High Tea, Indy Folk Duo, visits NineVoltHeart in advance of Hawks and Reed Show 4/3

Isabella DeHerdt and Isaac Elliot have released their second album as High Tea. The latest is an acoustic EP called “Old Cowboy” and we begin our segment with the title cut from the 2022 disc.

High Tea has a gorgeous vocal harmony sound with an emphasis on DeHerdt’s lyrics. The songs explore the concepts of growing up, leaving home as well as nostalgia for the childhood comforts they’ve left behind. The duo play two songs from the “old Cowboy “release live in-studio, “Invincible” and “O’er My Skin”. The stripped-down versions feature an acoustic guitar by Isabella and twin vocals from the duo. The arrangement emphasizes the songwriting and stories within these songs and show DeHerdt’s maturation as a writer.

Our topics include the DIY nature of their debut, “Hell of a Ride” where the two spent extensive time writing, arranging, layers various instruments, adding up to a fuller denser rockier recording. Isabella and Isaac are mature and thoughtful about the lessons learned during these recordings; few live shows, moving toward live streams, all the while writing and creating new material. High Tea played a new song for us in-studio called ‘Love You Better” which opens the current shows.

“Old Cowboy” takes it’s sonic cues from the first live shows the duo, High Tea, performed. The live show could not replicate all the instrumentation they created in the studio. Instead, it’s two voices upfront with guitars and percussion underneath. They will bring these tunes and this acoustic approach to Greenfield’s Hawks and Reed tonight 4/3 and later in the month at Turners Falls The Voo on 4/29. Catch these talented young musicians for these local shows if you can. Follow the band at HighTeaBand.com

Eveline MacDougall brings her Fiery Hope to Greenfield’s LAVA Center. 4/9

My guest on the Town Crier, Eveline MacDougall, founded the Amandla Chorus back in 1988 in the Greenfield area made up of multi-generational singers from our valley. The chorus, now named Fiery Hope, takes their mission of social justice and community building into schools, prisons, shelters and senior centers. They’ve performed for the likes of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Malalla Yousafazai, Cesar Chavez and Pete Seeger.

Our conversation touches on the early chorus’ anti-apartheid mission. The evolution of the chorus’ work including during the pandemic. Our discussion includes early mentors like Wally and Juanita Nelson who founded Peacemakers way back in 1948! Locally, the Nelsons are credited for their work as anti-war activists, originators of the Greenfield Farmers Market, the Valley Community Land Trust and much more.

Eveline has written a book about her experiences called “Fiery Hope; Building Community With the Amandla Chorus”. Her appearance at Greenfield’s LAVA Center on 4/9 at 1PM will likely include some of the powerful stories from her 30 plus years with the Chorus. Eveline shared one such story with the Town Crier which gave our listeners the power and drama of these experiences. Give the interview a listen. We finish with a story of the Chorus’ work with Pete Seeger as a way to introduce a gorgeous version of “Ode to Joy” with lyrics co-written with Seeger.

LAVA Center (Local Access To Valley Arts) is located at 324 Main Street in Downtown Greenfield, MA. Attendance can be in person or virtual and is “pay as you can” basis. Detail at localaccess.org

Eveline MacDougall’s appearance is part of the center’s Series for Social Justice in Arts and Media on 4/9 at 1PM.

Hanneke Cassell brings her Scottish fiddle Trio to Watermelon Wednesdays October 12th

Hanneke Cassell is an award-winning fiddler now based in Boston. She will be performing with her trio at Whately’s Watermelon Wednesday this month on 4/27. Keith Murphy and Jenna Moynihan will be joining Hanneke for this show as well as a 4/25 Club Passim date prior to her Western Mass appearance.

Our conversation covers her early training as a Texas style fiddler growing up in Oregon. Her fiddle teacher’s association with Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Cape Breton fiddler Buddy McMaster led Hanneke to compete in a competition in this very different style of fiddling. The skeptical fourteen year old won the competition and her association with Scottish fiddling blossomed. We talk about the life changing visits to Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides and the relationships she built there.

Hanneke’s latest release harkens back to those early days after winning the US National Scottish Fiddling Championships and studying under Fraser. The disc is called “Over The Sea to Skye”. It features many of the best known tunes from the canon with a nod to Buddy McMaster and Alasdair Fraser.

Our conversation covers the convergence of both Cape Breton style and Scottish styles in her work in Boston’s Berklee School of Music. We talk about the vibrant music scene in places like Club Passim and the Cantab as well as the new generation of fine fiddlers graduating from this roots music hotbed.

Of course, our segment includes a fine set of tunes from her discography including her personal introduction to “Trip to Walden Pond”.

Fans of lively and gorgeous string music are in for a treat when Hanneke brings her trio to Watermelon Wednesday on 4/27

Laura Orshaw celebrates her new solo album “Solitary Diamonds” with the single “Hank”.

Laura Orshaw is an award-winning fiddler who is currently touring with the Po’Ramblin’ Boys while at the same time just finishing her second solo project called “Solitary Diamond”. We begin our segment with a brand new single from the upcoming Po’ Ramblin’ Boys release, “The Blues Are Close at Hand” followed by Laura’s first album cut called “Going To the West”.

Our conversation touches on her family connections to bluegrass and old time country with her Grandmother Betsy Orshaw and her Dad, Mark Orshaw’s band, The Lonesome Road Ramblers. Both family members encouraged her musical education with early fiddle heroes like Lenny Baker, Chubby Wise, Bobby Hicks and Richard Greene. We talk about her move to the Cambridge in large part because of her exposure to players her own age at the Joe Val Bluegrass festival. The music colleges were also a draw as well as venues like The Cantab, a central square dive that featured a bluegrass jam every Tuesday night.

Laura has had many musical projects including playing with Chasing Blue, Danny Paisley and Southern Grass, Alan Bibey and Grasstowne, as well as the previously mentioned Po’ Ramblin’ Boys. Her latest endeavor is her first album with Dark Shadow Records called “Solitary Diamonds”. We talk about the appeal of working with the friendly folks at DSR, Stephen and Jana Mougin. Laura has enlisted another all-star cast to play on the new release including fiddlers Brittany Haas, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes and Jenee Fleenor. Her old roommate, and Mile Twelve banjo player, B.B. Bowness along with Alan Barton, Reed Stutz, Tony Watt fill out the band. Special vocal contributions are made by Trey Hensley, Tim O’Brien and Lindsay Lou. The first single from “Solitary Diamond” has just been released last week and it’s a tribute to Hank Williams written by the TattleTale Saints called “Hank”.

We can’t wait to hear the upcoming release on Dark Shadow Records in May.

Rosie Porter and the Neon Moons visit NineVoltHeart.

Rosie Porter
Doug Beaumier and Tom Lebeau

Rosie Porter and her band spent some time with NineVoltHeart previewing a few new songs and updating us on some upcoming shows. We begin our segment with “Over Did It” from 2019’s EP, “Just Like Old Times”. Following a band introduction we got a brand new original song live in-studio called “Brand New Bully”. Our conversation touches on some biographical information on the members; all of whom are from Massachusetts. Downtown Sounds in Northampton seems like their local gathering place for work and play. Upcoming Western Massachusetts shows include 3/12 at Hitchcock Brewery in Bernardston and 3/20 for a rescheduled show at the Brewery at Four Star Farm in Northfield. There are numerous Central Massachusetts shows as well. Make sure to check out the schedule at RosiePorterMusic.com to keep informed. The band performed another new original called “The Right Random Stranger” followed by another EP cut which is the title track, “Just Like Old Times”. We talk with Doug Beaumier about his pedal steel playing heroes as well as his YouTube series which has literally millions of views!! We finish the live set with “Farmlands of Upstate NY”. Rosie Porter and the Neon Moons are a fabulous example of classic country and honkytonk styles with original tunes. Check them out with a cold beer at one of their upcoming shows. In fact, make that beer a Porter!!

Rick Lang Returns to NineVoltHeart with a “Tale ToTell”.

Grammy nominated songwriter Rick Lang joined me on NineVoltHeart to tell some stories; tales from his upcoming Dark Shadows Recording’s release. “A Tale to Tell” has thirteen of these story songs featuring thirteen vocalists and a slew of Nashville’s best players as well. We start the segment off with “Lost Town” a song which chronicles the Town of Dana Massachusetts and it’s fate to be one of four small towns sacrificed to the establishment of the Quabbin Reservoir. James Kee from East NashGrass does a super vocal on this cut to set the tone for our interview.

Rick Lang is a modest guy who needed to be prompted to acknowledge his many awards and accomplishments but he is glad to discuss the mentoring of other songwriters. As an isolated songwriter in New Hampshire, he really valued input and help in creating his early songs. In turn, Rick has provided this kind of mentoring to dozens of emerging songwriters. He has been active in the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Songwriting Committee as well as collaborating with Eastern Tennessee State’s music Program. A scholarship in his name has been endowed to help young songwriters in need.

Rick’s long standing songwriting work has tended to be in Bluegrass Gospel songs, his “Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout” album was nominated for a Grammy as well as IBMA Album of the Year. “A Tale To Tell” collects a batch of “story songs’ that hadn’t thematically fit in those earlier releases. All the songs are true stories of real life experiences such as the forementioned “Lost Town”. We talk about the stories behind a few other songs such as “They Sawed Up a Storm” and “Toodleoo”.

Rick has become prolific in the creative collaborative process of co-writing. He tells the anxiety of his first co-write with Donna Ullise and Jerry Salley. Well, he’s gotten over those jitters because he’s written hundreds of songs since; many picked up by other artists to much success. We talk about his recent co-writing experience with Dark Shadows labelmate, Rick Faris, for his sophomore album, “The Next Mountain”. ‘Rick Squared’ as he refers to the collaboration, co-wrote five songs on this release! We listen to the gospel burner that features Sam Bush and Jason Carter among others, called “See You On the Other Side”. The musical set finishes with “They Sawed Up A Storm” and “Toodleoo”. I’ll let Rick tell those stories, listen in. You’ll enjoy the Tales, for sure.

NineVoltHeart tribute to Koady Chaisson of PEI’s The East Pointers.

Koady Chaisson, heart and soul of the East Pointers, has passed at the age of 37. The multi-instrumentalist touched many people’s lives through his music surely, but just as much by his personality too. His kindness and generosity has been well documented by posts from friends, family and fans from around the world. My sincerest condolences to his extended family and his wife Chloe Goodyear. The segment includes four tunes representative of the band’s sound which bridged modern beats with traditional celtic and folk music. I’ve included reminiscences of my own and others throughout.

The segment begins with “Wintergreen” which was the musical soundtrack of many fans who tuned in nightly for the band’s reading of Anne of Green Gables, another PEI icon. My wife and I attended livestreams for all of the first three books, which helped hundreds get through the toughest, loneliest, most uncertain times of our lives. A new community was born thanks to the band’s creative endeavors, a theme which is likely repeated over and over. Annedemics united over the goofy to heartfelt, bonding over the characters of the books but just as assuredly with the guys in the band.

“Tanglewood” follows, which to me, solidifies their “sound” both traditional and modern led by Koady’s percussive lead banjo riffs. I also relate the first time that I met Tim and Koady during a visit to my radio station at the time, WMUA. Louise Dunphey’s Celtic Crossings program and mine were back to back and we would often have guests. That night, these two incredibly charismatic young men played live in the studio having a great time and stamping the memory in my mind forever.

The segment includes “Before My Time” and “If You’re Still In, I’m In” both from “Yours to Break” their 2019 release. A note is given for Koady’s favorite charity called the Unison Fund which helps musicians dealing with things like mental health issues. A GoFundMe campaign has raised thousands in his honor for this effort that was so special to him.

We are heartbroken for our loss, we grieve for the families, but today, we celebrate musically the great spirit of the young man from Souris PEI, Koady Chaisson.

Seth Glier previews his 12/17 Academy of Music show with songs from “The Coronation”.

Seth Glier has released a fabulous thoughtful and varied album, The Coronation, this past August. It is a meditation on the previous year spent in isolation but doesn’t shy away from social commentary. Many of the song’s remain personal and introspective. Seth notes his view of his songwriting has evolved during this period. He always viewed his songwriting as “story-telling” or journalistic in nature but has realized that these times require a new perspective. This album focuses on his role as a songwriter in imagining the future and new possibilities. The title cut is a great example of this approach. The song is inspired by humanity united in a common cause, a time when compassion is as contagious as the virus (and fear). His optimism is present throughout the album despite songs about mass shootings and covid.

Seth was generous to play four songs live in-studio in addition to two from his recorded catalog. We start with a stripped down version of “The Coronation” followed by “If It Wasn’t For You” written and inspired by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai whose work for girls and women’s rights won her the Nobel Peace Prize (the youngest ever recipient). Our conversation continues with a discussion of Seth’s work as a Cultural Ambassador with the State Department’s “American Music Abroad”. He traveled to Mongolia, China and Ukraine in 2018 followed by a proposed stint in Mexico scheduled for 2020 which was postponed until this April. The Mexican trip’s cancellation led directly to Seth’s latest work and release (as well as home repair projects!).

Seth Glier was gracious to premiere a brand new unnamed song which references his newly acquired hobby of mushroom growing and foraging. 2020 was a big year for new hobbies like birding and foraging (as well as home improvement). We listened to “Things I should Let you Know” the title cut from his earlier album.

Our conversation turns personal with discussion of Seth’s older brother Jamie who suffered from Autism and lived his entire life non-verbally. Seth discusses the challenges and rewards of this important relationship in his life. The theme of gratitude once again shows up in the lyrics to this song dedicated to his brother called “Love is a Language”. Seth offered up a gorgeous version of this powerful song live in the studio. We finish the segment with the album version of “Till Further Notice”; another song which teaches us lessons from our crisis’ and our struggles.

Seth Glier plays this coming Friday 12/17 at Northampton’s Academy of Music along with his musical heroes, Martin Sexton. Highly recommended.

NineVoltHeart “Witnesses” Jake Klar’s songwriting prowess.

Jake Klar is a local singer songwriter whose music I’ve long admired. But, it’s been awhile since we’ve got together to chat. Yesterday was a great opportunity to catch up and listen to his latest batch of songs in an EP called “Witness”. This would be Jake’s sixth release in the last decade. His sound has broadened over these years adding a larger band to his songs especially emphasizing a variety of keyboards. We start the segment off with just Jake and his guitar playing his song “Rosy” from “Until The Wildfire Becomes Paradise”.

Our conversation covers his views on our local area music scene including some smaller house concert opportunities. We chat about Jake’s experience during the last year without constant gigs to play. He used this opportunity to put away music for a bit altogether to focus on other things. The more recent return to playing shows again reinvigorated him and his latest efforts show this enthusiasm. “Witness” is a four song EP which showcases Jake’s band recorded at Andy Cass’ Sleeper Cave Recording Studios. Our segment includes “Up On the Hill”, “American Dream” and “Let’s Dance” all from the EP “Witness”

Jake plays his Gibson acoustic to give us stripped down versions of “Masquerade” and “Tallyman” in studio. What a treat! “Tallyman” was recorded in a week-long songwriting retreat sponsored by Sustain Music and Nature, a non-profit which connects artists with public lands and environmental organizations. Jake partnered with Sustain in write “Tallyman” after his experiences at Great Mountain Forest in Norfolk, Ct. We finish our segment talking about the Jake Klar Band’s upcoming New City Brewery show on 11/20 at 8PM in Easthampton.

Annika Amstutz plays some “Old Favorites” on NineVoltHeart.

Annika Amstutz has released a glorious duo album with Daniel Plane called “Old Favorites”. Eleven tunes from Scottish, Irish, Old Time and Contra Dance traditions. Most are traditional tunes but all are played with enthusiasm and even some improvisation. We begin our segment with the first set of tunes from “Old Favorites” which is “Virginia Reel/Silver Spear/Mason’s Apron.”

Annika and I discuss the circumstances surrounding this opportunity to record, essentially there was a narrow window and Annnika and Daniel thrived in the time (one afternoon) allotted. Other topics include a bit of Annika’s biographical info and her musical journey. We discuss the pairing of cello and fiddle which has made a renaissance in the last few decades. She also fills us in on the work of her collaborator Daniel Plane, also a previous Valley teacher and player now moved to Wisconsin.

We talk about her role as Director of the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts as well as her work studying and playing with David Kaynor. Throughout our conversation we play tunes both in-studio and from the “Old Favorites” release.

Annika played the title cut “Old Favorites” live solo fiddle adding two more reels to the set. We follow that with “Waterbound/Robertson’s Reel”. The live in-studio performance is finalized with a gorgeous pairing of “Fine Times At Our House/Far From Home”

It was a pleasure to have live in-studio guests again; especially so the the grace and beauty of Annika Amstutz’s music.