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A Q & A with Courtney Marie Andrews
Song Premiere: Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, "If We Make It Through December"
Hear It First - 'Christmas On the Lam and Other Songs from the Season'
'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: Tracy Bonham, "In the Pines"
'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: Dom Flemons and Brian Farrow,"Polly Put the Kettle On"
'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: The Brother Brothers,"Cairo, Illinois"
'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: Lula Wiles, "Leave Me Now"
Guest DJ Hour: Kim Ruehl
Guest DJ Hour: Kelly McCartney Recaps AmericanaFest 2016
A Q & A with Dar Williams
Album Review: Chely Wright, 'I Am the Rain'
Album Review: Amanda Shires, 'My Piece of Land'
A Q & A with Glen Phillips
Laura Cortese Guest DJs with Cindy Howes
PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160929
Hear It First: Tom Brosseau, 'North Dakota Impressions'
Video Premiere: Gregory Alan Isakov, "The Stable Song"
PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160825
Hear It First: Dietrich Strause, 'How Cruel That Hunger Binds'
A Q & A with Sara Watkins
Hear It First: The Stray Birds, 'Magic Fire'
Video Premiere: Parsonsfield, "Stronger"
PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160721
Album Review: Lori McKenna, 'The Bird & The Rifle
PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160714
Hear It First: John Gorka, 'Before Beginning: The Unreleased 'I Know' - Nashville, 1985'
Album Review: Ana Egge & the Sentimentals, 'Say That Now'
Video Premiere: Lula Wiles, "Traveling On"
A Q & A with Sarah Jarosz
A Q & A with Sean Watkins

 

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Pewter Sessions: Tracy Bonham, 'In the Pines' from The Hoot!







Folk Alley Blog

A Q & A with Courtney Marie Andrews

December 5, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

CMA_Promo-2_Standard-768x514.jpgWhen you leave home at 16 to pursue music, there's no denying that it's a calling even more than it is a career. Such is the case for Courtney Marie Andrews who has spent the past 10 years touring with Damien Jurado and Jimmy Eat World, while also making records of her own. Back in August, Andrews released her sixth album, Honest Life, which is a captivating collection of Laurel Canyon-era folk. Self-produced, the set stacks vocals and plumbs depths in order to get where it needs to go which is right to the heart of the matter... and the listener.

Kelly McCartney: This record feels rather much like a rite of passage -- you stepping away from old, bad habits and into a more solid sense of self. Is that about right?

Courtney Marie Andrews: Honest Life is a record about striving to be your best person, in spite of life's circumstances. It's about finding peace with your flaws and the flaws of the world, and not letting those flaws define you. It's truly a record about acceptance, and realizing that life's not a linear line, but a crooked highway.

Quite a few of your songs are very cinematic, lyrically, in the scenes that they set. Are you a visual writer? Do you watch an image of the story play out as you write?

I'm definitely a visual writer. I'm a film photography hobbyist and, in every sense, I'm always dreaming different lines, depending on where I am. Imagery and words blend naturally for me. I'm always striving to connect a feeling to a story, so it feels more human and relatable. You can write a line like "I loved him," but there's not weight to that until you give that line life. Where did you love him? Why? What's the point? That's where visual lines and imagery come in.

One of the most striking aspects of your songs is how you use your phrasing to make things fit, rather than filler words. "Table for One" has some great examples of that, like the way you draw out "Ohio." Is that a conscious engagement on your part? Are there singers you admire with a similar approach?

That's probably a skill I subconsciously developed over time. I've done some time at the figurative school of songwriting -- the school you never stop attending -- and studied the best: Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Joni Mitchell. I owe it to those songs. They almost never have filler.

Obviously, you're getting lots of (much-deserved) comparisons to early Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. There certainly seem to be quite a few winks and nods in that direction -- the vocal stack near the end of "Put the Fire Out," for one. But nothing you do comes off as the act of a hackneyed copycat. What's the secret to honoring without stealing?

Those comparisons are both such an honor, and both those women have taught me so much. There's no secret other than that, at the end of the day, I strive to be my own artist and I'm not going to try and fail to emulate another's career because I have my own story to write that's unique and different. It all comes back to owning your own story and not drawing career and life comparisons to others, no matter how great they are.

In what ways does having been a support player make you a better band leader, singer, and producer?

Playing with other groups has given me great confidence as my own performer. It's also taught me about respect and love. Respect yourself to make the right decisions within a group, and respect others. They are your roommates, family, co-workers, and friends, and you spend ALL your time with them, so treat them with love, support, and respect. Also, it's taught me a lot about the business side of things, which I've never been the best at. But I've learned to let that go, and just try to TCB.

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Upcoming Tour Dates

Honest Life is available now directly from Mama Bird Recording Co., or at Amazon.com and iTunes.





Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:20 PM

Song Premiere: Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, "If We Make It Through December"

November 19, 2016

by Elena See, Folk Alley

Bragg and Henry.jpgIn 1973, the late great Merle Haggard, one of the many music superstars who died this year (shakes-fist-in-anger-at-2016), bravely called into question the idea that Christmas actually is NOT the happiest time of year. It can be, sure. But, as Haggard notes in his song "If We Make It Through December," Christmas can be stressful, too...especially when the circumstances of our lives are less than ideal, for whatever reason.

Joe Henry and Billy Bragg decided to take on Haggard's holiday classic and you'll find it on a new playlist from Amazon Music called 'Acoustic Christmas.' The 29 all-new acoustic holiday recordings, by 29 different musicians, add up to a playlist that promises to add a little splash of spirit and a dash of cheer to your holiday season.

And this version of "If We Make It Through December"? It's a good one - definitely a stand-out on the playlist. A bit slower than Haggard's original, the harmonies and slightly reverberant guitar that Joe Henry and Billy Bragg add to the song make it even more heartbreaking.

Somehow, however, the poignancy of a father's wish to give his family a beautiful holiday, one filled with "Christmas cheer," and being unable to do so, takes a backseat to the overall hopefulness of the song, the thought that if we can just hold on for a little bit longer, if we can just make it through this month of December, then everything will be ok.

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'Acoustic Christmas,' an Amazon Music original playlist will be available exclusively for streaming on Amazon Music - both Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music - beginning November 22.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:23 PM

Hear It First - 'Christmas On the Lam and Other Songs from the Season'

November 14, 2016

by Elena See, FolkAlley.com

Xmas on Lam 290 300x300.jpgWhat does winter mean to you? Maybe you get snowed in...and you like it. Maybe romance knocks at your door every time the temperature falls. Maybe winter, for you, is a magical, holiday time of year, the time of year when things that don't normally happen...happen.

Whatever best describes your feelings about winter, 'Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs from the Season' has the perfect song, just for you. There are familiar holiday favorites, intertwined with songs you've probably never heard before, and the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future all co-exist pretty peacefully over the course of 12 delightful tracks.

From the horn-heavy version of "Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me" done by Davina and the Vagabonds, to the dreamy, acoustic version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night" offered up by The Pines, from the classic heartbreak of "Blue Christmas," delivered by one of folk music's power couples, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, to the playful catch-me-under-the-mistletoe vibe Robin and Linda Williams share in "Together All Alone," 'Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs from the Season' helps you celebrate all aspects of winter.

This is the first collection to honor the winter holiday season that Red House Records, home to a truly amazing roster of folk, roots, and Americana artists, has ever released. And what a way to jump onto the winter holiday bandwagon! With performances by The Wailin' Jennys, Jorma Kaukonen, Charlie Parr, Suzzy Roche and John Gorka, among so many others, it's definitely an album that'll make its way to the top of your holiday pile.

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'Christmas On the Lam and Other Songs from the Season' is out now and available directly from Red House Records, iTunes, or Amazon.com.


Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:01 AM

'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: Tracy Bonham, "In the Pines"

November 10, 2016

By Susan Bibeau/Beehive Productions for FolkAlley.com

Tracy Bonham Home of the Hoot 200x200.jpgFor this Thurdsay's HOOT offering, I give you Tracy Bonham performing the trad tune, "In the Pines."

While so many of us are familiar with this song, I guarantee you haven't heard it in quite this way. Bonham used looping fiddle lines that build and eventually give the effect of a backing ensemble that she then solos over. It's haunting and stunning. While we were setting up to shoot and before any of the crowd had gathered in the room, she laid down the very first fiddle line that you'll hear open the song.

"In the Pines," also known as
"Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" and "Black Girl," is a traditional American folk song which dates back to at least the 1870s, and is believed to be Southern Appalachian in origin. Famous versions of the tune include those by Lead Belly, Bill Monroe and Nirvana. If you are a traditional folk music enthusiast like myself, I encourage you to do some research on your own about this song's origins. It's fascinating and timely. Bonham is a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter of whom I was a huge fan, "back in the day," and I'm happy to say - five albums and many years later - that hasn't changed for me.

Her most recent record, 'Waxing Gold' is a gem. Check it out at TracyBonham.com.

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Beehive Productions will be back filming the Pewter Sessions at the 2017 Winter Hoot! -- February 3-5th at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, New York.

This is a "pay-what-you-can" festival and proceeds from the event fund Ashokan Center program scholarships for thousands of regional children.

More information and line-up details are at HomeOfTheHoot.com


Posted by Linda Fahey at 3:13 PM

'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: Dom Flemons and Brian Farrow,"Polly Put the Kettle On"

November 3, 2016

By Susan Bibeau/Beehive Productions for FolkAlley.com

Dom Flemons 200x200.jpgWatching multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons and fiddle player Brian Farrow perform trad tune, "Polly Put the Kettle On" was a little like stepping back in time. Flemons, also know as "The American Songster" is one of the most well versed performers in the old-time folk music scene today. His sets are always part history lesson leaving audiences equally enlighten and entertained, the perfect fit for the vibe of The Hoot. It was not hard to imagine Pete Seeger in the room with us for this session. He would have been pleased.

Beehive Productions will be back filming the Pewter Sessions at the 2017 Winter Hoot! -- February 3-5th at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, New York.

This is a "pay-what-you-can" festival and proceeds from the event fund Ashokan Center program scholarships for thousands of regional children.

More information and line-up details are at HomeOfTheHoot.com



Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 1:17 PM

'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: The Brother Brothers,"Cairo, Illinois"

October 27, 2016

By Susan Bibeau/Beehive Productions for FolkAlley.com

brothers 200 x200.pngThere is something inherently mesmerizing about watching musicians perform live in the intimate confines of the Pewter Shop. The brothers Moss - Adam (fiddle) and David (guitar, cello) - aka The Brother Brothers upped the ante on this vibey feeling with their dreamy harmonies and the way in which they seem to finish each other's musical sentences. I love the way that this song in particular feels as if it was meant to be heard in this 100 year-old room.

Beehive Productions will be back filming the Pewter Sessions at the 2017 Winter Hoot! -- February 3-5th at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, New York.

This is a "pay-what-you-can" festival and proceeds from the event fund Ashokan Center program scholarships for thousands of regional children.

More information and line-up details are at HomeOfTheHoot.com


Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:09 PM

'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: Lula Wiles, "Leave Me Now"

October 20, 2016

By Susan Bibeau/Beehive Productions for FolkAlley.com

Pewter Sessions 300.jpgIn my opinion, the most exciting part about filming a live performance is capturing an artist in the moment of creating something entirely unique. Each performance is its own little work of art. Add to that a live audience and the results can be magical.

For the past three years, Beehive Productions has been the lucky host of the 'Pewter Sessions' -- 3-song sets, that we film and record in front of a live audience in the historic, 100 plus-year-old Pewter Shop on the grounds of the Ashokan Center, near Woodstock, NY. The tiny one-room space is only big enough to seat 50 or so, giving the sessions a special intimacy all their own.

These sessions take place during The HOOT -- a down-to-earth music festival held twice a year at the Ashokan Center. Produced by folk-roots duo, Mike + Ruthy, with help from a large volunteer crew, this sweet little fest is the epitome of grass-roots, community spirit and features local and world-class traveling performers along with family activities, local food and beer vendors, and on-site hiking and camping.

Here is the Boston-based trio, Lula Wiles performing a brand new song "Leave Me Now" filmed live during the Pewter Sessions at the 2016 Summer Hoot. It was about 100 degrees inside the little room during this set!

We are excited to be releasing a selection of this past summer's sessions here on the FolkAlley.com blog every Thursday leading up to the 2017 Winter Hoot which will be held February 3-5th, and headlined by Natalie Merchant.

Admission is to the festival is "pay-what-you-can" and proceeds from the event fund Ashokan Center program scholarships for thousands of regional children.

For more info visit HomeOfTheHoot.com

Posted by Linda Fahey at 2:22 PM

Guest DJ Hour: Kim Ruehl

October 18, 2016

speak-up-front-cover_large.jpgKim Ruehl, editor of the quarterly roots music journal No Depression, joined Cindy Howes for a guest DJ hour on Folk Alley to talk about the new in-print issue. No Depression starting printing quarterly editions last year, each having its own theme. The Fall 'Speak Up!' issue focuses on musicians who are known for speaking up about injustices around the world.

Kim shared music from artists who are featured in the latest edition and talked about their various contributions.

Kim Ruehl's Guest DJ selections:

Indigo Girls - "Rise of the Black Messiah"
John Prine - "Paradise"
The Weavers - "Goodnight Irene"
Woody Guthrie - "This Land Is Your Land"
Ani DiFranco - "Woe Be Gone"
Fantastic Negrito - "Working Poor"
Hamell on Trial - "Happiest Man in the World"
Anais Mitchell - "Why We Build the Wall"
Kaia Kater - "Rising Down"
Aki Kumar - "Bombay Stroll"

Listen:


Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:27 PM

Guest DJ Hour: Kelly McCartney Recaps AmericanaFest 2016

October 8, 2016

by Cindy Howes, FolkAlley.com

Kelly McCartney headshot.jpgIn our latest Guest DJ hour, Kelly McCartney, Folk Alley's music writer/critic/interviewer/blogger, joins Folk Alley host, Cindy Howes, for a recap of this year's Americana Music Association Festival and Conference. McCartney attended AmericanaFest - which is the premiere Americana music conference, festival and awards show - in Nashville from September 20th - 25th. Kelly, who is also the managing editor at the Bluegrass Situation, held about a dozen "Hangin' & Sangin'" interviews and performance sessions via FaceBook Live.

In her Guest DJ hour, she describes the events of the festival and talks about highlights from her interview sessions.

Set List:

Amanda Shires - "Pale Fire"
Jason Isbell - "Flagship"
Indigo Girls - "Spread the Pain Around"
Chely Wright - "You Are the River"
Marlon Williams - "Lonely Side of Her"
The Cactus Blossoms - "Powder Blue"
Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones - "As You Were"
Rose Cousins - "What's Love Got to Do with It"
Sara Watkins - "Without a Word"
Kaia Kater - "Paradise Fell"
Applewood Road - "Applewood Road"
Dylan LeBlanc - "Look How Far We've Come"

LISTEN:


Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:20 PM

A Q & A with Dar Williams

October 7, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

DarW.jpgTime marches on, even as music stands still... at least in its recorded form. Even so, a certain generation of artists is starting to mark their musical milestones with re-issues, re-imaginings, and more. For Dar Williams, Mortal City represents her breakthrough on the folk circuit. So, for the album's 20th anniversary, she's taking the show back on the road.

Kelly McCartney: A number of artists are revisiting their milestone recordings. Natalie Merchant, for one, did a whole new version of Tigerlily. How did you decide your method of honoring Mortal City should be a tour?

Dar Williams: More than any other of my albums, this was the one that people say they listened to as an album. I'm a social creature. I'm looking forward to seeing how this album has traveled and evolved, collectively, over the last 20 years. It will be like a reunion.

If you could remake the record, how might you reimagine it as the artist/person you are now?

I did go back and re-record some songs, just to see them in the light of the present. I think the songs are the same. I have such a clear memory of writing them. But who I know is much different, so the songs are differently populated, which reflects my favorite part of this whole career -- the collegial part. Being on the road drew me out and challenged me every day.

When you look at the list of folks who played on Mortal City, who's still out there fighting the good fight? Who have you continued to collaborate with?

Such a good question, because it's great to see that so many of us have continued to play out, even in the changed environment. And when you play at some New England venue you've been playing at for 20 years, with an old friend coming up for a song, on a certain kind of cold October night, time stands still. Look at the liner notes: I think every person is still playing, with the exception of Jeff Golub, who passed away last year and who gave the album so much life.

What are the biggest lessons you've learned or changes you've undergone in the past 20 years?

The only constant is that there are people who tell you "The only constant is change," and I don't get that! There are things that don't change and they get twisted up, in a good way, with things that do. Roots grow deep, plants blossom. This career has given me continuity, as well as change. Some dressing rooms have the same plaid couches they did when I first played there. And I sit on them at the end of the night with promoters who tell me the numbers and ask if I know how to get to the hotel. And now we have GPS, so the answer is always yes.

Flip that perspective: Where and who do you hope to be in another 20 years?

I was invited to teach a college course, and then a friend, seeing how much I loved it, told me I had to lead a songwriting retreat. Teaching has brought gravity to my life. I was like a busy bee flitting around from flower to flower, writing a line here and a line there, and now I get to land in one place from time to time and really appreciate how wonderful and important music itself is. I look forward to buzzing around for the rest of my life, but I hope to continue teaching for just as long.

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'Mortal City' 20th Anniversary Tour dates.


Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:30 PM

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