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Folk roots: Troubadours rise again

35 photos
By Sean Nelson As with fashion, so with pop music: Styles and sounds that seemed relegated to the...
ICONS AND PATRON SAINTS Bob Dylan Few living legends can be said to be more influential than the man...
Woody Guthrie Before Dylan came the essential folkie archetype: a born drifter from the dust bowl,...
Pete Seeger A disciple of Woody Guthrie who became his heir, keeping the good word of authentic folk...
Nick Drake Pastoral English folk never had a lonelier sound than the haunted voice and nimble...
Elliott Smith Never a folk purist, Smith arose from the NW punk underground, where the fragile hush...
ACTIVE LEGENDS AND GOING CONCERNS Richard Thompson This founding member of seminal English folk...
Gillian Welch An eerie sense of timelessness pervades the music of Welch and her musical partner...
Ry Cooder Best known as a blues guitar giant and session man's session man, Cooder is also a...
Leonard Cohen More than 45 years after his debut LP changed the face of contemporary folk-inspired...
Wilco Between a coltish beginning as modified country rockers and their current incarnation as the...
Billy Bragg A quintessentially British folk standard-bearer who arose from punk's ashes in Margaret...
NEW TRADITIONALISTS The Decemberists One of the unlikelier success stories in contemporary rock...
Fleet Foxes (see also: Father John Misty) Probably the most conspicuous poster boys for the current...
The Avett Brothers Led by brothers Scott and Seth Avett, this North Carolina outfit isn't strictly...
Devendra Banhart The leading (and most photogenic) exponent of the "freak folk" scene, Banhart's...
Bon Iver Having gained fame and Grammys for his spare, desolate songs about romantic agony, recorded...
Joanna Newsom Probably the weirdest-sounding and best-loved artist on this list, Newsom's main...
Dawes At first listen, you wouldn't expect this band of loose-limbed folk rockers to be from L.A....
The Civil Wars Formed in Nashville by songwriters John Paul White and Joy Williams, the Civil Wars...
The Head and the Heart A Seattle band who formed at a popular Irish pub open mic and found early...
Punch Brothers In terms of pure skill, it's hard to imagine a more accomplished or ambitious act....
Sara Watkins Another former Nickel Creek member, Sara Watkins has plowed a slightly more...
The Lumineers Currently to be found at or near the top of the charts with their rousing, radio- (and...
Sufjan Stevens Almost certainly the most visible standard-bearer of two of the biggest developments...
Mumford & Sons Of all the artists currently associated with the deluge of folk and folk-rock...
Laura Marling In her native Britain, Marling is rightfully recognized as a major talent and a big...
Of Monsters & Men You can be forgiven for not realizing there was a vital folk music scene...
The Tallest Man on Earth How interesting that the two best-loved exports of Scandinavian music (ABBA...
Beth Orton Though she first came to the world's attention as an electro-pop chanteuse in connection...
Aoife O'Donovan With a name like Aoife (EEF-ah), one seems destined for a life in folk music, though...
Phosphorescent Never a purist, Matthew Houck has allowed his palette to evolve into a wide-ranging...
Andrew Bird No stranger to revivalism, this former member of Squirrel Nut Zippers has grown into a...
Lord Huron Los Angeles has always been an important locus of folk's evolution, and this relatively...
Shovels & Rope You can practically see the dust cloud rising from the splintery planks of the...
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