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What's with the Confetti?

June 29, 2007

Hey! We've hit another important milestone. More than 75,000 music fans have registered at to listen to the best in folk, acoustic, traditional, world, Americana, bluegrass and more roots-based musical forms. Thanks for coming, thanks for staying and thanks for telling your friends!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:29 PM | Comments (4)

Video from House Small Business Committee hearing on the impact of new webcasting royalties

Yesterday (June 28th) the full House Committee for Small Business heard from a panel of witnesses on “Assessing the Impact of the Copyright Royalty Board Decision to Increase Royalty Rates on Recording Artists and Webcasters.”

Among 7 witnesses representing various interests, the two musicians on the panel included classic county artist, Joey Allcorn, and Cathy Fink - whose music is often heard on Folk Alley. They present both sides of the issue coming from a musician’s point of view.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)

Lord of the Dance... Live and on Tape

June 28, 2007

Several months back I went to see a performance of Lord of the Dance. It began with a flute player, who was obviously a cast member with a prop. The costumes were brilliant and the dancing tack sharp. For years I had dreamt about seeing this in person and feeling the energy of the foot stomps (-foot percussion, or taps, etc. ) Most anticipated were the violins, because I had watched them several times on DVD and thought it was amazing! I started to notice they really were not playing-and I thought it was very odd. I also noticed the sound I heard in the speaker was out of synch with what my eyes were seeing. I wondered why such a reputable production would not be performed live? I was so disappointed as I realized I was listening to pre-recorded music and added tap sound at a LIVE performance! Sort of defeats the whole purpose I figure. Is this practice any different than TV or movies? I am curious if this would bother anyone else as they walked out of the show? Or do I need to get out more...
Shannon McDaniel

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 11:27 AM | Comments (19)

June 26, 2007 is a Day of Silence for Internet Radio

June 26, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, Internet broadcasters come together to support a Day of Silence to demonstrate what the Web would sound like if music streaming was forced to shut down due to increased royalty rates. Folk Alley has decided not to go silent but instead to be loud and proud. Please, if you feel strongly about our service, tell your U.S. Senator and Representative. Already, Congress is hearing your collective voices and they are taking actions to counteract the new rates put in place by the Copyright Royalty Board, which are set to be enacted on July 15. The proposed rates are more than 7 times those paid by satellite broadcasts (radio does not pay these royalties) and must be supported by a complex reporting system that will require many, many man hours each month. The fees will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006 and could eventually total more than Folk Alley's yearly budget.

Visit Folk Alley's Save Net Radio page for a full list of U.S. Representatives that have officially added their support to H.R. 2060, the Internet Equality Act and additional information on making your voice heard. This royalty increase affects all webcasters, commercial and public without taking size, public service or financial situation into account (small, independent and educational webcasters will be especially hard hit). We love artists, that's why we want to be around for a long time to come to promote and support folk music, spreading its reach around the globe through Internet streaming.

Speak up! Be loud on the Day of Silence!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 12:01 AM | Comments (10)

Mystical Connections

June 25, 2007

It's odd just how certain things..poems, bits of writing, certain music, etc. can appeal so strongly to a person. I mean..certain things from particular individuals can appeal so strongly to me in particular that I keep going back for more from the creators of it, hungry each time. I find that I'm often satisfied by the "feeding", but will come away hungry for more from them, so I keep returning to the well to see what else they may have for me. On occasion it's a shared exchange, and sometimes it's something sent to me without solicitation, and their timing is impeccable..

There are those who write things which I'm astonished by, which sooth or challenge or excite me, and I'll return on occasion to have a nice listen, but there are certain individuals whose work appeals to me on such a deep, inner level that I'll make a tentative approach, with excited caution almost, knowing that what I come across may solicit some reaction which might give away how very affected by it I am, or will have to confront something so untouchable in myself that I'm forced to deal with it right then and there. It's almost as if someone has loosed the lock to Pandora's box. Losing my breath, tears, gasping, dropping my jaw, standing there frozen and unable to move..all of those loss-of-composure things we'd sometimes like to keep private and to ourselves until we can gain composure come in to play here.

There's a sense of isolation almost, when I experience something so meaningful to me. I'm in my own head and perfectly aware of it's reactionary effect on my own body, but am aware that few around me may react to the same thing at the same time and in that same fashion. Some things fetch water to the eyes so quickly that even I can't see it coming.

Once in a blue moon I'll find an artist whose lyrical and musical meanderings will drag me down beneath the surface like a trawler's net without dolphin/turtle
safety release, and I'm helpless to escape, and not really all that sure that I want to be released! All I know for certain is that I'm compelled to keep coming back for more.

I often wonder why certain individuals' work, the way he or she makes language and music (for music is a language), speaks so directly to me. What is the possible connection? On the rarest of occasions a kindred spirit will emerge from this, and that gives me a great deal of comfort, just knowing that there is someone else out there who can identify with those inner passions and fears and joys and ways of going about thinking. The connection is direct and solid, even without the long history friendship affords. The business of social niceties in getting to know one another is skipped past, no longer important. I'm mystified by this.

I cannot imagine that I am the only one who has experienced this psychological and musical language phenomena. Has anyone else experienced this Mystical Musical Connection?

Posted by JoLynn Braswell at 5:11 AM | Comments (29)

Mandy Moore Works with Weepies on New Album

June 19, 2007

After reading the new album by actress/pop princess Mandy Moore described as "folkie," I clicked through so that I could scoff in an informative way. Much to my surprise, a good half of the songs on Wild Hope were written by Deb Talen and Steve Tannen of The Weepies (who were nominated for the Shortlist Prize this year and I once saw perform at my church). I really don't know what to make of that, outside of the fact that Deb and Steve are going to be making a few dollars off of big market airplay. Can I bring myself to actually purchase a Mandy Moore album? We'll see.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 2:32 PM | Comments (5)

Folk Songs Appropriate For Funerals and/or for Remembering a Loved One?

June 18, 2007

My oldest childhood friend lost her battle with cancer on Friday, June 15th. She was so brave. She fought 3 different kinds of cancer in a 5-year period with so much grace. She was my anchor on earth and now has become my angel. We've been friends since we were born, and I would like to honor her memory with some appropriate songs. She was a folkie but she went country on me along time ago (and I'm not country). I introduced her to Cheryl Wheeler last year. We seemed to find common ground there, and she loved Cheryl's non-political songs. The only songs that come to mind to honor her with are old stand-bys such as "Bookends" by Paul Simon, "Goodbye My Friend" by Karla Bonoff, and maybe "Buddha/Ghandi" by Cheryl Wheeler, "Changes" by Phil Ochs or "Heaven" by Julie Gold. "Jews Don't Camp" by David Buskin of Modern Man cracked her up and she listened to it during chemo.

Does anyone have additional suggestions for songs I may not have thought of?

Thanks a bunch.

Nina Gray
folk alley listener

Posted by Nina Gray at 12:41 PM | Comments (22)

Download June's Alleycast Today

June 14, 2007

On this episode of the Alleycast we feature our exclusive Live From Folk Alley concert recordings with Antje Duvekot and The Greencards. We’ll also listen to Open Mic artists Chris Castle and Wil Maring—along with an interesting Open Mic collaboration between Bob McCarthy and Jenifer Sherrill. Singer songwriter Susan Werner recently stopped by the Folk Alley studios to play us some songs and speak with Jim Blum. We’ll feature Susan’s official Folk Alley session on this Alleycast, along with the obscure sounds of Providence—a band that released only one album in 1972. Download the Alleycast today!

Posted by Chris Boros at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)

Here's what's Hot (and already in Fresh Cuts); And Here's what's on the spot.

June 12, 2007

As you might guess, I review LOTs of new releases, often 20 a week. Since I've been listening to the latest for over 30 years, like it or not, I'm in a position to notice invention and xeroxes. The use of poetic devices, implied themes, clever arrangements, and the like are always a plus, but let's focus on originality. These impressions may or may not reflect our entire staff.


Dynamo Laura Love cannot be imitated. Her roots-rock funk-folk group is cutting edge and entertaining. Continuing to stay one step ahead of her audience, Negrass presents a whole new band (Scott Vestal, Tim O'Brien, even another bassist, Mike Bub). Laura recently went on a search of her family history; her great grandmother survived slavery for example, and migrated north (Check out the song Saskatchewan). This album demanded lots of research and preparation and it shows. Even old warhorses like Shady Grove are presented so differently, its almost as if it's a new song. Even though she's gone bluegrass here, the energy ROCKS; you could dance to the whole album and check out the lyrics on the 3rd or 4th listen. Then you'll never tire of it.


Is this Celtic or Middle Eastern? Wait a minute... aren't The McDades from Alberta? I saw this group stun the Folk Alliance crowd in Nashville a few years ago and today they are even better. A family band with years of experience,
you cannot pigeon-hole them. Their instrumentals start with an Irish flair, but feature jazz like solos and arrangements. The melodies seem influenced by Eastern European style time signatures, often featuring bass solos, and Jeremiah McDade almost cannot contain himself on flutes and whistles. He just explodes. The group has male and female lead singers, good song selection, and they don't copy what they listen to.

joe craven.jpg

This one came out in 2005 but we just got it. All instrumental, each selection is a fusion of traditions from two different countries and features Joe on at least 7 instruments. You might hear Jamaica and Ireland, Africa and Appalachia, or a tune like 'Turkey in the Straw' the way Frenchmen Django Reinhardt might have played it. David Grisman calls Craven the world's most versatile sideman, and this time it's Joe who has plenty of help (Mike Marshall, Jim Boggio) though he barely needs them! Try to contain yourself listening to this, and be thankful you don't have my job trying to figure out which tunes NOT to play on Folk Alley!


Two words: SLOW DOWN. If everything is in high gear all the time, then there's no place to go. There's also the risk of every song sounding the same. Yes, speed is fun, but style is better. The Hackensaws own all the right instruments, now they need to give them a chance to breathe. Start with composition - writing or choosing songs with a message. Tell us the story in a colorful way; use imagery. It's often a good idea to hire a producer who doesn't know your material; a fresh set of ears will open yours. There were a couple gems on the last album, especially High Faller about witnessing a death. This was very moving, and demonstrates that the ingredients are there. The Hackensaws will get better, but not if they rush things.

bob mccarthy.jpg

I'm guessing Bob attended Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace music camp in Ohio, because he sounds just like Jorma. The trouble is, we already have Jorma. Too many of these songs have been chosen too many times. (Deep River Blues, Sittin' On Top of The World, Keep on the Sunny Side, Pallet on the Floor.) Unfortunately, each version sounds too much like Doc Watson's or Jorma's. If you're going to tackle one of these songs, change it. Put it in a different key, add other instruments, make it YOURS. Listen to Harry Manx tackle Sittin' on Top, or Laura Love's arrangement of Shady Grove. Recording familiar songs demands reinvention. There's nothing wrong with going to a restaurant and trying to make the same meal at home. There's no need, however, to make it for us. We can go to the same restaurant. It's obvious Bob knows how to cook. I want to taste his recipes!

chocolate drops.jpg
(On the Spot...)

I often tell Linda Fahey that I listen to every CD the same way I attend every movie. I do not pretend to be neutral. I expect to like it. What other way is there to live? If I'm disappointed, so be it, but I don't walk in the door with a scowl. When the Chocolate Drops played Merlefest in April, I rushed to the stage to see them. I left after three songs. Old music played the same old way - they danced, but nothing looked very challenging. I thought the album might be different, but there's nothing there that isn't already in our library on other CDs or records. They're being touted as an "African American string band" and that's fine, but what makes the Chocolate Drops special? This question need to be answered before the next recording. I'm afraid we've already received this one several times.

Jim Blum

Posted by Jim Blum at 7:11 PM | Comments (8)

Jewel: Folksinger

June 1, 2007

I was watching a tv promo yesterday for a summer show that puts celebrities in stock cars and has them race NASCAR drivers. Jewel, multi-platinum singer/songwriter, looks up at one point and says, "I bet you never thought you'd get beat by a folksinger" (or maybe something more grammatically correct - that's how we would say it in Indiana). It was interesting that after all of her success as a pop star, she still considers herself a folkie, as if singing in stadiums diminishes her credibility as an artist. I appreciate that (she started out on solo guitar and did an acoustic tour after Who Will Save Your Soul became so huge, so she has our kind of street cred). You go Jewel!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 11:07 AM | Comments (7)

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