Chroma Artist Picks: A New Monthly, Curated Playlist and Blog Series


Hello, everyone! As 2018 comes to a close and we found ourselves on the cusp of a new year, we here at Chroma are still plucking along, slowly exploring new ways to meaningfully connect with you all. One of our goals here at Chroma has been to try and help showcase great art in spaces where, for whatever reason, it might be otherwise overlooked. In that spirit, we are going to start using the idea of music playlists to help introduce you to some things that you may otherwise have overlooked, as well as to help you get to know our individual members a little bit better!

All of that being said, we are launching our first playlist series today, called Chroma Artist Picks! Once a month we will have a different member of Chroma curate some songs for you to dive in to. In addition, you’ll find a sort of read-along companion right here on the blog with thoughts from the curator on why they included each song on the playlist.

We hope this will be a fun thing for us to share in together. Also, I’m happy to share with you the first playlist right now, curated by Erica of Dead Birds! You can find her writeup below, and start listening to the playlist by clicking HERE. And make sure to follow the playlist to make sure never to miss when we update it next!


One of my favorite things is catching the warm sunlight on a Saturday morning, making coffee and a good breakfast, and spinning a record as the world and my house wake up. These are the songs I often choose to fill that space:

1. Everything Is Free by Gillian Welch

If you listen to the music I write you’ll know it’s undeniably influenced by this incredible songwriter. She’s one of my all time faves, and this song that came out in 2001 is somehow more relevant to my life now than ever. This song talks about art as a commodity and what it means to be an artist creating things because you love them, not necessarily because you’ll get paid for them. It’s beautiful.

2. Cracked Windshield by Hiss Golden Messenger

Hiss just seems to be the soundtrack to most of my drives these days. This song in particular speaks to me as a touring musician and life on the road.

3. Another Mother’s Son by Phil Cook

This is the most beautiful and poignant commentary on guns, violence, pain, and death. I love this song because it starts out so unassumingly simple, then breaks out into a gospel choir singing, “no more silence!” and “no more bodies!” at the end.

4. Pale November Dew by The Dead Tongues

We’ll just keep the Hiss train rolling (Ryan Gustafson who plays music under the name The Dead Tongues, also plays in Hiss Golden Messenger at times). This song takes me away to a long drive through some wide expanse out west. My favorite parts are the flute interludes; they’re absolutely gorgeous.

5. Rivers by The Tallest Man On Earth

This song describes lost love in a way I could never have dreamt of on my own. All of the elements combine perfectly to create 4 minutes of everything it means to have lost someone you loved. Hang on til the end.

6. Rang Tang Ring Toon by Mountain Man

I love music that is sparse yet so full at the same time. This song is a guitar plucking two notes a fifth apart and the voices filling in to take us on chord progressions you would have never guessed by listening to just two notes. An ode to summertime if I’ve ever heard one.

7. Knockin’ on Your Screen Door by John Prine

Speaking of summertime, this tune brings me a lot of sunshine and always makes me smile. One of my favorite songwriters, John Prine killed it again with his latest album.

8. Jaybird by Charlie Parr

This song is the sunrise: slow and steady, captivating and haunting, bright and warm.

9. Your Lone Journey by Sam Amidon

Written by Rosa Lee and Doc Watson back in the early sixties, this tune is a tender ballad about love and death. I think a lot about the way my grandma must have felt when my grandpa passed, and I wish I would have shared this song with her. Sam Amidon’s is my favorite version of this song (and Bill Frisell’s guitar playing takes it over the top).

10. Sunflower River Blues by John Fahey

No lyrics, just a sweet simple guitar tune to accompany a morning walk or meditation.

11. Going Down The Road Feeling Bad by Elizabeth Cotten

No one knows who wrote this song, but I’m fairly certain Libba did by the way she sings it. There’s a sweet simplicity to this song, her singing, and her guitar playing that make me feel good.

12. I’ve Endured by Ola Belle Reed

North Carolina clawhammer banjo player Ola Belle Reed captures life in Appalachia in a way no one else can. Her voice and banjo playing are mesmerizing. “I’ve endured, I’ve endured, how long can one endure?”

13. Take Your Burden To The Lord And Leave It There by Washington Phillips

I first heard Phil Cook cover this song during a solo set in Austin. It was composed by minister Charles A. Tindley in 1916, and was recorded by Washington Phillips in 1927. There are several versions of this song, but this one is my favorite.

14. Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams

A classic. This is a good one to sing along to while you’re flipping french toast and dancing with your dog.

15. I Fall To Pieces by Patsy Cline

Patsy sings like no other, she’s the queen, and this song is so perfect.

16. Red River Valley by Amber Rubarth & Joe Purdy

I grew up in Chile learning American folk songs from a songbook and accompanying tape I found in our house. They captivated me with their simplicity and nostalgia. This song and this recording of it capture that so well.

17. Color Song by Maggie Rogers

My husband, our dog and I recently went camping in a northern national forest on the shore of a small lake where we cooked over a fire and listened to the loons. This song reminds me of that time we spent together and of the sun setting over our small campsite, alone yet together in a great wilderness.

Listen to the whole playlist on Spotify right HERE, and make sure to follow it for future updates from more Chroma artists!

You can hear some music by Dead Birds by listening HERE or watching THIS VIDEO of Erica playing guitar in an elevator.