Michelle Shocked - Arkansas Traveler (1992)
Michelle Shocked - Arkansas Traveler (1992)- August 24th- City Winery
Arkansas Traveler is a sleeper of a masterpiece. Bookended by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and T-Bone Burnett's Cohn Brother collaboration "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?," Michelle Shocked demonstrated the visionary prescience that brought the Trilogy full circle with Arkansas Traveler. With bold, ebullient strokes she laid out the parameters of the nascent Americana format by transforming string band music and traditional fiddle tunes with masterful lyric poetry that brought the old saws back to life in a fresh, dynamic iteration for a new generation of American traditional music lovers and managed to reach back and hold hands with its Celtic roots at the same time, by touching the third rail of American music history by framing the entire exercise in the context of a conversation about blackface minstrelsy. Nothing says success like getting away with it, and a 1992 Grammy nomination for Arkansas Traveler was a well-deserved acknowledgment of her lasting achievement.