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folk alley's open mic Frank Lee and Allie Burbrink 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 Frank Lee and Allie Burbrink  from Bryson City, NC.
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Hear It First: 'American Folk' Motion Picture Soundtrack featuring Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth

January 22, 2018

by Cindy Howes, Folk Alley

American Folk Motion Picture Soundtrack Folk Alley Hear It First.jpg'American Folk' is a film about two musicians who take an unexpected cross-country road trip in the wake of September 11th. They meet on a flight to New York that, after takeoff, is forced to return to Los Angeles when planes across the country are grounded for three days after 9/11. Desperate to make it to New York, the pair obtains a 1972 Chevy Caravan and embarks on their journey where they encounter many different characters all reeling after the terrorist attacks.

Actual singer-songwriters Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth star in the film and perform 14 of the 16 songs on its soundtrack. The tribute to the American folk music tradition seen through the eyes of two songwriters driving across a vulnerable nation is a heartwarming premise. Standouts on the soundtrack are the tender moments between Purdy and Rubarth on their original material. Each wrote two songs for the film with the highlight being Purdy's "This Old Guitar" (long version), which evokes the emotion and fragility that make him a great songwriter. Rubarth has an impressive ability to channel the American folk tradition, which also flows freely on her own songs such as her original, "Townes." In the end, you are left with wanting to hear more original tunes featuring Purdy and Rubarth collaborations.

'American Folk' soundtrack is out on January 26th via American Folk Records and is available for pre-order now at iTunes and Amazon.com.

Upcoming tour dates

LISTEN to the entire soundtrack HERE.



Movie Trailer:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:05 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #180118

January 20, 2018

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpg Each week, host Elena See collects the best in contemporary and traditional folk, Americana and roots music from the latest releases, classics, exclusive Folk Alley in-studio and live concert recordings. Two new hours each week.

Stream this week's show. (audio may take a minute to load on mobile devices)

PLAYLIST

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour One:

Ruthie Foster (feat. Derek Trucks) - Joy Comes Back - Joy Comes Back - Blue Corn Music

Paul Thorn - You Might Be Wrong - Pimps & Preachers - Perpetual Obscurity

Mary Gauthier - Brothers - Rifles & Rosary Beads - In the Black Records/Thirty

Bruce Cockburn - Bone On Bone -Bone On Bone - True North

Stephen Fearing - Love Like Water - Every Soul's a Sailor - Stephen Fearing

Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton - Little Black Bear - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton - The Last - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons - Never Meant to Love You - Old Believer - Readymade Records

Bon Iver - Skinny Love - For Emma, Forever Ago - Jagjaguw

Tracy Grammer - Hole - Low Tide - Self

Tracy Grammer - Forty-niner - Low Tide - Self

John Gorka - Tattooed - True In Time - Red House/Compass

Darrell Scott - A Crooked Road - A Crooked Road - Full Light Records

Hour Two:

Darlingside - Hold Your Head Up High - Extralife - Thirty Tigers

Caitlin Canty - I Never - Reckless Skyline - Caitlin Canty

Willie Watson - The Cuckoo Bird - Folksinger Vol. 2 - Acony Records

Tommy Emmanuel - C-Jam Blues (feat. David Grisman & Bryan Sutton) - Accomplice One - CGP Sounds/Thirty Tigers

Bryan Sutton - Time Has Come - The More I Learn - Sugar Hill

Kim Richey (feat. Chuck Prophet) - Whistle On Occasion - Edgeland - Yep Roc Records

The Websters & Scott Nygaard - It's My Lazy Day - Ten Thousand Miles - LotsofRec

Steep Canyon Rangers - Farmers and Pharaohs - Out In the Open - Ramseur Records

Kane, Welch, & Kaplin - Red Light Blinking - Kane, Welch, & Kaplin - Compass

Chastity Brown - After You - Back-Road Highways - Creative Dreams

The Wood Brothers - Happiness Jones - One Drop of Truth - Honey Jar Records/Thirty

The Wood Brothers - River Takes the Town - One Drop of Truth - Honey Jar Records/Thirty

Wilco - The Late Greats - A Ghost Is Born - Nonesuch

May Erlewine - Wild - Mother Lion - Earthwork Music

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show is produced by Linda Fahey and Elena See with assistance by Jon Nungesser. The show is available for free to stations via PRX.org or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried on over 50 stations nationally.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 2:01 PM

Hear It First: John Gorka, 'True In Time'

January 16, 2018

by Cindy Howes, Folk Alley

John Gorka True In Time Folk Alley Hear It First Cindy Howes 300.jpgJohn Gorka is a towering figure in folk music thanks to his longevity, powerful baritone, collaborative spirit, and remarkable songwriting. Gorka has been on the scene since the early 1980's, where he cut his teeth in the Fast Folk circles (among others) in New York, playing in coffeehouse alongside folks like Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin and Nanci Griffith. That deep and steady voice he hones brilliantly is like the Bing Crosby of singer-songwriters. And the feeling of assuredness and comfort in that voice is one that few others evoke. John's musical partnerships span decades and include friends like Eliza Gilkyson, Pete Kennedy (The Kennedys) and Lucy Kaplansky. If you follow the trail of his writing, you'll find deep and meaningful songs from one of the genre's most quietly thoughtful troubadours.

All of this is apparent on his latest record, 'True In Time.' Produced in Minneapolis with some of the best session players in the city, the album was recorded live, which is apparent in the organic flow and groove. The overall earnest approach is genuine, which is the only thing John Gorka could ever be. In all honesty, Gorka is something of a father figure: kind, supportive, stable, and has that special something that only an adorable dad can pull off: dad humor. Lines like "The cool people had a meeting and decided I was not one of them," kinda make you wanna groan and roll your eyes in jest. Gorka is a silly guy; if you've ever met him or seen him in concert you've experienced his sense of humor that occasionally gets into his songwriting. Sometimes it's charming and sometimes it's.... not. However, once you start getting under the hood, you'll discover the profound meaning and extraordinary origins of (most of) the songs.

On 'True In Time,' the best example of Gorka's cuteness aligning with his exceptional songwriting is the song "The Ballad of Iris & Pearl," where he creates fictional hero folk singers who flew under radar for the whole of their career. He re-writes music history claiming the two women taught Elvis and Dylan everything they know. The best part is when you find out the song was inspired by Eliza Gilkyson's two dogs (named Iris and Pearl) at her songwriting retreat in Taos, NM.

On the flipside of that silliness is the root of the title track, a co-write with Pete Kennedy. A Facebook post John shared of Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" after the death of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds caused Kennedy to respond, "Maybe all songs come true in time." Peter later suggested this sounded like a song, which led to co-writing long distance. Not sure if it was intentional to make the song sound like it came from The Great American Songbook, but it wouldn't be out of place if Fisher and Reynolds ever had the chance to sing it on stage together.

John's guitar playing has always been the ultimate, the classic, and the very definition of the folk singer-songwriter. Hearing it ring out alongside the crack session musicians on 'True In Time' only makes it more true and steadfast. Gorka is at his best when he's keeping it sincere and contemplative. Also, guest appearances by Jonatha Brooke, Eliza Gilkyson, and Lucy Kaplansky just add to the high quality of this music.

At the end of the day, Gorka's soulful voice, songwriting, and guitar work are what we're here for, and they are given center stage on this solid record.

'True In Time' is out on January 19 via Compass/Red House Records, and is available for pre-order now at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates



Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:45 PM

Hear It First: Tracy Grammer, 'Low Tide'

January 14, 2018

by Elena See, Folk Alley

LOW TIDE COVER-RGB 300x300 FOLK ALLEY copy.jpgIf you've ever walked along an ocean's shore at low tide, you'll see things you don't normally see. Low tide is when the sea is at its lowest level. And so all sorts of the ocean's secrets - the animals, the shells, the plant life you never normally get to see - are exposed. There are no secrets at low tide.

And that's why 'Low Tide' is such an appropriate title for Tracy Grammer's new album. There are no secrets here. With this album, her 11th but her first of all (almost all) original songs, Grammer lays bare her very soul. "These are very personal songs," she says. "Songs about family, loss, hope, and relationships."

Tracy Grammer has been making music since 1997 and is best known for her collaboration with the late Dave Carter. When he died in 2002, she continued to perform, but most often sang Carter's songs, rather than her own material. "I made it my mission to get people to sing along," she says. Her mission changed a few years ago when she participated in a songwriter project and she's eager, she says, to get her own music in front of audiences (who, it should be noted, have LONG been demanding it).

Grammer sings about mistakes. About passion. About failures. And about wishes and dreams that were never - and will never be - fulfilled. As you listen to certain songs ("Hole," "Daffodil Days," a cover of Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting"), you'll be hard pressed NOT to think about Dave Carter and about their relationship, which was both professional and personal.

However, in the midst of this intense pain and self-recrimination, there's also a sense that Grammer is finally able to let go of some her sorrow. Her voice on "Free," for example, is peaceful and light. As she sings about learning to let go, about the wonder that comes when "all the worry, all the running away is done," you know: this is the voice of a songwriter who has made her peace with the past and who is ready - and more than willing - to move forward.

'Low Tide' will be released on January 19th, and is available for pre-order directly at Tracy's Bandcamp page, iTunes, and Amazon.com.

Upcoming tour dates


Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:23 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #180111

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpg Each week, host Elena See collects the best in contemporary and traditional folk, Americana and roots music from the latest releases, classics, exclusive Folk Alley in-studio and live concert recordings. Two new hours each week.

Stream this week's show. (audio may take a minute to load on mobile devices)

PLAYLIST

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour One:

Odetta - Got My Mind On Freedom - It's A Mighty World - RCA/Victor

Rhiannon Giddens - Birmingham Sunday - Freedom Highway - Nonesuch

Brandi Carlile - The Mother - By the Way, I Forgive You - Elektra

Buddy Miller & Friends (feat. Brandi Carlile & the Lone Bellow) - Angel From Montgomery - Cayamo Sessions at Sea - New West Records

Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth - Someone Singing With Me - American Folk (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - American Folk Records

James Keelaghan - Sing My Heart Home - Home - Appleseed

I'm With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan) - Game To Lose - See You Around - I'm With Her/Rounder

The Lonely Heartstring Band - The Look In My Eye - Deep Waters - Rounder Records/Concord

Musique a Bouches - Le Maréchal - Jusqu'aux oreilles - Musique a Bouches

John Gorka - Arroyo Seco - True In Time - Red House/Compass

Tom Russell - Where The Dream Begins - Borderland - Hightone

Mavis Staples - Eyes On the Prize - We'll Never Turn Back - ANTI

Mavis Staples - MLK Song - Livin' On A High Note - ANTI

Hour Two:

Mile Twelve - You Don't Even Know It Yet - Onwards - Delores the Taurus

Darlingside - Bird Say - Bird Say - Thirty Tigers

Solas - The Wind that Shakes the Barley - Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers - Shanachie

Usher's Island - Five Drunken Landladies - Usher's Island - Compass Records

We Banjo 3 - Tell Me Why (Gather the Good) - Gather the Good - We Banjo 3

Rodney Crowell - Shake Your Money Maker - Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James (compilation) - Sylvan Songs

Keb' Mo' - Look On Yonder Wall - Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James (compilation) - Sylvan Songs

Samantha Fish - Need You More - Belle of the West - Ruf Records

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three - Head To Toe - Middle of Everywhere - Free Dirt Records

Upstate Rubdown - Bad Enough - A Remedy - Upstate Rubdown

Tommy Emmanuel (with Jason Isbell) - Deep River Blues - Accomplice One - CGP Sounds/Thirty Tigers

Tommy Emmanuel (with Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo) - Djangology - Accomplice One - CGP Sounds/Thirty Tigers

Norman Blake - Randall Collins - Back Home in Sulphur Springs - Rounder

Mark Erelli - Deep Red Bells - Mixtape - Mark Erelli

Kris Delmhorst - The Wild - The Wild - Blueblade Records

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show is produced by Linda Fahey and Elena See with assistance by Jon Nungesser. The show is available for free to stations via PRX.org or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried on over 50 stations nationally.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:04 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #180104

January 11, 2018

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpg Each week, host Elena See collects the best in contemporary and traditional folk, Americana and roots music from the latest releases, classics, exclusive Folk Alley in-studio and live concert recordings. Two new hours each week.

Stream this week's show. (audio may take a minute to load on mobile devices)

PLAYLIST

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour One:

The Decemberists - January Hymn - The King Is Dead - Capitol

Drew Emmitt - Big Ice - Across The Bridge - Compass

Ruth Moody - Cold Outside - The Garden - Red House Records

Steep Canyon Rangers - Out In the Open - Out In the Open - Ramseur Records

River Whyless - Falling Son - We Are the Light - Roll Call Records

Greensky Bluegrass - Take Cover - Shouted, Written Down and Quoted - Big Blue Zoo (Thirty Tigers)

Billy Strings - Living Like An Animal - Turmoil & Tinfoil - Apostol Recording

Mary Gauthier - The War After the War - Rifles & Rosary Beads - In the Black Records/Thirty

Steve Earle & The Dukes and Dutchesses - Invisible - The Low Highway - New West Records

Joe Purdy & Amber Rubarth - Townes - American Folk (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - American Folk Records

Townes Van Zandt - Pancho & Lefty - Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972 - Omnivore Records

Samantha Fish - American Dream - Belle of the West - Ruf Records

Luther Dickinson - Horseshoe (Reprise) - Blues & Ballads (A Folksinger's Songbook) Volumes I & II - New West Records

Guy Davis - Taking Just A Little Bit of Time - Kokomo Kidd - M.C. Records

Hour Two:

Alan Doyle - Bully Boys - A Week at the Warehouse - Universal Music Canada

Great Big Sea (live, compilation) - Going Up - Philadelphia Folk Festival - 40th Anniversary - Sliced Brd

Jeffrey Martin - Thrift Store Dress - One Go Around - Fluff & Gravy

Mike Barnett (feat. Bryan Sutton) - Hangman's Reel - Portraits in Fiddles - Compass Records

Anna & Elizabeth - Heap of Horses - Sun To Sun - Free Dirt Records

I'm With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan) - See You Around - See You Around - I'm With Her/Rounder

Sarah Jarosz - Comin' Undone - Undercurrent - Sugar Hill

Offa Rex - Bonny May - The Queen of Hearts - Nonesuch

June Tabor & Oysterband - Bonnie Bunch of Roses - Ragged Kingdom - Topic

Usher's Island - Cairndaisy - Usher's Island - Compass Records

Blackie & the Rodeo Kings - Driftin' Snow - South - File Under: Music

Richie & Rosie - Cold Mountain - Nowhere In Time - Richie & Rosie

Caitlin Canty - Vermont - Golden Hour - Self

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show is produced by Linda Fahey and Elena See with assistance by Jon Nungesser. The show is available for free to stations via PRX.org or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried on over 50 stations nationally.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:03 AM

Folk Alley Radio Show #171228

December 31, 2017

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpg Each week, host Elena See collects the best in contemporary and traditional folk, Americana and roots music from the latest releases, classics, exclusive Folk Alley in-studio and live concert recordings. Two new hours each week.

Stream this week's show. (audio may take a minute to load on mobile devices)

PLAYLIST

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour One:

Lori McKenna - The Bird & the Rifle - The Bird & the Rifle - CN Records/Thirty Tigers

Bon Iver - 00000 Million - 22, A Million - Jagjaguwar

The Stray Birds - Hands of Man - Magic Fire - Yep Roc Records

Sam Bush - It's Not What You Think - Storyman - Sugar Hill

Kaia Kater - Rising Down - Nine Pin - Kingswood Records

Heather Masse (compilation) - Mittens - Christmas On the Lam and Other Songs from the Season - Red House Records

John Gorka - Holed Up Mason City - Bright Side Of Down - Red House

Suzzy Roche - Cold Hard Wind - Songs From An Unmarried Housewife and Mother, Greenich Village,U - Red House

Buddy Miller (compilation) - One of These Days (live) - The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris - Rounder

Mavis Staples (compilation) - Will the Circle Be Unbroken (LIVE) - The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris - Rounder

Chris Coole - Thinking About Home - The Tumbling River and Other Stories - Northern

Mike + Ruthy - Chasing Gold (in-studio) - Exclusive Folk Alley in-studio recording -

Guy Davis (Compilation) - We All Need More Kindness in This World - These Times We're Living In - Red House

Ann Wilson - Get Together - Hope and Glory - Zoe

Hour Two:

Balsam Range - Blue Collar Dreams - Mountain Voodoo - Mountain Home Music

Jayme Stone - Hog Went Through the Fence, Yoke and All - Jayme Stone's Lomax Project - Borealis

Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer - Long, Black Road Into Tulsa Town - Seven Is The Number - TGM

Courtney Hartman - When You See the Morning - Nothing We Say - Courtney Hartman

Della Mae - Hounds (In-Studio) - Exclusive Folk Alley Recording - Folk Alley exclusive

Lucinda Williams - Stand Right By Each Other - Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone - Highway 20 Records (Thirty)

Martin Sexton - Love Keep Us Together - Black Sheep - Eastern Fr

Jeff Black - Sing Together - Folklore - Lotus Nile Music

Robert Earl Keen - Feelin' Good Again (live) - Live Dinner Reunion - Dualtone Music Group

Robert Earl Keen - Gringo Honeymoon (live) - Live Dinner Reunion - Dualtone Music Group

Mary Gauthier - Mercy Now - Mercy Now - LostHighwa

Wilco - We Aren't The World (Safety Girl) - Schmilco - dBpm/ANTI-

Shirley Collins - Old Johnny Buckle - Lodestar - Domino

David Grisman - Richochet - The David Grisman Quintet - Kaleidosco

Amanda Shires - Nursery Rhyme - My Piece of Land - Silver Knife Records

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show is produced by Linda Fahey and Elena See with assistance by Jon Nungesser. The show is available for free to stations via PRX.org or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried on over 50 stations nationally.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:41 AM

Folk Alley's Best of 2017 - Matt Reilly's Top 5 Texans

December 28, 2017

by Matt Reilly, Folk Alley

Matt Reilly Headshot 230sq.jpgWhen you live in Texas, you tend to see things through Lone Star tinted glasses. I know that can be annoying to non-Texans, but we just can't help it. That said, Texas does produce its fair share of top notch roots music, and 2017 was no exception. This top 5 list features a collection of artists who show that strong, inventive songwriting still matters. From the veterans to the up and comers, their take on the most fundamental songwriting aspect - storytelling - tells me that, here in Texas at least, we're in good hands going forward.

LISTEN to this playlist on Spotify

David Ramirez: 'We're Not Going Anywhere' (Sweetworld)

David Ramirez is an amazing songwriter who knows how to turn heartache into beauty. There are no half measures here. I feel like I've been through his break-ups and they're HIS break-ups. That's some good writing. "Watching From A Distance" is a confessional song about something most people won't confess to. iTunes


Ray Wylie Hubbard: 'Tell The Devil That I'm Getting There As Fast As I Can' (Bordello Records)

From the man who brought you "Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother", this a dense, wordy record that paints a vivid picture with each song. His songs have become more stories that verse, chorus, verse affairs but this rewards repeated listeners. It's also refreshing to listen to an artist who is keenly aware of his mortality - with tongue firmly in cheek. iTunes


Shinyribs: 'I Got Your Medicine' (Mustard Lid)

While not yet an American treasure, former Gourds leader, Kevin Russell, is quickly becoming a Central Texas one. The songwriting is more clear that the Gourds material and the songs have a soulful swampiness to them thanks to the horns and backing vocals. Check out "Don't Leave It a Lie" to get a taste of the musical gumbo. Also, if Shinyribs comes to your town, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars, proceed directly to the show. You will become part of the Shinyribs family whether you like it or not. I think you'll like it though. iTunes


Slaid Cleaves: 'Ghost On the Car Radio' (Candy House Media)

It's been a few years since we got a record from Slaid. The time spent apart has been interesting: his everyman vocal delivery is even more welcome in these days of chaos and uncertainty. "Drunken Barber's Hand" is a particularly good metaphor for what's happening in the world. You'll also learn about old timey measurin'.

iTunes


The Sanco Loop: 'The Sanco Loop' (Victim Records)

Led by Peter Wagner, this sounds like Peter Gabriel with pedal steel. The songs have a dusty, plaintive quality that makes the words within even more striking. These are clearly very personal stories Wagner is telling us, and the unfussy productions brings the words front and center. Check out "Hot Year". It's an unlikely earworm. iTunes

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:40 AM

Folk Alley Radio Show #171221

December 26, 2017

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpg Each week, host Elena See collects the best in contemporary and traditional folk, Americana and roots music from the latest releases, classics, exclusive Folk Alley in-studio and live concert recordings. Two new hours each week.

{{The audio for this episode is no longer available.}}

PLAYLIST

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour One:

Yola Carter - What You Do - Orphan Offering (EP) - Yola Carter/Ear Trumpet

Offa Rex - Blackleg Miner - The Queen of Hearts - Nonesuch

David Ramirez - Watching from a Distance - We're Not Going Anywhere - Sweetworld/Thirty Tigers

Mipso - Train Down the Line - Coming Down The Mountain - Mipso

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters - Learning How To Love Him - Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters - Organic Records

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Hope the High Road - The Nashville Sound - Southeastern Records

Chastity Brown - Drive Slow - Silhouette of Sirens - Red House Records

Lenore - Breathe - Lenore - Lenore

Twisted Pine - I Miss Talking - Twisted Pine - Signature Sounds

Flatt Lonesome - I'm Not Afraid To Be Alone - Silence In These Walls - Mountain Home

Slaid Cleaves - Drunken Barber's Hand - Ghost On the Car Radio - Candy House Media

The Mastersons - Perfect - Transient Lullaby - Red House Records

Bill Scorzari - Holy Man - Through These waves - Bill Scorzari

Nikki Lane - Highway Queen - Highway Queen - New West Records

The Mavericks - Easy As It Seems - Brand New Day - Mono Mundo

Hour Two:

The Infamous Stringdusters - This Ol' Building - Laws of Gravity - Compass Records

Alison Krauss - Poison Love - Windy City - Capitol Records

Willie Watson - Samson and Delilah - Folksinger Vol. 2 - Acony Records

Guy Clark - Just To Watch Maria Dance (Unreleased Writer Demo) - The Best of the Dualtone Years - Dualtone

Steve Earle & The Dukes (feat. Willie Nelson) - So You Wannabe An Outlaw - So You Wannabe An Outlaw - Warner Brothers

Rayna Gellert - Workin's Too Hard - Workin's Too Hard - StorySound Records

Rodney Crowell - It Ain't Over Yet ( feat. Rosanne Cash & John Paul White) - Close Ties - New West Records

Molly Tuttle - Good Enough - Rise (EP) - Molly Tuttle Music

The Secret Sisters - He's Fine - You Don't Own Me Anymore - New West Records

David Rawlings - Come On Over To My House - Poor David's Almanack - Acony Records

I'm With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan) - Little Lies - Little Lies (EP) - I'm With Her/Rounder

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn - Don't Let It Bring You Down - Echo In the Valley - Rounder Records/Concord

The Wailin' Jennys - Wildflowers - Fifteen - Red House Records

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - If We Were Vampires - The Nashville Sound - Southeastern Records

Rhiannon Giddens (with Bhi Bhiman) - Freedom Highway - Freedom Highway - Nonesuch

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show is produced by Linda Fahey and Elena See with assistance by Jon Nungesser. The show is available for free to stations via PRX.org or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried on over 50 stations nationally.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:59 PM

Folk Alley's Best of 2017 - Cindy Howes' Top 10

December 22, 2017

by Cindy Howes, Folk Alley

Cindy Howes BlueHeadshot sq crop 300.jpg2017 was a difficult year personally and it didn't help that the world seemed to be falling in on itself even more than usual. To be honest, it was so dark and hard that I couldn't listen to music for a while (the volume was down a lot during my radio shows). Eventually, I started to open up to new music again. It was an incredibly painful year, but at the same time, that's when you need art and beauty the most. The feeling that music gave me as I started coming out on the other side is indescribable and probably not relatable, so for the most part, this list is extremely personal. This music was with me when I was at my lowest. It saved me and I am so grateful.

LISTEN to this playlist on Spotify

Ethan Gruska: 'Slowmotionary' (Sire)

Ethan is in The Belle Brigade with his sister and they make peppy indie pop, but this is so different from that. 'Slowmotionary' is a beautiful, quiet and sincere record full of cinematic vignettes accompanied by mostly piano and acoustic guitar. It kind of reminds me of 1940's jazz crooners. The album is a comfort and like an understanding friend that carries you through to better times. iTunes


The Barr Brothers: 'Queens of the Breakers' (Secret City)

Based in Montreal and originally from Providence, RI, The Barr Brothers' mixture of folk, rock and whatever it is that harp player is doing, served as my soundtrack when I felt like I was coming back from the bottom. This record is perfect to accompany a crisp autumn morning walk you'd rather not be taking. "I know it's hard to see the light when you're on your knees," Brad Barr sings on the opening track "Defibrillation." See this band live; this was the best show I've ever seen. No joke. iTunes


Rhiannon Giddens: 'Freedom Highway' (Nonesuch)

Last year I read "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi, which is a hard and important book that chronicles 7 generations of two sisters from Ghana. One remained in her homeland and the other was captured into slavery and shipped to America. That devastating book along with Rhiannon Giddens' second solo record are the clearest depiction of Black American history you could ask for. From slavery, to civil rights, to the current struggle with police brutality, Giddens lays it out like a history lesson. iTunes


Josh Ritter: 'Gathering' (Cooking Vinyl)

Something is up with Josh Ritter because he is sounding EPIC on this record. One guess is that his collaborative album with Bob Weir inspired him to make his own wide-open sounding cowboy-style record. Ritter's writing is busted open and his faithful Royal City Band lays down their sophisticated touches. iTunes


Rose Cousins: 'Natural Conclusion' (Old Farm Pony Records)

Your favorite Canadian cousin went to Los Angeles and recorded her latest album with master producer Joe Henry and a gang of top notch musicians (including my favorite drummer Jay Bellerose! "Like Trees" has sick drums!!). It's nice to hear Rose's voice against her piano playing. That piano also fully seals the deal on crying your face off to her music. I can't tell you all the lessons I've learned from Rose over the years. Her records are like therapy. 'Natural Conclusion' takes what she's been doing so masterfully for years to the next level. iTunes


Deb Talan: 'Lucky Girl' (Nettwerk)

Deb Talan decided that after being in a band (The Weepies) for over a decade, raising three boys and surviving breast cancer, that she needed to do something in order to find herself again. Thankfully (!) that meant her first solo record in 13 years: 'Lucky Girl.' Is there a better modern day unknown songwriter out there other than Deb Talan? No. There is not. iTunes


Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit: 'The Nashville Sound' (Southeastern Records)

The songs called for rock and roll, so Jason Isbell got the band (The 400 Unit) back together for his third release with producer Dave Cobb. On some songs, Isbell writes from the perspective of flawed, yet sympathetic characters. On others, he gets very personal dealing with issues of gender inequality and racism. Through it all, he finds a way to keep his sincerity and humor (where appropriate) on the forefront. iTunes


Son Little: 'New Magic' (ANTI-)

Aaron Livingston, known on stage as Son Little, doesn't really have a genre that he likes to stick to. On his second release, 'New Magic,' he has further developed his dark groove among experimental rock, folk and blues. His voice somehow sounds like it's two voices up against guitar lines that would make Hendrix or Muddy Waters sit up and pay attention. There is something otherworldly about his presentation that is futuristic, but encompasses the past at the same time. iTunes


Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards: 'California Calling' (Compass)

Boston-based fiddler Laura Cortese's first release with her quartet gives the singer-songwriter an edge that existed in her music, but has not seen fruition like this before. Produced by Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive), Cortese sounds like she is tapping into a new freedom and lightness while still upholding the traditional sound that she has previously mastered. iTunes


Julien Baker: 'Turn Out The Lights' (Matador)

Everyone I know is freaking out about Julien Baker and okay fine, I will add my voice to the crowd. She is the real deal: vulnerable, struggling and powerful. Mostly the record centers on the struggle for self-care and explaining her mental illness and addiction to those closest to her. Her beautiful arrangements on electric guitar and piano (a new thing for her!) float alongside devastating lyrics. High points of the record come when her calm even voice suddenly soars to a scream, which is both jarring and affirming that she's not giving up the fight to be well. iTunes

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:30 AM

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