Trail Mix 2020 – Vol. X

Too often, the drummer toils away behind his kit, keeping the band in the pocket and the music on time. Anonymity is an occupational hazard.

North Carolina’s Darren Jessee – long time drummer for Ben Folds Five – has broken that mold. While he has spent much of the last decade driving the rhythm for Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, and Hiss Golden Messenger, Jessee has also been writing and performing his own songs. He serves as singer and guitarist for his project Hotel Lights, and his latest solo record, Remover, which drops on October 16th, follows his well received 2018 release, The Jane, Room 217.

Remover continues Jessee’s reputation as a songcrafter of the highest pedigree – heartwrenching, evocative, and introspective are descriptors often used to describe his work – and Trail Mix is happy to be featuring “Getting Back To It Now” this month.

This month’s mix brings new tracks from some heavy hitting artists. For our acoustic lovers, both Steep Canyon Rangers and Andy Hall, longtime dobro player for The Infamous Stringdusters, have new records out. Darlingside, the Boston based quartet with the tightest harmonies this side of CSNY, are also back with their first record since 2018, and critically acclaimed Americana songstress Lera Lynn returns with a new collection of songs.

New West Records, one of our favorite labels here at Trail Mix, is in the midst of a run of incredible releases. Check out the brand new records from Ron Gallo, The Secret Sisters, The Nude Party, and Randall Bramlett.

Also featured on this month’s mix are three of my favorite regional artists. 49 Winchester, who hail from St. Paul, Virginia, in Southwest Virginia, are establishing themselves as a new voice in the world of gritty Appalachian country. Northeast Tennessee’s Beth Snapp – my daughter’s favorite singer – has returned with a great take on Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” And long time Charlottesville favorites Chamomile & Whiskey are also back with new tunes.

As you wrap up your first swing through this month’s Trail Mix, enjoy the new tunes from Rick Shea, Alberta & The Dead Eyes, Michael Flynn, Bonnie Whitmore, Leah Belle Faser, Devin B. Thompson, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche.

Each month, Trail Mix drops with the goal of bringing a little musical joy to your life. We here at Blue Ridge Outdoors and Trail Mix hope these tunes help out just a bit as we all deal with the uncertainty and unease brought about by the pandemic. Keep soldiering on, get outside and play, and take these tunes on your next adventure. And, while you are at it, seek out a record or two from these great artists. Help them out as they help you – and us – make it through.

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Places to Go, Things to See: