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F.J. McMahon's Web Site

November 28, 2007


You may recall on a past edition of The Alleycast Podcast, I spoke with F.J. McMahon, who released only one record called "Spirit of the Golden Juice" in 1969. If you'd like further information or to order the record, it's now officially availabe from his new web site. Check it out:

Posted by Chris Boros at 5:26 PM

Cookin' with New Releases; Here's what's on the Stove. (Better Read This Before You Order)

November 19, 2007

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Blue Rodeo - Small Miracles
Believe it or not, this is the 11th album from Canada's contribution to Americana, and the menu here is diverse. Most of these meals offer more than tasty flavors, dealing with the healing powers of nature, the loss of love, and clinical depression. Greg Keelor sings the album's title track and is clearly distraught over the changes in his lover's moods, both before and after medication. Don't let the subject matter throw you, because the song's seriousness is its greatest attraction. Since so many of us carry troubles, it's easy to connect with someone who's willing to share out loud. If you're in the mood for something philosophical, with a steel guitar and a piano backdrop, give Blue Rodeo a try.

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Ry Cooder - My Name is Buddy
Ry Cooder's concept album about a traveling cat in the depression-era West offers a surprising complexity of ingredients, despite its intended musical simplicity. Throughout his lyrics, the symbolism is vastly layered, tasting of John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath," Woody Guthrie's penchant for protest, and Aesop's Fables. In the album's second song, we find a hungry "Buddy" the cat overcoming his distrust for mice partaking in the mouse's food and then sharing his shelter with his new friend. Cooder's rich symbolisms of prejudice are echoed throughout the album, and are sometimes answered with acceptance. With more than a subtle hint of politics, a touch of American history and a rich base of social commentary, My Name is Buddy will leave you with a delightful aftertaste and an experience worth talking about.

John Sebastian and David Grisman - Satisfied
Forty years ago, John Sebastian walked into Washington Square Park with a dozen harmonicas tied to his belt. Mandolinist David Grisman saw this and never forgot it. They met, played together, and later both joined The Even Dozen Jug Band, playing Carnegie Hall and on The Tonight Show. From that point until today, their paths rarely crossed. John plays harmonica and various guitars; David is featured on mandolin, mandolas and, on one number, banjo mandolin. The selections are an expected mix of traditional and original revisits. Most of the songs and tunes we've heard before. There was one surprise. As you may know John has lost a good bit of his vocal range and thus I expected this collection to be all instrumental. Instead, he does sing half the songs, and it sounds like he's struggling. A good chef knows his best recipes and those are the ones he prepares for guests. On top of that, if a burner is out or is working intermittently, he avoids it all together. Grisman and Sebastian as co-producers know how to cook. On Satisfied it sounds like they were only cooking for each other.

The Everybodyfields - Nothing is Okay
This new group from Johnson City, Tennessee serves up a peaceful romantic dinner with a few Southern accents. While some of the dishes hold their own, and are even filling, it's fair to point out that the entrees featuring Jill Andrews are the best. In other words, she overshadows her partner Sam Quinn as a singer. He has the better sideburns however. Folk Alley is sharing three from the album and Jill sings them all ("Leaving Today," "Savior," and "Wasted Time"). Through these songs, we get a grip on why people go away, and why we falsely expect love to do the hard work of making us happy. We've all been where these songs will take us, and it's nice to know we're not alone. Removing these three from the menu, however, leaves you without much to order.

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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
These two first performed together at a Leadbelly tribute for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. They enjoyed the experience so much that this album was born. Upon tasting, it becomes immediately obvious how well this unlikely pair of chefs compliment each other. It turns out both were fans of the other. But take warning, while Krauss and Plant are known for high energy, this collection of songs is mostly solemn with little variety. One of the album's brighter numbers, however, is Gene Clark's "Through the Morning, Through the Night" with guitar work provided by Mark Ribot and T Bone Burnett. Most of the other songs are purposely slow. Burnett also produced the album and one wonders if he might be the one supplying the recipes. His spices were carefully selected: Greg Leisz on steel, the aforementioned Mark Ribot, and a popular session bassist, Dennis Crouch. Only on the album's last song do we get to hear clawhammer banjoist Riley Baugus, Mike Seeger on autoharp, and Norman Blake on guitar. While this album is sweet and soothing to the core, it may leave you wanting more flavors .

Posted by Jim Blum at 9:58 PM | Comments (2)

Download the November Alleycast!

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On the Alleycast for November, tune in to hear Folk Alley's exclusive concert recording with Nickel Creek from Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. We'll also check out Folk Alley's recent in-studio session recording with Eliza Gilkyson and Nina Gerber. Open Mic artists shine in this episode too with songs from Green Tea, and Mark Steven Brocke. Plus, we'll hear the often forgotten sounds of Marc Brierley. He released only two full-length records in 1968 and 1969. We caught up with him from his home in England for an exclusive Folk Alley interview. Download the Alleycast today.

Posted by Chris Boros at 12:56 PM

Folk Alley Joins NPR and 11 Other Stations to Launch NPR Music

November 7, 2007

On Nov. 5, NPR and 11 other NPR Member public radio stations recognized for music programming launched NPR Music, a new, free, comprehensive multimedia music discovery web site at This new site features on-air and online content aggregated from Folk Alley, NPR and all stations participating in the launch project, as well as original materials such as interviews, reviews, blogs and live performances. NPR Music permits users to explore, experience and enjoy the full range of music genres found on public radio. Through its stream and other artist-based content, Folk Alley will provide visitors to with the best in folk, Celtic, bluegrass, Americana, World, acoustic instrumentals and other traditional and roots music-based genres.

Joining Folk Alley and NPR to launch this new service are public radio stations KEXP and KPLU Seattle; KUT Austin; WBGO Newark; WDUQ Pittsburgh; WFUV and WNYC New York; WGBH Boston; WGUC Cincinnati; WXPN Philadelphia; and American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio. All partners will provide content including live concerts, studio sessions, features and reviews. NPR Music also links to the live music streams of all participating stations, including WKSU in Kent, OH, Folk Alley’s parent station, which will contribute a stream of its classical music programming. Additional NPR affiliate stations and producers will join the project in the coming months.

Folk Alley can already be found on through posted studio sessions featuring singer/songwriter Susan Werner and contemporary roots band The Duhks, along with an exclusive live concert recording of newgrass trio The Greencards. Future Folk Alley contributions to NPR Music will include concert recordings, interviews, music lists and studio sessions spotlighting artists on the playlist. Artists currently streamed on Folk Alley include Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Alison Krauss & Union Station, David Francey, Tom Paxton, Eric Bibb, and Nickel Creek.

Folk Alley Director of Marketing and Programming Linda Fahey says, “We're thrilled to be part of this exciting online music collaboration with NPR. Not only will NPR Music help folk and acoustic music fans find, it will provide a great opportunity for the artists that excite us and our online listeners to reach a larger public radio audience.”

“ is recognized as one of the most exciting online projects created by a public broadcaster, offering a desirable mix of unique content. We’re delighted that our colleagues at Folk Alley are joining NPR and the 11 other stations at to launch this new service,” says Maria Thomas, Senior Vice President, NPR Digital Media. “NPR Music evolves the high-quality music journalism, performance and presentation that have been the longtime trademark of NPR and public radio stations like WKSU, the producer of”

Specific sections of the site are dedicated to rock/pop/folk, classical, jazz/blues, world and urban music. In each genre, program, and subject area, users can explore renowned music journalism; intimate interviews and studio sessions with artists; exclusive web concerts featuring national and regional musicians; reviews and news; original blogs from critics, experts and artists; and podcasts.

At launch, the site features two new blogs. The “All Songs Considered” blog, written by producers Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, will go behind the scenes of the online weekly music show produced by NPR. “Monitor Mix” will offer music picks and industry news from writer and musician Carrie Brownstein, formerly of the band Sleater-Kinney.

The site culls from NPR's and the participating stations' extensive music archives to present thousands of features; the site's Artist Index alone, an A to Z artist directory, will, at launch, offer content covering more than 2000 performers. It is expected that 200 new features will be added monthly. The NPR Music service enables partner stations and NPR member stations to incorporate a variety of modular content offerings, including RSS feeds and Javascript modules, into their station web sites.

NPR Music also offers original video and audio features. Along with the Artist Index, some of the featured new elements being produced by NPR and participating stations are: Project Song - a video feature challenging songwriters to write and record an original song in two days at the NPR studios (the first participant is songwriter Stephin Merritt, to be followed by indie band Georgie James); Studio Sessions - in-studio audio performances, some including video; Discover Songs - audio stories about, and recommendations for, individual songs; and Music Lists - five-song listening sets curated by musicians and station staff.

Coinciding with the launch of NPR Music is an exclusive media player available across This player allows users to create a personal playlist for audio or video (dating from 2004 to present) on the site and makes dynamic recommendations for related content depending on a user's selections. The playlist also offers persistent links to NPR's 24-hour stream and the five-minute NPR News Summary.

The member supported brings the best in singer/songwriter, acoustic instrumental, Celtic, Americana, bluegrass, world and traditional folk styles to listeners across the U.S. and in more than 150 countries around the planet over the Internet. Along with its 24-hour music stream, is the on-line source for Folk Alley playlists, artist interviews, folk music news, original performances and Open Mic, a virtual "coffeehouse" on-line that provides amateur and yet-to-be-discovered artists the chance to upload songs for consideration by Folk Alley's 80,000 registered users. is produced by 89.7 WKSU, a service of Kent State University.
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Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:12 PM | Comments (9)

The Kent State Folk Festival: Kent, Ohio - Nov. 8-17

November 6, 2007

Because we're not doing enough already, each fall half of the Folk Alley staff helps produce the Kent State Folk Festival (as part of our "day jobs" at WKSU). And, it's almost here! In fact, the countdown has reached two days and a couple of hours before Melanie takes the spotlight at the Kent Stage in beautiful downtown Kent, Ohio on Nov. 8. Melanie was a flower child singer/songwriter in the '60s and has kept on going. Steve Forbert opens. The next night at the Kent Stage, Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks present their "Salute to the Folk Years." This show combines Hot Licks favorites with songs from the folk revival era that are the "real deal." It's a great opportunity to hear a really entertaining band play classics made popular by Pete Seeger, Buffy Ste. Marie, the Limelighters, the Kingston Trio and many others.

On Nov. 11, Kent Stage offers up a bluegrass package that includes Tim O'Brien AND Mountain Heart. It's the best of both worlds! Mountain Heart's high-energy bluegrass coupled with everything that Tim O'Brien sings (I'm so glad he won the Grammy!).

The second week features Honky Tonk Night with Joey Allcorn and Wayne "the Train" Hancock on Nov. 14 and Jam Band Night (we love theme nights!) with Blue Sky Mission Club and People of Earth on Nov. 15 (both at the Kent Stage). November 16 is Folk Alley 'Round Town with free concerts throughout the city of Kent all day. This year, we've added venues, so we're up to 30 (everyone likes 'Round Town - which BTW is abbreviate FART). You can see the entire list of acts at If you have a couple of bucks, you can see Steppin' In It at the Kent Stage that night at 9 p.m.

The 41st KSFF concludes on Nov. 17 with free workshops from noon to 5 p.m. in the Kent State University Student Center, followed by the talent contest at 5 p.m. in the KIVA and the mainstage show in the KSU Ballroom featuring David Bromberg & the Angel Band (he has revived his once thriving career after a hiatus spent dealing in rare violins) and the never predictable Dr. John. Tickets for everything (tout le monde) are on sale now. Look for me live blogging and hawking T-shirts about the town.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:59 PM | Comments (3)

Congratulations to the Halloween Winners!

November 1, 2007

Congrats go out to Davis Prickett from Florida and Jefferson Svengsouk from New York. Not only were they the only two people to have the "guts" to enter the Halloween contest, but they both correctly identified all ten film clips in the Halloween Stream. I honestly thought nobody would get them all. Needless to say, I was impressed. Here are the answers:

1) The Exorcist
2) Blood Feast
3) A Nightmare on Elm Street
4) Halloween
5) Re-Animator
6) Friday the 13th Part 2
7) The Evil Dead
8) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
9) Night of the Living Dead
10) Psycho

Posted by Chris Boros at 5:36 PM | Comments (5)

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