Thursday, January 28, 2016


“I don’t know why Winterpills aren’t one of the most cherished pop bands in the world.”
- Jonathan Lethem, Rolling Stone

“****… The songs are mists and pastels, dense with instruments and Philip Price and Flora Reed's harmonies, yet at the same time serene… as evocative as dreams.   -MOJO

From slurry, fuzzy guitar to strings, Winterpills signature melodies see their most expansive sounds to date on ‘Love Songs,’ out March 18 on Signature Sounds. Reminiscent of the best of the Elephant 6’s works, ‘Love Songs came together in collaboration with co-producer Justin Pizzoferrato, who has manned the dials for Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, Lou Barlow, Speedy Ortiz, Parquet Courts, Lou Barlow, and And the Kids. From strings to trumpets; large-scale harmonies to harmonica, Winterpills has never sounded this big before, masterfully building from a whisper to a torrent.

Winterpills explores love of the idea of love, love of unrealized love, love of the dead, love of family secrets, love of the concept of eternal return, love of ideas, and love of celebrity. "At first the thought of calling it Love Songs was intended as a whimsical nod to the other million albums of the same title," principle songwriter Philip Price says, "but then casting that light on the existing songs made them jump into stark relief: they were all love songs after all, though arriving at that place through strange portals and unused back roads." “A New England Deluge” builds to a feverish pitch before abruptly stopping. “Wanderer White” kicks off as a low-fi dirge before moving into ‘90s indie rock territory. “Celia Johnson” is inspired by David Lean’s “Brief Encounter,” positing a middle class British housewife’s story of stepping out of her comfort zone. “He Grew a Wall” identifies with a local musician following his suicide, using a modded Casiotone as an orchestra.

Recorded during the band’s 10th anniversary, ‘Love Songs’ is also an appropriate title for a band led by musical soulmates and husband/wife Philip Price and Flora Reed. Based in and inspired by western Massachusetts’ fertile scene, Reed and Price’s voices are always the core of Winterpills’ music and provide incredible chemistry and lift in tandem. Over the past decade and half-dozen stellar albums, Winterpills has established a reputation for smart indie pop, prompting comparisons to Elliott Smith, Low, and Big Star.

In addition, Winterpills’ self-titled debut will be reissued this spring on vinyl for the first time. Tour dates will also be announced shortly.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016



Kansas-born UK-based indie pop artist Piney Gir crowdsourced the cover of ‘Mr. Hyde’s Wild Ride’ (Greyday Records / February 19) asking friends and fans alike to take a mug shot of themselves, giving life to the title ‘Mr. Hyde’s Wild Ride.’ Written during a hard year that saw her displaced by gentrification, loss of a job, and the death of a friend but with things looking upon its recording, she meditated on drastic changes of the past years. “The mug shots symbolized the way I felt 'jailed' by this set of circumstances and the photo on the inside shows me wearing black and white like an old-fashioned prisoner, escaped and running through a tunnel with a light at the end of it. That photo symbolizes my freedom.”

The result is like a Sgt. Pepper cover for the digital age. She says, “I did an appeal to friends, family and fans to send in their mug shots for the cover and I am so pleased with the results - it looks like a big army of loved ones to me - like an extended family portrait!  From my mom, grandparents, cousins and their kids, to Ian Damaged and his wife Alison Wonderland [he runs Damaged Goods, she's a rock photographer]. There is also Mark Radcliffe [a BBC radio DJ and music personality], Tom White from the band Electric Soft Parade, of course the Piney band are all on there, and a few dogs. Friends, kids and fans too.” MC Lars and the Real Tuesday Weld round out the members of the musical community who participated. (Oh and a certain publicist as well!) An album that began with a rollercoaster, Jekyll-and-Hyde cycle ended with the whole world of Piney Gir joining her, each featured in mug shots, on the cover. Piney reflects, “"if an album is the sum of its parts, this part is fan-generated and that is a beautiful, creative interaction to have with people." Here’s the list of participants and their “crimes”:

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Folk music pioneer Paul Clayton often told the tale of Bob Dylan’s 21st birthday when he traveled down to the Charlottesville, VA area to visit Paul. During this visit Paul states that he brought Dylan to visit Etta Baker in her home, so he could see one of the finest guitar players in the region. Dylan returned to New York City shortly after to pen the song, "Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright." First Recorded in 1956, Baker's eloquent finger-style guitar playing was considered to be the one of the finest representations of this rare style.

Music Maker Relief Foundation is pleased to announce a reissue of Baker's album Railroad Bill, widely considered her finest album, on February 19th, 2016 as a vinyl release. "Reissuing this seminal blues record is so important to keep the legacy of Etta Baker alive; releasing this incredible album on vinyl will engage new fans in Baker's music," says Tim Duffy, founder of Music Maker. The album will contain a previously unreleased version of Police Dog Blues.

During her lifetime Etta Baker was a recipient of the NC Folk Heritage Award and the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship. "Baker's musical career was stifled by her husband's belief in the traditional gender roles of the time - women belonged in the home," says Duffy, who worked with Baker during the last two decades of her life. At the age of 78 she released her first album and her legacy continues to circulate and influence even today.  Her unique sound and her two-finger style live on in the performances of Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan, and hundreds of other musicians.  Mahal is reverent, he comments of Baker’s songs, “(It) seems like you can see right through them back to the past.”  Etta Baker’s renown is far reaching, however, listening to her music, it is clear her roots were grounded in the local culture and regional heritage of Western North Carolina.

Recently Baker was honored with a memorial in her hometown of Morganton, NC, along with a museum exhibit. The town of Morganton is also currently raising funds for a bronze statue of her.

This deluxe reissue will include a digital download card with all four of Baker's full-length releases on the Music Maker Relief Foundation label, along with never before seen footage of Baker playing with Taj Mahal.

The Railroad Bill vinyl release will be available in record stores and on on February 19th, 2016.

Etta Baker photos

Above credit: Tim Duffy, click for high res
Above credit: Tim Duffy, click for high res
Above credit: Tim Duffy, click for high res

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Etta Baker bio

Etta Baker was born in 1913 to a musical family in the North Carolina foothills of Appalachia, a musical and racial crossroads. She claims a mix of African-American, white and Native American blood. She grew up in Morganton, where races were not as tightly divided as they were in the cotton and tobacco land down East. “Where we lived was a white section,” Etta explained in an interview on NPR in 2005, “but everybody wasone family. I played with my sister Cora and Daddy at big dances for both white and blacks.”
Baker’s music reflects the open atmosphere in which she learned to play. African-American blues, white country picking and English fiddle tunes blend and erupt in her unique style of finger work on both guitar and banjo. Baker's father, Boone Reid, played his own style of clawhammer banjo and loved to pick up the guitar to play the blues. When Etta took up guitar at the age of three, he passed on that mix of mountain music and deep-felt Piedmont blues to his daughter. Over the course o
f her lifetime, that daughter became on of the finest finger-style Piedmont Blues guitarist to come out of North Carolina. She was easily identified by her use of a steady baseline wrapped with lilting melodies. Later in life, Baker also returned to banjo, diligently replicating andbringing new attention to the banjo music of Boone Reid.
While today’s charts make a big fuss over “cross-over” artists, living side by side with bluegrass and blues, Etta Baker didn’t keep them separate. In a review of Baker’s music for All Music Guide, Jason Akeny writes about her playing style
and praises her as “among the foremost practitioners of acoustic Piedmont guitar fingerpicking, an open-tuned style not far removed from bluegrass banjo picking; however” he adds, “for decades only relatives and friends ever heard her play, a
s she confined her performances solely to family gatherings and parties.”
Listening to Baker’s talent, the first question that comes to mind is why didn’t she get onto the stage earlier. To understand this, you need to under stand how life was in the Carolinas for people who were living a hardscrabble life of farming and m
ill work. Opportunities for music were local not national. Skilled musicians played with family, for local dances, at church, or may be in a nearby town. The exceptions, such as the famous Carter Family from Poor Valley, Virginia, chose to risk e
verything on the music business and experienced a wild ride of ups and downs. “My husband could play piano real well,” Baker reflects.
“I believe we could have made it, but as he did not want to leave home, there was nothing I could say.”
If this deference sounds out of character, remember that families were large and interdependent. Money from music was a long shot. Going into the textiles mills, as Etta Baker did, might be low pay but it was sure pay. Not everyone had the ambition and that touch of madness that moved A.P. Carter to drag an entire family out on the road. And staying home certainly did not mean giving up music. Baker kept on playing along with her father and her sister, Cora. Their lack of stage e xperience was no measure of the quality of the music.

Proof of this came in 1956–which puts Etta in her 40s. That year, the patriarch, Boone Reid, took the whole extended family on an outing to Cone Mansion. Walking the place, Reid spotted a guy with a guitar over his shoulder. Being a man of music, and proud of Etta, he asked if the man would like to her his daughter play. That man was Paul Clayton, a song-collector and folklorist.

“I played a song I had put together,” Etta remembers, “One Dime Blues, and Paul was amazed. He got directions to our home and he was over the next day with his tape-recorder along with Liam Clancy and Diane Hamilton.” As a result of that afternoon, the folklorists included Etta and Boone on Hamilton’s next record project, Instrumental Music from the Southern Appalachians. That’s where Etta Baker first showed off her finger-style guitar playing to a world way wider than her family home. It was one of those songs, Railroad Bill, that caught the ear of Taj Mahal, a college kid at UMASS. He was visiting a friend in the dorms of Bard College when he heard the recording playing in someone’s room.

"That chord in Railroad Bill is a very ancient root chord,” Taj explains. “it strikes straight through me, every time I hear it played.” Elaborating on the moment that pushed his own commitment to music deeper inside, Taj adds, “Those older chords seem like you can see right through them back to the past.”

It’s impossible to speculate on what earlier fame might have meant to Etta Baker, but clearly her hand, her guitar and banjo music, began to influence the music scene of the 1960s. Paul Clayton became a conduit, funneling the folk scene down into the south. He owned a cabin outside Charlottesville, Va., and when his New York friends came to visit, he would treat them to a trip to the Carolina to hear Etta Baker play. Bob Dylan and Susie Rotolo celebrated Dylan’s 21st birthday listening to Etta and returned to New York where Dylan rewrote one of Paul Clayton’s songs, Whose Going to Buy You Ribbons When I’m Gone, taking Baker’s guitar work and creating the now famous Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.

For many years after Clayton’s visit, the Bakers received no payment for Etta’s recordings. “Back then we just did not know what to do about it,” Etta admits. She stayed home, committed to her husband and to the work of raising nine children. She tended her garden, and worked in the mill. All that time, her music continued to circulate, emerging in the finger work of bluesmen like Taj Mahal.

In the early 80s, after her children were grown and her husband passed, Etta decided to make a change. She began to make music her profession, cutting her first album at the age of 78. In 1992, Baker put out her own album, One Dime Blues,
on Rounder, and she was included in the The North Carolina Banjo Collection, a 1998 Rounder release. In 1989, Baker received the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award from the North Carolina Arts Council. In 1991, she received the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship, and, in 2003, the North Carolina Award.
In 1995, Baker hooked up with Tim Duffy and the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Duffy, something of a musical match-maker, pulled Etta into a studio in Pinnacle, North Carolina along with her secret protege, Taj Mahal. They were joined by Etta’s blues-playing friends, Algia Mae Hinton and Wayne Martin. Those sessions were released in 2004 on the recording, Etta Baker with Taj Mahal. In 1998, Music Maker recorded a series of sessions with Baker, released in 1999 on a recording named after the song that inspired Taj Mahal, Railroad Bill.

Etta Baker came out of the mountains and took center stage. Through Music Makers, she
became part of a professional system that promoted her music and paid her for her work.
Duffy even included two recordings of Boone Reid to round out the 2004 project, paying
tribute to the family roots in her music. In 2005, Music Maker recorded a second project
that included the other Baker sister, Carolina Breakdown with Cora Phillips, and released
the posthumous album Etta Baker Banjo, in 2009, a commemoration of that blend of
blues and bluegrass is her signature.
For those who lament Baker’s late entry into the world of records, tours and stage, it is
wise to remember that Baker did not abide by regret. She made her decisions clear and
loved all sides of it. Giving her the last word, this is how Baker sums up the story, “I
raised family of 9 children and I didn’t travel much in raising a family–I worked at the
Buster Brown plant for about 26 years and there was a man came down from Portland
Oregon and he said you oughta pick up your guitar and quit work. Well I thought about
that was on a Wednesday and Friday I quit. Went to the office and told them I was quitin’. And I did. And I’
ve enjoyed every day since.”
–Susan Simone

Tuesday, January 19, 2016




Lead Belly Fest – the multi-artist tribute to Lead Belly taking place at Carnegie Hall on February 4 – will be placing a plaque on the apartment building where he lived during the last decade of his life at 414 E. 10th Street tomorrow, to commemorate his life and times in New York on his birthday of January 20. Those speaking at the ceremony include National Endowment for the Arts fellow, poet, and Lead Belly chronicler Tyehimba Jess; actor and bluesman Guy Davis; three-time GRAMMY winner Tom Chapin; and Lead Belly historian, archivist, and author John Reynolds. Other members of NYC’s folk and blues scenes will be in attendance, including Ernie Vega. A group performance of “Good Night Irene” will follow.

WHO: Tyehimba Jess, Guy Davis, John Reynolds, Tom Chapin, Stephen Petrus, other musicians
WHAT: Placing of plaque on Lead Belly’s former building
WHEN: 3pm, January 20, 2016
WHERE: 414 E. 10th Street, NYC
RSVP: or 718.541.1130

+ Guy Davis is an artist who has excelled in many disciplines; he is a musician, composer, actor, director, and writer. He has received accolades and praise for his performance off-Broadway as the legendary Robert Johnson in “Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil,” winning the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive Award”.  Likewise, he received rave reviews for his appearance on Broadway in “Finian's Rainbow”, playing the part originally played by the legendary Sonny Terry.  He has been nominated for nearly a dozen Blues Awards and has performed on such shows as Prairie Home Companion, Late Show With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Most recently, he is nominated for two 2016 Blues Music Awards. A friend of Pete Seeger’s, the two used to perform “Midnight Special” in concert frequently.

+ Born in Detroit, poet and Lead Belly chronicler Tyehimba Jess earned his BA from the University of Chicago and his MFA from New York University. Jess is the rare poet who bridges slam and academic poetry. His first collection, Leadbelly (2005), an exploration of Ledbetter’s life, was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, and was voted one of the top three poetry books of the year by Black Issues Book Review. His work has been featured in numerous anthologies, including Soulfires: Young Black Men in Love and Violence (1996), Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry (2000), and Dark Matter 2: Reading the Bones (2004). He is the author of African American Pride: Celebrating Our Achievements, Contributions, and Enduring Legacy (2003). His honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award. A former artist-in-residence with Cave Canem, Jess has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, as well as a Lannan Writing Residency. Jess has taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and at the College of Staten Island in New York City.

+ Through 50 years, 24 albums, eight GRAMMY nominations, three GRAMMY awards and thousands of live performances, Tom Chapin has entertained, amused and enlightened audiences of all ages with life-affirming original songs told in a sophisticated array of musical styles. The New York Times calls Chapin "one of the great personalities in contemporary folk music," while Billboard described him as "the best family artist around" and "totally captivating." Parents magazine stated, "Nobody today is writing and performing better kids' songs than Tom Chapin." In his varied career, Chapin has appeared on Broadway as Jim in the hit-musical Pump Boys and Dinettes and off-Broadway as musical director of Cotton Patch Gospel and Harry Chapin: Lies & Legends. In film he created the music for the award-winning shark documentary Blue Water, White Death and had a cameo role in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate. On television Chapin hosted the ABC Emmy & Peabody award-winning children’s show Make A Wish and the documentary series National Geographic Explorer.  His newest recording is the acclaimed “70” (Sing Out! says, “Pick up this album, it’s a great one.”)

+ John Reynolds has been a fan, collector, advocate and Ledbetter family confident for almost 60 years. He knows through his own sense-driven perception, the enormous importance of Huddle Ledbetter. His extensive files contain just about every photograph, article, artifact and tangential scrap that bears Lead Belly's stamp. He sought out Huddie's widow Martha after 'Goodnight, Irene' became popular, and visited her often in her top floor apt (#26) at 414 East 10th St in the 50s before joining the navy. He co-authored 'LEAD BELLY: A Life in Pictures' (Steidl, 2008) with Tiny Robinson, Lead Belly's favorite niece.

+ Stephen Petrus is an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellow at the New-York Historical Society, where he is working on his second book, a political and cultural history of Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 60s. At the Museum of the City of New York, he curated the critically acclaimed exhibition Folk City in 2015 and was co-author of the show's accompanying book, with historian Ronald D. Cohen. Stephen is a twentieth-century U.S. urban and cultural historian. He received his Ph.D. from the City University Graduate Center and taught at Lehman College in the Bronx.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Winterpills artwork

Credit: Joanna Chattman, click for high res
L-R: Dennis Crommett, Dave Hower, Flora Reed, Philip Price, Max Germer

  Credit: Joanna Chattman, click for high res
  Credit: Joanna Chattman, click for high res
Album cover: Love Songs (Signature Sounds)

Winterpills - 'Love Songs'

Over a decade ago, singer-songwriter Philip Price scrawled the name “Winterpills” on the wall of The Bay State Hotel, a now-dead but fabled Northampton, Massachusetts watering hole and music venue. Initially, it was going to be the name for a dreamt-of electronica project, but, somewhere along the line, it blossomed into a critically acclaimed indie band with a deep catalog of elegant, dark chamber pop.

Now, the quintet gives us its seventh album, a provocative entry in its catalog, Love Songs (Signature Sounds), out March 18th. Recorded and co-produced with Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, Lou Barlow, Speedy Ortiz), the album showcases an invigorated and raw Winterpills. This new release marks ten years as a band. To commemorate this career milestone, Winterpills will also reissue its self-titled debut on vinyl. Together, these releases bookend a freewheeling psych-folk-rock continuum.

“Without even trying, over time the canvas has just gotten bigger,” says Winterpills’ principle songwriter Philip Price. "Time stretched us.”

The Northampton, Massachusetts quintet are consummate masters of the slow burn; they’ve nurtured a singular aesthetic with lush and sometimes gritty instrumentation, emotive and literate lyrics, sublime vocal harmonies, and cinematically structured songs that stealthily pull you in and then destroy you. Winterpills has prompted favorable comparisons to Elliott Smith, Low, The Go-Betweens, Fairport Convention, Pernice Brothers and Big Star, among others. The five-piece group is singer/songwriter/guitarist Philip Price, singer/keyboardist Flora Reed, guitarist Dennis Crommett, bassist Max Germer, and drummer Dave Hower.

Winterpills formed as friends, musically comforting each other during one particularly miserable winter after a year of breakups and deaths. Price began performing as a solo artist in the vein of Elliott Smith and Leonard Cohen after his power pop band, The Maggies, disbanded after nine years. Initially, Winterpills was an outlet to combine his quieter, heartfelt songwriting with a richer array of synthetic textures. Winterpills took something of a left turn by becoming a full band that conjured the vigor and sophistication of power-pop and folk-rock with subtle electronica flourishes. As time has worn on, Winterpills has peeled away that ambience in favor of a powerful and graceful live band aesthetic.

There’s a circularity to the group’s newly reissued self-titled debut album from 2005, and its latest, Love Songs. Both albums have the feeling of euphoric artistic self-discovery. “We hadn’t recorded together in awhile, and we felt refreshed when we went in the studio this time.” Philip admits. Whereas 2005’s Winterpills is a raw rock album with delicate moments, 2016’s Love Songs is a much bigger sounding rock record played with swaggering musicality.

Love Songs is tightly thematic. "At first the thought of calling it Love Songs was intended as a whimsical nod to the other million albums of the same title," Price says, "but then casting that light on the existing songs made them jump into stark relief: they were all love songs after all, though arriving at that place through strange portals and unused back roads." The tracks are definitely not your standard missives of affection: within the 11-song album, Winterpills explores love of the idea of love, love of unrealized love, love of the dead, love of family secrets, love of the concept of eternal return, love of ideas, and love of celebrity.

Standouts in this prismatic survey include the single “Celia Johnson,” “Freeze Your Light,” and “He Grew A Wall.” The track “Celia Johnson” bursts forth with a scruffy Jeff Magnum-like elegance conjured from the contrast of skyward Byrds-like harmonies laid over propulsive drums and garage rock guitars. The track was inspired by Philip's fascination with the late English actress, Celia Johnson, (best known for the 1945 British romantic drama Brief Encounter)

Lone celestial harmony vocals open “Freeze Your Light,” reminding longtime fans of the power of Philip’s vocal interplay with co-writer, keyboardist, harmony soulmate, and wife, Flora Reed. The song majestically unfolds from a fragile intimacy as it gathers burly power with lumbering drums and dirty guitars. The chorus has a gospel purposefulness that feels cathartic and spiritual; the embedded and quixotic desire to freeze all our loves in photographs, pixels and 'cardboard boxes with broken handles' saturates the song.

“He Grew A Wall” is about a suicide that shook the local music scene. “I watched that loss confound us all,” Philip reveals of the song’s subject, “I woke up one day with most of the words in my head laid out for me.” The track features some of Philip’s most poetically poignant lyrics against a mournful descending guitar line: “So the wind told a lie/You were deceived by the sky/The sun refused your call/The moon denied it all/You grew a wall”.

The album’s emotional resonance and fresh energy comes from the environment it was created in. Philip produced and engineered three albums in a row for Winterpills in their home project studio; but Love Songs was recorded in a professional studio buzzing with music gear curiosities, setting the stage for intrepid sonic exploration, including a slightly out-of-tune vintage Vose & Sons upright piano used liberally on many of the albums tracks: Love Songs bids farewell with the early Elton John-esque “It Will All Come Back To You.” The song’s arrangement is richly emotive—it sweeps upward from plaintive piano and voice to vigorous full-band accompaniment with stacked vocal harmonies, noise guitar, and trumpet. Co-producer Justin Pizzoferrato forged a telepathic connection with the group where he could intuit their aspirations, while providing fresh perspectives from the many different genres he’s worked in.

It’s been an unexpected journey for Philip, chasing the ghost within that moniker he scribbled on a bar wall twelve years ago. But what stands out to him as the most meaningful part of the journey is the deep ties within the band. “We feel lucky we’re still good friends after all this time. And I’m in awe of what everyone in the band brings to this weird table we built,” he says. His most profound connection, though, is with Flora Reed, his wife, and creative ally. “We totally have all our eggs in one basket, and it’s been great. I highly recommend it.” he pauses, laughs, and concludes saying: “We do save a little money on hotel rooms.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2016



Of the guitars used on Brooklyn band Leland Sundries’ new album ‘Music For Outcasts' (May, 2016 / L'Echiquier Records) one stands out: an inexpensive 1990s Sebring hollowbody guitar made in Korea. What’s special about it? Its former owner: Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner Taj Mahal. Bandleader Nick Loss-Eaton recalls, “We were on tour in North Carolina and I was hanging out with my friends at the Music Maker Relief Foundation headquarters outside of Durham. Tim Duffy – the head of the organization – was selling some gear. I asked if he had any hollowbodies and he pulled out this one and handed it to me on the spot, saying that Taj had given it to him and that he’d give it to me. I did a double take and said, ‘Taj Taj?!’ Strumming it, the electric guitar had a warm, natural tone, even unplugged.”

Paste Magazine premiered the band’s indie rock single “Studebaker,” which has drawn comparisons to The War on Drugs.

Loss-Eaton had been involved with the Music Maker Relief Foundation – a non-profit organization dedicated to recording and helping elderly, traditional, southern musicians – for many years: putting on two benefit concerts for the organization in New York, helping with publicity, donating money, and getting to know some of the elderly artists personally such as Boo Hanks, Whistlin’ Britches, and Ironing Board Sam.

Nick continues, “The guitar was pretty busted when Tim gave it to me, with broken electronics and some rust. I had it fixed up with a pair of GFS P90 pickups, some new hardware, and new amp-style knobs for volume and tone.” It has since been used in concert at shows opening for Todd Snider and Spirit Family Reunion. “We only used it on a couple of songs on the new album but it just shined,” the bandleader recalls.

Largely a rock and roll album, ‘Music For Outcasts’ also boasts wonderful songwriting and Americana music; it has been compared to ‘Mermaid Avenue.’ “Keys in the Boot” is a country waltz inspired by a phrase overheard while on tour in west Texas; “Freckle Blues” is a noir/blues written in NYC during Hurricane Irene; “Maps of the West” captures the optimism of a new relationship atop a driving train beat; and “The Tide (Love Letter In Scrimshaw)” tells the story of the end of that coupling as the tale of one left behind as the other takes an overseas voyage.

Taj had bought a pair of these because he loved the tone and the vibe, despite being inexpensive, Korean-made guitars; reportedly, he still has the other one.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fellow Creatures bio

Part circuit-bending weirdos, part unabashed pop stars, Fellow Creatures emerged from the remains of the beloved Ugly Purple Sweater in late 2014 and quickly became known as one of Washington, DC’s most distinctive and  compelling live bands. Centered on the deft vocal harmonizing and genre-blurring songwriting of Sam McCormally and Will McKindley-Ward, Fellow Creatures makes an impression with their layered, intricate arrangements and propulsive rhythm section of David Greer (drums) and Rishi Chakrabarty (bass). The band’s eclectic, physical sensibility has earned comparisons with the Talking Heads and Yeasayer.

Fellow Creatures' debut, eponymous album, co-produced with composer Louis Weeks and due out in early 2016, captures the band’s range and inventiveness. Powerful drums, pulsing synths, and guitar squalls coexist with soaring vocal harmonies, Afrobeat-inspired rhythm guitar, and the occasional flourish of toy piano. But it’s the band’s songwriting that makes it stand out; from the primordial soup anthem "Silurian Stomp" to the funky ouija board of "Seance," the songs stay centered around strong, memorable melodies and deft turns of phrase. Fellow Creatures is a statement about doubt and uncertainty whose creativity never obscures its approachability.

Fellow Creatures artwork

Above credit: Michael Snyder, click for high res
Above credit: Michael Snyder, click for high res
Above credit: Michael Snyder, click for high res
Album artwork
Above credit: Jocelyn Mackenzie, click for high res

Wednesday, January 6, 2016



Lead Belly Fest – the Carnegie Hall all-star celebration of the music and influence of Huddle "Lead Belly” Ledbetter on February 4, headlined by five-time GRAMMY Award winner BUDDY GUY along with the legendary Animals’ frontman ERIC “House of the Rising Sun" BURDON – today announced additions to the lineup. These include special guest multi-million seller, and GRAMMY-nominated blues rock guitarist, KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD; American songster, DOM FLEMONS; “Free Ride” singer EDGAR WINTER; New York state bluesman and Pete Seeger cohort GUY DAVIS; also now on the bill are renowned pianist JOHN DAVIS; and NYC’s very own MARKY RAMONE

A Spotify playlist of the artists performing at Lead Belly Fest is here.

Photos of artists performing at Lead Belly Fest are here.

+ Born in Shreveport, the same town where Lead Belly was born, Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s provenance virtually destined him to become a great bluesman. Twenty years into his recording career he continues to create genre-defining blues-infused rock n' roll. Shepherd has built an enviable resume as an accomplished recording artist, a riveting live performer and one of the most talented and distinctive guitarists of his generation. He has been dubbed “the guitarists’ guitarist”. Shepherd has sold millions of albums worldwide, received five GRAMMY® nominations, two Billboard Music Awards, as well as a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation's Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music awards. He's had seven #1 blues albums and a string of #1 mainstream rock singles. As part of his GRAMMY Award-nominated CD/DVD ‘10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads’, he jammed with fellow blues musicians at Lead Belly’s grave.

+ Dom Flemons is the "American Songster," pulling from traditions of old-time folk music to create new sounds. Having performed music professionally since 2005, he has played live for over one million people just within the past three years. As part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which he co-founded with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he has played at a variety of festivals spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry and such radio shows at NPR Fresh Air. Flemons was both host and performer at the recent Lead Belly 125 tribute concert at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.

+ From Edgar Winter’s critically acclaimed 1970 debut release, Entrance, he has demonstrated his unique style and ability to cross the genre lines and do the unexpected. His early recording of "Tobacco Road" is a powerful, emotionally devastating masterpiece that propelled him into the national spotlight. With over 20 albums and numerous collaborative efforts to his credit, Edgar Winter has appeared in the film "Netherworld", and the TV shows The Late Show with David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

+  Guy Davis is an artist who has excelled in many disciplines; he is a musician, composer, actor, director, and writer. He has received accolades and praise for his performance off-Broadway as the legendary Robert Johnson in “Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil,” winning the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive Award”.  Likewise, he received rave reviews for his appearance on Broadway in “Finian's Rainbow”, playing the part originally played by the legendary Sonny Terry.  He has been nominated for nearly a dozen Blues Awards and has performed on such shows as Prairie Home Companion, Late Show With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Most recently, he is nominated for two 2016 Blues Music Awards. A friend of Pete Seeger’s, the two used to perform “Midnight Special” in concert frequently. 

+ With his latest Newport Classic recording, Halley’s Comet: Around the Piano with Mark Twain & John Davis, pianist John Davis pays musical tribute to our country’s most celebrated and influential author whose career, like Davis’s, lies at the intersection of white and black culture and high and low culture in American society. The Twain-related works included on the CD, “played powerfully and with a rich palette” according to The New York Times, further Davis’ effort to define, excavate, and disseminate a previously-unacknowledged American roots music initiated by two earlier hit recordings on Newport Classic.

+ Marky Ramone is a New York original, best known for the 15 years he spent drumming for Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and MTV’s Lifetime Achievement Award winners The Ramones. He has also been a member of Richard Hell & the Voidoids, ayne County and The Backstreet Boys, and presently fronts Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg.

Leland Sundries - Studebaker embeddable track

Tuesday, January 5, 2016



The Music Maker Relief Foundation – the non-profit organization which assists southern, traditional musicians who live in poverty, many of them elderly – is bringing a revue to Globalfest January 17 at Webster Hall. Last year, Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times that the festival was “full of fusions both geographical and temporal: local and far-flung, old and new.” He continued, “What fortified nearly every performance was the sense that the music still comes from some place like home.” MMRF was the subject last year of 20th anniversary profiles on NPR Weekend Edition and PBS News Hour. Music Maker Relief Foundation mission video:

The Music Maker Relief Foundation Revue will consist of:

+ Robert Lee Coleman of Macon, Georgia played guitar for Percy Sledge from 1964 to 1969. In 1970, James Brown hired him for his new band, “the JBs.” Robert’s guitar is featured on Brown’s album “Hot Pants”, including the songs “Revolution of the Mind,” recorded live at the Apollo Theater & “Make It Funky” from the “Soul Classics” LP. He was most recently the subject of features in and Premier Guitar Magazine. Paul Reed Smith personally gave him a custom guitar. Hear music from his Music Maker Relief Foundation album ‘One More Mile’:

+ Robert Finley is the most recent addition to Big Legal Mess Records (Fat Possum) and his live performance energy can put anyone into a trance. Hailing from Bernice, LA, Finley enlisted in the US Army and served as an Army Band Director when he was younger. After his service, he worked as a carpenter and until recently his work provided enough income for him to get by. Unfortunately, his deteriorating eyesight has led to the loss of his carpentry career. Finley's music is as strong as ever though, and when Music Maker head saw him performing on the street at the King Biscuit Festival in Helena, AR, he signed him on the spot. He is making his NYC debut:

+ Alabama Slim says, “I grew up listening to the old blues since I was a child. I spent summers with my grandparents who had a farm. Them old folks would get to moanin’ while they worked, and I just started moanin’ with them. That’s where I learned to sing.”  Slim grew up playing in juke joints in Alabama and moved to New Orleans in the ‘60s. Since joining MM, his music has been felt at performances in the States and abroad. Music Maker assisted him in relocating back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He has released two albums on Music Maker and performed at Lincoln Center. Hear music:

The bandleader includes “Lil’ Joe” Burton, a trombone player who spent sixteen years with BB King before becoming Junior Wells’ bandleader. Albert White performed with Piano Red in his band Dr. Feelgood & the Interns for over thirty years and has played with Ray Charles, Joe Tex, and many others.

WHO: Robert Lee Coleman, Robert Finley, Alabama Slim
WHAT: Music Maker Revue at Globalfest
WHEN: 7-8pm, January 17, 2016
WHERE: Webster Hall, NYC

For more info on Globalfest, please go to:

Anais Mitchell bio

Widely known as “the Queen of Modern Folk Music”, Anaïs Mitchell is first and
foremost a storyteller. A Vermont-based singer-songwriter, Mitchell’s musical style,
sound, and performance have led her to be compared to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen,
and Gillian Welch. Mitchell was first signed by Ani Difranco to Righteous Babe
Records, where she recorded for several years before starting her own Wilderland
label in 2012. Among Mitchell’s recorded works are five full-length albums, including 2010′s sensationally reviewed “Hadestown” and 2012′s “Young Man in America,” which was described by critics as "genre-defining" and her "second consecutive masterpiece,”
and for which she received a BBC Radio Two Folk Award nomination for “Best Original Song.”

In addition to headlining worldwide, Mitchell has supported tours for Ani Difranco, The Low Anthem, Richard Thompson, Josh Ritter and the Punch Brothers, as well as two sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall with the band Bon Iver. Her 2013 release,
Child Ballads, won a 2014 BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Traditional Song, as well as finding itself on many ‘best of’ lists in international publications. In fall 2014, Mitchell releases ‘xoa’; a fifteen track solo collection including re-recorded songs spanning her ten year career, as well as a few completely new and previously unrecorded songs.
If there’s a common thread in Mitchell’s work–from her earliest acoustic records, to
the Hadestown opera, to this new chapter – it’s that she’s as interested in the world
around her as the one inside her. She has a way of tackling big themes with the same
emotional intimacy most artists use to describe their inner lives. “That’s why,” as one
journalist put it, “even in her most intimate moments, she never sounds like a
confessional songwriter.”

Monday, January 4, 2016





(NEW YORK, NY) GRAMMY® Award-winning singer/songwriter Patty Griffin is teaming with fellow artists Sara Watkins and Anaïs Mitchell for a major U.S. tour and voter engagement drive in conjunction with the League of Women Voters. The "Use Your Voice Tour 2016," produced by Columbia Artists Management LLC, gets underway February 12 at St. Petersburg, FL's Mahaffey Theatre and then visits 37 more U.S. cities through early April (see itinerary below).

"The League is excited to be teaming up with Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins, and Anaïs Mitchell to make sure all voices are heard on Election Day 2016," said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters. "We're ready to help fans get the election information they need, whether it's how to update their voter registration, find easy-to-understand local candidate and voting information, or learn about getting involved in the League's work."

The "Use Your Voice Tour 2016" follows the recent arrival of Griffin's extraordinary new album, SERVANT OF LOVE. Produced by longtime collaborator Craig Ross, the album - which includes the powerful first track release, "Rider of Days" - marks Griffin's ninth studio recording and first to be released via her new self-owned PGM imprint in conjunction with Thirty Tigers.  SERVANT OF LOVE has quickly drawn worldwide critical approval, with American Songwriter applauding her "unorthodox but effective foray into more oblique musical and philosophical waters...a bold, unexpected shift in vision."

Sara Watkins is a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California and founding member of the progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek along with her brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile. Over the summer, Sara and Sean toured and released their family-band-of-sorts project, Watkins Family Hour, that included stops at Conan, NPR's Tiny Desk Concert and Newport Folk Festival. The project featured an all-star band of Fiona Apple, Benmont Tench, Sebastian Steinberg and Don Heffington. Next year, Watkins will release her first solo offering in nearly four years.

Anaïs Mitchell is a Vermont and Brooklyn-based songwriter who comes from the world of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry. Her recent albums have found themselves on year end 'Best-Of' lists including NPR, Wall Street Journal and the Guardian. She's currently developing her folk-opera album Hadestown into a full stage production, which will premiere off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in spring 2016.

A respected leader in the voter engagement field for 95 years, the League of Women Voters is active in all 50 states and nearly 800 communities. League volunteers conduct nonpartisan voter registration, education and mobilization year-round, every year with the goal of empowering millions of voters to participate and ensure they have fair and equal access to the vote. Visit the League's award-winning voting website, , to find out about upcoming elections in your community.


Presented in Partnership with The League of Women Voters

12 - Mahaffey Theatre - St. Petersburg, FL
13 - Florida Theatre Performing Arts Center - Jacksonville, FL
16 - Hodgson Hall - Athens, GA
17 - Opelika Center for Performing Arts - Opelika, AL
18 - Egyptian Ballroom - Atlanta, GA
19 - Clemens Fine Arts Center - Paducah, KY
20 - Otis A. Singletary Center for the Arts - Lexington, KY
23 - Peace Center Concert Hall - Greenville, SC
25 - Ferguson Center for the Arts Concert Hall - Newport News, VA
26 - Page Auditorium - Durham, NC
27 - Camp Concert Hall - Richmond, VA
28 - Shaftman Performance Hall - Roanoke, VA

1 - Music Center at Strathmore - North Bethesda, MD
2 - Grand Opera House - Wilmington, DE
3 - Weis Center of the Performing Arts - Lewisburg, PA
4 - Mayo Performing Arts Center Theatre - Morristown, NJ
5 - Jorgensen Auditorium - Storrs, CT
6 - Kelley Theatre - Fairfield, CT
8 - Fuller Hall - St. Johnsbury, VT
9 - Hart Theatre - Albany, NY
10 - Sanders Theatre - Boston, MA
11 - Music Hall Portsmouth - Portsmouth, NH
12 - Music Hall Tarrytown - Tarrytown, NY
13 - Wilkins Theatre - Union, NJ
15 - Strand Theatre - York, PA
16 - Eisenhower Auditorium  - University Park, PA
18 - Dave Finkelman Auditorium - Middletown, OH
19 - Macomb Center for the Performing Arts - Clinton Township, MI
20 - Palladium Center for Performing Arts - Carmel, IN
22 - Bass Concert Hall - Austin, TX
23 - Tobin Center for the Performing Arts - San Antonio, TX
24 - Dosey Doe Coffee House - Houston, TX
25 - Granada Theater - Dallas, TX
26 - Hutchinson's Historic Fox Theatre - Hutchinson, KS
28 - The O'Shaughnessy Auditorium - St. Paul, MN
30 - Jackson Hall - Davis, CA
31 - Uptown Theatre  - Napa, CA

1 - California Center for the Arts Concert Hall  - Escondido, CA
2 - Great Hall - Northridge, CA

Piney Gir: From Pentecostal upbringing to questioning God

It undoubtedly influenced Kansas-via-London UK artist Piney Gir’s fascinating music that she was raised in a strict Pentecostal household and not allowed to listen to pop music until the age of 14.

But where did the Pentecostal upbringing leave her in terms of her current beliefs. She addresses it in the new song “Oh God You Devil,” which asks God some questions directly. In contrast to the upbeat, kinetic nature of most of ‘Mr. Hyde’s Wild Ride,’ “Oh God You Devil” kicks off with hums in some kind of Dorian mode, typically used in India for mediation. Lyrics like, "Why can't I see you? ... I don't believe you... When you hide can you still see me?" She answers her own questions in the final verse, singing, "Isn't life as luck would have it?" Piney says, “Sealing the deal that perhaps this girl doesn't have much belief in God, at least not the God that is pitched to us in Western culture with the big white beard, sitting on a cloud punishing everyone.”

Early praise has already come from Pop Matters, Paste, and Glide for ‘Mr. Hyde’s Wild Ride,’ coming out February 19 on Greyday Records. It’s a new artistic high water mark, as she’s left behind her influences and found her own style and voice. Piney is planning select US tour dates.