Sunday, October 25, 2009

Playlist, 10/25/09

1. Abigail Washburn & Sparrow Quartet: Great Big Wall in China (Abigail Washburn & Sparrow Quartet), Nettwerk
2. Jeff Talmadge: Forty Days of Rain (Ein Abend unter Freunden), Bozart
3. Vienna Teng: In Another Life (Inland Territory), Rounder / Zoe
4. The Victor Mourning: Fire Fire (Fire Fire Demos), Backwoods Modern

5. Amanda Shires: Mineral Wells (West Cross Timbers), self
6. Jim Photoglo: Jesus Saves (Is It Me?), Grifftone
7. Molly Mason / Ruthy Ungar (?): The Unbroken Thread (sampler from Pleasures), Fiddle & Dance
8. Ben Sands: Fair Exchange (Better Already), Spring

I don’t usually play this many unrelated songs in a row, but Gideon Freudmann, visiting his hometown, came by with his cello (and his mom!), and I needed to set up for his visit:
9. Lucy Wainwright Roche: Snare Drum (8 More), self
10. The Watersons: T Stands for Thomas (For Pence and Spicy Ale), Topic
11. Chris Smither: Surprise Surprise (Time Stands Still), Signature Sounds
12. Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion: Never Far from My Heart (Folksong), RTE 8
13. Michael Smith: Vampire (Love Letter on A Fish), Tales from The Tavern
14. Dana and Susan Robinson: Griselda's Waltz (Big Mystery), Threshold

15. Red Hen: Annabelle Lee (Crossing), self
16. Putnam Smith: Goldrush (Goldrush), Itchy Sabot

Guest: Gideon Freudmann -- all live in studio
17. improvisation
18. Denmark
19. Euphoria
20. Coconut Grove
21. Plagiarissimo

The Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from The Lost Acres String Band's "The Lost Acres String Band," self-released

The arguments over the death penalty are still in the news:
22. Nanci Griffith: Not Innocent Enough (The Loving Kind), Rounder
23. Tom Paxton & Anne Hills: Under American Skies (Under American Skies), Appleseed

On 10/20/09, the U.S. Senate voted not to fund any more construction of the wall along the U.S./Mexico border:
24. Tom Russell: Who's Gonna Build Your Wall (EP-Who's Gonna Build Your Wall), Hightone
25. (Pete Seeger &) Arlo Guthrie: Deportee (Together in Concert), Rising Son
26. Joel Rafael: Sierra Blanca Massacre (Woodyboye), Appleseed

Lightening up:
27. Zoe Mulford: Just Before I Go (Bonfires), Azalea City
28. Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem: If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out (Ranky Tanky), self
29. Martin Simpson: One Day (Tru Stories), Compass
30. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House

Brief review of Leonard Cohen in NYC last week

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pandora Music Service -- We're Sooooo Predictable!

The Song Decoders

Some elements that these musicologists (who, really, are musicians with day jobs) codify are technical, like beats per minute, or the presence of parallel octaves or block chords. Someone taking apart Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” documents the prevalence of harmony, chordal patterning, swung 16ths and the like. But their analysis goes beyond such objectively observable metrics. To what extent, on a scale of 1 to 5, does melody dominate the composition of “Hey Jude”? How “joyful” are the lyrics? How much does the music reflect a gospel influence? And how “busy” is Stan Getz’s solo in his recording of “These Foolish Things”? How emotional? How “motion-inducing”? On the continuum of accessible to avant-garde, where does this particular Getz recording fall?

There are more questions for every voice, every instrument, every intrinsic element of the music. And there are always answers, specific numerical ones. It can take 20 minutes to amass the data for a single tune. This has been done for more than 700,000 songs, by 80,000 artists. “The Music Genome Project,” as this undertaking is called, is the back end of Pandora.

The rest is at

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tom Russell on young songwriters

What do you think is the biggest misconception or mistake of young songwriters?

(Laughs.) I could go on and on. At South By Southwest, I wasn't there, but Little Steven got up and made this speech. People asked me if I wrote it for him. He said: You people come from all over the world, and you're all trying to network your way to fame. None of you young songwriters are doing your homework. You're not learning other people's songs, staying home and learning the craft. You're not playing bars for 10 or 15 years, paying your dues. And that's true. When Dylan came to New York, and he's the supreme example, none of these people will top that catalogue, he knew a thousand songs. He could steal from Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, and he could play blues. He came through that scene very fast because of the homework he'd done. You could say genius, but he did a lot of hard work. We've made it very hard for young songwriters, with these stupid bullshit conferences, South By Southwest, Folk Alliance, Songwriter Magazine. There's this idea that there are gimmicks, tools, networking that can help you. But they haven't helped anybody. They've limited people. The Beatles had four tracks and a guitar. All this science, this introspective look at songwriting, it's put hobbles on songwriters. It was a heavy scene that Dylan and Cohen went through. Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, those guys, were in the Navy and Marines, and had been exposed to hard drugs. By the time they hit the scene they were adults, they had character. You don't run into that type of kid anymore.

The complete article:

10/18/09 Playlist

Two sets of NEW stuff:
1. Sons of The Never Wrong: Pass It On (On A Good Day ... I Am), Waterbug
2. Charlie Maguire: I've Come Back My River (Good Eye Blind), MelloJamin
3. Sagapool: Opsaga (Episode Trois), Disques Anubis
4. Shotgun Party: Y Yo (Mean Old Way), self

5. James Keelaghan: Circle of Stone (House of Cards), Borealis
6. Liz Longley: Almost Over You (Somewhere in The Middle), Luckelizz
7. Jon Brooks: God Pt. IV (Moth Nor Rust), self
8. Laura Love & Orville Johnson: Cotton Eyed Joe / Ruby Are You Mad at Your Man (The Sweeter the Juice), Octoroon Biography or

It's Anne Hills's birthday
9. Here Comes That Rainbow Again (Woman of A Calm Heart), Flying Fish
10. with Cindy Mangsen: Never Grow Old (Never Grow Old), Flying Fish
11. with Jay Ansill: One Hard Look (A Lost World), BCN
12. Brown Leaves (Beauty Attends -- The Heartsongs of Opal Whiteley), Collective Works

From the new kids' CD by Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem (concert at Crowell Concert Hall 10/24):
13 & 14. They All Asked for You & Tennessee Wig Walk (Ranky Tanky), self

Other concerts:
15. Sparky & Rhonda Rucker: Hard As Stone (One Earth), Tremont
16. Ellis Paul: Rose Tattoo (The Day after Everything Changed), Black Wolf
17. Diana Jones: Something Crossed Over (Better Times Will Come), Proper American
18. Cedric Watson: La Vielle Chanson de Mardi Gras (Cedric Watson), Valcour

NEW and newish:
19. Denice Franke: Brand New Sky (Gulf Coast Blue), Certain Records
20. John Thibodeau: Gone to Charleston (Passin' Through), Ruination
21. Christine Lavin: GoodThing She Can't Read My Mind -- A Dude's Eye View (Cold Pizza for Breakfast), Yellow Tail
22. Pierce Pettis: Farewell (That Kind of Love), Compass

More from Anne Hills:
23. Lover's Knot (Angle of The Light), Flying Fish (video at
24. Little Orphant Annie (Ef You Don't Watch Out -- The Poems of James Whitcomb Riley), Collective Works
25. My Daughter and Vincent Van Gogh (download single)
26. with Priscilla Herdman & Cindy Mangsen: Forget-Me-Not (At the Turning of The Year), Hand and Heart Music

The Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from The Lost Acres String Band and their CD "The Lost Acres String Band," self

27. Gordon Bok & Cindy Kallet: October Song (Neighbors), Timberhead or
28. Eva Cassidy: Autumn Leaves (Live at Blues Alley), self
29. The Short Sisters: Autumn (A Planet Dancing Slow), Black Socks Press

More from Anne and friends
30. Blur in The Photograph (Bittersweet Street), Redwing
31. with Tom Paxton: Birmingham Sunday (Under American Skies), Appleseed
32. Fourtold (Anne, Michael Smith, Steve Gillette, Cindy Mangsen): Ballad of Springhill (Fourtold), Appleseed
33. with Tom Paxton and Bob Gibson: While You Sleep (Best of Friends), Appleseed

34. John Gorka: Live by The Sword (So Dark You See), Red House
35. Laura Love and Orville Johnson: Passin' (The Sweeter the Juice), Octoroon Biography
36. Jim Post: Boozoo Man (Reach Out Together), self
37. Caroline Aiken: Forty Thousand Headmen (Unshaken), self
38. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wall St. Journal Review of Ralph Stanley's Book

Picking Through the Past -- A bluegrass master recalls his hardscrabble upbringing and a life in music


Ralph Stanley, the hillbilly (his term) musician best known for his 2002 Grammy-winning rendition of "O Death" in the Coen brothers movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?," may be 82 years old and play songs nearly as ancient as the southwest Virginia hills where he was born (and still lives). But after all these years his tongue is still sharp, as he shows in "Man of Constant Sorrow," a memoir that may send some cowboy hats spinning along Nashville's Music Row. Dr. Stanley, as he likes to be known—the doctorate is honorary, from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.—dispenses a few lashes along with his rollicking account of 60 years as a banjo-picking bluegrass performer, though none will do lasting harm.
Man of Constant Sorrow

Born in Dickenson County, Va., on Feb. 25, 1927, Dr. Stanley came up hard. He describes a Christmas when all he got was an orange and a handful of rock candy. In 1939, his father bolted for a younger woman and "never even said goodbye."

The rest is at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ralph Stanley in The New York Times

Old-Timer, Still Telling Mountain Tales

Ralph Stanley is one of the last, and surely the purest, of the traditional country musicians. He’s such a stickler that he has no use for the dobro, let alone electrified instruments, and he’s not overly fond of the term bluegrass. He prefers to call what he performs “that old-time mountain music.” He plays the five-string banjo in the claw-hammer style he learned from his mother — or he used to, until arthritis caught up with him — and he sings in a raw, keening Appalachian tenor.

The songs tend to be about hard times, unfaithful lovers, deceased children, lonely graves. One of his most famous, “O Death,” is a pleading dialogue with the Grim Reaper himself. It used to be said that when you heard a Ralph Stanley tune, you either wanted to get drunk or go to church and get saved.

Mr. Stanley is 82 and, except for a dry spell in the early 1950s when he worked as a spot welder in Detroit, he has been performing steadily since he was a teenager. He still plays more than 100 dates a year, though he travels now in a customized bus rather than in an old Chevy, the band crammed in the back seat and the bass strapped to the roof. He has even been to Japan several times, where fans learn his songs by rote.

The rest is at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Praise for Steve Martin at The Ryman

Steve Martin Dispels All Doubts About His Banjo Skills

Earl Scruggs, John McEuen and Steep Canyon Rangers Add to a Night of Great Music

Calvin Gilbert, CMT News, October 12, 2009

In case you were wondering, Steve Martin really is a hell of a banjo player. He more than proved that Sunday night (Oct. 11) during a concert at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

Between songs, Martin delivered a generous helping of the humor he's famous for, but music is at the forefront of the current tour showcasing material from his album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo.

Judging by his self-deprecating comments onstage, Martin obviously understands that some people may be skeptical of his desire to play bluegrass music. And who could blame them? Not to name names, but there's a fairly lengthy list of movie stars who proclaim they would have been singers and musicians if only they hadn't been sidetracked by Hollywood's fame and fortune. They want to be taken seriously, but the unfortunate reality is that most of them record albums that leave you wondering if they ever had any serious musical chops to begin with. Martin's musical abilities were never really in question, though.

The rest is at

Monday, October 12, 2009

10/11/09 Playlist

The first two sets are a rough reconstruction – I lost the original playlist to a computer glitch (a shock, I know).

1.Rosanne Cash: I'm Movin' On (The List), Manhattan
2. The Barefoot Boys: Storm King (Sweetwater Passage), self
3. Betty Soo: Never the Pretty Girl (Heat Sin Water Skin), self
4. Blue Mule: Working Man Blues (Scratchy), Flat Five

5. Stephanie Bettman: I Love Ya Honey (Get Close to Me), self
6. Craig Bickhardt: This Old House (Brother to The Wind), Stone Barn 7. Caren Armstrong: All the Help (Everything), Wildplum
8. I can’t remember

All from "Still Moving Mountains: The Journey Home," Aurora Lights
9. Kathy Mattea: Blue Diamond Mines
10. Debra Cowan: Who Brought the Flood?
11. Interview with Debbie Jarrell / Jen Osha: Shumate Dam
12. Mike Morningstar: Buffalo Creek

It's Columbus Day weekend: I read an AP article about the changing educational emphasis about Columbus --
13. Sally Rogers: 1492 (What Can One Little Person Do), Thrushwood

Interview with Sarah Lee Guthrie, recorded Saturday before the Guthrie family’s second concert on the UConn campus:
15. Sarah Lee Guthrie & Family: Go Waggaloo (Go Waggaloo), Smithsonian Folkways
16. Sarah Lee et al: Don't I Fit in My Daddy's Shoes? (Go Waggaloo)
17. Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion: Folksong (Folksong), RTE 8
18. Sarah Lee et al: If Mama Had Four Hands (Go Waggaloo)
19. Sarah Lee et al: Take Me to Show-and-Tell (Go Waggaloo)

The Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from "The Melody of Rhythm" (Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer), E1 Records

It's Hugh Blumenfeld's birthday
20. All the Wood of Lebanon (The Strong in Spirit), Prime CD
21. Bring Stones (Barehanded), Prime CD
22. Raphael (Mozart's Money), Prime CD
23. On the Night before The Bombs Came Down (Mr. Jekyll & Dr. Hyde), self
24. The Snail (Rocket Science), Prime CD

At The Buttonwood Tree on 10/16:
25. Rupert Wates: You'll See Me Again (Dear Life), Bite Music

It's also Annie Gallup's birthday -- both songs from "Steady Steady Yes," Prime CD
26. Three Photographs
27. Stone Angel

28. John Gorka: Where No Monuments Stand (So Dark You See), Red House
29. Christine Lavin: Good Thing SHE Can't Read My Mind (Cold Pizza for Breakfast), Yellow Tail
30. Cliff Eberhardt: Back of My Mind (500 Miles: The Blue Rock Sessions), Red House
31. Maura O'Connell with Darrell Scott & The Settles: Shipbuilding (Naked -- with Friends), Sugar Hill
32. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House

Sunday, October 4, 2009

10/4/09 Playlist

1. Jim Post: Beautiful City (Reach out Together), self
2. Robyn Landis: Dry Rain, Calm Wind (Many Moons), Brave Hearts Music
3. Jaime Michaels: Red Western Flyer (Crooked), Frumdahart
4. Annie & Rod Capps: Sheriff's Daughter (My Blue Garden), Yellow Room

5. Joe Jencks: Bracero (Links in A Chain), Turtle Bear
6. Mindy Smith: Disappointed (Stupid Love), Vanguard
7. Ben Sands: Fair Exchange (Better Already), Spring
8. Avi & Celia: Rollin' & Tumblin' (Let It Rise), self

Autumn already:
9. Herdman / Hills / Mangsen: Goodbye to the Roses (At the Turning of The Year), Hand & Heart Music
10. Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen: When the First Leaves Fall (A Sense of Place), Redwing
11. Paul & Win Grace and Family: Autumn Harvest (Dance Upon the Earth), self
12. Charlie Maguire: Fall Is Here (Harbour Lights: The Second Voyage), Mello-Jamin Music

13. Dar Williams: the End of The Summer (End of The Summer), Razor & Tie
14. John McCutcheon: Colors (Autumnsongs), Rounder Kids
15. Jeremy Kittel: Summer's End / Elly's Autumn (Roaming), self

Guest: Stan Sullivan (at Roaring Brook w/ Mustard's Retreat, 10/10)
16. Stan Sullivan: Summer Mistress (live in studio)
17. Mustard's Retreat: Shenandoah (A Resolution of Something), self 18. Stan Sullivan: instrumental medley (live in studio)
19. Mustard's Retreat: [I neglected to write down the name of the song]
20. Stan Sullivan: Just A Little Blue (live in studio)

21. Arlo Guthrie with The Dillards: Do Re Mi (32 cents Postage Due), Rising Son
22. Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion: When the Lilacs Are In Bloom (Folksong), RTE 8 Records

23. Pride of New York: The Stage / medley (Pride of New York), Compass
24. Battlefield Band: Plain Gold Ring (Zama Zama), Temple

Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from "Pride of New York," Compass

I read George Monbiot's "A Millionaire with A Super Yacht Is a Larger Strain on Resources Than Hundreds of Peasant Families"
25. Battlefield Band: Robber Barons (Zama Zama), Temple
26. Carol Denney: The Rich Will Never Be Poor (The Rich Will Never Be Poor), self
27. Peggy Seeger: Legal Illegal (Enough Is Enough), self
28. Chuck McCabe: A Prayer for The Living (Bad Gravity Day), Woodshed

29. Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion: When the lilacs Are in Bloom (Folksong), RTE 8
30. Arlo Guthrie: If Ever I should See the Mountain (Tales of '69), Rising Son

31. Susan Werner: The Night We Won the War (single), download]
32. Cliff Eberhardt: When the Leaves Begin to Fall (500 Miles), Red House
33. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House