Lincoln Park Revisitied
March 12, 2009 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a genre of music that seems to have disappeared. I was listening to some Steve Goodman and realized I don't know of any new fun-loving, story-telling upbeat folk singers anymore. Didn't anyone follow in the footsteps of John Prine, Warren Zevon, Arlo Guthrie and maybe even Jimmy Buffet (pre-corporate). There is folk music out there, but it all seems so serious.
posted by rtimmel to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
John Prine and Arlo are still making music. Arlo's daughter Cathy is in a band called Folk Uke (with Willie Nelson's daughter Amy Nelson) that you may like.
posted by Pants! at 9:24 PM on March 12, 2009

I'll try to come back with more suggestions a little later, but the first thing that came to mind is Antsy McClain. I love this one: I Was Just Flipped Off By A Silver-Haired Old Lady With a Honk if You Love Jesus Sticker on the Bumper of Her Car.
posted by diamondsky at 9:47 PM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, you might like Dan Bern or Todd Snider.
posted by diamondsky at 9:54 PM on March 12, 2009

Sufjan Stevens isn't always upbeat, but he's certainly capable of it, and he's a brilliant songwriter.

Also, please give Old Man Luedecke a listen!
posted by oulipian at 9:59 PM on March 12, 2009

Annie Gallup tells great stories. I am always surprised to find my feet tapping too. Swerve is a favorite, with lyrics like,
What I know about this city would fit in a box the size of my lover's apartment
I lost my words, they were coming out in threes
Like "What the hell." "I don't care," "it's your turn," "don't blame me"
posted by pointilist at 10:04 PM on March 12, 2009

Loudon Wainright
posted by bradly at 10:07 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Mountain Goats fits the bill, sometimes.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:09 PM on March 12, 2009

Robert Earl Keen, sometimes.
posted by jvilter at 10:19 PM on March 12, 2009

I was just thinking about this the other day. Not exactly new but Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic by Jaime Brockett is a great story.
posted by lilkeith07 at 10:21 PM on March 12, 2009

Can't believe nobody has mentioned John Wesley Harding yet. Especially try his first (live) album It Happened One Night.
posted by xil at 10:22 PM on March 12, 2009

Maybe Jonathan Richman or The Magnetic Fields?
posted by carsonb at 10:51 PM on March 12, 2009

Rhett Miller and Langhorne Slim

you're welcome.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:05 PM on March 12, 2009

Josh Ritter
posted by cushie at 11:34 PM on March 12, 2009

Try Joel Mabus, or Chuck Brodsky, or Dar Williams. Good story songs from all.
posted by richg at 12:13 AM on March 13, 2009

Guy Clark is one of the great songwriter/story-tellers. Get his album Old No 1. It's excellent.
posted by wsg at 12:19 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Jonathan Richman. Check his I, Jonathan album first and foremost.

Also seconding Loudon Wainwright. I'm partial to his first couple albums—old, not new, but definitely in the genre.

Good question, too. We need more of this, probably.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:42 AM on March 13, 2009

Submitted as evidence:

Jonathan Richman - Everyday Clothes
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:54 AM on March 13, 2009

Langhorne Slim. He's sort of like the folk version of Jack White. Often clever and sometimes poignant.
posted by arianell at 2:16 AM on March 13, 2009

Seconding Dan Bern. Here's an especially not so serious song.
posted by mikepop at 5:27 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Kennedys put out a lot of upbeat happy folk music. Check out the albums Get it Right, Stand, and Half a Million Miles.
posted by COD at 5:27 AM on March 13, 2009

Seconding Chuck Brodsky, especially "The Baseball Ballads", which is upbeat, funny, and tells GREAT stories about some baseball's oddest history. Amazon sums it up nicely:

Nine highly acclaimed original baseball story-songs. Among the characters covered on this CD are Eddie Klepp (first white man to play in the Negro Leagues), Moe Berg (a catcher who also was a US spy just before WWII), Max Patkin (Clown Prince of Baseball), Dock Ellis (who pitched a no hitter under the influence of LSD), Richie Allen (booed by racist Philadelphia fans, he’d write "b-o-o" in the dirt in response), Fred Bonehead Merkle (whose baserunning error cost the NY Giants the pennant in 1908), and Eddie Waitkus (shot by a female stalker, his story was the basis for the movie "The Natural").

Please, please find this album. Even if you don't care one whit about baseball or sports in general, you will love it, I promise.
posted by captnkurt at 5:28 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

seconding mountain goats. also jenny lewis, m. ward, & blitzen trapper (songs about turning into a dog! murder ballads!).
posted by apostrophe at 6:34 AM on March 13, 2009

Some of Jason Webley's stuff falls under this category.
posted by mannequito at 6:35 AM on March 13, 2009

You'll find that a large number of these artists have branded themselves as "antifolk". Look into Dan Bern for a great example of the genre.
posted by ellF at 6:56 AM on March 13, 2009

Two personal favorites: David Berkeley and Phil Roy ... and you can't go wrong with Richard Shindell.
posted by lpsguy at 7:07 AM on March 13, 2009

I would have never thought of Warren Zevon as upbeat, but if you like him, you'll probably like Stan Ridgeway. Also sounds like you might like Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. Also, just on general principle, I'm going to recommend the Asylum Street Spankers, which plays everything from ukulele novelty songs to murder ballads to Texas swing.
posted by adamrice at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2009

Utah Phillips fits your criteria. His perspective is critical, but he does it in an often hilarious way. He has a tune/story called Natural Resources that is a good example.
posted by umbú at 7:36 AM on March 13, 2009

Seconding Dan Bern, but I wouldn't call him antifolk at all.

Kimya Dawson yes, Dan Bern no.

And if you end up liking Dan Bern, try to go see him sometime, he's wonderful live.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:41 AM on March 13, 2009

Lyle Lovett.
posted by rokusan at 8:43 AM on March 13, 2009

Oh, shizzle, I forgot:

Robert Sarazin Blake

Listen to the streaming tracks on A Crowd of Drunken Lovers and "Okay, Not Great" from Humdinger Days and Humdinger Nights.

A little downbeat, but plenty of joy and great great, word-loving songwriting.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:04 AM on March 13, 2009

Thirding Chuck Brodksy. I love his stuff. An FPP I did last year has a link (here it is) to his song about Fred "Bonehead" Merkle.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:26 PM on March 13, 2009

David Wilcox has some great upbeat folk stuff.
posted by vagabond at 4:47 PM on March 23, 2009

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