No Depression (magazine)

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No Depression
The Summer 2019 issue of No Depression journal
EditorHilary Saunders [1]
CategoriesMusic journal
PublisherFreshGrass Foundation
First issueSeptember 1995
CountryUnited States

No Depression is a quarterly roots music journal with a concurrent online publication. In print, No Depression is an ad-free publication focused on long-form music reporting and deep analysis that ties contemporary artists with the long chain of American roots music.[2] In April 2020, No Depression introduced digital versions of their print journal. While the print journal remains ad-free, the digital versions include roots-music-related advertisements.[3] Its journal contributors include roots music artists as well as professional critics and reporters, photographers, illustrators, and artists.

Its online edition was largely crowd-sourced by contributions from a combination of writers and fans, regular columnists and staff reviewers. In 2019, the online version of the publication moved to align more with its print version variant by no longer accepting community posts.[4]


No Depression was launched in September 1995[5] (as a quarterly) by co-editors/co-founders Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock. Kyla Fairchild, who handled the business functions of the magazine from the beginning, became a co-publisher with Alden and Blackstock in 1998. The magazine was named for the Carter Family song "No Depression in Heaven," the 1990 album No Depression by the band Uncle Tupelo, and an early AOL online discussion group on alternative country called The No Depression Folder.[6]

No Depression has received the Utne Reader Independent Press Awards for Arts & Literature coverage,[7] and was cited as one of the nation's Top 20 magazines of any kind in 2004 by the Chicago Tribune.[8]

Two No Depression music festivals took place at Marymoore Park, just outside Seattle. The first was on July 11, 2009 and featured Gillian Welch, Iron and Wine, Patterson Hood and the Screwtopians, Jesse Sykes, Justin Townes Earle, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Zee Avi, and Seattle roots music all-stars.[9][10] The second was August 21, 2010 and featured The Swell Season, Lucinda Williams, The Cave Singers, Alejandro Escovedo, Chuck Prophet, Sera Cahoone, and The Maldives.[11][12]

The publishers announced in February 2008 that the May–June 2008 issue would be their last.[13] Buddy Miller was featured on the cover of the final issue, with No Depression declaring him Artist of the Decade. Soon after, co-founders Alden and Blackstock sold their ownership stakes to Fairchild in 2008 and 2010, respectively.[citation needed] In the wake of the magazine going out of print, No Depression launched a community website ( on the Ning platform in February 2009.

Fairchild sold her ownership of No Depression to FreshGrass LLC in 2014.[citation needed] In 2016, the FreshGrass Foundation – a nonprofit organization that supports roots musicians and music scenes around the United States – took over No Depression and the FreshGrass Festival which it operates in conjunction with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).

Return to print[edit]

In May 2015, No Depression announced it would be returning to print after seven years of being an online-only publication.[14] According to an article by Kim Ruehl, "we’re opening up pre-orders via Kickstarter for what will be a truly unique magazine – there will be no advertisements. Instead, the articles will be accompanied only by stunning photography and original illustrations. The paper will be larger and thicker than you might remember from the original incarnation, printed by the one of the only carbon-neutral printers in North America."[15]

History of print features[edit]

No Depression senior editors Barry Mazor (left) and David Cantwell; seated between them is Holly George-Warren, author of Public Cowboy No. 1, a biography of Gene Autry.

Features from the No Depression print journal (2015–present)

Return to Print Fall 2015 Punch Brothers, I'm With Her, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, the Mavericks, and more
Roots & Branches Spring 2016 Mavis Staples, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, David Grisman, Robert Burns, Bluegrass in Japan, and more
Homegrown Summer 2016 Sibling duos, Kill Rock Stars, English folk, Candi Staton, The Ash Grove, Levon Helm, the Ardoin Family, and more
Speak Up! Fall 2016 The Weavers, the Dixie Chicks, Jail Guitar Doors USA, John Prine, Race in Country Music, and more
Bluegrass Beyond Winter 2016 What’s bluegrass music? – Bela Fleck, Noam Pikelny, and Sarah Jarosz, Neil Rosenberg’s modern history of bluegrass music, Pioneering women of bluegrass – Hazel & Alice to Sierra Hull and beyond, Considering bluegrass rhythm sections, A pre-American history of the banjo, Bluegrass adventure outings
Heartland Spring 2017 Dolly Parton, working class feminist, Bob Dylan’s Midwest roots, Heartland rock via John Mellencamp, Melissa Etheridge, Kansas, and more, The enduring legacy of Hee Haw, The unknown story of Indiana’s Gennett Records, Native American hip-hop and Standing Rock, Chicago and Austin’s musical exchange
Over Yonder Summer 2017 Music life in Cuba (a photo essay), Shedding light on China’s folk-punk scene with Abigail Washburn, Hanggai, and more, Q&A with David Broza on music in Israel and Palestine, How ancient Indian kirtan music has spread in the West, Celebrating music at Italy’s Umbria Jazz Festival
Foremothers Fall 2017 A century of American music through the women of the Carter Family, Elizabeth Cotten’s folk revival, The untold story of Karen Dalton, Annie Oakley and the legacy of outlaw country, An oral history of ‘Trio’, Big Mama Thornton, Alice Gerrard, Ruthie Foster, Sharon Van Etten on artists like Vashti Bunyon and Jackie DeShannon, Daniel Lanois on the making of Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball, Mark Erelli on Catie Curtis, Lori McKenna, and Kris Delmhorst, Kaia Kater
Singer-Songwriters Winter 2017 Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, Ani DiFranco, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, Lori McKenna, Chris Hillman, Josh Ritter, Eliza Gilkyson, Mary Gauthier, and Gretchen Peters, Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton, Emily Saliers, Chastity Brown, Caspar Babypants, Samantha Crain, Susan Werner, Leeroy Stagger
Appalachia Spring 2018 Ketch Secor, Rayna Gellert, Wild Ponies, Tyler Childers, Appalatin, Alan Lomax, Scott Miller, Billy Strings, Doc Watson
(Im)migration Summer 2018 Johnny Cash, John Hartford, Dark Water Rising, The Kruger Brothers, Kalu & The Electric Joint, Woody Guthrie, Bobbie Gentry
Innovate Winter 2018 Wilco and the use of technology on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, The history of the dreadnought guitar, The influence of the parlor piano, Tim Easton on recording his new record direct to lacquer, Radio Bristol, The rise of online music lessons, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Anna & Elizabeth, Outlaws & Armadillos at the Country Music Hall of Fame
Standards & Stanzas Spring 2019 The Beatles as a lasting influence to bluegrass and country musicians, Gillian Welch on winning a literary prize from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Amanda Shires on her love of poetry and earning her M.F.A., Keith Secola and his "Native Americana" anthem, The legend of "John Henry", An introduction to jazz standards, Jason Molina's biographer reflects on the Magnolia Electric Co., The parallels between hip-hop and folk music lyrics, John Prine on songwriting
Folk Summer 2019 Pete Seeger's local legacy in the Hudson Valley, Tom Morello on Pete Seeger and the continued threat of censorship, The Kronos Quartet's classical-inspired Pete Seeger tribute, Steve Earle on Guy Clark, The 50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell's Clouds, A history of labor songs featuring Joe Hill, Billy Bragg, and Son Volt, The legacies of folk music supergroups like Cry, Cry, Cry, Monsters of Folk, and Our Native Daughters, Dracula on Spanish-language folk music, A resurgence of Yiddish-language folk songs, Original essays by Raye Zaragoza and Over the Rhine's Linford Detweiler
Wellness Fall 2019 No Depression's take on a Food & Drink issue. In time for the harvest season, No Depression explores what roots musicians eat, drink, and smoke, as well as farm, foster, and distill. In a larger sense, the issue also aims to balance body and mind and embrace contemporary notions of self-care. Of course, stories also include a taste of roots music’s indulgences, too! Featuring Aoife O’Donovan, Lydia Loveless, American Aquarium, Steve Poltz, Ben Glover, Molly Tuttle, Sean Rowe, Margo Price, Frank Solivan, Steep Canyon Rangers, and more.
Vision Winter 2019 No Depression takes a more visual approach to understanding roots music in the Winter 2019 issue. Even though music is primarily an auditory experience, there are so many visual elements that go into presenting, performing, consuming, and engaging with this particular art form. Through No Depression’s exceptional print medium, the issue highlights the photos, comics, graphics, non-traditional band merchandise, and more that help both musicians and fans see new ideas through the sounds. Featured artists include Jeff Buckley, Scott Avett, Rebecca Loebe, The Mountain Goats, North Mississippi Allstars, Andrew Combs, Orville Peck, Elvis Presley, Kaia Kater, Mary Gauthier, Yola, Lillie Mae, and more.
Live and In Person Spring 2020 Festival season starts in earnest in the spring, but of course live music happens all year round. This issue of No Depression explores all facets of the live music experience, compiling the most important roots music festivals and venturing behind the scenes at some legendary venues. Additionally, stories look at the challenges that live music curators and attendees face and dig into how roots musicians transform their recorded music into live presentations. Featured in this issue: Mandolin Orange, Rhett Miller (Old 97s), Chris Shiflett, Gaelynn Lea, Langhorne Slim, Wilco, Shovels & Rope, Laura Stevenson, Chadwick Stokes (Dispatch), High Fidelity, and more.
Tools of the Trade Summer 2020 Roots music wouldn’t happen at all without a certain tool kit. Musicians need instruments to make acoustic music and all kinds of wires and technologies to project that music and transfer it to eager listeners. The Summer 2020 issue of No Depression explores equipment old and new and digital innovations by sharing stories of instruments, luthiers, machinery, and even less tangible songwriting tools to better understand how exactly roots music is made. Features include Alan Lomax, Alice Gerrard, American Aquarium, The Black Lillies, Ballake Sissoko, Dom Flemons, Jaime Wyatt, Steve Gunn, The Lowest Pair, Pharis & Jason Romero, and more.
Going Green Fall 2020 One issue among many in America’s heated political discourse that especially affects the music industry is environmentalism. With climate change a hot topic, the Fall 2020 issue of No Depression focuses on how the choices of roots music makers and fans affect the natural world around us. Stories address the historical, academic, and practical ways that the roots music community is working to make a more sustainable world. Featured artists in this issue include Ani DiFranco, Corb Lund, Dar Williams, Charles Seeger, Jay Farrar, The Mammals, Martha Scanlon, Freddy Trujillo, Micah Nelson, Avery Hellman, Bob Marley and more.
All Together Now Winter 2020 The spirit of collaboration is a rich tradition in roots music, from songwriting to recording and live performances. But even sitting around a campfire away from stages and spotlights (or navigating virtual terrains in quarantine), roots music is often the soundtrack to what brings us together. The Winter 2020 issue of No Depression highlights the multitude of ways that roots musicians collaborate and why this music in particular thrives on community. Features in this issue include Brandi Carlile, Chris Thile, Resistance Revival Chorus, Rhett Miller, Tom Morello, The Texas Gentlemen, Newport Folk Festival, Gil Scott-Heron, Raul Malo, Richard Thompson and more.
The Great American Songbook Spring 2021 "The Great American Songbook" refers to the collection of 20th-century popular songs and jazz standards that helped define pop music in the United States. Stories examine the legacies of some of those beloved composers, songwriters, and songs. But this issue also challenges the existing discourse on American standards, explores how these musical traditions continue to influence contemporary roots artists, and questions what in our songbook really deserves to survive. People and places featured in this issue include Carly Simon, Loudon Wainwright III, Louis Armstrong, Abigail Washburn, Dirk Powell, Kamara Thomas, Rachael Price, Bettye LaVette, Tin Pan Alley, and many more!
Voices Summer 2021 After themed issues on instruments, gear, songwriting, and other tools, No Depression is dedicating an entire issue to the human voice. Summer 2021 serves as quite the vocal issue, literally and figuratively. Stories take a deeper look at singing range, technicalities, and timbre, but also highlight individuals whose voices carry words of change, protest, and dissent throughout roots music. Features include Steve Earle, Sara Watkins, Leslie Jordan, Widespread Panic, Karen Dalton, Chris Pierce, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Allison Russell, sign language interpreters, and much more!
Ghosts Fall 2021 No Depression will be ready for “spooky season” with the Fall 2021 issue! Called “Ghosts,” this edition’s stories will highlight roots music folklore, legendary figures, forgotten histories, and contemporary musicians keeping these ethereal traditions alive. Of course, this genre of music has its share of ghosts — from characters in old standards to the many injustices that stymie equality in the music industry — and this issue doesn't shy away from them either. Artists featured in this issue include Amy Helm, Doc Watson, Hiss Golden Messenger, Lucy Dacus, Robert Johnson, and many more!
Good News Winter 2021 To help us all celebrate getting through another tough year, No Depression aims to close 2021 on a positive note. The “Good News” issue will focus on what never seems to be covered enough these days — stories of kindness, positivity, and success in roots music and the musicians who have overcome some daunting obstacles to get to where they are today. Artists featured in this issue include Alice Coltrane, Ana Egge, Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Bragg, George Harrison, and many more!
General Admission Spring 2022 Roots music has a special relationship with the venues in which it’s played — from the unassuming living rooms to the fancy recording studios to the largest outdoor festivals. As the world continues to navigate the future of performing, No Depression has dedicated an entire issue to the spaces and places that facilitate gathering, performance, recording, music-making, community building, and more. Features in this issue include Jorma Kaukonen, Lilly Hiatt, MerleFest, NIVA, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and many more!
Movers & Shakers Summer 2022 For a collection of genres based in traditions, roots music is always evolving. The “Movers & Shakers” issue will highlight leaders in the community — both in the spotlight and unsung — who continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in roots music. Additionally, this theme will give special attention to the physical and bodily elements of music’s power to move us. Features in this issue include Bonnie Raitt, Dan Auerbach, Rhiannon Giddens, Trey Anastasio, Woody Guthrie, and more!
Fall 2022 Fall 2022 This edition of No Depression is the first since "Return to Print" issue in Winter 2015 without a theme and will pave the way for future editorial adventures. Each journal features long-form, multi-sourced stories highlighting the music’s stars and up-and-comers, as well as its under-reported issues. Featuring Bobby Rush, John Denver, Loudon Wainwright III, Marcus King, Silkroad Ensemble, and more!
Winter 2022 Winter 2022 Winter 2022 also features the launch of a new position — the musical guest editor! Singer, songwriter, and country-rock star Margo Price kicks off this inaugural post by contributing a personal essay and helping devise a topic for one of the stories featured in the issue. Featuring Angela Strehli, Black Legacy Project, Hawktail, Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard, Norma Tanega, and more!

Cover features from the original print magazine (1995–2008)

  1. 58: Lizz Wright (July–Aug), #59: Nickel Creek (Sept–Oct), #60: New Orleans (Nov–Dec)


  1. ^ "Meet Hilary Saunders, No Depression's New Editor". No Depression. October 13, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  2. ^ "About No Depression", No Depression
  3. ^ "Introducing a New Way to Read No Depression's Print Journal", No Depression
  4. ^ Saunders, Hilary (January 28, 2019). "The Dawn of a New".
  5. ^ "The 20 Best Magazines of the Decade (2000–2009)". Paste Magazine. November 26, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  6. ^ Barr, Brian J. (September 22, 2005). "A Decade of DIY: 'No Depression' Celebrates American Music". The Stranger. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  7. ^ "2001 Utne Reader Independent Press Award Winners". Independent Democracy. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  8. ^ "Chicago Tribune Recognizes No Depression". CMT News. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  9. ^ "No Depression Music Festival among tickets on sale this week". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  10. ^ "No Depression Festival Lineup Announcement". No Depression. May 10, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "2010 No Depression Festival Lineup Announcement [UPDATED]". No Depression. April 23, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  12. ^ "No Depression Festival 2010". Songkick. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  13. ^ No Depression: letter
  14. ^ "No Depression takes to Kickstarter for return to print". Bluegrass Today. May 12, 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  15. ^ Ruehl, Kim (May 11, 2015). "Announcing No Depression's Return to Print". No Depression. Retrieved 2015-05-15.

External links[edit]