Jacob Jolliff brings his crazy mandolin skills to Parlor Sessions 3/3.


Jacob Jolliff just turned thirty but he’s already accomplished a lot musically. He was the first full scholarship awarded in Mandolin at Berklee School of Music. While attending, he was touring with the acclaimed band, Joy Kills Sorrow. After graduating, he became the National Champion Mandolin in 2012. He was recruited by the Yonder Mountain String Band soon after; a band he still tours with. But it is the Jacob Jolliff Band that will be coming to a Parlor Session on 3/3.

Our conversation covers all those accomplishments plus his mandolin heroes, his current touring band, the stress of naming all those instrumental tunes! Listen to our conversation which includes a number of tunes from Jacob’s bands. We hear his tribute to his bandmate Stash Wyslouch in “Shearson Crosses the Rocky Mountains”, a  Postal Service song covered by Joy Kills Sorrow, a King Harvest song covered by Yonder Mountain String Band as well as a new tune form Jacob’s new release “Instrumentals, Vol.1” called “Waiting on Gravey”.


Michael Daves belts out the bluegrass standards on Nine Volt Heart


Michael Daves has played with the giants of the bluegrass world. He is the premier guitarist and singer in the robust NYC bluegrass scene which includes Sarah Jarosz, Chris Thile, The Punch Brothers, Brittany Haas and others. He hosts a weekly bluegrass set at the Rockwood Music Hall. In our conversation we discuss the jam scene in NYC and his subsequent collaboration with Chris Thile in a grammy nominated “Sleep With One Eye Open” in 2011.

Our wide ranging chat includes his time at Hampshire College, gigs at the Black Sheep Cafe, recording at Jack White’s Third Man Records, the influence of Yusef Lateef, and more.

The musical set includes “Tennessee Blues” with Chris Thile along with the Stanley Brothers’ “I Only Exist” and “Rain and Snow”. Michael Daves will be appearing locally at The Parlor Room as part of their Parlor Sessions series on 2/17.

Chris Brashear and Jim Henry sing and play the Music of Doc Watson.


Chris Brashear and Jim Henry will headline the Tribute to Doc Watson which will be held on 2/28 at the Parlor Room. They were kind enough to join me for the first hour of Nine Volt Heart on WXOJ. The live set began with the classic, “Deep River Blues” followed by the mournful “Dream of a Miner’s Child”. We also heard Jim Henry’s recorded tune “Doc’s Rag” in between the in-studio performances. A nice version of “Columbus Stockade Blues” is followed by Chris and Jim’s rendition of “Black Mountain Rag”. We listened to Billy String’s version of “Beaumont Rag” along with a live version of “Windy and Warm”. The recording finishes with Doc’s “Your Lone Journey” and “Whiskey For Breakfast”

Both Chris and Jim are incredible musicians and tell some great stories throughout.  There will be a full lineup of stellar players joining this duo including Paul Kochanski, Eric Lee, Rebecca Jones, Max Wareham and Tracy Grammar! Enjoy the session on the audio track above.

Seamus Egan, one of Celtic music’s finest, on Nine Volt Heart!


I admit to being a serious fan of Seamus Egan and his band, Solas. He’s a wizard on virtually every stringed instrument (and more). I was anxious about interviewing him because, well, he’s a big freakin star! I shouldn’t have worried, he couldn’t have been more genuine. Our conversation covers his early musical education in Ireland and the burgeoning  traditional Irish jams in Philly and NYC which led to the formation of his long lived band of virtuosos, Solas. We talk about the band’s hiatus and the opportunity to refocus on his first solo instrumental album in 23 years, “Everything Always Was”!

The Seamus Egan Project comes to Northampton’s Parlor Sessions on 2/10. Don’t miss this chance to see this multi-instrumentalist wow a crowd. Joyfulness personified.

Stephane Wrembel chats about the music of Django Reinhardt on Nine Volt Heart


Stephane Wrembel is quite simply one of the finest guitarists in the world. The New York Observer said,”Stephane represents the living face of Gypsy Jazz.” Rolling Stone has called him ” a revelation”. The music of Django Reinhardt is the beginning point for this amazing player. He was born in Fontainebleau, the birthplace of Impressionism as well as his musical idol, Django. Stephane is a Grammy award-winning guitarist for his work in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”.

Our conversation is far-reaching from the music he learned at the feet of masters in the Gypsy camps, to references about Plato, spirituality and chicken wings! The segment includes four songs as well. We begin with his version of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia”, Django’s “Minor Swing”, Stephane’s Grammy nod “Bistro Fada” and a brand new version of a traditional tune played with Reinhardt’s grandson “Petriarka”.

We Banjo 3 bring their “celtgrass” sounds to the Iron Horse. 2/6


David Howley, lead vocalist and guitarist from We Banjo 3, was my guest on Nine Volt Heart. He previewed “his band of brothers” upcoming New England tour in support of their new release, Haven. The tour has stops in Conn, Maine and a local stop at Northampton’s Iron Horse on 2/6. They play at the Somerville Theater on 2/9 to finish the tour.

This quartet hails from Galway, Ireland and consists of two sets of brothers; Martin Howley plays banjo,mandolin, and sings. My guest, David Howley, plays guitar and sings. The other set of siblings includes Enda Scahill on banjo and Fergal Scahill on fiddle, mandolin and guitar. Between the four, they count about Twenty All-Ireland awards in their honor. They play like a cross of Avett Brothers meets The Frames.

Their new disc, Haven, is a powerhouse of all originals played with intensity and sincerity. The songs seem like party tunes but the lyrics tell a deeper story. Several deal with deeply personal issues like depression and anxiety. David was very open about discussing the band’s latest direction. We talk about their inherent optimism and the need for honesty in dealing with these tougher issues. They are a talented and energetic bunch and are selling out these shows quickly. So, give our interview a listen along with the songs “The Fox”, “Haven”, “Happiness”, “Hold On to Your Soul” and “Don’t Let Me Down”.


Rani Arbo swings into Nine Volt Heart; a discussion of Daisy Mayhem and their Parlor Session 2/24


Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem are into their 17th year together on the strength of their exuberant live shows. Born out of the Pioneer Valley band, Salamander Crossing, they are, according to the Boston Herald, “One of America’s most inventive string bands.”

They will host a Parlor Session on 2/24 in Northampton along with Anna Patten, a clarinetist from Brattleboro. Expect this show to swing! The songs, and the joy the band brings to them, is unmistakable. The vocals and fiddle work of Rani Arbo are superb and matched by the upbeat rhythm section of Andrew Kinsey on bass and Scott Kessel’s “drumship enterprise”- a recycled drum kit that has to be seen. Anand Nayak is a multi-instrumentalist including guitar and sings in Daisy Mayhem.

My conversation with Rani touches on her musical beginings in NYC as well as Salamander Crossing in 1990. We talk about how the band has changed along with the music industry over these last twenty years. Topics include the balancing of the band along with raising teenagers and numerous side projects.

Her enthusiasm, like her band’s music, is infectious. This show will be very popular because of the band’s local beginnings here and their connection with Signature Sounds. Get your tickets in advance of their Parlor Room show on Feb 24.

Listen to our conversation plus a whole batch of songs from their career including “Heart of the World”,”Crossing the Bar”,”I’m Satisfied With You”,”Hot Buttered Rum”, “Hear Jerusalem Moan”,and “Sparrow”.