Bela Fleck and the Flecktones live. Anyone who can make the banjo cool is, um, cool. And Victor Wooten playing bass is more fun than two, even three, barrels of monkeys. You'd have to be silly not to listen (or maybe just busy).
Speaking of banjos, I've been listening to Alison Brown, a great banjoess. On Stolen Moments, she's not quite as out-there as the Fleckster, but she brings a nice jazz sensibility to the songs. My favorite is her cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" with the Indigo Girls.
I received a subscription to Paste magazine for Christmas. It comes with handy-dandy CDs which are, in and of themselves, really good listening. Last month had a song by the band Robinella called "Break it Down." It was like Norah Jones and Nickel Creek had a musical marriage. Bluegrass/roots music sung by a jazz lady. So we got the cd, Solace for the Lonely, and we both dig it. It's pretty laid back, with a focus more on the singing of Robinella Cantreras than the more-than-capable instrumentation by her husband, Cruz, and the rest of the band. The songs have a good sense of humor as well as a subtle, gospel-influenced, Biblical worldview. Try it; you'll like it.
Throwback: James Hunter, a new-to-America soul singer from England. A little too much fun for my office in the basement, but we're getting there.