Emma June visits Nine Volt Heart; In-Studio at VFR.


The ladies of Emma June Band came to Valley Free Radio’s studio to sing some songs and let their fans and radio listeners know about their upcoming shows and plans. Emma Ayres is the lead vocalist, guitarist and song-writer but shares vocal duties with Zoe Young who also plays guitar. Abby Kahler plays fiddle and Abbie Duquette plays bass (she plays a wild uke-bass in this session). They all sing.

We open the segment with their song, “For Icarus” followed by Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia” which also uses the Icarus metaphor. Live in the studio, the ladies continue the “mythology imagery” with a song called “Odysseus”. They perform “Little Bird” which is an unrecorded song for the band. I played an amazing song from the only recorded release, Graduate, that is called “Progress”. Emma introduces the song as a tribute and reminder of the history of the towns submerged by the Quabbin Reservoir. The band finishes our set with a gorgeous affecting acapella version of “Bread Winner”.

The Emma June Band will be performing tonight April 14th at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls, Ma. They are also scheduled to perform at the Sustainability Festival on the Amherst Common on April 27 as well as the Taste of Amherst in June.

Annie Guthrie; “the stubborn transgenre Guthrie” entertains on Nine Volt Heart.


Annie Guthrie is the middle daughter of Arlo Guthrie. Annie along with siblings Sarah Lee, Cathy, and Abe are grandchildren of Woody Guthrie. All of the family tree are musicians and have played important roles in the “Guthrie Family” business. For decades, Annie has managed the Family touring details as well as “Rising Son Records”.

These days, Annie is singing songs from her latest release, “Dragonfly”. I caught up with her in advance of her local show along with John Sheldon at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield, Ma. We talked about her roles in the musical family’s business as well as her original songs. We talked about her early Dance career inspired by her grandmother’s experience of dancing in Martha Graham’s troupe. Our conversation centered around her songwriting including a newer song dedicated to her Mother, Jackie, who died in 2012 of cancer. The segment includes the songs “White Sundresses, “Feistier Than Gin” and “Who I Am”.

John Sheldon updates Nine Volt Heart on his myriad of new projects.


John Sheldon is a busy guy. Just keeping up with his projects is daunting. He is involved in a project called “Do It Now” with poet-spoken word artist Paul Richmond and Valley World music percussionist Tony Vacca. These three perform in the area in an extraordinary spontaneous beat poetry meets improvisational music experience. In addition, John Sheldon has been digging deep into the healing aspects of music by exploring themes of environmentalism and spirit; Music as a form of prayer more than entertainment. Our conversation covers his life-changing visit to Standing Rock and the community he found there. We listen to a song written and performed by John along with Emma Ayres called “The Same Water”. We also explore another guitar piece called “Earth Blues”.

John has many projects he’s developed incorporating music with story-telling such as “The Ayahuasca Monologues”, “Journey To the Center of the Earth” and his award-winning self exploration called “The Red Guitar”. Throughout these many projects, John’s incredible guitar playing stands out; front and center.

John will be playing Friday 4/5 along with Annie Guthrie at Greenfield’s Hawks and Reed Performance Arts Center.

Lisa Bastoni talks about “The Wishing Hour” and previews new songs;Live In-Studio on Nine Volt Heart.


Lisa Bastoni has revisited and re-energized her musical career in the last two years. She took ten years away from singing to get a degree and raise a family. We’re glad that the muse hit her again while pushing a baby stroller or late at night after her children were put to bed. Her 2017 release is named after those times, The Wishing Hour. Those ten original songs brought her back to performing and to great acclaim. She was chosen as Emerging Artist at Falconridge Folk Festival, a showcase Artist at North East Regional Folk Alliance, winning awards for her songwriting at places like Rocky Mountain Folk Festival among others.

Lisa has moved to the Northampton area and has several upcoming shows scheduled in the area (as well as the Boston area). We were fortunate to spend an hour together listening to her songs and discussing her songwriting. Our set includes a number of tunes from “The Wishing Hour” like “In This Town”, “It’s the Staying That Hurts”, and “Wichita”.

We were fortunate to be able to hear a whole batch of soon to be released songs in this session. We heard versions of “Walk a Little Bit Closer”, “Beautiful Girl”, and “Nearby” among others. It was a pleasure to get to know Lisa while talking about a variety of subjects including busking, her Grandmother’s influence, and the new music series that Lisa is curating for the Montague Book Mill.

Maya DeVitry “Adapts” to life after The Stray Birds.


Maya DeVitry has just released a gorgeous solo release called “Adaptations”, a set of a dozen thoughtful songs covering issues like migration, civil and personal rights. The songs differ from her work with The Stray Birds in that they were written and conceived not in three part harmony but for her solo voice. She is ably supported by the stellar guitar work of Anthony Da Costa whose work includes Aiofe O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz. Sam Grisman on bass and Jason Burger on drums fill out her band. Our segment covers a lot of territory with commentary about her trip to Jordan with the Boston-based bluegrass unit, Della Mae, to her solo trips to Cuba and remote cabins in Pennsylvania to write these songs. Her answers are thoughtful and full of insights of her journey from the aggressive touring of The Stray Birds to this very meditative soulful release on her own.

Our segment includes a healthy dose of the new album but begins with The Stray Bird’s song, “Dream in Blue” from 2012. New songs include “What the Moon Said”, “Anybody’s Friend”,”Go Tell A Bird” and “My Body is a Letter”.

Maya brings her band and her new batch of incredible songs to Club Passim in Cambridge on May 17th. Catch this talented singer songwriter with her trio of Ethan Jodziewicz on bass and Jason Burger on drums.

Award winning fiddler Laura Orshaw visits Nine Volt Heart before her Parlor Session.


Laura Orshaw has just won the prestigious “Best Fiddler” award from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPGMA) in late January. She is an energetic singer and fiddle player who plays full time with Alan Bibey and Grasstowne, records with her own band of Boston-based musicians, The New Velvet Band, all the while working a full time job at Leslie College. Her work ethic and enthusiasm come through in our conversation which covers her early musical education, her decision to make her musical base in Boston, and more.

Our conversation includes some of her tunes with the New Velvet Band’s “Songs of Lost Yesterdays”. We include “Going to the West”, “The Cotton Farmer” as well as a just-released song from Alan Bibey and Grasstowne called “Gonna Rise and Shine”.

In honor of Women’s History month, we discuss her musical heroes and teachers as well as Laura’s opinion of being a women in today’s bluegrass community. I’ve included the song “Swept Away” from the First Ladies of Bluegrass (Allison Brown, Becky Buller, Missy Raines, Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle) who’ve all won the Best in their respective instrument from the IBMA awards.

It was a pleasure getting to know Laura and I was impressed with her enthusiasm and passion for her work and art. She appears at the Parlor Room TONIGHT 3/10 as part of the Parlor Session’s series. Catch her in a rare Western Massachusetts appearance.

Ona Canoa debuts their folky trio harmonies on Nine Volt Heart.

This newly formed trio have performed together only a handful of times but their joyful singing and harmonies would have you believe these ladies have been at it all their lives. They have been friends since high school and their comfort levelĀ  with each other adds to their natural ease performing together.

The group consists of Chelsie Field, Tess Burdick and Eliza Hollister. Ona Canoa will be opening the upcoming “Lilith of the Valley” series on 3/9 at Northampton, Massachusetts’ Bishop’s Lounge. Our in-studio session features four original songs by the band as well as songs by some of their favorite songwriters. Included are the songs; “Legs”, “River Rock”, “Aubergine” and Molasses”.

Included in our discussion is a chat with Kara Kharmah who is the organizer of these “Lillith Of the Valley” showcases. She is also the woman behind PRIA Music Marketing who aids bands in their quest to “brand themselves” in the effort to gain more fans. She helps focus their efforts through her work on social media platforms, website designs, promotions and more. She gives us details on March 9th’s lineup and participants.