Country and Estrogen: O Sister! The Women's Bluegrass Collection (Rounder) introduces a dozen and a half Southern musical mamas to the bluegrass-challenged masses as well as the dolts who think it's strictly the domain of bearded guys with oversized adenoids. A great way to check out solid artists like Rhonda Vincent, Hazel Dickens and Claire Lynch if you like Alison Krauss (who's also here) and want more of her kind. Maura O'Connell's Walls & Windows (Sugar Hill) is Celtic country, the powerful warbler interpreting the songs of Eric Clapton ("I Get Lost"), Van Morrison ("Crazy Love"), Patty Griffin ("I Wonder") and others with Byrds-like 12-string guitars and uillean pipes. (Mississippi "Weatherproof" Rufus critiques: "Finally, some ladies! Southern mamas, too. I ain't been nekkid with a real woman in so long I can't remember if you goes in-and-out or over-and-under, but I remembers one of them is for square-dancing.")
Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen have previously been members of the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, the Dillards and J.D. Crowe's New South, with the folk, bluegrass and Bakersfield country stylings of 'em all evident on Running Wild (Rounder). Added to the mix are versions of "4 + 20" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the Beatles' "Things We Said Today." Frustratingly short of Tony Rice's jaw-dropping guitar solos, though.
Pete Seeger, the Moses of folk music, is twice honored by the Appleseed label; the first featuring Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert and Seeger on HARP: A Time to Sing, bringing to mind his half-century old group, The Weavers, with former Weavette Gilbert still in tow and Arlo taking dad Woody Guthrie's place for a load of songs ranging from "Wimoweh" to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." If I Had a Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 2 pays tribute to another batch of his better-known songs, sung by Jackson Brown, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Steve Earle and numerous familiar folkies.
Traditional Music of Peru: The Ayacucho Region and The Lima Highlands (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), both filled with harps, 10-string guitars and panpipes, are volumes six and seven in a series of haunting field recordings focusing on that area of the world lesser minds associate with last weekend's nose candy and the panpipes on Simon & Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa." (Mississippi "Weatherproof" Rufus critiques: "Panpipes? Panpipes, drainpipes -- sounds like the devil with a snot whistle. Spending my Saturday night listening to this jive trash! Walkie-talkie my headplate later if you want to go strutting out for some fine kitchen appliances.")
Antonio Carlos Jobim's original "Girl From Ipanema" is probably some liver-spotted septuagenarian doing foldouts in Brazil's equivalent of Modern Maturity these days. Never fear, Samba Bossa Nova (Putumayo) Viagrifies the lust and romance back into Rio de Janeiro with this sampler of contemporary artists. Some of the players are kids of the ultra-sexual samba and bossa nova '60s craze, including Jobim's son and grandson in Quarteto Jobim-Moeienbaum. A rare glimpse of what's currently going on down there, so to speak.
R. Carlos Nakai's flute meets Cliff Sarde's keyboard and programming for some Native American electronica on Enter Tribal (Canyon Records), resulting in moody, pulsating stuff that keeps Nakai's hypnotic soaring grounded. Ought to be a big audience for this one, especially with the second generation of new-agettes who can't decide whether to spend their evening meditating or getting Ecstatic at a rave.