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.

Darol Anger and Grant Gordy of Mr. Sun have fun on Nine Volt Heart.

Fun is at the heart of this collaboration’s success. These four musicians friendships span decades and their easy manner with each other translates to their intuitive extraordinary music. Mr. Sun is a collaborative effort of Darol Anger on fiddle, Grant Gordy on guitar, Joe K Walsh on mandolin and Aidan O’Donnell on bass.

Darol Anger was awarded a lifetime Achievement Award from the IBMA last year for his many contributions to the acoustic music world. He was a founding member of both the David Grisman Quintet and the Turtle Island String Quartet. He’s played with everyone from Stephane Grappelli to Tony Rice; from Vassar Clements to Mark O’Connor.

Likewise, Grant Gordy has transformed the role of acoustic guitar in bluegrass fusion music. He has as much jazz in his style as bluegrass but he did hold down the guitar chair in David GRisman’s Quartet for six years. He’s played with musical giants like Edgar Meyer and Tony Trishka among many others in his Brooklyn based home. Grant seems perpetually amused by his Mr. Sun bandmates antics.

Mr Sun appears in the region three times in September. On 9/18 they play the Fire in the Kitchen music series in Ct., on 9/22 the band plays the Watermelon Wednesday music series in Whately Massachusetts. They finish the run at the fabled Freshgrass Bluegrass festival in North Adams on 9/25th.

Our conversation includes the first reference I’ve heard about the origin of the band name, each member’s teaching and workshop experiences, the role of humor in their music and more. I ask about the band’s decision-making process regarding the virus protocols they encounter on the road.

We end up discussing the upcoming Mr. Sun release called “Extrovert”. The duo of Darol and Grant attempt a rare Zoom performance with Darol in Nashville and Grant in Brooklyn! They give a valiant effort at Charles Mingus’ “Better Git it in Your Soul”. The segment begins and ends with songs from Mr. Sun’s “The People Need Light” including the opening song “The Fiddler’s Boot” and finishes with “Key Signator”.

It was a joy and a hoot to speak with these acoustic music hall of famers. Check out the local show on 9/22 at watermelonwednesdays.com

NineVoltHeart welcomes David Ferguson, “The Ferg”, legendary Nashville sound engineer.

In the words of Sturgill Simpson, “The Ferg is a bona fide card carrying legendary hillbilly genius and when he talks you better shut up and listen” I took Sturgill’s advice! Fergie told amazing stories from nearly 50 years of musical history. Our conversation covered a lot of the influential folks who called Ferg a friend. He spoke at length about Cowboy Jack Clement, Johnny Cash, John Prine and Sturgill Simpson! Our topics included the studio and house fire at Clement’s legendary “Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa”, Ferguson’s own Butcher Shoppe Recording studio and all things Nashville along the way.

We also found time to talk about The Ferg’s new album “Nashville No More” due to be released September 3rd on Fat Possum Records. As you might expect, he has a stellar cast of players on this release including Stuart Duncan, Bela Fleck, Tim O’Brien, and Jerry Douglas.! Margo Price makes a duet appearance as does Sierra Hull! So far, there have been three singles which are included in the segment. These include the opening tune, “Knockin Around Nashville”, Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Around Here No More” and Guy Clark’s “Boats to Build”.

The story telling makes evident that Ferg loves what he does. With lots of humor, he relates Nashville drinking spots where the real deals were made. His intimate friendships with Nashville (and America’s) elite musicians like Cash and Prine are genuine and no mere “name dropping”. On the contrary, these legends are simply Ferg’s pals. It makes for a fascinating listen. I hope you’ll give it a listen. It was a joy to document and as Sturgill advised, I just shut up and got out of Ferg’s way!!

Tim Duffy, founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation, visits The Town Crier.

Bentonia Miss is the latest area Music Maker Relief Foundation has helped.

Tim and Denise Duffy make extraordinary things seem possible. The founders of Music Maker’s Relief have touched hundreds of lives in real and authentic ways. They’ve concentrated on partnering with mostly eldery, African-American musicians throughout the American South. For over 25 years, their organization has worked with these musicians not only in finding them gigs and opportunities but also by helping to sustain them. They could help with medical expenses, rides to doctors visits, sometimes just checking in with them to help their isolation during these tough years.

Our conversation spans lots of topics including Tim’s journey through his education and his landing in Winston Salem NC beginning this work. We talk about the many projects the organization sponsors like a tribute to Elizabeth Cotten; the Freight Train Music Series held in Carrboro NC yearly. We chat about the amazing artist Freeman Vines who fashions guitars into works of art from trees used in lynching in the South. Tim partnered with Vines in both a book of photographs and a music CD called “Hanging Tree Guitars”. We also find out the ever busy Duffy has an exhibit of his tintype photographs at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

Music Maker has helped hundreds of artists, recorded more than 7000 performances, released 2500 songs on CD and just last year wrangled over one thousand grants to these donor artists exceeding $200,000.

Tim Duffy’s energy and enthusiasm is clear when he speaks about his organization’s mission, his relationships built with these artists and the work ahead. People interested in exploring his organizations work can find more at musicmaker.org. Give this conversation a listen, it’s already a Town Crier favorite.

Joe Troop’s new “Borrowed Time”; A Call To Action.

Joe Troop is a wildly creative force blending latin and american roots music usually with a social justice lense. Joe founded Che Apalache in Buenos Aires, Argentina while teaching bluegrass and old-time music there. The band went on to record two albums; most recently, Rearrange My Heart ,which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

During the pandemic, Joe spent his time and energies learning from activists, workers, poets and dreamers while traveling the rural backroads of the american south. Joe spent some of his boundless energy and enthusiasm in causes that are important to folks in these neglected rural areas. He learned from activist leaders like Baldemar Velasquez from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to Dreama Caldwell who led the effort to raise the issue of cash bail’s insidious impact on people of color. These and many more were part of Joe Troop’s “Pickin’ For Progress” campaign aimed to get out the vote among rural progressives.

Somehow, Joe found the time and energy to record his first solo album ,”Borrowed Time” which was recorded in sessions in Durham,NC and Nashville, Tn. It seems the lessons learned from these campaigns have informed Joe Troop’s songwriting because these songs brim with passion and conviction. They also convey hope despite the themes of climate change, racial division, corporate take-overs of social movements, and continued inhumane immigration policies. The protest songs here have all been backed up with concrete actions. Documentaries and videos were produced, voter turnout and education campaigns made these issues real. Folks with very little power or influence were represented and highlighted.

In the end, it’s about the music and the power of song. “Borrowed Time” documents the possibilities that underrepresented people can have dignity and their voices can be heard. We begin the segment with Che Apalache’s song “The Wall” followed by a brand new song from “Borrowed Time” called “Love along the Way” which features Tim O’Brien. The song is a call for unity which claims “good hearted people doing the best they can with a messed-up system that don’t give a damn.” After a spirited discussion and just a few rants, we finish the segment with Joe’s radio premiere of “Horizon” which details our planet’s challenging climate crisis. Che Apalache’s song “The Dreamer” which documents our tangled dubious immigration policies finishes the segment.

I hope you enjoy the segment as much as I did because as Joe’s been quoted “music with a good cause is more fun.”

Graham Sharp paints a “Truer Picture” on NineVoltHeart.

Graham Sharp is an award-winning musician from the Asheville-based Steep Canyon Rangers. He’s a principal songwriter and banjo player in that IBMA and Grammy winning band but he’s spent the last year working on a solo album, “Truer Picture” is a decidedly singer-songwriter affair with Graham playing guitar and banjo and singing more intimate songs. While the Steep Canyon Rangers were (along with everyone else) on hiatus, Graham took the opportunity to write and record this batch of songs. “Truer Picture” will be released on 7/9 but we got a preview of a few songs from this new collection. We started the segment off with the Rangers hit “Radio” and then the title cut from Grahams 2021 release.

Our conversation covers some of the early days while the band members were at UNC Chapel Hill, their work with Steve Martin, and their upcoming Artist in Residence role in this year’s Freshgrass Festival at Mass MOCA on September 24-26. Mostly our conversation centers on Graham’s songwriting and his inspirations including John Hartford. We talk about his local roots in Asheville NC including his neighbor Anya Hinkle whom he wrote and played on her new release. We finish the segment with Graham describing the origin of his new song, “My Neighborhood”.

Lisa Bastoni and Sean Staples charm in Live In-Studio visit.

Lisa Bastoni’s new album, “Backyard Birds” comes out on 6/25 but NineVoltHeart got some previews of this heartfelt intimate release yesterday. Late in 2019, Lisa released her amazing “How We Want To Live” album which reached number One on the Contemporary Folk Album charts. It was also a NineVoltHeart Top Nine for the Year. She’s been nominated for a Boston Music Award in 2019 and 2020 and won Grand Prize at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival.

“Backyard Birds” was recorded during our national “pause” this past year with her co-writer and producer Sean Staples who also joined her for our in-studio visit. Our setlist includes “Silver Line” from last years release. Lisa and Sean then played the first single from “Backyard Birds” called “Bring It On” which is a powerful mission statement which asks us all to leave our “baggage” behind, start fresh, be bold, and bring it on! The studio version of “Beautiful Girl” follows from “How We Want to Live”; a lovely song with a motherly touch. One of my favorite songs from the new disc is “Sorrow’s A String” which details a visit to a cherished grandparents home only to discover so much has changed. Lisa and Sean did a lovely live version with delicate mandolin touches from Staples. Another premiere of “Hidden in the Song” from the “Backyard Birds” CD followed by a live take of “Nearby” from “How We Want to Live” which concludes our charming visit.

Our conversation includes topics like upcoming gigs(!) at Pulaski Park in Northampton’s Summer Music Series on 7/9 as well as a live stream CD release party from Club Passim on 6/26. We talk about Lisa’s grandmother’s influence in her life and songs, the autobiographical nature of her songwriting, her hobby of visual art projects and of course, the songs. This batch of beautifully crafted, intimately recorded songs are charming, insightful and even (gasp) cheerfully upbeat! It’s always a pleasure to reconnect with Lisa and her work and it was a treat to have multi-instrumentalist Sean Staples to give his insight on this music which he co-write and produced. Give this set of music and interview a listen. You’ll be as charmed as I was sitting face to face.