Sam Reider is a pianist, accordionist, composer and leader of a band of virtuoso’s called the Human Hands. Sam and his band will open the Parlor Room in Northampton’s Winter series called The Parlor Sessions on Jan 19th. Our conversation touches on his young career as a jazz pianist and his discovery of folk music at Columbia. We talk about his many tours sponsored by the US State Department all over the world acting as a music ambassador. We also touch on his work with Jazz at Lincoln Center which brought him into NYC public schools.
The Human Hands include Eddie Barbasa on Sax, Alex Hargreaves on fiddle,Dominick Leslie on mandolin and Roy Williams on guitar. Sam plays both piano and accordian. Our segment includes two selections to give you a taste of their virtuosity and style. We listen to “The Murder” and “Swamp Dog Hobble”.
Liz Simmons of the Vermont-based Low Lily was my guest on Nine Volt Heart to talk about Wednesday’s 12/18 Winter Solstice show at the Parlor Room. Low Lily will be sharing the festivities with mandolinist Matt Flinner. I can only imagine the gorgeous four part harmonies along with two fabulous mandolin pickers on the Northampton venues stage. My conversation covers a lot of territory in under 15 minutes. We discuss her early exposure of “life on the road” with her parents to her current role in Low Lily. In between, we flesh out the Boston folk and celtic scene leading to the formation of their first project, Annalivia and their decision to start anew with Low Lily. Along the way we hear a number of tunes from the band from both their recordings including “Northern Spy”, “Sovay”, “Dark Skies Again” and Liz introduces the gorgeous hand-clapped acapella, “Hope Lingers On”. Give it a listen, or better yet, go to the Parlor Room show on Wednesday night.
Bruce Molsky will lead a workshop and a concert on December 15th in Northampton’s Parlor Room. Bruce is a leading advocate of old time fiddle music whose work spans genres and generations. He’s a serious musicologist and has a serious work ethic which he refers modestly as a “bunch of projects”. Touring worldwide with Molsky’s Mountain Drifters (pictured top right) a trio of Allison DeGroot and Stash Wyslouch as well as releasing a disc with Scandanavian supergroup Mozaik are just two of his recent projects.
Our conversation covered some of his early influences from Billy Taylor’s Jazz Mobile to studying years later at the feet of old time legends in the Upper South. We talk about his role as educator at Berklee’s School of Music and his efforts to establish the American Center for Folk Music in his hometown of Beacon NY.
Of course, the segment includes some old time fiddle tunes including Bruce’s versions of “Piney Mountain”, “Shelving Rock”, “Forked Deer” as well as the Mountain Drifter’s “Old Jawbone” and a version of “The Drunken Hiccups” finishes this set of old time standards.
Pictured above (top left) is Bruce in-studio on Nine Volt Heart,(Center photo) Bruce with Altan along with Alison Brown at Freshgrass, (top right) Molsky’s Mountain Drifters
Lisa Bastoni and Zak Trojano were my guests on Nine Volt Heart in advance of their Parlor room show on 12/14. They will share the bill on that Saturday night assuring those in attendance of a fabulous singer-songwriter evening. Lisa is debuting her “How We Want To Live” CD on this tour. It is very personal set of songs which is guaranteed to engage both the heart and the mind. Zak uses his incredible finger-picking style along with an amazingly expressive voice.
Both musicians shared a handful of new songs in our segment. Their shared appreciation is evident while each artist sang in the studio. Smiles and nods of mutual understanding abound. Lisa sang three songs from her gorgeous new release including “Nearby”, “Pocketful of Sighs’ and “Beautiful Girl” while Zak sang “Gorham”and”Poor Boys Long Away from Home”. Our segment includes a number of songs from their catalog including Zak’s latest disk “Wolf Trees” and an instrumental disc called “I Took Molly to see the Butterflies”.
Catch this talented pair when they each showcase their latest work on December 14 in Northampton’s Parlor Room.
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.
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.
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.