Sunday, April 27, 2008

4/27/08 Playlist

1. Dana and Susan Robinson: Cotton from The Clay ('Round My Door), Threshold 89
2. Moira Cameron: M'en Revenant de Bordeaux (Sands of The Shore), self
3. Terence Martin: Throw You Out of Heaven (Even Trade), Good Dog 006
4. The Starlings: Honey Creek (Marveling the While), self

From Songs from Sing Out! Vol. 52, #1
5. Chris Stuart & Backcountry: Crooked Man
6. Cousin Emmy & Her Kinfolk: Johnny Booker
7. Tony Trischka: Escher's Waltz
8. Ani DiFranco: Studying Stones

9. Sam Baker: Boxes (Pretty World), self
10. Debi Smith: Bob Dylan's Poetry (The Soprano), self
11. Danny Schmidt: California's on Fire (Little Grey Sheep), Waterbug 79
12. Gretchen Peters (Roaring Brook 5/3): American Tune (Trio), Purple Crayon

13. Cindy Kallet, Ellen Epstein, Michael Cicone: Farthest Field (Heart Walk), Overall 3
14. Dick Gaughan: Both Sides The Tweed (Gaughan Live! at The Trades Club), Greentrax 322
15. Capercaillie: Don't You Go (Roses and Tears), Compass 4477
16. Jack Williams (Church House 5/9, Beekley Library 5/11): The Heart of Saturday Night (Don't Let Go!), Wind River 4039

Interview with Eric Taylor ( recorded 4/12/08:
17. Walking Back Home (live)
18. Hollywood Pocketknife (Hollywood Pocketknife, Blue Ruby Music)
19. Two Fires (live)
20. Carnival Jim and Jean (Hollywood Pocketknife)
21. Postcards, 3 for A Dime (Hollywood Pocketknife)

The Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from Pat Donohue's Freewayman (Bluesky 929),

22. Rod Picott and Amanda Shires (interview on S.N.F.F. 5/4): Drive That Devil Out (preview CD, as yet unnamed), self Welding Rod
23. The Waifs (Iron Horse 5/3): sundirtwater (sundirtwater), Compass 4472
24. Michael Gaither: Good God Man How Big A Car Do You Need! (Spotted Mule and Other Tales), self
25. The Capitol Steps: Ten Pills and You're Fine (Campaign and Suffering), self
26. Adam Carroll: Porter Wagner [sic] (Old Town Rock N Roll), self

27. James McMurtry (Pearl Street 5/3): Cheney's Toy (Just Us Kids), Lightning Rod
28. John Gorka: Brown Shirts (Temporary Road), High Street
29. Billy Bragg: O Freedom (Mr. Love & Justice), Anti- 86712
30. Solas with Iris DeMent, guest: Song of Choice (The Words That Remain), Shanachie 78232
31. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House 174

Salon Review of "A Freewheelin' Time" by Suze Rotolo

Tangled up in Dylan
Suze Rotolo, the musician's first muse, has written an entertaining memoir about their love affair that is also a remarkable portrait of living and making art in the 1960s.

By Stephanie Zacharek

April 26, 2008 | Face it: The art -- or is it more of a science? -- of dissecting Bob Dylan is a man's game. Most of the Dylan scholars (both the smart and the lame ones), the rock critics who have collectively spent several lifetimes wrestling with his lyrics, the civilian gasbags who hold forth at dinner parties whenever his name is even mentioned, are men. I used to have an officemate who, whenever he wanted to take a break from doing actual work (which was shockingly often), would march into my office singing some random Dylan lyric and challenge me to name which song it came from. I know women who love Dylan's music as much as anyone else does, but I've never met one who felt the need to be a walking, talking sack of trivia.

So whether she knows it or not -- and I suspect she does -- Suze Rotolo has taken something of a risk in writing a memoir of the time she spent in the early '60s as the girlfriend of the Great Man. There are going to be people out there who think she's just cashing in on her role as a handmaiden to genius. But "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties" is only partly about Dylan. Rotolo has written a perceptive, entertaining and often touching book about a remarkable era in recent American cultural history, about a way of living, of making art, that couldn't have happened at any other time or in any other place.

This is about as far from a juicy tell-all as a memoir can get: Rotolo does share some private details of the story of her romance with Dylan -- the two met in 1961, when Rotolo was 17 and Dylan was 20, and were a couple for some four years -- but her approach is so sensitive, discreet and affectionate that she never comes off as opportunistic. This is an honest book about a great love affair, set against the folk music revival of the early 1960s, but its sense of time and place is so vivid that it's also another kind of love story: one about a very special pocket of New York, in the days when impoverished artists, and not just supermodels, could afford to live there.

The rest at:

NYTimes Review of "Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon"

By Sheila Weller.

Illustrated. 584 pp. Atria Books. $27.95.

How you feel about Sheila Weller’s “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon — and the Journey of a Generation” may depend on how you respond to Weller’s dedication, which reads: “To the women of the 1960s generation. (Were we not the best?)” If that’s the sort of thing that gets you all hepped up to pour a glass of chardonnay and order some gauzy embroidered tunics and Clarks sandals from the Soft Surroundings catalog, then you go, girl! If, on the other hand, the nakedly self-congratulatory quality of that dedication makes you want to play a record by the Slits or Hole or Sleater-Kinney, really loud, you may be in a different category, or just a different age group — not the “best” one.

Full disclosure: I was 4 in 1965, and because one of my older sisters had come home with a 45 of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the only serious question on my mind was which Beatle I was going to marry. I wasn’t, as Carole King was at the time, a very young married mother of two, balancing a career as a hit songwriter with the more traditional challenges of caring for babies and dealing with a difficult but gifted husband. I wasn’t, as Joni Mitchell was, an unhappily pregnant — and unmarried — aspiring folk singer from Saskatchewan, trying to square her desperate straits with her exceedingly proper upbringing. And I wasn’t Carly Simon, a privileged but somewhat troubled free-spirit-in-training, reveling in the grooviness of early 1960s Sarah Lawrence. Still, I’m not sure having lived through a particular era, no matter what challenges that era presented, necessarily confers greatness. When I began writing pop music criticism, in the 1990s, I was grateful that Ellen Willis, Janet Maslin and Ariel Swartley, among others, had paved the way before me. But their legacy actually gave me less patience for old hippies’ gassing on. I didn’t — and still don’t — care much for finger wagging on the part of my elders.

The grating self-aggrandizement of that dedication aside, the reality — and the relief — of this book is that it doesn’t set out to scold us. Weller, a journalist whose other books include the 2003 memoir “Dancing at Ciro’s,” is more interested in exploring how these three distinct yet dovetailing artists bucked the expectations that had been laid out for them by previous generations and blazed a new path for women to follow. She’s only partly successful: the book unintentionally makes the case that two of these women changed things for themselves more than for anyone else.

Then again, even self-determination has value, and much of “Girls Like Us” is entertaining and intelligent, thanks to Weller’s skills as a storyteller and her understanding of the musical traditions that inspired each of her subjects (particularly, in Mitchell’s case, the Child ballads from England and Scotland). She’s also perceptive about the social milieus that, kicking and screaming, these women had to bust out of.

More at

Sunday, April 20, 2008

4/20/08 Playlist

1. Kathy Mattea: Dark As A Dungeon (Coal), Thirty Tigers
2. Jaime Michaels: I Am Only [what I am] (Fool), Frumdahart 1007
3. Sugar Bayou: He's Just Weak (Dance Hall Incident), self
4. Anders Osborne: Summertime in New Orleans (Coming Down), M.C. Records 0060]
5. Wagtail: When the Sun Goes Down (One Clear Moment), self
6. Joel Zoss: Sarah's Song (Lila), Catalan 7301

7. Ruth Ungar: The Railroad Boy (Jukebox), Humble Abode
8. Hackensaw Boys: Radio (Look Out!), Nettwerk 30705
9. Rebecca Troon: Small Acts of Kindness (Turning Around), self
10. Joel Mabus: Holding to The Land (Retold), Fossil 1808
11. Kris Delmhorst: Heavens Hold the Sun (Shotgun Singer), Signature Sounds 2012
12. James McMurtry: Fire Line Road (Just Us Kids), Lightning Rod 95022

13. Anne Feeney: How Much for The Life of A Miner? (Dump The Bosses off Your Back), self
14. Woody Guthrie: Grand Coulee Dam (The Live Wire: Woody Guthrie in Performance 1949), Woody Guthrie Foundation
15. Chris Williamson: Big Seed Catalog (Fringe), Wolf Moon 96457
16. Paul Thorne: Burnin' Blue (A Long Way from Tupelo), Perpetual Obscurity 200089

Guest: Gideon Freudmann
17. Improvisation (live in studio)
18. working title: Portland Rain (live)
19 & 20. two instrumental cuts from new Caravan Gogh release
21. demo of looping technology
22. Plagiarisimo
23. Euphoria
24. Lilia's Three Step

The Dreaded Folk Calendar, over selections from The Mando Boys' "Live: Holstein Lust," Borderland

25. Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem: Big Old Life (Big Old Life), Signature Sounds 2005
26. Brooks Williams: Lightning (The Time I Spend with You), Red Guitar Blue Music
27. The Kennedys: Give Me Back My Country (Better Dreams), Appleseed1107
28. Tom Paxton: How Beautiful upon The Mountain (Comedians & Angels), Appleseed 1105
29. Fred Eaglesmith: Fancy God (Tinderbox), self
30. Audrey Auld Mezera: Looking for Luckenbach (Lost Men and Angry Girls), Reckless
31. Jack Hardy: The Dust of Africa (Noir), Great Divide 4170
32. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House 174

James McMurtry on NPR on Record Store Day

All Things Considered, April 19, 2008 - On Saturday, April 19, nearly 500 independently owned record stores across the country are celebrating Record Store Day. Hundreds of artists are giving in-store performances, and many stores will commemorate the event with giveaways to thank loyal shoppers.

Here, singer-songwriter James McMurtry shares a few memories of hanging out — and awkwardly self-promoting — in record stores.

I'm sure there must have been record stores in Houston in the late '60s, but I don't remember ever being in one. I was a small child then, and my father bought our records at the drug store on Bissonnet, where we also ate cheeseburgers and drank malts. The drug store carried what records we thought we needed — Johnny Cash at San Quentin, Batman, The Beatles' Revolver.

I still have a couple of old mono LPs purchased at the Bissonnet Drug Store, including Bob Dylan's self-titled first album, on the back cover of which are the italicized words, "This Columbia High Fidelity recording is scientifically designed to play with the highest quality of reproduction on the phonograph of your choice, new or old. If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true to life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete."

I remember my father installing a stereo needle in our mono record player so that the new stereo records wouldn't skip. Of course, we couldn't hear them in stereo, but he didn't care; he just wanted the damn things to play.

The day my second record, Candyland, was released, I was playing at The Bottom Line in New York City. It was 1992; CDs were marketed in the environmentally unfriendly but highly visible long box, and they had just become the top-selling format, having finally overtaken the cassette.

I walked a block down the street to a huge Tower Records and tried to find my record. It wasn't in the rock section where I thought it should have been. I searched every nook and cranny of the store and finally found the country section, a space smaller than the kitchen of a typical Chelsea walk-up.

In one of the bins, there was a card that read "James McMurty [sic]," but no records. I walked to a pay phone, called my manager at his Upper West Side office, and asked him if he could prevail upon someone at Columbia Records to please get some CDs down to Tower before my show. I checked back three hours later and found a half-dozen or so copies of Candyland behind the same misspelled card, but now in the rock section, right between Don McLean and MC 900 Ft. Jesus. It pays to know the right people.

The rest of the story, plus other stories and links, at

Newport "Folk" Festival: Changes in The Music

New folks at Newport rock festival's traditions --
Jug bands, flddlers left out of '08

by Joan Anderman, Boston Globe, April 17, 2008

In 1965, Bob Dylan turned the folk world on its ear when he plugged in an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival.

In 2008, things are going to get a whole lot louder.

Under new management and with a young producer at the helm, the venerable Newport Folk Festival is stepping out of the past and into the rock 'n' roll mainstream. Gone are the jug bands, Cape Breton fiddlers, and bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley. This year's lineup features good-time tunesmith Jimmy Buffett, swaggering rockers The Black Crowes, and indie-soul chanteuse Cat Power.

"For me the theme was bridging the gap," says Jay Sweet, a 37-year-old editor at Paste, an indie-oriented music magazine. Sweet is coproducer of this year's event, which takes place Aug. 1-3 at Fort Adams State Park. "We're going to try to bring in more sizzle, in the artistic sense. We're creating a festival for musical omnivores." In the bargain, they're creating New England's first real rock festival, which Sweet hopes will someday rival the genre-spanning sprawl of Tennessee's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

"If we do it right and book it right, the kids will come," he says.

Newport has long been known for pushing the boundaries of folk by booking unexpected artists, from '60s screamer Janis Joplin and punky troubadour Ani DiFranco to jazzy hitmaker Norah Jones and alt-rock heroes the Pixies, while presenting a vibrant blend of new and old-school styles. It's what is not on the roster for this year's event - straight, traditional folk music of any stripe - that signals a dramatic reinvention of the Newport Folk Festival.

More at

Sunday, April 13, 2008

4/13/08 Playlist (Radiothon part 2)

Most selections from CDs available as premiums

1. Robin & Linda Williams: Down Home Diva (Radio Songs), Red House 204

2. Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem: Red Haired Boy (Big Old Life), Signature Sounds 2005
3. Bill Staines: That's My Song (Old Dogs), Red House 208

4. Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters: Dance Upon This Earth (Phoenix), Happy Appy 7
5. David Jacobs-Strain: Old Tennis Shoes (Liar's Day), self

6. Karen Mal: Te Acuerdo En Mis Suenos (The Space Between), Waterbug []
7. Cliff Eberhardt: The High Above and The Down Below (The High Above and The Down Below), Red House 199

8. Eliza Gilkyson: Angel and Delilah (Your Town Tonight), Red House 205
9. Todd Snider: You Got Away with It [A Tale of Two Fraternity Brothers] (The Devil You Know), New Door

10. Maria Sangiolo: Save the Sharks! (Under the Mystic Sea), Long Night Moon
11. The Klezmatics: Come When I Call You (Wonder Wheel), Jewish Music Group 18033

12. Claudia Schmidt: Too Late for Breakfast (Spinning), Pragmavision
13. Shawn Mullins: For America (Honeydew), Vanguard

14. Eilen Jewell: How Long (Letters from Sinners & Strangers), Signature Sounds 2006
15. Andrew McKnight: Cedars (Something Worth Standing For), Falling Mountain 1050

16. Garnet Rogers: Good and Faithful Servant (Get A Witness -- Live), Snow Goose Songs 1133
17. Nerissa and Katryna Nields: Give Me A Clean Heart (Sister Holler), Mercy House

18. Peggy Seeger: Legal Illegal (Enough Is Enough), self
19. Randy Newman: Mr President [Have Pity on The Working Man] (Good Old Boys), Reprise
20. Rory McLeod: Cold Blow These Winter Winds (Brave Faces), Talkative
21. Short Sisters: Calendar (A Planet Dancing Slow), Black Socks Press 12

22. Loreena McKennitt: The Bonny Swan (Nights from The Alhambra), Quinlan Road
23. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us (Raising Sand), Rounder

The Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from Gideon Freudmann’s “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,”

24. Amy Gallatin & Roger Williams: Tear Stained Letter (Something 'Bout You), Happy Appy
25. Si Kahn: Government on Horseback (Thanksgiving), Strictly Country

26. Paranoid Larry: R.U.N. Alien (Are You Following Me?), self
27. Emma's Revolution: Who Lies (Roots, Rock & Revolution), self
28. Dan Berggren: Fix It Or Stop Complaining (Fresh Territory), self
29. Mavis Staples: Eyes on The Prize (We'll Never Turn Back), Anti-
30. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House 174

Sunday, April 6, 2008

4/13/08 Short-Show Playlist

Last preemption for the basketball season, leaving about 40 minutes for the show; the first Sunday of two in our fund-drive. Most selections are from CDs available as thank-you gifts.

1. Lawrence Blatt: Song for Chava (Fibonacci's Dream), self

2. Cliff Eberhardt: The High Above and The Down Below (The High Above and The Down Below), Red House 199
3. Amy Gallatin & Roger Williams: Tear Stained Letter (Something 'Bout You), Happy Appy 6

4. Garnet Rogers: Junior (Get A Witness -- Live), Snow Goose Songs 1133
5. Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem: Big Old Life (Big Old Life), Signature Sounds 2005

6. Shawn Mullins: See That Train (Honeydew), Vanguard 79830
7. Patty Larkin: Cover Me (Watch The Sky), Vanguard 79851

8. Bill Staines: Great Dream from Heaven (Old Dogs), Red House
9. Mavis Staples: In the Mississippi River (We'll Never Turn Back), Anti
10. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House 174

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bruce Springsteen still plays to the audience


by Elysa Gardner, USA Today

ASBURY PARK, N.J. — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band begin a new trek through North America tonight with a concert in Hartford, Conn. If you score tickets to one of the shows, be forewarned: The Boss may be watching you.

"The first thing that I do when I come out every night is to look at the faces in front of me, very individually," Springsteen says. "I may find a certain person and play to that single person all night. I'm playing to everyone, but I could see one or two people and decide, 'You're the reason that I'm out here right now, and that I'm going to push myself till it feels like my heart's going to explode.' "

Certainly, anyone who has caught Springsteen live might assume that he or she was that lucky fan.

The singer/songwriter, who added three Grammy Awards to his collection this month, is famous for throwing house parties in arenas and stadiums, channeling his charisma and camaraderie with his longtime bandmates into performances that seem at once intimate and majestic.
Sitting in his dressing room during a rehearsal break at Asbury Park Convention Hall — just a stone's throw from the Stone Pony, the decidedly smaller venue that the 58-year-old Jersey boy helped make a national landmark — Springsteen is true to his persona: a regular guy with a larger-than-life presence (and an endearingly goofy laugh).

Tour keeps going

After releasing last fall's critically acclaimed Magic, his first album with the E Street Band since 2002's The Rising, he and the group played dates in the USA and Europe. The current leg of their tour will wrap April 30 in Charlottesville, Va.; then they head back overseas, returning for three homecoming gigs at Jersey's Giants Stadium in late July. (Sessions Band keyboardist Charles Giordano, who played on Springsteen's Pete Seeger albums, fills in while E Street's Danny Federici undergoes treatment for melanoma.)

"On any given night, what allows me to get to that higher ground is the audience," Springsteen says. "I look for an audience that's as serious about the experience as we are, which, after all these years, continues to be pretty serious."

The rest of the article (including what's on his iPod) at

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New York Times Songwriters' Blog

Andrew Bird, Darrell Brown, Rosanne Cash and Suzanne Vega contribute to this
blog about the making of songs: