Basic Folk

Basic Folk is a podcast with honest conversations between authentic musicians and Cindy Howes, who is basically a professional folk music fan. To better know her subjects, Cindy approaches interviews with warmth, humor and insightful questions. This podcast fosters the community of musicians discovered through her connection to Boston's wicked special folk scene and beyond.


  • Basic Folk Podcast: Matt Smith of Club Passim

    • July 13, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Matt Smith is a living legend with his unbelievable run at Club Passim, the historic folk venue nestled in a Harvard Square basement in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently Managing Director at Passim, Matt is the most passionate music lover I know. As Basic Folk’s producer Laura McCarthy said to him, it’s easier to name the episodes that don’t mention Matt’s name and unwavering support. This episode is a must listen to any musician or musical gatekeeper!

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Chris "Critter" Eldridge

    • June 28, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    In this week's Basic Folk podcast, Cindy Howes talks to Chris "Critter" Eldridge, Grammy Award-winning guitarist for the Punch Brothers. In their conversation, Critter talks about how he initially (unsuccessfully) tried his hand at electric guitar, but could not get a grasp on it. His mom gave him a Tony Rice record, he picked up the acoustic, and then took it from there. He also reveals how Rice unintentionally revived his childhood nickname back into his adult and professional life.

  • Basic Folk: Jim Kweskin

    • June 21, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Jim Kweskin is maybe the most famous person you might not know. With the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, he mixed together folk and jazz which invigorated the straight-laced Cambridge folk scene in the 1960’s. That jug band went on to inspire other jug bands that later became the Grateful Dead and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. A regular at Club 47 - now Club Passim - Kweskin talks about how he came to the jug band style and how his band’s relaxed stage presence changed the dynamic of the live folk show in profound ways.

  • Basic Folk: Livingston Taylor

    • May 16, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Livingston Taylor has managed to carve out an impressive and interesting career as a successful songwriter and extremely effective professor of stage performance at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Younger brother to the very famous James Taylor, this is an interesting and vast conversation with a fascinating man. To be honest, I have a hard time following where his brain goes sometimes, but I feel like Liv shares some stories on here that I haven’t heard him tell before. While we’re talking about stories, I got him to break down the speech pattern he uses when telling a story.

  • Basic Folk: Jenna Nicholls

    • May 09, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Jenna Nicholls was the imaginative kid who was friends with trees and believed furniture was alive. Raised in Western Pennsylvania, she was raised on jazz, classical and Irish music. Her music is reflective of the golden age of radio and The Great Depression. Her lyrics put people in a place visually and she encompasses a couple different tones including a delightful lighthearted falsetto. Now a resident of New York City, she considers her music an oasis from the political landscape.

  • Basic Folk: Ethan Gruska

    • May 02, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    My guest on this episode of Basic Folk is the cinematic, multi-talented, mystical/magical, human-songwriter Ethan Gruska. We touch upon topics ranging from his mother’s stroke (which happened right after he was born) and the movie NBC produced about it, to his grandfather (JOHN GD WILLIAMS,) to his weird interest in magic tricks. I try and get him to explain how his music is so freaking good, but we just come to the conclusion that the world is a mystery and life is beautiful…. or something.

  • Basic Folk: Marissa Nadler

    • April 25, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    It is wonderful to have songwriter Marissa Nadler on the pod! Ethereal, goth, ambient and gauzy are often used to describe her sound. She has collaborated with musicians like John Cale, Sharon Van Etten and black metal band Xasthur. Starting out as an artist, Nadler attended Rhode Island School of Design as an illustrator with a passion for painting. We talk about how her painting and artwork influence and affect her music. She also explains what makes a good painting: focal point, asymmetrical composition, contrast between light and dark, etc…. and that a song needs to have similar elements.

  • Basic Folk: Jonatha Brooke

    • April 18, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    I have always really liked Jonatha Brooke. Her songs are sharp, joyful and wise. She’s one of those writers who always knows what to do, which is the basis for why we like pop music. Her songs take you to the place you wanna go while still hitting vulnerability and insight. I can confidently say that after our conversation, I love Jonatha Brooke: the musician, the person, the soul. She’s the real goddamn deal.

  • Basic Folk: Edie Carey

    • March 21, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Ready to ugly cry? No? Ok, I will give you a moment to prepare… because tuning into the most vulnerable, intimate, and secret human feelings is what songwriter Edie Carey is all about. Born and raised in suburban Boston, Edie was raised by a poet, a therapist, and an English teacher. Her wistful writing definitely takes influence from all three.

  • Basic Folk: Amy Ray

    • March 14, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Amy Ray, one half of the legendary folk rock band Indigo Girls, is known for her strong Southern roots, fierce devotion to all types of music, her activism, and (unbeknownst to her) her image as a gay fashion icon… or should I say institution. We talk about all this during our interview, which took place at Brandi Carlile’s "Girls Just Wanna Weekend" in the Riviera Maya in Mexico.