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: 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.

  • Basic Folk: KT Tunstall

    • March 07, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    KT Tunstall joins Cindy to talk about her relationship with her father, death, sexuality, and her roots in folk music. Her latest album Wax is the second in a trilogy of records that focuses on the soul, body, and mind as she has entered this very interesting stage in her life. KT’s been very intentional about getting to know herself in the past few years and she shares some of that journey as well.

  • Basic Folk: Emily Saliers

    • February 28, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls graciously joins Cindy Howes on Basic Folk. An iconic figure in modern folk rock, Emily gets into the history of her guitar playing, expanding her horizons on her first solo album (Murmuration Nation), her dedication to hip-hop, and reflections on Indigo Girls, which was released 30 years ago on February 28, 1989.

  • Basic Folk: Peter Mulvey

    • February 21, 2019
    • Cindy Howes

    Peter Mulvey's music is emotional, rousing, gritty and real. The Milwaukee singer songwriter has been at it since the late 1980’s playing in the streets of Dublin and Boston before starting his career proper in the early 1990’s. Mulvey’s upbringing was with liberal parents who are in love with science and activism and fully supported their son’s early interest in acting and then in music. His latest album, There Is Another World, was born out of giant life changes and upheavals. Cindy discusses all this and more with Peter in this episode of Basic Folk.