Amythyst Kiah visits Nine Volt Heart


Amythyst Kiah’s star is rising…fast. Make sure to catch her tomorrow night at Northampton’s Parlor Room with Alexa Rose.

While Amythyst’s career was going well with two independent releases,” Dig” an acoustic collection of traditional and originals and “Her Chest of Glass” which is more of a group bluesy rock sound. But it was Amythyst’s recording of Vera Hall’s “Trouble So Hard” which caught the ear of Rhiannon Giddens who invited her to open for the “Freedom Highway” tour. More recently, Amythyst Kiah was invited along with Allison Russell (from Birds of Chicago and Po’ Girls) and former Carolina Chocolate Drop associate Leyla McCalla to collaborate on a new project together.

Songs of Our Native Daughters was released on Smithsonian Folkways this year and it is astounding. The four banjo playing roots musicians visited the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to research and investigate a collection based on slave narratives. The resulting collection is collaborative and inspiring. Amythyst leads the collection off with her penned “Black Myself” which sets the bar very high. She also cowrote a number of other songs such as the retelling of the John Henry story from the perspective of his wife Polly Ann.

Our conversation touches on her biography and her Tennessee roots, her education at ETSU in Johnson City, Tn as well as her influences such as the previously mentioned Vera Hall. We talk about the Native Daughters project as well as her upcoming solo release,”Weary and Strange”.

The songs included are “Trouble So Hard” from Amythyst and “Another Man Done Gone” from Vera Hall. We hear “Mamas Cryin’ Long”, “Black Myself” and “Polly Ann’s Hammer” from Songs of Our Native Daughters as well as a new original “Wild Turkey’ and “John Henry”.

Alexa Rose is a very talented singer songwriter and she is on the Parlor Room bill as well. A great night to see two amazing performers in a small intimate venue. Nov 11 at the Parlor Room in Northampton, Ma.

Lilith of the Valley focuses on Women in Music; Nine Volt Preview.


Kat Alexander visited Nine Volt Heart for the first time yesterday and played three tunes live. We were focusing on 11/9 Lilith of the Valley show at Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton. Our segment featured live music from Kat as well as an interview with Kara Karmah who’s PRIA Marketing company is putting together this show. She discusses the process of putting together this event which includes a panel discussion on the state of Women in our local Music scene. We also talked with I-Shea Shaikly from the band Rebirth. She discussed the band’s commitment to womens music and femme empowerment in the Valley. In addition we heard two songs from their album as well as selections from the other participants in the Lilith showcase such as And the Kids and The Fawns.

A worthy cause with a loaded lineup on 11/9 Saturday night in Northampton, Ma.

Check out the audio from the segment including all the songs and more.


Laura Cortese; instigator of Creativity and builder of Community.


California raised and Berklee- trained fiddle player Laura Cortese has an amzing ability to find and collaborate with incredible musicians. The list is a virtual who’s who in the acoustic music world. Her present Dance Cards are in the very last shows of an American tour which ends tomorrow at the Parlor Room in Northampton. Then the band heads to Sweden and beyond. I was interested in so many of Laura’s projects that I didn’t know which direction to head. I decided to inquire about her band’s trips through the US State Department to exotic world destinations. We also discussed their participation in Folk Fights Back and other social justice causes especially for women. We discussed the video of her latest release, “California Calling” and it’s song “Pace Myself” which features over 65 women from various cultures. We listen to Laura’s take on the bluegrass standard, “Train on the Island” as well as the traditional “Greasy Coat”. Our segment finishes with the title cut from her latest release on Compass Records, “California Calling”.

We didn’t even get to discuss her co-founding Boston’s Celtic Music Festival or the band’s insistence on “sustainable practices on tour”. There are many chapters in this extended story. Catch the latest when Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards play Northampton’s Parlor Room Sunday on 10/26 at 7PM.

Lily Sexton and Sean Davis Update us on the Latest from Mamma’s Marmalade.


Sean Davis and Lily Sexton from the local newgrass band, Mamma’s Marmalade, took some time to visit and update our listeners about the band and it’s music. The duo played two songs live in the studio, “June Apple” and “Won’t You Come and Sing for Me”.

We also included a “Mamma’s Trio” cut from a previous visit to the show where they took on the traditional “Salt Creek” and we listened to the instrumental “Sherman’s Reel” from their latest release, “Rockabee Field”.

Our conversation included discussion of personnel changes, upcoming shows as well as individual side projects. Overall, a great 30 minute visit with the duo. Give it a listen and check out their upcoming shows on Halloween at the Shea Theater with the Gaslight Tinkers as well as a November 2 gig at the Parlor Room with The Whiskey Treaty Road Show.

Max Shakun discusses Parsonsfield and his upcoming solo show.

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Max Chakun, from the Signature Sounds’ band Parsonsfield, was my guest on Nine Volt Heart yesterday. We talked about the band’s growth from exuberant young students at U Conn. to an experienced touring unit. Our conversation touches on the unique experience of performing hundreds of times the play “Robin Hood” for Canadian theater-goers to their recent band show at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco.

Max will be appearing with friends and local heroes Emma Ayres and Izzy Heltai at Northampton’s Parlor Room on Wednesday 10/16. Our conversation includes music of all three musicians from in-studio performances on Nine Volt Heart, which is a real treat for me.

The songlist for the segment includes Parsonsfield’s song, “Stronger”, Max’s version of Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want” as well as two songs from Max Shakun’s recent project “Le Vie” called “Garden Sleep” and “Day Dreamer”. We also play Izzy Heltai’s “Anyone to Anybody” and “Marching Song”. Emma June Band finish the segment with a gorgeous acapella version of a then brand-new song, “BreadWinner”.

Carla Racine talks Strong and Pleasant Rocktober Festival.


Carla Racine, producer of Strong and Pleasant Music Festival, was my guest on Nine Volt Heart yesterday. We talked about the details of the Rocktober version of the Festival happening October 10-13th in downtown Northampton. Four venues with over 50 bands celebrating the diversity and scope of our vibrant local music scene. Details at Strong and

Our segment includes music by Eric Lee, Greg Hall, Lexi Weege and the Wonder Twins, Mark Schwaber, The Equalites and more.

Evan Murphy of Mile Twelve talks songwriting and more.


2019 has been an exceptional year for the Boston-bred bluegrass band. Mile Twelve was nominated by the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) for both Album of the Year and Song of the Year! Evan Murphy is the lead singer, guitarist and one of the principal songwriters for this talented band.

Mile Twelve will be at the Parlor Room tonight! Sunday 9/29 at 7PM. This fast rising quintet will likely be playing much larger venues from this point on; so grab your chance to see them at this cozy listening room.