Bill Monroe might scowl at it, but the rise of newgrass (the instrumental and stylistic tenets of bluegrass mixed with modernist touches) still remains true to the spiritual mountain-music root. Its leading purveyors are the maturing and blossoming Nickel Creek, the Dixie Chicks on Home and the aptly-named Greencards--two Aussies and a Brit whose Weather and Water was one of last year's splendid surprises. Formed in Austin and now residing in Nashville--which has become the vital creative center for acoustic country while its Music Row grinds commercial country into clichéd dog poop--the threesome (with Austin-based guitarist Robbie Gjersoe) weave mesmeric tapestries with their strings, songs and singing. It's masterful music that resuscitates tradition and nourishes it to grow and expand into something as elemental as, well, weather and water.
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