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Dom Flemons | Traveling Wildfire (2023)


Dom Flemons has built a reputation on presenting 100 years of American roots music, but now, with Traveling Wildfire, his own songwriting prowess comes into the spotlight. Carefully selected from his personal repertoire, these original songs reveal his love of country, western, blues, Americana, bluegrass and folk music as they tell of true love, family legacy, survival, time travel, and the juxtaposition between light and dark. Traveling Wildfire weaves through the themes of hope and humor as it rises above the hard times with strength and lightheartedness. Smithsonian Folkways
With his new album, Traveling Wildfire, Dom Flemons builds on his solo oeuvre and previous forays with The Carolina Chocolate Drops, per usual displaying songwriting savvy, instrumental prowess, and a knack for contemporizing often obscure yet important works. Waltzy opener “Slow Dance With You” would be appropriate fare in a roadhouse bar… No Depression

Dom Flemons: Traveling Wildfire

Audio CD:


The last album delivered by American Songster D. Flemons was Black Cowboys in 2018, on which he paid tribute to the music, culture, and complex history of the golden era of the Wild West, shedding light on the role that African-American, Native American and Mexican men and women pioneers played in westward expansion. That album was two years in the making, the idea initially inspired by Phillip Durham’s book The Negro Cowboys. With Traveling Wildfire, his second album for Smithsonian Folkways, he turns to an important, overlooked voice that he’s proudly rediscovered: his own. Folk Radio

One-time Carolina Chocolate Drop, Dom Flemons is a well-established purveyor of Piedmont-styled string-band music and dogged student of American roots music. Schooled in the R&B of his parents’ music collection, a young Flemons migrated towards American roots music of all kinds, delving deep into the history of blues and folk – and further into the origins of African, African-American and African-Caribbean music. It’s little surprise that he came to uncover his own distinct voice through all this cultural excavation.
Now, with Traveling Wildfire, he continues to break new ground; moving well beyond his American Songster reputation to bring greater levels of experimentation to his sound. Gifted with an elastic vocal ability and mastery over countless instruments – including guitar, banjo, drums, percussion, jug, bones and quills – Flemons joins forces with producer Ted Hutt to yield Travelling Wildfire’s ten originals, one co-write and four hand-picked covers. Holler.

Calling oneself The American Songster (“since 2009,” his website helpfully adds) places one large heap of expectations on the shoulders of the man brave enough to adopt the moniker. But Dom Flemons doesn’t carry that nickname out of braggadocio – it’s because he’s put in the work. His explorations of both American roots music and generations of underreported Black life have revealed an artist who’s deeply interested in telling the stories we need to hear, as well as giving us a musician who can play, well, pretty much anything. Flemons’ new album, Traveling Wildfire, gives us a few stories about the man himself, one who’s confronting the reality that comes from an itinerant musician forced to stay home.
Before exploring all the “Serious” stuff, though, Flemons starts Traveling Wildfire with a love song, and it’s a good one. In “Slow Dance with You,” waltz-y and lifted with Matt Pynn’s pedal steel, Flemons writes of not only the wooing, but the wistful early morning after – “I see the sun’s coming up/And you’re lovely wrapped in dawn” (a killer line that I’ll be stealing and claiming as my own upon some similar sleepy sunrise). Love less hopeful is found in “If You Truly Love Me.” Teased out by Flemons’ harmonica line, the singer finds himself resisting the urge – “My hands are tied/From knocking on your door/Though I can see you clearly/Through the open window pane” – but ultimately failing, always failing, to stop loving her today. Americana Highways

  • Slow Dance with You (2:59)
  • Dark Beauty (3:23)
  • If You Truly Love Me (4:33)
  • Traveling Wildfire (6:10)
  • It’s Cold Inside (4:31)
  • We Are Almost Down to the Shore (3:02)
  • Nobody Wrote It Down (3:56)
  • Saddle It Around (3:41)
  • Big Money Blues (2:27)
  • Old Desert Road (3:34)
  • Rabbit Foot Rag (2:42)
  • Tough Luck (2:11)
  • Song to Jcb (3:58)
  • Guess I’m Doing Fine (4:40)
  • Songster Revival (2:50)

Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.51 x 0.2 x 4.92 inches; 2.05 Ounces
Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ Smithsonian Folkways
Original Release Date ‏ : ‎ 2023
Label ‏ : ‎ Smithsonian Folkways
Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1otp721315

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