I Drove Many Miles To Knock At Your Door And If You Lived Further I Would've Driven More

This has happened unwittingly and against my better judgment but I have somehow become a person who says, with a straight face—or with the equivalent of a straight face when one is communicating via IM—"I'm really into banjos right now." 

What? Shut up, self, that's a ridiculous thing to say. But it's true. Banjo players are underrated, in my opinion, and they should really get more credit. Why do the damn lead guitarists get all the credit anyway? Lead guitarists are like the quarterbacks of bands and you know what, I think it's time we started paying more attention to the....uh....other people who aren't the quarterbacks. My football analogy fell apart right there because I don't actually know any more positions in football. I do know a few in rugby, but that's only because they have better names. Like hooker. 

Anyway, all this is to say that I have a really hard time writing about the music I'm listening to right now without sounding like a pretentious douchecanoe—my brother is way better at that; writing about music, I mean, not sounding like a pretentious douchecanoe (he's one of the few people who actually can write about music without sounding like a pretentious douchecanoe)—but I seem to be a on a kick in 2012 where I devour whole albums at once, track for track, gorging on them so greedily that if you were to see a silhouette of me from the side, it would be like when a snake swallows a mouse whole and you can watch it moving slowly down the length of his body. With me, you'd see CDs instead: entire albums that I listen to on repeat for days on end. Actually, you wouldn't see CDs because it's not 1995 anymore, but the visual was so much better than trying to picture a digital MP3 moving slowly down a person's digestive tract. 

Ew, on second thought, I don't want to picture anything moving slowly down a person's digestive tract. 

So far in 2012, I have devoured, snake-like, The Lion's Roar by First Aid Kit,  the eponymous first albums by both The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart, and the new offering by Langhorne Slim & The Law called This Is How We Move. While the others were recommendations from friends, this last one was something I pretty much discovered by myself, and only then because I was scanning Rdio looking for something new to listen to. I fully admit that I only chose it because of the name. I mean, Langhorne Sim & the Law? That sounds like a pretty bitchin' band.

(Turns out that Langhorne Slim's real name is actually Sean Scolnick—he was born in Langhorne, Pennsylvania; can you tell someone's been on his Wikipedia page?—which, while something of a letdown, is at least redeemed by the fact that his drummer's name is Malachi DeLorenzo, which I think we can all agree is also pretty bitchin'.)

Anyway, I listened to The Way We Move pretty much non-stop for the entire first 24 hours after I found it—if you want the Cliff's Notes, my favorites are Salvation, The Great Divide, Bad Luck, and the title track The Way We Move, pretty much in that order—and then I looked the band up online and discovered they were playing in San Francisco the following month. You can see where this is going right? 

Yep, that's totally where it went. Straight to me standing in a bar at 10pm on a school night, waiting for the band to take the stage and cursing my ability to ever get to a show at a time other than MONSTROUSLY EARLY. 

But man, was it a good show! I hadn't been to a non-Evan-Dando concert in a year or so—you may remember my attendance at quite a rash of Evan Dando concerts in the last little while—so I'd sort of forgotten what one might be like, and the answer was that it was excellent. There was a lot of handclapping—audience participation encouraged, thank goodness, because choreographed public handclapping is one of my favorite things ever—and also some weird sort of folk music moshpit, which I'd never seen before, but is basically just like a regular moshpit except with more people in fedoras.

Langhorne Slim—excuse me, Sean Scolnick—was excellent at stage banter, really funny and humble and happy that people were there to see him. At the very end, he said "Okay, guys, we're going to do one more song," which, you know, seemed like a pretty nice heads-up and all, I thought, but some guy in the audience wasn't having any of it. "No!" he shouted. "Not one! Three! Do three! Three! Okay, two! Two! DO TWO MORE."

Huh. I wasn't aware that we could bargain with the band about when they finished! 

I'm going to leave you with one of my new favorite songs, which I only heard for the first time last night—well, I heard most of it; I don't believe in the death penalty, except when it applies to frat boys behind me TALKING ALL THE WAY THROUGH A CONCERT—and loved immediately. Walking back to the car afterwards, I said to Sean, who I'd dragged along with me, "I really liked that one about driving all those miles to knock on your door." 

"Oh yeah," he said. "I really liked that one too. It reminded me of you."

"Really? I said, blushing and giggly. "It reminded me of you!"

Thanks, Langhorne Slim, for making me feel eighteen again. 

Filed Under:
Aug 09, 2012

I always get the best music recs from you.

Thank you.

Aug 09, 2012

You might like The Avett Brothers if you like banjos. They are from NC. I have been obsessed with them since finding them a few years ago.

Aug 09, 2012

Oh, yes, I second The Avett Brothers. They're awesome.

If you're willing to venture bluegrass-ward, Alison Krauss and Union Station are a favorite of mine, too. Banjo AND fiddle, it's like twice the awesome. ;)

Aug 09, 2012

Can you third something? Avett Brothers are great and so are banjos. If you like Slim you may like The Cave Singers or Mumford & Sons.

Aug 09, 2012

I just saw the Head and the Heart live last week! They were awesomely fun - and I wasn't even drinking, having foregone beer to stand in the less claustophobic non-drinking section, which is how I know that I am getting woefully old - and played with gusto. I highly recommend going if they come by San Francisco way.

I wasn't familiar with most of these other bands, but I will be checking them out now, as I see Langhorne Slim at least uses a lot of nonsense sing along words. Thanks for the recommendations!

Also, might I suggest checking out Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band if you like folksy music? They have no banjos, but they are a superb band. As an English major, you may especially like them; Josh Ritter describes them as playing rock and roll with a lot of words.

Aug 09, 2012

I love banjos too! I think they're slowly gaining respect and admiration in the music world.

I also recommend the Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons (banjo players par excellence, in my opinion), Seryn, and Matthew & The Atlas.

Aug 09, 2012

In case you're looking for another band pretty similar to some of the above, I'm devouring Of Monsters and Men lately.

Aug 09, 2012

I am in strong agreement that bangos are highly underrated. And my husband just scratches his head when I play stuff like the Avett Brothers, Mumford, etc., because we are both lovers of 90s grunge. Ha. Thanks for the great recommendation. Another great band along this genre is Trampled by Turtles.

Aug 09, 2012

I second and third the recommendations for Mumford and Sons, obviously. But also, if you want to get into some older stuff, check out The Kingston Trio. Great vocals, loads of banjo, live albums with lots of cute, witty banter, with utterly sincere, lovely songs followed by funny raucous crowd-pleasers...I grew up listening to them and they're still one of my all-time favorites.

Brianne Joy
Aug 09, 2012

I'm a sucker for a good concert & sadly, I can't name the last time I pushed my way to the front row & danced like a true groupie. Such a shame. Maybe (thanks to your inspiration), I'll take my hubby on a date to a rockin' concert soon.

Aug 09, 2012

Also highly recommend Punch Brothers and as Amanda said Trampled by Turtles - they're a local band (MN) made good and I've been a fan since they played local festivals for free. Listen to "Wait So Long." You won't be able to keep your feet from a'tappin!!

Alicia C.
Aug 09, 2012

Thanks for the recommendations! I am always looking for new music. I am also trying out rdio. I have been frustrated with pandora's repeated limited music.

Aug 09, 2012

I love that you said 10 pm was "monstrously early." for a concert. With two little people now to take care of, if I were at a concert at 10pm on a work night I would wonder why in the world I was out so late!

Aug 09, 2012

Can we best friends? I think I may be one of those pretentious I-will-lock-you-in-my-car-until-your-music-tastes-improve peoplw, but hey--we all have our weaknesses :)

This exciting thing happened in my life where I got tickets to The Lumineers AND The Avett Brothers for this fall. As a college girl who sometimes exists off of three pb&js a day, this is THE BUSINESS, I tell you.

Aug 09, 2012

Holly, I totally had to Google "douchecanoe."

From Urban Dictionary: "A person that is so douchey, said douchey-ness travels cross bodies of water."
"When a person is so douchey they are equal to about 50 douchebags, therefore a canoe would be needed."

I learned something today. Thank you.

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 09, 2012

Amy: Josh Ritter has been one of my very favorites for many, many, many years! Love him. Favorite album is the first one (with Leaves & Kings, Hotel Song etc.) Definitely some banjos on that one!

Amanda: Oh no, no, no—I think I must not have phrased it very clearly! I was saying that I'd GOT to the venue monstrously early, despite the band not going on until 10pm (which, for a weeknight, was a very late start for me!) So I was just kind of standing there forever, waiting for them to come on, cursing my inability to remember that bands never go on stage at the time on the ticket.

Aug 09, 2012

How fun! *I* am from Langhorne, Pennsylvania!! Thanks for sharing this song, which I played in its entirety at my desk at work. I love your music recommendations, Holly, keep 'em coming.

Alyson Sword
Aug 09, 2012

Try out Eddie from Ohio! Great, great, great music! They don't disappoint! Been listening to them since I was 16 ... I'm now 33 :)

Aug 09, 2012

I really think that you would like 89.3 The Current which is a very progress public radio station in Minneapolis. A lot of non-Minneapolis folks stream The Current on a regular basis because of the wide breadth of great music. I would say their Banjo ratio is pretty high in comparison to most other stations. Check it out.

Aug 09, 2012

My music recommendations have been recommended! But I'll put them out there anyway.

Avett Brothers
Mumford & Sons, for the banjo
Alison Krauss & Union Station (and also the stuff she did with Robert Plant)
Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler (the guy from Dire Straits)
Of Monsters and Men. LOVE THEM.
Also, Tom Waits, because I love Tom Waits and so he has a permanent spot on any list related to music.

Aug 09, 2012

I came back to gather up the recommendations for listening; the commenters have great recs too. I'm one band in, and I realized I do know at least some of the songs. We have a great radio station in Pittsburgh and I often hear songs that I like but they don't get pushed the forefront of my mind until someone gives them a nudge. So thanks, everyone! And Holly, I'm glad you are already well aware of the awesomeness of Josh Ritter!

Completely unrelated, but I'll post it here anyway: so I'm considering chopping my hair off in a chin length bob again (as part of my endless grow it long, cut it off cycle). One thing that is stopping me is what will I do with it when I run? I remember you cut your hair in a similar style a few months ago. What have you been doing with it when you to to the gym? While the cuteness factor is unparalleled, I feel it is the worst of both worlds: not long enough to pull back, not short enough to avoid it on your neck.

Aug 09, 2012

I started listening to The Lumineers after I saw one of your blog posts or tweets or Instagrams (wow, I sound like a stalker) and I LOVE them--their album has been on repeat for weeks, so thank you for the rec! I'm going to have to listen to Langhorne Slim and the Law, too. Yay!

Aug 09, 2012

Have you written a book yet? If not, get on it. I'll buy it and buy a copy for all of my friends.

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 09, 2012

Amy: Regarding the hair, it took me a few weeks to really like mine, but now I'm very glad I cut it. The one problem, as you say, is that it's a little annoying knowing what to do with it when working out, but I find I can scrape mine into a mini-ponytail pretty easily (or a pony-STUB as Sean charmingly calls it). It doesn't look particularly great—especially if I'm being really serious and call in the bobby pins and/or stretchy headbands as reinforcements—but it does the job and gets it out of my face, and no-one's looking at you when you work out anyway. Do it!

Kathryn: That is very kind of you to say, but unfortunately I am hideously lazy, despite it being my biggest dream.

Anne M
Aug 09, 2012

If you haven't already, check out Steve Martin's music. He is a great banjo player and such an amazing entertainer. I also love the band he tours with, the Steep Canyon Rangers. I got to see them all together in June and it was such a great show, worth every penny (which was quite a few pennies).

Aug 09, 2012

You need to listen to Bela Fleck Live at The Quick. Awesomeness.

Aug 09, 2012

Finally! You're speaking my musical language.
Yay for Langhorne Slim! I've been listening to them for years as they often toured with The Avett Brothers. True story - Scott & Seth Avett are from where I used to live and about 6 years ago, I saw The Avett Brothers perform in my friend's living room. I love that they have worked so hard and now have so many fans! I would highly recommend them as a compliment to these other bands you have so recently devoured. :)
Maybe also check out Kovacs & The Polar Bear, The Civil Wars, Blind Pilot, The Tallest Man on Earth, Of Monsters and Men (all available on Spotify!)

Aug 09, 2012

Perhaps not the same musically but still a real treat, are the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys. The music is pure bluegrass which favors the banjo, a lot. The "boys" are actual boys ages 9-14. Watch the youngest boy, he plays a banjo that's as big as he is and he is lightening fast. Plus, banjo is in their name.

Aug 09, 2012

Douchecanoe is awesome. I use that one all the time. :) I miss going to concerts! Living in a small town with kids makes it hard to run up to Denver to see anything but I certainly appreciate you passing along your recommendations!

Aug 09, 2012

Okay, so this is going to make ME a total douchecanoe, but if you like the banjo you've got to listen to my husband's band, Marah They've been banjo-ing in a most badass way since, like, '95. Banjos are the end all be all.

slow banjo jam - This song KILLS me.


fast banjo fun - my husband on the harmonica


All-time greatest banjo song ever - the song I got married to and was playing when both my children were boron.


Aug 09, 2012

Forgot to tell you, the lead singer is my husband's brother. They've been in the band together since they were kids. How cute are they?


Okay, I'm done now. But you had me at banjo.

Aug 09, 2012

Thank you! Always love your music recs. As an 42 yr old reader I don't find cool music unless it's pointed out to me. I fell head over heels for Dan Managan based on your rec. I love Mumford and Sons and look forward to more banjo!! (Aside - I passed on the Dan Managan to a dear friend who happens to be caring for her mil who suffers from dementia. She was listening to the music for the 3rd or 4th time on a train in Germany when she finally LISTENED to Basket and started sobbing. She was with her 12 year old daughter who was concerned about her mom but mainly embarassed, and she kept saying, "Mom are you okay? Mom please stop, Mom are you okay??" It was actually very helpful for her to let some out. Although I don't think her daughter thought so.)

Aug 09, 2012

Great rec! I'm looking forward to hearing them at the Strawberry Music Festival over labor day weekend. Lots of banjos going on there -it's such a fun bluegrass-y festival.

Aug 10, 2012

Two words: Rascal Flatts

LISTEN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9RRBGFO1nI

Aug 10, 2012

Of Monsters and Men is a band I'm really interested to hear more from. Over here, only Little Talks is getting some airplay, the album isn't out until the end of the month.

You might also like Frank Turner, I like I Still Believe.

Have you heard Fleet Foxes?

Aug 10, 2012

Well, well, well!! YOU need to check out ACL this year! It is in October...and its literally the coolest music festival I've ever been too! GUESS WHAT?! Almost all the bands that have been listed in the comments and definitely ALL the bands you mentioned in your post WILL BE THERE!!!! I, of course, will be there (which means nothing to basically all of you). It has the greatest food...I mean where in the world can you get everything in a tortilla...they have food called meat cones and chicken & donuts (TOGETHER, WITH SYRUP). Believe me, people, it is worth every penny! Check it out!!!

Also, I would recommend Spotify to people who are checking out music without wanting to buy whole albums! It's free through facebook. I have it on my phone and its $10/month but totally worth it too me who listens to a lot of music and travels a lot.


I know, I know..."But, Kellie! It says it's sold out!" Fear not people, I know ways to get tickets!

I also recommend Gary Clark Jr. for everyone who like Jimi Hendrix...or basically anyone.

Aug 10, 2012

Thanks for all the recommendations - I've been having fun on spotify all morning! Here's another one for you - Abigail Washburn. She incorporates not only bluegrass but also Chinese folk music. I just saw her live this spring and love the album City of Rescue.

Aug 11, 2012

1. You guys are ridiculously perfect.
2. I'm obsessed with banjos, too! There's a homeless man here that plays one swimmingly and I just can't tear myself away.
3. Ditto with the album consumption. Summer is such a great music time.

Aug 12, 2012

Completely unrelated but I really want to see your bathroom - is it finished?

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 12, 2012

AC: Almost but not quite! Only put the medicine cabinet in last weekend and still need to hang a few things on the walls. All in good time!

Aug 13, 2012

You people are my musical soulmates. Since everyone else has already mentioned Avett Bros., Mumford & Sons (just got back from seeing them and Dawes and Justin Townes Earle et al. in Bristol!), Trampled by Turtles, Of Monsters and Men, Blind Pilot, Fleet Foxes, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Josh Ritter, I will offer a few others: Old Crow Medicine Show, The Harmed Brothers and Three Tall Pines. AND also second the above Frank Turner recommendation, I may be perhaps a *tiny* bit obsessed right now (Newer album "England Keep My Bones" is awesome and I'm also quite fond of "Love Ire & Song"). It's like folky-punk-ish... folk-rock? Going to catch him in Atlanta next month. (Insert high-pitched noises of excitement.)

Aug 13, 2012

stay away from Langhorne, he's mine! I've been listening to them for years and have seen them countless times in concert; they never fail to make me shake my ass and fall in love all over again. i finally got to meet Langhorne in person and go all fan-girl all over him. it was amazing, and he is extremely humble, sweet, and kind in real life.

Aug 14, 2012

Oh boy, do I love Langhorne Slim. Maybe it's because he's in nearby PA, but our local college station has been spotlighting him for several years now, and I just love him. I did not, however, know he had out a new album...must download immediately.

Douchecanoe is one of my favorites too...it is just fun to say!

Aug 14, 2012

So, did they sing only the one song, or did they do two? Am I the only one that is wondering this?

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 14, 2012

Onethirdacrewoods: They only did the one! Didn't cave to that guy, though they did kind of laugh when he shouted it.

Aug 14, 2012

Ok I'm not sure if anyone's named this band yet but Old Crow Medicine Show is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I'm typically not into that genre (at least I never was until I heard them). Favorite song, if you only try out one, is called "Wagon Wheel". I'm a displaced Yankee in the South and it makes me feel absolutely enveloped in Southerness.

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 14, 2012

Cait: Ha! I love Wagon Wheel. Great for dancing in the kitchen while cooking. Have to admit that it's the only song I know by them, though, so I should probably check out some more.

Aug 16, 2012

Coming out of lurking mode to say thanks - just added Langhorne Slim to my favorites - and to agree with those who say that OCMS's Wagon Wheel is a fabulous song. You may want to add them to your favorite banjo-picking bands! Check them out when you have 3:56 to spare. You won't be sorry you did!


Aug 22, 2012

Also delurking because when you start talking banjos, I have to join the conversation (however late)! Along with accordions, they are probably my favorite instrument, so I don't get invited to many parties. I will 6th all the Avett Brothers recommendations (as the bumper stickers on my car would attest), but I implore you to skip the more recent releases in favor of Mignonette, Four Thieves Gone, and Emotionalism. I hate to be one of those people who say the early stuff is better, but it is. If you like those records, then come back to the newer stuff. Mumford and Sons are also the bomb, and I won't disagree with any of the other banjocentric recommendations.

But now I will tell you were you heard Langhorne Slim before you even knew you were hearing him: There was a TV commercial for insurance, of all things, a couple years ago that used this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU5Ci1BHKlU. Sound familiar?

Also, delightful to see Mrs Bielanko commenting here. You know that Nick Hornby is a huge Marah fan, right? http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/21/opinion/rock-of-ages.html?pagewanted=a...)

Terrific blog, btw. Thanks for it.

Nov 02, 2012

I know this is an old post, but i'm wondering if you know where to find tonight, again in mp3 form?? I now love many of the recs in your post (along with tons of other things you've pointed me to over the years), but I can't seem to find this one anywhere!
(what's wrong with my comment that your spam filter keeps yelling at me?)

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