Singer/Songwriter: Meet the 2013 RFT Music Award Nominees
It's no surprise that John Hartford has no single successor in St. Louis, but Ryan Spearman comes close. A multi-instrumentalist as gifted on the guitar as he is on the fiddle — and far more indebted to country blues than Hartford — Spearman also writes natural and easy-flowing songs that connect to folk traditions while firmly residing in the present. His latest release, Pain & Time, collects together many of the songs he's known for and has been playing for years — "Haley Mae," "Pretty Saro" and "Moonshiner," just for starters — fully showcasing his commanding vocal and instrumental talent.
The music of Zak Marmalefsky is simultaneously of this age and not of this world. With a finger-plucked guitar and a clutch of heartbroken but witty songs, Marmalefsky conjures Depression-era street corners and speakeasys, where his rich, sincere baritone crooning might have once made him king of the minstrels for a day. For now, he'll settle for an air of folk-troubadour mystery. Following in the footsteps of Leadbelly and Dave Van Ronk isn't for the faint of skill or heart; Marmalefsky has both. His music – sometimes poignant, sometimes off-color, often both at the same time – is never a throwback put-on.