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Video Premiere: Parsonsfield, "Stronger"

July 26, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Parsonsfield_Press ps resize.jpgA lot of string bands like to talk about how they are innovating, but Parsonsfield actually delivers on that promise. Not only does their sound kick out the windows of what most people think of folk and bluegrass, but their new video raises a flag for the millennial generation. In it, a couple texts the lyrics of the song "Stronger" back and forth, as if in a dialogue.

The on-point simplicity of the opening lines sets the stage: "When you were mine and I was yours, when both of our keys opened up the same door, there was love in our hearts, in our clothes on the floor," Chris Freeman sings over a gently picked guitar, adding, "Love used to be fun. It became such a chore." From there, the track builds in the typically fierce Parsonsfield fashion.

Sometimes, the breeze whispers a message of meaning, quiet and true. And, sometimes, the barn needs to be burned to the ground in order to get the point across. On "Stronger" (found on their upcoming release Blooming Through the Black) Parsonsfield takes both tacks to deliver their dispatch... and one helluva song.


Blooming Through the Black will be released via Signature Sounds on September 9th.

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 8:59 AM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160721

July 24, 2016

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160721. Aired between July 22 - July 28, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

This episode (#160721) is a rebroadcast of a show first heard in July of 2015 featuring our in-studio Folk Alley Session with Amy Helm & Handsome Strangers.

Artist - Title - Album - Label

(Hour ONE)

Mavis Staples - Fight - Your Good Fortune (EP) - ANTI

Son Little - The River - The River (Single) - Anti

The Earnest Lovers - San Andeas' Fault - Sing Sad Songs (EP) - Elko

Norman Blake - Savannah Rag - Wood, Wire & Words - Plectrofone

Bob Dylan - Someday Baby - Tell Tale Signs - Columbia

Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers (in-studio) - Sky's Falling - Folk Alley in-studio session - Folk Alley/WKSU exclusive

Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers (in-studio) - Deep Water - Folk Alley in-studio session - Folk Alley/WKSU exclusive

Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers (in-studio) - Rescue Me - Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers (in-studio) - Folk Alley in-studio session - Folk Alley/WKSU exclusive

Kacey Musgraves - Somebody To Love - Pageant Material - Mercury Nashville

Jefferson Airplane - Embryonic Journey - Surrealistic Pillow - RCA/BMG

Charlie Parr - Delia - Stumpjumper - Red House

Patty Griffin - Love Throw a Line - Impossible Dream - ATO/BMG

Nick Drake - Which Will - Pink Moon - Hannibal

(Hour TWO)

John Hartford - Gum Tree Canoe - Gum Tree Canoe - FlyingFish

Black Prairie - For the Love of John Hartford - A Tear In the Eye Is A Wound In the Heart - Sugar Hill

Robert Earl Keen - Steam Powered Aeroplane - Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions - Dualtone

Rod Picott - Elbow Grease - Fortune - Welding Rod

Kasey Chambers - Heaven or Hell - Bittersweet - Sugar Hill

Brindl - Just What I Needed - Love It Up - Brindl

Maria Muldaur - Somebody Was Watching Over Me - I'm A Woman - ShoutFact.

Hot Rize - Clary Mae - When I'm Free - Ten In Hand

Tim O'Brien - I've Endured - Traveler - Sugar Hill

Old Man Luedecke - Wait A While - Domestic Eccentric - True North

Samantha Crain - Kathleen - Under Branch & Thorn & Tree - Ramseur Records (Thirty

Kaia Kater - Valley Forge - Sorrow Bound - Kingswood

The Decemberists - The Wrong Year - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World - Capitol

The Steeldrivers - Long Way Down - The Muscle Shoals Recordings - Rounder

The Honey Dewdrops - Lowlands - Tangled Country - The Honey Dewdrops

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or directly from WKSU 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 approximately 50 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:38 PM

Album Review: Lori McKenna, 'The Bird & The Rifle

July 21, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Lori McKenna 300x300 The Bird & the Rifle copy.jpgWhen talents as enormous as Lori McKenna and Dave Cobb come together in a studio, the resulting record is bound to be special. Exhibit A: The Bird & The Rifle. Both music-makers have been riding high lately, with hit records and Grammy Awards to spare. But, if any two folks ever deserved such accolades, it's these two.

The secret to McKenna's success is that she understands that life -- and, therefore, art -- is all about the details. The real stuff happens in the space between the breaths, the calm between the storms, and the quiet between the words. That's where she lives (along with her husband and five children) so it's also where she creates. In McKenna's hands, the often arduous daily toil gets sculpted into magnificent vignettes.

Even when McKenna takes a hard look at long-term commitment, as she does so wondrously in the album's opener, "Wreck You," she makes the lack of romanticism somehow romantic. And Cobb's intuitive production -- the gently soaring strings, in particular -- lets the piece lean over and peer into the abyss of what a collapsing marriage can be, while still keeping it from falling into any sort of despair. The story's resolution is left for another day, but the listener might easily imagine that the singer's resolve will get the couple through the darkness and back to the light.

That same matter-of-fact handling works to great effect as McKenna prattles off the poignant check-list that is "Humble and Kind." With another singer -- let's say Tim McGraw, just for argument's sake -- the tune could go from sentimental to saccharin in four bars flat. But McKenna packs the punch of several decades as a mother and each line was written for one of her kids, so her grasp of the material is steeped in authenticity.

Other highlights include the breezy vibe of "We Were Cool," the Mary Chapin Carpenter feel of "All These Things," the thoughtful sway of "Old Men Young Women," and the telling shuffle of "Giving Up on Your Hometown." Really, though, there's nary a missed shot anywhere in the set.


'The Bird & the Rifle' is out on July 29 via CN Records/Thirty Tigers and available now for pre-order at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 3:32 PM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160714

July 18, 2016

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160714. Aired between July 15 - July 21, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

(Hour One)

Sara Watkins - Say So - Young In All The Wrong Ways - New West

Bela Fleck - Katmandu - Tales From An Acoustic Planet Volume 2 - Warner Bros

Sam Bush (w/ Allison Krauss) - Lefty's Song - Storyman - Sugar Hill

Bryan Sutton - Walkin' Across This Land - The More I Learn - Sugar Hill

The Earls of Leicester - The Train That Carried My Girl From Town - Rattle & Roar - Rounder

John Gorka - I Know - Before Beginning: The Unreleased I Know - Nashville, 1985 - Red House Records

John Gorka - I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair - Before Beginning: The Unreleased I Know - Nashville, 1985 - Red House Records

Lula Wiles - Traveling On - Lula Wiles - Lula Wiles

Robert Earl Keen - The Traveling Storm - What I Really Mean - Koch

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - The Traveling Kind - The Traveling Kind - Nonesuch Records

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

Leo Kottke - The Driving of the Year Nail - 6 and 12 String Guitar - Takoma

David Francey - Big Texas Moon - Empty Train - Laker Music

Sarah Jarosz - Jaqueline - Undercurrent - Sugar Hill

The Milk Carton Kids - Snake Eyes - The Ash & Clay -Anti

(Hour Two)

Miss Tess - Little Lola - Baby, We All Know - Miss Tess Music

Fiddle & Banjo (Karrnel Sawitsky & Daniel Koulack) - Lullaby - Fiddle & Banjo Tunes From North, Songs From The South - Sawitsky & Koulack

The Alt - What Put The Blood - The Alt - Under The Arch

Grant Dermody - So Sorry To Leave You - Sun Might Shine On Me - Grant Dermody

The Honeycutters - Let's Get Drunk - On The Ropes - Organic Records

Neko Case, kd lang, and Laura Veirs - Georgia Stars - case/lang/veirs - Anti/Epitaph

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Little Black Star - Look Out Mama - Born To Win

Nick Drake - Hanging On A Star - Made to Love Magic - Island

Linda Ronstadt/Ann Savoy - Walk Away Renee - Adiue False Heart - Vanguard

Linda Ronstadt/Ann Savoy - Adiue False Heart - Adiue False Heart - Vanguard

Mountain Heart - I Can't Get Over You - Blue Skies - Compass

Darrell Scott - Alton Air - A Crooked Road - Full Light

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley - Friend of the Devil - The Country Blues.

Steve Martin & Edie Brickell - Another Round - So Familiar - Rounder/Compass

Paul Simon - In A Parade - Stranger to Stranger - Concord

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or directly from WKSU 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 approximately 50 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:39 PM

Hear It First: John Gorka, 'Before Beginning: The Unreleased 'I Know' - Nashville, 1985'

July 15, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Gorka Before Beginning.jpgIt's a fascinating exercise to step back in time some 31 years to a now-iconic artist's humble beginnings. But such is the case with John Gorka's "new" release -- Before Beginning: The Unreleased I Know -- which collects the 1985 recordings Gorka did over the course of five days in Nashville at Cowboy Jack Clements' studio with producer Jim Rooney. At Nanci Griffith's suggestion, the 25-year-old folkie ventured into his first sessions with some of the top players in Music City. The resulting work was never released, and Gorka would spend another two years making what would become his debut, I Know, which includes nine of the same songs.

The original record featured Kenny Malone on drums/percussion, Dave Pomeroy on bass, Jay Patten on saxophone, Mike Dugan on electric guitar, Ralph Vitello and Biff Watson on keyboards, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and mandolin, and Shawn Colvin and Lucy Kaplansky on backing vocals.

Looking back from here, Gorka confesses, "I can only say that I was finding my way. I had played solo live almost exclusively and I had not made an album or ever done a studio recording with other players. I guess I just didn't know what I wanted to hear. I know now that there is more than one right way to present a song. In that way songs are bigger than any one recording of a song. It was good. It just wasn't the good I wanted at the time."


Before Beginning: The Unreleased 'I Know' will be out on July 22 via Red House Records and is available for pre-order at iTunes and at

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:10 AM

Album Review: Ana Egge & the Sentimentals, 'Say That Now'

July 13, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

AnaEgge_400_SayThatNow_albumcover-copy copy.jpgAna Egge is no stranger to collaboration. On her last outing, 2015's 'Bright Shadow,' she partnered with the Stray Birds. On her new set, 'Say That Now,' she nabbed The Sentimentals, a folk-rock band from Denmark. The Danes provide a wonderfully complementary mooring for Egge's buoyant voice, whether they're working through the bluesy rock of "Take Off My Dress" and "Spider" or the folkish country of "Promises to Break" and "Still Waters Run Deep."

There's a lot to love about this record, and there's also a good bit to think about. "He's a Killer Now" takes the perspective of the 2015 Copenhagen terrorist's mother in the wake of his death and killing of two others. Further into the set, "Away We Go" reflects on the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by a police officer. And she's not pulling any punches: "You're a real-life villain. Yeah, you definitely killed him. Then you took everything that he was and broke it on the TV channel. Justice won't do it, if you're not born into it. You can put up your hands behind your back upon the ground and shut your mouth."

In an era when so many folk singers focus more on the personal than the political, Egge has tied the two strands together in ways that recall Joan Baez from the past and Hurray for the Riff Raff from the present. That, alone, is worth supporting, but Say That Now offers even more.

'Say That Now' is available at iTunes and CD Baby.

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:30 AM

Video Premiere: Lula Wiles, "Traveling On"

July 6, 2016

300 sq Lula Wiles.jpgAll the members of Lula Wiles - Isa Burke, Ellie Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin - grew up in Maine in musical families, and they began playing music together as kids at Maine Fiddle Camp. One by one, they each found their way to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. Isa and Ellie (both on vocals, fiddle, and guitar) began performing as a duo in April 2013, and Lula Wiles was born when Mali (bass, vocals) joined the band a year later.

Their effervescent vocal harmonies, musical chemistry and evocative arrangements create a dynamic and spirited live show as they pass around instruments and frontwoman duties with style and ease.

As part of Beehive Production's 'Ear To the Ground' mini-documentary style video series, Lula Wiles recently paid a visit to Saranac Lake, NY for a session taping featuring songs from their self-titled debut album (available here) released in May, 2016.

Lula Wiles - Traveling On from Beehive Productions on Vimeo.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:55 PM

A Q & A with Sarah Jarosz

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

275 squ Sarah Jarosz pr2016 500 copy.jpgThe talent that Sarah Jarosz wields is truly something to behold. Like some of her peers -- Sierra Hull, Parker Millsap, Mipso, and others -- the width and depth of what she has done and will yet do is a little bit mind-boggling. And her gorgeous new album, Undercurrent, warrants even further acclaim as it plumbs depths not previously explored by the roots music phenom.

Kelly McCartney: The new record has been cited by critics as being a bit darker, perhaps a bit heartier, than records past. Is that a fair estimation? Why or why not?

Sarah Jarosz: Yes, I would say that is a fair estimation. Even though this is my fourth record, it feels like there were a lot of firsts for me, in terms of the process of writing and recording this time around. For one, it's the first record I've made while not also simultaneously being in high school or college. It's the first record I've made since moving to New York City. And it's the first record of mine that doesn't have any covers on it. The fact that it's all original music makes it feel like the most personal album I've made so far.

I went into the studio with this batch of songs wanting to capture them in as sparse of a manner as we could, and to me the record feels like it's anchored around the four solo performances throughout. A lot of the imagery on the record is inspired by my time in New York City, but also there are themes of water throughout. This sense of the tide changing, feeling one way and then another, grappling with the desire to look back but ultimately wanting to look forward. There's a darkness in there, for sure, but I think the record also contains a sense of hopefulness in trying to push through those ever-changing feelings.

Considering the rave reviews 'Bones' received, what kinds of pressure -- internal or external -- did you feel going into the making of this record?

After touring the music from Build Me Up from Bones for a couple of years, it became apparent that I needed to have the chance to step away from my own project for a bit and get involved in some really exciting collaborations. I did a collaborative tour with the Milk Carton Kids at the end of 2014. Singing three-part harmonies with those guys every night was quite the transcendent experience.

From there, I was honored to get to perform on A Prairie Home Companion quite often, which eventually led to being invited to sing on Garrison's America the Beautiful tour which lasted a whole month last August. Getting to work with Garrison in that close proximity for an entire month was priceless. Our shows on that tour would often be three-plus hours long, and they were never the same twice. He was constantly writing and revising and trying to make things better, and I was just ultra inspired by that.

And on top of that, I started a new band with Sara Watkins and Aoife O'Donovan called I'm With Her which has truly been a joy to dive into and write and perform with those women, whom I just hold in the highest regard. All of those collaborations allowed me to approach my own music in a refreshed, inspired way. Especially with Sara and Aoife, having the opportunity to suddenly be a team member, an equal player in a band, really pushed me as a singer, and I think made me a better listener on stage and in the writing and arranging process.

So, going into this album, I didn't really feel pressure, I just felt renewed with this new-found sense of inspiration from having the opportunity to take a step away and think, "What is it I really want to write about?!" With school, my schedule hadn't really allowed for that kind of full-time level of attention to my music, and I think because I was able to have that, I felt more present for the making of this record than ever before.

Which song, to you, is the head of the set and which one the heart?

That's a tough one... hard to narrow it down to just two because this whole record really feels like one concise statement to me. But, I suppose that "House of Mercy" would have to be the head and "Jacqueline" would be the heart. "House of Mercy" was a co-write with Jedd Hughes, who will now be joining me on the road to play guitar and sing harmony, which I couldn't be more thrilled about! There's a darkness in that song -- a headstrong sensibility throughout. "Jacqueline" is inspired by my time spent walking around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. I was reading about her and, on the Central Park website, it says that that was the last place she was ever seen in public before she passed away. I was really inspired by that image of her, combined with all of my time spent by the water there. At the end of the song, there's a glimmer of hope: "Maybe in a little while I'll feel alright." To me, that felt like the appropriate sentiment to end on.

What did attending the New England Conservatory of Music bring to your work?

NEC really gave me the chance to expand my musical palette. I listened to a lot of music growing up, but hadn't really dipped my toes into most things jazz-oriented or world music-leaning. I had done a little bit of that at the Mandolin Symposium, studying Choro mandolin songs with Mike Marshall and Irish tunes with Tim O'Brien, but that only made me more curious to want to learn new things.

I think there was also this feeling, after high school, of wanting something to be a bridge between high school and life, and not necessarily immediately hit the road full-time. So, I decided to head to Boston, where, even aside from NEC, there was, and still is, a thriving music scene. When I wasn't in school learning Abbey Lincoln tunes with Ran Blake or writing a 16th-century counterpoint line, I was writing music or traveling to play a gig or record. In retrospect, it was a lot on my plate at one time, but I'm so thankful for it all, and I think I came away from it with a more assured sense of my own work and a deeper musical pool to swim around in.


'Undercurrent' is out now on Sugar Hill Records and available at iTunes and

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 7:10 PM

A Q & A with Sean Watkins

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

300 sq SEAN-WATKINS-PRESS-PHOTO-449x303 copy 2.jpgMost folks in the roots music world are very familiar with Sean Watkins, if not through his years as one-third of Nickel Creek (alongside Chris Thile and his sister Sara) or his ongoing Watkins Family Hour project, then certainly through his solo records. The guitarist/singer/songwriter always seems to have new music pouring out. His latest solo set, What to Fear, adds yet another notch to his artistic belt. On it, he explores stories and themes previously uncharted in his career, and he does so with the same deft skill that he brings to all of his work.

Kelly McCartney: You sketch stories from a number of different characters on this album. What's your process for stepping out of yourself and into another?

Sean Watkins: It's always fun writing from another perspective. I don't know that I have a process; they just kind of tumble out that way sometimes. I think it's healthy to let go of all your own feelings, issues, and emotions every now and then and try to take on someone else's. I tend to write autobiographically, so lyrics like those in "What to Fear" and "I Am What You Want" give me a bit of a thrill and are really fun to sing.

Alternately, mining a song from a phrase, like you did with "Last Time for Everything," does that tap into a different approach?

Yeah, I've been writing song titles first a lot lately. It's fun to go about constructing a song in reverse order of what is typically done. I heard someone use that phrase -- "There's a last time for everything" -- and thought to myself, "Surely that phrase must have made its way into a (probably) cheesy sentimental country ballad." But upon some inspection, I didn't find much, so I started working on it. But I wanted to take it the opposite way of sad sentimentality and endings stuff. I wanted to celebrate the good endings and last times.

What does a solo record feed in you creatively that Family Hour, Nickel Creek, and your various other projects don't?

It's healthy and constructive to stand on your own two feet in art as in life. It's good because it reminds you who you are and lets the people around you know where you're at, too. And every time I've gone back into a band situation from a solo situation, it's always felt better because of the personal work I've done.

You've had record releases three years in a row now, plus touring. Is this an especially prolific, energized time for you? What would you do with a whole year off?

It doesn't feel prolific so much as it feels like I'm finally where I should be, creatively. I don't want to spread myself too thin, but I have a lot to say and many musical experiments on my list of things to try. I'm going to keep up this pace, whatever that means. I wouldn't know what to do with a year off. That sounds like hell to me. Ha!

Did you have an artistic vision going into the studio that you, then, recruited bassist Mike Elizondo and drummer Matt Chamberlain plus the Bee Eaters to fulfill? Or was it more collaborative once you got in the room with them?

I had two very different visions of what this record could be, going into making it. One was to make the whole record with the Bee Eaters, an amazing string band from Northern California whom I love playing with. The other was to do it with the rhythm section of Matt Chamberlain on drums and Mike Elizondo on bass. Individually, they are both huge heroes of mine and, playing together, they are just insane.

So I picked four songs that I felt would represent the whole album and recorded them in both scenarios. After that, I overdubbed the Bee Eaters onto the versions I did with Mike and Matt. The combined version ended up being the best, and that vibe and aesthetic ended up shaping how I made the rest of the record.


Sean Watkins' 'What To Fear' is out now on Family Hour Records and is available at iTunes and

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 6:28 PM

Hear It First: Chaim Tannenbaum's debut self-titled album

May 23, 2016

by Cindy Howes,

chaimtannenbaum_cover 400.jpgA debut album at the age of 68 is quite unusual for a lifelong musician, but for the Montreal-born, Chaim Tannenbaum, it never felt right until recently.

"I suppose you need a very good reason to do something, but no very good reason not to do something... There's no reason really, for which I didn't make a record. You wake up Monday morning and you think "Should I make a record today?" and the answer is "No!" and you wake up Tuesday and you have the same answer."

Tannenbaum has become somewhat of an underground folk legend, particularly to the tight-knit scene in Montreal and for followers of The McGarrigle Sisters (Kate and Anna) and Loudon Wainwright III. He met Kate and Anna when he was sixteen and began playing music socially with them. Tannenbaum went on to pursue a career in teaching philosophy while Kate and Anna started playing and recording professionally. After teaching in London (where he became friends with Loundon Wainwright III), he ended up a professor at Dawson College in Montreal for over three decades. The McGarrigles and Wainwright always included him on tours and recording projects when his teaching schedule allowed. Aside from a scrapped Hannibal Records project from the 1990's, Tannenbaum never had the desire to record even though friends and fans pleaded with him to do so.

Knowing his history is not important when hearing this record. The music has the same uplifting effect for a folk music fan. Tannenbaum's love for Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Sonny Terry shines through in an album filled with mostly traditional folk songs. This feels and sounds like an all-important historical recording from someone who has lived and breathed folk music for decades. The difference in knowing the history when hearing the music is that you cannot detect any sense of fatigue or cynicism from Tannenbaum. This is an extremely gifted musician who saved all his youthful love and musical splendor for this album.

Tannenbaum's purity rings through alongside beautiful sparse instrumentation that could score a Wes Anderson film. The whimsical, but not overwhelming, horn and woodwinds in the epic "London Longing For Home" (one of three original Tannenbaum compositions), bring alive the emotions that come with being homesick in gray London. Looking through the credits is an impressive list of gathered friends from Loundon Wainwright III to newcomer Margaret Glaspy. One name not among the performers is, of course, his friend, the late Kate McGarrigle, who died six years ago. He does, however, pay tribute to his dear friend by recording one of her songs, "(Talk to Me of) Mendocino". The song is an interesting and appropriate choice in that it is from the point of view of someone saying goodbye to an old life and welcoming in a new one. If this album does not mark a new chapter of recording for Chaim Tannenbaum, it certainly is an important piece of work from one of the finest folk singers that you almost never heard of.


Chaim Tannenbaum's debut self-titled album is out May 27th via StorySound Records and is available now for pre-order at iTunes and

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:10 PM

Song Premiere: Jonah Tolchin, "Unless You Got Faith"

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for Folk Alley

Tolchin 400x400.jpgMatters of faith are seamlessly entwined with roots music, from old spirituals to classic soul to new blues. Singer/songwriter Jonah Tolchin's work always falls somewhere along that spectrum, occasionally leaning more this way or that. On "Unless You Got Faith," the lead track from his upcoming album, 'Thousand Mile Night' (due out on August 5,) Tolchin leans into all of the traditional wisdom and modern influences he can summon.

As a hammond organ leads the way, Tolchin outlines all the different kinds of faith we need to have in our lives in order to fully live: "Faith that he won't leave, faith that she won't lie, faith in the water, faith in the sky, faith in the choices that you learn to embrace... you can't love in this world unless you got faith." It's advice that pretty much everyone needs to hear and heed, at one point or another - including Tolchin.

"When I was working as the producer on Julie Rhodes debut album, 'Bound to Meet the Devil,' I wrote this song for her to sing. It was a message that I felt she needed to be singing to herself at the time," Tolchin says. "I found out afterward that it was a message I needed to be singing to myself, too. This song is not necessarily about the kind of faith that is talked about in religion, although it does apply."

Tolchin recorded 'Thousand Mile Night' at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with producer/multi-instrumentalist Marvin Etzioni. Players on the set include guitarist Lucas Hamren, drummer Michael Joel Bosco, and bassist Jamie McFarlane (son of Muscle Shoals musician Will McFarlane).


'Thousand Mile Night' is due out on August 5 via Yep Roc Records and is available now for pre-order at iTunes.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:36 PM

Singer-Songwriter Anais Mitchell Guest DJ on Folk Alley

May 20, 2016

by Ann VerWiebe, Folk Alley

anais-mitchell-sq.jpgSinger-songwriter Anais Mitchell recently geeked-out host Cindy Howes by sitting in for her shift and "spinning" a few choice songs. Mitchell's new folk opera, Hadestown, opens officially Off-Broadway on May 23 after a decade of development, which also involved Anais touring behind her concept album of the project with a rotating group of guest artists.

Listen to the segment in hour 1 of Cindy's Folk Alley shift from Wednesday, May 18 and hear all about Anais' adventures with Hadestown, along with songs from the show and cuts by her friends, like touring buddies Patty Griffin and Sara Watkins!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:43 PM

Song Premiere: Wonky Tonk, "Suitors"

May 18, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Suitors Wonky Tonk.jpgA lot of chatter has filled the country music void for quite a while now, folks arguing about what's real and what's not. But as artists like Brandy Clark, Chris Stapleton, Ashley Monroe, Margo Price, Kacey Musgraves, and others break through various ceilings and kick down random doors, the argument about a lack of "real" country music is left, well, lacking. Add indie upstarts like Dori Freeman, Andrew Combs, Sam Outlaw, Tami Neilson, and Sam Morrow to that list, and the contrary position is all but erased.

And then comes along Wonky Tonk (aka Jasmine Poole) to further broaden the field with what she calls a "punk cowgirl aesthetic" on her debut album, 'The Stuff We Leave Behind,' which dropped last year. The set was a long time coming from the Kentucky singer/songwriter who is already back on track with more music and taking her cues from the greatest of the greats on her new single, "Suitors."

As Poole tells it, "Inspired by Dolly and Loretta's no-nonsense flavor of country songwriting, 'Suitors' was written in response to the influx of people talking jive following the release of my debut LP, 'The Stuff We Leave Behind.' After the release, I had friends, strangers, and the people in between projecting their needs and wants on me, with the elusive understanding that I was supposed to carry it since I put myself out as a performer.'

"Basically, 'Suitors' is a tune describing the toll that performing, especially as a woman, takes on one's psyche and social life -- where you have to balance being your character, as well as keeping yourself whole, while also remaining open for listeners to give and take what they need without leaving yourself bereft."


"Suitors" is available now via iTunes.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:03 PM

A Q & A with Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones

May 13, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones 400.jpgSometimes, two artists come together out of nowhere and, as great as the parts might be, the whole is even greater. That's just what happened with Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones. The singer/songwriters discovered a shared love of a classic sound and set about crafting a collection of their own. Through 'Little Windows,' Thompson and Jones give us a glimpse into a simpler musical time, when affairs of the heart needed not more than three minutes to work themselves out.

Kelly McCartney: What's the key to writing classic-sounding, highly versatile tunes? Simple, timeless themes, certainly. But what are the musical secrets involved?

Teddy Thompson: You need to be concise! All of our songs are two-and-a-half minutes long, so you can't waste a word or a bar. It helped to have three writers. We were able to bounce everything off each other and be sure it was good enough and spoke to all of us.

Kelly Jones: I agree, and also think you need to maintain a harmonic simplicity in the chords you choose and deviate to something more clever only in select moments or sections. More musical interest can be created through how you use those chords rhythmically, or in the instrumental hooks throughout, but ultimately the music should support a very singable and memorable melody.

How is it that all the great love songs have yet to be written? Is that ever a concern?

Teddy Thompson: I don't think that all the great love songs have yet to be written. I feel like most of them have already been written. It's all been done before. It's hard to come up with something new!

Kelly Jones: One of the ongoing challenges as a songwriter is to get away from what now are well-worn clich├ęs in love songs. There are countless beautiful love songs out there, but I think the best new love songs access something true and specific about our human experience in a unique way. The heartbreaking love song "Whiskey and You" by Chris Stapleton is a great example of this for me.

Within the era, style, and craft that you guys looked to, who would you say are the masters... and why?

Teddy Thompson: Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly. We tried to work the way they did. Quickly, to the point, heartbreaking and hopefully a touch witty to boot.

Kelly Jones: Yes, and Dolly Parton, too. She sings about profoundly moving truths, in deceptively simple ways.

Forget the three-minute pop song, you guys got down to two minutes on some of these. Obviously, every song has different needs, but if there were a magic number for the perfect song length, what would it be?

Teddy Thompson: I'd say three minutes. I like the idea that we shaved 30 seconds off the best time, though!

Kelly Jones: Yes, I've been raised in the three minute school of songwriting, too. Just short enough to hopefully inspire an instant repeat!

How rare is it to find two voices that blend so readily and so beautifully -- particularly when they come from such different musical backgrounds? And what is it about your voices that works so well?

Teddy Thompson: We are actually very different singers with very different voices. We got lucky that we were able to find a good blend. It's an intangible thing. A magical thing at times.

Kelly Jones: It's quite rare (in my experience) no matter what the singers' backgrounds are. It helps that Teddy and I admire the same kinds of vocal performances. I think it inspires us sing from a similar emotional place.


'Little Windows' is out now via Cooking Vinyl and available at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:35 AM

A Q & A with Penny & Sparrow

April 28, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for Folk Alley

Penny and Sparrow.jpgThe two gents who comprise Penny and Sparrow -- Kyle Jahnke and Andy Baxter -- didn't set out to be musicians. They were living together with a bunch of other guys in a house during college and, basically, stumbled into an artistic collaboration that worked... really, really well. With Jahnke focusing on guitar and Baxter leaning into vocals, the alt-folk duo has emerged to much critical acclaim with their lovely new Let a Lover Drown You release.

Kelly McCartney: Being late-comers to playing guitar and writing songs -- having sort of fallen into music as a career -- do you think that takes some of the pressure off? Or are the stakes just as high now that you're in it?

Kyle Jahnke: I would say that the pressure is off. We just love writing songs. I just didn't know I loved it until post-college! We are supremely grateful that music is our living, and I think it's hard to feel pressure because of that.

Kyle, as you deepen your guitar skills, what approach are you taking -- experimentation or tradition?

Kyle Jahnke: It ebbs and flows. I think both are important. Right now, I'm handling it in the most millennial of ways: watching YouTube lessons and videos of Paul Simon.

Andy, when you hear a lyric or read a passage that rocks you back on your heels, what's the take-away for you?

Andy Baxter: I keep multiple word banks written down at any given time in my journals and in text messages to myself. Any sentence or idea -- or even just one word -- that inspires me gets written down immediately. It happens (fairly often) that I'll take One Word and write a song around that. Anything that moves me immediately gets translated into fuel for writing songs or short stories.

What kind of freedoms -- and limitations -- are there in an acoustic duo?

Kyle Jahnke: I think that we are offered total freedom as an acoustic duo. It's really just giving us a chance to put two brains together to write the best songs we can write. Playing live, right now we are touring as a duo, but in six months we could be out with a full band or a string quartet. We just want to keep changing and pushing. I think the only limitation that we are experiencing is Andy's reluctance to dive deep in to the world of math-rock and free jazz.

You guys have cited Glenn Hansard and Justin Vernon (or their former projects) as influences. How do you feel as they both move in different artistic directions? Is that a bummer or an inspiration?

Kyle Jahnke: A total inspiration. We never want to make the same album twice. And it seems that is the case with both Glenn Hansard and Justin Vernon. They are part of the reason we know that it's possible to evolve and grow creatively. I'll always check out whatever they are working on. Also pretty sure their voices are actual butter.


'Let a Lover Drown You' is out now via Single Lock Records and available at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 8:00 AM

Video Premiere: Mark Erelli, "Look Up"

April 21, 2016

by Elena See, Folk Alley

ErelliSQ.jpgLife should be more than a series of grueling tasks and unrewarding, staid routines. Life should take your breath away with its wonders and joys and beauties. And, life certainly can do that - and how. But there's the catch: YOU have to be aware of what life is choosing to offer and share.

Mark Erelli's "Look Up," which you'll find on his new recording For a Song, is a reminder not to sleepwalk through our daily existence. It's also a song that suggests that maybe there's no difference between what is sacred and what is secular - maybe, deep down, we all dream the same dreams.

Watching Erelli sing this gorgeously crafted song, staring straight ahead, hardly blinking, and playing his guitar with the kind of quiet confidence that only comes from years and years of practice and performance, you're struck with the fact that he's telling a story he knows really, really well.

It's like one of those truths we all have - the thing we know so well, that's such an intrinsic part of us, that we'll never forget. This song, with its three-person point of view, with its comments about being aware of what's around us, and yet with its willingness to admit that maybe we don't really know what life is all about, is Mark Erelli's truth.

The album version of "Look Up" features some beautiful harmony vocals from Paula Cole on the chorus and a touch of subtle percussion as well. This version, presented with a very nicely mic-ed guitar, puts Erelli's well-traveled voice and his clever lyrics front and center and is just as affecting, if not more so, because of its stark simplicity.


Mark Erelli's album 'For a Song' is out now and available at iTunes and direct from Mark at his Bandcamp page.

Upcoming tour dates

Video produced by Beehive Productions in Saranac Lake, NY

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:33 AM

No Depression's Kim Ruehl Guest DJ on Folk Alley

April 15, 2016

by Linda Fahey, Folk Alley

No Depression Spring 2016 front-cover copy.jpgNo Depression Editor, Kim Ruehl recently sat in with Folk Alley host, Cindy Howes for a guest DJ segment. She and Cindy played some tunes highlighting a few artists that are featured in the upcoming 'Roots and Branches' Spring Edition of No Depression's print quarterly journal, due out May 2nd.

Listen to the segment in hour 1 of Cindy's Folk Alley shift from Wednesday, April 13th, and hear all about No Depression's triumphant return to print on a regular basis. We're very excited about this!

*During Folk Alley's Spring Fund Drive, happening now, you have a chance to win a copy of the Spring Edition of No Depression. They have generously donated 25 copies of the journal to our fundraiser, and everyone who makes a donation in support Folk Alley will be automatically entered for a chance to win. But it pays to enter early! Next week, starting on Monday (4/18) through the week until Friday (4/22), we'll pick five lucky winners each day who will win a copy of the journal.

Support Folk Alley HERE.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:54 AM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley's weekly nationally syndicated radio show #1600407

April 13, 2016

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #1600407. Aired between April 8 - April 15, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour 1 (featuring our in-studio session with Hayes Carll recorded at the 2016 30A Songwriters Festival)

Alison Krauss - I've Got That Old Feeling - I've Got That Old Feeling - Rounder

Solas - Unnamed Shetland Reel / Da New Rigged Ship - All These Years - THL

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Anyhow - Let Me Get By - Fantasy/Concord

Lonesome River Band - Boats Up the River - Bridging the Tradition - Mountain Home

Doc Watson - Deep River Blues - The Vanguard Years - Vanguard

Hayes Carll - Chances Are (in-studio) - Folk Alley Exclusive - Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

Hayes Carll - The Magic Kid (in-studio) - Folk Alley Exclusive - Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

Hayes Carll (feat. Allison Moorer) - Love Don't Let Me Down (in-studio) - Folk Alley Exclusive - Live from the 30A Songwriters Festival - Folk Alley Exclusive

Larry Keel - Miles and Miles - Experienced - Larry Keel

Keller & The Keels - Bath of Fire - thief - SCI Fidelity

Fortunate Ones - Solitary Sparks - The Bliss - Old Farm Pony

Tony Furtado - Iowa - The Bell - Yousayfurtado

Gillian Welch - Winter's Come and Gone - Hell Among the Yearlings - ALM Sounds

Hour Two

Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands - Train On the Island - The Hazel and Alice Sessions - Spruce and Maple

Elixir - Babe of the Night - Rampant - Elixir

Sam Bush - The Wizard of Oz - King of My World - Sugar Hill

Mary McPartlan - Hangman - From Mountain To Mountain - Claddagh

Steve Dawson - Hangman's Blues - Black Hen Music - Blackhen

Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones - Never Knew You Loved Me Too - Little Windows - Cooking Vinyl

Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones - Only Fooling - Little Windows - Cooking Vinyl

Carrie Rodriguez - I Dreamed I Was Lola Beltran - Lola - Luz

Lyle Lovett - They Don't Like Me - I Love Everybody - MCA

Terri Hendrix - The Texas Star - Love You Strong, Project 5.1 - Wilory

Malcolm Holcombe - Sweet Georgia - Another Black Hole - Green Eyes

Mr. Sun - The Fiddler's Boot - The People Need Light - Compass

Indigo Girls - Spread The Pain Around - One Lost Day - Vanguard

The Alt - Going For A Soldier Jenny / The Chandelier - The Alt - Under the Arch

Anuna - Dulaman - Omnis - Universal

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or via FTP for non-PRX members. Stations may air the show as either a one-, or two-hour program. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried by over 40 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:24 PM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160331

April 7, 2016

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160331. Aired between April 1 - April 7, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour 1

David Francey - Red-Winged Blackbird - Torn Screen Door - Laker Music

John Starling & Carolina Star - Irish Spring - Slidin' Home - Rebel

The Early Mays - Red Bud - The Early Mays - The Early Mays

Elephant Revival - Raindrops - Petals - Itz Evolving

Grateful Dead - Box of Rain - American Beauty - Warner Bros

Fortunate Ones - The Bliss - The Bliss - Old Farm Pony

The Once - All the Hours - Departures - Nettwerk Music Group

Hayes Carll - Love Is So Easy - Lovers and Leavers - Hwy 87

David Ramirez - New Way Of Living - Fables - Sweetworld

Jimmy Lafave - Buffalo Return to the Plains - Favorites 1992-2001 - Music Road

Terri Hendrix - Fifty Shades of Hey - Love You Strong, Project 5.1 - Wilory

The Lumineers - Ho Hey - The Lumineers - Dualtone

Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands - Who's That Knocking? - The Hazel and Alice Sessions - Spruce and Maple

Eileen Ivers - Farewell My Love and Remember Me - Beyond the Bog Road - Entertainment One

Town Mountain - Comin' Back To You - Southern Crescent - LoHi

Hour 2

Asleep at the Wheel (feat. Devil Makes Three) - Bubbles In My Beer - Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Bismeaux

Chris Pandolfi - Close Encounters - Looking Glass - Sugar Hill

Buffy Sainte- Marie - Farm In the Middle of Nowhere - Power In the Blood - Gypsy Boy Music/True

Lonesome River Band - Thunder & Lightning - Bridging the Tradition - Mountain Home

Greg Brown - Cold & Dark & Wet - The Evening Call - Red House

Parker Millsap - Heaven Sent - The Very Last Day - Okrahoma

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

Ashleigh Caudill - Pork Pie Hat - Looney Bird - Ashleigh Caudill

Leftover Salmon - Liza - Aquatic Hitchhiker - LoS

Free the Honey - A Beautiful Life - Fine Bloom - Free the Honey

Frank Solivan - The Fishin' Song - Family, Friends & Heroes - Compass

Harvey Reid - The Fisherman - Harvey Reid - Woodpecker

Joel Rafael Band - Talking Fishing Blues - Woodeye - Inside

Sean Watkins - Last Time For Everything - What To Fear - Single Lock

James Lee Stanley w/ John Batdorf - Last Time - All Wood And Stones - Beachwood

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or via FTP for non-PRX members. Stations may air the show as either a one-, or two-hour program. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried by over 40 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:36 PM

Hear It First: Mark Erelli, 'For A Song'

April 4, 2016

by Cindy Howes,

For A Song Erellicolor1hires 500sq.jpgMark Erelli hasn't produced a solo album of originals like For A Song - his new self-released record - since 2010, but that doesn't mean the Massachusetts-based songwriter hasn't been extremely busy. He dialed down his solo work a bit in order to raise his family, which includes two young boys, but the last six years have been a time of music growth for this extremely versatile musician. Erelli has been producer, sideman and bandmate to several different musical outfits, like Lori McKenna, Paula Cole and the bluegrass band Barnstar!.

What is striking about For A Song is that you not only hear Erelli's own distinct New England folkie style - a style he's been perfecting since the late 90's - you can the hear others in his music as well. You hear the playfulness of Barnstar! on songs like "Wayside," and you literally hear Paula Cole on "Look Up." Cole adds her distinct guest vocals to that track, as well as "French King."

The most touching influence for any folk fan is the late Bill Morrissey, to whom Mark paid tribute with his last studio release, Milltowns. Here, you can't help but feel like Mark is channeling Bill's whimsical vocal delivery on the song "Analog Hero."

I have it on good authority that Mark Erelli can, on command, sing Roy Orbison songs at pitch. He has a four octave vocal range, including the "Mariah Carey note." There are very few voices that can sing any type of song and contain as much emotion and power as his voice can so easily do. The songs on For A Song are worthy of this man's voice; they are the best of his career, so far. It's inspiring to hear the culmination of all his hard work in songwriting, raising a family and different musical collaborations of these past several years come to life on this album.


For A Song is out on April 8th and is available now for pre-order at iTunes and directly via Mark's website.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:53 AM

Album Review: Hayes Carll, 'Lovers and Leavers'

March 30, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

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.


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

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 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, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:35 PM

A Q & A with Dori Freeman

March 27, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

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.


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

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:26 PM

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

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

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.


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

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

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.

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

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 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, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

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, 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

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.


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

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

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

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 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, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 6:36 PM

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