Michael Daves and Bruce Molsky bring their talents to the Parlor Room, December 1st!

Old time fiddler Bruce Molsky will join bluegrass singer and guitarist Michael Daves for an evening of acoustic music at Northampton’s Parlor Room, December 1st. Their shared musical history is vast with both musicians adept at many genres. Expect some old time, some country and some bluegrass when the two play together. My interview with Micharl Daves toches on his upbringing in Atlanta and his latest project highlighting that town’s musical legacy; often overlooked in acoustic music. We touch on Michael Daves education nearby at Hampshire College where he studied jazz and experimental music. He was mentored by the legendary Jusef LaTeef! We discuss the fabled NYC bluegrass and old time scene; much of it nurtured in Brooklyn with Michael Daves’ weekly residency which is celebrating it’s 16th year! Michael met Chris Thile in NYC and ended up collaborating with him on “Sleep With One Eye Open” which garnered much acclaim and Grammy nominations. More recently, Daves released “Orchids and Violence” a double album of tunes done in two distinct styles; one bluegrass and one electric experimental.

This collaboration is intuitive and combustible. Expect instrumental fireworks and passionate vocalizing. Highly recommended show.

Eric Phelps debut’s his latest music, “Let It Rain” in advance of his 11/13 Hawks and Reed show.

Eric Phelps joined me in a morning in-studio session to help promote his brand new CD release “Let It Rain” along with the Release Party scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 3PM at Greenfield’s Hawks and Reed. This Valley resident has written hundreds of songs over the last fifteen years and has compiled them into this 14 track album. Our segment begins with the song that kicks off the disc called “Good Directions”. During the visit we hear five of his originals from “Let it Rain”; our recorded tracks we played all feature Valley artists collaborating with Eric Phelps. “This River” features vocal help for Rani Arbo, a longtime Signature Sounds artist.. “Got your Message” features Teresa Lorenco; whom area listeners may know from her band, Big Yellow Taxi, which channels the music of Joni Mitchell. The final recorded track we played is “Fare Thee Well” features Rani Arbo and Seth Glier, the talented local keyboardist and singer.

Eric Phelps sang two more songs from the release live in-studio; “All That I Need”, an emotional song written from his young son’s perspective entering his parent’s divorce. Eric finishes with a live take on the homesick song “Blue Moon”.

Eric has recruited a stellar cast of local and regional players on this disc; all of which will be performing with Eric on Sunday 11/13 at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield. Some of those players include Devin Griffiths on electric guitar, Paul Kochanski on bass, Joe Fitzpatrick on drums. Additionally Tommy Mac and Brian Bender will perform their contributions on guitar, keys and horns.

A great batch of talented players and singers contribute to this set of original songs by Eric Phelps on his long awaited disc, “Let It Rain”. Give the songs and our chat a listen and I’m sure you’ll agree that Eric writes mature insightful tunes in a wide variety of styles; all immensely listenable and relatable. Make sure to catch what is likely to be the only opportunity to see these songs played live with the entire crew. Hawks and Reed in Greenfield in a rare treat; a 3PM concert.

Experiments in the Return of Greg Hall to NineVoltHeart.

Greg Hall has a big week coming up. He visited NineVoltHeart studio to celebrate the CD release of “Experiments in the Revival of Greg Hall” on 11/08 and a local CD release show at the Parlor Room on Thursday 11/10. Greg is a member of Ward Hayden and the Outliers who headline that Parlor Room show. We began our segment with a live in-studio version of “Life’s Not Always a Party” from Experiments. In all we heard five songs in the show including “Can’t Be As Bad” and “One More Drink” from the new disc along with a live take of “Face of a Man”. Along the way we hear “Shelly Johnson” from Ward Hayden’s latest as well.

Our topics include some songwriting questions including the distinction of autobiographical vs. fictional characters, Greg’s songwriting process, and the concept of “what is a new release” considering these songs are now years old to the writer. We got a few stories from Greg about the just completed European tour with the Outliers and their future plans to tour Scandanavia.

Be sure to catch a double dose of Greg on Thursday 11/10 when he opens for Ward Hayden and the Outliers with songs from his just released CD. Then he’ll jump behind that bass and rock with his bandmates in the headliner too.

Gorgeous music of Upstate comes to the Shea, Nov 18

The band, Upstate, has gone through some personnel changes, stylistic turns and even a name change (formerly Upstate Rubdown). What has remained constant is amazing vocal harmonies over tasty instrumental passages. Another thing that has remained is founding member Harry D’Agastino who is my guest on this segment. The band will play locally on November 18 along with local favorites Mamma’s Marmalade, at Turners Falls’ Shea Theater.

We begin with two recent tunes from the band, “Healing” is a live closer at Burlington Vt’s Arts Riot and that that’s followed by one of Upstate’s recent singles called “Friends and Lovers”. Our conversation covers the previously mentioned changes, the band’s pandemic story, songwriting challenges and more. We finish the segment with their literate original called “Metaxy”. Make sure to catch the current version of Upstate at the lovely Shea Theater in TFMA.

Lilli Lewis brings “Americana”, songs about the marginalized, to Northampton’s Parlor Room, October 26

Lilli Lewis usually spends her time in New Orleans playing piano and singing in that tradition. But soon after her Jazz and Heritage Festival appearance in 2020, she (and most other musicians) found themselves either unable to create or using the “great pause” in performances to think in new directions. Ms Lewis went outside of the New Orleans club repertoire to write a batch of “story songs”; some of which had been written prior but many written during this period of creative redirection. The result is the album, “Americana”. According to Lilli, these songs came from the fringes of the power mandala ; the houseless, the refugees, the abused, the trauma kids, the queer folk, the rural poor, the religious and the humanists. I had made it a habit to see the unseen. It is also her attempt to reclaim musical traditions that have informed all expressions of American music. It’s a love letter to all the music that has moved me, all the people who have impacted me and the hope that I still hold in my “American Heart”.

Our conversation spans a number of topics from the “controversy” around the use of Lady A on her song, “The Healing Inside”, to a discussion of black women’s representation in roots music. We touch on her training as an opera singer and classical pianist to singing in collaboration with New Orlean’s Dirty Dozen Brass Band members. We finish with her songwriting insights on the central song in the story cycle, “My American Heart”.

The segment includes the songs “My American Heart (Prelude)”, “Copper John”, “My American Heart (Benediction) from the album that NPR and Rolling Stone call “one of the most powerful of the Year”.

Lilli Lewis will be appearing tonight Sunday 10/23 at Boston’s City Winery as well as Wednesday 10/26 at Northampton’s Parlor Room as well as Harvard’s Fruitlands on Thursday 10/27.

Jeffrey Gaines brings his amazing voice and songs to the Shea Theater November 11th

Jeffrey Gaines brings his amazing voice and songs to the Shea Theater in Turner’s Falls on November 11th. I was happy to catch up with this long time troubadour ahead of his local appearance. We started out chatting about what the “recording business” was like back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when Chrysalis Records signed Gaines to a recording contract. This release got critical acclaim and we delve into a handful of songs from that self titled debut in the segment. We also discuss the dreaded “sophomore jinx” for second albums after great debuts. As it turns out, Jeffrey’s second album was recorded with studio veterans and according to him was “elevator Gaines” or “grocery store versions with too much production. That version never saw the light of day but a trimmed down version of “Somewhat Slightly Dazed” was released recorded with Gaine’s pal from his youth.
Jeffrey Gaines did major tours with folks like Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman and Tom Petty. We open the segment with “Hero In Me”, “Why”, “You Believe in Me” as well as his glorious cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” which you can hear in this audio:

Crys Matthews brings her “Change Makers” to the Parlor Room, October 23.

Crys Matthews is an acclaimed social justice singer-songwriter who now makes their home in Nashville,Tn. Recently awarded best song by the International Folk Music Awards, yet the entire album is noteworthy for it’s message of hope and positivity in these divisive times. Our segment includes “Change Makers”, “Battle Hymn for an Army of Lovers”, For Women With Steel in Their Bones”, “How Many More”, “One and the Same” and the unreleased “Cancel Culture”.

Our discussion covers a lot of topics including Crys’ background in rural NC, her move to Nashville, her collaboration with other Social Justice singers, and more. She tells stories of her “coming out” in her religious home and small town. She relates her broadening education at App State in Boone NC as well as her poetry turning towards songwriting. We talk about her musical philosophy (life’s philosophy) of “Sing, Don’t Shout”; the concept of getting to people’s hearts directly through music. Crys tells us about ways to support her in her Patreon group, her Army of Lovers. We get an inside look at her AmericanaFest panel discussion on “Geneology and Story Telling” and much more.

Her local show comes to Northampton’s Parlor Room on Sunday October 23. Details at SignatureSoundsPresents.com

Damn Tall Buildings bring their “raucous roots vibe to the Parlor Room 10/13

We caught up with the trio from Brooklyn during their hectic visit to the International Bluegrass Music Association conference in Raleigh, NC. We previewed a handful of tunes from the last two albums, “Don’t Look Down” and recent release, “Sleeping Dogs”. Give them a listen while we chat with the trio of Max, Sasha and Montana about a wide variety of topics including Freshgrass appearances, the IBMA showcases, songwriting for bandmates, co-writing issues, recent marriages and much more.! The Berklee trained trio started busking in Boston adding to their performance chops early on. The road beckoned after graduation and it was non-stop touring and album releases for nearly a decade. We talk about their pandemic circumstances and the genesis of the new release, “Sleeping Dogs”. The band has found it’s “authentic voice” with this release and their coming to town! Catch them at Northampton’s Parlor Room on October 13th.

Included in the segment is “Words To This Song” from “Don’t Look Down” as well as a handful of songs from “Sleeping Dogs” including “What A Nice Life”, “Cold Rain”, “Lemons” and “Podcast”.

Max Wareham discusses his new book, “Rudie Lyle; The Unsung Hero of the Five String Banjo”

Max Wareham has just released his first book, “Rudie Lyle; The Unsung Hero of the Five String Banjo”. As a touring musician, Max plays multiple instruments well but he’s focused on the banjo here. Specifically, the work of Lyle who was a member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys from 1949 until 1954. In the book, Max painstakingly transcribes all Rudie Lyles breaks from his entire catalog. He also interviews prominent banjo players about Lyles’ influence on the technique and style of bluegrass banjo.

Throughout the interview, we feature tunes from the Bluegrass Boys’ during Lyle’s tenure including “Rawhide”, “Bluegrass Ramble”, “On my Way to the Old Home Place” and “Brakeman’s Blues”. We begin the segment with Max’s earlier project, The Morning Bugle, with “Blue and Lonesome” and conclude the interview with a discussion of Max’s role in the recently released Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band album, “From My Mountain (Calling You)” listening to the title cut.

Max’s dedication to this project is undeniable. We hear about his tracking down Lyle’s sparse biographical information resulting in a meeting with Bobby Lyle; Rudie’s brother. This interview along with banjo greats like Bill Emerson and Sonny Osborne round out the story of this nearly forgotten player. Wareham even tracks down the actual long lost banjo from these historic sessions! Check out the chat and music with the link above.

The book, “Rudie Lyle; The Unsung Hero of the Five String Banjo”, can be ordered from MaxWareham.com

Nine Volt Heart pays Tribute to Kate Lorenz, local musician, teacher and VFR show host.

Kate Lorenz was first, for me, a friend. I imagine many folks felt the same way. Her easy smile and openness made her friends of many. We met at a gig for her band Rusty Belle in Amherst a dozen years or more ago. That meeting led to a friendship which renewed itself every time we connected over these may years. Kate became a programmer at our station, Valley Free Radio, spinning her favorite Classic Rock B-Sides on the Vinyl Countdown. I was honored to sit in on that program over the years when she needed to perform in her many bands or to see her beloved Bruce Springsteen in concert. It was during this time that Kate released her first solo album, “Sing When Lonely” and I convinced her to join me on my show for an in-studio chat and performance. This audio is pulled from that show. Kate sings three tunes live in-studio including the title cut, “Sing When Lonely”, “Slide Tackle into your Heart”, and “Yard Sale”. We also hear her singing with Chris Smither on his “Leave The Light On” from “Still on the Levee” along with her dedication of her song, “Dive Bar”.

It was a difficult segment for me to produce in light of her tragic early passing but listening to her laugh and her voice was proof that it captured her “sparkly” essence. I’ll always remember her last month when we saw each other at a music event. She was radiant at the outdoor show chasing after her three year old Pearl; both of them squealing with joy!! That’s how I’ll remember this jewel of a woman. I won’t be alone!