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People's Picks: Logan Ledger

People's Picks: Logan Ledger
People's Picks: Logan Ledger | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Sometime in the early aughts, when I was a teenage, beginning banjo player in Marin County California, I walked into a Borders Books and Music looking for some musical inspiration. At that point, all I really knew how to play was a rudimentary version of the old-time standard Cripple Creek, and some basic three-finger rolls I’d gleaned from Pete Seeger’s classic primer 'How To Play the 5 String Banjo.' I remember there was a CD whose cover sleeve for some reason stood out among the rest. It was "On The Road" by the Country Gentlemen, and it happened to be a Smithsonian Folkways release.

That moment lead to a minor obsession with the Folkways catalog. My early infatuation with bluegrass soon led to a love affair with old time music, and the catalog certainly didn’t disappoint there. I fell head over heels for the New Lost City Ramblers and Pete’s brother Mike Seeger whose meticulous liner notes put me on a mission to listen to all of the source material on which they had based their performances. I went deep into Harry Smith’s anthology, field recordings, all kinds of folky sounds that for a young kid in suburban California were simply magic. I lost myself in soundscapes that felt wholly unknown yet mystically familiar.

And the music has stuck with me. No matter what I seem to do, I’m always returning to the sounds I immersed myself in in those early years—a forever folkie. So I’m honored to put together this playlist for a label without which I honestly don’t know how I would have turned out as a musician—as a human, really. And I know I’m not alone in that regard. Long live meticulous liner notes.

Logan Ledger’s self-guided musical education began in the San Francisco Bay Area, where his grandmother introduced him to the music of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. Their voices compelled him to sing, and at twelve years old, Logan picked up guitar and started writing songs of his own. He moved to Nashville in 2013, where his moody, era-defying country music attracted the attention of legendary producer T-Bone Burnett and Rounder Records. Since then, Logan has released two full-length albums, which thread together influences from baroque 1960s folk and pop and ’60s and ’70s California country rock. His second album, Golden State, is out on September 8 on Rounder Records. He curates this month's People's Picks.
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