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folk alley's open mic The Center State Open Mic is the place for unsigned, undiscovered or otherwise under-exposed artists to post their music and take Folk Alley's online corner stage.

This month's featured Open Mic artist is The Center State  from St. Joseph MO.
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Kristin Andreassen - "How The Water Walks" (Official) - Shadow Puppetry by Anna Roberts-Gevalt

Folk Alley Blog

A Q & A with Tall Heights

November 23, 2015

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

TallHeights 2015 400 sq.jpgRound about five years ago, Paul Wright and Tim Harrington started busking on the streets of Boston playing cello and guitar, and singing harmonies to any and all who would listen. Since then, they've become Tall Heights, evolving their sound as they logged the miles. Their new release -- 'Holding On, Holding Out' -- is the result of that on-the-road refinement. The two still sing together, it's just that the harmonies have been largely traded for a different approach.

Harmonies are at the core of what you guys do. Which artists inform your style? And are there parts your voices naturally fit in relation to each other, or do you get a little crazy sometimes and experiment?

Paul Wright: For harmonies, of course we dig the greats: Everly Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles. More recently, we've been admiring the work of the Milk Carton Kids, Lucius, Darlingside, and so many more. Usually, I sing lower and Tim sings higher, but that's barely true anymore. We switch so much.

On the new EP, it's primarily singing in unison. What prompted that shift?

PW: I think we had already found that singing together sounds sweet when we do it well, then we heard Lucius doing it a ton and were like "yep." I think Lucius showed us and our good buddies, Darlingside, the value of the oft-overlooked harmony part known as unison. Same notes, same words, same octave. It's a great part and it's really hard to sing well. Anyone can sing a major third above a melody and it'll sound pretty damn good, but it took us a long time to get to a place where unison would readily lock in. We pretty much abuse the unison now. Darlingside's been digging into the world of unison a lot, too. I think we found it together.

Often enough, when artists fold electronic elements into their music, they forsake melodies in favor of beats. How did you guys approach that evolution?

PW: We write our songs as we always have: two dudes in the trenches developing ideas that excite us. Once the song is developed enough, it tells us what else it needs. Sometimes that's nothing more, sometimes it's a juicy-sounding beat from the 1980s. Two phases of one process, usually dealt with at different times, and hopefully neither forces the other to compromise. There's always room for great melodies and sick beats. I mean that's what great pop music is: from the Beatles to Daft Punk.

Icelandic music... GO!

PW: Asgeir and Sigur Ros really inspired us from a production standpoint. We love the cinematic and mixed-media approach to their recordings. Truth is, we don't know a ton about the Icelandic scene other than that a few of their bands have really inspired us in a real way. And it seems like there's so much more for us to discover and learn from the Icelandic music scene, which seems to be thriving.

The two of you have been collaborating for five years now. Looking back and looking forward, did you expect to be where you are at this point? And where do you hope to be in another five?

PW: Ha! Five years ago, I was pretty sure we'd be huge by now. Here we are though -- still driving in the same minivan around the country, believing more than ever that we need to keep going. I guess that's the unchanging factor: I (and we) believe in us more strongly than ever. Our sound has changed in ways that I never would have forecasted and that's awesome because the process has been so organic and natural.

Here's where I'm at regarding a five-year plan: In five years, I want to be happy. Music makes me tremendously happy, and I know I'll be playing and creating it until I'm old and irrelevant, but fashioning a five-year plan around a business - this business - that's as unpredictable as it is unfair and shitty is definitely no way to find happiness in a sustainable way. We'll keep walking through open doors and caring a lot, and we'll see where that takes us.

'Holding On, Holding Out' is available now at iTunes and

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:00 AM

Album Review: David Ramirez, 'Fables'

November 21, 2015

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

David Ramirez Fables 300.jpgDavid Ramirez's new album, Fables, is a jewel in the 2015 Americana crown and a must-listen for anyone who has ever waged a personal war with the capital "t" Truth. Problem is, the first two cuts of the album are so good, it's hard to get past them to explore the other eight.

"Communion" opens the set with an easy sway of a groove -- one which belies the potency of the song's message. Ramirez first details taking communion at a Southern Baptist church before describing what would later come to serve as his chosen worship. "I stood in long lines just to do a few lines and I stumbled down the block as the sun was coming up," Ramirez sings, offering a glimpse into his own personal darkness. "Well, honey, you asked where I came from. I've come from a lot of different places. Oh, but I hope that I'll end up right next to you." And that's all he has to say on the subject. The rest, he leaves up to the guitars to explain.

Then comes "Harder to Lie," the emotional centerpiece of the record that documents the internal journey Ramirez took over the course of way-too-many miles of driving around the country alone. It picks up the story where "Communion" left off: "When it comes to loving me, you best be ready because this will get heavy when you learn just what I am. I fed you fables and fooled you with words from my tongue trying to make you think I was a better man than I was." But, now, he's coming clean... with himself and with his lover. He's breaking down the walls and laying it all on the line. This is heartfelt and headstrong stuff.

The stunning contemplations and confessionals continue across the remaining tracks, with the thread of reckoning and the passion of Ramirez tying it all together.


'Fables' is out now and available at iTunes and

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:00 AM

Video Premiere: Kristin Andreassen, "How The Water Walks" - Shadow Puppetry by Anna Roberts-Gevalt

November 19, 2015

by Elena See,

annakristinshadowsbaltimore-sq-600.jpgWar. So much meaning, so much emotion, so much sorrow and anger and sadness and fear and uncertainty packed into one, tiny, little word...a word the whole world is talking about these days.

War. It's what Kristin Andreassen pondered as she wrote "How the Water Walks," which you'll find on the album she released earlier this year, Gondolier.

"How the Water Walks" is "about war," Andreassen says. "It's about how they start, which I'm suggesting has more to do with fear than with aggression or desire."

The song, which is filled with haunting imagery and thought-provoking lyrics, feels...personal. Perhaps due to the "body" percussion Andreassen uses throughout, perhaps because the idea of being totally alone in the woods is a bit daunting, perhaps because the horror of war is in direct contradiction to the peace of the great outdoors. With soft hand claps and foot taps echoing the gentle splish splash of water against rocks, if you close your eyes, it's like you're right there in that tent, too.

The song is more than powerful enough on its own. But right about this time last year, Andreassen and musician-artist-creator Anna Roberts-Gevalt teamed up to produce something that adds another dimension to it, another layer for the listener to experience.

Roberts-Gevalt is one-half of Anna and Elizabeth, a duo that strives to present traditional music to a whole new audience of music lovers with amazing voices, fantastic instrumentation and...crankies (hand-cranked pictorials crafted from fabric, yarn and other colorful elements).

It wasn't exactly a crankie that Andreassen wanted for their collaboration: "I just wanted it to be something that inspired her [Roberts-Gevalt], and I wanted it to be something that we could re-create live on a special occasion...I was hoping she'd do something similar but different for this video."

And...she did. "Anna brainstormed images and approaches for me on a private of the pictures she posted there was of her grandfather on D-Day, in a boat, about to land in France...I was really drawn to that."

For her part, Roberts-Gevalt says she "started reading and thinking about what it would be like, to be waiting for war, the way Kristin is in the song. I am not sure, really, that the video centers on a war on particular - just imagining it. Which is also why I liked using shadows - you only see the shadow of an image I painted, which seem to echo the way memories and imagination works in the mind."

Using a string-filled wooden box, flashlights, photographs and original art, the steam from a tea kettle, and of course, shadows, Andreassen and Roberts-Gevalt have created another way for any listener to experience "How the Water Walks": it's a mini-movie, a tiny story brought vividly to life in black and white and gray.

Andreassen says she wants anyone who watches to "feel the presence of me the 'singer' or 'narrator' and to get a sense of the organic nature of the soundscape...I went back to Anna's and said just shine a flashlight on me and film the shadow of me doing the hopefully helps the song feel more like folk music and less like 'studio magic.' Both the song and the video are very human-scale, organic projects, which I think is important given the content."


'Gondolier' is available now at iTunes and

Posted by Linda Fahey at 8:30 AM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #151112

November 17, 2015

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #151112. Aired between November 13 - November 19, 2015. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Song - Album - Label

Hour 1

Billy Bragg & Wilco - Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key - Mermaid Avenue - Elektra

Wilco - Taste The Ceiling - Star Wars - ANTI

Tweedy - Flowering - Sukierae - dBpm

Asleep at the Wheel (feat. Elizabeth Cook) - I Had Someone Else Before I Had You - Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Bismeaux

Willie Nelson & Calexico - Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) - I'm Not There (Dylan Film) - Columbia

Cicada Rhythm - Dirty Hound - Cicada Rhythm - Normaltown

Lisa Hannigan - I Don't Know - Sea Sew - ATO

Richard Thompson - Pony In the Stable - Still - Fantasy/Concord

John Renbourn - The Wildest Pig In Captivity - The Attic Tapes - Riverboat Records / World

Olivia Chaney - Loose Change - The Longest River - Nonesuch

Austin Plaine - Never Come Back Again - Austin Plaine - Washington Square

Habib Koite - Mansane Cisse - Ma Ya - Putamayo

The Wailin' Jennys - Swallow - Firecracker - Red House

The Waifs - Come Away - Beautiful You - Compass

Odetta - Sail Away Ladies - The Folk Song Traditon - Tradition

Hour 2

Jeffrey Foucault - Strange Heat and Thunder - Salt As Wolves - Blueblade

Low Lily - Northern Spy - Low Lily (EP) - Low Lily

Mary Chapin Carpenter - Late For Your Life - Time*Sex*Love - Columbia

The Cox Family - Good Imitation of the Blues - Gone Like the Cotton - Rounder/Warner

Alison Krauss - On the Borderline - Too Late to Cry - Rounder

Sam Gleaves - Ain't We Brothers - Ain't We Brothers - Community Music

Steeleye Span - Blackleg Miner - Hark! The Village Wait - Shanachie

Punch Brothers - Rye Whiskey (live) - Another Day Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis - Nonesuch

Haas Kowert Tice - The Decade - You Got This - Haas Kowert Tice

Kristin Andreassen - Azalea - Gondolier - Yellowcar

Steve Earle - Dirty Old Town - Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl - Compass

Rufus & Martha Wainwright - Sweet Thames, Flow Softly - Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl - Compass

Mark Erelli - By Degrees - [single] - Mark Erelli

Justin Roth - The Weaver of Avoca - Shine - Justin Roth

Ani Difranco - Coming Up - The Silverwolf Story (compilation) - SilverWolf

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or via FTP for non-PRX members. Stations may air the show as either a one-, or two-hour program. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried by over 38 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes, Live 365 and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:08 AM

Video Premiere: Joshua Hyslop, "The Flood"

November 16, 2015

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Joshua Hyslop 300.jpgMuch like Joshua Radin and Damien Rice, Joshua Hyslop puts a contemporary spin on the classic form that is folk music with his new album, 'In Deepest Blue.' There's a softness to his approach, that's more tender than light due to the candor with which he crafts his songs and the sparseness in which he frames them.

"The Flood," the set's opening track, grounds itself with an unburdened drum groove which adds just enough support for the whole piece to ebb and flow along as the mandolin and acoustic guitar rise and fall... which is exactly how Hyslop intended it to be.

"I wrote this song after I'd been feeling really numb for quite a while. It helped pull me out of that place and got me feeling hopeful again," Hyslop says. "I think the video (directed by Nancy Lee) and the song both do a good job of showcasing the importance of letting go of the past and moving on."


'In Deepest Blue' is available now via iTunes and

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:55 PM

A Q & A with Karrnnel Sawitsky & Daniel Koulack and The Slocan Ramblers

November 10, 2015

by Gideon Thomas for (@FutureIntalekt)

Fiddle and Banjo 300.jpgToronto is known as a music city by both residents and visitors. Folk Alley spoke to two bands who hold onto this reputation, as well as expand it, in different ways. Fiddle & Banjo, the duo of Karrnnel Sawitsky and Daniel Koulack bring out an old-time aesthetic, combining classic American folk songs with Anglo- and French-Canadian and Metis tunes on their latest set, fittingly titled 'Tunes from the North, Songs from the South.' The Slocan Ramblers represent the bluegrass end of the continuum, finding their influence in the gritty, real-life underbelly of the city, and their West End neighborhood. This red-hot roots band expand on these themes on new work 'Coffee Creek.'

We spoke to both bands about their music, their city, and how these two things reflect and influence each other.

Gideon Thomas: I wanted to start off by asking you about your respective albums; to Karrnnel and Daniel - how and why did you decide to tap into an old-time Canadian influence?

Karrnnel: The old-time Canadian influence is something that came instinctively to both of us right from day 1 in this collaboration. Daniel and I both come from backgrounds of Canadian traditional music and so it was natural for us to gravitate toward an album rooted in traditional music. I would say in our individual musical projects we have both followed a similar journey: new original music rooted in traditional styles - really trying to continue to grow the repertoire and create our own sound. So with this new Fiddle & Banjo album we wanted to focus on the traditional Canadian influence that shaped us individually, but also focus on making our interpretations of old time repertoire.

Daniel: The Canadian fiddle tradition and more specifically the prairie fiddle tradition is incredibly rich. It encompasses so many styles reflecting the different populations that ended up on the prairies - Metis, French-Canadian, Ukrainian, Scottish along with the over arching influence of Don Messer and Andy Desjarlis. As an "urban" musician from Winnipeg I have only become acquainted with this music in the last ten or fifteen years, though I have been playing Appalachian tunes for forty years! Karrnnel, however was literally born into this tradition with two older sisters that are excellent fiddle players, an accordion playing father and a mother who liked to dance to Don Messer in the kitchen.

The five string banjo is not a part of this musical tradition - but as we know, banjo and fiddle sound great together, and there are so many great tunes from the North... so why not?!!!

And to the Slocan Ramblers, you've been described as playing ''working class' bluegrass roots' - can you tell us a little more as to what this means to you and how it relates to your experience in Toronto.

Ramblers: The band got its start with a weekly gig in Toronto. We played every Tuesday from 10:00pm to 1am for two years at a bar called the Cloak and Dagger. It was a rowdy bar and the audience didn't seem to respond much to the more polished bluegrass sound. We got used to playing rowdy sets of high-energy bluegrass. That gig definitely helped shape the sound of the band. Over two years the band definitely got a reputation for hard driving high-energy shows.

(BOTH) Talking of Toronto, I wanted to ask both groups about the city - tell us about the musical scenes here and how they influence you.

K: I have been living in Toronto for just over 2.5 years now and there are 2 things that really stand out to me about this city musically. First is the amount of quality live music that happens every day and night. I have never experienced living in a city where I feel like I am missing more shows, jams or sessions that would cause me to get those little inspiration dimples on the inside of your brain. Am I the only one that gets those? That feeling of seeing/hearing something that makes you so inspired the goose bumps go right on the creative part of your brain.

Secondly is the amount of incredible musicians that live in Toronto and how friendly the music community is. Since I have not been in Toronto for too long, I am still meeting more and more musicians and it seems that if I ever have a request to find, for example, a guitar player, I end up getting a list of players that I could not have imagined living any where else. Quality people, quality musicians!!

The combination of the amazing musicians in Toronto along with the amount of great music that comes thru this great city is very positively shaping my music and my musical endeavors.

D: I am a Winnipegger, but I hear great things about the old-time and bluegrass scene there. I did live in Toronto in 1978 and 1979 (when I was 13 and 14). When I was there I was very lucky to have the great Ken Whitely as a school music teacher through a program called Mariposa in the schools. On Saturday mornings I would wake up at 5:00 AM and make my way to the St. Lawrence market to get the best busking spot. In one morning I made $75 which was really good money for a kid those days. I went to a camera store and purchased a good used camera with a bag full of quarters, dimes and nickels. The sales person was not impressed!

R: The music scene in Toronto really is exceptional. Any night of the week you can go see world-class music in almost any genre. In terms of bluegrass, there are regular weekly shows almost every night of the week. Most of us got into the music through seeing the Foggy Hogtown boys, a great Toronto bluegrass band. They have had a weekly at the Silver Dollar for something like 17 years now. That show was a definite influence. There is also a whole host of great singer songwriters in the city. Being able to go see someone like Corin Raymond play at the Cameron House on any given Thursday is definitely a perk of living in Toronto. There's definitely no shortage of inspiration.

(BOTH) What do you think ends up being the end result of working in the city, for you own music, and for Toronto music as a whole?

K: For my own music, I find that the high quality of musicianship around the city and the bands that pass thru the city pushes me to continue to refine, practice and push my art and my musical voice. The value of this self reflection of your art form is something that I have never taken for granted, and living in Toronto makes this possible with much more frequency. I also feel that living in a city with the vast amount of music and musical styles forces me to focus on creating a unique identity as a musician. I would rather be a new body of water rather than a big wave in an existent ocean.

In terms of the result for Toronto music as a whole, I think this notion of creative inspiration is a self-fuelling growth that will continue to grow the scene in Toronto to interesting new places. Especially in the 'old-time' scene around town, the interesting group of people that has recently moved to Toronto makes me very excited to see where it will go.

R: Being in Toronto is great for getting inspired to be a better musician and a better writer. It's not necessarily an overly competitive music scene; there is just a lot of talented people doing really interesting and stuff and setting the bar pretty high. As in a lot of cities with a surplus of great musicians, there's a lot of venues and a lot of shows happening all the time but not a whole lot of very well payed gigs. Most working musicians we know make their living on the road for the most part. Toronto seems to be the place you come home to, try out new material, write, see what other people are up to and get inspired. The result is a lot of great music happening all the time all over the city.

A couple of questions for Karrnel and Daniel: How did your collaboration of fiddle and banjo come about, and why do you think you've maintained it?

K: The first Fiddle & Banjo album came about after Daniel and I met at a music camp in southeastern Saskatchewan - the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party. Predictably and on recipe: meet, jam, laugh & smile (in a folk music way), exchange contact info .... and the rest is history. That's a pretty simple explanation, but it was really about that simple. Daniel and I are both prairie people (from Manitoba and Saskatchewan respectively) so I think the prairie spirit of doing and asking questions later had a lot to do with the first album.

For the second album, it had been a few years since the 1st fiddle and banjo and I had a big US tour in early 2015 (which Daniel was on), and so we decided to record a new album and promote it for that US tour. The first album was so fun for both of us that when we were talking about a second album it was only a question of when.

D: Karrnnel and I met at a wonderful fiddle camp in Saskatchewan called Kenosee Lake Kitchen party that we were both instructing know how with certain musicians you sit down to play, and it's instant fun - it feels right. That's what happened! We both have multiple musical projects, but this definitely occupies a special place. This is our second album together and we are beginning to develop a sound. I think that we both have the feeling that we are onto something!!!

And I am intrigued by the blending of ideas and music from the US and Canada - something I've not come across a great deal of. From where did you draw the songs and tunes which have gone on to the record, and why?

K: The "Songs from the South" element on the album (the 5 American old-time songs) came about after we were lucky enough to get Joey Landreth confirmed for recording. Daniel and I rummaged thru his record collection for songs that we would want Joey to sing on the album. Going thru this process really outlined Daniel's American old-time influence in his music collection and also led us to the realization how the American old-time and Canadian old-time traditions are different, but similar.

I have been a part of the old-time Canadian fiddle scene for my whole life - I played in a family band since I was 4 and played fiddle contests, jams, workshops and camps across Canada my entire life. Clawhammer banjo was rarely present in the majority of my Canadian old-time fiddling scene growing up and yet in the American old-time scene it is much more predominant. This was an interesting insight after going thru Daniel's records. The amount of repertoire that is shared between the American and Canadian old-time traditions combined with the similarities in sensibility of styles is really the unique idea that we were trying to capture with this album in repertoire, instrumentation and style.

D: When we were in the early stages of planning this recording Karrnnel recruited the wonderful singer and dobro player Joey Landreth to join us on a few tracks. Karrnnel came to Winnipeg, and we had a listening party at my daughter's house where my old record player and all of my old records now reside. It was really fun. I forgot how good the records and my old stereo sound!!! We chose the songs from this session.

That is when we got the idea of calling the album 'Tunes From The North, Songs and From The South.' The title informed our choice of fiddle tunes - we wanted good tunes that were uniquely Canadian, a couple that were specifically from our neck of the woods, we each brought a couple of originals, and then rounded it off with the Ed Haley tunes which kind of tie it all together.

And for the Ramblers: Tell us more about the band, and how you guys came together?

R: It was kind of a happy accident. We had all been getting pretty into bluegrass and Americana music and were looking for an outlet to play. Adrian, Darryl and Alastair met in college, and Frank had met Alastair working at a local bike shop. We got together to pick some tunes and hit it off right away. We ended up opening up for a friend's band about a week later. That turned into a weekly gig which we did for a couple years. Which grew into releasing an album and touring. Somehow its ended up being a full time occupation.

And I wanted to ask about how you selected your repertoire, and why you wanted to make the tunes on the new album, and indeed the album as a whole?

R: We select most of our material on the road. We're always trying to keep the live show fresh, so we are always throwing in new tunes. What we add depends on the day, how we're feeling, what we have been listening to in the van etc. Some tunes don't work out, and some seem to just stick. They tend to evolve over time as we play them live. Sometimes we will play a tune for months before we figure out the right treatment for it. Similarly, with original material most of our writing happens on tour as well. We write and experiment a lot on the road. Last year we started doing a lot more writing, particularly getting into writing songs and lyrics. It was kind of a new thing for us, by the end of the summer we had a lot of new original material. Going into the studio seemed like the natural thing to do. It was a lot of fun focusing on our own songs. Even since recording the album we have been writing more and more.

Karrnnel Sawitsky and Daniel Koulack's (Fiddle & Banjo), 'Tunes from the North, Songs from the South' is available via iTunes and

The Slocan Ramblers' 'Coffee Creek' is available via iTunes and

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:20 AM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #151105

November 8, 2015

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #151105. Aired between November 6 - November 12, 2015. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Song - Album - Label

Hour 1

The Steel Wheels - Winter Is Coming - Leave Some Things Behind - Big Ring

Jon Stickley Trio - Point to Point - Lost At Last - Jon Stickley

10 String Symphony - Even A Dog Has Dreams - Weight of the World - Poppychop

Norah Rendell - The Pinery Boy - Spinning Yarns - Two Tap Music

Steep Canyon Rangers - When the Well Runs Dry - Radio - Rounder

Joe Ely - Magdalene - Panhandle Rambler - Rack'em

Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You - My Favorite Picture of You - Dualtone

Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi - Ladies of the Canyon - Reprise

Dave Van Ronk - Clouds (From Both Sides Now) - Dave Van Ronk & the Hudson Dusters - Verve

K.D. Lang - A Case Of You - Hymns Of The 49th Parallel - Nonesuch

The Cox Family - Honky Tonk Blues - Gone Like the Cotton - Rounder/Warner

Tommy Emmanuel - Only Elliott - It's Never Too Late - CGP Sounds / Thirty Tigers

Josh Ritter - Cumberland - Sermon On The Rocks - Pytheas

Jerry Douglas (Mumford & Sons) - The Boxer - Traveler - Rounder

Sarah Jarosz - Gypsy - Follow Me Down - Sugar Hill

Hour 2

The Ballroom Thieves - Archers - A Wolf In the Doorway - Blue Corn

Mr. Sun - If I Were A Bell - The People Need Light - Compass

Andrea Zonn - Where the Water Meets the Sky - Rise - Compass

Cicada Rhythm - In the Garden - Cicada Rhythm - Normaltown

The Stray Birds - Down in the Willow Garden - Borderland (EP) - The Stray Birds

Rhiannon Giddens - Up Above My Head - Tomorrow is My Turn - Nonesuch

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Down By the Riverside - Gospel 'N' Soul Revival - Great American

Shawn Mullins - The Great Unknown - My Stupid Heart - Sugar Hill/Concord

Indigo Girls - Alberta - One Lost Day - Vanguard

Corb Lund - Run This Town - Things That Can't Be Undone - New West

Steve Martin & Edie Brickell - So Familiar - So Familiar - Rounder/Concord

James Hill - Uke Talk - A Flying Leap - Borealis

Tim O'Brien - Go Down To the Water - Pompadour - Howdy Skies

The Mike + Ruthy Band - The Ghost of Richard Manuel - Bright As You Can - Humble Abode

The Band - Tears Of Rage - Music from Big Pink - Capitol

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or via FTP for non-PRX members. Stations may air the show as either a one-, or two-hour program. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried by over 38 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes, Live 365 and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 3:50 PM

A Q & A with Gretchen Peters

November 4, 2015

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Gretchen Peters.jpgSinger/songwriter Gretchen Peters has had quite a year. Following the universally praised release of 'Blackbirds' in February, she has toured the U.S. and abroad almost non-stop - with another 2016 tour slated to mark the 20th anniversary of her debut album, 'The Secret of Life.' In the here and now, as 2015 tip-toes toward a close, Peters looks back on her very busy and very fulfilling year.

Kelly McCartney: You've had quite a ride this year with 'Blackbirds.' How's that feeling and how do you follow it up?

Gretchen Peters: It was quite unexpected and I'm really thrilled. Everyone was saying, "How will you follow up 'Hello Cruel World?'" and I got to the point where I just didn't want to hear that any more. You can't keep trying to top yourself; you can only do the work that's in front of you the best you know how. As far as following this album, it's a little too early for me to think about just yet. There are a couple of side projects that I'm really interested in doing - maybe one of those will be my next thing. I have about a month of touring left before I get a good rest. We've been hitting the road pretty hard for over a year now, and I'm going to recharge my batteries before I do anything.

Its success is a testament to the fact that listeners are up for a challenging, somewhat unsettling musical experience - so long as it's crafted well. Which cuts seem to be fan favorites? And what are your favorites still to play after touring this thing all year?

"When All You Got Is a Hammer" worked well live from day one. The sleeper on the record was "The Cure for the Pain" - it turned out to be much more dramatic live than I every thought it would, and it seems to affect people strongly. The other song that's really evolved live is "Everything Falls Away," which now has an extended ending. We sometimes end our shows with it. My favorites to play are probably that one and "Nashville," which I just adore singing. I love how these songs keep evolving as we play them.

You wrote a review of the recent Rickie Lee Jones release that she responded to, and then you had lunch with her in New Orleans. That must've been a double bucket list check-off. Are you still riding that high?

Rickie Lee had such a profound influence on me as a 20-year-old that I was pinching myself the whole time we were at lunch. Even though we talked about music a lot, we also talked about lots of other things - dogs, quantum physics, the freedom that comes with being a certain age... I truly loved her latest album. She did impart some wisdom to me regarding performing - she came to our show in New Orleans two nights prior to our lunch, and stayed all night - but that little gem I am going to keep to myself.

Though you've had several releases in between, what are the biggest differences you've encountered -- in yourself and in the fans -- working this record versus 'The Secret of Life'?

I made 'The Secret of Life' 20 years ago. It feels like a lifetime. I mostly remember feeling so self-conscious, and like I was trying to please people whom I knew would never be pleased - radio consultants, music programmers, mainstream commercial country fans. I was such an odd duck. I got a lot of feedback from radio like, "She's too smart for the room" or "My wife loves this, but we're not gonna play it." What does that even mean?

But I knew in my bones there was a different path for me, and I've never regretted taking it. I got my masters back and started my own label in 2000, way before most people were doing it. I just couldn't bear the thought of not being in control of my own artistic output. As far as fans, some of them have been with me since 1996 - the faithful - but most have come along in the past 10 years or so, which is when I feel I really hit my stride as far as record-making goes. The big difference between now and then is that I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin.

As we approach year's end, there's a pretty decent chance 'Blackbirds' will land on some "Best of 2015" lists. What would that mean to you and for you?

Artists don't make these records in a vacuum. We make them for people to listen to. So, of course I'm thrilled and happy when an album I've made ends up on some of these lists, because it means more people will ultimately listen to it. And it means someone found it worthy of praise. Everyone loves validation, and I'm no different. I celebrate the victories and I try to let the losses roll off me. At the end of the day, though, I know when I've done good work, and I know when I've fallen short. I'm really proud of Blackbirds and I wouldn't change anything, even if it weren't getting so much recognition. But I'm awfully glad it is. I feel like, thematically and sonically, it's one of the strongest - if not the strongest - record I've ever made.


'Blackbirds' is available at iTunes and

"The Cure for the Pain" official lyric video:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:15 PM

Album Review: Jeffrey Foucault, 'Salt As Wolves'

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Jeffrey Foucault Salt As Wolves.jpgThere's so much going on in singer/songwriter Jeffrey Foucault's voice that, if he were singing "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star," it would feel like the existential wonderings of a road-worn, world-weary celestial traveler that it is rather than a simple kids' song. Instead, on 'Salt As Wolves,' his fifth album of original compositions, Foucault offers up a collection of blues- and country-tinged tunes that are as gritty and gruff as they are haunted and haunting.

Supported by a band that includes guitarist Bo Ramsey, bassist Jeremy Moses Curtis, drummer Billy Conway, and guest vocalist Caitlin Canty, Foucault bucks and rumbles his way through highways and heartaches -- standard fare for the traveling troubadour set. But Foucault's handling of these tales is both earnest and exquisite. "Des Moines" ambles along, in no rush to get anywhere other than right where it is, setting an easy pace -- and a high bar -- for all that follows. And all that follows, whether the barroom blues of "Left This Town" or the shuffling sway of "Hurricane Lamp," delivers on that promise.

'Salt As Wolves' is available now at iTunes and


Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:22 PM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #151029

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #151029. Aired between October 30 - November 5, 2015. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Song - Album - Label

Hour 1

Tony Furtado - The Collier's Daughter - The Bell - Yousayfurtado

Bill Keith - Bay State Bounce - Beating Around The Bush - Green Linnet

Low Lily - House Carpenter - Low Lily (EP - Low Lily

The Wood Brothers - Snake Eyes - Paradise - Honey Jar Records/Thirty

The Wood Brothers - Heartbreak Lullaby - Paradise - Honey Jar Records/Thirty

Iris Dement - Let the Mystery Be - Infamous Angel - Rounder

Kasey Chambers - Is God Real? - Bittersweet - Sugar Hill

Steve Earle - God Is God - I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive - New West

Aoife O'Donovan - Magic Hour - In The Magic Hour - Yep Roc

Crooked Still - Last Fair Deal Gone Down - Hop High - Footprint

Tim O'Brien - Pompadour - Pompadour - Howdy Skies

Who Hit John? - Possum Stomp - Heirloom - Hey Burner!

Parker Millsap - Forgive Me - Parker Millsap - Okrahoma Records/Thirty Tigers

David Ramirez - That Ain't Love - Fables - Sweetworld

Robinella and the CC Stringband - This Can't Be Love - No Saint, No Prize - Big Gulley

Hour 2

Corb Lund - Weight of the Gun - Things That Can't Be Undone - New West

Balsam Range - Backdraft (You Light It You Fight It) - Five - Mountain Home

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free - Something More Than Free - Southeastern

Heidi Talbot - Time - In Love + Light - Compass

The Decemberists - The Harrowed and The Haunted - Florasongs (EP) - Capitol

Brooke Annibale - Find My Way - The Simple Fear - Brooke Annibale

Ryan Adams - How You Get The Girl - 1989 - Blue Note

10 String Symphony - Mama, You Been On My Mind - Weight of the World - Poppychop

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova: Swell Season - You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - I'm Not There (soundtrack) - Columbia

Elana James - I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Snarf

Anthony D'Amato - If It Don't Work Out - The Shipwreck From The Shore - New West

Nickel Creek - House of Tom Bombadil - Nickel Creek - Sugar Hill

The Mavericks - Pardon Me - Mono - The Valory Music Co

HONEYHONEY - Whatchya Gonna Do Now - 3 - Rounder

John Hiatt - What Do We Do Now - Crossing Muddy Waters - Vanguard

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or via FTP for non-PRX members. Stations may air the show as either a one-, or two-hour program. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried by over 36 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes, Live 365 and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 7:36 AM

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