Troubadour magazine will celebrate its tenth anniversary in the midst of what they describe as a folk-music renaissance. American porch music, says publisher Liz Abbott, meaning acoustic blues, country, folk, and bluegrass is being made into pop crossover by acts such as Mumford and Sons and the Fleet Foxes, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Avett Brothers, and more. “And look at the roll of the hurdy-gurdy in some of these bands like Arcade Fire and groups like that. Kids want to find a new avenue and reinvent stuff.”
Pete Bayard is a local musician. He says this year’s San Diego Music Awards is proof of that same folk invasion among local bands. “The Silent Comedy came away with the award for Best Pop. But, really, what they’ve got is a very traditionally influenced array of instruments and sound. That they could take that category as opposed to the Americana category shows the depth of that sort of crossover.” Blackout Party took the Best Americana award, he says. “And the Donkeys have also been around for a handful of years now. They came in with Best Rock Album [Born with Stripes], and yet there’s a lot of twang to what they do. Theirs is maybe a little more on the rock side of the hybrid.” Add Little Hurricane, the Smart Brothers, and Rio Peligroso to the short list of indie/folk-rock crossovers. “It’s definitely a scene that’s as pervasive here as it is internationally.”
Liz Abbott and Kent Johnson now own the Troubadour outright, but it was conceived by another couple, Ellen and Lyle Duplessie, in 2001. In the beginning, ownership was a four-way split. “They had the vision and we kinda had the wherewithal,” says Liz Abbott. “I have a background in publishing, and Kent has a background in delivery. It just kinda all fit into place.”
Full ownership in the monthly transferred to Abbott and Johnson when Ellen Duplessie became sick with cancer. “They both died in 2004. She’d had breast cancer and died, and Lyle had a heart attack at the beach and died four months later.”
Abbott describes the Troubadour these days as a labor of love that barely supplements her and Johnson’s retirement funds. The couple hopes to raise some coin to help with magazine operations during its anniversary party October 9 at the Sunset Temple in North Park, featuring Berkley Hart, A.J. Croce, Robin Henkel, and Peter Sprague.