Sandy Bailey and bandmate Ryan Hommel performed in-studio in advance of their upcoming appearance at this year’s Back Porch Festival held March 3-5th. They performed four songs from Sandy’s not yet released album, “Daughters of Abraham”. They open the segment with “Already Down” followed by the title cut. Our chat covers some of Sandy’s musical journey and her multi-racial background. We also talk about Ms Bailey’s songwriting workshops with Mary Gauthier and Gretchen Peters; both acclaimed songwriters from Nashville. We talk about the influence of John Prine’s songwriting which resulted in Sandy Bailey’s song, “Dear John”. The last cut we hear is the song Sandy submitted to NPR’s Tiny Desk contest called “Get The Message Through”. This song was part of Mary Gauthier’s mentorship and we hear the updated version today on NineVoltHeart. It is an amazing performance of original music. I really enjoyed the conversation and the music. I know you will too. Check out her website, SandyBaileyMusic.com.
Dave Madeloni joined me today on the Town Crier to discuss this weekend’s event called Sun On The Muddy Book Release Party; Photography, Poetry, Songs and Signing. Join him and Jim Armenti at the Parlor Room this Sunday afternoon for a reception that will feature songs by long-time Valley staple Jim Armenti, photographs by Dave Madeloni . Books will be available for purchase at the reading. A copy of Jim’s latest CD, “The Poetry of Longing” will be included with each book purchase.
In our conversation, Dave discusses his photography method, his inclusion in this book and the specifics of this reading event. Give it a listen. Better yet, check out this unique event, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Parlor Room.org for details. Tickets at the door as well.
Phil Simon was my guest on the Town Crier this morning. We had a terrific chat about the Shea Theater in Turner’s Falls, Phil’s booking agency and his work bringing light and warmth into this cold dark winter in New England. We also, of course, previewed the upcoming Old 78 Farm Fall Festival reunion of sorts at the Shea on January 21st. Check it out.
Suzanne Vega brings her New York Songs and Stories to Northampton’s Academy of Music on 12/17 along with local faves Cloudbelly .The concert is a benefit for One Roof Concerts for the Homeless. I had a chance to chat with Suzanne recently to discuss her musical journey. Give the interview( along with music) a listen.
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 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.
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.
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 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.