'Summer Rains' and Ditties Divine


If you see the above album gracing the shelves of your local music store – take a closer look.

Once it’s open, the contents will leap out at you. The album is filled with the eco-friendliest pop-up art imaginable: soy inks and recycled paper replacing the usual non-renewable inlays. You wouldn’t expect the big labels to go for something this creative, and the Ditty Bops – Amanda Barrett and Abby DeWald – felt the same way. They source all their manufacturers and suppliers themselves. They do their own design and artwork. In fact, it might be quicker to list the things they don’t do for their albums.

This won’t be a surprise to anyone who knows them. Barrett and DeWald were awarded a certificate of honor for helping San Francisco go urban-tumbleweed-free in 2007 (via their nonprofit You And I Save The World) and just to hammer the message home, they performed in costumes made of plastic bags. They toured for four months, between Los Angeles and New York City, using bicycles (yes, 4,700 miles on bikes). They’ve even turned their driveway into a food garden. Impassioned environmentalists? And then some.

For those who don’t yet know them, you’ll be hearing a lot about them on Sunday. Summer Rains is up for a Grammy. The reason is obvious – they’re completely brilliant (there goes my journalistic objectivity), playfully and uniquely employing a huge range of styles to give the kind of soothing, witty sound you’d associate with the best of A Prairie Home Companion. They’re even on the soundtrack for Grey’s Anatomy. They’re unstoppable.

Nice folk making brilliant Folk – and spreading a green message as they go. That’s got to be worth at least one Grammy.

Summer Rains is available to buy here.

Image: The Ditty Bops

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.