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'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: The Brother Brothers,"Cairo, Illinois"

October 27, 2016

By Susan Bibeau/Beehive Productions for

brothers 200 x200.pngThere is something inherently mesmerizing about watching musicians perform live in the intimate confines of the Pewter Shop. The brothers Moss - Adam (fiddle) and David (guitar, cello) - aka The Brother Brothers upped the ante on this vibey feeling with their dreamy harmonies and the way in which they seem to finish each other's musical sentences. I love the way that this song in particular feels as if it was meant to be heard in this 100 year-old room.

Beehive Productions will be back filming the Pewter Sessions at the 2017 Winter Hoot! -- February 3-5th at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, New York.

This is a "pay-what-you-can" festival and proceeds from the event fund Ashokan Center program scholarships for thousands of regional children.

More information and line-up details are at

Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:09 PM

'HOOT Thursday' Video Premiere: Lula Wiles, "Leave Me Now"

October 20, 2016

By Susan Bibeau/Beehive Productions for

Pewter Sessions 300.jpgIn my opinion, the most exciting part about filming a live performance is capturing an artist in the moment of creating something entirely unique. Each performance is its own little work of art. Add to that a live audience and the results can be magical.

For the past three years, Beehive Productions has been the lucky host of the 'Pewter Sessions' -- 3-song sets, that we film and record in front of a live audience in the historic, 100 plus-year-old Pewter Shop on the grounds of the Ashokan Center, near Woodstock, NY. The tiny one-room space is only big enough to seat 50 or so, giving the sessions a special intimacy all their own.

These sessions take place during The HOOT -- a down-to-earth music festival held twice a year at the Ashokan Center. Produced by folk-roots duo, Mike + Ruthy, with help from a large volunteer crew, this sweet little fest is the epitome of grass-roots, community spirit and features local and world-class traveling performers along with family activities, local food and beer vendors, and on-site hiking and camping.

Here is the Boston-based trio, Lula Wiles performing a brand new song "Leave Me Now" filmed live during the Pewter Sessions at the 2016 Summer Hoot. It was about 100 degrees inside the little room during this set!

We are excited to be releasing a selection of this past summer's sessions here on the blog every Thursday leading up to the 2017 Winter Hoot which will be held February 3-5th, and headlined by Natalie Merchant.

Admission is to the festival is "pay-what-you-can" and proceeds from the event fund Ashokan Center program scholarships for thousands of regional children.

For more info visit

Posted by Linda Fahey at 2:22 PM

Guest DJ Hour: Kim Ruehl

October 18, 2016

speak-up-front-cover_large.jpgKim Ruehl, editor of the quarterly roots music journal No Depression, joined Cindy Howes for a guest DJ hour on Folk Alley to talk about the new in-print issue. No Depression starting printing quarterly editions last year, each having its own theme. The Fall 'Speak Up!' issue focuses on musicians who are known for speaking up about injustices around the world.

Kim shared music from artists who are featured in the latest edition and talked about their various contributions.

Kim Ruehl's Guest DJ selections:

Indigo Girls - "Rise of the Black Messiah"
John Prine - "Paradise"
The Weavers - "Goodnight Irene"
Woody Guthrie - "This Land Is Your Land"
Ani DiFranco - "Woe Be Gone"
Fantastic Negrito - "Working Poor"
Hamell on Trial - "Happiest Man in the World"
Anais Mitchell - "Why We Build the Wall"
Kaia Kater - "Rising Down"
Aki Kumar - "Bombay Stroll"

Audio for this Guest DJ hour is no longer available.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:27 PM

Guest DJ Hour: Kelly McCartney Recaps AmericanaFest 2016

October 8, 2016

by Cindy Howes,

Kelly McCartney headshot.jpgIn our latest Guest DJ hour, Kelly McCartney, Folk Alley's music writer/critic/interviewer/blogger, joins Folk Alley host, Cindy Howes, for a recap of this year's Americana Music Association Festival and Conference. McCartney attended AmericanaFest - which is the premiere Americana music conference, festival and awards show - in Nashville from September 20th - 25th. Kelly, who is also the managing editor at the Bluegrass Situation, held about a dozen "Hangin' & Sangin'" interviews and performance sessions via FaceBook Live.

In her Guest DJ hour, she describes the events of the festival and talks about highlights from her interview sessions.

Set List:

Amanda Shires - "Pale Fire"
Jason Isbell - "Flagship"
Indigo Girls - "Spread the Pain Around"
Chely Wright - "You Are the River"
Marlon Williams - "Lonely Side of Her"
The Cactus Blossoms - "Powder Blue"
Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones - "As You Were"
Rose Cousins - "What's Love Got to Do with It"
Sara Watkins - "Without a Word"
Kaia Kater - "Paradise Fell"
Applewood Road - "Applewood Road"
Dylan LeBlanc - "Look How Far We've Come"


Audio for this Guest DJ hour is no longer available.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:20 PM

A Q & A with Dar Williams

October 7, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

DarW.jpgTime marches on, even as music stands still... at least in its recorded form. Even so, a certain generation of artists is starting to mark their musical milestones with re-issues, re-imaginings, and more. For Dar Williams, Mortal City represents her breakthrough on the folk circuit. So, for the album's 20th anniversary, she's taking the show back on the road.

Kelly McCartney: A number of artists are revisiting their milestone recordings. Natalie Merchant, for one, did a whole new version of Tigerlily. How did you decide your method of honoring Mortal City should be a tour?

Dar Williams: More than any other of my albums, this was the one that people say they listened to as an album. I'm a social creature. I'm looking forward to seeing how this album has traveled and evolved, collectively, over the last 20 years. It will be like a reunion.

If you could remake the record, how might you reimagine it as the artist/person you are now?

I did go back and re-record some songs, just to see them in the light of the present. I think the songs are the same. I have such a clear memory of writing them. But who I know is much different, so the songs are differently populated, which reflects my favorite part of this whole career -- the collegial part. Being on the road drew me out and challenged me every day.

When you look at the list of folks who played on Mortal City, who's still out there fighting the good fight? Who have you continued to collaborate with?

Such a good question, because it's great to see that so many of us have continued to play out, even in the changed environment. And when you play at some New England venue you've been playing at for 20 years, with an old friend coming up for a song, on a certain kind of cold October night, time stands still. Look at the liner notes: I think every person is still playing, with the exception of Jeff Golub, who passed away last year and who gave the album so much life.

What are the biggest lessons you've learned or changes you've undergone in the past 20 years?

The only constant is that there are people who tell you "The only constant is change," and I don't get that! There are things that don't change and they get twisted up, in a good way, with things that do. Roots grow deep, plants blossom. This career has given me continuity, as well as change. Some dressing rooms have the same plaid couches they did when I first played there. And I sit on them at the end of the night with promoters who tell me the numbers and ask if I know how to get to the hotel. And now we have GPS, so the answer is always yes.

Flip that perspective: Where and who do you hope to be in another 20 years?

I was invited to teach a college course, and then a friend, seeing how much I loved it, told me I had to lead a songwriting retreat. Teaching has brought gravity to my life. I was like a busy bee flitting around from flower to flower, writing a line here and a line there, and now I get to land in one place from time to time and really appreciate how wonderful and important music itself is. I look forward to buzzing around for the rest of my life, but I hope to continue teaching for just as long.


'Mortal City' 20th Anniversary Tour dates.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 12:30 PM

Album Review: Chely Wright, 'I Am the Rain'

October 6, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Chely Wright I Am the Rain.jpgThere comes a time in all great artists' careers when they release their masterpiece. Sometimes, it's their debut, as with Shawn Colvin's Steady On and Patty Griffin's Living with Ghosts. Other times, it comes considerably further into their careers. Rosanne Cash's Interiors and Jason Isbell's Southeastern both land there, as does Chely Wright's new -- and thoroughly stunning -- I Am the Rain.

Produced by Joe Henry, the collection completes Wright's transition from her contemporary country beginnings to her Americana present and future, as cameos by Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, and the Milk Carton Kids surely attest. With help from some of the best players in the business, Henry crafts a sophisticated but never slick sound, both anchored and buoyed by his son Levon's captivating woodwind work.

At the heart of it all, though, is Wright and the most mesmerizing, magical batch of songs she's ever culled or composed. While there have been signposts in Wright's songwriting past ("Picket Fences" and "Broken," for instance) pointing to a deftness with the craft, I Am the Rain takes it to the next level, top-to-bottom. She's credited on 12 of the 13 tracks, but if you didn't already know that "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" is a Bob Dylan song, you wouldn't know "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" was a Bob Dylan song. That's how comfortably it sits within the cycle.

Anyone who has seen her 'Wish Me Away' documentary or read her Like Me autobiography knows that fearlessness is a classic Wright trait. This time out, she applies that tactic to her songwriting and singing. From "Inside" all the way through "See Me Home," she lays it all on the line for the whole world to hear. The fear, doubt, remorse, and sorrow she's endured over the past 10 years are all in there. Even still, it's an incredibly triumphant piece of work, with all of those emotions and experiences close enough to the surface to be raw, but never paralyzing.

A lot of artists get compared to Jason Isbell these days and very few deserve it. But, thanks to its breadth and depth, its vulnerability and its transparency, I Am the Rain feels very much like Chely Wright's Southeastern. It's just that good.


I Am the Rain is out now and available at iTunes and

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 2:10 PM

Album Review: Amanda Shires, 'My Piece of Land'

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for

Amanda Shires My Piece of Land.jpgHaving Dave Cobb produce an Amanda Shires record was inevitable, considering the superlative work he's done on her husband Jason Isbell's last couple of albums. Alternately playful and poised, My Piece of Land is the wonderful result of that collaboration. Written and recorded as stared motherhood right in the eye, My Piece of Land documents the contemplations and considerations Shires had on her mind and in her heart, from her husband's sobriety to her own shifting worldview.

On one of the album's many highlights, "Pale Fire," Shires teams up with Isbell for one of their first-ever co-writes. The picture they paint together is remarkable for its eccentricity and elasticity, and it's hard to imagine anyone other than Shires pulling it off with such unabashed aplomb. "She took her lover on a road trip. Turned out to be a bad idea. She lost his eagle-feather roach clip, present from some sad Maria," she sings over a steady acoustic strum and a percussive marking of time. "Things never made it back to normal. He was the wrong kind of naïve. She stopped for gas in Oklahoma. Left him alone on Saint John's Eve." That kind of evocative imagery litters My Piece of Land, song after song.

From her looking back to "Mineral Wells" to her gazing forward in "You Are My Home, there's simply no one else doing what Amanda Shires does, from the songs to the singing -- let alone the fiddling, to boot.


My Piece of Land is out now and available at iTunes and

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 1:30 PM

A Q & A with Glen Phillips

October 5, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for Folk Alley

Glen Phillips.jpgSince bursting onto the pop-rock scene
some 25 years ago with Toad the Wet Sprocket's third album, fear, Glen Phillips has established himself as one of the most heartfelt songwriters on the folk-rock block. His solo albums, and Toad reunions, all showcase the work of someone who feels passionately and thinks deeply. Over the past few years, Phillips's feelings and thoughts have been put to the test with a near-crippling accident and an emotion-testing divorce. As most artists do, he filtered it all through music and emerged with his latest release, Swallowed by the New.

Kelly McCartney: You've been through a lot in the past few years. How important was songwriting to your emotional processing and physical healing?

Glen Phillips: I was just thinking the other day about how easy it is to get to the other side of a process -- or at least a new chapter in the process -- and forget about the work you did to get there and the states you passed through on the way. A songwriter leaves a crumb trail of songs along the way, marking the path. It's hard to say how much the songs move me through and how much they are simply a byproduct of the journey. I'm sure it's a bit of both.

I like to use songs as a mnemonic device to remind me of what my higher self is telling me. It's not always that way -- some of these songs are just about states of feeling, and I think that is a worthy and universal thing to write about, as well. Most of them, or at least the most important ones to me, are letters to myself reminding me to choose a better path than the one I might be attracted to at the moment. Life hands pretty much everyone some major curveballs. It's up to us to decide if we want to simply be injured or if we want to learn.

You really pour a lot out of you on this record -- listening merely to "Go" evidences that. Writing the songs is one outlet; performing them is another. Compare and contrast those two aspects, in terms of what you get from each.

I waited a year after recording this album to release it. I was deep in the middle of the subject matter when we recorded Swallowed by the New -- trying to be hopeful and accept my new life, but still deep in pain and mourning about the loss of my home and my identity. There was a period of time when I couldn't sing a lot of these songs without breaking down. A year later, I'm happier than I've been in years. It's kind of miraculous. I can still get into these songs, still learn from them, but they don't overwhelm me like they used to.

"Go" was important for me to write. Kris Orlowski came over to write with me and he had this beautiful start of a melody with the single line "You know which way to go." I had recently listened to a podcast talking about lighthouses. The gist of it was that most things that say "I love you" ask you to come closer. Lighthouses say "I love you. Go away." They want you to keep a safe distance for the good of everyone involved. I was thinking about both my former wife and a woman I dated after separation. My former wife really loved me, but knew we weren't serving each other any more. It was a great act of love for her to say she was done -- one that I don't think I would have been strong or brave enough to do. It took me a while to see how generous it was, how it was the kindest thing she could do for us both. When I started dating after the separation, I found myself pushing someone away in a similar fashion. Being on the other end of that equation helped me understand how a breakup can be driven by love more than by rejection.

You've always been able to craft beautiful ballads that easily steer clear of being overly sentimental or saccharin. "There's Always More" is a great example. What's the key to that?

That song was written with Neilson Hubbard, who produced the Mr. Lemons album and co-wrote "Everything But You," and Amber Rubarth, who I'm going to be collaborating more with in the coming year. A three-way write usually starts with a long talk, and this was no exception. We found ourselves talking about the importance of silence, or sitting with a feeling or thought instead of needing to talk it do death or try and fix everything. There's not as much silence as there used to be. It's still there to access, but it's much more of a conscious practice -- the Western world is a very noisy, distracting place to live.

The other idea in that song is about the inherent limitations of language. We can't describe things unless we name them, but as soon as we name them, we limit our perception. Words end up being these tiny stepping stones in a vast lake.

"The Easy Ones" offers up some pretty sage advice that, I presume, you were pointing at yourself. But it applies to the entire songwriting community and beyond. You proved, with Toad, that "pop" songs can have both style and substance. So why do you think so many don't?

"The Easy Ones" was written for the Santa Barbara chapter of the Bushwick Book Club. They have a bunch of songwriters read a book and write a song or two about it. Our book was The Art of Happiness by HH the Dalai Lama. It's loosely based on the idea of Tonglen, as described in the book, which is a meditation where you breathe in while concentrating on a troubling individual or situation and breathe out compassion and love toward that same point of focus. It's recommended that you don't focus on the easy people in your life, that you will go deeper if you practice unconditional love for the ones that aren't so easy.

I like that song. It's fairly universally applicable. As far as pop songs with style and substance... who knows?! I've always been drawn to the thornier questions. My family liked to talk about politics and religion around the table, so it came as a shock when I found out that those are the two things you're not supposed to address in polite conversation. I just write about what I'm interested in.

In addition to your new solo album, this year also marked the 25th anniversary of Fear. What's the overriding lesson or perspective gleaned when you look back from now to then?

Over and over, the lesson is that a little more gratitude would always have been a good idea. Then again, I am where I am. I wouldn't be here, happy in the way I am right now, unless I lived the life I lived. I lost a couple decades to severe depression. It was hard on the people around me, particularly my former wife and bandmates. I was kind of a wreck. Nothing was even particularly wrong in my life; it was just an exercise in self-inflicted pain. I can look back at it now and see it as a waste or as an extended master course in developing compassion. It means I can serve others and be present for the ones I love in a way I wouldn't be able to otherwise. Still -- a little more gratitude always is never a bad thing.

Swallowed By the New is available now at iTunes or directly from Glen Phillips' Bandcamp site or online store.

Upcoming Tour Dates

Posted by Linda Fahey at 10:08 PM

Laura Cortese Guest DJs with Cindy Howes

Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards Official by Patrik Bonnet[5] copy.jpgInnovative Boston fiddle quartet, Laura Cortese and The Dance Cards are currently working on a new album with the help of producer Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive). Although Cortese has released several albums under her own name, including two solo albums, she has been touring as Laura Cortese and The Dance Cards for the past few years. The lineup, along with Cortese, is made up of Valerie Thompson (cello/vocals), fiddler Jenna Moynihan (fiddle/vocals), and bassist Natalie Bohrn. Cortese joined Cindy Howes on Folk Alley recently for a Guest DJ set and to talk about the band's Pledge Music campaign in order to fund the album, which is due out in the first half of 2017.

{{**Note: In the interview with Laura, it's mentioned that her Pledge Music campaign to fund the new record ends September 26th, however that deadline has been extended to October 13th.**}}

Laura Cortese's Guest DJ selections:

1. Kris Drever, "When We Roll In the Morning," from If Wishes Were Horses

2. The Roches, "Hammond Song," from The Roches

3. Khari Wendell Mcclelland, "Roll On," from Fleeting Is The Time

4. Tim O'Brien, "Farewell Angelina," from Red on Blonde

5. Anais Mitchell, "Why We Build The Wall," from XOA


Audio for this Guest DJ hour is no longer available.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 6:26 PM

PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160929

Thumbnail image for Folk-Alley-Logo_medium.jpgPLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #160929. Aired between September 30 - October 6, 2016. Hosted by Elena See

Artist - Title - Album - Label

(Hour One)

Leonard Cohen - Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye - The Best Of - Columbia

Sam Bush - Greenbrier - Storyman - Sugar Hill

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

Carolina Chocolate Drops (in studio) - Pretty Little Girl - Exclusive Folk Alley in-studio recording - Exclusive Folk Alley recordings

Rhiannon Giddens - Black Is the Color - Tomorrow is My Turn - Nonesuch

Jason Isbell - 24 Frames - Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free - Southeastern

Margo Price - Hands of Time - Midwest Farmer's Daughter - Third Man

Chris Stapleton - Traveller - Traveller - Mercury Nashville

Sara Watkins - Frederick (instrumental) - Sara Watkins - Nonesuch

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now - The Traveling Kind - Nonesuch

Greensky Bluegrass - Fixin' To Ruin - Shouted, Written Down and Quoted - Big Blue Zoo (Thirty Tigers)

Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur - Sweet to Mama - Penny's Farm - Kingswood

Mollie O'Brien & Rich Moore w/ Brigid & Lucy Moore - The Day I Die - Daughters - Remington Road

Mavis Staples - History, Now - Livin' On A High Note - Anti

Taj Mahal - Take a Giant Step - The Essential - Columbia

(Hour Two)

Tom Waits - Step Right Up - Small Change - Asylum

The Devil Makes Three - Come On Up To the House - Redemption & Ruin - New West

Sierra Hull - Black River - Weighted Mind - Rounder

The Earls of Leicester - Flint Hill Special - Rattle & Roar - Rounder

Steep Canyon Rangers - Radio - Radio - Rounder

River Whyless - Life Crisis - We Are the Light - Roll Call

Neko Case, kd lang and Laura Veirs - I Want To Be Here - case/lang/veirs - Anti/Epitaph

John Prine (w/ Alison Krauss) - Falling In Love Again - For Better, Or Worse - Oh Boy (Thirty Tigers)

Willie Nelson (feat. Alison Krauss) - No Mas Amor - To All the Girls.... - Sony Legacy

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Killing the Blues - Raising Sand - Rounder

Jonah Tolchin - I Wonder - Thousand Mile Night - Yep Roc

Martin Simpson - Molly As She Swings - Vagrant Stanzas - Topic

Jimmy Lafave - Shining On Through - Blue Nightfall - Red House

Bob Weir - Ghost Towns - Blue Mountain - Columbia/Legacy

Laura Marling - Ghosts - Alas I Cannot Swim - Ribbon

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show, hosted by Elena See, is produced by WKSU (NPR-affiliate in Kent, OH). The show is available for free to stations via or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. Stations may air the show as either a one-, or two-hour program. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried by approximately 50 stations nationally. Folk Alley also presents a 24/7 hosted Internet channel available at, TuneIn, iTunes and more. :: for more information contact Linda Fahey at 518-354-8077:

Posted by Linda Fahey at 3:28 PM

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