Rock of Ages

The 40th series of Later with Jools Holland returned to the BBC this month and this week’s second episode was a right humdinger of a show. It featured an array of North American artists playing that region’s traditional forms of music, as well as an Irish group celebrating fifty years together. To celebrate this milestone, The Chieftains have teamed up with producer T Bone Burnett on an album called Voice of Ages. The Chieftains are no strangers to merging different styles of traditional music, as evidenced by their version of The Long Black Veil with Mick Jagger below. They are joined on the new album by a number of bands that have previously appeared on Later: Imelda May and Lisa Hannigan from Ireland; Paolo Nutini from Scotland; Bon Iver, The Civil Wars, The Decemberists, Paolo Nutini, Carolina Chocolate Drops and The Secret Sisters from the States

The latter two also appeared on this week’s show and both played a song with The Chieftains. The African-American bluegrass band Carolina Chocolate Drops also played a song from their latest album, Leaving Eden. You can check out their version of a tune by The Mississippi Sheiks below. Laura & Lydia Rogers (The Secret Sisters) were one of two acts on the show from Alabama and they sang a wonderful version of Peggy Gordon with The Chieftains. The version of the song from the album is available as a free download here. The duo worked with Jack White on Johnny Cash’s Big River and he was also on the show to sing a few songs from his debut solo album Blunderbuss. His take on another famous Irish band appeared on a tribute to U2’s Achtung Baby last year

Alabama Shakes feature the powerful vocals and energetic presence of Brittany Howard and were most impressive. Boys & Girls is the title of their debut record and the version of Hang Loose is taken from a session on KEXP. New Yorker Norah Jones was making her fifth appearance and played some tracks from her upcoming Little Broken Hearts LP. I was more impressed when she sat at the piano with Jools to play a Kris Kristofferson track that is also the title track of the second album from her side project called The Little Willies. The final guest on the show was Claire Boucher from Vancouver, who goes under the moniker of Grimes. Her more modern style of music was a little bit out of place on this week’s show, but it didn’t seem to phase her. Next week’s third episode of Later has a lot to live up to, but it does feature appearances from Richard Hawley and St Vincent. It goes out on Tuesdays and Fridays on BBC Two television

The Long Black Veil (Lefty Frizzell cover) – The Chieftains with Mick Jagger

Sitting on Top of the World (Mississippi Sheiks cover) – Carolina Chocolate Drops

Big River (Johnny Cash cover) – The Secret Sisters

Love Is Blindness (U2 cover) – Jack White

Hang Loose – Alabama Shakes

For the Good Times (Kris Kristofferson cover) – The Little Willies

Devon – Grimes