The high lonesome sound of Ashley Monroe's Tennessee voice in "Like a Rose" serves as a clear signal that she's working within a tradition that extends back well beyond her twentysomething years on Earth. One of Monroe's collaborators in that song was Guy Clark, a seventysomething Texas country veteran who's often too tough-guy romantic for his own good.
As a music journalist from the North Country, I'd be a fool to pass up the opportunity to head down Austin, Texas, each March for the South by Southwest Music Conference. It provides those of us on the ice-whipped prairie a respite from our endless winter season, not to mention a chance to binge on the best burgeoning artists before they make their way around the country on tour. It's become something of a requisite for many of the musicians, writers, photographers and fans from my hometown.
Earlier this year, when NPR Music told us we'd present our first Latin Alternative showcase at South by Southwest, we were asked to dream up the most fantastic, mind-blowing lineup we could possibly imagine. I jokingly told my co-host, Felix Contreras, that we should get the legendary Mexican rock band Café Tacvba, to which he jokingly responded that we should just throw in the iconic group Molotov. I might have sarcastically quipped that we should also inquire about The Rolling Stones' availability.