wrecking Ball). Occasionally, Burnette opts for a fairly straightforward production while still reworking the original song (Plant's own "Please Read the Letter," Mel Tillis's "Stick with Me, Baby"). But much of the new flesh on these old bones is oddly unsettling, if not nightmarish. On the opening track of "Rich Woman," the soft-as-clouds vocals strike an optimistic mood, while the instrumental backing--loose snare, ominous bass line, and insinuating electric guitar lines--create a spooky, sinister undertow. Plant and Krauss trade out the solo and harmony vocals, and while they both venture into new waters here (Krauss as a mainstream blues mama, Plant as a gospel singer and honkytonker), she steals the show in Sam Phillips' new "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," where a dramatic violin and tremulous banjo strike a foreboding gypsy tone. When Krauss begins this strange, seductive song in a voice so ethereal that angels will take note, you may stop breathing. That, among other reasons, makes Raising Sand an album to die for. --Alanna Nash
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Woodstock: 40 Years on: Back to Yasgur's Farm (6CD, Limited Edition) - As the historic festival marks its 40-year anniversary, Rhino presents WOODSTOCK-40 YEARS ON: BACK TO YASGUR'S FARM, a 77-song, six-CD boxed set that features the most comprehensive collection ever available of artists that performed at the original festival, sequenced in chronological order of performance, featuring 38 previously unreleased recordings, including the Grateful Dead, The Who, Tim Hardin, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & The Fish, and others.
To assemble the most comprehensive document of the myth-steeped weekend, the boxed set's co-producer Andy Zax pored over every inch of multitrack tape in search of the strongest parts of each of the 33 sets. 'The way we approached all of the material was as if it was a cinema verite documentary-the raw record of the event,' Zax says. In addition to the music, the set offers considerable amount of ancillary material sprinkled throughout the discs-stage announcements, lysergic babble, the sounds of rain, a cameo appearance by Abbie Hoffman, and the graciousness of Max Yasgur's address to the crowd, heard for the first time in its entirety.
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Bob Seger - Greatest Hits -

Bob Seger Photos Bob Seger has racked up a lot of worthy tracks over the years, but it took until 1994 for a greatest hits package to appear. Voilà. The bad news: We're missing an awful lot of songs here. Night Moves is Seger's crit-pick album, and a great place to start if you don't have any Seger at all. Next in the rankings is Stranger in Town. Otherwise, his highs are pretty scattered, which would make any best-of package a worthy investment. But if you want to get comprehensive, "Rock & Roll Never Forgets," "Fire Down Below," "Horizontal Bop," "Her Strut," "Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight," and "Katmandu" aren't on this CD--and you'll have to go to the original albums to secure them. --Gavin McNett
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Secret, Profane and Sugarcane - The record was produced by T Bone Burnett and recorded by Mike Piersante during a three-day session at Nashville's Sound Emporium Studio.

Joining Costello were Jerry Douglas (dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Mike Compton (mandolin), Jeff Taylor (accordion) and Dennis Crouch (double bass), some of the most highly regarded recording artists and musicians in traditional American country music, Bluegrass and beyond.

The album includes ten previously unrecorded songs. "Sulphur to Sugarcane" and "The Crooked Line", were co-written with T Bone Burnett while, "I Felt The Chill" marks Costello's second recorded songwriting collaboration with Loretta Lynn.

Costello revisits two songs from his catalogue in string band style. Both songs were originally written for Johnny Cash. "Hidden Shame" was indeed included on Cash's album, "Boom Chicka Boom".

The album title makes reference to "The Secret Songs", Costello's unfinished commission for the Royal Danish Opera about the life of Hans Christian Andersen.

Seeking a new connection from the author to the Anglophone world, Costello wrote about the Andersen's relationship with the world famous singer, Jenny Lind in "She Handed Me A Mirror" and "How Deep Is The Red".

"She Was No Good", relates some of the chaotic details of Lind's famous "All-American" concert tour of 1850, which was promoted by P.T. Barnum. In its aftermath, "Red Cotton" imagines Barnum reading an Abolishionist pamphlet, while manufacturing cheap souvenirs of the adventure.

These four episodes were newly adapted for the instrumentation of this record.

Indeed these are first Costello compositions to be predominantly rooted in acoustic music since his 1986 album, "King Of America", which was produced by T Bone Burnett. He also produced the 1989 album, "Spike".

T Bone adds his distinctive Kay electric guitar to several of numbers, the only amplified instrument on the recording.

Jim Lauderdale takes the close vocal harmony part throughout the record and Emmylou Harris contributed a third vocal part on the chorus of "The Crooked Line" on the final day of recording.

The record concludes with the waltz, "Changing Partners", a song made famous by Bing Crosby.

The cover artwork of "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane" is an ink drawing by the renowned cartoonist, illustrator and author, Tony Millionaire.

Elvis Costello first recorded in Nashville with George Jones in 1979 and returned to the city for "Almost Blue", his 1981 album of classic country covers.

He returned to the city in 2004 to record a duet rendition of "The Scarlet Tide" with Emmylou Harris.

This song, co-written with T Bone Burnett, received an Academy Award nomination for Alison Krauss' rendition in the motion picture, "Cold Mountain" in 2003.


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The Beatles 1 - Japanese exclusive reissue of 2000 compilation. This Toshiba/EMI pressing features an OBI strip (different from the last Japanese pressings issued in 1990) & an insert with Japanese text & lyrics in Japanese & English. Manufactured & pressed in Japan. Gatefold sleeve. 2003. Proving yet again their willingness to dice 'n' slice their burgeoning legacy into new--if not exactly fresh--product, the Fab Four Minus One have released this single-disc compendium of their No. 1 hits. Though obviously superfluous to the faithful (who may also find themselves quibbling over the precise definition of "No. 1 hit" and the exclusion of seeming contenders like "Please Please Me" and "Strawberry Fields"), newly arrived visitors from the Pleiades star cluster and other neophytes will find it a concise and generous (nearly 80 minutes) single-disc introduction to the band's career-spanning, unparalleled dominance of pop music in the 1960s. But beyond being a mere trophy case of commercial success (and it won't be hard to find critics who'll argue that these singles aren't even the band's best work), it's also a Cliff's Notes take on a remarkable seven-year run of musical evolution, one that stretches from the neo-skiffle of "Love Me Do" through a remarkable synthesis of R&B, rockabilly, Tin Pan Alley, gospel, country, and classical that still defies efforts to effectively deconstruct it. This is the pop monument equivalent of the '27 Yankees and '90s Bulls; it's every bit as obvious and dominating--and just as essential. --Jerry McCulley
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Contemporary Folk

Songs Around The World (CD + DVD) - Bill Moyers called it a remarkable example of "the simple yet transformative power of music... to touch something in each of us." Variety acknowledged it as "a great showcase for just what incredible, thoroughly accessible popular music is being made worldwide. Utilizing innovative mobile audio/video techniques, Playing for Change (PFC) records musicians outdoors in cities and townships worldwide. They've travelled from post-Katrina New Orleans to post-apartheid South Africa, from the remote beauty of the Himalayas to the religious diversity of Jerusalem. Their talents are captured in myriad environments: under the sun and beneath the streetlights... in public parks, plazas and promenades... in doorways, on cobblestone streets, amid hilly pueblos. Their performances are subsequently combined in allowing them to collaborate - albeit separated by hundreds, or even thousands, of miles.
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Far - Regina Spektor's gold album Begin
To Hope was honored as one of Rolling Stone's Top 50 albums of 2006. Far, her much anticipated follow-up, once again spotlights Spektor's daring piano pop,
vocal acrobatics and offbeat wit. Utilizing four esteemed producers-Jeff Lynne (ELO, The Traveling Wilburys), Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem), David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Strokes) and Garret 'Jacknife' Lee (Weezer,
R.E.M.) Spektor combines rich soundscapes with evocative and intricately structured melodies and a remarkable gift for crafting intelligent, refreshingly honest odes to life. With Far, major stardom draws near for Regina Spektor.
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Raising Sand - The musical collaboration of the decade, Raising Sand is the sound of two iconic figures stepping out of their respective comfort zones and letting their instincts lead them across a brave new sonic landscape. Despite hailing from distinctly different backgrounds, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant share a maverick spirit and willingness to extend the boundaries of their respective genres. This spirit, expertly honed by producer T Bone Burnett, has resulted in an album pitched three steps beyond some cosmic collision of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the untapped potential of the folk-rock revolution.

Supported by the unparalleled musicianship of Marc Ribot, Dennis Crouch, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, Norman Blake, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren, and Riley Baugus, Plant and Krauss -- as both solo and harmony vocalists -- tackle an intriguing selection of songs from such tunesmiths as Tom Waits, Gene Clark, Sam Phillips, Townes Van Zandt, The Everly Broth! ers, and Mel Tillis. Raising Sand finds Robert Plant and Alison Krauss exploring popular music's elemental roots while still sounding effortlessly, breath-takingly contemporary.

The song "Killing the Blues" is featured in the new JC Penney American Living Campaign.Perhaps only the fantasy duo of King Kong and Bambi could be a more bizarre pairing than Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet on Raising Sand, their haunting and brilliant collaboration, the Led Zeppelin screamer and Nashville's most hypnotic song whisperer seem made for each other. This, however, is not the howling Plant of "Whole Lotta Love," but a far more precise and softer singer than even the one who emerged with Dreamland (2002). No matter that Plant seems so subdued as to be on downers, for that's one of the keys to this most improbable meeting of musical galaxies--almost all of it seems slowed down, out of time, otherworldly, and at times downright David Lynch-ian, the product of an altered consciousness. Yet probably the main reason it all works so well is the choice of producer T Bone Burnette, the third star of the album, who culled mostly lesser-known material from some of the great writers of blues, country, folk, gospel, and R&B, including Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt, Milt Campbell, the Everly Brothers, Sam Phillips, and A.D. and Rosa Lee Watson. At times, Burnette's spare and deliberate soundscape--incisively crafted by guitarists Marc Ribot and Norman Blake, bassist Dennis Crouch, drummer Jay Bellerose, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Seeger, among others--is nearly as dreamy and subterranean as Daniel Lanois's work with Emmylou Harris (Wrecking Ball). Occasionally, Burnette opts for a fairly straightforward production while still reworking the original song (Plant's own "Please Read the Letter," Mel Tillis's "Stick with Me, Baby"). But much of the new flesh on these old bones is oddly unsettling, if not nightmarish. On the opening track of "Rich Woman," the soft-as-clouds vocals strike an optimistic mood, while the instrumental backing--loose snare, ominous bass line, and insinuating electric guitar lines--create a spooky, sinister undertow. Plant and Krauss trade out the solo and harmony vocals, and while they both venture into new waters here (Krauss as a mainstream blues mama, Plant as a gospel singer and honkytonker), she steals the show in Sam Phillips' new "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," where a dramatic violin and tremulous banjo strike a foreboding gypsy tone. When Krauss begins this strange, seductive song in a voice so ethereal that angels will take note, you may stop breathing. That, among other reasons, makes Raising Sand an album to die for. --Alanna Nash
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Secret, Profane and Sugarcane - The record was produced by T Bone Burnett and recorded by Mike Piersante during a three-day session at Nashville's Sound Emporium Studio.

Joining Costello were Jerry Douglas (dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Mike Compton (mandolin), Jeff Taylor (accordion) and Dennis Crouch (double bass), some of the most highly regarded recording artists and musicians in traditional American country music, Bluegrass and beyond.

The album includes ten previously unrecorded songs. "Sulphur to Sugarcane" and "The Crooked Line", were co-written with T Bone Burnett while, "I Felt The Chill" marks Costello's second recorded songwriting collaboration with Loretta Lynn.

Costello revisits two songs from his catalogue in string band style. Both songs were originally written for Johnny Cash. "Hidden Shame" was indeed included on Cash's album, "Boom Chicka Boom".

The album title makes reference to "The Secret Songs", Costello's unfinished commission for the Royal Danish Opera about the life of Hans Christian Andersen.

Seeking a new connection from the author to the Anglophone world, Costello wrote about the Andersen's relationship with the world famous singer, Jenny Lind in "She Handed Me A Mirror" and "How Deep Is The Red".

"She Was No Good", relates some of the chaotic details of Lind's famous "All-American" concert tour of 1850, which was promoted by P.T. Barnum. In its aftermath, "Red Cotton" imagines Barnum reading an Abolishionist pamphlet, while manufacturing cheap souvenirs of the adventure.

These four episodes were newly adapted for the instrumentation of this record.

Indeed these are first Costello compositions to be predominantly rooted in acoustic music since his 1986 album, "King Of America", which was produced by T Bone Burnett. He also produced the 1989 album, "Spike".

T Bone adds his distinctive Kay electric guitar to several of numbers, the only amplified instrument on the recording.

Jim Lauderdale takes the close vocal harmony part throughout the record and Emmylou Harris contributed a third vocal part on the chorus of "The Crooked Line" on the final day of recording.

The record concludes with the waltz, "Changing Partners", a song made famous by Bing Crosby.

The cover artwork of "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane" is an ink drawing by the renowned cartoonist, illustrator and author, Tony Millionaire.

Elvis Costello first recorded in Nashville with George Jones in 1979 and returned to the city for "Almost Blue", his 1981 album of classic country covers.

He returned to the city in 2004 to record a duet rendition of "The Scarlet Tide" with Emmylou Harris.

This song, co-written with T Bone Burnett, received an Academy Award nomination for Alison Krauss' rendition in the motion picture, "Cold Mountain" in 2003.


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Bible Belt - The daughter of a preacher, living between Zimbabwe, South Africa and Australia, before her parents finally settled in Portland, Oregon, Diane Birch absorbed a unique and very cosmopolitan perspective on life and rapidly cultivated a very individual style that defies categorization. The buzz is building as Music Week announced, "Diane has a voice and songwriting ability that will connect with truly global audiences."
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Essential Leonard Cohen - This two-disc retrospective traces the Canadian bard's musical maturity from poet and novelist who sang a little to multidimensional artist whose oracular vocals and increasingly rich arrangements are every bit as compelling as his verse. Even when Cohen came to prominence through the 1960s songcraft of "Suzanne" and "Bird on a Wire," the "folksinger" tag never really fit. Later highlights ranging from the deadpan drollery of "Tower of Song" and "Everybody Knows" to the apocalyptic anthemry of "First We Take Manhattan" and "Democracy" suggest that other labels might be more appropriate: cabaret surrealist, spiritual gadfly, sensual prophet, agent provocateur. Cohen chose the selections, drawing more than half of the 31 tracks from three landmark albums--his 1967 debut Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1988's I'm Your Man, and 1992's The Future--along with four from 2001's Ten New Songs. The collection justifies its title as deep as it goes, though it's a shame that Cohen's commercial profile couldn't justify the more elaborate box set his artistry warrants (one that would at least include lyrics and musician credits). Those who sample the consistently inspired music here might come to the conclusion that everything Cohen records is essential. --Don McLeese
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Zee Avi - Japanese pressing includes one bonus track. Universal. 2009.
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High Hopes and Heartbreak - 2009 release from the 2008 American Idol finalist. As a top five finalist on AI, White won the hearts of fans around the world with performances that were passionate, vibrant and strikingly beautiful. She returns with High Hopes & Heartbreak, a rapturously tuneful album that sees Brooke channeling a few idols of her own Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Elton John. The result is a stunning collection of songs brimming with warm, indelible melodies and hooks that stick after a single listen.
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Townes - Steve Earle is set to release Townes, his highly anticipated follow up to the Grammy Award winning album Washington Square Serenade. The 15-song set is comprised of songs written by Earle s friend and mentor, the late singer-songwriter, Townes Van Zandt. Townes will also be available as a deluxe two-CD set, as well as double Limited Edition 180 gram vinyl.

The album was produced by Earle at his home in Greenwich Village, at Sound Emporium and Room and Board in Nashville, TN and The Nest in Hollywood, CA. The track Lungs, was produced and mixed by the Dust Brothers John King and features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine/The Nightwatchman on electric guitar. Earle s wife, the acclaimed singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, is featured on backing vocals on Loretta and To Live Is To Fly. Three songs cut in Nashville, White Freightliner Blues, Delta Momma Blues, and Don t Take It Too Bad feature a bluegrass band consisting of Dennis Crouch, Tim O Brien, Darrel Scott and Shad Cobb.

Earle met Townes Van Zandt in 1972 at one of Earle s performances at The Old Quarter in Houston, TX. Van Zandt was in the audience and playfully heckled Earle throughout the performance to play the song Wabash Cannonball Earle admitted that he didn t know how to play the tune and Van Zandt replied incredibly You call yourself a folksinger and you don t know Wabash Cannonball? Earle then silenced him by playing the Van Zandt song Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, not an easy feat due to its quickly-paced mouthful of lyrics squeezed into just over two minutes of song. Their bond was immediately formed. On Townes, Earle and his son, singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle (named after Van Zandt) trade verses on the tune, a song the two of them have been playing together since Justin was a teenager.

The songs selected for Townes were the ones that meant the most to Earle and the ones he personally connected to (not including selections featured on previous Earle albums). Some of the selections chosen were songs that Earle has played his entire career ( Pancho and Lefty, Lungs, White Freightliner Blues ) and others he had to learn specifically for recording. He learned the song (Quicksilver Daydreams of) Maria directly from Van Zandt, and taught himself Marie and Rake specifically for the album s recording. Once a song he played during his live show, Earle relearned Colorado Girl in the original Open D tuning that Van Zandt played it in. Earle recorded the New York sessions solo and then added the other instruments later on in order to preserve the spirit of Van Zandt s original solo performances to the best of his recollection.
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Roadsinger (To Warm You Through The Night) - In "roadsinger," the illuminating title track to Yusuf's new album, he asks, "Where do you go in a world filled with fright? Only a song to warm you through the night."

For decades, his has been the voice that has carried us through the darkness. One of the most influential and successful singer-songwriters of the last 40 years, Yusuf has provided the perfect salve for a troubled world--a beautifully nuanced, warm voice shielding us against harsh, turbulent times bringing songs of truth and hope.

Just when we need him most, Yusuf is back with roadsinger, an 11-song collection about the evanescent dreams of life and the promise that spiritual fulfillment brings for those who are ready to travel far enough.

"While writing these songs I was getting a new idea every day and every song said, `sing me', Yusuf says, sitting casually on a sofa in a hotel suite in Los Angeles. "You don't `make' the music; you just interpret something that's passing through you."

The enjoyment that comes in being part of this process of creating music is palpable in every note on roadsinger. And Yusuf is certain that every step of his amazing journey has led him to this place. "Songwriting is a life vocation if you're really serious about it," he says. "And, therefore, it comes from your experiences and the times, tastes and troubles that make up your life."

And what a life it has been. Born of a Greek father and Swedish mother in England, Steven Georgiou grew up in the shadow of the West End, London's equivalent of Broadway. On one end of his street was a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love. On the other were theaters that brought some of the best music ever written within feet of his doorstep. "Almost from day one when I decided to get into music, I wanted to write songs for musicals," he says. "I was so inspired by the great composers such as Bernstein, Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein."

A self-taught musician, yusuf always felt that, like these seminal men of music, he had a voice and something to say. "I just had to wait for other people to discover it."

Of course, they did. As Cat Stevens, he sold more than 60 million albums. His tender-yet-passionate style became synonymous with the folk-based singer-songwriter movement of the `70s, although his music transcended any set place and time. Hits like "Wild World," "Morning Has Broken," "Father and Son," "Peace Train," "Oh Very Young," and "Moonshadow" remain as relevant and inviting today as they did 35 years ago.

Always a seeker of enlightenment and universal wisdom, his searching led him to embrace Islam in 1977 after reading an English translation of the Qur'an. There is nothing too posh or pious about Yusuf. His faith is expressed most beautifully in the universal truths of "All Kinds of Roses" from roadsinger. There's a stillness and deliberateness about Yusuf that comes from a place of serenity and surrender.

He smiles softly when he talks about picking up a guitar for the first time again in 2004. "It was that moment around dawn, morning time, when no one else was around. I decided to have a go and it felt so, so, natural. I could put my fingers exactly where they were 30 years ago (laughs) and yet it was so fresh. I think that was the most glorious of moments."

That reentry into mainstream music's atmosphere after a 28-year absence was the critically-lauded "An Other Cup" in 2006. People were relieved "that I didn't sound like I'd gone through some Frankensteinian transformation which made me sound like something else," Yusuf says with a laugh.

"An Other Cup" bridged his eastern and western sensibilities; whereas roadsinger is rooted firmly in the West. That shift happened subconsciously courtesy of a plane trip. "I remember listening to a playlist on a transatlantic flight of [music from] the `70s and that just captured my imagination. I said, `oh gosh, how great it was.' It was Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor, Neil Young, Elton John. But it was more the L.A. stuff and that may have edged me toward doing that again."

Yusuf traveled all over the world to record roadsinger including studios in London, Dubai, and others. He produced the album himself, with assistance on three tracks provided by producer Martin Terefe, best known for his work with Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall, James Morrison and Ron Sexsmith. Some of his musical friends--Michelle Branch, Gunnar Nelson, James Morrison, Terry Sylvester and Holly Williams, also chime in on backing vocals.

Much of roadsinger was recorded live with few overdubs, giving the album an organic, unpretentious feel. Yusuf says, "I borrowed from my own experience making `Tea for the Tillerman,' I realized that some of the best tracks were all live so I went back into recording things live again."

That adds to the immediacy and warmth of the tracks. "When you're doing it live, it has something to do with life right now, which is much more powerful than `let's try and overdub it again'," Yusuf says. "Essentially it's all done simultaneously and that makes it all more vital. The title track actually was a first take. I haven't done that since 1967," he laughs.

Yusuf also revisits his past on the compelling, lovely "Be What You Must" which opens with the lilting, delicate piano melody of "Sitting," an enduring hit from Catch Bull at Four. Accompanied by a children's choir, Yusuf bravely and boldly sings that in order to "Be what you must, you must give up what you are."

On "roadsinger," Yusuf praises love both divine and human. "Thinking `Bout You," is a pure love song of sweet devotion to one who simply makes the world better by their presence.

While much of the album is dominated by Yusuf's exquisite, tasteful guitar work, confident, layered arrangements punctuate the tunes, such as the horns on the lush "Everytime I Dream," or the cellos and violins that provide "The Rain" with a gravitas as Yusuf sings of the world after an epic flood.

Similarly, the searing "World O' Darkness" features some of Yusuf's most plaintive vocals ever captured on disc, often pierced by his piquant guitar work. Just as he examines war on "Darkness," on the yearning "This Glass World" he questions how we've isolated ourselves from others with our material possessions.

Both songs are featured in "Moonshadow," a musical opening later this year constructed around his catalog of songs. "'World O' Darkness' acts as a prologue to the planet in which we find ourselves," Yusuf says. "A world where only moon shines and there is no daylight. It becomes the goal of this one boy, who's very much a dreamer, very much a rebel, perhaps similar to myself, who leaves the social treadmill to find the lost world of the sun."

Like his best music over the decades, roadsinger is about a journey of love, after rejection; truth beyond illusion and, ultimately, hope from the opening track, "Welcome Home," in which Yusuf invites "all seekers this way," to the closing "Shamsia," a gentle, meditative instrumental, where he sends us lovingly back into the world of musical sunshine.

But, luckily for us, Yusuf says his musical "seeking" is far from done so we can count on him to keep looking for the answers. "Seeking the perfect song is always the task of every songwriter and you never make it," he says. "And that's a great thing, that there's always something more to write about, something more to sing out loud about."
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Traditional Folk

Raising Sand - The musical collaboration of the decade, Raising Sand is the sound of two iconic figures stepping out of their respective comfort zones and letting their instincts lead them across a brave new sonic landscape. Despite hailing from distinctly different backgrounds, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant share a maverick spirit and willingness to extend the boundaries of their respective genres. This spirit, expertly honed by producer T Bone Burnett, has resulted in an album pitched three steps beyond some cosmic collision of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the untapped potential of the folk-rock revolution.

Supported by the unparalleled musicianship of Marc Ribot, Dennis Crouch, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, Norman Blake, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren, and Riley Baugus, Plant and Krauss -- as both solo and harmony vocalists -- tackle an intriguing selection of songs from such tunesmiths as Tom Waits, Gene Clark, Sam Phillips, Townes Van Zandt, The Everly Broth! ers, and Mel Tillis. Raising Sand finds Robert Plant and Alison Krauss exploring popular music's elemental roots while still sounding effortlessly, breath-takingly contemporary.

The song "Killing the Blues" is featured in the new JC Penney American Living Campaign.Perhaps only the fantasy duo of King Kong and Bambi could be a more bizarre pairing than Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet on Raising Sand, their haunting and brilliant collaboration, the Led Zeppelin screamer and Nashville's most hypnotic song whisperer seem made for each other. This, however, is not the howling Plant of "Whole Lotta Love," but a far more precise and softer singer than even the one who emerged with Dreamland (2002). No matter that Plant seems so subdued as to be on downers, for that's one of the keys to this most improbable meeting of musical galaxies--almost all of it seems slowed down, out of time, otherworldly, and at times downright David Lynch-ian, the product of an altered consciousness. Yet probably the main reason it all works so well is the choice of producer T Bone Burnette, the third star of the album, who culled mostly lesser-known material from some of the great writers of blues, country, folk, gospel, and R&B, including Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt, Milt Campbell, the Everly Brothers, Sam Phillips, and A.D. and Rosa Lee Watson. At times, Burnette's spare and deliberate soundscape--incisively crafted by guitarists Marc Ribot and Norman Blake, bassist Dennis Crouch, drummer Jay Bellerose, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Seeger, among others--is nearly as dreamy and subterranean as Daniel Lanois's work with Emmylou Harris (Wrecking Ball). Occasionally, Burnette opts for a fairly straightforward production while still reworking the original song (Plant's own "Please Read the Letter," Mel Tillis's "Stick with Me, Baby"). But much of the new flesh on these old bones is oddly unsettling, if not nightmarish. On the opening track of "Rich Woman," the soft-as-clouds vocals strike an optimistic mood, while the instrumental backing--loose snare, ominous bass line, and insinuating electric guitar lines--create a spooky, sinister undertow. Plant and Krauss trade out the solo and harmony vocals, and while they both venture into new waters here (Krauss as a mainstream blues mama, Plant as a gospel singer and honkytonker), she steals the show in Sam Phillips' new "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," where a dramatic violin and tremulous banjo strike a foreboding gypsy tone. When Krauss begins this strange, seductive song in a voice so ethereal that angels will take note, you may stop breathing. That, among other reasons, makes Raising Sand an album to die for. --Alanna Nash
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The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary - One of the most enduring acts in American music, Peter Paul And Mary both defined and transcended the 1960s folk revival. The trio's passionate commitment to peace and social justice made them the conscience of an era as they soulfully communicated political concerns through music in an unprecedented way. At the same time that they reached millions with their social message, they acheived phenomenal mass popularity.
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O Brother, Where Art Thou? - The best soundtracks are like movies for the ears, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? joins the likes of Saturday Night Fever and The Harder They Come as cinematic pinnacles of song. The music from the Coen brothers' Depression-era film taps into the source from which the purest strains of country, blues, bluegrass, folk, and gospel music flow. Producer T Bone Burnett enlists the voices of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, and kindred spirits for performances of traditional material, in arrangements that are either a cappella or feature bare-bones accompaniment. Highlights range from the aching purity of Krauss's "Down to the River to Pray" to the plainspoken faith of the Whites' "Keep on the Sunny Side" to Stanley's chillingly plaintive "O Death." The album's spiritual centerpiece finds Krauss, Welch, and Harris harmonizing on "Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby," a gospel lullaby that sounds like a chorus of Appalachian angels. --Don McLeese
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Gordon Lightfoot - Complete Greatest Hits - 20 classic hits released by United Artists, Reprise and Warner Bros. From 1965 to 1987. features the hits 'Sundown', 'If You Could read My Mind', 'The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald', 'Carefree Highway' and many more!Though he rose from the ranks of journeyman '60s folksinger to become a potent and consistent '70s hit maker, Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot's stock in trade was as much hard-eyed, dispassionate observation as romance or poetic whimsy. Perhaps that's why his songs have been covered by everyone from Elvis (this set's "Early Morning Rain") to Dylan. If there's such a thing as an alpha-male folkie, Lightfoot certainly fits the bill. Spanning the tongue-in-cheek chauvinism of 1965's "For Lovin' Me" and the cheatin' ways of "Sundown" to more introspective fare like "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Beautiful," this 20-track collection presents a concise primer on Lightfoot's career and craft. After his career peaked with one of the most unlikely top five hits ever, the gloom-laden 1976 narrative "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," Lightfoot's production tailed off sharply, though this anthology's "Stay Loose" ('86) and "Restless" ('93) are testament to his enduring skills as a songwriter and performer. --Jerry McCulley
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Songbird - Songbird is a posthumous anthology culled from the album Live At Blues Alley and her other solo release, Eva By Heart, along with one track from her 1992 duet album with Chuck Brown titled The Other Side. Blix label.Songbird cherry-picks tracks from the three locally released albums of Eva Cassidy, whose hauntingly beautiful vocals went virtually unheard outside her native Washington, D.C., during her short 33 years with us. Lost to melanoma in 1996, Cassidy sang with an unaffected purity and an astonishing ability to make both classic and contemporary songs sound like they were written just for her. Sting's "Fields of Gold" finally lives up to its title through the alchemy of Cassidy's transcendent rendition, while other tracks on this anthology showcase her ease in the realms of pop (Christine McVie's "Songbird"), soul ("People Get Ready"), gospel ("Wade on the Water"), and traditional standards ("Autumn Leaves" and "Over the Rainbow"). Framed by understated jazz and pop arrangements, Cassidy's clear, soulful voice and exquisite phrasing make her that rarest of vocalists whose interpretations are a complement to any song. A fine introduction to a true talent. --Billy Grenier
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A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection - "A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection" is comprised of 16 tracks, highlighting Alison Krauss's career outside of her traditional releases with longtime band Union Station. The album features Krauss's collaboration with John Waite on the single "Missing You," as well as Krauss's contributions to film soundtracks, including the Oscar-nominated songs "The Scarlet Tide" and "You Will Be My Ain True Love," written for the motion picture "Cold Mountain," and "Down to the River to Pray" from the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Known for her collaborations, Krauss also includes several duets in the collection such as the 2003 hit with Brad Paisley, "Whiskey Lullaby," and her duet with James Taylor for the tribute album "Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers," "How's the World Treating You." The collection debuts five new songs: "You're Just a Country Boy," "Jacob's Dream," "Simple Love," "Lay Down Beside Me," and "Away Down the River," all of which feature Krauss as a producer.A Hundred Miles or More carries the subtitle A Collection, and what a curious collection it is--cuts from soundtracks, side projects, and tribute albums, plus guest duets on other artists' albums and five previously unreleased tracks. In other words, this is a collection of Alison Krauss performances that have never appeared on an Alison Krauss album, though it holds together better than such a grab-bag approach might suggest. Highlights such as her duet with Brad Paisley on "Whiskey Lullaby" and her a cappella rendition of "Down to the River to Pray" from O Brother, Where Art Thou? will be familiar to most Krauss fans, though it's doubtful that many share her infatuation with retro rocker John Waite (with whom she revives his "Missing You" and duets on a cover of Don Williams's "Lay Down Beside Me."). Other projects represented range from Disney to the Chieftains to the Louvin Brothers (she duets with James Taylor on their "How's the World Treating You." There's minimal contribution from her Union Station band--making this a solo release by default--and little information to indicate whether the previously unreleased tracks were outtakes from earlier releases or recently recorded for this one. --Don McLeese

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Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House - Live at The Mauch Chunk Opera House is the stunning follow-up to the Canadian/American trio's hit CD Firecracker. Taken from a live concert performance at one of America's oldest vaudeville theaters, this beautifully produced album features many tracks that have not appeared on previous releases including their long sought after version of Jane Siberry's classic "Calling All Angels." The recording is also the first to feature newcomer Heather Masse who joins Nicky Mehta and Ruth Moody with her lush vocal harmonies and tasteful bass playing. Along with virtuoso instrumentalist Jeremy Penner on fiddle, Live at The Mauch Chunk Opera House captures the magic of The Wailin' Jennys' concert experience.
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O.C.M.S. - During the "folk music-scare" of the early 1960s, a bunch of white middle-class youths with names like the Greenbriar Boys and the Even Dozen Jug Band discovered the mountain music of the Stanley Brothers, Skillet Lickers, and Uncle Dave Macon and set about introducing it to the country's college kids. Four decades later, the members of OCMS fit the profile of those early revivalists, yet if anything they have tapped deeper into the primal elements of an American art form. As demonstrated on their debut, they have assimilated not just the sound--banjos, harmonicas, acoustic guitar and bass--but more importantly the haunting spirit of music that was made to keep hard times at bay. How else to explain their ability to take a well-worn chestnut like "CC Rider" and infuse it with an energy that reveals once again why it is a classic? Not content to live completely in the past, they wrote "Big Time in the Jungle," which, though it is about Vietnam, could easily be transposed to 2004's desert conflicts. Kindred spirit and producer David Rawlings (Gillian Welch's longtime collaborator) has kept their energy intact, but one can only wonder what sort of magic they must deliver live. --Michael Ross
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Song Up in Her Head - Seventeen-year-old Texas native Sarah Jarosz emerged on the scene about five years ago as someone to watch. Jamming onstage with bluegrass icons David Grisman and Ricky Skaggs, she played her mandolin with a sure touch and real joy. It looked and sounded comfortable in her then twelve-year-old hands. She started writing songs on the guitar and took up the banjo. While her instrumental talents are formidable, let's make one thing clear: Sarah is a singer. Her voice is velvety smooth, agile, and powerful, occasionally reminiscent of such disparate artists as Natalie Maines and Patty Griffin.
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Songs of Leonard Cohen -
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Live Folk Music

Music from the Original Soundtrack and More: Woodstock - Originally released in 1970 as a triple-LP, MUSIC FROM THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK AND MORE: WOODSTOCK topped Billboard's pop albums chart for four weeks, and was a Top 20 R&B album as well. As potent a musical time capsule as ever existed, it captures the three-day, 1969 concert event that united close to half a million members of what came to be known as the 'Woodstock Generation.' Rhino's deluxe, 40th anniversary, 2-CD reissue of this sprawling and era-defining sonic document-featuring CSN&Y, The Who, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and much more is remastered from the original analog
soundboard tapes. It s the ideal way to take a trip back to Yasgur's farm and performances that shaped music and popular culture for years to come.
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Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House - Live at The Mauch Chunk Opera House is the stunning follow-up to the Canadian/American trio's hit CD Firecracker. Taken from a live concert performance at one of America's oldest vaudeville theaters, this beautifully produced album features many tracks that have not appeared on previous releases including their long sought after version of Jane Siberry's classic "Calling All Angels." The recording is also the first to feature newcomer Heather Masse who joins Nicky Mehta and Ruth Moody with her lush vocal harmonies and tasteful bass playing. Along with virtuoso instrumentalist Jeremy Penner on fiddle, Live at The Mauch Chunk Opera House captures the magic of The Wailin' Jennys' concert experience.
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Live - 'I've been doing this a long time,' declared Shawn Colvin upon the release of her 2006 Nonesuch debut, These Four Walls, 'and it's great to feel like I'm doing my best work now.' This new live solo set reconfirms that feeling. The three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter combines material from two decades' worth of recordings and makes it all sound even more deeply insightful and compellingly up to date, recent songs like 'Fill Me Up,' the yearning opening track of These Four Walls, and the tougher, bleaker 'I'm Gone,' seem as much like old favorites now as 'Sonny Came Home,' Colvin's career-making Top 40 success, and 'Shotgun Down the Avalanche,' from her 1989 major-label debut, Steady On. Along with original songs from five studio albums, Colvin performs covers of Robbie Robertson's 'Twilight' and Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy.' With the latter, she transforms what was a funky, sing-along smash into something dark, brooding and bluesy and she performs it with utter conviction to a rapt audience. She ends on a sweeter, more hopefully romantic note with a version of Talking Heads' 'This Must Be the Place,' which she made her own years ago on the 1994 Cover Girl collection.
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Live at Blues Alley - Recorded live at Blues Alley, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2, 1996, where the late folk singer/songwriter had a loyal following. 13 tracks, including four that appeared on her breakthrough 1998 album, 'Songbird'. Blix Street.When Eva Cassidy is swinging her way through "Cheek to Cheek" and getting down and bluesy on "Stormy Monday" on this live set from 1996, it's nigh impossible not to get swept up in her voice's vast, barreling force. Her full range, though, becomes most obvious--and soul-shaking--on the slower side, as with Paul Simon's "Bridge over Troubled Water," Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Tall Trees in Georgia," and "What a Wonderful World." On these latter tunes, Cassidy's mix of aching clarity and rich warmth has a melting quality, speaking through the body to some evanescent presence that she seems to know all too well. She improbably makes Sting's "Fields of Gold" an emotional powerhouse just as easily as she makes Billie Holiday's "Fine and Mellow" an offhand declaration of feeling equal to nearly anything in the jazz vocal canon. In doing so she earns her place among the great singers--artists who could take any song and stamp it indelibly as their own. What Eva Cassidy had in her short life was an unbelievably perfect voice and a musical soul that grasped gospel, folk, blues, jazz, and all points in between as if they were mere stops on a single train ride. Alas, her ride ended in 1996, tragically early. --Andrew Bartlett
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Harvest Moon - When Neil Young seems about to zig, he zags. Two years after 1990's loud Ragged Glory, he retreats to an old world of steel guitars, gentle folk melodies, and pristine country choruses. (That's Linda Ronstadt, who helped make 1972's Harvest a hit album, singing backup on the follow-up.) Young name-drops Hank Williams, Jimi Hendrix, and his old dog, King, in rich reminiscences about the musical ride he and his fans have shared since the late '60s. The album, as Young sings in "One of These Days," is "a long letter to all the good friends I've known." --Steve Knopper
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Before the Flood - Dylan has issued a large number of live albums in his day, but 1974's Before the Flood deserves special mention because of the presence of the Band behind him. Dylan had recently brought the Band into the studio to record the chart-topping (yet still somehow underappreciated) Planet Waves, which was the first (and, as it turned out, only) studio record he made after leaving Columbia for Asylum. He then asked them along on the subsequent tour, which at the time became the most successful rock tour in history. The fruits of that partnership are contained on this two-CD set, which actually ignores Planet Waves completely in favor of older classics. Although the album includes several strong collaborations, the highlights ironically come during Dylan's solo-acoustic portion, which yields powerful and gritty versions of "Don't Think Twice" and "It's Alright Ma," and during the Band's own exhilarating numbers with Dylan sitting out. --Marc Greilsamer
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Rust Never Sleeps - Young has recorded many live albums, but none capture his two dominant musical personalities with as much power as 1979's Rust Never Sleeps. The acoustic side opens with "My, My, Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue)," a devastating anthem about the state of rock & roll. Comparing the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten to the late Elvis Presley, Young delivers perhaps his most famous line: "It's better to burn out than to fade away." Side 2 demonstrates the emotional power of Young's hard-rocking quartet, Crazy Horse, with the scathing political songs "Powderfinger," "Welfare Mothers," and the loud reprise of "My, My, Hey, Hey." --Steve Knopper
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MTV Unplugged -
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Live Rust - Mere months passed between the release of Neil Young's mid-career milestone Rust Never Sleeps and this 1979 tour recording, which documents a late-'78 San Francisco performance. Indeed, Live Rust boasts four songs from the album that gave it its name. It's also sequenced in the same spirit as its studio sibling. As with Rust Never Sleeps, Live Rust opens with steady-flowing acoustic numbers before swirling into an electric vortex. What was side 4 off the original two-record version--"Like a Hurricane," "Hey, Hey, My, My," and "Tonight's the Night"--is arguably Young and Crazy Horse at their peak as a live unit, with all due respect to 1991's estimable Weld and 1997's desultory Year of the Horse. Few rock bands rank with Young and his stalwart electric trio, and Live Rust presents them in all their raging glory. --Steven Stolder
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The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall Concert" - Nineteen ninety-eight: The same year he dances with Soy Bomb at the Grammys, his record label finally issues Bob Dylan's ultimate live document. A classic case of not giving the audience what they want but what they need, Mr. Dylan's oft-bootlegged 1966 gig begins with lovely and supple folk that foreshadows folk music's turn from protest song to introspection. The album's true highlight is the legendarily ill received and rocked-out electric set, with Dylan backed by members of the Band. There are too many perfect, on-fire guitar solos by Robbie Robertson to count, and Dylan himself responds to the audience's angry bewilderment with equal parts menace, grace, and brilliance. --Mike McGonigalThe greatest live recording in rock & roll history was--officially, at least--buried in the vaults of Columbia Records for more than a quarter of a century. But no more: Live 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert has surfaced on two discs mixed and mastered from three-track source tapes that put the myriad pirated recordings to shame. More important, Live 1966 documents a momentous artistic showdown between a willful, inflamed, and utterly fearless performer and his headstrong core following. The Dylan of the mid '60s had made the leap from socially conscious voice of his generation to surrealistic electric poet, a transformation that was met with contempt by a vocal element of his audience. The most telling moment of the recording centers on the standoff: A folk zealot in the audience shouts, "Judas!" earning cheers from the contentious crowd. Dylan responds by snarling, "I don't believe you. You're a liar," then turns to his group, the Hawks (soon to become the Band), and, as the intro to "Like a Rolling Stone" takes shape, commands, "Play loud!" A crucial moment and, time has demonstrated, the correct call. --Steven Stolder
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Traditional British & Celtic Folk

And Winter Came - Twenty years after her landmark Watermark album, Enya's seventh studio disc, And Winter Came continues a phenomenally successful career that has included more than 70 million albums sold worldwide. And Winter Came is an enchanting evocation of the changing landscape of winter as well as the festive cheer of the holidays. One of the most successful female artists of all-time, and second only to U2 as the biggest selling Irish artist in history, Enya brings her beguiling and ethereal music to bear on the darkest and yet most hopeful season with And Winter Came.
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Away We Go -
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Donovan's Greatest Hits - Greatest Hits is the budget option for those who've concluded that two discs of Donovan is a disc too many and zero is one too few. Troubadour, Sony's 1992 Donovan box set, boasts nearly three times the tracks this 15-song single-disc retrospective offers, but Greatest Hits delivers what it promises: "Colours" and "Catch the Wind" from his folkie phase and "Mellow Yellow," "Sunshine Superman," and "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" from the lad's best-pal-a-flower-ever-had period. Also included are plenty more catchy folk-rock hits cut between 1964 and 1970 as well as four bonus tracks, including the delightfully earnest "Atlantis" and "Barabajagal," with the celebrated first-edition Jeff Beck Group providing backing. Donovan's blissed-out liner notes ("Whatever you think this song is about, it probably is") round out the package quite quaintly. --Steven Stolder
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Songs from a Secret Garden - Picture a square with Clannad, pianist David Lanz, Mannheim Steamroller, and the musicians of Riverdance at its corners. Somewhere within those stylistic borders you will encounter the European duo Secret Garden. The popular twosome--Irish violinist Fionnuala (fi-NOO-la) Sherry and Norwegian pianist/keyboardist Rolf Lovland--have attracted a sizable following with their heart-touching specialty: a wistful, violin-rooted, pop-folk-classical melange that often strikes the ear as a film score in search of some delicate romantic tale. Songs from a Secret Garden is the duo's debut recording from 1995, and it principally offers a series of pensive dialogues between Sherry's stately violin and Lovland's subdued piano, yielding equal measures of sweetness and melancholy. Whistles, pipes, percussion, strings, and ethereal voices serve as embellishments. At times you may sense you're being serenaded by strolling musicians with a heavy sentimental streak; at other times you may feel genuinely moved--perhaps by something as lovely as the reverential "Sigma" and its sublime, Gregorian-like choral passages. Only one uptempo tune, "The Rap," surfaces here; a few others would have been welcomed. And yes, this is the disc where you will find "Heartstrings," the composition that once smote Barbra Streisand's heart. She eventually acquired the rights to the piece, inserted lyrics, renamed it "I've Dreamed of You" (found on A Love Like Ours), and sang it to James Brolin during the couple's 1998 wedding. --Terry Wood
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Drunken Lullabies - This is the second album from the Los Angeles based octet, Flogging Molly. Taking influence from their Irish roots and the sound of the Californian punk scene, 'Drunken Lullabies'is a mix of brash punk rock guitars, violins, whistles and accordians. The band are often compared to the Pogues and fellow punk band, The Dropkick Murphys.
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Naked with Friends - Grammy-nominated Maura O'Connell worked with co-producer Gary Paczosa on a concept she's carried in her heart for quite some time: an a capella album. "I've gathered the consciousness that singing should be just fine, that it is a viable talent on its own," the singer says of the 13-song collection. Widely acclaimed throughout her career as a vocalist and interpreter of utmost grace and insight, Maura O'Connell's latest album is a defiant, boldly undiluted statement on art of singing. Naked With Friends consists of thirteen tracks of singing-and nothing more-and is decisive evidence that singing is more than enough.
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The High Kings - FROM THE CREATORS AND PRODUCERS OF THE IRISH PHENOMENON CELTIC WOMAN COMES THE NEXT GENERATION IN IRISH BALLAD MUSIC, THE HIGH KINGS. Finbarr Clancy, Martin Furey, Brian Dunphy and Darren Holden - renowned vocalists and musicians - have come together to form the hottest Irish folk and ballad group to emerge since The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem electrified the worldwide folk revival of the 1960s. The musical producer is the highly acclaimed David Downes, who is the musical genius behind Celtic Woman and formerly the musical director of Riverdance. He brings intricate harmonies and driving rhythms to The High Kings songbook, giving them a freshness and sparkle that is infectious. A rousing TV special was filmed in Dublin and is available on DVD (The High Kings: Live in Dublin).
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The High Kings - FROM THE CREATORS AND PRODUCERS OF THE IRISH PHENOMENON CELTIC WOMAN COMES THE NEXT GENERATION IN IRISH BALLAD MUSIC, THE HIGH KINGS. Finbarr Clancy, Martin Furey, Brian Dunphy and Darren Holden - renowned vocalists and musicians - have come together to form the hottest Irish folk and ballad group to emerge since The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem electrified the worldwide folk revival of the 1960s. The musical producer is the highly acclaimed David Downes, who is the musical genius behind Celtic Woman and formerly the musical director of Riverdance. He brings intricate harmonies and driving rhythms to The High Kings songbook, giving them a freshness and sparkle that is infectious. A rousing TV special was filmed in Dublin and is available on DVD (The High Kings: Live in Dublin).
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Swagger -
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Bryter Layter - Reissue of the late British folk icon's 1970 sophomore album. Ten tracks. Island. The second album from Nick Drake came in 1970, and while not quite as melancholy as his debut, Five Leaves Left, there are certain brooding qualities that continued to propagate the Nick Drake mystique. Horns, flute, and strings arrangements lift such songs as "At the Chime of a City Clock" and "Hazy Jane I" and "II" out of the realm of sad, folk-guitar music into something jazzier and lighter, while the beautiful piano and simple guitar of "One of These Things First" laments what could have been without sounding like a song of despair. But two tracks featuring John Cale on various instruments (such as viola and harpsichord) have the dark fragility of "Pink Moon": the lovely "Fly" is a fragile apparition, and "Northern Sky" is a dreamy, brooding plea for long-lasting love. Definitely not the same mood music as his starker work, but still a fine showcase for Nick Drake. --Lorry Fleming
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Jewish & Yiddish Music

Youth - The thumbnail description of Matisyahu: File under Hasidic Beatbox Reggae. Despite having markings of novelty, it's really nothing of the sort. Fronted by a man named Matisyahu (born Matthew Miller), they are truly a band. Two independently released CDs brought them a rapid and well-deserved ascent, making their signing with a major label a logical step. Youth benefits from a more expansive sound and production by the fantastic Bill Laswell (Golden Palominos, Laurie Anderson, the Last Poets). Matisyahu's singing and the substance of his songs (spiritual living, self-awareness, the value of knowledge and learning, kindness to others) are presented with a loving sincerity, and buoyed by tremendous musicianship. In particular, drummer Jonah David and guitarist Aaron Dugan bring a wider set of influences and interests to their playing than the reggae tag the band often gets. Free of any proselytizing, this melding of Talmudic teachings and Jamaican rhythms flows so naturally that it underscores the shared roots of the two cultures. --David Greenberger

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Live At Stubbs - Although reggae's religious overtones are often overshadowed by the music's ties to ganja and the hippie movement, there are some socially active or religious leaning artists out there. One of the newest comes in the unlikely figure of a young Hasidic Jew named Matisyahu. Singing with a slight ghetto patois, in Yiddish, and even displaying considerable beat-box skills, the New Yorker is at his best when he works himself into fits of righteous indignation and Old Testament fervor (the limits of his vocal range are laid bare when he croons on ballads). The lean three-piece band on this live recording, his second album, is aerodynamic and flexible, able to do the slow reggae groove or rock out with ferocity. After 12 tracks of stripped-down reggae, however, the music tends to blend into one long groove. Nonetheless, there is an undeniable urgency in this live recording that comes through loud and clear, making it a live document of note by one of reggae's most interesting new figures. --Tad Hendrickson
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In Concert from Israel -
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No Place To Be (CD/DVD) - Matisyahu No Place To Be CD + bonus DVD package CD contains 7 new tracks, including "Jerusalem (Out Of Darkness Comes Light)" and "Message In A Bottle" recorded with Sly & Robbie. The bonus 'Live in Israel' DVD contains a live show shot in Tel Aviv, intercut with interviews and street performances from Jerusalem. It also includes the new music video for "Jerusalem (Out Of Darkness Comes Light)." DVD length: approx 90 minutes.
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Stolas: The Book of Angels, Vol. 12 - For this very special release in The Book of Angels series, John Zorn has brought together five of the most acclaimed musicians in modern jazz to perform nine of his most distinctive and lyrical compositions. Truly a jazz supergroup, these five musicians explore Zorn's beautiful and exotic tunes with profound melodic and harmonic knowledge and a depth of feeling that is a joy to hear. One of the most breathtaking CDs in the entire Masada series - here is a touch of the sublime from the beautiful new Masada Qunitet. With: Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Uri Caine, Greg Cohen, Joey Baron, John Zorn.
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You Don't Have to Be Jewish/When You're in Love the Whole World Is Jewish - One of my fondest family memories of my wonderful childhood in the 1960's was listening to record albums on the hi-fi set in the den. Real records, that you had to flip over after side one, and be careful not to leave on top of the toaster oven. This was a time where my Little Golden Books and little transistor radio were my essential bedtime companions. Not to mention the hot mug of Ovaltine that Mom would make us before hitting the sack.

"You Don't Have To Be Jewish" and it's follow up, "When You're In Love, The Whole World Is Jewish" were both staples in the Lifson home. Jewish comedy was not available to me as a kid through visits to the Catskills, so these albums, along with "Chanukah Carols" (also available on JMG) were my first exposure to a genre which would help prepare me for the Woody Allen and Albert Brooks movies I would love watching in the next decade, the '70s, and have enjoyed ever since. These very funny records were the brainchild of producer Bob Booker, who had produced a hugely successful pair of albums called "The First Family" which lampooned the Kennedy clan, with actor Vaughn Meader doing a brilliant JFK. These were essential listening for the early '60s, but after JFK's assassination, were quickly antiquated.

For "You Don't Have To Be Jewish," Producer Booker, pairing with writer George Foster, assembled a first class ensemble of comedic actors to play the jokes and blackout type sketches on this LP. Lou Jacobi was seen on countless sitcoms as the "Jewish Dad" type, and Valerie Harper, who would later star as "Rhoda" on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Also featured were Arlene Golonka, who played Ken Berry's girlfriend on "Mayberry R.F.D." and Bob Mc Fadden, who were the voices behind many cartoon characters including one version of "Popeye" and one of my '60s faves, "Milton The Monster." And who could forget actor Jack Gilford from the many "Crackerjack" commercials he did, where he is caught eating the kid's Crakerjack late at night?

The sketches on these two wonderfully nostalgic albums played like a prequel, maybe more Jewish version, of TV's "Laugh In" which would appear just a couple years later, in the Fall of 1968. The cast of "You Don't Have To Be Jewish" were invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan show, because of the broad appeal of the album's humor. It was clean and quaint, not biting and unsettling, like several of the "hipper" '60s comics, like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. These Jewish jokes were ones that could be repeated at any office gathering or weeknight Pan and Poker games, like the ones I recall my parents having in the mid '60s. They still have the black card table with the white leather top that was used at their gatherings back then, when albums like "You Don't Have To Jewish" were such a unifying force.

Classic bits on these two albums, released for the first time as a double disc CD here, include "Secret Agent James Bondtstein" and "The Cocktail Party" which is reminiscent of "Laugh In's" party scenes with the one liners floating in and out of martini glasses. "The Plotnick Diamond" bit is funny too, where Mrs. Plotnick complains that her large diamond comes enshrouded with a curse..."What's the curse her friend asks, in a Yenta-like way, "Mr. Plotnick!" is the reply. You see, these albums showcase the qualities of Jewish life we have all come to know as "trademarks," like: guilt, marrying a nice young doctor, eating as a remedy for anxiety, worrying too much, and of course, more guilt!

Jewish people throughout the ages have relied on humor as a survival technique, and have always been noted for their sardonic and revelatory abilities to translate "agony" into "ecstasy" in the form of humorous dialogue. One can see where comics like Woody Allen got a lot of his early material from gleaning the cultural mores predominant in both these albums, that show Booker and partner Foster's true genius for defining a genre through humor. The live audience present here makes the material play even more like television, helping to create a real "visual" presence for these playets, which are both timeless and charming in their appeal.

May these hilarious records provide you and your family the same "sitting around the hi-fi" happiness that I experienced when I first listened to them, wearing my pajamas that had all the gas station signs on them (my favorite was "Gulf") and eating my strawberry "Whip 'N Chill" light meringue pudding that Mom would make in those little glass dessert cups that were so evocative of the era for me. Food and humor always go well together in Jewish culture...Enjoy!

Hal Lifson
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Timba Talmud -
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Your Favorite Psalms Sung in English & Hebrew - The second in Hataklit’s series of psalms set to music includes both Messianic and Israeli music, performed by well-known artists including Marty Goetz, Jonathan Settel, Elisheva Shomron, and more, in both Hebrew and English. Includes a music book!
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Jewish Cello Masterpieces - A beautiful collection of great Jewish Music. Classics by Ernest Bloch and Max Bruch, mixed with rarely heard gems by Maurice Ravel, Zavel Zilberts, Jacob Wasilkovsky, and David Meyerowitz. "Wie Shlecht es is Ohn Gelt", a Yiddish Theatre gem, is alone worth the price of admission for its mixture of pathos and humor. The songs by Zilberts are an important and beautiful part of the Jewish music legacy that must be heard.
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Songs of the Spirit: The Debbie Friedman Anthology - The biggest traditional Jewish artist of all time is back! For those who know Debbie?s music, it has become a treasured part of their lives. Debbie has recorded over 19 albums, sold over 250,000 units and was originally influenced by the music of the 1960?s and 70?s- Peter Paul And Mary, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell. Hallmark greeting cards designed and marketed over 12 holiday cards using Debbie?s inspired lyrics. Debbie?s 1996 Carnegie Hall performance celebrated the 25th anniversary of her distinguished career. Debbie has performed concerts in hundreds of cities throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Israel.
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