I really enjoy the times that musicians collaborate into areas outside of their norm, outside of their comfort zone.  My favorite recent example is Yo-Yo Ma and his foray into bluegrass:  Yo-Yo Ma and bluegrass

Here, he shows another side of himself.  He’s still the cello virtuoso – you can still hear that – but listen, there’s other stuff going on.  He’s smiling and laughing with his colleagues.  He’s not in the front of the orchestra, he’s just a bloke on stage with some other players.  The sounds are incredible, congruent, and unexpected.

As long as we’re on the Bluegrass theme, I love love love the collaboration of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and the best of those efforts is “Black Dog”: Robert and Alison

Which one has the googly eyes for the other?  I’ve debated this with people.  I guess it goes both ways.  These songs, this collaboration, and this concert in particular, is one of the greatest things I’ve discovered in the past several years.

(If you need a reminder for the original sound:  Led Zep and ‘Black Dog’

Hey, hey mama said the way you move
Gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove
Ah ah child way ya shake that thing
Gon’ make you burn, gon’ make you sting
Hey, hey baby when you walk that way
Watch your honey drip, I can’t keep away

Another favorite in this realm is the work that Mudhoney did with Jimmie Dale Gilmore.  On a 5-song EP, each played one Mudhoney song and each played one JDG song, and then they played together on a cover of the Townes Van Zandt composition, “Buckskin Stallion Blues”: Mudhoney / Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Steve Turner’s kickass guitar work really seems to propel Jimmie’s voice into a new area for him to explore.  That’s what reaching out does, and it’s exciting.  (You might guess that I picked this up as a fan of Mudhoney, and not so much of JDC.  You’d be correct.)

About a year ago I was at the Sky Cries Mary show in Seattle with a friend of mine and I was telling her about the Mudhoney/JDG thing, and a hipster leaned into us and asked, “Did you say Mudhoney did an album with Jimmie Dale Gilmore?”  I said “yes”.  He said, “I’ll have to check it out.”  Nothing here is “new new”, but I hope that the reader will find something s/he had not previously been listening to, something personally new.  Tell me about something on your list where a musician is reaching outside of their norm!


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