Jim Henry plays a rare acoustic solo show on Nine Volt Heart.

IMG_2012.JPG

Multi-talented musician Jim Henry specializes in being a “hired gun” for some of the best in the business. He’s added color and nuance to the music of luminaries like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Paula Cole, Eliza Gilkyson, The Box Car Lilies as well as local heroes Abe Loomis and Eric Lee. He’s an in-demand engineer and producer as well. But this week he’s my guest in a completely different role; solo acoustic folk singer. He has a few local shows to help promote and it was my pleasure to welcome him back to Nine Volt Heart to play and sing a few of his original songs live in-studio.

We open the set with an instrumental “Windy and Wet” from an early album, now out of print called “Jacksonville”. Jim performs a fun tribute to his son, Jackson, called “We Think We’ll Keep Him”. That is followed by ” Sound of the Whistle Blow” from the 1999 disc “The Wayback”. Jim follows this with a brand new song which is a cowrite of sorts with Abbie Gardner called “Since You’ve Been Gone”.

Since Ruby Henry, Jim’s daughter, is the opening act in his latest tour, we listened to her rendition of “Sugartown” with Jim on guitar. I convince Jim to do one more live and he gives a gorgeous nostalgic look at small town life called “The Wayback”.

Our discussion covers lots of ground; from his preparation as a “sideman for the stars” to his latest projects which include a book and a podcast called “Pro Tips” as well as raising musical kids. Jim and Ruby Henry play Northampton’s Parlor Room on October 7th at 7:00PM

Listen in to our set with this audio link:

Zak Trojano’s Got Heart! This singer-songwriter is celebrating his new album release 9/13 at the Parlor Room

IMG_3199

Zak Trojano returns to Nine Volt Heart with an amazing new release to talk about. “Wolf Trees” is an ambitious song cycle with lots of reflections on our “modern world”. The songs have been written and arranged to tell the story beginning with “Kid’s Got Heart” which opens our segment with Zak. Before he is introduced I play a song he wrote for Rusty Belle bandmate, Kate Lorenz; it’s called “Red Dress Blues”. As Zak walks in the studio, he recognizes the song and breaks into a wide grin. We talk about how this latest album was recorded with David Goodrich and Justin Pizzoferrato at Sonelab Studios. It was such a relaxing atmosphere due to their extensive previous work together and the songs exude it. Comfort and calmness. Zak has brought his guitars and we’re treated to live versions of “My Room” and “99 Ways”. I also fit in another cut from “Wolf Trees” called “Nowhere Shuffle”.

Zak will be appearing locally at Northampton’s Parlor Room this Thursday 9/13. Check out the audio from a singer-songwriter who is really hitting his stride showcasing his warm baritone and amazing finger-style guitar work.

 

Izzy Heltai talks about Freshgrass 2018 on Nine Volt Heart.

My guest, Izzy Heltai, the friendly folkster who lived in North Adams while attending school there, is getting excited for his third straight appearance at Mass MocA’s Freshgrass festival this weekend September 14-15-16.

Izzy played three new tunes live in-studio; “Marching Song”, “Stuck in Stone” and “The Stranger You’ve Become”. We also played “Anyone to Anybody” from last year’s Sweet Apathy.

The remainder of the hour, we talked about and played our favorite artists who’ll be at this weekend event. Anna and Elizabeth will host a “FreshScore” to a silent film so we have a cut from them. Additionally, we listened to two Ricky Skaggs cuts in honor of his closing set on Sunday. We finish with Rhiannon Giddens’ “She’s Got You” and Darol Anger/Emy Phelp’s newest release of songs from the Sixties with their version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin”

40259648_1346790232120374_3208420392079196160_o

Freshgrass 2018 Preview on Nine Volt Heart.

36631724_1349052405232337_447535171336404992_o

My first of several postings on this Fall’s premiere festival, Freshgrass! Today’s segment is centered around my conversation with Alison Brown, grammy award winning banjo player. We talk about her favorite parts of the festival including the contests and the tributes to iconic bands. This year’s tribute is called “Pluckin'” and features songs from the Grateful Dead. We talk about some of her favorite acts on the bill including The Indigo Girls and Altan. I feature tunes from Alison Brown,Rhiannon Giddens, Indigo Girls and Altan in the segment.

Greg Hall previews his new CD release Party at Gateway City Arts on 9/9.

IMG_3189It’s always a pleasure hosting Greg Hall when he visits Nine Volt Heart Studios on WXOJ. This past Saturday reinforced that opinion. Greg is such a talented warm-hearted guy. His new CD is a live album of both new and recently recorded music in a new setting. Greg played two live in the studio and we listened to three from the new disc. Catch Greg and his great band live next Sunday Sept 9 at Holyoke’s Gateway City Arts. Included below is the audio of our session;

 

Dom Flemons Presents The Black Cowboy, an in-depth interview with the American Songster.

Dom Flemons has always been gracious with his time and his knowledge of roots music. Yesterday was no exception. Our conversation touched on many topics with Dom relating his early experiences at Northern Arizona University. He was an English Major as well as a slam poet. He found his way to the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, NC which introduced him to his musical heroes and his future Carolina Chocolate Drops bandmates. We discuss the early influences of Joe Thompson on the band’s understanding of African American string band music. The topic eventually leads to his discussion of the genesis of his latest project; The Black Cowboy. We talk about the influences of many musicians and poets leading to his most recent release. Dom relates the influence of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in focusing his research. We finish our conversation with discussion of his recent nomination for an Emmy Award for his work on a PBS special on Songwriting.

Dom Flemons is a wealth of information on many musical genres. He has worked with the Smithsonian to help mentor another generation of young artists. We all ought to be very thankful that such a generous thoughtful encyclopedia of near forgotten music and scholarship exists to pass on to the next generation of young artists and musicians.10255664_10151972879352202_8074462368817408799_n

Nine Volt Heart revisits “Old School” with cohost Darryl Clark

Darryl Clark hosted a radio program called “Old School” for a decade on WMUA in Amherst. He also hosted a popular kids show as well. I’ve been lucky to call Darryl a friend for many of those years and was excited to have him reprise the show this week on Nine Volt Heart on WXOJ. The setlists reflects Darryl’s deep respect for the singer songwriters from the 1960’s onward. The show begins with Tim Hardin, Sam Baker, and Leonard Cohen. We delve into a Laura Nyro song by Blood Sweat and Tears, Freddie Neal, and Sam Cooke. The show even includes a special edition of “Left and Lefter” now dubbed “Flip and Flop”. Jason Isbell, Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty bring us through the 80’s and to the present. No “Old School” would be complete without a Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers song. Sharon Jones gets a tribute and we finish with James McMurtry’s ode to growing old but not growin up, Just Us Kids.

Thanks, Darryl for reprising your show for our listeners. Here’s hoping for more of your musical musings on the air somewhere soon.