Radio Songs: Robin and Linda Williams

It stands to reason that when Robin and Linda Williams got around to the idea of making a retrospective album, they’d find an unusual way to tackle it. The couple has been making music which crosses country, folk, Americana, and bluegrass boundaries for more than three decades. The landscape around their home in the mountains of Virginia often inspires their work.

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They’ve traveled from their home in the Shenandoah across the world with their music, though, and one of the places they have visited often is the American Public Media radio show A Prairie Home Companion.. A favorite of host Garrison Keillor and his listeners for both their music and their humor, the pair frequently adds to the widely loved show. So for a retrospective, of sorts, they decided to choose songs from across their range of music history which they have done live on the program. The result is Radio Songs.

This means among other things that they enjoy the contributions of several well known guests, including Mike Seeger and the members of Mountain Heart. The focus, however, is quite naturally held by Robin and Linda and especially their fine harmonies and outstanding duets. There are gospel songs including Feed My Sheep and bluegrass music including Blue Ridge Cabin Home. There’s also 50,000 Names, a haunting song about the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, which they had not released on record before.

There is music from their own back catalogue, such as Hesitation Blues, and Restless One, which they first recorded in 1977. The disc closes with with two very different but equally engaging medleys. The first, Home Sweet Hone Medley, comprises five songs on that theme, while the second, Down Home Diva — well, if you’ve ever wondered how Ole Sole Mio or the Toreador Song would sound done in straight ahead bluegrass style, here’s your chance.

–> Update: Robin and Linda Williams still live in the Shenandoah, and still draw on the Shenandoah and other landscapes to inspire their work. The album These Old Dark Hills marked forty years of their making music together.

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