We Banjo 3 bring their “celtgrass” sounds to the Iron Horse. 2/6


David Howley, lead vocalist and guitarist from We Banjo 3, was my guest on Nine Volt Heart. He previewed “his band of brothers” upcoming New England tour in support of their new release, Haven. The tour has stops in Conn, Maine and a local stop at Northampton’s Iron Horse on 2/6. They play at the Somerville Theater on 2/9 to finish the tour.

This quartet hails from Galway, Ireland and consists of two sets of brothers; Martin Howley plays banjo,mandolin, and sings. My guest, David Howley, plays guitar and sings. The other set of siblings includes Enda Scahill on banjo and Fergal Scahill on fiddle, mandolin and guitar. Between the four, they count about Twenty All-Ireland awards in their honor. They play like a cross of Avett Brothers meets The Frames.

Their new disc, Haven, is a powerhouse of all originals played with intensity and sincerity. The songs seem like party tunes but the lyrics tell a deeper story. Several deal with deeply personal issues like depression and anxiety. David was very open about discussing the band’s latest direction. We talk about their inherent optimism and the need for honesty in dealing with these tougher issues. They are a talented and energetic bunch and are selling out these shows quickly. So, give our interview a listen along with the songs “The Fox”, “Haven”, “Happiness”, “Hold On to Your Soul” and “Don’t Let Me Down”.


Rani Arbo swings into Nine Volt Heart; a discussion of Daisy Mayhem and their Parlor Session 2/24


Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem are into their 17th year together on the strength of their exuberant live shows. Born out of the Pioneer Valley band, Salamander Crossing, they are, according to the Boston Herald, “One of America’s most inventive string bands.”

They will host a Parlor Session on 2/24 in Northampton along with Anna Patten, a clarinetist from Brattleboro. Expect this show to swing! The songs, and the joy the band brings to them, is unmistakable. The vocals and fiddle work of Rani Arbo are superb and matched by the upbeat rhythm section of Andrew Kinsey on bass and Scott Kessel’s “drumship enterprise”- a recycled drum kit that has to be seen. Anand Nayak is a multi-instrumentalist including guitar and sings in Daisy Mayhem.

My conversation with Rani touches on her musical beginings in NYC as well as Salamander Crossing in 1990. We talk about how the band has changed along with the music industry over these last twenty years. Topics include the balancing of the band along with raising teenagers and numerous side projects.

Her enthusiasm, like her band’s music, is infectious. This show will be very popular because of the band’s local beginnings here and their connection with Signature Sounds. Get your tickets in advance of their Parlor Room show on Feb 24.

Listen to our conversation plus a whole batch of songs from their career including “Heart of the World”,”Crossing the Bar”,”I’m Satisfied With You”,”Hot Buttered Rum”, “Hear Jerusalem Moan”,and “Sparrow”.

Lula Wiles discuss their upcoming Release, What Will We Do, on Nine Volt Heart.


Lula Wiles consist of three creative talents none of which is called Lula. They do, however, take after their fictional namesake who is “independent, wiley and possessing an aggravating beauty”.They have signed to Smithsonian Folkways Records and will release their new record, What Will We Do, in the next few weeks. Listen in and catch a serious preview of the songs and the stories behind them. Lula Wiles consists of Isa Burke, Ellie Buckland and Mali Obomsawin. They’ve known each other since their teens attend Maine Fiddle Camps.

They’ve taken a major step forward with this release. Some have called it “confident”, others “provocative” but these new songs reveal insight and maturity that take “folk music to new places”. I think they are “non-traditional” traditionalists; raised on the folk canon but, as should be expected, pushing the boundaries. They sing love songs about being alone, they croon country songs about our Nation’s lost moral compass, they even poke fun at the epicenter of country music, Nashville. These songs will delight listeners who crave authenticity in this young generation, with gorgeous vocal harmonies and playing to boot. It’s no wonder the record company of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie were so eager to sign this young trio. Give our conversation a listen, these ladies are ready for this next step. Confident, witty and insightful songs never go out of style.

Bruce Molsky previews Mountain Drifters workshop/Parlor Session 1/20

Bruce Molsky is easily one of the nation’s most talented old-time fiddlers. He is a renowned ambassador of this authentic Appalachian mountain music. He is an esteemed professor at Berklee School of Music’s Roots Music Program. He’s collaborated with the world’s finest musicians from Mozaik, Anonymous 4, Linda Ronstadt, Bill Frissell and Mark Knopfler. One of his many current projects is his old-time trio, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters. This trio will be appearing locally at the Parlor Room in Northampton on 1/20.

Our conversation covers a lot of ground including his early musical inspiration when the jazz great Billy Taylor visited his grade school in the Bronx. We talk about his love of this music, his teaching position at Berklee including a special anniversary concert of the Roots Music Program. We talk about his two events next week at the Parlor Room including an afternoon Workshop and an evening Parlor Session; both on 1/20.

Of course, our visit includes some great music. The setlist includes songs by the Mountain Drifters (Bruce on fiddle, Stash Wyslouch on guitar and Allison DeGroot on banjo),The Deadly Gentlemen (includes Stash), The Goodbye Girls (includes Allison)Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project (includes Bruce). The set concludes with a brand new tune from the upcoming Mountain Drifter’s second album called “There’s a Bright Side Somewhere”.

Parlor Sessions House Band Rocks Nine Volt Heart


Northampton’s Parlor Room sponsors a series of Acoustic music events called the Parlor Sessions which serve up a winter’s worth of amazing roots music. A very special sense of community is built with this series featuring a concert followed by a jam session. Along with soup, bread and PIE! The shows all are scheduled for Sunday evenings and begin 1/20 all the way to St Patrick’s Day. Performers include Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, Stephane Wrembel, Seamus Egan Project, Michael Daves, Rani Arbo with Daisy Mayhem. March brings Jacob Joliff, Laura Orshaw, and finished with the celtic sounds of Nuala Kennedy, Eamon O’leary and Jefferson Hamer.

The series has a “who’s who in Valley acoustic music” to anchor the jam sessions (and to eat Pie!). The house band includes Gareth Buckley on bass, Lily Sexton on fiddle, Max Wareham on guitar and John Benjamin on mandolin. They were kind enough to spend an hour with me playing some old time and bluegrass tunes in advance of the Sessions and filling our listeners in on the upcoming series.

The set list includes “Green Light on the Southern” by the House band followed by Molksy’s Mountain Drifters’ latestĀ  single, “Bright Side Somewhere”. The House Band did a lovely “Handsome Molly” which we followed with Stephane Wrembel’s “Bistro Fada”. Michael Daves’ version of “Darling Corey” is followed by a live version of “Doorstep to Trouble”. We also include Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem’s “Down by the Water” and Jacob Joliff’s latest set of instrumentals “Waitin on Gravey”. The House Band played the traditional “Red Wing’ while we finished the hour with Seamus Egan’s “Weep Not For the Memories”.

Make sure to check out these very community-oriented sessions from now till Spring, only at the Parlor Room on Sunday evenings. Tell ’em Nine Volt Heart sent you.

Nine Volt Heart’s Best Albums of 2018

IMG_3284The end of a year brings a sense of both relief and retrospection.This past year brought my first visit to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s blowout in Raleigh, NC. It was an overwhelming musical adventure (from one not easily overwhelmed).

Every year I find, upon looking back, all the releases that I missed. While impossible to listen to every new release, I tried to compile my favorites this past year. My fondness for certain artists and their latest projects is biased by the guests that appear on my radio show. Prior to an appearance, I spend a large amount of time researching and listeningĀ to these particular musicians. As a result of this familiarity and my work in preparation, my end of year lists may differ from a national music magazine or certainly lists which include different genres of music. This list is for a body of work (album or CD) rather than a single song. This distinguishes me as old (guilty) and intrigued by the concept of a musician’s work released as a concept rather than “just’ a loose collection of songs. Each of these dozen or so releases include multiple songs which appealed to me as well as the idea of the larger work conceptually.

I rearranged the list several times even during the actual radio broadcast. As a result, the albums could be interchangeable in terms of order. All of these releases were among my favorites for many weeks. I hope you enjoy listening to them again this year. The audio is broken up into two distinct hours for ease of listening.

For those unable to listen to the top “Nine”. Here’s a synopsis of my faves for the year; I started with some Honorable Mentions including Eric Lee’s “Heartache Town”,Pharis and Jason Romeros’ “Sweet Old Religion”,Town Mountain’s “New Freedom Blues”,and Rosanne Cash’s “She Remembers Everything” Those are just the Honorable Mentions!!

Tied for Ninth is Kaia Kater’s “Grenades’ and Mary Gauthier’s “Rifles and Rosary Beads”. Eight best is Becky Buller’s “Crepe Paper Heart”. Seventh this year is I’m With Her’s debut “See You Around”. Hawktail’s gorgeous release “Unless” is our Number Six. Amy Helm’s disc “This Too Shall Light” comes in at #5. Missy Raines’ “Royal Traveler”is our number Four. Tied for third are two mainstays; Brandi Carlile’s latest “By the Way, I Forgive You” and Kasey Musgreaves “Golden Hour”. Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s duo project “From Downey to Lubbock” is my runner up this year to John Prine’s “The Tree Of Forgiveness” which is Nine Volt Heart’s Top Album of 2018.


41 Prospect plays live In-Studio on Nine Volt Heart.


Every once in awhile, serendipity happens. A chance conversation with a stranger at a bluegrass festival leads to a comment about a favorite local band. This scenario is what led to the appearance of Manchester CT’s 41 Prospect on Nine Volt Heart.

Following a few emails and arrangements, the band started to arrive, stretching our studio space in every corner. Put the drums under this desk, place the bass under the window space, plug in the guitars into amps, squeeze the two vocal mics together. Voila! We have a performance space, cozy but just right for the next hour. The band, 41 Prospect, named after their rehearsal space address is comprised of Mike Stefanowicz on bass, Ken Klucznik on guitar and vocals; Paul Ofria on drums along with vocalists Nan Roy and Heidi. They consistently play 20 shows a year in a number of venues throughout New England including Easthampton’s Luthiers.

While their live shows include well chosen covers, their set in-studio is mostly original songs. The set list includes “Dewy”, “Demand Side”, Nan Roy’s “Something Sinister” and “I’m Alive”. The band’s 2014 release, Steps That Remain, also contributes to the show with “Slow Learner” and “Long Way from Mexico”. The band also does live versions of “Ode To Over” and “What About Me”.

It was a fun set to experience and a great opportunity to meet some new friends from outside of our immediate area. They play in the Greater Hartford area at Grady’s Tavern on December 29th. Check out their tour dates and music on their Facebook site for 41 Prospect.