Stephen “Mojo” Mougin ain’t no “Ordinary Soul”.

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Stephen Mougin has done many things in the music business. He runs  a recording studio, he’s an in-demand sound engineer and producer. He’s a songwriter and guitarist but the role Mojo takes the most pride in; is “teacher”. He gained those skills and confidence while attending U Mass Amherst where he degreed in Music Education. Stephen was awarded an”IBMA Mentor of the Year Award” for his work in 2016.

Born and raised in South Ashfield Ma, Stephen experienced an early omen. While attending the Peaceful Valley bluegrass festival in 1988, he sat in on a workshop with none other than Bill Monroe! Bill showed an interest in this youngster and his mandolin, so much so that the “Bluegrass pioneer” used young Stephen’s mandolin for the entire workshop!

We talked about his early bluegrass band, Thunder Mountain Bluegrass Band and his move to Nashville, Tn.  Eventually, contacts got him a gig with the Sam Bush Band ,a role he’s “picked” since 2006. Our discussion ranges from his Dark Shadow Recording studio to his hope for a July 31 release party for his first solo album, “Ordinary Soul”.

Of course there is plenty of music in the segment with a healthy dose of the new disc. We include “New Beginning”, “A Place for a Fool” with the Gibson Brothers, “I’m Gonna Ride” with the Sam Bush Band. We add a new tune from Sam’s band called “On the Road”. The segment finishes with Dark Shadow artist, Becky Buller, nominated for an IBMA for her song, “The Barber’s Fiddle”. Two new songs from “Ordinary Soul” finish the segment including Stephen’s favorite on the disc, ” A Song That I Call Home” and “Railroad Man”.

Jake Blount unravels his “Spider Tales”.

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Jake Blount visited on Nine Volt Heart to discuss his recent release, “Spider Tales”. It was a fascinating discussion on race, activism as well as music’s role in educating the listener on topics sometimes difficult to broach in other situations. The material on “Spider Tales” is superbly researched and curated from centuries of old time music with a focus on the black and indigenous roots of the music. The songs have themes which unfortunately remain stubbornly relevant including oppression and resistance to power.

Our conversation touches on the role of traditional African American dance as well as this old time stringband music. I ask Jake about his research process and the excavation of these tunes and their selection appropriate to the theme of Anansi the Spider, whose fables are handed down from one generation to the next. In much the same way, these songs and tunes have been preserved and researched through Jake’s field research.

We talk about his top notch band for “Spider Tales” which include Tatiana Hargreaves on fiddle, Rachel Eddy on guitar, Hase Ciacco on bass, Nic Gareiss on dance/percussion. The Horseflies’ Judy Hyman and her husband Jeff Claus add their instrumental and production help.

Jake and most of his band are part of special online stream put together by “BluegrassPride” which will offer ten hours of live music dedicated to the cancelled San Francisco Pride Day. It is called “Porch Pride” and airs on 6/27 and 6/28 on bluegrasspride.net The event also features NineVolt favorites  Joe Troop from Che Apalache,Rachel Baiman and George Jackson, Front Country, Molly Tuttle, Sam Gleaves, Della Mae, and Amythyst Kiah.

Of course, the segment includes four of the tunes off Jake’s new release. We start the segment off with “Roustabout”, “Move, Daniel” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and we finish the segment with the compellingly chilling “Mad Mama’s Blues”.

Saro Lynch -Thomason and Sam Gleaves discuss their new release of Si Kahn’s songs, “I Have Known Women”.

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The music of Si Kahn is well known. He has also worked for over 45 years as a civil rights, labor and community organizer. This background informs his songwriting for than 20 albums including the latest release by my guests, Saro Lynch Thomason and Sam Gleaves. The album, “I Have Known Women”, contains  thirteen songs by Si Kahn, many never before released.

Saro is a ballad singer, folklorist, illustrator, author and social activist from Asheville, NC. Her talent was noticed by Si Kahn was said,”During the course of my more than 50 years as a civil rights, labor and community organizer and musician in Appalachia and the South, I have had the privilege of working with and getting to know some truly amazing artists, activists, and scholars. As extraordinary as so many of them are, few are as impressive in all three areas as Saro Lynch-Thomason.”

Sam Gleaves was born and raised in Wytheville Va. where he began playing as a teenager. Rooted in appalachian traditional music, Sam’s songwriting adds stories about contemporary rural life and social justice issues. Sam’s “Ain’t We Brothers” 2015 release has long been a Nine Volt Heart favorite.

Our conversation covers the work of Si Kahn, the decision of what songs would be included and the decision to focus on the perspective of womens rights. The centennial of the 19th Amendment upon us gives these songs a topicality.

Our segment includes a number of songs from the new release including “Ten Thousand Miles Away”, “Conductor” and “No More No More”.

Sam’s music will be featured on the live stream called “Porch Pride” on 6/27 and 6/28 as part of the BluegrassPride Queer-Antine Festival as part of Bluegrass Pride.

Sam and Saro will be doing a live stream of this featured album on the Facebook Page of Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer on Wednesday 6/10.

Abe Loomis shares his “most productive” songwriting project.

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Abe Loomis is back in Conway Massachusetts during our national pandemic. But he’s making the most of his time with a new songwriting goal; a new song every week. Abe has created a “Patreon” platform to share this musical outpouring with his fans. Every Wednesday he posted a newly minted song on this crowd supported platform. On today’s Nine Volt Heart radio program, we listen to two brand new songs (“Last Bar on Earth” and”Don’t You Let Go”) a as well as songs from Abe’s 2017 release, “The Hoosac Line”(“Franklin County” and “Crow Crow”). The segment opens with “Refugees Are Welcome Here”, which Abe released as a single after “Hoosac Line’s” debut. The segment finishes with an in-studio performance along with Jim Henry of Abe’s ode to Conway, “Johnny Bean Brook”.

We talk about his Patreon project, his return from NYC, his song writing process and, of course, the songs. Listen in.

Nate Lee flies on the “Wings of a Jetliner”

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Nate Lee soars on the mandolin. His fingers take flight in every tune he plays. His latest effort, “Wings of a Jetliner” features an all star cast from Tennessee including members of the award winning Becky Buller Band, Wyatt Rice (Tony Rice Unit), Todd Phillips (Far too many collaborators to mention) and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (from Mile Twelve). Produced by Dan Boner from the esteemed E.T.S.U music program, Nate Lee sings, plays fiddle, banjo and mandolin.

Our conversation covers some of his biographical information, his early influences, his teaching and practice regimen, as well as the tunes from this upcoming release.

The segment includes “Chinqaupin Hunting” from Nate’s first solo EP, the latest from Becky Buller, “The Barber’s Fiddle”, and the first single from Jetliner called “Love Medicine”. Our interview finishes with Nate introducing his latest single, “Serenity”.

 

Harrow Fair document the “Sins We Made”.

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The Toronto based duo, Harrow Fair, were my guests on Nine Volt Heart to help celebrate the release of their newest “Sins We Made”. Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner spent some time discussing the songs on this CD and their plans during quarantining. The segment covers some their biographical information (They’ve been part of Sunparlour Players, Great Lake Swimmers, and Belle Starr), their unique name (Ontario’s longest running agricultural fair), as well as the Folk Festival Miranda has served as Artistic Director for (Muskoka Music Fest). We also cover their collaborative songwriting style and their signature cocktail!

The segment includes five songs from their recent catalog; “Shiloh”, “Till the Levee Breaks”, “Sins We Made”, “Seat at the Table” and “Rules of Engagement”.

More “In Her Words”; Conversation with Women Musicians for”Women’s Herstory Month”.

The final edition of “In Her Words” aired over two hours last night. I cobbled together some short interviews and insights by some of my favorite Women artists. The first hour includes Kaia Kater, Allison DeGroot with Tatiana Hargreaves, Laurie Lewis and Amanda Ann Platt. The second hour features Kate Lorenz, Liz Frame, Letitia VanSant, Pamela Means, Nora Jane Struthers and Christa Joy. Each artist introduces a song or two; most of them speak to some element of Women’s Herstory in their songwriting.

“In Her Words”; a Womens “Herstory” tribute.

In honor of Women’s Herstory Month, Nine Volt Heart has compiled some of our favorite women artists to feature. In the last few years, I’ve spoken with nearly one hundred women song writers, singers and pickers. In this episode, I’ve culled a few interviews from Amythyst Kiah, Heather Maloney, Emma June, Lindsay Lou, Maya DeVitry, and Dori Freeman. These segments include song introductions and inspirations “in Her Words”.

 

Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen bring their fiery gumbo to the Parlor Room 3/4.

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Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen’s latest album, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat” was nominated for Best Bluegrass album by the Grammy Awards. His mandolin playing earned him nods by the IBMA and his band won “Best Instrumental Group” from the International Bluegrass Music Association as well.  My segment with Frank covers a lot of his musical and personal biography from Alaska to playing in the US Navy band. We talk about his highly accomplished band, Dirty Kitchen and his love of cooking. Along the way we listen to three songs he recorded; the Box Top’s “The Letter”, Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number” and an original from his latest called “Crave”

Nora Jane Struthers “Wants It All”. Parlor Room show on 3/7

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Nora Jane Struthers has just released a brand new release called “Bright Lights Long Drives First Words” which documents her brand new dilemma. Nora Jane and band mate and husband Joe Overton have a one year old daughter. While this journey has been long desired, these new songs speak of the potential conflicts of both being a new mom and a touring musician. We talk about these issues and much more in this segment. It also includes the songs, “Nice to be Back Home”, “Band Family” and “A Good Thing” from her latest two releases. She will be appearing at Northampton’s Parlor Room on 3/7th.