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Folk Alley Radio Show #170810

August 12, 2017

by Linda Fahey

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

Stream this week's show.

CLICK to LISTEN: (audio may take a few seconds to load on mobile devices)

This week on Folk Alley, we dig in to NPR Music's recent feature, 'Turning the Tables - The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women' and spotlight 25 of the folk, roots, and Americana artists who made the list.

In hour one, you'll hear music by The Roches, Iris Dement, and the Dixies Chicks; in addition to true classics by Joni Mitchell and Buffy Sainte-Marie's; also top albums from legends Joan Baez, Bobbie Gentry, and Bonnie Raitt; and more.

In hour two, we'll continue the exploration of the greatest albums by women, between 1964 to 2016, including works from Emmylou Harris, Tracy Chapman, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, and Ani DiFranco; we'll hear from legends such as Odetta, Nina Simone, and The Staples Singers featuring Mavis Staples; two albums that topped the charts in 1971 from Carole King and Janis Joplin; and more.

Find out who topped the list at #1, and join the conversation on the Folk Alley Facebook page. Did your favorites make the list? Who are the glaring omissions? Tell us what you think!


(Artist - Title - Album - Label)

Hour One:

The Roches - Mr. Sellack - The Roches - Warner Brothers

Iris DeMent - Calling For You - My Life - Warner Brothers

Norah Jones - Come Away With Me - Come Away With Me - BlueNote

Joni Mitchell - Coyote - Hejira - Asylum

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Universal Soldier - It's My Way - Vanguard

Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough - Tuesday Night Music Club - A & M Records

Alison Krauss & Union Station - Daylight - New Favorite - Rounder

Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust - Diamonds and Rust - A & M

Bobbie Gentry - Ode to Billie Joe - Ode to Billie Joe - Capitol

Cassandra Wilson - Hellhound On My Trail - Blue Light 'Til Dawn - Blue Note

Dixie Chicks - Wide Open Spaces - Wide Open Spaces - Monument/Sony Music

Indigo Girls - Land of Canaan - Indigo Girls - Epic

Bonnie Raitt - The Road's My Middle Name - Nick Of Time - Capitol/EMI

(Hour Two)

Emmylou Harris - Goin' Back To Harlan - Wrecking Ball - Elektra

Tracy Chapman - Fast Car - Tracy Chapman - Elektra

The Staples Singers - I'll Take You There - Be Altitude: Respect Yourself - Stax

Gillian Welch - Red Clay Halo - Time (The Revelator) - Acony

Odetta - It's A Mighty World - It's A Mighty World - RCA/Victor

Nina Simone - Backlash Blues - Nina Simone Sings the Blues - RCA/Victor

Ani DiFranco - Little Plastic Castle - Little Plastic Castle - Righteous Babe

Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels on a Gravel Roaad - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road - Mercury

Dolly Parton - Coat of Many Colors - Coat of Many Colors

Carole King - I Feel the Earth Move - Tapestry - Ode

Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee - Pearl - Columbia

Joni Mitchell - All I Want - Blue - Reprise

Joni Mitchell - A Case of You - Blue - Reprise

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

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:04 PM

NPR Music First Listen: David Rawlings, 'Poor David's Almanack'

August 7, 2017

by Stephen Thompson, NPR Music

poor-david-s-almanack_sq.jpgDavid Rawlings has made a career out of a sort of unassuming generosity. Though he's led his own band, the Dave Rawlings Machine, he's spent much of his adult life supporting the work of bigger names like Old Crow Medicine Show, Bright Eyes and Ryan Adams, for whom he wrote "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)." And, of course, Rawlings has played, sung and written alongside Gillian Welch -- they've recorded eight albums together, including modern classics that bear her name, like Revival and Time (The Revelator).

Poor David's Almanack is their third collaboration to give Rawlings top billing, after Dave Rawlings Machine's A Friend Of A Friend and Nashville Obsolete. Like those albums, this one steers the spotlight in his direction, while still showcasing the pair's almost supernatural chemistry. As a general rule, while Gillian Welch records can sound spare to the point of barrenness, Rawlings' songs are more inclined to fill the space around his voice.

Poor David's Almanack follows suit with a sweetly engaging, impressively wide-ranging collection of American roots music. With the help of a long list of co-conspirators -- including Dawes and Old Crow Medicine Show -- Rawlings sounds equally adept at stark ballads ("Airplane"), sweet old-time folk songs ("Good God A Woman"), string-infused Americana ("Midnight Train") and sly, banjo-forward rave-ups ("Money Is The Meat In The Coconut"). The common thread is the love at their core.

Stream 'Poor David's Almanck' in its entirety at NPR Music HERE.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:44 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #170803

August 6, 2017

by Linda Fahey

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

Stream this week's show, on-demand, right here.

CLICK to LISTEN: (audio may take a few seconds to load on mobile devices)

This week on Folk Alley, it's a show first heard in August of 2016. We'll turn on the summer heat with tracks from Iris Dement, Kenny Vaughan, and Django Reinhardt; an exclusive Folk Alley in-studio session featuring Ana Egge & the Sentimentals; a 2'fer from The Stray Birds 2016 release, 'Magic Fire'; and more music from Neko Case, k.d. lang, Laura Veirs, Parsonsfield, Hiss Golden Messenger, and others.

In hour two, music from Lori McKenna, Jason Isbell, and The Pine Hill Project (Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplansky), Kris Drever, and The Avett Brothers; plus a set from Joan Baez's 75th birthday celebration concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York; exclusive in-studio recordings from David Wax Museum and Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo; and more favorites from Mandolin Orange and Doc Watson.


(Artist - Title - Album - Label)

Hour One:

Iris Dement - Hotter Than Mojave In My Heart - Infamous Angel - Warner Bros

Django Reinhardt - Hot Lips - The Definitive Django Reinhardt Series Vol 5 - JSP

Kenny Vaughan - Hot Like That - Kenny Vaughan - Sugar Hill

The Stray Birds - Sabrina - Magic Fire - Yep Roc records

The Stray Birds - Third day In A Row - Magic Fire - Yep Roc Records

Ana Egge & the Sentimentals - Say That Now (in-studio) - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Ana Egge & the Sentimentals - He's A Killer Now (in-studio) - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Ana Egge & the Sentimentals - Away We Go (in-studio) - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Hiss Golden Messenger - Biloxi - Heart Like A Levee - Merge Records

Tony Furtado - Willow John - Full Circle - Rounder

Neko Case, k.d.lang and Laura Veirs - Delirium - case/lang/veirs - Anti/Epitaph

Parsonsfield - Stronger - Blooming Through the Black - Signature Sounds

Jesse Winchester - That's What Makes You Strong (live) - Live From Mountain Stage - Blue Plate

Hour Two:

Kris Drever - If Wishes Were Horses - If Wishes Were Horses - Reveal Records

Uncle Earl - Wish I Had My Time Again - Waterloo, Tennessee - Rounder

The Avett Brothers - I Wish I Was - True Sadness - Republic

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

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

Joan Baez - There But For Fortune (live) - 75th Birthday Celebration - Razor & Tie

Joan Baez (feat. Damien Rice) - She Moved Through the Fair (live) - 75th Birthday Celebration - Razor & Tie

David Wax Museum - Born With A Broken Heart (in-studio) - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Frank Vignola w/ Vinny Raniolo - Tico Tico (in-studio) - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Mandolin Orange - Wildfire - Blindfaller - Yep Roc Records

Doc Watson - St. Louis Blues - At Gerdes Folk City - Sugar Hill

Richard Shindell - Stray Cow Blues - Careless - Amalgamated Balladry

The Pine Hill Project - Sweetest Thing - Tomorrow You're Going - Signature Sounds

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

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:58 AM

Video Premiere: Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards, "The Low Hum"

August 2, 2017

by Linda Fahey

LC and the DC CA Calling.jpgOnce again, Boston proves itself to be a vibrant incubator for folk and roots-based artists who are taking music into adventurous new realms. Add Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards - Jenna Moynihan (fiddle), Valerie Thompson (cello), and Natalie Bohrn (bass) - to the growing list of exciting, innovative bands coming from the Northeast.

With Laura Cortese (a seasoned "sideman") at the helm as bandleader and driving force behind the group, the quartet is set to release their debut album, 'California Calling' on Compass Records later this fall.

For the lead track, "The Low Hum," Cortese says: "We went on an arranging retreat up to Montreal in January of 2016 to explore music for the first ever Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards studio album. Valerie was freshly out of the hospital after having foot surgery and was recuperating in one room while Jenna, Natalie and I started talking about the absurd experiences of our day including getting someone with a broken foot up three flights of snowy Montreal stairs and breaking the key to our hosts house off in their door. Jenna had brought a banjo on the retreat in the hopes of challenging herself on this new instrument so we decided to create the basis for the song on the banjo. Jenna came up with a riff while Natalie and I started to sing the verse melody. We gravitated towards singing the verses in three-part harmony. When it came time to work on the chorus we decided to wait for Valerie's input. Months later, on another writing retreat in Iceland with all four of us ready and able, we hashed out the chorus and the arrangement."

Further she says, "This video was shot in an apartment in Sodermalm Stockholm on a sunny day off on our Swedish tour by musician, sound engineer and videographer Petter Berndalen. We are totally enamored with the ethereal quality Petter captured on video to suit the song."

Look for 'California Calling' due out in early October on Compass Records. Pre-order available HERE.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:57 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #170727

July 29, 2017

by Linda Fahey

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

Stream this week's show, on-demand, right here.


This week, a nod to the late, great Jerry Garcia who would've turned 75 on Aug. 1 with music by the Grateful Dead, Old & In the Way, and New Riders of the Purple Sage; new music from the 5-piece progressive bluegrass band, Old Salt Union, from their new self-titled album; an exclusive in-studio session from singer-songwriter, Amila K Spicer; more new music from Sera Cahoone, Steve Earle & The Dukes, and Slaid Cleaves; plus favorites from Rosanne Cash, Bob Dylan and more.

In hour two, the latest from Cory Chisel & Adriel Denae, I'm With Her (Aoife O'Donovan, Sara Watkins, and Sarah Jarosz); Jason Wilber, Twisted Pine, Applewood Road, and Sarah Jane Scouten; we'll feature exclusive Folk Alley Sessions recordings from Quebec's 2017 FestiTrad festival with music by André Marchand & Grey Larsen with Cindy Kallet; plus favorites from Mark Erelli, Valerie June, Mavis Staples, and more.


(Artist - Title - Album - Label)

Hour One:

Grateful Dead - Ripple - American Beauty - Warner Bros

Old and In the Way - Jerry's Breakdown - Breakdown - Acoustic

New Riders of the Purple Sage - Glendale Train - The Best of New Riders of the Purple Sage - Columbia/Legacy

Sera Cahoone - Time To Give - From Where I Started - Lady Muleskinner Records

Bob Dylan - Time Passes Slowly #1 - Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol 10 - Sony/Columbia

Amilia K Spicer - Train Wreck - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Amilia K Spicer - This Town - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Amilia K Spicer - Shotgun - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Amilia K Spicer - Windchill - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Old Salt Union - Where I Stand - Old Salt Union - Compass Records

Rosanne Cash - The Sunken Lands - The River & The Thread - Blue Note Records

Steve Earle & The Dukes - The Girl On The Mountain - So You Wannabe An Outlaw - Warner Brothers

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

Chris Castle - Perfect World - Last Bird Home - Dirtsandwich Music

Hour Two:

Tom Paxton (feat. John Prine) - Skeeters'll Gitcha - Redemption Road - Pax Records

Twisted Pine - Hogwild - Twisted Pine - Signature Sounds

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

Jason Wilber - Heaven (feat. Iris Dement) - Reaction Time - WilberTone

Iris Dement - The Shores of Jordan - My Life - Warner Bro

André Marchand & Grey Larsen - A Pack of Lies (Les menteries)/Cedulie's Reel (Reel à Cédulie) - Folk Alley Sessions at FestiTrad - Folk Alley Exclusive

André Marchand & Grey Larsen w/ Cindy Kallet - C'est par un beau Samedi d'Été - Folk Alley Sessions at FestiTrad - Folk Alley Exclusive

Sarah Jane Scouten - When the Bloom Falls From the Rose - When the Bloom Falls from the Rose - Light Organ Records

The Deep Dark Woods - Red, Red Rose - Jubilee - Sugar Hill

Cory Chisel & Adiel Denae - Spent It All - Tell Me True - Refuge Foundation for the

Mavis Staples (feat. Valerie June) - High Note - Livin' On A High Note - Anti

Valerie June - Astral Plane - The Order Of Time - Concord Music Group

Mark Erelli - Long Gone - Milltowns - Hillbilly Pilgrim Music

Applewood Road - To the Stars - Applewood Road - Gearbox Records

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

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:43 PM

Video Premiere: Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters, "Birthday Song"

July 27, 2017

by Elena See, Folk Alley

AAP Birthday Song 200.jpgMake peace with it - that's the best piece of advice I (or anyone) can give you. Make peace with the fact that, yeah, every year, there's going to be a new ache or pain, a new wrinkle or line, a new droop. It's part of getting older - it's part of living.

Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters are living large in 2017. With a new name and a new self-titled album, this talented bunch of musical friends aren't afraid to hit the road, to try new things, and to admit that they, like all of us, have moments of insecurity about life, living, and getting older.

And that's what the video for "Birthday Song" is all about. Shot in and around their home base of Asheville, North Carolina (and at Birdfest in Pinewood, South Carolina and in Dandridge, Tennessee, too), you see the band as they live their lives. At home, in the kitchen, on the road, on the stage - this quintet is making music, and celebrating the fact that their lives keep on moving forward.

Yeah, you're getting older.
But the alternative isn't great, is it? So, take heart and be glad to be where and when you are.

Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters' self-titled album is out now and available at iTunes and

Upcoming UK tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:19 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #170720

July 22, 2017

by Linda Fahey

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

**Audio for this episode is no longer available.**

This week on Folk Alley, we say Happy Birthday to Alison Krauss; spotlight new music by Nashville-based songwriter, Korby Lenker from his new album 'Thousand Springs'; and we feature our exclusive in-studio session with Michigan-based duo, Red Tail Ring; plus favorites from Gillian Welch, Shovels & Rope, and others.

In hour two, new music from Cory Chisel & Adriel Denae's upcoming release, 'Tell Me True'; Boston-based, progressive stringband, Twisted Pine, Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo', Lonesome River Band, and Justin Townes Earle; exclusive recordings from Quebec's 2017 FestiTrad fesival featuring the great, André Brunet; plus favorites by Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Lori McKenna, and many more.


(Artist - Title - Album - Label)

Hour ONE:

Alison Krauss - Poison Love - Windy City - Capitol Records

Lyle Lovett - More Pretty Girls Than One - Step Inside This House - MCA

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Please Read the Letter - Raising Sand - Rounder

Korby Lenker - Nothing Really Matters - Thousand Springs - Soundly Music

Korby Lenker - Book Nerd - Thousand Springs - Soundly Music

Red Tail Ring - Wondrous Love/Lay Aside Your Crown - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Red Tail Ring - Love of the City - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

Red Tail Ring - Fall Away Blues - Folk Alley Sessions - Folk Alley Exclusive

The Infamous Stringdusters - Gravity - Laws of Gravity - Compass Records

Gillian Welch - Wichita (Revival Outtake) - Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg - Acony Records

Shovels & Rope - The Last Hawk - Little Seeds - New West Records

Steve Earle & The Dukes - Goodbye Michelangelo - So You Wannabe An Outlaw - Warner Brothers

Hour TWO:

Darden Smith - Firefly - Everything - Compass Records

Michael J. Miles (Bradley Williams) - Firefly Sonata - New Century Suite - Self

Lori McKenna - Fireflies - Pieces of Me - Catalyst

Twisted Pine - Bound To Do It Right (The Jersey City Song) - Twisted Pine - Signature Sounds

Jesse Winchester - Do It - The Best of Jesse Winchester - Rhino

André Brunet - À Plein Souffle, La veillée chez Lucien Piché, Le bateau à roue, Garde ton soufflé - Folk Alley Sessions at FestiTrad - Folk Alley Exclusive

André Brunet - La Fille Morte - Folk Alley Sessions at FestiTrad - Folk Alley Exclusive

Cory Chisel & Adriel Denae - Songbird - Tell Me True - Refuge Foundation for the

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

Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo' - That's Who I Am - TajMo - Concord Records

The Show Ponies - Sweetly - How It All Goes Down - Freeman Records

Driftwood - The Sun's Going Down - Driftwood - Driftwood

Lonesome River Band - Ida Red - Mayhayley's House - Mountain Home Music

Justin Townes Earle - Fade Valentine - Kids in the Street - New West Records

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

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:09 AM

Folk Alley Radio Show #170713

July 15, 2017

by Linda Fahey

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

Stream this week's show, on-demand, right here.

**Audio for this episode is no longer available.**

This week in hour one, we salute the Father of Folk Music, Woody Guthrie on his 105 Birthday; and feature new music from Offa Rex, Twisted Pine, and Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters; we'll hear an exclusive in-studio session with Portland-based singer-songwriter, John Craigie; some classic Piedmont blues from Warner Williams and Eddie Pennington; plus favorites from The Howlin' Brothers and many more.

In hour two, more new music from the Lonesome River Band, Slaid Cleaves, Steve Earle & The Dukes, and Oh Susanna; an exclusive Folk Alley recording from the 2017 FestiTrad in Quebec featuring the a capella qunitet, Musique à Bouche; plus more favorites from John Prine, Greg Brown, The Avett Brothers, Eilen Jewell, The Wood Brothers, Dave Alvin & Rosie Flores, and many more.

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

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:22 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #170706

July 8, 2017

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpgIf you're not lucky enough to live in one of the 50 markets currently airing the Folk Alley weekly radio show, now you can stream the most recent episodes on-demand right here.

**Audio for this episode is no longer available.**

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

This week, in hour one, new music from Lonesome River Band, Kasey Chambers, Sam Baker, Slaid Cleaves, Rachel Baiman, and one from Oh Susanna's new album, 'A Girl In Teen City'; a set featuring exclusive recordings with Robby Hecht & Caroline Spence from the 2017 30A Songwriters Festival; everything will be alright with Deb Talan and Bob Dylan; plus more favorites from Rod Picott and Jimmy LaFave.

In hour two, more new music from Offa Rex, Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer, The Mavericks, and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit; we'll hear a track from Twisted Pine's self-titled debut album, and a new live track from the O'Connor Band with Mark O'Connor; plus favorites from Gretchen Peters, Elephant Revival, Nickel Creek, and more.

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

Posted by Linda Fahey at 7:36 PM

A Q & A with Molly Tuttle

July 7, 2017

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for Folk Alley

molly tuttle.jpg .jpgAsk pretty much anyone over, say, 35 to name the best pickers in roots music and their list would likely include the standards: Bryan Sutton, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, et al. But, if you asked someone in the younger set, that list might very well include Sarah Jarosz, Sierra Hull, and Molly Tuttle. With her new EP, Rise, Tuttle aims to secure her place on the list, while also showcasing her talents as a singer and a songwriter.

Kelly McCartney: You made some big geographic moves over the past few years. How did the different landscapes and communities inform your creative expression on this record?

Molly Tuttle: Growing up in California, I was very immersed in the bluegrass scene out there. My dad teaches music and, through him, I met a lot of local Bay Area musicians and started going to shows and festivals in the area. It was a wonderful community to grow up in because everyone was very supportive. I fell in love with jamming and performing with friends who played bluegrass and that is how I started down the path of wanting to pursue music as a career.

When I moved to Boston to study music at Berklee, I became interested in music theory for the first time and was also exposed to many different styles of music that I previously hadn't listened to or studied. A lot of my guitar teachers came from jazz and blues backgrounds so I was exposed to different ways of thinking about music and different ways of approaching improvisation which was really great. Now, living in Nashville, I am completely inspired by the incredible musicianship and creativity that thrives here. It has been a huge learning experience to try co-writing with more experienced writers around town.

From Hazel Dickens to Bob Dylan, how do you hear your different influences coming through your work?

Hazel was one of the first people I listened to who inspired me to try and find a unique voice and try writing my own songs from my own life experiences. In her writing and singing, you can tell that everything comes straight from her heart and that really spoke to me. She has her own way of singing and writing that doesn't really fit in any box -- it is totally her own.

When I listened to Bob Dylan for the first time, I immediately was blown away by his lyrics and how he seemed to break conventional songwriting "rules." He really inspired me, as a writer, to be a little more free with song form and lyrical content. Joni Mitchell was another big hero of mine who I got into in college. I feel influenced by her creative guitar voicings -- she is one of my favorite guitarists. Dave Rawlings is another big guitar hero of mine who taught me that is okay to break "rules" with what notes and intervals you play.

Even though you're very clear about expanding your musical horizons, are you expecting or have you experienced any pushback from the "that ain't bluegrass" crowd? If so, how do you handle that tactfully?

I have experienced a little push back, but not as much as I might have thought I would when I first started writing my own songs and breaking away from the traditional bluegrass sound. I think the shift for me has happened gradually, and I am lucky to have amazing and loyal fans who support the direction that I am heading in.

You've been making music for more than half your life now, sometimes alongside legends. How do you balance confidence, nervousness, and humility in those situations?

Over time, my confidence in myself and as an artist has grown. I used to be very self-conscious when playing and performing, especially around musicians that I admired. Experience and time has taught me that it's okay to make mistakes and that I have something valuable to offer with my music. It has taken me a while to find a balance between being confident in my abilities in any situation, and also recognizing how much I have to learn from others.

In a perfect world, what would you want people to take away from your music?

I think that music can make people feel a sense of connection, hope, and joy. I hope that my music can bring comfort and happiness to others!


Molly Tuttle's EP, 'Rise' is available now via iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:00 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #170629

July 6, 2017

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpgIf you're not lucky enough to live in one of the 50 markets currently airing the Folk Alley weekly radio show, now you can stream the most recent episodes on-demand right here.

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

In hour one of this episode, we celebrate America with music from Martin Sexton and Simon & Garfunkel; new music from Molly Tuttle, Jeff Tweedy, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Sarah Jane Scouten, and The Secret Sisters; we'll hear an exclusive in-studio performance by Darrell Scott; and a new live track from Old Crow Medicine Show in honor of the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's 'Blonde on Blonde'; plus favorites from Amanda Shires, The Earls of Leicester, Eric Bibb & Maria Muldaur, and more.

In hour two, more new music from Sam Baker, Steve Earle & the Dukes, The Waifs, Quiles & Cloud, and Joan Shelley; we'll hear a set from Kasey Chambers' new album, 'Dragonfly'; and we take the Chevy to the Levy with a classic track from the great Don McLean; plus more favorites from the O'Connor Band with Mark O'Connor, Tim O'Brien, and Mary Gauthier.


**Audio for this episode is no longer available.**

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show is produced by Linda Fahey and Jon Nungesser, and hosted by Elena See. The show is available for free to stations via or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried on over 50 stations nationally. For more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 5:29 PM

O Canada - video playlist

July 1, 2017

by Linda Fahey

Canada Heart.jpegTo celebrate Canada Day and the 150 Anniversary of Canada's Constitution Act of 1867, kick back with some poutine and Molson, and enjoy our 3-hour video playlist of exclusive Folk Alley Sessions with many of our favorite Canadian artists - The Small Glories, Rose Cousins, Kaia Kater, Old Man Luedecke, Amelia Curran, Pharis & Jason Romero, Wendy MacIsaac & Mary Jane Lamond, David Francey, and more!

Happy Canada Day!

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:29 AM

Song Premiere: Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, "Learning How To Love Him"

May 31, 2017

by Elena See, Folk Alley

HoneyCov2 400.jpgChange is unavoidable. There's not a thing you can do to stop it and if you resist its pull, it takes an even greater toll on your spirit. If you can stand back and allow it to happen, though, you might be surprised by the results.

Amanda Anne Platt knows all about change - how scary it can feel and yet how exhilarating it can be at the same time. Recently, she decided it was time to put herself and her musical artistry front and center. Her bandmates agreed and so, starting with their new, self-titled album, The Honeycutters will now be known as Amanda Anne Platt and The Honeycutters. A small change, perhaps, but one that leaves no doubt about who the heart and soul of this remarkable band really is.

"Learning How To Love Him," a song you'll find on the new album, is a prime example of the new intimacy Platt shares with her audience. Her voice, rising and falling above a simple, spare guitar line, is on display in a way it never has been before.

Quietly, candidly, and without a trace of sentimentality, Platt examines how love changes over the years as circumstances dictate. Love, like life, experiences its fair share of ups and downs. It can be strong and steady one moment and wavering and fragile in the next. And, surprisingly, in the wake of tragedy, it can bloom anew to become more meaningful than ever before.

Platt says she wrote the song after hearing an acquaintance talk about learning that her husband of four-plus decades was terminally ill. "What really struck me was how she described the tenderness that the news brought back to their relationship," Platt says. "She said that the house was quiet and she had never realized how much they used to yell at one another. The topic is unavoidably sad but I meant to focus on the beauty of loving someone for that long rather than the loss."

You DO feel the loss in this song - it would be impossible not to. Yet, the journey this particular love takes is one any of us would be lucky to experience.


Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters will be released on June 9th, and is available for pre-order now at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 5:15 PM

20 Essential Jimmy LaFave Favorites

May 22, 2017

by Linda Fahey, Folk Alley

Jimmy-LaFave_Promo 400.jpgWe join the folk music community in mourning the loss of our friend, singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave who passed away yesterday (May 21) from a rare form of cancer, and extend our deepest condolences to Jimmy's family, friends and loved ones.

Jimmy will always hold a very special place in the larger folk music community, and in particular among his Austin, Texas tribe. He'll forever be remembered for his poignant songs and deeply moving vocals, and for his kindness, humor, grace and generosity.

As a tribute, we've put together a 20-song playlist of some of our favorite Jimmy LaFave songs. If you're not familiar with Jimmy's music, we especially hope you'll listen.

R.I.P., Jimmy. Thank you for your music.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 6:00 PM

Hear It First: Chris Kasper, 'O, the Fool'

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Chris Kasper TheFool 300.jpgLife, just as with nature, is comprised of seasons. Infancy, youth, middle-age, and old-age are familiar milestones, but even within those phases, we each experience the metaphorical mountains, valleys, and deserts that make up a life well-lived. And though their journeys might be more public and artistic, creative folks' ebbs and flows are no different. Such is certainly the case with Chris Kasper.

For his new album, O, the Fool, Kasper found his muse in a tarot card of the same name that depicts a traveling jester (or vagabond, depending on the deck) with all his belongings bundled in a handkerchief and tied to a stick flung over his shoulder. "The Fool, in the tarot deck, usually represents a new beginning and end to something in your old life," Kasper explains. "It also signifies important decisions that involve an element of risk. For me, I felt this record was doing this, in a musical and lyrical sense. It also sounds a lot like my own personal and musical evolution."

Indeed, Kasper has made intentional artistic strides away from his last effort, Bagabones, which was chock full of minor keys and weird sounds, and toward a lighter lushness that represents and reflects the journey he, himself, made over the past few years. "These songs became small journeys in themselves, even lyrically, traveling from the east to the west," he notes, "through cycles of love, second guesses, car troubles, longing for lazy mornings, letting go, and starting over. "

The song titles, themselves - "City by the Sea," "Moving West," "State Trooper," and "Love Letter from Santa Fe," among others - trace his steps and tell his story across a musical landscape that is both soulful and playful.

"I learned a lot from arranging strings on the last record and I wanted to try more of that," Kasper adds. "My method was to keep the tunes fairly simple in structure, even abandoning choruses in some songs in favor of tag lines or dressing them up with strings, horns, and piano. It felt like a good and challenging road for me to explore."


O, the Fool is out on June 2. Pre-released singles from the album are available now at iTunes.

Upcoming tour dates

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Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:20 AM

Video Premiere: Pieta Brown, "Street Tracker"

May 17, 2017

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Pieta Brown Postcards 500x500.jpgSubjective interpretation is one of the fundamental components of art. Where some see chaos, others see order. Where some sense rage, others sense passion. In Pieta Brown's "Street Tracker," some might experience tenderness and vulnerability in both purpose and practice. But the artist herself experiences something completely different.

"The spark for 'Street Tracker' was a photograph I saw of a motorcycle not long after getting home from being on the road touring," she says. "I saw a kind of openness, freedom, and power in the machine. I hear and feel this same mix in Mark Knopfler's guitar playing."

Of course, vulnerability and courage are inextricably linked, so perhaps this song (like most of Brown's music) lives in the space between the two, in the transformation of those qualities into the artwork that represents them. Like the power in even the gentlest of streams that slowly, gradually, defiantly wears down the stones that stand in its path, "Street Tracker" is both calming and clarion.

Translating those qualities into a visual piece would, necessarily, demand a certain sensitivity. "For the video, I wanted to continue the collaboration aspect of the Postcards project and invited the mesmerizing aerial silks performer Mimi Ke to work together," Brown notes. "She so gracefully manages to convey this same spirit of openness, freedom, and power that I first saw in that photograph. Making the video of her choreography and performance was extra fun, and I remain mesmerized."


Pieta Brown's latest album, Postcards, is out now and available at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:15 AM

Hear It First: The Mastersons, 'Transient Lullaby'

May 12, 2017

by Elena See,

The Mastersons Transient Lullaby 300.jpgIf you're lucky, it'll be one or two songs on an album that instantly grab you and draw you in. Maybe three songs, if you're really fortunate. If all the stars have aligned, Jupiter and Mars share a rising sun and moon phase, and the universe has (somehow, in its infinite wisdom) discerned that you need good music around you, you'll find an album where you connect with half the songs. That's as rare as a blue moon, though - I can count on one hand (ok, maybe two hands) how often that has happened.

That's why Transient Lullaby is such an extraordinary body of work: not one, not two, not even half, but each and every song on The Mastersons' newest release has something that's going to draw you in and keep you there, hanging on to every word, every phrase, every guitar lick or violin line.

And there are a lot of guitars and violins. Mandolins, too. Dobros. Organs. Harmonicas. Other string instruments and percussion instruments galore. In their infinite wisdom, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore explore a huge sound world, blowing it wide open with lush orchestration, gorgeous string arrangements, a mix of acoustic and electric sounds and spot-on vocal harmonies that, more often than not, don't resolve to the chord you think they're going to resolve to - one more reason to keep listening, as you think to yourself: "What will this duo think to do next?"

That's also a question you might ask them when it comes to their career trajectory - what will The Mastersons think to do next? If they're not touring as a duo, they're on the road with Steve Earle, as part of his band The Dukes. And it's that nonstop motion, exhausting for some, that energizes this husband and wife team. "When you travel like we do, if your antenna is up, there's always something going on around you," reflects guitarist/singer Chris Masterson. "Ideas can be found everywhere. The hardest thing to find is time."

The Mastersons did find the time, though, and used it wisely, creating an album that's filled with images and ideas of wanderlust ("Transient Lullaby"), relationships that come and go ("Highway 1"), devoted lovers (the Neil Young-esque "Fire Escape") and cautious optimism in an uncertain future ("Perfect").

The Mastersons' laid back groove brings to mind the best of 1960s and 70s folk pop while their unusual arrangements and surprising vocal harmonies place them firmly in the present. And it's the unique lens they use to look at the world around them (and us), not to mention their seemingly endless supply of energy, that ensures they'll be singing and playing long into the future.


'Transient Lullaby' is out on May 19 and is available for pre-order now directly from Red House Records, iTunes, and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:00 AM

In Review: Guest DJ, Kim Ruehl from 'No Depression'

May 11, 2017

summer2017_ND 400.jpgKim Ruehl, editor-in-chief for the roots journal No Depression, joined Cindy Howes for a Guest DJ hour showcasing the music highlighted in the most recent in-print edition.

For summer of 2017, No Depression took a trip around the world (well, figuratively, even though Kim would have LOVED to travel to make this issue) to places like Honduras, Israel, Japan, Northern Ireland and more. The articles highlight and focus on International music, but not just "world music" in general. Much care has been taken to examine and present "folk music" from each of these countries. From stories about a 50-year-old Japanese bluegrass band (Bluegrass 45) to a traditional Scottish group who invents their own instruments including the "Sporkinator" (which is made of utensils, obviously).

Once again, No Depression collects unique and interesting stories that reflect folk and roots music. This time around, they expertly showcase the genre from a global perspective.

Find out more about No Depression and about becoming a subscriber HERE.


LISTEN Kim Ruehl's guest DJ hour!

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:00 PM

Song Premiere, The Mammals, "Lilac Breeze"

May 10, 2017

by Elena See,

Mike + Ruthy ILNER couch duo square.jpgThey'rrrrrrrrrrre bbbbbbaaaaaaacckk! Yep, it's true. With their tight vocal harmonies, technical virtuosity on fiddle and guitar, and a sense of intimacy borne out of years and years of making music (and a life) together, The Mammals are back and stronger than ever.

Since there are just a few things happening in the world right now, Ruthy Ungar and Mike Merenda, along with Ken Maiuri (piano), Konrad Meissner (drums), Jacob Silver (bass), and Andy Stack (harmony vocals), figured that 2017 was a good time to get the band back together. Music, after all, can help us figure out what's going on in the world and can help us figure out how to talk about what's going on in the world, too.

The band's first two singles ("Culture War" and "My Baby Drinks Water") take a strong political stance - they don't shy away from sharing very honest opinions about the state of the world. But The Mammals know the importance of taking a break every now and again, too. And that's what "Lilac Breeze" is - a sort of gentle, open the windows and let the fresh air in, soul cleanser of a song. And the vivid imagery in "Lilac Breeze" definitely touches your soul - and your nose, too.

"There's at least one week every spring when our purple and white lilac trees fill our little Catskill Mountain yard with the most glorious fragrance," Mike Merenda says. "Last year we were lucky enough to be home during May and I was swept away by springtime's magic. Whatever I was worried about that day seemed to fade into oblivion. This song attempts to bottle up a little of that contentment, when everything falls into place and you're happy just being where you are. Easier said than done. It helps to be surrounded by lilacs!"


"Lilac Breeze" is available for download HERE.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 7:05 PM

Hear It First: Jon Stickley Trio, 'Maybe Believe'

May 8, 2017

by Jon Stickley for

Jon Stickley Maybe-Believe-Front 400.jpgSince the release of our last full-length album, Lost at Last, we have traveled thousands of miles and played hundreds of shows to a wide range of audiences. Every performance has been completely unique and we learn something new about ourselves, and our music at every show. Maybe Believe was written while touring, and we got a chance to road test many of the tunes and let them grow as music will over the course of many performances. Other tunes were purposely left in their most basic form to be completed in the studio with the guidance of our producer, Dave King (The Bad Plus).

This is our second album with Dave. The first time we worked with him, he helped us figure out our identity as a band, and he was a major influence on our overall sound. Two years later with Maybe Believe, he recognized that the trio had grown into a fully formed, road-tested, musical idea, and his goal in the studio was to capture the spontaneous energy of our live show... and we did!

In true Jon Stickley Trio fashion, Maybe Believe features original compositions that represent the band's next evolutionary step, as well as covers by Aphex Twin and Bill Monroe. From its crowd-funded beginnings, to the music, to the artwork, I am more proud of Maybe Believe than any project I have recorded to date. I hope people enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it!

'Maybe Believe' is out on May 12th and is available for pre-order HERE.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:20 AM

Song Premiere: Deb Talan, "Joshua Tree In The Headphones"

April 27, 2017

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Deb Talan 500.jpegFew things recall an era as quickly and clearly as citing "wood panel walls and shag carpet," as Deb Talan does in "Joshua Tree in the Headphones." She does so to set the scene of a very specific memory of being at her best friend's house, stoned and immersed in U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name."

But that scene is only the starting point for a story that goes much deeper.

"I'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (incest), so revisiting any part of my growing up has serious minefields," Talan says. "This song is partly shaped around the sense of being trapped at the end of high school, nearly free, but still under the auspices of our parents. For me, those feelings are inseparable from those earlier ones of being trapped in my family because I was being abused."

The tune comes from Talan's new solo record, 'Lucky Girl,' which has helped her reclaim her role as an artist after spending years identifying as a mom, a wife, a bandmate (in the Weepies), and a cancer survivor. Part of that reclamation necessarily involved facing some old demons, as she does so bravely and beautifully in "Joshua Tree."

"Everyone leaves something behind when they pass from high school into the larger world," she offers. "There's a sense of grief, but also relief and anticipation of something bigger, maybe better. For me, this song weaves together those different narratives and feelings. I hope everyone can relate to something in here. At the very least, it felt amazingly cathartic to write."


'Lucky Girl' will be released May 19 via Nettwerk Music Group and is available for pre-order now at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:30 PM

A Q & A with Tift Merritt

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

tift_merritt2.jpgOn her seventh studio album in 15 years, 'Stitch of the World,' singer/songwriter Tift Merritt has churned out another solid set of roots-infused tunes that reach backward, forward, and side to side. You see, Merritt has a lot of musical ground to cover and she does just that, from the throwback folk-country of "Dusty Old Man" to the bluesy jangle of "Proclamation Bones" to the ambient Americana of the title track. With support from Sam Beam, Jay Bellerose, Marc Ribot, and Eric Heywood, Merritt works through numerous styles and explores myriad themes, all with the deft skill and artistic insouciance listeners have come to expect from her.

Kelly McCartney: You've enjoyed comparisons to a lot of legendary artists and "Dusty Old Man" certainly echoes elements of early Joni Mitchell. What do you do with those sorts of comments?

Tift Merritt: I reference Bonnie Raitt's first album as an inspiration of that track. It's a great, breezy acoustic record recorded with some blues legends at a summer camp in north Minnesota. One of my favorite records. When people compare me to artists I look up to -- it is lovely and I'm grateful. But I'm also careful to look the other way. I like being a working artist. I have my work cut out for me. I think, especially in the Internet age, there is a lot of premature referencing of people whose work has made a mark. Time tells the truth about that kind of thing, not Twitter.

You wrote and recorded this album in a several disparate locales. And you recently headed home to North Carolina. How do the different pulses of those places find their way into the songs?

Landscape had some direct influences. "Wait for Me" and "Icarus" were both inspired by the incredible high desert plains in Marfa, Texas. "Heartache Is an Uphill Climb" and "Stitch of the World" were saturated with impressions from hiking the California coast. "Eastern Light" and "Something Came Over Me" are taken from the streets of New York City. I like really strong environments -- nature returns me to the essentials, and the energy and people-watching in cities always gets me going, too.

Having collaborated with Andrew Bird and MC Taylor, how does stepping out of center stage feel after so many years in that spot? And, now, stepping back up front, is anything different for you?

Collaborating and being a supporting player is such a great way to learn. The spotlight is a certain kind of muscle; it is always healthy to leave it. I really love being in bands and cheering people on and witnessing how other people bring their vision to life. It returns me, always, with greater clarity to my own work and why I do what I do the way I do it! Playing with other people is also great for your chops, not just your heart.

Watching you perform recently, it struck me in very clear terms how, despite the pedestals we put them on, artists are just normal people with cool jobs. From the artist's perspective, what are the pros and cons of a culture that fetishizes fame in the way ours does?

I don't think I am famous, but I do think fame can be destructive, as can performing for strangers each night. Traveling too much can be very lonely. I don't think being the center of attention is as deeply satisfying as people think it is. Doing good work is satisfying, giving of yourself is satisfying. I try not to think about the froth of what's of the moment; I try to think about how to be a working artist throughout a lifetime. What people don't realize is that it is very difficult to make any money as a musician these days and that is a complicated thing when you are a parent.

You aren't overtly political in your music, but anything can be a statement, really, as in "My Boat" or "Love Soldiers On." Do you see your role as a songwriter shifting at all to reflect the times we find ourselves in?

I did not write "My Boat" (which is based on a Raymond Carver poem) or "Love Soldiers On" for political purposes, but I certainly sing them that way now. The world has taken such a strange direction lately. I think my role as a songwriter is to remind people -- myself included -- of the beauty, compassion, and hope that remains in the world and help to grow that piece of ourselves in whatever way I can.


'Stitch of the World' is out now on Yep Roc Records and is available at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:04 PM

Album Review: Sean Rowe, 'New Lore'

by Cindy Howes, Folk Alley

Sean Rowe New Lore 375.jpgSean Rowe has spent the last few years on the road playing all sorts of venues: clubs, house concerts, barns, chicken coops, churches and more. His new album 'New Lore' was born from the strong connection Rowe has cultivated with his passionate fans. Rowe put out the call to his base via a Kickstarter campaign that made its goal in two weeks. The results delightfully surprised the Troy, NY native. "It was wild! I was really shocked and nervous, too. It's always a risky thing to do. With Kickstarter you have as specified amount of time, in our case it was 30 days. Otherwise, you don't get it. We were working off the fumes of being excited about the material and the hopes that we created a bond with the fans enough that they would wanna put their money down to make this record happen."

The record itself is a masterpiece with Rowe's dazzling songwriting leading the charge. His writing is strong enough to turn heads with lines like "But every time we fight/It's like a Newton's Cradle/We can't be the flame forever/Forever's not where it's at." If I'm honest, the line's song title had me Googling "What is a Newton's Cradle?" After the results popped up, I sheepishly thought "OH, THAT IS WHAT THAT IS." Wow! To compare fighting with your partner to a little metal desk toy that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy and which was named after Sir Issac Newton is just beyond brilliant. Well done!

On this album, there are 100 more examples of gems like the one described above, but let's move on to what Rowe has accomplished sonically. He's been known to experiment with different styles and dynamics, but this time around he is reaching a new level. The usage of background vocalists, vocal reverb, horns, woodwinds, strings, etc. is a triumphant accomplishment. For a vocalist who's range is so deep (although Sean sings some sweet falsetto on "The Salmon!"), the instrumentation around him easily dances along. This album is riddled with intricate, interesting surprises that'll reel you deeper into Sean Rowe's fascinating world.


'New Lore' is out now on Anti Records and available at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:04 AM

NPR Music First Listen: Joan Shelley, 'Joan Shelley'

by Stephen Thompson, NPR Music

Joan Shelley Joan Shelley 375.jpgLate April is a little late for New Year's resolutions -- and we've blown right past Lent -- but there's never a wrong time to seek out new ways to improve your life and approach to the world. So if you're looking for a path to betterment, try this one: Every time you find yourself marinating in Internet grievances, or fuming in traffic, or otherwise tapping into your own personal Strategic Outrage Reserve, resolve to take a moment, don a pair of headphones, situate yourself in a quiet room, and soak up the music of Joan Shelley.

Each of the Kentucky singer, songwriter and guitarist's albums qualifies as a headache remedy, nerve tonic and comfort food rolled into one. Backed beautifully by guitarist Nathan Salsburg -- whose own solo acoustic instrumentals are peacefully enveloping in their own right -- Shelley's music mixes the sound and feel of down-to-earth Appalachian folk music, airier U.K. folksingers like Sandy Denny, and soothing conversations with an understanding friend.

Shelley's eponymous fourth solo album follows in the calming, tender tradition of its predecessors, in which precious little motion is wasted. It's her first project to be produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who brings in a pair of his own favorite collaborators -- his son Spencer Tweedy on drums, as well as guitarist James Elkington -- while sticking with a production aesthetic in which he helps artists strip their sound down to little more than the essentials.

For Joan Shelley, that means bathing her warm and inviting voice in gentle, intricately played acoustic guitars while otherwise framing her squarely in the spotlight. As on 2015's sublime Over And Even, the songs here are consistently gorgeous, from the album-opening tone-setter "We'd Be Home" through the ominous "I Got What I Wanted," the insistent "I Didn't Know," the dreamily piano-infused "Pull Me Up One More Time," the simultaneously sunny and wistful "Wild Indifference," and beyond. As befitting its title, Joan Shelley is the sound of an artist who knows exactly who she is -- buoyed by top-of-the-line collaborators, and still perfectly suited to songs that seep empathy and grace out of every impeccable note.


Joan Shelley eponymous album will be released on May 5th and is available for pre-order now at iTunes and

Upcoming tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:57 AM

Hear It First: Amilia K Spicer, 'Wow and Flutter'

April 21, 2017

by Elena See,

Amilia K Spicer wow and flutter copy.jpgSome musicians churn out music as fast as possible - they're in the studio almost the day after they've released a new album, working on their next greatest hit. Amilia K Spicer is not one of those musicians.

Case in point: after decades spent in the music biz, as a producer and backup singer and instrumentalist (specializing in keys...of all sorts), she has only just released her third solo studio album. 'Wow and Flutter' is her best work, she says, both as an artist and as a producer.

'Wow and Flutter' is also a body of work several years in the making. Besides being in demand as a studio musician, Spicer also set herself a new challenge before this album: she stepped away from the keyboard bench to learn all sorts of new instruments (guitars, lap steel, banjo) and those new instruments kept inspiring new songs - a blessing and a curse, she admits.

And "inspiring" is not a bad way to describe the album. Sliding from note to note, letting the piano or organ or guitar or choose-your-favorite-instrument-here shine through in each track, Spicer's fearless, mellow alto shares intimate stories of characters who approach life with a hopeful, almost naïve optimism. The roadblocks of bad relationships and challenging environments ("Train Wreck," "Shotgun"), though numerous, aren't permanent, and Spicer's characters wade through with a gritty resolve, determined to make it through, to come out on top, and (as she sings in my favorite track), to "Shine."

'Wow and Flutter' is a compendium of influences; Spicer's "red dirt noir" sound comes from a childhood spent in rural Pennsylvania and an adult life split between the dichotomy of the bustling and tightly packed environs of Los Angeles and the more wide-open spaces of Austin, Texas. But whatever influences a particular song (rural life, for example, in "Harlan," or the hopeful fortitude in "What I'm Saying"), it's Spicer's writing that makes these songs come alive.

On my second or third trip through 'Wow and Flutter,' it finally hit me: yeah, Spicer's creating a catchy sound. Yeah, she uses interesting harmonies and instrumentation. And, yeah, her voice is compelling, in a laid-back kind of way. But the words she chooses, the tiny images - the tiny movies - she creates, with unexpected turns of phrase and the kind of poetry that tells a story you want to be a part of - that's where she really shines. And that is why 'Wow and Flutter' (and Amilia K Spicer) is an album (and a musician) you want to hear.


'Wow and Flutter' will be released on April 28, and can be pre-ordered at Amilia K Spicer's website.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 9:00 AM

Video Premiere: I Draw Slow, "My Portion"

April 18, 2017

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

I Draw Slow My Portion sq.jpgWhether we care to admit it or not, addiction afflicts everyone, in some way or another, because it comes in many guises. Even pursuing good health can turn can be addictive. To be sure, not being personally caught up in chasing a high, lightening a dark, or numbing a pain doesn't mean we are immune. And those who miraculously escape addiction's grasp no doubt know someone held by it.

With "My Portion," I Draw Slow addresses the issue head on, begging love to hold the storyteller's hand. "With the rising sun, there's a hunger born again. Put out the flame," Dave Holden gently begs, offering his daily prayer for strength. He recognizes his challenges, sketches them in metaphorical visions. "The shortest road to the sunset doesn't turn," he sings, adding, "That's what I gotta learn. Every day."

Holden's sister Louise comes in to lift the choruses with harmonies that feel rather like his better angel tapping on his shoulder to remind him not to let the destructive devil drag him down: "Oh, love, you give me what you need. You take like a one-armed bandit. Oh, be my strength. Be my portion." We're all in this together, after all.


"My Portion" is the first single from I Draw Slow's new release, 'Turn Your Face To the Sun' due out on April 21 via Compass Records, available for pre-order at iTunes and

Upcoming tour dates:

April 19: Chestnut House Concerts, Lancaster, PA
April 20: Philadelphia Folksong Society, Philadelphia PA
April 21: Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, New York, NY
April 22: Winter Village and La Tourelle, Ithaca, NY
April 23: Nelson Odeon, Cazenovia, NY
April 25: Davidson College, Davidson, NC
April 26: ISIS Restaurant & Music Hall, Asheville, NC
April 27: City Winery Nashville Nashville, TN
April 29: MerleFest, Wilkesboro, NC
April 30: Hill Center's American Roots Music Series, Washington, DC

more information

Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:10 PM

A Q & A with John Craigie

April 14, 2017

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for Folk Alley

03-John-Craigie_please-credit-Maria-Davey 400sq.jpgSinger/songwriter John Craigie grew up in Southern California, which easily explains his breezy, bright folk-rock sensibilities. After graduating with a degree in mathematics from UC Santa Cruz, Craigie took to the road and the recording studio, which readily explains his existential musical explorations. Craigie's latest release -- 'No Rain, No Rose' -- finds him folding both of those components into one wonderful set of songs which he recorded in the old Victorian house he now calls home in Portland, Oregon.

Kelly McCartney: You're a California native, and a Portland resident. And your sense of place is all over this record. As a traveling musician, how important is having a set home base? Or does the road fill that role, to a certain extent?

John Craigie: For me, the road is home. Or, more specifically, the stage. When you are touring, the show is the one moment of the day that you feel at home. You are singing your songs, telling your stories, and playing your guitar. Having a home base was something that I avoided for years. That's what makes this record so special. I think my move to Portland was significant in the sense that it brought me out of my comfort zone, in the same way that traveling does for others. This record is the sound of a traveler dealing with a home base and using his time at home wisely. Bringing together the community that he found there and having them add to the songs that he wrote in that same house.

How did you decide to write a tribute song to Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 astronaut who didn't get to moon walk?

My father went to school with Buzz Aldrin and was also friends with Neil Armstrong. I met both growing up and my father used to always talk about the space program. We talked about Apollo 11 a lot and about how most people don't know about the third guy, Michael Collins. I always thought about him and how fame sometimes comes so close to you but slips past. It stuck with me for a long time, until I finally let it out in song last year.

Is the secret to a throwback sound all about the production and performance or is there something in the songwriting and arranging that helps out?

It's in all of those things, for sure. It's all about what you're listening to when you write the albums and who you pick for your engineer. Who you tell them that you want to sound similar to. Mostly, it's in how you play the songs while you record them. Lots of people these days like to play it safe and multi-track so they can get the cleanest sound. One instrument at a time. But that's not how the people who I listen to did it. They played it all together in the same room. And that's what we did.

You play in all kinds of venues and situations. How do you shift what you do in order to win over whatever audience you're in front of?

I tend to feel out the audience during the opener, or as they are walking in. See how they are responding. Sometimes, it takes me a few songs and stories before I can get a read on them. But, in general, I just do my thing. It is what it is and it seems that, if you are honest up there and genuine, people will pick up on that. People have seen so much in entertainment, at this point. They don't need anything flashy or crazy. They just want the truth, someone to be honest with them.

Since your debut in 2003, you've released a record damn near every year, save 2006 and 2014. Is that a product of being super-prolific or of needing an excuse to stay on the road?

It's hard to say where the inspiration comes from. The songs are there, and I feel like getting them out while they are relevant to me, while they make sense. There's nothing worse than writing a song and then having to wait a couple years to record it and then maybe it's not how you feel anymore. Or sometimes I think it's like a shark. People say that, if a shark stops swimming, it dies. Maybe the shark doesn't even know that. Maybe he just really likes swimming. He's in a big ass ocean. What else is he gonna do?


John Craigie's latest album, 'No Rain, No Rose' is available at iTunes and CD Baby.

Upcoming tour dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 3:38 PM

In Review: Guest DJ Sean Rowe

April 8, 2017

Sean_Rowe_By_Anthony_Saint_James_1-1024x683 Square.jpgSean Rowe joins Cindy Howes for a Guest DJ set on Folk Alley to mark the release of his new EP, New Lore. His fifth album was inspired and supported by a passionate community of fans cultivated through years and years of touring and playing house concerts. House concerts especially made it possible for Rowe to build authentic connections with his fans who generously funded the new album via Kickstarter. Rowe reached his Kickstarter goal within two weeks of the campaign's launch.

In his Folk Alley set, Sean shares some of his favorite songs by artists who have clearly inspired his writing and his performance style from Leonard Cohen to Nina Simone to John Lee Hooker. Listen for his selections and commentary in his hour-long Guest DJ set.

Audio for this Guest DJ hour is no longer available.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 8:10 AM

Album Review: Valerie June, 'The Order of Time'

March 28, 2017

by Kelly McCartney (@the KELword) for Folk Alley

Valerie June Time 500.jpgOne of the best things about modern roots music is its conflation and innovation, of traditions and of visions. And many of the artists making the greatest strides in that regard are Black artists, including Alabama Shakes, Rhiannon Giddens, Son Little, and Valerie June. Each brings an inimitable style and an indelible spirit to their work, offering listeners a ticket to ride along on their artistic adventure. That's surely what June has done with her utterly captivating new release, 'The Order of Time.'

As the title suggests, there's a somewhat structured disposition to the set that comes courtesy of its blues and folk artistic ancestors. But there's also something otherworldly about it that is pure June. This study of contrasts is made evident in the push-pull of her phrasing, the lull of her lilt. It's also there in the way she uses the instruments, her voice included. She alternately bends them to her will and bows herself to theirs. On "If And," horns and harmonium patiently drone underneath her melodic exploration, while on "Man Done Wrong," she eagerly follows her banjo's mystical lead.

From the swagger and sway of "Shake Down" to the lush love of "With You," 'The Order of Time' proves that Valerie June is in command of her craft in a way very few artists are.


'The Order of Time' is out now on Concord Records and is available at iTunes and

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:07 AM

In Review: Guest DJ, Peter Mulvey

March 24, 2017

Peter Mulvey pr sq.jpgMilwaukee singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey joined Cindy Howes on Folk Alley to talk about his new album 'Are You Listening?' on Righteous Babe Records and play guest DJ for the hour. Mulvey's new LP was produced in New Orleans by folk giant Ani DiFranco, of which he has been a fan for years. The two became friends after Mulvey opened some of her shows years back. They grew to become collaborators in 2015 when, in the wake of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, Ani covered and helped spread the word of Peter's protest song "Take Down Your Flag."

Mulvey spoke of his 25 years as a professional musician in addition to commenting on what it was like to make the new record with DiFranco.

Audio for this Guest DJ hour is no longer available.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 8:02 PM

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