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: David Wax Museum

    • April 20, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    David Wax started visiting Mexico in 2001 and there he became enamored with the music of Central Mexico, particularly with styles of son music. He would spend summers going back to Mexico while studying at Harvard: Latin American History and literature. He was able to get a Harvard Fellowship which allowed him to live in Mexico for a year immersing himself in the music through attending fandangos and learning from locals. In 2007, he was introduced to Suz Slezak, an old time and Irish fiddle player who would later become his bandmate, wife and mother of their two kids. The pair lived in the Boston area until about 2015, until they moved to Suz’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Yasmin Williams

    • April 09, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    Yasmin Williams is your new favorite guitarist! In our conversation, Yasmin talks about transitioning from the Guitar Hero game controller to an actual guitar and how that continues to impact the way she plays the instrument. She also talks about the differences she observed in the way a male might play versus a female. Her latest album, Urban Driftwood, is out now.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Steve Tilston

    • March 24, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    If you do a web search for Steve Tilston, most of the results will be about John Lennon. Lennon wrote a letter to a young Steve offering him advice, but Steve did not know about the letter until decades later. His story would eventually become the 2015 film Danny Collins starring Al Pacino. Steve’s talked about this subject probably one thousand times and it might be the biggest thing that defines his career. However, there is so much more to talk about with Steve! He’s worked with folk legends Fairport Convention, Bert Jansch, Maggie Boyle, Chris Smither and many more. His latest album, Such Times, has incredible energy and his signature British folk guitar playing.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Alec Spiegelman

    • March 17, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    Alec Spiegelman has been making folk music weird for years. Recently, his partnership with Ana Egge has put him on the radar as one of the most creative producers for folk musicians, working with people like Taylor Ashton, David Wax Museum and Sadie Gustafson-Zook. He’s a part of the innovative indie folk band, Cuddle Magic, who released a record in 2020. Alec also found time during quarantine to release a new solo album, which is filled with his signature charm and weirdness highlighted by brass and woodwinds. Alec’s personality is very playful, which translates really well into his solo work and the albums he produces.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Patty Larkin

    • February 24, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    Cindy Howes talks with New England folk icon, Patty Larkin about her new album, 'Bird In A Cage', that sets poems by Billy Collins, Natalie Diaz, Nick Flynn, Marie Howe, and others to her original music, and about her practice of reading poetry out loud in the morning in order to inspire herself into her day.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers

    • February 16, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    Wesley Schultz has one of the most recognizable modern voices in folk music. His band, The Lumineers, are arguably the most popular group of the genre embarking on stadium tours worldwide to support their chart-topping records. From afar, he also seems like one of the most humble and good-natured people to have lived. After doing a deep dive into his history and being able to talk to him in this capacity, I can confirm that the rumors are true: Wesley Schultz is very kind, thoughtful and generous. Well, at least I can confirm, he is the nicest person I’ve talked to that also has a signature Frye boot.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Sadie Gustafson-Zook

    • February 09, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    There is a lot going on with Sadie Gustafson-Zook. Raised in a supportive Mennonite community near Goshen, Indiana, Sadie was playing in her parents’ folk band from the age of 6. Homeschooled until grade 5, she learned to channel her feelings through writing. After graduating from Goshen College, she moved to Boston in order to experience life outside of her community and to further her education. She recently completed a master’s degree in jazz voice at Longy School of Music in Boston. The way she incorporates jazz brings a refreshing burst of energy into her original music.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Anjimile

    • February 02, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    Anjimile Chithambo, who uses his first name on stage, is a genderqueer, black singer/songwriter making his way onto a larger radar with the debut album, Giver Taker. The artist appeared on some high-profile 'Best of 2020' lists and picked up two recent Boston Music Awards. Originally from outside of Dallas, Jimi was raised by Malawian parents - father a doctor and mother a computer programmer. His sisters encouraged him to join the choir and taught him harmonies at a young age. The guitar came along around 10 or 12 and soon an infinity with the instrument began, particularly with fingerpicking.

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Rose Cousins

    • January 14, 2021
    • Cindy Howes

    Rose has been a dear friend for a long time, so this was particularly meaningful to talk to her through this medium AND I’m so pleased that this is our 100th episode with such a special artist!

  • Basic Folk Podcast: Chris Smither

    • December 23, 2020
    • Cindy Howes

    The one and only Chris Smither! Influenced by Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins, Smither’s guitar playing is centered around the beat and around the groove. He mics his feet during concerts and loves being able to sound like several different instruments as his heroes did. Smither says, “Groove is the essence of engagement.” He’s lived an extraordinary life that started off moving around due to his linguistic parents’ careers. He ended up in New Orleans for the bulk of his childhood, with a short stint in Paris, that allowed him to become fluent in French (among other languages). Something notable about Smither: as a songwriter, he has the hardest time with the lyrics, which is strange as the son of language professors. He talks about the impact of their work in his own songs.