NineVoltHeart tribute to Koady Chaisson of PEI’s The East Pointers.

Koady Chaisson, heart and soul of the East Pointers, has passed at the age of 37. The multi-instrumentalist touched many people’s lives through his music surely, but just as much by his personality too. His kindness and generosity has been well documented by posts from friends, family and fans from around the world. My sincerest condolences to his extended family and his wife Chloe Goodyear. The segment includes four tunes representative of the band’s sound which bridged modern beats with traditional celtic and folk music. I’ve included reminiscences of my own and others throughout.

The segment begins with “Wintergreen” which was the musical soundtrack of many fans who tuned in nightly for the band’s reading of Anne of Green Gables, another PEI icon. My wife and I attended livestreams for all of the first three books, which helped hundreds get through the toughest, loneliest, most uncertain times of our lives. A new community was born thanks to the band’s creative endeavors, a theme which is likely repeated over and over. Annedemics united over the goofy to heartfelt, bonding over the characters of the books but just as assuredly with the guys in the band.

“Tanglewood” follows, which to me, solidifies their “sound” both traditional and modern led by Koady’s percussive lead banjo riffs. I also relate the first time that I met Tim and Koady during a visit to my radio station at the time, WMUA. Louise Dunphey’s Celtic Crossings program and mine were back to back and we would often have guests. That night, these two incredibly charismatic young men played live in the studio having a great time and stamping the memory in my mind forever.

The segment includes “Before My Time” and “If You’re Still In, I’m In” both from “Yours to Break” their 2019 release. A note is given for Koady’s favorite charity called the Unison Fund which helps musicians dealing with things like mental health issues. A GoFundMe campaign has raised thousands in his honor for this effort that was so special to him.

We are heartbroken for our loss, we grieve for the families, but today, we celebrate musically the great spirit of the young man from Souris PEI, Koady Chaisson.

Seth Glier previews his 12/17 Academy of Music show with songs from “The Coronation”.

Seth Glier has released a fabulous thoughtful and varied album, The Coronation, this past August. It is a meditation on the previous year spent in isolation but doesn’t shy away from social commentary. Many of the song’s remain personal and introspective. Seth notes his view of his songwriting has evolved during this period. He always viewed his songwriting as “story-telling” or journalistic in nature but has realized that these times require a new perspective. This album focuses on his role as a songwriter in imagining the future and new possibilities. The title cut is a great example of this approach. The song is inspired by humanity united in a common cause, a time when compassion is as contagious as the virus (and fear). His optimism is present throughout the album despite songs about mass shootings and covid.

Seth was generous to play four songs live in-studio in addition to two from his recorded catalog. We start with a stripped down version of “The Coronation” followed by “If It Wasn’t For You” written and inspired by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai whose work for girls and women’s rights won her the Nobel Peace Prize (the youngest ever recipient). Our conversation continues with a discussion of Seth’s work as a Cultural Ambassador with the State Department’s “American Music Abroad”. He traveled to Mongolia, China and Ukraine in 2018 followed by a proposed stint in Mexico scheduled for 2020 which was postponed until this April. The Mexican trip’s cancellation led directly to Seth’s latest work and release (as well as home repair projects!).

Seth Glier was gracious to premiere a brand new unnamed song which references his newly acquired hobby of mushroom growing and foraging. 2020 was a big year for new hobbies like birding and foraging (as well as home improvement). We listened to “Things I should Let you Know” the title cut from his earlier album.

Our conversation turns personal with discussion of Seth’s older brother Jamie who suffered from Autism and lived his entire life non-verbally. Seth discusses the challenges and rewards of this important relationship in his life. The theme of gratitude once again shows up in the lyrics to this song dedicated to his brother called “Love is a Language”. Seth offered up a gorgeous version of this powerful song live in the studio. We finish the segment with the album version of “Till Further Notice”; another song which teaches us lessons from our crisis’ and our struggles.

Seth Glier plays this coming Friday 12/17 at Northampton’s Academy of Music along with his musical heroes, Martin Sexton. Highly recommended.

Old Time Banjo player Nora Brown Previews Her Upcoming Parlor Room show 1/30

Nora Brown is a poised and talented teenager from Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Not the usual bio from a solo banjo and unaccompanied ballad singer specializing in the music of Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. Her sound is amazingly authentic having gone to sit and learn from the masters of old-time music like the late Lee Sexton. Her latest EP, “Sidetrack My Engine”, released recently on Jalopy Records was recorded in her basement; not your average basement mind you. Her parents distribute cheese that they age in the century-old lagering tunnels beneath their building. This cave-like structure is the setting for the latest recording. Recorded on an ancient Ampex reel to reel with old RCA ribbon mics, the songs sound timeless. Our segment begins with the old time tune, “Wedding Dress” which she learned from one of her mentors, John Cohen, of the New Lost City Ramblers.

Our conversation touches on many subjects including her love for the mournful ballads of the South, her collaboration with Alice Gerrard, pioneering bluegrass performer, who produced her first release, “Cinnamon Tree”. We talk about the unusual sonic qualities of the cheese/beer lagering tunnel, her work with Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton who plays the bones on a few tracks.

Of course, we ask Nora to tell us about her trio of banjos and their unique styles they give her music. The release is only seven cuts because of the tunnel/analog equipment used there is another release in the works recorded in St Ann’s church, the site of the Brooklyn Folk Festival.

Nora Brown will be appearing at Northampton’s newly-reopened Parlor Room on January 30th. Tickets are on sale.

NineVoltHeart “Witnesses” Jake Klar’s songwriting prowess.

Jake Klar is a local singer songwriter whose music I’ve long admired. But, it’s been awhile since we’ve got together to chat. Yesterday was a great opportunity to catch up and listen to his latest batch of songs in an EP called “Witness”. This would be Jake’s sixth release in the last decade. His sound has broadened over these years adding a larger band to his songs especially emphasizing a variety of keyboards. We start the segment off with just Jake and his guitar playing his song “Rosy” from “Until The Wildfire Becomes Paradise”.

Our conversation covers his views on our local area music scene including some smaller house concert opportunities. We chat about Jake’s experience during the last year without constant gigs to play. He used this opportunity to put away music for a bit altogether to focus on other things. The more recent return to playing shows again reinvigorated him and his latest efforts show this enthusiasm. “Witness” is a four song EP which showcases Jake’s band recorded at Andy Cass’ Sleeper Cave Recording Studios. Our segment includes “Up On the Hill”, “American Dream” and “Let’s Dance” all from the EP “Witness”

Jake plays his Gibson acoustic to give us stripped down versions of “Masquerade” and “Tallyman” in studio. What a treat! “Tallyman” was recorded in a week-long songwriting retreat sponsored by Sustain Music and Nature, a non-profit which connects artists with public lands and environmental organizations. Jake partnered with Sustain in write “Tallyman” after his experiences at Great Mountain Forest in Norfolk, Ct. We finish our segment talking about the Jake Klar Band’s upcoming New City Brewery show on 11/20 at 8PM in Easthampton.

Annika Amstutz plays some “Old Favorites” on NineVoltHeart.

Annika Amstutz has released a glorious duo album with Daniel Plane called “Old Favorites”. Eleven tunes from Scottish, Irish, Old Time and Contra Dance traditions. Most are traditional tunes but all are played with enthusiasm and even some improvisation. We begin our segment with the first set of tunes from “Old Favorites” which is “Virginia Reel/Silver Spear/Mason’s Apron.”

Annika and I discuss the circumstances surrounding this opportunity to record, essentially there was a narrow window and Annnika and Daniel thrived in the time (one afternoon) allotted. Other topics include a bit of Annika’s biographical info and her musical journey. We discuss the pairing of cello and fiddle which has made a renaissance in the last few decades. She also fills us in on the work of her collaborator Daniel Plane, also a previous Valley teacher and player now moved to Wisconsin.

We talk about her role as Director of the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts as well as her work studying and playing with David Kaynor. Throughout our conversation we play tunes both in-studio and from the “Old Favorites” release.

Annika played the title cut “Old Favorites” live solo fiddle adding two more reels to the set. We follow that with “Waterbound/Robertson’s Reel”. The live in-studio performance is finalized with a gorgeous pairing of “Fine Times At Our House/Far From Home”

It was a pleasure to have live in-studio guests again; especially so the the grace and beauty of Annika Amstutz’s music.

Eleanor Buckland searches for answers on her solo album, “You Don’t Have To Know”.

Eleanor Buckland is a fourth generation musician from the State of Maine. She’s a founding member of Boston based Lula Wiles and is about to release her first solo album, “You Don’t Have To Know”. Our segment begins with the first single from the disc called “Don’t Look Down”. Our conversation begins with a discussion about Eleanor’s father and grandmother’s musical inspiration. Eleanor also explains the origins in 2017 for this musical journey which had not yet manifested itself as a solo project. She worked with Adam Iredale Gray who produced the first Lula Wiles album when the trio met him at Berklee School of Music. Adam Iredale Gray heads the folk groups “Fish and Bird” and most recently “Aerialists” which won a Canadian Folk Award and a Juno nomination. Eleanor traveled to Toronto and British Columbia to record this new material with Iredale Gray and Mairi Chambeul (both from Berklee).

Our chat moves onto Eleanor’s songwriting style and process. The intimate personal songs are brave attempts to describe her personal journey and obstacles such as depression, anxiety and uncertainty. She talks about the new batch of songs as a processing of her thoughts and self discovery. Many of the songs discuss these topics but leave room for the listener to glimpse some hope and resolution to the challenges. The segment ends with another “new” song written over ten years ago called “October”.

Eleanor will be premiering the new album, “You Don’t Have to Know” in a number of New York and New England venues including 11/5 at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall; 11/7 Two shows at Club Passim in Cambridge (5PM and 8PM) as well as Portland Maine on 11/11 and Exeter NH on 11/12

Charlie Apicella brings his gorgeous guitar sound to the Town Crier

Jazz guitarist Charlie Apicella brought his gorgeous guitar tone to the Town Crier. His guitar sound is a throwback to an earlier time when melody and tone trumped improvisational meandering. Every note is direct and crisp with the emphasis on the “groove”. We open the show with a live recording of Charlie and his trio doing a tune,” Three Sided” which has it’s origins in lessons he learned years earlier for Yusef Lateef. Lateef is a giant in the jazz world with a DownBeat Hall of Fame accolade as part of his resume. Charlie attended University Mass as an Afro-American studies major working with the like of Archie Shepp and Billy Taylor among many others. Our conversation covers these topics and more. We talk about meeting BB King, his early guitar idol and getting his guitar pick guard autographed.

Charlie has become an instructor with TrueFire teaching guitar topics and instruction online. He also is developing a curriculum for “Blues and Beyond” which is another exciting opportunity to teach about all styles of African American music.

Steve Forbert visits with NineVoltHeart. Local Hawks and Reed show on 10/16

Steve Forbert is playing at Greenfield’s Hawks and Reed on Saturday 10/16. I had a chance for a quick conversation with the singer songwriter in advance of his NorthEast shows which also includes Cafe Lena in Saratoga, and The Bull Run in Shirley. We talked about his musical partner on these shows, George Naha, who has played with some musical giants including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Willie Dixon as well as singer songwriters Livingston Taylor and Donald Fagen. George has been a member of Steve’s touring band, The New Renditions.

Steve has a new release, “Early Morning Rain”, which is his first foray into a “covers-only” album. He chose songs which interested him from an initial list of about 150 songs, demoed a bunch, ultimately releasing 11 cuts of his favorites which include “Box of Rain”, “Your Song” and the first single, “Goodtime Charley’s Got the Blues”. Our conversation also covers the recent publication of his memoir, “Big City Cat; My Life in Folk Rock”. I got Steve to reminisce about his train ride North back in 1976 from Meridien, Miss to NYC. He talks about finding a musical community there in the clubs and in the streets busking.

We talk about the process of songwriting for him these days as well as his views on the music industry today. We also get Steve’s impression of the tribute album done by various artists of his songs called “American Troubadour”. Steve requested a pair of tunes from that collection that we conclude the segment with, including Jim Lauderdale’s version of “What Kinda Guy?” and Todd Snider’s take on “It Sure Was Better Back Then”.

Darol Anger and Grant Gordy of Mr. Sun have fun on Nine Volt Heart.

Fun is at the heart of this collaboration’s success. These four musicians friendships span decades and their easy manner with each other translates to their intuitive extraordinary music. Mr. Sun is a collaborative effort of Darol Anger on fiddle, Grant Gordy on guitar, Joe K Walsh on mandolin and Aidan O’Donnell on bass.

Darol Anger was awarded a lifetime Achievement Award from the IBMA last year for his many contributions to the acoustic music world. He was a founding member of both the David Grisman Quintet and the Turtle Island String Quartet. He’s played with everyone from Stephane Grappelli to Tony Rice; from Vassar Clements to Mark O’Connor.

Likewise, Grant Gordy has transformed the role of acoustic guitar in bluegrass fusion music. He has as much jazz in his style as bluegrass but he did hold down the guitar chair in David GRisman’s Quartet for six years. He’s played with musical giants like Edgar Meyer and Tony Trishka among many others in his Brooklyn based home. Grant seems perpetually amused by his Mr. Sun bandmates antics.

Mr Sun appears in the region three times in September. On 9/18 they play the Fire in the Kitchen music series in Ct., on 9/22 the band plays the Watermelon Wednesday music series in Whately Massachusetts. They finish the run at the fabled Freshgrass Bluegrass festival in North Adams on 9/25th.

Our conversation includes the first reference I’ve heard about the origin of the band name, each member’s teaching and workshop experiences, the role of humor in their music and more. I ask about the band’s decision-making process regarding the virus protocols they encounter on the road.

We end up discussing the upcoming Mr. Sun release called “Extrovert”. The duo of Darol and Grant attempt a rare Zoom performance with Darol in Nashville and Grant in Brooklyn! They give a valiant effort at Charles Mingus’ “Better Git it in Your Soul”. The segment begins and ends with songs from Mr. Sun’s “The People Need Light” including the opening song “The Fiddler’s Boot” and finishes with “Key Signator”.

It was a joy and a hoot to speak with these acoustic music hall of famers. Check out the local show on 9/22 at watermelonwednesdays.com

Kittel and Co. Return to Watermelon Wednesdays 9/8

Jeremy Kittel is Grammy nominated musician, originally from Michigan, who has put together an ensemble of the best young acoustic musicians on the planet! I caught up with Jeremy on the road to a residency program in upper New York state where the band will rehearse and learn some of the new tunes he’s wrote in the last few years.

Kittel and Co. is doing a small New England tour starting September 7 at the Springville NY Center for the Arts which is a livestreamed event. The following day they will perform at West Whately’s Chapel as part of Watermelon Wednesday series. They follow that show with a Club Passim show on September 9th.

Jeremy’s band is full of world-class talent including mandolinist Josh Pinkham, guitarist Quinn Bachand, bassist Ethan Jodiwiecz along with Jeremy on fiddle.

Our segment began with the tune “Pando” from the Kittel and Co.’s latest release “Whorls” followed by “Bear Island Reel” from Jeremy’s “Chasing Sparks” CD. We finish the tunes with Aiofe O’Donovan’s “Bull Frog Croon” which features Jeremy on fiddle. Our conversation begins with a discussion of what the last two years have been like for the artists and what took place of the heavy tour schedule. The workshops, online teaching, and music study continued. Jeremy spent a lot of time studying film music. We also talk about the process of writing for a large orchestra compared to the ensemble pieces. Jeremy was commissioned to write for the Orlando Philharmonic during the past year as well as previously for the Detroit Symphony. Jeremy also divulged that he’s been practicing singing during the past year as well as guitar to increase his repertoire.

We finish our segment with Jeremy introducing “The Boxing Reels” from “Whorls”.