Jim Leonard

Jim Leonard

Earlier this year we started asking our Staff Members, Teachers, and members of our Board of Directors for musical recommendations. We are early into it, but have started collecting their suggestions on this Spotify playlist.

This time around we asked our Board Secretary Jim Leonard for his picks. “Instead of sharing specific songs,” Jim told us, “I wanted to share some things that have made the Pandemic a musical exploration, which is really what loving music is all about. Listen and enjoy all of these!”

Without further ado, here are Jim’s Staff Picks:

1. The Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast – Season 1, Vol. 8: Jerry Garcia – American Folkie

The good folks at Rhino Records put together an excellent pandemic special during 2020 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty. Each podcast focuses on a single song and its musical heritage, including deep folk, country and rock roots, and features fantastic interviews from a who’s who of music, both in front of the mic and behind the boards. 

Whether you are a Deadhead or just musically curious, these podcasts are a musical encyclopedia of American music and extremely gratifying to any music lover. Check out this Deadcast which follows the trail of one Jerome Garcia as he makes his way from discharge from the U.S. Army to crack folk and bluegrass musician in a few short years. Listen to one and you will be hooked on the rest. These podcasts got me through the Pandemic and made me love music I already enjoyed and showed me the path to other musicians and albums I had not yet investigated.

2. Gillian Welch – Boots No. 2 – The Lost Songs Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3

Right before the Pandemic, Nashville was hit by a massive tornado that ripped the roof off of Gillian Welch and her partner/bandmate David Rawlings’s recording studio threatening all of their master tapes, instruments and facility. Fortunately they salvaged almost everything, and while they were then plunged into the Pandemic, they decided they needed to release as much material as they could. The result was a three volume set of unreleased recordings from a cache of home demos and reel-to-reel recordings. This remarkable 48 song collection from two of the foremost purveyors and protectors of American folk/Americana/roots music is spread over three volumes and was recorded between the making of Time (The Revelator) and Soul Journey.

3. Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio – I Told You So

The Spotify algorithm has helped me replace daily/weekly visits to my favorite record stores (which I will pick up again after I get my shots!). The amount of music you can get turned on to after listening to one song or album is incredible – sometimes hit or miss, but most often a direct hit. Witness Delvon Lamarr, my new favorite artist of 2021, another example of the incredible music out in the world that you don’t find unless someone throws you a bread crumb, which I got after Spotify dialed up Delvon after I was listening to Jimmy Smith’s Back at the Chicken Shack. While Jimmy is an Organ maestro, Delvon and his trio are as good and maybe better to me. Enjoy “Careless Whisper” (yes, a WHAM! song!) and you will see the majesty of Delvon and his ace guitarist Jimmy James. A must see is Delvon’s At Home from KEXP.