Peak Of The Week™

Thursdays at 9pm

A new release - handpicked by WNCW's Programming Staff - is sampled throughout Renee Denton's Music Mix on Thursday evenings.

An inspiration to MLK with her family band during the Civil Rights Era, a show-stealer for The Band's  star-studded The Last Waltz, near-fiancee to Bob Dylan.... Mavis Staples remains an icon of change, and one of the best voices of America's conscience.  She made some changes once again in 2010 when she collaborated with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy for the Grammy-winning You Are Not Alone, and she continues that great partnership with this new release. 

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie last year, an impressive array of musicians influenced by Woody gathered at The Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. to pay tribute.  Jackson Browne, Del McCoury, Tim O'Brien, Ani DiFranco, Lucinda Williams, Donovan, Old Crow Medicine Show, Judy Collins, Tom Morello....quite a lineup! 

Pokey's music of America's heartland is a great mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing.  His latest release was produced by Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show. 

Herd of 'em?  One of our favorite bands, with what might be one of our favorite albums of theirs.

One of our favorite Americana songwriters returns with one of his most solid collections yet.  On this, his 9th album, Slaid Cleaves once again covers a variety of issues affecting blue-collar/working-class Americans, as evident in some of the titles: "Rust Belt Fields", "Welding Burns", "Hometown USA", and the title track.  Appropriate topics to reflect on as we reflect on all things American for the holiday.  To quote Alan Harrison of No Depression: "I bet Dylan, Young, and Springsteen wish that they could still write songs like these."

English folk-pop singer-songwriter Laura Marling may sound like an old soul, with heavy whispers of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Pentangle in her work, but she's just 23, and this is already her 4th album.  Perhaps she draws more comparisons to that of Joni Mitchell (who moved to the L.A.

Not long after buying a rustic vacation cabin, John Mellencamp was told by the previous owner that it was haunted by the ghosts of two brothers and the girl they both loved, all of whom died horrifically there half a century earlier.  One thing led to another, and Mellencamp was able to team up with novelist Stephen King and producer T-Bone Burnett to create the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.  Of course they were able to amass an all-star cast for the soundtrack, so you'll hear Sheryl Crow, Taj Mahal, Dave Alvin, Elvis Costello (playing Satan), Ryan Bingham, and others

Jason Isbell, formerly with his band The 400 Unit and the Drive-By Truckers before that, has a new solo release that is more intimate and emotionally revealing than his previous works.  Released on Tuesday the 11th, it captures the 34-year-old's head and heart during a time of significant transitions, including his recent marriage to fiddler/singer Amanda Shires.  Says Isbell, "If you’re honest enough with your audience over the years, you’ll see that the audience feels very similar to you.

Iron and Wine is mostly the work of singer/songwriter/guitarist Sam Beam, but producer Brian Deck deserves a lot of the credit for his/their sound as well.  They collaborate well together again on this new release.  While this is definitely an Iron and Wine album, Beam also includes a few different moods and styles on some of these songs, and it's almost more in a jazz direction, thanks to jazz drummer Brian Blade, standup bassist Tony Garnier, and a liberal use of horns. 

We wrap up May with what has to be considered one of the best releases of the month, and likely a Top 10 contender for WNCW's 2013 list.  American Kid is Patty Griffin's 7th full-length, and includes assistance from brothers Luther & Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), and Robert Plant, with whom she's a professional as well as romantic relationship the past few years.  The songs center largely around the death of her father, including her one cover,  an incredibly moving version of Lefty Frizzell's "Mom and Dad's Waltz".  We'll play each of these fine examples of mode