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Album Review: Hayes Carll, 'Lovers and Leavers'

March 30, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

Hayes Carll Lovers and Leavers 400 sq.jpgThere comes a time of reckoning in nearly every artist's life, a reckoning of youthful wants and maturing needs. Some go kicking and screaming into their next phase, while others go quietly, thoughtfully. Singer/songwriter Hayes Carll chose the latter route on his new 'Lovers and Leavers' LP, a collection of 10 tender tunes that documents a tumultuous time in his life, including the dissolution of his marriage and the discovery of new love.

In the past, Carll has always folded his more vulnerable revelations in with his more raucous visions of life. But Hayes Carll, the drunken poet, has always been there -- sidled right up alongside Hayes Carll, the stomp-and-holler cowboy. It's just that, this time around, the poet's not drunk and the cowboy's not hollering.

And, while he's still telling tales, a lot more of them are his own. In songs like "Drive," "Good While It Lasted," and "Love Don't Let Me Down," Carll lays it all on the line and producer Joe Henry gives him next to nothing, sonically speaking, to hide behind. The result is a captivating cycle of songs that feels rather much like a Shawn Colvin album. ("The Love That We Need," with its Hornsby-esque piano runs, is a particularly poignant foray into more adult alternative-feeling terrain. And it's lovely.)

Fans of Carll classics like "Beaumont" and "Chances Are" will easily embrace this set, while lovers of "KMAG YOYO" and "Hey Baby Where You Been" might have to be convinced. But they should give it a chance, nonetheless.

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'Lovers and Leavers' is out on April 8th via Hwy 87 Records and is available now at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates











Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:26 PM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160324

March 28, 2016

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160324. Aired between March 25 - March 31, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour 1

Frank Solivan - Pretty Woman - Family, Friends & Heroes - Compass

Ronnie McCoury - Dawggone - Heartbreak Town - Rounder

Buddy Miller & Friends (feat. Nikki Lane) - Just Someone I Used To Know - Cayamo Sessions at Sea - New West

The Small Glories - Waterbound - Songs by Cara Luft & JD Edwards (EP) - The Small Glories

Cara Luft - The Ploughboy and the Cockney - Darlingford - Blue Case Tunes

Parker Millsap - Hades Pleads - The Very Last Day - Okrahoma

Parker Millsap - Morning Blues - The Very Last Day - Okrahoma

Quiles & Cloud - Worried Man Blues (live) - Beyond the Rain - Compass

Chatham County Line - I Got Worry - IV - YepRoc

Guy Clark - Worry B Gone - Workbench Songs - Dualtone

Sean Watkins - What To Fear - What To Fear - Single Lock

Eileen Ivers - Canbrack Girls - Beyond the Bog Road - Entertainment One Music

Solas (feat. Maired Phelan) - Little Bird of Heaven - All These Years - THL

The Honey Dewdrops - Fly Away Free - If the Sun Will Shine - The Honey Dewdrops

Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands (feat. Linda Ronstadt) - Pretty Bird - The Hazel and Alice Sessions - Spruce and Maple


Hour 2

Mavis Staples - Action - Livin' On A High Note - Anti

Stephane Wrembel - Train D'enfer - Origins - Gitane

Lance Canales - Deportee - The Blessing and the Curse - Music Road

Dori Freeman - Ain't Nobody - Dori Freeman - Free Dirt

Eli West - You Asked Me To - The Both - Eli West

The Infamous Stringdusters (feat. Celia Woodsmith) - Old Whiskey Bottle - Ladies & Gentlemen - Compass

Mandolin Orange - Waltz About Whiskey - Exclusive Folk Alley in-studio recording - Folk Alley exclusive

Town Mountain - Whiskey With Tears - Southern Crescent - LoHi

Hayes Carll - Sake of the Song - Lovers and Leavers - Hwy 87

Hayes Carll - The Love That We Need - Lovers and Leavers - Hwy 87

Elephant Revival - Furthest Shore - Petals - Itz Evolving

The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder - Sailing to Mexico (Carlos Nunez) - San Patricio - Hear Music

The Suitcase Junket - The Rain - Dying Star (EP) - Signature Sounds

Catherine Maclellan - Winter Spring - The Raven's Sun - Catherine Maclellan

Tom Waits - You Can Never Hold Back Spring - Orphans (Bawlers) - ANTI



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 PRX.org 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 40 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at FolkAlley.com, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077: Linda@folkalley.com

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:35 PM

A Q & A with Dori Freeman

March 27, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

Dori Freeman 400 sq.jpgWhen you come from a musical tradition that includes legendary artists like Hazel and Alice, Loretta Lynn and Ola Belle Reed, you have some mighty big boots to fill. But that formidable legacy hasn't dissuaded Virginia's Dori Freeman from stepping into the spotlight with her eponymous debut. Produced by Teddy Thompson, the set balances a classic sound with contemporary substance -- just like Freeman's foremothers did.

Kelly McCartney: The posture you take as a songwriter seems to be one that is incredibly self-assured and self-sufficient. Is that an accurate reflection of you as a person, as well? And, if so, what got you to such a wise place at such a young age?

Dori Freeman: I'm sure glad it seems that way. Having my daughter at a relatively young age (22) made me a lot more self-assured and self-reliant. My confidence has grown a lot in the last couple years. I started thinking about how, if I want my daughter to be independent and strong, then I need to set that example.

From Hazel Dickens to Loretta Lynn to Kacey Musgraves, roots music women have often made some bold, feminist-minded declarations. How and where do you see yourself fitting into that lineage?

I have a lot of admiration and respect for those three women. I'm lucky to have really encouraging parents who've always supported my choice to pursue music. That's given me a lot of confidence to write about things, no matter how personal. I'm certainly not afraid to write about relationships and men. Men are rarely questioned when they divulge about the same things, so I'm happy to be among a strong group women who aren't afraid to do that.

What is it about songwriting that allows you to share such internal, even intimate pieces of yourself that you might not ever otherwise express?

Weirdly, for me, it's much easier to express things I'm going through by writing and singing about them. Even though it's a really vulnerable place to be in, it's still the most comfortable way for me to open up. I think it's important to write about things that are personal and honest -- even when it's a difficult subject -- because that's the only way to strike a true chord with people and make them feel that same vulnerability in relating to you.

Did you have an idea, going in, of how you wanted the record to sound? Or did you follow Teddy's lead?

I knew I wanted to keep the record pretty sparse and Teddy wanted the same thing. But I was also a little intimidated about coming to New York and recording with a group of really respected musicians that I'd never met. Teddy was great at stepping in and directing and putting me at ease. He also has a really good, imaginative ear and had the idea to add the '60s girl group vibe on tracks like "Tell Me" and "Fine Fine Fine."

The record has met with a warm critical response. How's all the attention feeling?

Bizarre! Overwhelming, but in a really good way. I tried not to have any expectations for the record, so I'm really thrilled about how it's been received so far.

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Dori Freeman's self-titled album is out now via Free Dirt Records and available at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates






Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:26 PM

Album Review: Parker Millsap, 'The Very Last Day'

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

Parker Millsap Very Last Day 500sq.jpgOn Parker Millsap's new album, 'The Very Last Day,' the young singer/songwriter takes a major sonic leap forward thanks to Gary Paczosa's brawny production. And, while the aural landscape certainly warrants acknowledgement, the original compositions definitely deserve admiration. Millsap's dexterity in the writing department both belies his youthful age and betrays his old-soul wisdom.

Not wasting any time at all, the set's opener, "Hades Pleads," encapsulates everything that's great about this record: solid songwriting, vigorous vocals, and fierce fiddling all boxed in a classic form and wrapped in an innovative package. Millsap's performance feels primal, even urgent. Still, there's an inherent poise making it perfectly clear that he is in control of the elements at hand: Nothing about him or his music ever feels forced or feigned.

Even so, there's a certain swagger to Millsap's work that clearly comes from an understated confidence rather than any bombastic arrogance. That humility is how he's so easily able to narrate -- or inhabit -- the stories he tells. How many songwriters, for fear of backlash, would dare document the heart-rending story of a gay teen coming out to his preacher father as Millsap does on "Heaven Sent"? Not very many at all.

"Pining," "Morning Blues," "Wherever You Are," "You Gotta Move," "A Little Fire"... drop the needle anywhere on this album and be blown away.

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'The Very Last Day' is out now via Okrahoma Records and available at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates







Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:47 AM

A Q & A with Quiles & Cloud

March 15, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

rory maria 400 sq.jpgThe San Francisco-based duo of Quiles & Cloud (Maria and Rory, respectively) reflect the whimsical, bohemian nature that their hometown once embraced and embodied. A mix of folk, jazz, rock, and more fills the airy spaces on their recent release, 'Beyond the Rain,' creating a collection of hippie-gypsy songs for the urban hipster generation.

Kelly McCartney: San Francisco has long been a hotbed of creativity and music, though usually leaning more toward the rock side of things. How do you guys fit into the local scene?

Rory Cloud: Well, one of the most compelling aspects of the San Francisco scene for me is its diversity, which I think largely comes from its somewhat transient nature. It's almost rare to find people that were born and raised there -- not that they don't exist. In fact, Maria is actually a dyed-in-the-wool child of the Bay Area, but people have flocked there from all over the world and brought their cultural heritages with them. Those different influences really meld together and transform into endless variations of style, which is what San Francisco is really known for, I think. It's a place of innovation and collaboration.

Our music, even though it is largely presented in an acoustic roots type of setting, is a combination of influences from all sorts of musical traditions. You know... jazz, soul, bluegrass, funk, rock, Latin, classical, Celtic, anything really. The list keeps growing as we continue exploring music from all directions. A lot of artists we look up to are similar in that way, and so are many of our peers in the San Francisco scene. As long as it's good music, we're into it and it inevitably makes it's way into our sound, in some way or another. The bands we know that play more electrified rock music have that same spirit behind them, as well. We're all just trying to keep ourselves moving forward, in whatever direction we feel drawn toward at any given moment. That, to me, is the San Francisco scene in a nutshell.

Maria Quiles: We've found a very supportive and engaged fan base in the Bay Area which is growing all the time. The feeling I get is that many of the people who are attracted to settle there, or who are brought up there, have a generally open-minded attitude and can dig a variety of styles. They like good music, you know? Any style. They seem to resonate with genuine art, and aren't necessarily picky about the genre, which is how I feel about music, personally, as well.

In a world filled with pomp and circumstance, what is it about simplicity and sparseness that is so appealing to you guys?

Rory Cloud: [Laughs] That's a good question. Something we've always focused on in our music together is nuance. Space is really important in that. There is so much distraction in our daily lives, and we definitely struggle with it like most people. Constant access to information via our cell phones and what not can often take us out of the moment, which is the opposite of what music does, for the most part. This also touches on the reason we are more at home in listening rooms than noisy bar environments. Festivals are somewhere in the middle, I think, in that they can be noisy, but they are also community-oriented and really do bring people together in a place and time in a special way.

But there is something uniquely moving about performing in a space that really holds the music and gives it a container in which to settle and permeate the air in a certain way. In those places, something as simple as a single note or subtle harmony can send shivers through a crowd. When we're at our best, and every note we sing or play is coming from that place somewhere between intention and spontaneity, it's the little things that often have the most impact. Leaving room for those moments in an arrangement is part of the idea behind that sparseness. There's a lot of power and connection there, allowing for space to exist and to really settle in it. I think there's not enough of that in our culture right now and so, in some way, I think it's a natural response to feel a strong pull toward that in our music.

Maria Quiles: The music business is interesting because it's one of those artistic worlds where people really get caught up in the idea of fame, of fitting a certain mold, of embodying the image of success instead of working on the art form itself. You can lose track of what's important. One of the things that appeals to me about a simplistic aesthetic is that it can be a very supportive canvas for displaying lyrical content, which is my main focus in the creative process. I like space and breath; I like to feel the words and the sonic landscape. I've always appreciated and enjoyed music that allows for that space. The secret sauce that songwriting offers, for me, is the mix of poetry and music. Instrumentation can really provide that extra depth of feeling that is sometimes so hard to completely express through words.

Did you guys have a sound or style in mind when you started, or did you just start writing and let the muse lead the way?

Rory Cloud: We've never made much of a conscious decision to sound any particular way, really -- besides choosing to stick with acoustic instruments and record live, I suppose. Even that is a somewhat loose structure. When I first heard Maria, my immediate thought was, "I could play with that." The two of us came from pretty different backgrounds, but there was a strong chemistry and blend the moment we started working together.

Since then, we've really developed something together that is different than what either of us originally brought into the project. In that regard, I think that saying we let the muse lead the way is pretty accurate. Our sound and writing style is inspired and influenced by our experiences, both musical and personal, individually and as a group. The more we travel, the more we listen to other styles of music, the more our sound develops.

Wes Montgomery has always been a hero of mine, and something he said in an interview once really stuck with me... something about how, the more he played the music of other people, the more he discovered himself in those songs. I think one of the most crucial elements of developing your own sound is allowing yourself to continue absorbing new influences and experiences and translating them through your own perspective. Adapting to new ideas and integrating them with past experience, I guess. It's really all about growth and exploration. Who we are now is very different from who we were five years ago, and I hope to continue that trend as long as I'm still breathing.

Maria Quiles: I don't think we necessarily had a style in mind when we started, though we are certainly influenced by specific artists. For me, it was people like Townes Van Zandt, Ani DiFranco, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch, Aoife O'Donovan, and others. I think those influences have helped shape the direction we've moved in, and I love that. It feels natural. The thing that strikes me most about those artists is how they've taken the evolving American styles of music and made them uniquely their own. That's the take-away for me and what inspires me when I'm engaging in the creative process.

Probably the biggest influence these other artists have had on me is seeing someone else, especially strong female voices saying, "Hey, I'm gonna do it. This is who I am. This is what I see and feel." It's that courage to be genuine and vulnerable that gives me strength to follow my gut, artistically, and how it comes out musically is always changing.

What did Alison Brown bring out of your sound that wasn't there before working with her?

Rory Cloud: We went into the recordings with Alison much in the same way that we did in the past with our first two albums, in that we rehearsed and dialed in everything with the intention of recording live. Something that was immediately different in the sessions for 'Beyond the Rain' was Alison's pre-production style. Instead of just throwing up the mics and recording the songs as they were, we would spend time before every tune away from the mics examining the arrangements and opening them up to new suggestions. Alison has an incredible ear and a very different set of experiences under her belt which allowed her to hear things that we wouldn't have thought of on our own. Something as simple as an added chord here or there, or an extra chorus, or a call-and-response line, and all of a sudden we had an arrangement peppered with new flavor. A lot of the changes were so subtle that they might not be immediately noticeable unless you were deliberately comparing the old way to the new. Kind of like looking at two versions of the same image with one tiny alteration, like a missing balloon or extra glass of wine somewhere.

She and Sean, the engineer, were also incredibly focused. If fatigue ever did set in with them, they hardly showed it. We spent four days in the studio, 10 hours a day, and I didn't see them break a sweat. It really pushed us to maintain our composure and work through the challenges of tweaking arrangements and putting them directly into place. I think, by the end, we had a much greater appreciation for that process and a realization that nothing is ever really finished, if you allow yourself to explore new possibilities.

Maria Quiles: We went in there with our arrangements rehearsed and Alison threw us a bit of a curve ball. She sat down with us and listened thoughtfully to the tunes before even setting foot in the studio. She had some really good ideas about changing the arrangements slightly that we ended up taking on for almost every song. It was a challenge. We would make these changes day of and then go in and record them live. It was a mental workout, for sure, and we were exhausted at the end of it, but very pleased with the outcome.

How does it feel to move from the fan-funded projects to working with Compass Records, having that kind of support and infrastructure?

Rory Cloud: The most noticeable difference, for me, is the kind of reach and weight that the team at Compass has in the industry. As independent artists, we've felt firsthand what it's like to be one in a million, so to speak. Sending unsolicited emails to radio stations, online publications, venues... you name it. When it was just us, with little to no name recognition, even getting our foot in the door in most places was a constant battle of breaking through this huge wall of sound coming from every indie artist trying to do the same thing. It's exhausting for everyone out there in that way -- artists trying to be heard and industry folks trying to weed through an insurmountable volume of content in the market.

At this stage, we're still relying heavily on fan support, as far as keeping us afloat monetarily, but the way Compass has brought us into view of the professional music world in such a short time has been invaluable to us, really. They've spent over 20 years building a solid reputation in the roots music scene and taking us under their wing has had an immediate impact on our own reputation within the community. We're still the new kids on the block, but we're the new kids with a reputable partnership, and in any line of work that's huge.

Maria Quiles: It feels great! We've only been working with Compass a short while but, so far, it's helped us connect with the music community in ways that would have taken a lot longer on our own. Alison and Garry really understand the business from the artist's perspective, which is refreshing and reassuring. They have a well-earned reputation and we're honored to be working with them. We were just at Folk Alliance recently and we'd give our CD to someone, some radio person or something, and they'd turn it over and read "Compass Records" and go, "Oh, you're on Compass. I love everything they do. I'll definitely check this out." It's helped us cut through a little just to be associated with them. The record is definitely getting more attention, as a result.

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'Beyond the Rain' is out now via Compass Records and is available at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates







Posted by Linda Fahey at 7:03 PM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160310

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160310. Aired between March 11 - March 17, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour 1 (featuring our in-studio session with Birds of Chicago)

Altan - Uncle Rat - The Blue Idol - Narada

Chieftains (feat.Tim O'Brien) - Shady Grove - Further Down The Old Plank Road - Victor

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem - Tim Finnegan's Wake - Come Fill Your Glass with Us - Tradition

Solas (feat. Moira Smiley) - Standing On the Shore - All These Years - THL Records

Solas - Roarie Bummlers - All These Years - THL Records

Birds of Chicago - Real Midnight - Folk Alley Sessions - WKSU/Folk Alley Exclusive

Birds of Chicago - Remember Wild Horses - Folk Alley Sessions - WKSU/Folk Alley Exclusive

Birds of Chicago - Good Dream - Folk Alley Sessions - WKSU/Folk Alley Exclusive

Bob Dylan - Little Sadie - Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 - Sony/Columbia

Carrie Rodriguez - Llano Estacado - Lola - Luz Records

Buddy Miller & Friends (feat. Shawn Colvin) - Wild Horses - Cayamo Sessions at Sea - New West

Buddy Miller - Freight Train - The Majestic Silver Strings - New West


Hour 2

Lee Harvey Osmond - Blue Moon Drive - Beautiful Scars - Latent

Jon Stickley Trio - Rice Dream - Lost At Last - Jon Stickley

Tony Rice - Me and My Guitar - Me and My Guitar - Rounder

case-lang-veirs - Atomic Number - case-lang-veirs - Anti/Epitaph

Trio (Emmylou Harris/Linda Ronstadt/Dolly Parton) - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind - Trio II (Two) - Asylum

Eileen Ivers (feat. Tim Shelton) - Walk On - Beyond the Bog Road - Entertainment One Music

Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands - Cowboy Jim - The Hazel and Alice Sessions - Spruce and Maple Music

Le Vent Du Nord - Le Vigneron - Tromper Le Temps - Borealis

Patty Griffin - There Isn't One Way - Servant of Love - PGM/Thirty Tigers

Anais Mitchell - Young Man In America - Young Man In America - Wilderland

The Suitcase Junket - Let Go - Dying Star (EP) - Signature Sounds

Patrick Street - Lynch's Barn Dance - Patrick Street - Green Linnet

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

Dori Freeman - Tell Me - Dori Freeman - Free Dirt

Eli West - Give Me Your Love & I'll Give You Mine - The Both - Eli West



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 PRX.org 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 40 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at FolkAlley.com, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077: Linda@folkalley.com

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:17 PM

Folk Alley presents 'Country: Portrait of an American Sound' at CIFF

March 14, 2016

Country-200.jpgFolk Alley presents three screenings of the documentary Country: Portraits of an American Sound at the 40th Cleveland International Film Festival. The film introduces photographers who have captured the essence of Country artists - in many ways establishing how Country music is perceived within pop culture. Read on for a Folk Alley ticket discount.

"Cowboy hats. Boots. Rhinestones. Johnny Cash's obsession with black. Dolly Parton's not-so-subtle dresses. These are just a few of the fashion phases that country music has inspired throughout the years. We often think of music only in terms of its sound, but its visual style can be just as integral to its appeal. This engaging documentary chronicles the history of the genre through the lenses of such notable photographers as Les Leverett, Raeanne Rubenstein, and Henry Diltz. It also features interviews with Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, LeAnn Rimes, The Band Perry, Tanya Tucker, Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Roseanne Cash, Marty Stuart, and Kenny Rogers (the latter two are actually skilled photographers themselves).

From its humble beginnings in the Appalachian Mountains, to the glitz and glamour of modern stars like Taylor Swift, country music has always maintained a large presence in American culture. As the film demonstrates, the artists who had the biggest influence were those who stayed true to themselves, giving the camera an honest glimpse of their souls. Country: Portraits of an American Sound tackles the beloved genre from another angle, making for one truly unique music documentary."

Country: Portraits of an American Sound will be screened three times:
Wednesday, April 6 at 6:45 p.m. at Tower City Cinemas
Thursday, April 7 at 9:20 a.m. at Tower City Cinemas
Saturday, April 9 at 4:15 p.m. at the Akron Art Museum (part of the Neighborhood Screenings series)

Regular ticket prices are $14 for CIFF members and $16 for non-members. By using the code "FOLK," Folk Alley members can receive a $2 discount on their CIFF tickets good for any Festival Film (unless otherwise specified). Members can purchase tickets online at www.clevelandfilm.org, through the Ulmer & Berne Film Festival Box Office in the lobby of Tower City Cinemas, or by phone at 877-304-FILM (3456).

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 12:07 PM

A Q & A with Laurie Lewis

March 10, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

laurielewis2011 squ 390.jpgIt was round-about 50 years ago that Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard started making the music that would blaze a trail for women in bluegrass. Taking cues from Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, Hazel and Alice broke the genre's glass ceiling for all who would come after them...Laurie Lewis, included. The singer/songwriter/producer dug deep for 'The Hazel and Alice Sessions,' and came up with a bunch of lesser-known gems. To really do it up, Lewis brought along her band, the Right Hands, as well as guest artists Linda Ronstadt, Aoife O'Donovan, Tatiana Hargreaves, and Alice Gerrard herself.

Kelly McCartney: Other than being the first women of bluegrass, what was it about Hazel and Alice that made them so special and influential -- for yourself and the broader music world?

Laurie Lewis: It may be that Hazel and Alice just met and started singing together at the right time to be considered the first women of bluegrass. I am sure that there were other women singing bluegrass before them, but I don't think they had been recorded, except for the 'Rose Maddox Sings Bluegrass album,' which came out in the early 1960s.

But what made that duo special, to me, was their adherence to the basic tenets of Bill Monroe's music: write personal songs, take songs from earlier country music artists, and transform them with bluegrass treatment, and just plain sing your heart out. Their songs were welcome additions to the bluegrass songbook, and their delivery made me believe in what they were singing about. I think that Hazel's and Alice's example inspired many women to try their hands in this male-dominated field.

What made this the right time to honor them in this way?

I would love to have thought about this album and recorded it while Hazel was still alive, but to tell you the truth, though I had previously recorded several of her songs, it didn't occur to me to do a full tribute to her and Alice until Tom Rozum suggested it last year. As soon as he proposed it, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I am a huge fan of Alice Gerrard's singing and writing, and had produced a recording for her a few years back ('Bittersweet'). Alice is still going strong at age 82, and shows no signs of slowing down, but we wanted to make sure that we didn't wait too long.

Nowadays, some of the arguably most exciting music in the bluegrass field is the work of young women, and for this happy reason, too, I wanted to acknowledge our foremothers.

How did you decide which songs to include on the project? Can we view this as a sort of Hazel and Alice primer?

We basically did songs we particularly liked, and also tried to steer away from the songs of their repertoire which have been covered often. That's why you won't hear "West Virginia, My Home" or "The Sweetest Gift" or "The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia." The repertoires of Hazel and Alice together and separately is so vast, that we could easily do a 'Sessions Volume 2.'

Talk about the guest artists... nabbing Linda Ronstadt was certainly a coup.

I met Linda when she, Maria Muldaur, and I were hired as the Bluebirds to put together a set for Wintergrass, a festival in Tacoma, Washington (now moved to Bellevue). I had no idea that Linda was familiar with my music, but she comes from a very musical family, and her brothers and cousins all sing some of my songs. She told me that, at family gatherings, they would often sing "Texas Bluebonnets" and my version of Kate Long's song, "Who Will Watch the Home Place." We really enjoyed singing together (I mean, I was in heaven!), and Linda then sang harmony on two songs on our band album, 'The Golden West.' Then, she offered to sing two more songs with me on my Bill Monroe tribute, 'Skippin' and Flyin'.' Linda was so generous with her music.

Linda and I had worked out "Pretty Bird" for the Bluebirds performance, and we were asked to contribute it to a Hazel Dickens benefit CD that was in the works on Rounder Records. This was about 12 years ago. The project got held up for various reasons, and then Hazel died. So far, Rounder hasn't released it, but they gave us permission to release our cut on this album. I'm very happy to say that Linda also chose it to include on her 'Duets' album, which came out in 2014.

What did it mean to you to have Alice's blessing and presence on the album?

Of course, it was very important to us that Alice like both the idea and the fact of the album. When I asked her if she might sing on "Working Girl Blues," her response was an immediate "yes." Alice was working at a music camp nearby in northern California, and we hurriedly recorded the basic tracks so that she could sing on it before she flew back home to North Carolina. It made me very, very happy to be able to include her voice on the CD.

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'The Hazel and Alice Sessions' is out now via Spruce and Maple Music and available at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates







Posted by Linda Fahey at 2:44 PM

A Q & A with Carrie Rodriguez

March 8, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

Carrie Rodriguez squ.jpgHaving bridged various cultural gaps her whole life, singer/songwriter/fiddler Carrie Rodriguez feels right at home constructing the same sort of unifying structures with her music. Rodriguez does so by reaching back into her family's history and her culture's heritage to find the perfect bilingual voice to inhabit the recently released 'Lola.' Her open-armed, heartfelt artistic vision was brought to life with help from producer Lee Townsend, bassist Viktor Krauss, drummer Brannen Temple, and guitarists Bill Frisell, Luke Jacobs, and David Pulkingham.

Kelly McCartney: You've said you kind of imagine "Lola" as an alter-ego or a character you step into. What are the primary differences between you two? What freedoms does that shift allow?

Carrie Rodriguez: Singing in Spanish requires me to tap into a different part of myself, especially when I'm singing some of these dramatic, classic Ranchera tunes. The lyrics are so heavy duty that I need to sing with as much raw emotion as I can muster or the songs just don't work. So when I refer to "Lola" as being an alter-ego, I'm drawing inspiration from the great Mexican artist Lola Beltran who was not only extremely expressive with her voice (and would often cry in song), but also with her hands... so beautiful.

Some of my songs in English, especially the ballads that I do, are quite understated. They require me to get inside of a song in an intimate, quiet way, which can be very moving, as well. But yes -- in terms of freedoms -- when I become "Lola," I'm definitely wearing my emotions on my sleeve for all to hear... at full volume... and there is a lot of freedom in that kind of expression!

How deeply did you dig into your great aunt's work -- and other, similar artists -- to tease out that side of your artistry?

I've spent quite a few years (probably over a decade) listening to my great aunt's music. I would especially love to put it on when I was alone and sing along while dancing around the house. But only in the past couple of years did I start discovering some of the other artists of her era... both singers and songwriters. Agustin Lara and Cuco Sanchez are two of my favorite writers. As for my favorite vocalists... I've shed many a tear sitting on the couch listening to Chavela Vargas -- not many singers are brave enough to be as vulnerable as she is. So raw and emotive. I've also learned a lot about the art of singing from listening to Lola Beltran, Javier Solis, Pedro Vargas, and Lucho Gatica.

"Z" proves that inspiration can truly come from anywhere. What's the most surprising place you ever found a song?

On a frozen lake in Minnesota.

Considering the current divisiveness in America, do you feel that releasing a bilingual record with political leanings is risky, reflective, or somewhere in between?

I didn't set out to make any kind of political statement with this music; it is simply a reflection of my own personal journey of growing up as a half gringa/half chicana fiddle -laying country singer. That being said, if this record spurs on a few uncomfortable conversations, I see no risk in that. I think music is always going to be a uniting force, and we need it more than ever during these times.

The Sacred Hearts band... those are some real-deal players. How did it feel to have that kind of musical support for the project?

I had dreamed of this particular group of musicians playing this music from the very beginning, and to have it all come to fruition was nothing short of magical. In the recording sessions, everyone had their ears and hearts wide open. We ebbed and flowed. We played off of each other and, as a result, all the performances we used are entire live takes. In fact, I never even had to redo any of the vocals. That's a first for me. I was also six-and-a-half months pregnant when we recorded, which added an extra layer of mojo. My baby would be dancing around in my belly every time I had the headphones on and the band was grooving.

###

'Lola' is out now via Luz Records and is available at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates






Posted by Linda Fahey at 8:18 PM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160303

March 7, 2016

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160303. Aired between March 4 - March 10, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour 1 (featuring our in-studio session with The Cactus Blossoms from the 30A Songwriters Festival)


Martin Sexton - Gypsy Woman - Black Sheep - Eastern Front

Sam Pacetti - Cannonball Rag - Origins - Waterbug

Pokey LaFarge - Underground - Something In the Water - Rounder

Lucinda Williams - It's Nobody's Fault But Mine - God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson - Alligator

Blind Willie Johnson - God Moves On the Water - Praise God I'm Satisfied - Yazoo

The Infamous Stringdusters (feat. Mary Chapin Carpenter) - Coming Back To You - Ladies & Gentlemen - Compass

John Prine - Come Back To Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard - Great Days: The John Prine Anthology - Rhino

The Cactus Blossoms - Mississippi - Folk Alley Exclusive - Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

The Cactus Blossoms - Clown Collector - Folk Alley Exclusive - Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

The Cactus Blossoms - Powder Blue - Folk Alley Exclusive - Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

Mavis Staples - Take Us Back - Livin' On A High Note - Anti

Lake Street Dive (live) - You Go Down Smooth - Another Day Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis - Nonesuch

Carrie Rodriguez - La Ultima Vez - Lola - Luz Records

Jimmy LaFave - This Land - Cimmarron Manifesto - Red House


Hour 2

Dylan LeBlanc - Look How Far We've Come - Cautionary Tale - Single Lock

Beppe Gambetta & Tony McManus - Bonnie Mulligan's - Round Trip - Borealis

Dori Freeman - You Say - Dori Freeman - Free Dirt

Townes Van Zandt - Pancho and Lefty - Rear View Mirror - Sugar Hill

The Stray Birds - Loretta - Echo Sessions (EP) - The Stray Birds

Buddy Miller & Friends (feat. Richard Thompson) - Wedding Bells - Cayamo Sessions at Sea - New West

Buddy Miller & Friends (feat. Kacey Musgraves) - Love's Gonna Live Here Again - Cayamo Sessions at Sea - New West

Nick Drake - Road - Pink Moon (1972) - Hannibal

Rokia Traore - Kenia - Ne So - Nonesuch

Mumford & Sons - Timshel - Sigh No More - Glassnote Entertainment

Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks - That Ain't Right - Selected Shorts - Surfdog

Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks - Long Come A Viper - Return to Hicksville: Best of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, The Blue Thumb Years 1971-1973 - Hip-O

Solas (feat. Karan Casey) - Not Alone - All These Years - THL Records

The Alt - Geese In the Bog / Covering Ground - The Alt - Under the Arch Records

Glen Hansard - Winning Streak - Didn't He Ramble - ANTI



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 PRX.org 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 40 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at FolkAlley.com, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077: Linda@folkalley.com

Posted by Linda Fahey at 6:36 PM

Video Premiere: Jon Stickley Trio, "Rice Dream"

March 3, 2016

by Elena See, for FolkAlley.com

jonstickleytrio_creditheatherhambor_2015 500 SQ.jpgIn "Rice Dream," a tune you'll find on the Jon Stickley Trio's newest recording 'Lost at Last,' the name of the game is harmonics. Jon Stickley's guitar harmonics and Lyndsay Pruett's violin harmonics twine seamlessly together, creating an almost otherworldly atmosphere and the end result is a bit unnerving in its intensity.

Stickley and Pruett toss melodic themes back and forth, taking turns leading and following (check out the haunting call and response that happens around 2 minutes in), and they're beautifully set up and pushed along by Patrick Armitage's nonstop percussive pulse. His aggressive rhythm keeps "Rice Dream" from becoming too dreamy.

There are definitely dream-like elements in the video for "Rice Dream" - fingers that shimmer and glitter, shadows that fade in and out, unexpected bright spots and blurry shapes that you can't quite make out. The whole experience is like waking from a dream you can't shake off, the kind of dream that leaves you a little muddled for the rest of the day.

That's what inspired Jon Stickley to write the tune - a dream he couldn't shake. He woke up one morning thinking about one of his heroes, the great Tony Rice. Sitting at the table with a hot cup of coffee, bleary-eyed and trying to remember just what, exactly, the dream was all about, Stickley focused on a container of the lactose-free milk product that was right in front of his eyes. It's called "Rice Dream" and...well, there it was. A new tune started running through his head.

Tony Rice had a (dream) hand in the concept of the "Rice Dream" video, too. Stickley was inspired (not consciously) by the album art for Tony Rice's 'Manzanita.'

###

'Lost at Last' is out now and available at iTunes and Amazon.com

Upcoming tour dates


Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:09 AM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160225

March 2, 2016

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160225. Aired between February 26 - March 3, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour 1 (featuring our session with Shawn Mullins, recorded at the 2016 30A Songwriters Festival)

Kate Campbell - Greensboro - The K.O.A. Tapes (Vol.1) - Large River

Susie Glaze & the Hilonesome Band - Independence - Not That Kind of Girl - Hi Lonesome

Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet - Midnight Moonlight - Quartet - Rounder

Luther Dickinson - Mean Ol' Wind Died Down - Blues & Ballads (A Folksinger's Songbook) Volumes I & II - New West

Memphis Minnie - Down By the Riverside - I Ain't No Bad Girl - Portrait

Shawn Mullins - Ferguson - Folk Alley Sessions, Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

Shawn Mullins - My Stupid Heart - Folk Alley Sessions, Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

Shawn Mullins - Pre-Apocalyptic Blues - Folk Alley Sessions, Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

Birds of Chicago - Color of Love - Real Midnight - Five Head Entertainment

Tommy Emmanuel - El Vaquero - It's Never Too Late - CGP Sounds / Thirty Tigers

Leonard Cohen - Suzanne - The Best Of - CK

David Wax Museum - Yes, Maria, Yes - Everything Is Saved - David Wax Museum

The Cactus Blossoms - Adios Maria - You're Dreaming - Red House


Hour 2

Dori Freeman - Fine Fine Fine - Dori Freeman - Free Dirt

Matt Flinner Trio - Hide Nor Hair - Traveling Roots - Compass

Rokia Traore - Obike - Ne So - Nonesuch

Tom Waits - The Soul of a Man - God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson - Alligator

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi - Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning - God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson - Alligator

Blackie & the Rodeo Kings - Gotta Stay Young - South - Blackie & the Rodeo Kings

Lee Harvey Osmond - Dreams Come and Go - Beautiful Scars - Latent

The Infamous Stringdusters (feat. Sarah Jarosz) - Won't Be Long - Ladies & Gentlemen - Compass

Ray Wylie Hubbard - Mr. Musselwhite's Blues - The Ruffian's Misfortune - Bordello

Eliza Gilkyson - Coast - Hard Times in Babylon - Red House

Mark Erelli - For A Song - For A Song - Hillbilly Pilgrim Music

Barnstar! - Flaming Red - Sit Down! Get Up! Get Out! - Signature Sounds

Lucinda Williams - House of Earth - The Ghosts of Highway 20 - Highway 20 Records

Joshua Hyslop - Gone - In Deepest Blue - Nettwerk



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 PRX.org 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 40 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at FolkAlley.com, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077: Linda@folkalley.com

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:34 AM

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