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May 28, 2020
Once singer/songwriter Danielle Knibbe earned the nickname "The Lyric Doctor" due to her intrinsic ability to channel human feelings through songs like an actual medical doctor. This woman was born to make you cry, feel and emote. Now Danielle calls Toronto home, but the musician was born and raised on in the prairies in Alberta, Canada. She knew that performing was what she wanted to pursue even as a young child. She discovered songwriting after attending the Edmonton Folk Festival at age 12, taught herself to play the guitar and started playing for anyone who would listen. Danielle also plays in a band with her husband, Connor Walsh and longtime bandmate Bryn Besse. She talks about what it's like to play with her husband - apparently they don't perform well together as a duo, which is hilarious to hear. We also talk about the concept of Ribcage songs, when you're feeling guarded and then vulnerable or heart songs. Danielle is kind, funny, empathetic and a blast to talk to! I really enjoyed our conversation and I took like a fish to water to her music. Hope you enjoy!
May 21, 2020
Sunny War has a cool finger picking style and a singing voice that matches her persona: whimsical, yet strong. Sunny's probably the bravest person I have ever talked to in my life. She's been through the ringer of life: living a nomadic life with her mom, surviving abuse, suffering from addiction, getting arrested, leaving home, living on the streets, hopping trains and getting clean all before she was 25. Music has been ever-present in her life. She learned to finger pick guitar by listening to The Beatles "Blackbird." At 13 years old, she joined a punk band, which started a long complicated relationship with the punk lifestyle. These days, Sunny's living in Los Angeles and surviving the quarantine just fine. In talking to her, I checked in with how she's doing dealing with lockdown. I was glad to hear she was staying away from alcohol and had just started eating a Keto diet. Sunny War is full of surprises! I literally did not know what to expect as I asked each question. Thanks to Sunny for talking to me!
May 14, 2020
Nerissa Nields is a guitarist, songwriter and singer best known for performing with her sister Katryna in The Nields and as a duo. She grew up outside of Washington, DC surrounded by music and politics, which had a profound impact on her formative years. She especially found herself greatly influenced by the music of Pete Seeger. These days, Nerissa finds it more difficult to find common ground with those she disagrees with politically, but is refreshingly honest about how she feels. In fact, this whole conversation with Nerissa is filled with incredibly honest and revealing realizations she's discovered along the way. I appreciated her forwardness with some sensitive questions: like considering a childless life after her divorce in her mid-30's. I admire how much she was willing to put her story out there for others. I've been a huge fan of the Nields since high school and Nerissa's music changed my life and opened my eyes to a modern-era underground folk movement. What's wild is that I first saw The Nields at MixFest in 1999, a hot AC station (Mix 98.5) that hosted a concert every year in Government Center. They played along with Ben Folds Five, Fleming & John, Duran Duran and Lou Vega (Mambo No. 5 guy!). It was wild. Anyways. I love The Nields and this was quite a thrill to talk to Nerissa. Thanks for listening! This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts!
May 7, 2020
There is something I find very telling about the way Letitia VanSant approaches her name with people. The Baltimore musician offers the pronunciation upfront ("Leh-TISH-ah" - "tish" rhymes with "wish."), not assuming that someone would know how to say it. There is kindness and patience in the offering, but also she takes control of the narrative of her unique and beautiful name. On her website it says: "Letitia is an old family name that she shares with a number of women in her family. As a child she was nicknamed “Sandy” from VanSant, her middle name. Her friends still call her Sandy, but she responds to both!" A shy child, Letitia grew up with a passion for social justice and pursued a career in politics. She worked at a progressive lobby group in Washington, DC, until she decided to make music a full time venture. Her writing does have a political edge occasionally. She also bravely approaches the topic of sexual assault, garnering from her personal experience. We talked about how she made the choice to address her experience in such a public and upfront manner. She is a clear-headed, smart and compassionate person. I really enjoyed getting to know Letitia VanSant! Her new album Circadian is out now! Thanks for listening! This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
April 30, 2020
What a dang treat to talk to the legend herself Susan Werner on Basic Folk! Susan was born and raised on her family's 140 acre farm near Manchester, Iowa. Her and her siblings helped out on the farm growing up. At a young age she noticed the divide between kids who lived in town and the farm kids: namely that the town kids wore the same clothes all day instead of changing into work clothes after school to get to work. We talk about this realization as well as music growing up in the house and her family's sense of humor. There's a great explanation of different types of agriculture for my aggie fans and a conversation of of faith from an agnostic's perspective. Susan is a versatile musician who likes to explore different sounds and themes of her album. Case in point, her 2017 EP surrounds the sounds of Cuba, which laid the foundation for her newest album, 2019's NOLA. Hope you enjoy this engaging and wildly fun interview with the one and only Susan Werner. This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
April 23, 2020
Maya De Vitry, formerly of The Stray Birds, quietly released one of the best records of the year on March 13, How To Break a Fall. She goes through the album track by track with us on Basic Folk. The record ranges in sound from gauzy beauties, to sick grooves to jagged rock bangers. There are a lot of themes on this record like celebrating women and reclaiming your own self and your body. It fully acknowledges past traumas in unique metaphors. The song "Baking Bread for the Circus" is a song about survival in an abusive situation: the circus being the show, where there is darkness behind the stage. The bread is whatever you need to do to survive the circus. Maya breaks down this and all the tracks in this insightful and entertaining conversation. Maya is one of my favorite people and musicians: everything she creates and says totally blows me away. I'm so glad to get her back on the podcast. If you haven't listened to Maya's first appearance on Basic Folk, make sure you go back to episode 11. I just want you to be as obsessed with Maya De Vitry as I am. Listen on and I guarantee you'll be all about this amazing person. THis show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
April 10, 2020
Mike Savino is the brains behind the experimental-banjo act, Tall Tall Trees. Raised in Long Island, Mike was first encouraged to explore his musical talents thanks to his sixth grade band leader, Mr. Hangley. From there, he became engulfed in the world of jazz: first on sax and then on bass. He thought he would be a professional bass player in New York's experimental jazz scene, but then he heard the siren call of the banjo. He talks about the first time he got a banjo, which led to him learning the instrument. When he was touring in South America as a bass player, he found that musicians would play socially on the street. He wasn't able to play on the street with his electric bass, so he bought a banjo and was able to join. From there, his life path changed. He started playing the instrument in totally unique and innovative ways, including backing up his good friend Kishi Bashi on tour. After many years in New York City, Mike was called to the south. He eventually settled in Asheville, NC, which led him to exploring his love of bluegrass and old time on the banjo. This has resulted in his most organic album, A Wave of Golden Things.We talked about the recording process of the record: he made it on a hemp farm in a few weeks. While he was producing the record, 16 baby animals were born! So, yeah, we also talk about baby animals. Enjoy!
April 10, 2020
Mike Savino is the brains behind the experimental-banjo act, Tall Tall Trees. Raised in Long Island, Mike was first encouraged to explore his musical talents thanks to his sixth grade band leader, Mr. Hangley. From there, he became engulfed in the world of jazz: first on sax and then on bass. He thought he would be a professional bass player in New York's experimental jazz scene, but then he heard the siren call of the banjo. He talks about the first time he got a banjo, which led to him learning the instrument. When he was touring in South America as a bass player, he found that musicians would play socially on the street. He wasn't able to play on the street with his electric bass, so he bought a banjo and was able to join. From there, his life path changed. He started playing the instrument in totally unique and innovative ways, including backing up his good friend Kishi Bashi on tour. After many years in New York City, Mike was called to the south. He eventually settled in Asheville, NC, which led him to exploring his love of bluegrass and old time on the banjo. This has resulted in his most organic album, A Wave of Golden Things.We talked about the recording process of the record: he made it on a hemp farm in a few weeks. While he was producing the record, 16 baby animals were born! So, yeah, we also talk about baby animals. Enjoy!
April 2, 2020
We get a track by track from New England singer/songwriter Mark Erelli on his new album Blindsided on Basic Folk! The record came out last week and is very Tom Petty inspired. Mark talks about how the late legend inspired the sound and even at least one song. We talk about the contributions from the players on the record, like when drummer Jamie Dick suggested a "Bo Diddley Beat" for the song "Can't Stand Myself," which Erelli had never tried before. There's lot of sweet, yet realistic love songs on this album that are appropriate coming from a married guy who's kids are getting older. And of course, there is his amaizng voice, which is on display on this record, especially on the final track "Careless." It was a pleasure to welcome Mark back to Basic Folk! If you missed his first appearance, go back and listen to Episode 6 of the podcast. This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
March 26, 2020
Songwriters pay tribute to Anais Mitchell in a concert recorded October 29, 2019. Peter Mulvey, Rose Polenzani, Mark Erelli, Molly Venter (Red Molly), Ali McGuirk, Liv Greene and Barry Rothman performed Anais songs at Club Passim. In between songs, I was there playing clips from Anais' interview on Basic Folk and clips from musicians and music fans talking about Anais. You'll hear thoughts about this amazing songwriter from Josh Ritter, Ani Difranco, Anthony Mason (CBS News), Josh Kaufman and Eric D. Johnson (Josh & Eric are from Bonny Light Horseman). This show was part of Peter Mulvey's yearly week-long festival at Passim called "The Lamplighter Sessions." Anais has been busy! She, of course, has her folk opera, Hadestown, on Broadway, she released an album with her band Bonny Light Horseman AND she's just given birth to her second child, Rosetta. We're releasing this episode on her birthday (March 26!). Hope you enjoy! This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
March 19, 2020
Jesse Dee is a painter and a singer who takes influence from classic soul and R&B. The eldest fo 5 children raised in Arlington, MA, just outside Boston, Jesse was obsessed with oldies on the radio from a young age. He turned to theatre as a teen and started writing songs and learning guitar in high school. He attended Mass Art (Massachusetts College of Art and Design) while the intention of become a professional artist, but a stint in a touring act in college pointed him towards music and performance as a life calling. Jesse's released a couple of brilliant albums that encapsulate that incredible R&B and soul sound that he originally fell in love with. We talk about what drew him to that sound originally and what he enjoys about the writing of soul and R&B classics. Also, his dad was totally on the PBS show, This Old House, sooooo COME ON!
March 12, 2020
Nora Jane Struthers is back! We go track by track on her new album Bright Lights, Long Drives, First Words! The record was recorded while she was 8 months pregnant after a long struggle with infertility (see Basic Folk episode 4 for the whole incredible story). This album addresses the dichotomy between realizing her hard-earned dream and the tough realities of keeping her musical career alive (touring and all) in the wake of new motherhood. There are songs about finding home in your family, being too far away from friends and the song that Nora Jane claims is the best song she's ever wrote. On this episode, she is kind enough to go through the album song by song and address different themes and styles. My favorite song on the album is an amazing track called "To Catch a Phoenix," which is super dramatic and very Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Harry Potter. She actually breaks that metaphor down line by line and I'm sitting there listening to her with my jaw on the floor. It's cool.
March 6, 2020
Taylor Ashton! Clawhammer banjo! Illustrations! Canada! He started his career in the alt-folk band Fish & Bird and has collaborated with musical friends like Courtney Hartmann (formerly of Della Mae). Taylor's debut solo album, The Romantic, is out now and filled with sweet banjo grooves and emotional feelings. We talk about his growing up in Canada: flying solo on an airplane at a very young age. He would draw on the barf bags to impress the flight attendants, which led him to a life-long love of illustrating. We talk about moving to New York and first connecting with the massive city and then finding his people there. He connected with Courtney at a Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge show, so we get the story there. Taylor is a warm and funny person to talk to and I really enjoyed getting to spend time with him. I love his new record beyond words and really recommend you catching a live show of his sometime soon! He'll be touring with Aoife O'Donovan soon, including March 12 at Sanders Theater in Cambridge. Hope you love this one!
February 27, 2020
Kora Feder came from a musical family. Her mother is the well regarded singer/songwriter, Rita Hosking. Growing up, she was surrounded by music, so it's not a surprise that she naturally gravitated toward performing and singing with her musical mom and dad. Her vacations were spent going on tour around the west coast and in the UK. When she headed off for college, she knew she wanted to travel while staying in school. She spent her college years living immersed in places like Thailand and China studying and observing cultures that are far different from her native Davis, CA. Kora is an incredibly gifted songwriter in that she is able to write about challenging subjects like poverty and gun control, with unshakeable grace. We talked about the challenges faced with wanted to address global, political issues, while being fully aware that, at 25 years old, she doesn't have answers and is still learning so much about the world and herself. Her debut full length album In Sevens, was released last year. The songs are striking, as is her very interesting phrasing. It's like she's able to jam all these thoughts, feelings and words in beautifully without sounding pretentious. Enjoy Kora! She is an exciting up and coming talent.
February 20, 2020
Business or performance? According to Dave Godowsky, you don't have to choose, guys. As a professional music fan for nearly 3 decades, Dave has been an artist manager, A&R rep and several other kinds of music industry types. All the while, he's weaved in and out the singer/songwriter/performer, for which he has a great talent for. Dave's genuine good hearted nature has gotten him the trust, talent and time of many impressive well known musicians like Bon Iver, Gene Ween (of Ween), Adam Duritz and Lianne La Havas. He's also well connected to many smaller music communities. One of those communities was essential to his songwriting in the last ten or so years: The Subrosa Songwriting Retreat that takes place on Three Mile Island in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. Dave talks about how this retreat has allowed him to piece together enough songs for his last few album. His newest album, Cuts (out Feb 28), is this beautiful calming album dotted with lovely harp and woodwinds. During production, he was concentrating on keeping the band zen and working to create a" musical Xanax." He said" “if people were having a panic attack, they could put this on and it would calm them.” It's a great album and hope you go listen to it when it's out on Feb 28! Check out all the podcasts over on Pantheon.
February 13, 2020
I had a lot to talk about with Leyla McCalla! The New Orleans resident has already had an impressive career with her solo work, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters. However, it seems like she's just getting started. I literally had 9 pages of questions for her as we sat in my Airbnb during Folk Alliance (you can hear about 4 trolleys rolling by the windows). Leyla is smart, well spoken and so easy to get along with. This interview felt like a barnburner (if you can label interviews like that). We covered her activist roots growing up with three very politically active adults in her life (mother, father and grandfather). She talked about her connection to Haiti and spending a summer there with her grandmother. She is known for her incredible cello playing and it's so crazy to hear that she started her cello journey by mistaking it for another instrument when she was a child. She talked about her feelings of being a black Haitian- American playing old time music that has deep roots in black America, even though it is seen as being a white genre. She talks about how The Carolina Chocolate Drops opened up that world to her: through music and conversation with her bandmates. We talked about Our Native Daughters, her band with Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah and Allison Russell. All this and more! This was an awesome interview! I hope you enjoy. This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
February 9, 2020
Montreal's Elisapie was born in Salluit, Quebec into the Inuit community. She grew up in the a little arctic village in The North surrounded by the sad truth of what happened to the generations before her when while settlers forced the semi-nomadic Inuit people to settle into one area. Elisapie was born to a single mother, who adopted her out other family members who could not have children. She grew up with her birth mother living right around the corner, but was not close to her until she was older. In our wonderful conversation, she talks about being inspired by her musician uncle and also the opportunity to perform with his very popular band at a young age. She also talks about leaving Salluit for Montreal and how she's always had a difficult time with the fact that she left. Her new album Runaway Girl address those issues and more. She has a song dedicated to her birth mother, that she was able to perform live in concert with her mother in the audience. She shares that special moment as well as talking about the song she wrote about connecting with and understanding men. I hope you enjoy this conversation and learn something from this special person! This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
January 30, 2020
Crys Matthews is the self-proclaimed "Poster Child for Intersectionality." While she'll say that with a smile, it's actually true: she's a black, lesbian, butch woman, formerly in an interracial marriage. Raised in North Carolina, her mother was a preacher, providing Crys with a rich backdrop of gospel music. She found music in 6th grade, first picking up the clarinet and then deciding she wanted to be a high school band director. In high school, she also came out to her mother which caused a lot of pain and friction between her and her mom who were otherwise very close. In college, Crys discovered performing and songwriting which caused her to pursue music. In our conversation, we talk about how she actually enjoys difficult conversations with people. Also, I asked her about the joyfulness you hear in her songs even when they are hard topics. We touch upon her new EP which is filled with very vulnerable and personal songs, more than her previous work. I enjoyed hearing her talk about her relationship to her gender and how her clothing choices align with those feelings. And finally, we talk about the star of the show: her dog, Juice. Enjoy! This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
January 23, 2020
Singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah joins us this week. She can be heard along side Layla McCalla, Allison Russell and Rhiannon Giddens in the Grammy nominated project Songs of Our Native Daughters. Amythyst talks about growing up an independent worker in Mississippi and how music forced her into collaboration. She recounts how writing songs helped her through some of the most difficult family strive, and she explains her effortless class with her gender non-conforming fashion sense. Enjoy! Check out all the podcasts over on Pantheon.
January 16, 2020
Rachel Lynne, the highly emotive songwriter, joins us for a live episode at Club Passim! Lynne was born and raised in Georgia. She spent her young life obsessed with music, especially sad and lonesome country music. Her own music cannot be described as country, but it has a certain lonesome quality to it. If you've ever experienced any serious emotions, one listen to Rachel's music and you'll feel understood and extremely connected. Rachel shares a few songs from her catalog and talks about growing up with music, dealing with anxiety and the fascinating story of how she got her guitar. Currently living in Denver, I first met Rachel in Pittsburgh where she wowed audiences and won hearts. This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
January 12, 2020
Basic Folk is live at Club Passim in Cambridge with Americana songwriter Dinty Child. Member of Session Americana, Dinty is releasing his debut solo album after being a part of the Boston folk and roots community for about three decades. His record, Lucky Ones, will be out on January 17, with a release show January 16 at Oberon in Harvard Sq, Cambridge. In our conversation, we talk about growing up with loving sisters, his deep connection to Three Mile Island (not THAT one) in New Hampshire, his work with Session Americana and being able to play with musicians of all sorts of ages and stages in life. Dinty is hilarious, humble and one of the best people I know! He's always been kind, supportive and respectful of his friends' work. This solo album is a rare moment for him to step into the spotlight, so it's exciting to be able to lend him the platform that he gives nearly everyone he meets. I'm so happy to get him on the podcast especially in this format. His live performance will draw you in and make you laugh and reflect. Everyone I know loves Dinty and after listening to this episode, you will, too. This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
December 19, 2019
Singer/Songwriter and guitarist Abraham Alexander has an incredible life story: born in Greece to Nigerian parents, he immigrated to the US when he was 11. Months after that move, his mother died, putting Abraham into foster care until he was adopted at age 16. He was extremely athletic when he was young and found community through sports and encouragement from his parents, who actually had an intervention with him in order to convince him to pursue music. Our conversation encompasses the story of his life as well as his connection to Leon Bridges and Gary Clark, Jr. Abraham also is so generous to answer some questions about his experience as a black man. We talk about his younger self not fitting in with an all white class in Greece and being adopted by white parents. We also got into the topic of being an athlete and how his football coach would not let him quit (this was after he realized he meant to sign up for soccer as a young European kid in Texas). This led to one of the most important mentors and experiences of his young life. I am very grateful that he was willing to have these conversations! Listen to all the great Podcasts over on Pantheon.
December 12, 2019
Rebecca Loebe is a Georgia native that was raised in the Atlanta music community via Eddie's Attice. Loebe attended Berklee College of Music and spent time in the Boston music world before settling in Austin, TX. She also had the unique experience of being a part of the very first season of "The Voice" as part of Adam Levine's team. She appeared on the show for a couple of episodes and exited in a way that she is very comfortable with. We talk about how she is a musician who really values community and feedback from her community as well as her never-ending quest to spread kindness in an authentic and meaningful way.
December 5, 2019
Molly Venter of Red Molly and Goodnight Moonshine has a style reminiscent of the clearest folk singers from the 60's combined with a classic 50's rock vibe. On top of all this, she's an incredibly delightful person. Molly's story begins in New Haven, CT, where she was raised by two parents whose past times included sailing and performing music. Molly actually learned how to play guitar while on a sailboat. After college, she moved around a lot: Idaho, Mexico and finally Austin, TX for quite awhile before eventually coming back to New Haven. We talked about her connection with her hometown, joining up with Red Molly and her partnership with Eben Pariser (husband and bandmate). My favorite part of the conversation was when we talked about her dad, Josiah Venter, who died in 2011. From what I read about him, Josiah was a special person with a very meaningful presence for Molly. I'm grateful to have been able to talk with Molly for the podcast. I had only known her for a short time, but she's so easy to talk to and so open, it feels like I've known her for a long time.
November 23, 2019
Montreal's Leif Vollebekk emotional delivery creates a world of color in my mind. It's not surprising that he has Synesthesia, a perceptual condition in which the stimulation of one sense triggers an automatic, involuntary experience in another sense. Leif sees colors when he hears music, therefore, his music invokes colorful emotion. Raised in Ottawa, he inherited a few instruments from family members and started playing. After graduating from college, Leif spent time absorbing the landscape and culture of Iceland. Upon returning to Canada, he moved to Montreal, where he lives now. We touch on all sorts of topics in our conversation. He really opened up about his Synesthesia. It was interesting to hear about how he discovered he had it and how he relates to other musicians who have it. He said he can tell right away if another musician has the condition. I'll definitely be keeping an ear out myself now that he's clued us in on certain distinctions. Enjoy! Check out all the great music podcasts over on Pantheon.
November 14, 2019
Jenny Owen Youngs! Jenny is an indie pop songwriter, queer icon and podcast host. I am thrilled to have her on Basic Folk! Her new EP, Night Shift, is out now (November 15) and we talk about it and all of her whole life in our conversation. From her young life in rural New Jersey to space camp (where she wished for more space and less camp) to coming out in a very public way in 2012. Jenny is a sweet, funny and caring person, and we really get into what makes her tick in this episode. Jenny's been on my radar since 2005 with her debut Batten The Hatches and she's released two full length albums since then and a handful of EPs. In recent years, Jenny's created this amazing community along with Kristin Russo with their podcast, "Buffering The Vampire Slayer," that goes through commentary about each episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and includes an original song by Jenny at the end of each podcast. Her other podcast, "Veronica Mars Investigations," is hosted by herself and Helen Zaltzman.
November 8, 2019
Ryan Walsh of the literary (read: nerd) indie rock band Hallelujah The Hills has new music on the way. The new I'm You LP releases on November 15, 2019. Walsh, originally from Dedham, MA, has always held an interest in history and folk music, particularly when it comes to his hometown. Dedham was the site of where Sacco and Vanzetti were wrongly held for murder and also, subsequently, was named in one of Woody Guthrie's ballads about the two anarchists. The courthouse where their trial took place happens to be at the end of Walsh's childhood street and it's wonderful to hear him speculate as to whether the legendary songwriter stepped foot on the same street he grew up on. Ryan also is the author of Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, which chronicles Van Morrison's 9 months spent in Boston, MA right before he recorded and released the masterpiece. Walsh shares insights on writing the book and the subsequent influence on his life. Please enjoy this conversation with one of my favorite humans, Ryan Walsh of Hallelujah The Hills!
October 31, 2019
Betsy Siggins is a folk boss in charge, and we’re beyond honored to welcome her as a guest on Basic Folk. Siggins has been an integral part of the folk music world since the late 1950’s when she and her roommate, Joan Baez, starting hanging around the Cambridge scene at Club 47. She’s work at the famous folk club until it closed in the 1960’s, where after that she worked with The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and also paved the way for homeless shelters catering to AIDs patients in New York City. After her tenure as Executive Director at Club Passim (formerly Club 47), Betsy worked on The New England Folk Archives that reside in Amherst, MA. Currently, Betsy is working on her memoirs that are bound to be packed with priceless stories about folk legends like Baez, Bob Dylan, Jim Kweskin, James Taylor and many more. We hear some of these fascinating stories from Siggins during the conversation. We also get a glimpse into where Betsy came from in her roots with her family life, that did include some classical music influence as well as a love for early country radio. I honestly could have talked to her for days. Hope you enjoy! This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
October 31, 2019
Betsy Siggins is a folk boss in charge, and we're beyond honored to welcome her as a guest on Basic Folk. Siggins has been an integral part of the folk music world since the late 1950's when she and her roommate, Joan Baez, starting hanging around the Cambridge scene at Club 47. She's work at the famous folk club until it closed in the 1960's, where after that she worked with The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and also paved the way for homeless shelters catering to AIDs patients in New York City.
October 24, 2019
In the “Field Music” series on Basic Folk, we talk to musicians about a particular song they have learned through aural tradition; through family, a teacher, friends or a perfect stranger. We get the story of the performer, who they learned the song from and the story behind the traditional or public domain tune. This episode features percussionist and rubboard player Paul “Bird” Edwards, from Eunice, Louisiana. We (producer Laura McCarthy & I) met Bird at Miles of Music Camp while he was teaching a class in genuine Creole music. Over the course of the week on the island, Bird grew to be more of a family member than a friend. We heard from his friends who were at the camp with us (like The Revelers) about how beloved Bird is in Louisiana. It was such a treat to be able to record an interview and a couple of traditional Creole songs with Bird at the helm. Please enjoy!
October 24, 2019
In the "Field Music" series on Basic Folk, we talk to musicians about a particular song they have learned through aural tradition; through family, a teacher, friends or a perfect stranger. This episode features percussionist and rubboard player Paul "Bird" Edwards, from Eunice, Louisiana. We heard from his friends who were at the camp with us (like The Revelators) about how beloved Bird is in Louisiana.
October 17, 2019
Emily Mure is a real life New York native! She is a life-long oboist, who had big plans for a career in classical music. That all changed when she discovered the guitar, thanks to the encouragement of her grandfather. Emily excelled at songwriting and quickly dove into this brave new world. After college, she moved to Ireland for 6 months where she soaked up the busking community in Galway. She returned to her native Roosevelt Island and actually lives in her childhood apartment.
October 3, 2019
Recently, Chris "Critter" Eldridge won instrumentalist of the year at The Americana awards in Nashville. 2019 is proving to be a banner year for Critter, as his band The Punch Brothers won the Grammy for folk album of the year for their album All Ashore.  This week Critter talks about a mysterious tune that he learned from his mother and grandmother called, "The Glendy Burk." Later on he discovered this mysterious song was a Stephen Foster tune after googling some of the words.
September 26, 2019
Wallis Bird is a joyful musician who is an incredibly emotionally exciting live performer and songwriter. On Basic Folk we talk about her upbringing, her views on faith and spirituality and her immediate attraction to the guitar. We also get into her career talking about the publishing offers she started getting at 12 years old.
September 19, 2019
Molly Sarle of Mountain Man has been working on her solo record for a little while and it's finally out! The beautiful Karaoke Angel is the Santa Cruz, CA's native debut album. During our conversation on Basic Folk, Molly talks about her family and where music was in her life growing up. We dig into a few very interesting topics like religion! sex! and cats!
September 12, 2019
Joe Troop, frontman for the Buenos Aires "Latin-Grass" group Che Apalache, has loved bluegrass since he was 15. He kind of discovered that fact almost at the same time he discovered his attraction to men. As a North Carolina native, Troop is a proud out gay man in a world that doesn't always accept him: the rural south. Please enjoy and subscribe!
September 5, 2019
I recently came across an old interview with Tori Amos I did when I was a TERRIFIED 23 year old. Her album "The Beekeeper"  (that version I linked has the special Garland song that I asked her about!!!) had just come out along with her autobiography Piece by Piece that she wrote with the amazing Ann Powers. This is a pretty interesting Tori Amos interview talking about her album that came out around that time.
August 29, 2019
Amanda Shires, Texas born, Nashville based, sideplayer turned songwriter, turned force of nature in Americana, folk and alt-country world. Her partnership with Jason Isbell is legendary. Her most current project, The Highwomen, is well on it's way to legendary status.
August 22, 2019
David Huckfelt, founding member of the Minneapolis folk band, The Pines, emanates poetry in everything he does. From his solo work to his outlook on life, Huckfelt is living artwork. It was a real pleasure to speak with him about his Iowa upbringing, his connection to indigenous people and his two-week solitary writing retreat on the most remote and least visited national park in mighty Lake Superior.
August 15, 2019
Scottish-American songwriter Johnathan Rice might have first landed on your radar through his duo Jenny & Johnny with his former partner Jenny Lewis. Rice's story starts in Virginia and Scotland where he spent time going back and forth for his dad's work. Each place having its own effect on his young musicianship. Virginia embodied a typical mid-90's American teen experience. In Scotland, he was surrounded by a large family where music was front and center.
August 8, 2019
Basic Folk is Live at Club Passim! Alisa Amador grew up in Cambridge, MA surrounded by the influence of her parents' Latin group Sol y Canto. She has managed to cultivate a warm sound that walks the line of folk, jazz, blues, soul and Latin. One thing so apparent about these laid back, warm songs is their similarities to the human that's writing and performing them.
August 1, 2019
Basic Folk is live at Club Passim with Melissa Ferrick! The indie folk songwriter genius lesbian icon joins us for our very first live recording of the podcast. We get honest conversation and live music from Melissa, who had recently moved to Cambridge, graduated grad school at Harvard and got a new teaching job at Northeastern. She played songs from her latest self-titled album as well as a new song.
July 25, 2019
Songwriter, author and podcaster Ben Arthur did not know what he was in for on Basic Folk, but neither did I. Most times there is a plan when I approach an interview, however, every once in awhile the plan gets thrown out and we really dig into it. "I didn't expect all the psychological profiling that we're doing... but I'm into it" Ben says after a couple of minutes into the interview.
July 18, 2019
Bridget Kearney, bassist for Lake Street Dive, has been deeply immersed in studying music since childhood. From the "super nerds" she met at jazz camp to the nights in her parents' basement transposing songs, Kearney has dedicated herself to the betterment of her craft. In our conversation, we talk about how her experience in playing in orchestras prepared her for collaborative life in a band like Lake Street Dive.
July 11, 2019
Matt Smith is a living legend with his unbelievable run at Club Passim, the historic folk venue nestled in a Harvard Square basement. Currently Managing Director at Passim, Matt is the most passionate music lover I know. I met Matt while working as a student at WERS, where he was bringing in fantastic shows into a listening room filled with people who were clambering for honest music in an intimate space.
June 27, 2019
Chris Eldridge won his first Grammy this year with The Punch Brothers. After 8 nominations between Punch Brothers, The Seldom Scene and his work with Julian Lage, this award was very overdue! Eldridge, who goes by the nickname Critter, grew up around bluegrass with his dad being a member of The Seldom Scene and being around influential players like Tony Rice.
June 20, 2019
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. A regular at The 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.
June 13, 2019
Corey Laitman is a really interesting musician and person. Their music is vulnerable in a way that you rarely find (Deb Talan, Edie Carey, Patty Griffin) with a voice that basically encompasses all human emotions in 0.5 seconds. It's amazing. Corey's spirit is inspired by their vast imagination and connection to nature. We talk in the podcast about how humans are intrinsically connected to nature, but for most of us that connection is not fully realized.
June 6, 2019
Zack Hickman is bound to go down in folk history for his incredible handlebar moustache, but fellow bandmates in his numerous groups know him for his extreme talent and keen ability to bring together musical projects. Born in Lynchburg, VA to physician parents, he grew up on a micro farm where his family grew produce, flowers and (of course) tended to bees. He eventually found his way to Oberlin College where he met and started performing with Josh Ritter, whom he still performs with today.
May 30, 2019
David Dye is a public radio music host pioneer. What Dye, WXPN and NPR did with starting the World Cafe changed the landscape of music on the radio for the extreme better. David is a music fan first and was allowed to express that knowledge and love for sharing songs on the radio to a national audience for over 25 years. David is funny and thoughtful and quick with his answers! We go through all my questions!
May 23, 2019
Izzy Heltai is brave, curious and charismatic about the world. Izzy is a trans-man who has not yet talked about his gender at length in an interview the way he does on this episode of Basic Folk. He's careful with how he represents himself,  but it's a lovely and informative conversation about finding how to be comfortable in life. He is someone who has a sharp sense of how to achieve that comfort and I'm just as excited as he is about his bright music career.
May 16, 2019
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. Liv generously talks about his relationship with his late brother Alex, Carly Simon and his older brother James.
May 16, 2019
Starring Joni Deutsch (moderator, WFAE), Elizabeth McQueen (KUTX), Jessi Whitten (OpenAir) and Cindy Howes (WERS, Basic Folk) Here is the description: Leveraging Music Podcasts for Station Success - Anyone can make a podcast… but not everyone can make a music podcast. What does it take for a non-commercial station to produce a digital, on-demand music program that encourages music exploration.
May 9, 2019
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.
May 2, 2019
Cinematic, multi-talented, mystical/magical, human-songwriter Ethan Gruska is a grounded and extremely likable person. Ethan’s 2017 Slowmotionary, for me, was a personal lifesaver during a hell of a year. He may have come across your radar through his indie band The Belle Brigade with his sister Barbara.We touch upon topics ranging from his mother’s stroke (which happened right after he was born), to his grandfather (JOHN GD WILLIAMS) to his weird interest in magic tricks.
April 25, 2019
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. Marissa gets into the differences between herself and her songs, "I'm a complete nervous wreck with a massive anxiety disorder..." while her songs are very mellow, soothing and almost narcotic. She credits playing music and painting as the only time she is at peace.
April 18, 2019
I have always really liked Jonatha Brooke. 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. This week, JB gives details about her upbringing in a Christian Science household and where she stands now with her religion. We also get to talking about the sensuality of Woody Guthrie. JB's album The Worksis all songs written and never finished by Guthrie.
April 11, 2019
Magic musical human wonder Jocie Adams (Arc Iris)is a very funny, grounded and kind person IRL; on stage she is a mystical badass alien superhero who expressively emerges from a giant vagina at the start of her live shows while wearing a gold bodysuit. Arc Iris' music is rooted in rock, pop, glam, folk and something else that you can't put your finger on (maybe it's stardust?). On Basic Folk, Jocie details some of what's going on inside her interesting brain, her connection to classical music and physics.
April 10, 2019
A bonus ep of Basic Folk where Erin McKeown gets particularly basic about her former project Voice on The Verge. She explains their origin and intention behind the group and I started getting v into all the obscure folk references she made. It didn't make the edited ep, but enough people (4 people) said they would like to hear it!
April 4, 2019
Erin McKeown has been queering the folk world for over two decades with her unpredictable and relentlessly unwavering superhuman musical gifts. Erin gets real in our conversation. She talks about (my favorite) summer camp, being super into drugs and sports in high school, her relationship with her gender (she thinks she's an alien), spirituality and her friendship with Rachel Maddow.
March 28, 2019
Bill Deasy is one of Pittsburgh's big 90s success stories due to his band The Gathering Field scoring a record deal in 1996 with Atlantic Records. While they only released one album on a major label, the band and Bill have remained a mainstay in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Bill is calm, real and pretty open about his upbringing, including the trauma of losing a sibling at a very young age. He touches on his struggle with addiction, gentle masculinity and the weirdness of songwriting.
March 21, 2019
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 and English teacher. Her wistful writing definitely takes influence from all three. Hope you enjoy my interview with the "aggressively friendly" Edie Carey! Please subscribe and review!
March 14, 2019
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 (and how she uses her clothes as an activist)... 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.
March 7, 2019
KT Tunstall is an open-hearted Scottish dreamboat. She is a master at the art of conversation and makes a person feel heard, understand and smart. We get right into it: talking about her relationship with her father, death, sexuality, of course, her roots in folk music. Her latest album Wax is the second in a trilogy of records that will focus on the soul, body and mind as she has entered this very interesting stage in her life. Enjoy and don't forget to review & subscribe!
February 28, 2019
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls graciously joins me on Basic Folk this week. An iconic figure in modern folk rock, Emily gets into it about 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 this week (February 28, 1989). This was an extremely enjoyable interview! I hope you like it and share it with anyone else who might be interested.
February 28, 2019
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls graciously joins me on Basic Folk this week. An iconic figure in modern folk rock, Emily gets into it about 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 this week (February 28, 1989). This was an extremely enjoyable interview! I hope you like it and share it with anyone else who might be interested.
February 21, 2019
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.
February 14, 2019
California native and Boston resident Rachel Sumner had an early interest in classical music that lead her to pursuing a career in film orchestration. After switching gears at Berklee College of Music, Rachel became interested in bluegrass thanks to discovery the music of Hazel Dickens And Alice Gerrard. Eventually, she met her future bandmates of Twisted Pine at the Cantab Lounge's bluegrass night.
February 7, 2019
This week I have Irish singer/songwriter, Mark Dignam, on the podcast! Mark grew up in the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland. It was in Dublin where he gained experience as a performer by busking around town with well-known folk singer, Glen Hansard. Since then, Dignam has brought his love of music to Pittsburgh, PA where he continues to write and perform. In our conversation, we discuss the Catholic Church and the transcendent release he feels when performing on stage.
January 31, 2019
Singer/Songwriter Maya de Vitry is on the podcast this week! Maya was a former member of the string trio The Stray Birds, but now she has stepped out on her own with her first solo album, Adaptations.  de Vitry grew up on 7 acres of rolling green in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Even from a small age her musical talent and intelligence were evident. We discuss her singing Iris Dement’s “Our Town” at six-years-old for show and tell, and teaching other kindergarten kids multiplication.
January 24, 2019
Originally from a rural Farmington, Maine, Eleanor Buckland of Lula Wiles grew up playing fiddle in her family’s jams. This week on Basic Folk, Buckland talks being a fourth generation musician, her rock guitar father, and the basements tapes she has from her grandma, legendary bluegrass player, Betty Buckland.  As a kid, Buckland’s violin took her to fiddle camp where she cultivated her love of folk music and met the future members of her band Lula Wiles.
January 17, 2019
Alex Stanton is a Pittsburgh born singer/songwriter who heads up the indie folk band townsppl. Growing up Stanton spent a lot of time hanging out on the set of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. His mom worked in the art department for the show and that actually ties in with how he got his first guitar. Also Stanton discusses opening his own music school, Sunburst School of Music in Squirrel Hill. We talk about the community of musicians that he has found and fostered since opening the doors.
January 10, 2019
Anais Mitchell is about to hit Broadway with Hadestown! But first! The Vermont songwriter is on Basic Folk. Her folk opera, Hadestown, set to open at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway March 2019. Anais tells me about her childhood on a sheep farm in Vermont. She unpacks her love and loyalty in her collaborations and the mystical way she found her visual artist for Hadestown. Lastly, we talk about 3rd and 4th wave feminism and where she fits as a feminist and boundary shattering musician.
January 3, 2019
Before becoming a fulltime performer/songwriter Dawn Landes worked as a sound engineer for many years. After studying for a bit at NYU she left school to pursue an internship at Phillip Glass' studio. Dawn tells me of the impact that Fast Folk had on her career and the role Suzanne Vega played in her life as Dawn’s mentor. We also get into the musical she is working on called "Row" about the very inspiring and fellow Kentuckian and rower, Tori Murden McClure, who aspired to row across the Atlantic Ocean.
December 13, 2018
On Basic Folk this week I sit down with Mark Erelli, a singer-songwriter out of the New England area. Growing up Erelli did a little of everything: tennis, musicals, science, and then... he found rock music. This was all thanks to his high school science teacher who would play bootleg Grateful Dead tapes during exams. Once Erelli had discovered The Dead he said it was like all American music was waiting for him.
December 6, 2018
Grenadian-Canadian clawhammer banjo player and songwriter, Kaia Kater, grew up in a folk family-- her grandpa is a luthier and her mother ran a number of the Canada’s major folk festivals while Kaia was growing up. Kaia is a child of an immigrant from Grenada. We explore her inspirations and research for her latest album, Grenades (October 2018 Folkways/Acronym Records), which is a mediation on Grenada and her father’s immigrant experience.
November 29, 2018
Nora Jane Struthers started in bluegrass, but has leaned towards Americana and rock and rock in the past decade after living in Nashville. She's also got an incredible life story that includes overcoming dyslexia, infertility and falling in love with her bandmate. She plays and records as Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line. Nora opens up about the pressure and weird power that comes with being a woman in the music industry, her struggles with infertility, and her off the chain vocabulary.
November 15, 2018
Anna Tivel is my guest this week. Tivel is known for her character songs that portray the beauty and pain in everyday individuals. Born in a small farming town in Skagit Valley, Washington, Anna came to songwriting as a recent college grad waiting tables in downtown Portland. Her first song, she reports, was about "whales having fun." Since then she has quickly risen through the ranks of those who can turn a phrase being recognized as one of NPR’s “Songs We Love.” Fiercely talented and fiercely vulner
November 8, 2018
In this week’s episode, I sit down (and basically LOL the entire time) with one-man-band Matt Lorenz of The Suitcase Junket. Originally from a small town in rural Vermont, Lorenz’s first instrument was a free, second- hand piano the family had gotten from a posting on a bulletin board. As his musical career continued so did his love of recycled instruments. Now he creates most of his instruments by hand using objects he finds in the trash. Yes, I said trash. Rough and honest, The Suitcase Junket’s sou
November 1, 2018
This week I talk with folk singer-songwriter Ana Egge. Dubbed the "Nina Simone of Folk Music" Ana and I sit down to discuss her early influences growing up on a commune in rural New Mexico, crafting her own guitar at the age of 15, and writing herself into understanding. I met Ana in Boston around 2005 through the Boston folk music scene. I have always been in awe of her musical talent and her not-as-much-talked about fashion sense. I can never thank her enough for introducing me to wearing a white belt.
October 25, 2018
Meet the host Cindy Howes! I love folk music and interviewing people. I have over 20 years experience in broadcasting and being super obsessed with music. This episode introduces myself and the intention of Basic Folk: "Conversations with authentic Americana, singer-songwriters and roots musicians that fly under the radar." The intention is to foster this special community (that is found in New England and beyond). I say "awesome" a lot and I mean it! Thanks for listening.
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