Every month our editors curate a playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In April we’re highlighting new tunes from Sara Watkins and Sunny War, plus a recently unearthed live version of the Allman Brothers Band’s ripping instrumental “Hot’Lanta.” To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.
Yasmin Williams is a solo acoustic guitar innovator challenging the boundaries of her instrument. Based in northern Virginia, Williams crafts evocative instrumental compositions with deft fret work that’s uniquely percussive and captivatingly melodic. “Through the Woods,” which comes from the new album “Urban Driftwood,” features a mesmerizing mix of rhythmic tapping and gentle fingerpicking and hits the senses much like an idyllic stroll through a dense forest. —J.F.
Allman Brothers Band “Hot’Lanta”
Young Duane Allman had two passions: guitars and motorcycles. The former made him a rock icon, while a tragic accident on the latter ended his life too soon. Allman’s genius is again captured on “Hot’Lanta,” a jazz-infused jam taken from “Down in Texas ‘71,” a live Allman Brothers Band set captured just weeks before his death. Proceeds from this new live release will benefit the Big House, the Macon, Ga., home that served as the breeding ground for the South’s first true rock and roll band. —D.S.
Elijah Wolf “Brighter Lightning”
While dealing with mental health struggles, indie folk singer-songwriter Elijah Wolf found solace in long-distance runs, which he used “as an opportunity to meditate” and also generate ideas for his new album, the optimistic “Brighter Lightning.” The retro-hued title track ruminates on acceptance and also showcases a fuller sound for Wolf, who recruited Wilco’s Nels Cline to add his distinctive guitar textures to the song and throughout the album. —J.F.
Sunny War “Like Nina”
Sunny War writes songs like she lives: direct, brutally honest, and socially aware. On “Like Nina,” over a cascade of electric guitar, she sings with a beautiful ferocity about the place of Black women in pop culture, contrasting the superficial inclinations of the mainstream with the power of socially conscious Black women and the change the latter can affect. There exists a misguided notion that artists like Sunny War should be the exception to the rule of the mainstream. With songs like this, Sunny continues to take a hammer to that stereotype. —D.S.
The Vandoliers “Every Saturday Night”
Texas twang-punk outfit the Vandoliers deliver a distorted banger about missing the pre-pandemic good times in “Every Saturday Night.” In the new single, fuzzy guitars and dance-hall fiddle are propelled by stomping drums and a thumping bassline, as frontman Joshua Flemming recalls rowdy nights filled with whisky and sing-alongs. “We should’ve danced ‘til they turned out the lights/ I took for granted every Saturday night,” Flemming sings, a reminder to really soak it in when the party safely returns. —J.F.
Rose City Band “Lonely Places”
After last year’s stellar LP “Summerlong,” Rose City Band—the psychedelic country project of Wooden Shjip’s Ripley Johnson—returns next month with another full-length effort, “Earth Trip.” Lead single “Lonely Places” is a drifter’s anthem that settles into a laid-back groove led by winding pedal steel and soul-searching lyrics. The tune eventually peaks with a spacey electric solo, proving the new school of Cosmic American Music is alive and well. —J.F.
Sara Watkins “Blue Shadows on the Trail”
Sara Watkins has reunited brother Sean and Chris Thile—her mates in the groundbreaking Nickel Creek—on “Blue Shadows on the Trail,” their take on the Randy Newman classic from the 1986 comedy Three Amigos. Watkins’s fiddle and vocals blend effortlessly with Thile’s masterful mandolin throughout this whimsical singalong from “Under The Pepper Tree,” a set of songs akin to Garcia and Grisman’s “Not For Kids Only,” that will appeal to listeners both young and old. —D.S.
The Brother Brothers “On The Road Again”
At some point, we all get the hankering to be anywhere but where we are, convinced that, beyond some distant fenceline, the grass is indeed greener. The Brother Brothers—David and Adam Moss—beautifully capture that sentiment in “On The Road Again,” the title track of their new record. Splendid harmonies, born from a lifetime singing together, paint a romantic vision of chasing the distant horizon, free from the ache caused by so much self-doubt. – D.S.
Cover Photo: Northern Virginia’s Yasmin Williams recently released her new album, “Urban Driftwood.” Photo by Kim Atkins Photography