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Two Days Left to Earn A US Tax Deduction

December 30, 2004

Make a donation to Folk Alley before tomorrow (12/31) at midnight and you can take it off of your US taxes. Folk Alley is a program of Kent State University, a registered 501c3, so your gift can do double duty. Speaking of double duty, donations are also eligible for matching gifts from many companies.

For those of you not in the US, we will of course take your donations as well and CDs from Gordon Lightfoot and Compass Records are still available for donations above $70.

And a giant thank you to everyone who has already given. This year has been truly exciting and we all feel like we're really on our way, and we couldn't have gotten here without you - whether you told a few friends, sent financial support, wrote us, or just wished us well.

So here's to 2004 and it's on to 2005!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 6:11 PM | Comments (2)

Happy Hogmanay

December 29, 2004

"What's Hogmanay"? I asked in reply to an email sent to me at Folk Alley.

"Gasp! :-)," wrote Brian in Edinburgh, Scotland. Brian enlightened me:

"Hogmanay is the huge Scottish Celebration of New Year's eve - 31st December. Traditionally a time of "First Footing" (Visiting friends & Neighbours) in time for "The Bells" - (Midnight) taking with you various items - to ensure good fortune for the house in the coming year.

More recently though a lot of that is dying down & the tendency is for people to gather in various locations & celebrate publicly - Think New York & Times Square.
The Guys tend to dress up in Kilts & there will be a fair amount of bagpipers around - usually much drink (especially whisky) is consumed & general merriment ensues. On the stroke of midnight everybody sings "Auld Lang Syne" & greets total strangers as if they were long lost friends. Edinburgh does it big & has a huge street party in the town centre (Around 250,000 people - many from all over the world) with bands & fireworks from all the hills surrounding the town)."

How will you celebrate the New Year? Whatever you do, however you celebrate, all the best to you in 2005. Happy New Year!

Posted by at 4:19 PM | Comments (5)

We almost lose Jim... but he saves his nuts

December 15, 2004

A true story from Folk Alley.

This week Northeast Ohio got its first "serious" snow of the season (and I'm sure it won't be our last). Folk Alley Host Jim Blum lives an hour away from our studios in what is politely called the "Snow Belt," an area near Cleveland that is particularly prone to lake-effect squalls. In fact, he often gets stuck in or can't make it up his driveway.

Yesterday, Jim was on his way to Kent in his rickety van previewing folk CDs when he saw a Jeep sliding sideways straight for him. He locked eyes with the driver and knew that his only chance was to off-road it, hoping that he had enough speed not to get stuck and that there wasn't a ditch involved. But instead of steering with both hands, he kept one free to hold on to a can of mixed nuts that he had brought with him to snack on in the car. Seconds from disaster and Jim has the presence of mind to avoid a crash and save his all-important snackfood. That is a great mind at work!

To all of our friends in the North, Winter is finally here. To those of you in warmer climes, we'll see you soon. Please send directions.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 2:31 PM | Comments (22)

Grammy Noms for Folk Folks

December 14, 2004

The nominations for this year's Grammy Awards came out last week. Johnny Cash is again nominated, despite having passed away over a year ago, and the late Ray Charles is a lock to "walk away" with several prizes, but there are many nominees who are still among the living. Without the sentimental pull of the late Warren Zevon's last album mucking up the mix, this year's nominees for Best Contemporary Folk Album feature plenty of original singer/songwriter material and only include one entry focused on the work of dead artists (although Dave Van Ronk rises again in the traditional category).

Ani DiFranco, who won a Grammy last year for best CD design (for which she's nominated again this year), makes a mark with her music with a nod for Educated Guess. Steve Earle's political statement, The Revolution Starts... Now, earned him a ticket to the Staples Center on Feb. 13. Eliza Gilkyson and Patty Griffin bring two powerful releases, Land Of Milk And Honey and Impossible Dream respectively, to the list. The nominees are rounded out with The Unbroken Circle, a CD tribute to The Carter Family produced by John Carter Cash that includes contributions from Sheryl Crow, John Prine and some interesting collaborations between artists.

Norman & Nancy Blake, who appear on Unbroken Circle, are nominated themselves for The Morning Glory Ramblers in the Best Traditional Folk Album category. The Blakes are up against another compilation, Beautiful Dreamer - The Songs of Stephen Foster; a Cajun band (BeauSoleil with Gitane Cajun); the late Dave Van Ronk's final performance on ...And The Tin Pan Bended, And The Story Ended... (which includes plenty of Dave's talking between the songs as well); and folk singer and storyteller Rosalie Sorrels and friends (My Last Go Round - listen to a preview on her web site).

The Grammy Awards ceremony (which most likely will not present any of these artists on stage) will be broadcast live in the U.S. on CBS on Feb. 13 beginning at 8 p.m. EST.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:23 PM

Mary Travers Ailing

December 8, 2004

Mary Travers, one-third of the landmark folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, was diagnosed with Leukemia soon after Thanksgiving. The 67 year-old singer has already begun a course of chemotherapy and is expected to recover. Fans are sending their well-wishes through the discussion board in the Gallery Coffeehouse section at

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:28 PM | Comments (8)

Links for CDs from Jim's list in the Folk Alley Chat

December 7, 2004

These are the featured artists and CDs referenced in the Folk Alley Chat for December:

Maria Muldaur - I'm a Woman

Sweet Honey in the Rock - The Women Gather

The Crickets - The Crickets and Their Buddies

Laura Nyro - Spread Your Wings and Fly

Michelle Shocked - Arkansas Traveler

John Wesley Harding - It Happened One Night/It Never Happened at All

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 11:07 AM | Comments (1)

Happy Holidays!

December 6, 2004

Happy Holidays from!
We've seen snow a couple of times now (and I'm sure there's more to come) and it seemed like the right time to have (almost) everyone pose for a holiday season staff photo. This is what we look like in hats. Peace, love and harmony y'all!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 6:23 PM | Comments (11)

Dylan on 60 Minutes

December 3, 2004

This Sunday (12/5), following the NFL game, CBS 60 Minutes presents a rare interview with Bob Dylan. Ed Bradley introduces the legendary singer/songwriter in his first tv interview in nearly 20 years. 60 Minutes airs in the U.S. at 7 p.m. ET/PT and 6 p.m. CT. Dylan recently had his song Like a Rolling Stone named the best rock song ever by Rolling Stone Magazine (perhaps not a coincidence). Holding 10 spots on the list of 500 songs compiled by 172 artists, industry folks and critics, Dylan came in 3rd place in total entries behind the Rolling Stones (14) and the Beatles (23).

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:01 PM | Comments (6)

I and My Chimney

December 2, 2004

Herman Melville wrote a short story called "I and My Chimney" about an old codger's love affair with his big, smoky, stone chimney. I wasn't thinking of that story when I shared my experience of a chimney fire in my recent appeal to Folk Alley listeners, but the response from chimney-wise folk fans reminds me of that old grade-school reading assignment. Melville understood, in a way that few of us do in this time of central heating, the powerful bond that exists between a cabin dweller and the health of his chimney. And the consequences that can result from benign neglect. Here are some of the notes I've received from experienced fire-tenders:

Jim applies the miracle creosote spray to avoid another disaster
Your story brings back my brush with burning my house down. Man how those chimney fires roar and howl! Scares the bejesus out of a soul! - Brooks Jones

Never, never, never pour water into a chimney fire. The sudden change in temperature will surely cause the brick to crack and even collapse. Back on the farm in Manitoba if we ever had a fire in the chimney, my mother or dad, whom ever was around, poured salt down the chimney. Fortunately, we only had one fire in my life time. Good dry wood and a hot fire is the best preventative. - Al Procyshyn, Revelstoke, BC

We live in Phoenix, so the whole "heating " thing is kind of alien to us.- Neil Urban

You are never to use water to put out a chimney fire ( it will ruin your pipe and stove ) - use baking soda or sand and smother the fire and if you think you need to put it out in the chimney just close it up on top ( put a bucket over it ( metal of course )) and do just as you did below cut off all air. - Teresa Vitale

Thanks for reminding me about chimney cleaning. - Marty Bradbury

A chimney fire is a great, if potentially dangerous, way of cleaning your flue of creosote buildup. - Dave Cook

Here in Germany we have frequent controls from the district chimney-sweeper in order to prevent such adventures - seems to be a real outback where you live - the old pioneer days. - Ingo Rasch, Wuppertal, Germany

And speaking of Melville and past English assignments, this note from retired English teacher Harlan Underhill in Ann Arbor, Michigan correcting my admonition that "The next day I cleaned out the chimney and the stove pipe as I should of BEFORE I lit my first fire of the season." Harlan reminds me that " either 'should've' or 'should have' " is the proper usage.

Thanks for the advice, and thanks for your contributions. Your support keeps the fires burning at Folk Alley. - Jim

Posted by Jim Blum at 1:41 PM | Comments (6)

Gordon Lightfoot Winners!

December 1, 2004

News that is too good keep until the next Folk Alley Chat (E-mailing out on Monday), here are the winners of the Gordon Lightfoot autographed copies of Harmony from Linus Entertainment. There were a total of 1310 entries in the Folk Alley Gordon Lightfoot quiz with 53 people answering all ten questions correctly. Chuck randomly drew 10 names and here they are:

Sherri Hamilton - Rochester, WA
Kari Kukkonen - Johnstown, CO
Neal Walters - Greencastle, PA
Jon Chandler - Salem, OR
Jerry Houff - East Hampton, CT
John Mercer - Oberlin, OH
Kevin Hackett - Richmond Hill, Canada
Carole Rennie - Centerburg, OH
Valerie Magee - Englewood, CO
Lynn Chilleme - Huntington Beach, CA

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 1:56 PM | Comments (3)

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