Don’t Call It Utopia: Imagining A World Made Better For Music


The concept of utopia is as old as civilization itself, but we are not getting there any faster than we ever were. Every attempt has failed, sooner or later. The writing has been on the wall for utopia since the beginning, it seems — we lasted only a hot minute in the Garden Of Eden before messing that one up, for example. So let us not try for utopia here, but at least try to envision something that is a step above where we are. Let us make a map of the future that is not unrealistically devoid of potholes, but shows at least a bit smoother of a ride for all of us on our musical journey. 

While attending the Albino Skunk Music Festival in October 2021, I had this in mind. And so I went about asking people one question. Or rather, a choice between two questions: given the chance to improve one aspect of your musical journey, or the chance to get rid of one thing that stands in its way, what would that be? I asked artists who played at the festival as well as festival goers the same question, and got a lot of great answers. No two answers were the same, and all of them got me thinking about how we might make our lives in music a little richer, or a little less difficult. From the practical to the whimsical to the ideal, it’s all here in this episode. And along the way, you will hear some of the latest music from artists who spoke with me, including Aaron Burdett, LIzzie No, The Contenders, Riley Downing, The Two Tracks and The Pink Stones.

Lizzie No plays harp during her set at The Albino Skunk Music Festival on October 2, 2021

Songs heard in this episode:

“Rockefeller” by Aaron Burdett, from Dream Rich, Dirt Poor

“Deep Breath” by Riley Downing, from Start It Over, excerpt

“Love Me Hardly” by The Pink Stones, from Introducing…The Pink Stones, excerpt

“Finer Weather” by The Contenders, from Laughing With The Reckless, excerpt

“Deep Well Song” by Lizzie No, from Vanity, excerpt

“Beautiful” by The Two Tracks, from Cheers To Solitude

Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here . Thanks to Glynn Zeigler and everyone at the Albino Skunk Music Festival for their abundant hospitality,  and thanks to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on public radio WNCW. I’m your host and producer Joe Kendrick thanking you for listening, and I hope you can spread awareness of this endeavor by telling a friend in person or on social media. Giving Southern Songs and Stories a follow, a top rating and a good review will go far in helping us to continue this project and to aid the artists we cover in their musical endeavors, too!