folk

Don Gallardo #1805

Don Gallardo‘s latest album, Still Here,

shares his signature sound with fresh vocal phrasing and deep instrumentation.  The lush, beautiful album leans more folk-country or indie folk than the current “take” on Americana music.  Subtle background vocals and harmony complement Gallardo’s voice.  Notable contributors include Erin Rae and Luella.  Gallardo shares raw, honest insight into independent music making.  He reveals the situation that nearly ended the album mid-recording.  While many people gloss over and pretend “everything’s fine,” he clarifies what life is like and how projects derail in a candid conversation.

Country Fried Rock featured Gallardo in our inaugural season

as a radio program.  Sadly, that audio disappeared.  He generously contributed to our charity compilation for musician suicide prevention.  Vol. 1 and 2 continue to raise funds for Nuci’s Space, providing direct services to the music community of Athens, GA.  After a decade in Nashville, Don Gallardo’s connections within the songwriters community led him to collaborate with several friends on Still Here.

Robby Hecht, Mando Saenz, Carey Ott, Doug Williams, David Borne’, Luke Amelang, Jesse Cole, and Tim Easton co-wrote songs for Gallardo’s latest record.

These connections with peers whom Gallardo admires allowed him to learn from their special nuances in both writing and performing, as he elaborates in this conversation in the podcast.  In the studio, Gallardo also included friends and legends, Dylan Alldredge, Joe Andrews (now with Old Crow Medicine Show), Richard Bailey (banjo, played on hundreds of records, including Steeldrivers, Jim Lauderdale, and the Picking On series), Kyle Everson (dobro, who also played on Gallardo’s album Sweetheart Radio Revolution), Hillel Frankel (sax, who also happens to be a noted attorney in Nashville), Jim Hoke (clarinet, played on almost every record you own), Neilsen Hubbard (mixing, percussion, Mary Gauthier, Amy Speace, Garrison Starr, Amelia White), Micah Hulscher (Margo Price), Clint Maine (also in #CFRalumni Allen Thompson‘s band, Brent Mason (guitar on nearly every country hit since George Jones), Bryan Owings (percussion on nearly every Americana hit ever), David Pinkston (nearly every Southern rock record of Sea Level, Cowboy, and Marshall Tucker Band), Dave Roe (Sturgill Simpson, Gretchen Peters, Dwight Yoakam), Andrew Squire (drums in several Nashville bands, including #CFRalumni Andrew Leahey), Travis Stock (of Don’s band), Whit Wright (formerly American Aquarium).

In Memory of Chris Porter: The Mastersons #1706

Friendships run deep when you are a musician. Friends with whom you can pick up right where you left off, after months on the road, become family. Chris Porter forged deep, fast friendships with people in every town he toured, but especially with his tight-knit chosen family of fellow “lifers.” Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson of The Mastersons were family for Porter. The Masterson’s sound permeates his prior album, This Red Mountain. They dropped into the studio one night, just off the plane from tour, to add their sparkle to Don’t Go Baby, It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You. The Masterson’s latest release, Transient Lullaby, was completed but not yet released when he passed away unexpectedly. They dedicated the album to Porter, and often perform the song they co-wrote, “You Got the Last Laugh,” in his memory.

Town Mountain #1606

Town Mountain‘s new album, Southern Crescent, will be out on April Fools’ Day 2016 on Todd Snider’s new record label, Lo Hi. We previously featured this IBMA Award winning band just prior to the release of Leave the Bottle. When we talked for this podcast at Revelator Coffee in Nashville during AmericanaFest, the band had not publicly announced the album and were shopping it around. Southern Crescent reflects the band’s loose, dance-able music, more reflective of their festival and club sets that a staid performing arts center straight-bluegrass set. I’m not sure if the Southern Crescent still runs from Atlanta to Boston like my relatives talked about taking to go “visit culture” in the Northeast, but I’m fairly sure it still runs down to New Orleans, where a more exhilarating culture has endured — an apt analogy for this album.

Town Mountain Southern Crescent is available here on Amazon and iTunes.

Aaron Lee Tasjan #1523

Aaron Lee Tasjan writes folk songs for an indie rock crowd, weaving storylines with humor and social commentary. His debut full-length album, In The Blazes, includes friends from his former band, Everest, at the helm, and the vibe of Elliott Smith’s studio, New Monkey. Tasjan is touring heavily in support of the album, opening for Ray Wylie Hubbard, and playing solo and band gigs across the country. NOTE: We previously featured ALT here, following his debut EP.

PODCAST
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Folk Family Revival #1517

Folk Family Revival consists of three brothers and their buddy, but they are definitely moving towards psychedelic rock rather than straight-up folk with their sophomore album, Waterwalker, out now on Rock Ridge Music. With a homemade liquid light show from a visually talented friend, the luxury of regular studio access, and no external time constraints on recording, Folk Family Revival leaps into new territory. The songs continue to grow, both intentionally and for diverse audiences ranging from post-line dance classes in a legendary Texas roadhouse to sportsbars, finding ways to keep audiences engaged and the music fresh.

Buy Folk Family Revival’s music here.

Podcast
Stream or download below or on SoundCloud.

Please subscribe to Country Fried Rock in iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and leave us a rating and a comment! That will help boost our search results and allow people to find the show more easily.

We welcome your feedback on the show. You can reach me on Facebook or @countryfriedrok.

John Gorka

John Gorka’s new album Bright Side of Down includes this fun, energetic song, “Holed Up Mason City,” about trying to get home during blizzard via I-35 in northern Iowa. The record will release on 4 March 2014 via Red House Records.

Buy John Gorka’s music here on Amazon.

From the album information:

In Bright Side of Down, Gorka offers a complete listen, with arrangements built around vocal and guitar and songs that vary in type, tempo and feel. The 11 original songs and one cover (by his late friend Bill Morrissey, “She’s That Kind of Mystery”) explore broad themes of winter-to-spring: of unforgiving edges, saving beauty, and being at the mercy of larger forces. The songs adjust like eyes to darkness, opening up to let in more light.

“I think my experience living in Minnesota has brought a certain perspective to this record. You’ll find it in the images but also in the idea that in spite of bitter cold and wind, people find ways to hold each other up and keep going.”

The album opens with the true story of trying to get home in a blinding Iowa blizzard (the catchy, uptempo “Holed Up Mason City” — Mason City, IA is famous for being the city where Richie Valens, the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly’s plane took off after after a show in Clear Lake for what would be their fatal last flight (and no, there is no “Big Bopper” diner in Mason City) — and ends with a reflection on the spring that seems so far away with “Really Spring.” He experiences “Procrastination Blues,” shares the charming “Honeybee,” written for his daughter, and the timely story of “High Horse,” set in a crumbling neighborhood where the good jobs are no more.

There’s a greater intimacy to these performances that reflects the way the album was made. Gorka composed the songs on the road and at his home studio before bringing them into the Brewhouse Studio in Minneapolis. He’d record demos and let them “rest” to see if they aged well. The result is an album in the true sense of the word — a meticulously sequenced group of songs that works as a whole.

“The process was different,” he says of the sessions for Bright Side of Down. “I’d go in a little bit at a time by myself for maybe two or three hours, once or twice a week, get a performance of one song and see how it held up over time. At home, I’d try things and play instruments I had no business playing, and if the parts didn’t work, nobody had to hear them; I felt a lot freer to experiment. But since I often perform by myself, I wanted the songs to reflect the feel and presence of my vocal and guitar. Some of the songs lend themselves to more elaborate arrangements, but the vocal is really prominent in all of them because that’s where the story is told.”

After recording the bones of the songs, Gorka brought in producer/engineer Rob Genedak and a cast of top musicians including Jeff Victor (keyboards), JT Bates (drums), Enrique Toussaint (electric bass) and others. “Rob is a drummer and was able to put things together as well,” John says. “Some of the things that Rob did on “Procrastination Blues” — he recorded his foot keeping time on the floor of the control room while he was slapping his chest — ended up sticking and becoming part of the final mix. There were experimental parts we did that came to be the ‘real’ thing.” The songs sparkle with John’s characteristic wit, humanity and insight enhanced by artful contributions of the other players and singers.

Bright Side of Down is a rich listening experience, an album you can listen to and hear something new each time. It’s personal while hitting a universal nerve, a quality John Gorka has made his signature, with a group of songs that you’ll keep thinking about long after the album ends.

Gorka is on the road constantly. Check out a show:

Jan 16, 2014 Red Dragon Listening Room Baton Rouge, LA
Jan 17, 2014 30A Songwriters Festival Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Jan 23, 2014 McMillan Memorial Library Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Jan 30, 2014 Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Pittsburgh, PA
Jan 31, 2014 Happy Days Visitor Center Boston Heights, OH
Feb 1, 2014 Stuart’s Opera House Nelsonville, OH
Feb 2, 2014 Mountain Stage/WV Public Radio at Cultural Center Capitol Complex Charleston, WV
Feb 6, 2014 The Rendezvous Chico, CA
Feb 7, 2014 Pilgrim Congregational Church Redding, CA
Feb 8, 2014 Freight and Salvage Berkeley, CA
Feb 15, 2014 Hopkins Center for the Arts Hopkins, MN
Feb 22, 2014 Swallow Hill Music Hall Denver, CO
Mar 6, 2014 Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Ashland, OR
Mar 7, 2014 Alberta Rose Theatre Portland, OR
Mar 8, 2014 The Triple Door Seattle, WA
Mar 9, 2014 St. James Hall Vancouver, British Columbia
Mar 14, 2014 McCabe’s Guitar Shop Santa Monica, CA
Mar 15, 2014 San Dieguito United Methodist Church Encinitas, CA
Mar 16, 2014 Fiddler’s Crossing Tehachapi, CA
Mar 28, 2014 The Sellersville Theater 1894 Sellersville, PA
Mar 29, 2014 The Birchmere Alexandria, VA
Apr 3, 2014 Flying Goose Brewpub New London, NH
Apr 4, 2014 Chandler Music Hall Randolph, VT
Apr 5, 2014 Center for Arts in Natick Natick, MA
Apr 6, 2014 St. Lawrence Arts at St. Lawrence Church Portland, ME
Apr 24, 2014 CSPS Cedar Rapids, IA
Apr 25, 2014 City Winery Chicago, IL
Apr 26, 2014 Wheeler Community Arts Center Indianapolis, IN
Apr 27, 2014 The Ark Ann Arbor, MI
May 8, 2014 Auburn Public Theater Auburn, NY
May 9, 2014 Eighth Step at Proctors Schenectady, NY
May 10, 2014 Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse White Plains, NY
May 16, 2014 Spring Gulch Folk Festival New Holland, PA
Jun 6, 2014 Minstrel Coffeehouse at Morristown Unitarian Fellowship Morristown, NJ
Jun 7, 2014 Congregational Church of Huntington Centerport, NY
Jun 28, 2014 Crossings at Carnegie Zumbrota, MN
Sep 5, 2014 Rubin Museum of Art New York, NY
Sep 20, 2014 Chatfield Center for the Arts Chatfield, MN
Dec 5, 2014 Fiddle & Bow Society at Community Arts Cafe Winston-Salem , NC
Dec 7, 2014 Mountain Spirit Coffeehouse at UU Asheville Asheville, NC
Feb 20, 2015 Metropolis Performing Arts Center Arlington Heights , IL

Elizabeth Mitchell — Folk Songs For Families

I grew up singing this song at Folk Mass in my hippy Episcopal church. –SS

Elizabeth Mitchell & Friends – Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Dan Zanes, Aoife O’Donovan & more – explore the Ruth Crawford Seeger Christmas songbook on ‘The Sounding Joy’; Oct. 15 via Smithsonian Folkways. This album is also called The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs In & Out Of The Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook.

Buy this record here on Amazon or on iTunes.

On Oct. 15th, GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell releases The Sounding Joy, an exploration of Christmas and solstice songs from the American folk tradition. Drawn almost exclusively from the often overlooked but deeply influential songbook of revered composer and anthologist Ruth Crawford Seeger, these songs evoke an era before mass media and the commercialization of Christmas, when sacred song, dance, contemplation, and gathering were prized above all else during the holiday season. Mitchell’s fifth album for Smithsonian Folkways, The Sounding Joy features husband Daniel Littleton, daughter Storey, and special guests Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Aoife O’Donovan, Gail Ann Dorsey, Larry Campbell, Dan Zanes, and John Sebastian, among many other family, friends, and neighbors. This gorgeously reverent 24-song collection attempts to save these traditional American holiday songs from an “unmarked grave,” as Merchant puts it in her essay included in the liner notes. The Sounding Joy is truly for listeners of all ages and is Smithsonian Folkways’ first holiday album in more than a decade.

Sneak Peek at The Sounding Joy: Listen to “Children, Go Where I Send Thee (Little Bitty Baby: A Cumulative Song)”

http://www.folkways.si.edu/radio/sounding_joy_preview/little-bitty-baby.html

While recovering from surgery four years ago, Mitchell spent a Thanksgiving weekend thinking about the project that would eventually become The Sounding Joy. A longtime fan and champion of Ruth Crawford Seeger’s work, Mitchell soon found herself thoroughly immersed in Seeger’s third and final songbook, American Folk Songs for Christmas. Seeger, mother of musicians Mike and Peggy Seeger and stepmother of Pete Seeger, died from cancer at age 52 in 1953, the very same year American Folk Songs for Christmas was published.

Mitchell chose to strike a balance between remaining faithful to the beauty and subtle complexity of Seeger’s unique arrangements, and bringing her own breadth and range as a producer and arranger to bear on these largely unknown traditional songs. The wide diversity of voices, players, and instruments on the album breathes new life into words first sung over a century ago by farmhands, country preachers, and small-town congregations and gospel groups.

Adapting a number of Seeger’s piano arrangements for a string trio and inventive percussion, Mitchell radiates warmth on “Ain’t That Rocking” and “Shine Like a Star.” Amy Helm leads a rousing version of “Last Month of the Year” through a groove and vocal quartet style that invokes the early Staple Singers with guitar figures reminiscent of Malian desert blues. Merchant lends her vocals on the haunting “Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol),” and also contributes an essay to the liner notes, while writer/artist Brian Selznick (author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret) provided illustrations for the album package. Recordings not from the songbook include classics “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” and an a cappella arrangement of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” a “family heirloom” arranged by Elizabeth’s father-in-law, Michael Storey Littleton.

Although the songs presented are specific to the Christian tradition, Mitchell’s husband Daniel Littleton cites the inclusive nature of the project, describing the assembly of musicians as an “ecumenical summit” of sorts, with participants of many religious and non-religious backgrounds coming together happily to bring the songs to life. Mitchell sums up the spirit of the album best in her notes: “However you and your loved ones celebrate the last month of the year, I hope it is filled with the sounds of joy.”

The Sounding Joy Tracklist:
1. Oh, Mary and the Baby, Sweet Lamb
2. Mary Had a Baby
3. Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow (feat. Mike Merenda)
4. January, February (Last Month of the Year) (feat. Amy Helm and Marco Benevento)
5. Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol) (feat. Natalie Merchant)
6. Shine Like a Star in the Morning (feat. Simi Stone)
7. Joy to the World (feat. Jay Ungar)
8. Christmas Day in the Morning (feat. Peggy Seeger)
9. Mother’s Child (Child of God) (feat. Peggy Seeger)
10. Sing-a-Lamb (feat. Dan Zanes and Suzan Lori-Parks)
11. Great Big Stars
12. Baby Born Today (feat. The Silver Hollers – Amy Helm, Ruthy Ungar and Chris Wood, with Larry Campbell)
13. Ain’t That a-Rockin’ All Night
14. Cradle Hymn
15. Bright Morning Stars Are Rising
16. Sing Hallelu (feat. Elizabeth Clark-Jerez)
17. The First Noel
18. The Blessings of Mary (feat. Larry Campbell)
19. Oh, Watch the Stars (feat. Aoife O’Donovan)
20. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
21. Mary Was the Queen of Galilee (feat. Gail Ann Dorsey and Joan Osborne)
22. Silent Night
23. Singing in the Land (feat. Natalie Merchant, Happy Traum, and John Sebastian)
24. Children, Go Where I Send Thee (feat. Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Ruthy Ungar, Gail Ann Dorsey, Dan Zanes, Aoife O’Donovan, Simi Stone)

Artist Bio
Mitchell is a founding member of the veteran indie rock band Ida and is one of Smithsonian Folkways’ best-selling artists alongside Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Ella Jenkins. Her previous Smithsonian Folkways releases are Blue Clouds (2012), the GRAMMY-nominated Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie (2012), Sunny Day (2010), and You Are My Little Bird (2006). Elizabeth and Dan Zanes also recently released a duet album Turn, Turn, Turn. Starting with the album You Are My Flower, recorded in 1998 in a single afternoon as a gift for friends and family, Mitchell has developed into an accomplished artist with a devoted fan base and critical acclaim. She recently hosted the children’s music tent at the Newport Folk Festival for the third time, and NPR (All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation) described her music as “some of the most uplifting kids’ music out there,” while People Magazine described Little Seed as “exquisite.”

Allen Thompson: Encore From 2011

Some of y’all have been with us since our early days in 2010, as a food blog with a side of music and travel, to a music blog with a side of travel and food, to an online streaming radio station, to a weekly radio program, and then dropping all the side-projects to just focus on the weekly radio show. Well, somewhere along the way, we amassed over 200 interviews, only some of which have been available in our archives for the last year or so. Many of these conversations hold up well, and the bands have only gotten better, which is how we decided to bring you our conversation from early 2011 with Allen Thompson, following his acoustic solo record, 26 Years. Since then, the Allen Thompson Band released a fantastic full band album called Salvation In The Ground that needs to be in your collection. I still listen to both records weekly, which is saying something, considering how much new music I listen to, as well.

Please excuse my exuberance and goofiness. I had not quite figured out how to express my enthusiasm without stepping on people’s words at the time. I think I know why my friends describe me as “delightfully dorky” when I listen to programs like this… –Sloane Spencer (Host)

Radio Show
Listen to the entire radio program right here.

Buy the music from this radio show:

Dustbowl Revival #1327

Zach Lupetin advertised for some bandmates on Craig’s List, and from that post, Dustbowl Revival formed. Over the years, this collective of musicians (it’s not exactly a fixed band lineup and not a revolving door, either) has released several records refining their sound from stringband to to multi-instrumental roots swing with drums, horns, and nearly every stringed instrument you can imagine! With influences ranging from Stevie Wonder to opera to the Rolling Stones, you can imagine the challenge of creating a cohesive vision for their own songs and the traditional songs they arrange. Dustbowl Revival’s latest album, Carry Me Home, most fully embodies the energy of their live shows without becoming a chaotic mess of instrumentation. Have fun and dance in your car to this one!

Liner Notes

Podcast
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Samantha Martin #1326

Fresh off of a noted set at the Calgary Folk Festival, Samantha Martin reflects on life as an independent musician in Toronto, sharing many of the same challenges that DIY bands in the States experience.  From club gigs where attendees complain about the $5 door charge to trouble crossing the border, to searching out record shops while on tour to find a last taste of local flavor in the music, Samantha Martin and The Haggard are forging their way in the wild frontier. With a debut album that samples their breadth, nearly every fan of roots music will find one song to like on this “roots and roll” record.

Liner Notes

Video

Podcast
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Sour Bridges: EXCLUSIVE Album Stream


Stream the new album from Sour Bridges, Catfish Charlie, exclusively this week on Country Fried Rock!

SteelDrivers #1320

How does a band survive when its founder leaves — and their lead vocalist moves on? The SteelDrivers demonstrate their resilience as a band with Hammer Down, their latest album with their current lineup. Bass player, Mike Fleming, shares his own musical path to bluegrass, shaped by The Beatles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the influences of the other band members that keep The SteelDrivers on the edges of their genre and bring in audiences who otherwise do not care for bluegrass — even attracting such notable fans as Adele.

LINER NOTES

VIDEO

PODCAST
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