Featured Artists of the Hootenanny Cafe Radio Show

These are just some of the many fine artists featured on the Hootenanny Cafe Radio Show. Hear the show here.

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Michael JohnathonMichael Johnathon — October 24, 2021

“Take the inventiveness of Bob Dylan, the melodic voice of John Denver, add the showmanship of Garrison Keillor … and that’s Michael Johnathon.” Bob Spear – Publisher, HEARTLAND REVIEW

“This popular songwriter has embraced the modern age in a very unique way.” Jonathan Widran – ALL MUSIC GUIDE

“Michael is one of the few performers who understands that music of the future must respect the music of the past. His strong understanding of the folk tradition is a breath of fresh air in this era of cookie cutter singer-songwriters.” Phil Shapiro – BOUND FOR GLORY

Michael grew up in upstate New York along the shores of the Hudson River. At 19, he moved to the Mexican border town of Laredo, TX and found a job working on at small radio station. One night, he played ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ by The Byrds. As the song played, he recalled seeing his neighbor Pete Seeger, performing in his Dutchess County hometown. By the time the song had ended, he decided to pursue a career as a folksinger.

He bought a guitar and a banjo and settled into the isolated mountain hamlet of Mousie, KY, traveling the Appalachian mountains and learning the music of the mountain people. Michael experienced hundreds of front porch hootenannies where folks would sit on their front porches and play the old songs their grandparents taught them. He began performing at hundreds of colleges, schools and fairs, over two thousand Earth Concerts, plus benefits for the homeless, farm families, and more. In all, he sang to over two million people in one four-year stretch. Billboard Magazine headlined him as an “UnSung Hero” and he has been featured on CNN, TNN, CMT, AP, Headline News, NPR, Bravo and the BBC.

He also created one of the biggest roots music, live audience shows on radio and TV: the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. He organized the national WoodSongs Front Porch Association to celebrate rural and community music. Members are called “SongFarmers.”

His 16th studio album, Legacy, featuring the massive title track, a nine-minute epic about the history of songwriters from Bob Dylan to James Taylor, Harry Chapin to the Kingston Trio, hip-hop tp the collapse of the record industry as we knew it.

The most recent album, The Painter, is a song cycle about art, music, love and family. The album includes “Vincent” by Don McLean, “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, and “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan.

He wrote the screenplay for the upcoming motion picture. “Caney Creek: The Legend of Alice Lloyd.” Pitched as the “Dances with Wolves” of the Appalachian mountains.

His latest release is the 176-page book, “WoodSongs 5: A Folksinger’s Compendium & Van Gogh Reader.”

Website

Joy ZimmermanJoy Zimmerman — October 17, 2021

Joy Zimmerman’s soulful vocals and lyrical songwriting light up her new acoustic roots album, “The Canvas Before Us”, which reached #8 on Folk Alliance International’s Top Albums of August 2021. Listeners will hear echoes of their own journeys in Joy’s songs of hope, challenge and resilience. Her new album invites the question: What story will the canvas of our lives tell?   Joy’s reinvention as a dynamic singer/songwriter might seem surprising. She didn’t pick up a guitar, sing a solo or write her first song until her sons were in elementary school. But the elements were all waiting…a voice of honey, insights for days, and a deep love of music beginning with kindergarten violin lessons.   A touring musician based in Kansas City, Joy has recorded eight albums of original music. She has received an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and ten Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins.   “The Canvas Before Us” not only showcases Joy Zimmerman’s lovely voice but also an array of new songs speaking eloquently and emotionally to the human condition.”  ~Bob McWilliams, host, Trail Mix on Kansas Public Radio   “The title fits this project perfectly, and the palette of instruments and Joy’s crystal clear voice have added just the right colors in just the right places. This CD is a WORK OF ART!” ~Donna and Kelly Mulhollan, aka Still on the Hill

Website

Arthur DavenportArthur Davenport — October 10, 2021

Arthur Davenport was born in 1957 in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, to a 21-year-old naval officer and his 19-year-old wife. He started playing guitar in 1973 when his Mom bought him a Yamaha FG-160 6-string acoustic guitar (made in Japan) for his 16th birthday. He wrote his first published song "So Near, So Far" the next year, featured on a compilation CD “Until You Come Home II”, in support of recovering veterans. Art studied folk guitar and voice lessons in two classes, but is otherwise an untrained "folk musician". He met David LaFleur in the mid-1970’s, and they have continued their musical friendship and collaboration ever since. Arthur played extensively in living rooms, campsites, bus stations, pedestrian malls, back porches, parks, beaches, girlfriend's bedrooms, parties and family gatherings to develop his performing skills. Arthur "went public", breaking out with much akimbo, buzz and flutter into the D.C. coffeehouse and brew-pub scene in the 1980's, playing in the shadow of people like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmy Lou Harris. He met Phillip Dale Collison then, performing as a coffeehouse duo, and they remain collaborators with P.D. Collision’s contribution of songs that Art recorded. Art moved to New Mexico during the 1990's and started a buzz-saw band with fluctuating names. There he met Jonathan Dodge Mayer, the drummer in the bands "Paradise Lost", "Humble Monkey", "Lonesome Dove", and the "Good Time Garageband". Jon went on to be the Co-Producer, and then Producer, of Art’s first two albums. Our band won a “battle of the bands” contest in Las Cruces, N.M., which set off a riot when the drunken fans of the "Coors Silver Bullets" runner-up band disapproved, pelting the band, audience, equipment and sound man with liquid, solid and verbal projectiles. It provided an epiphany of sorts, that we were getting somewhere. The band folded in 1994 when Jon left to move to a better music scene in Albuquerque. Art continues to work with band-mate Steve Young since then, with Steve writing and playing to songs that Art recorded. Arthur returned to his solo act, playing regularly in Las Cruces and Taos. This was a prolific time for composing too, without the time-demands of a working band. He earned a Ph.D in Agronomy in 1998 from New Mexico State University for his day job, working on onion breeding and cropping systems. Arthur Davenport's musical career now spans over 45 years of songwriting and performance. He has been featured on National Public Radio performing his song, "Lonesome Cowboy," specially written in 1994 for a KRWG Las Cruces NM cowboy music compilation album entitled "'Round-em Up!" published by David Brower, the program host. Arthur moved to Hawai'i in 2001. He was a house musician for over 10 years at the Hilo Palace Theater, playing solo prior to the regularly scheduled "art-flick" movies. This review for his 2002 "Reality Bends" album provides a fitting description of his solo style: "Using only an acoustic guitar as backup, Arthur Davenport crafts sparse, haunting folk songs with a wry sense of the absurd. Deftly hopping from one vocal personality to another, sometimes within a line, this far-out mountain man keeps the listener guessing." Mike McGuire, Listen.com Arthur’s second album, "Whispering to the Wind", from 2010 has ten original Americana ballads with a full band. He released several single songs during 2017-18, including “Long Dark Highway”, “La Rosa Dulce”, “The Rich Man Always Gets His Pay”, “Jonathan Leviathan” and “Family Reunion”. “La Rosa Dulce” was a winner in the “A Still Small Voice 4U's” songwriting contest award in 2020 on the subject of “Monuments”.

“Jonathan Leviathan”, his third album published in 2020, includes the previous singles with new songs, presenting something old, new, borrowed and blue.

Arthur is currently working to publish his body of works of poetry, and beginning a new album of music. “Stay Tuned”.

Website

Howard GladstoneHoward Gladstone — October 3, 2021

Howard Gladstone, Toronto-born-based singer/songwriter, releases his 7th album of original material in October 2021. “Concord Sessions” is a “hybrid folk” album that holds a mirror up to human nature, in the age of environmental and humanitarian crisis, and a future we have limited time to shape. Looking in the mirror reveals many sides of our human nature, our strengths, weaknesses, even foibles. There are themes such as activism and protest, the environmental crisis, human nature, history, forced migration and the plight of refugees. A constant theme in Howard’s music is finding strength and resolve in facing difficulty to help heal the broken world and ourselves. Howard’s previous album “The Promise” was recorded in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and explores similar themes. Confined to his home, Howard recorded the guitar and vocal tracks of the album’s nine songs. Other musicians – including Kevin Laliberte, Bob Cohen, Russ Boswell, Marito Marques, Julie Gladstone, Laura Fernandez – collaborated remotely to add tracks, background vocals and finishing touches to the album. Taken together the two albums continue Howard’s musical explorations in a world where meaning and truth become ever more elusive and debased. The releases come at a time when the stakes could not be higher for those struggling personally, and for the world at a crossroads. The albums are a balancing act, juggling personal and global concerns. Howard has been playing guitar since teenage years and writing songs since university days in the 70’s. He returned to music in the early 2000’s and released his first album "Sunflowers Light the Room” in 2002. It was followed by “Candles On The River" (2005), "The Breath In The Wind (2007), “Roots and Rain (2010)” and “Hourglass” in 2017. “Hourglass” features songs created during the period when Howard was recovering from a spinal cord injury and focuses on the themes of healing and resiliency. Howard Gladstone’s songs, music, and lyrics are a multi-faced musical prism, and can be experienced differently depending on where you enter, where you sit, and how the light strikes it. There are diverse themes, musical styles, and multiple approaches. With a craftsman approach to lyric writing, Gladstone sometimes approaches his subject matter as a seasoned journalist would: with an eye for detail, and a sense of story. Other songs reflect a lyrical and romantic side. Howard’s vocal style has been variously called a “silky, “a blues-inspired voice”, “a singing poet!” and “a comfortable warm croon.” Howard was co- founder of the Toronto City Roots Festival, which ran from 2004 until 2010. Other interesting sidebar accomplishments include a 1970s article on William “Grit” Laskin on guitar making, and an interview with Robbie Robertson of The Band that was re-printed in Rolling Stone magazine. Howard established (and eventually sold) a successful engineering and manufacturing company business that gained a world-wide reputation supplying an essential component to the “high end” audio and musical instrument industry. Howard is still involved in his own company supplying a leading-edge power conditioning product for recording studios and high-end custom audio installations. Being grounded is essential to clean power and also Howard’s approach to song writing art and craft. Gladstone shapes ordinary words into beautiful visions… these are songs of strength and courage…. .…lyrics (that) bite into the social conscience of humanity and touch us right in the heart… …. arrangements that really make the songs interesting .. - Virginia McIsaac, Rambles.net "Howard Gladstone balances thoughtful and passionate lyrics with calming, soulful and diverse tunes that compel you to take a deep breath, and simply take the time to enjoy some good music" - CHRY RadioYork “If you heard this music in a crowded room, you'd suspect it was a lost gem from another time” – Greg Quill, Toronto Star

Website

Buddy MondlockBuddy Mondlock — September 26, 2021

Buddy Mondlock writes songs. He does it so well that some great songwriters have recorded his songs on their own albums. Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, and Janis Ian, to name just a few. You might’ve heard his song “The Kid” (recorded by David Wilcox, Peter, Paul and Mary and Cry, Cry, Cry) and maybe even sung it yourself around a campfire. He draws you into his world - where a single snowflake follows the trajectory of a relationship, where you get you pocket picked by a Roman cat, where you might swim over the edge of the world if you’re not careful and where dreams that don’t come true still count. When Buddy’s not on the road you can find him in Nashville but he grew up in Park Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He didn’t have a troubled childhood. His parents were nice to him. They paid for guitar lessons when he was ten and they never said, “when are you going to get a real job?” He sang Crosby, Stills and Nash songs with his sisters and answered his little brother’s questions from the top bunk. A few years away at college puzzling over Homer and Plato and then he was back. Living in the big city this time and playing open mics at Chicago’s crucible for songwriters in those days, the famed Earl of Old town. He once opened for the amazing Steve Goodman there on New Year’s Eve. Buddy was 21. Says he could have walked out of there that night and gotten hit by a bus and he wouldn’t have felt like life cheated him at all. When Buddy made his first trip to Texas from his native Chicago, Guy Clark heard him singing one of his songs under a tree at the Kerrville Folk Festival and liked it. So Guy went back to Nashville, opened the door and said, “listen to this kid, he’s good!” A publishing deal and a U-Haul headed south soon followed. People were starting to pay attention. In 1987 he was a New Folk Award Winner at Kerrville and he released his first album called “On the Line”. Over the next few years David Wilcox recorded “The Kid” on his first record for A&M. Buddy did some writing with this other new kid in town named Garth Brooks. Janis Ian heard him singing at the Bluebird Cafe and asked him if he’d like to write with her. Their song “Amsterdam” got recorded by Joan Baez. Nanci Griffith asked Buddy to sing on a show she was taping for Irish television. She ended up liking that song so much that she recorded “Comin’ Down In the Rain” on her Grammy Award winning collection “Other Voices, Other Rooms.” Garth became a star and “Every Now and Then” ended up on his album “The Chase.” Buddy was touring all over the U.S. by this time playing coffeehouses and the occasional festival (he’d become a regular on the main stage at Kerrville). And there were trips to Europe too. Buddy’s second album, produced by Steve Addabbo in 1994, got picked up by Son Records, a small label in Ireland started by the band U2, and he was well received on the island of poets. He’s toured there consistently ever since. 1996 was a good year. Peter, Paul and Mary recorded “The Kid” and then asked the kid himself to sing with them on their “Great Performances” TV special. He won a Kerrville Music Award for Song of the Year that autumn for “The Kid” too.

Website

Mike and Carleen McCornackMike and Carleen McCornack — September 19, 2021

Pacific Northwest folk musicians, Mike and Carleen McCornack have shared their musical artistry with grateful audiences since the sixties. From coffee houses to concert halls, Mike and Carleen's beautifully crafted songwriting comes to life in their music with superb vocal harmony and sparkling guitar accompaniment that touches the heart and never fails to tickle the funny bone!

With music firmly rooted in contemporary, evocative Folk music, Mike and Carleen are award winning songwriters and 2-time winners of the Florence Winter Folk Festival's People's Choice Award.

With performances filled with themes of love, humor and the natural world the McCornacks are equally at home performing for audiences who know them from their award-winning children’s recordings and for “grownups” who appreciate their musical depth and off-center humor.

In addition to their long-standing performing career, Mike and Carleen have released 9 recordings, including their latest release, Dream True. They received a Parent’s Choice Gold Award for their ever-popular children’s recording, Beasties, Bumbershoots and Lullabies and a Parent’s Guide Award for their very “adult-friendly” record, High Hopes.

Mike & Carleen perform as a duo and are frequently joined in concert and on their recordings by several outstanding musicians in their Garden Variety Band including; cellist and bass player, Dale Bradley, cousin, Kevin McCornack on concertina, bassoon and harmonica, son, Andy McCornack, percussionist and Eileen Sterns on accordion, Celtic harp and mandolin.

Oregon natives and Folk Alliance Far-Westers, Mike and Carleen have travelled and toured the West for years and continue to share their music every chance they get! They live in the beautiful Willamette Valley in Eugene, Oregon with their two Labradors and two cats and are so happy to live close to their children, grand-children and family.

Press:

“Beautiful melodies, great musicians. Pure heartfelt vocals all blended together into music that will leave you smiling in your heart.”

Bill Staines, Singer/Songwriter

“The songs are wonderful and the recording is so meticulous, just exquisite.  I love their voices too, very sweet harmonies and beautifully expressive singing.  I'm very proud of what they’ve done with "Darcy Farrow."  It's one of the nicest versions we've had.  The original songs are very fine as well. Steve Gillette, Songwriter

Website

EfratEfrat — September 12, 2021

Efrat believes in the power of music to transform and heal, which shines through in her powerful performances and in her poignantly personal songwriting. Her third release, We Just Need Love (September 2021), is the result of her own transformation as a mother, artist, & empathetic soul-searcher. She started recording in 2018 but life stepped in the way when it was discovered that her son had a rare heart disorder. The next 18 months was spent learning how to keep her son safe. She gained eyes to the silent suffering & hope that surrounds us as she met other heart families & learned that life seems to always get in the way. We hope there is a “later,” but it may never come. She learned that, “We Just Need Love,” to learn to “Let Go” of expectations, and to embrace what we are given. And, she understood we must live boldly with the precious time we have and be true to ourselves. This album will tear at your heart strings, make you think about those around you and leave you with a sense of hope of what we can achieve if we love one another and our planet and live boldly. Efrat’s journey to becoming a sought after session and tour musician as well as an esteemed singer-songwriter is one that many would envy. Before receiving a master’s in music and performing in orchestras around the world under top conductors, she was already seeking her place as a crossover musician performing with klezmer, bluegrass, rock, irish bands, and more. Her first foray into the folk genre landed her a coveted juried showcase at the North East Regional Folk Alliance Conference in 2015, with no standing room left in a hall for 250. Composer David Amram sat in with her band in two of her other showcases,  invited her to perform at his birthday show and he praised her composition “Serenade” saying, “Beautiful, just beautiful, keep writing!”. Efrat did just that! Previously named “the quintessential fiddler” Review of Fiddler On The Roof (Cumberland Co. Playhouse, Crossville, TN) by Rob Robbennolt from the Crossville Chronicle;  and “…the consummate musician… comfortable in multiple genres, from jazz to Americana…” by John Platt from WFUV in the Bronx she continued on.Efrat has worked with the top of the music industry and performed most roles while doing so. She was concertmaster for Olivia Newton John Orchestras, recorded strings for pop icon Ashanti, & was part of the Broadway touring company of Oliver. She later went on to join Spuyten Duyvil for their Temptation album & has performed onstage with top-charting folk musicians like Reggie Harris, Joe Jencks, Pat Wictor, Mara Levine, Gathering Time, and David Amram. She has shared the stage with some of the greatest jazz musicians including Joe Magnarelli (Harry Connick Jr.) & was in Harry Whitakers’ last band (Miles Davis, Roberta Flack) and has two songs with drummer Dennis Davis (David Bowie, Stevie Wonder). Two songs from her premier CD, No Strings Attached (2010), were featured in the movie  How To Seduce Difficult Women and the title song garnered over 10 million Youtube views as part of the official trailer. With her sophomore release, The Silver Lining (2015), which included folk, jazz, pop, klezmer, swing, and blues where she truly radiated. It debuted at #14 on the International  Folk DJ  Chart for October 2015 and was played on the radio in over 10 countries and across the USA.Today, Efrat often uses her looper to create a symphony behind her soaring violin melodies and improvisations or to complement her robust vocals. Efrat currently performs as a soloist with her looper and with her folk/pop/jazz band.  She also leads a jazz and blues combo, a jewish music group, an all female modern string quartet, as well as an eclectic acoustic pop trio and has three educational shows she performs regularly at pre-schools and primary schools.  Additionally, she works regularly as a tour and session musician, composer, arranger, performer, recording artist, videographer and editor, and teacher/lecturer.

Website

Valerie SmithValerie Smith — September 6, 2021

"Renaissance" crosses through multiple musical genres while still staying true to the Valerie Smith sound that encompasses an acoustic flair with a touch of bluegrass. The songs cover subject areas of love, finding love, acceptance, and regret. The project signifies the journey Valerie has made in her life with optimism to which others can relate. She includes upbeat, happy songs that encourage the listener to move to the grove. The project also includes lush ballads with meaningful lyrics and melodies that grab soul. The album is called "Renaissance" because in looking at the world and herself, Valerie has been reborn. The line-up of songs is about self-worth and acceptance.

Valerie wrote two of the songs for "Renaissance," and the remaining selections were carefully chosen from the works of other seasoned writers. She chooses the songs which best express what she wants to say with her Music. The quality of the music has always come first when she produces a project, which is why it takes her so long to create an entire album.

Valerie has always been interested in all kinds of Music; bluegrass, acoustic, baroque, classical, neoclassical, Music from Asia, Middle-Eastern folk, rock, indie-rock, Kpop, pop….in other words, anything with sound! In addition, she loves to study melodies and chord progressions, by which she has always been fascinated.

For example, not many years ago, Valerie heard the arrangement and immediately drew to the haunting melody and lyrics of "I Found," which the indie rock group Amber Run had released. She found herself really enjoying singing the song's unique melody and lyrics. Valerie's final arrangement developed during band rehearsal with her touring band, Liberty Pike. Wally Hughes and Lisa Kay Howard Hughes added harmony to the chorus, and everyone fell in love with singing the song together. It became an "earworm" for the whole group.

Valerie Smith grew up in the midwest, near Kansas City, and was exposed to several musical genres from her childhood through her college days. She watched movie musicals with Judy Garland, listened to country music while her mother worked, sang on the radio, and sang gospel music on Sundays in church. And, of course, she and her sister listened to classic rock on the radio. Valerie studied Music in college, where she was exposed to blues, jazz, opera, and a wide array of other genres; Valerie also studied dance at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. On weekends Valerie would play old-time fiddle near her hometown and developed a love for traditional American string music. Later, she fell in love with bluegrass because of its incredible acoustic sounds, virtuosic musicians, and soulful melodies. The folk and bluegrass audiences fit her personality the best; they love music.

Website

Anya HinkleAnya Hinkle — August 29, 2021

With vivid storytelling, vibrant musicianship and arresting honesty, Anya Hinkle explores the beauty of song craft through the lens of the Appalachian string band tradition. Originally from the mountains of Virginia, Anya’s music is steeped in the tones of folk and bluegrass and seasoned by travels across the world. A founding member of Asheville-based bands Dehlia Low (Rebel Records) and Tellico (Organic Records), Anya released the first full-length album under her own name, “Eden And Her Borderlands,” July 2021 on Organic Records, "...one of roots music's gems so far this year" writes No Depression.



Hinkle won the MerleFest Chris Austin Songwriting Competition in 2019 and was a finalist in the Hazel Dickens Song Contest for her song “Ballad of Zona Abston,” featured on Tellico’s 2018 release Woven Waters. The album, produced by Irish guitar legend John Doyle (Transatlantic Sessions, Joan Baez, Tim O’Brien), had a #1 single, #1 band and #2 album ranking on the Folk DJ charts in November 2018. Anya tours all over the US, Japan and Europe.

Website

Richard Paul ThomasRichard Paul Thomas — August 22, 2021

Richard Paul Thomas (his friends call him RpT) is a free-thinking dreamer and Texas based singer songwriter with decades of love, life, and laughter to share. His songwriting spans a wide range of musical genres and emotional experiences ranging from lighthearted fun to challenging one's convictions about life and our place in the world. His writing and performance style encompasses elements of Folk, R&B, jazz, ballads and good old rock n' roll.  RpT's soulful voice ranges from thermal to edgy reflecting the musical influences of a lifetime. His thought-provoking lyrics speak to the heart and soul of the listener. 

RpT’s third CD entitled SALADO, was produced, engineered, and mixed by Chris Gage. Recorded at Gage’s Moonhouse Studio in Austin, the ten tracks are a refreshing presentation of life’s joys challenges and deeper meanings. The title song, SALADO, depicts the life of a stagecoach driver of old on his last trip home. SALADO was adopted by the Village of Salado, which stated, in an official proclamation, that this song “represents our community’s spirit, character and history.” SALADO is the next major step in RpT’s continuing musical development. The sheer focus of his lyrics along with the soulful intensity of his voice and melodies places the listener in a comfortable frame of mind and takes them on a musical journey thru the emotions and experiences of RpT’s life.

Website

Emily BarkerEmily Barker — August 15, 2021

Emily Barker is an award-winning singer-songwriter, best known as the writer and performer of the theme to the BBC’s hugely successful crime drama Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. She has released music as a solo artist as well as with various bands and collaborations including The Red Clay Halo, Vena Portae, Marry Waterson and Applewood Road (with whom she released a remarkable album of original songs recorded live around a single microphone, dubbed “flawless” by The Sunday Times) and has written for film, including composing the soundtrack for Jake Gavin’s lauded debut feature Hector starring Peter Mullan and Keith Allen.

Emily Barker’s new album A Dark Murmuration of Words was released on September 4th 2020. Produced by Greg Freeman and recorded at StudiOwz, a converted chapel in the Welsh countryside, A Dark Murmuration of Words takes Barker’s clear, expressive vocals and warm acoustic aesthetic and subtly shifts her sound in the direction of contemporaries such as Laura Marling and Phoebe Bridgers. Lyrically probing, by turns both dark and optimistic, Barker searches for meaning through the deafening clamour of fake news and algorithmically filtered conversation, delivering a timely exploration of the grand themes of our age through the lens of what it means to return “home.” Throughout the ten songs that make up the album, Barker draws connections between the familial, the local, and the global: a mother sings to her unborn child, asking for its forgiveness on ‘Strange Weather’; ‘When Stars Cannot Be Found’ explores the humbleness and comfort of the night sky when far away from home. Other highlights include the nostalgic ‘Return Me’, ‘The Woman Who Planted Trees’, the gloriously defiant ‘Machine’ and the effortless album closer ‘Sonogram’.

On its release, A Dark Murmuration of Words hit number 1 on the Official Americana Album chart in the UK and has garnered widespread acclaim.

“an album of spare, striking beauty” Mojo ★★★★ “…a kind of Australian equivalent of PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake” UNCUT 8/10 “bold, direct, uncompromising” CLASH “a high-class piece of songwriting and beautifully expressed musicianship” Americana UK 9/10 “irresistibly catchy…an album replete with nooks and crannies, light and shade” The Australian ★★★★★ “an album full of grace and danger” RnR ★★★★★ “One of the most literate and probing folk albums of the year. I really love it.” AnnPowers, NPR Music

Website

Barry James PayneBarry James Payne — August 8, 2021

String Bone is the artistic vehicle for the solo and collaborative songwriting of Canada's Barry James Payne. As a songwriter, Payne walks in the shoes of downtrodden vagabonds, wrestles with the aftermath of broken dreams and heals the wounds of collapsed love with cinematic, heartfelt songs that move from bleak darkness into hopeful illumination. The bone and string point to the unbreakable bone nut that creates the essential contact point between a guitar’s strings and wooden body; String Bone draws inspiration from life’s chaotic vibrations. Payne’s recent tidal wave of creativity has been sparked by collaborations with other songwriters and producers melding together a hybrid of imaginative musical ideas. In particular his latest project with award winning Las Vegas-based producer/ composer George Leger III and their B>A>G Music Productions partnership and music library, has landed them an exclusive multi-song deal with Vo Williams' fledgling sync agency Sound Dose Music Group out of LA. While Payne & Leger continue to create for sync, some of their best songs are still sitting in the hopper ready to be signed. Payne's String Bone has released 5 singles and 14 videos on digital platforms throughout 2020 and 2021; “Two Stars Collide” (with accompanying video), a collaboration with drum and bass producer Nathan McKay, “A Lot More Better” a co-write with Jay Reihl, “Waitin’ For My Dyin’ Day” (with video) with George Leger III, a cover of Ferron’s “Ain’t Life A Brook” (with video) and several other singles. These singles lead up to two full-length waterfall releases planned for early 2022 - “Coping Mechanisms”, a collection of original songs, and “Cover-Up Conspiracy Theory” an album dedicated to Payne’s early songwriting influences. In the last 12 months, String Bone has attained over 200,000 streams and views across all platforms globally essentially from zero when he became interested in the online world, reaching a 100,000 streams milestone on Spotify alone just a couple of months ago. That's pretty good for a folk artist in Canada with no team, no manager, no publicist, no label, no booking agent and no Spotify editorial playlists. String Bone is on over 1200 user playlists and growing with songs being saved over 5000 times. Payne has been writing music and performing live for four decades and has coproduced and released two full length String Bone albums, ‘nadir’ (2009), ‘Love & Highways’ (2016), an EP ‘Killing Town EP’ (2008), several singles in the last year and has performed internationally in the US, Europe and across Canada throughout his career. He has collaborated with high-profile Canadian artists such as Bob Egan (ex-Wilco, ex-Blue Rodeo), Aaron Allen, Bill Bourne, Mae Moore, Ginger St. James, Sarah Jane Scouten, Trent Severn and Shannon Lyon. Payne is a core member of Canadian Celtic-Roots band ‘Rant Maggie Rant’, who has performed with several orchestras and in many theatres across Canada. His songs have been featured on three of their recording projects. He also produced their last two albums.

Website

Arielle SilverArielle Silver — August 1, 2021

East Coast-born / West-Coast-based singer-songwriter Arielle Silver is a consummate storyteller whose rich, expressive voice and acoustic guitar frame expansive melodies that echo her tours and travels across the American heartland. With the heart of Laurel Canyon and the soul of the Chelsea Hotel, songs from her latest album, A Thousand Tiny Torches, have been recognized in numerous songwriting contests, including International Songwriting Competition (ISC), Great American Song Contest, Music City Song Star, and American Songwriter, and featured on NPR’s Up Close And Acoustic, Americana Highways (Favorite Album of 2020), and American Songwriter. In 2020, Music Connection named Arielle a Top Prospect / Hot 100 Unsigned Artist.

PRESS:

“Lovely songwriting” Boston Globe “Silver is a born communicator, an artist whose... songwriting exudes intelligence and humanity." Music Connection “...an urgent commanding vocal that melds KT Tunstall with Florence and the Machine” American Songwriter "Beautiful storytelling... emotional lyrics, reassuring tones, and intricate melodies" Guitar Girl Magazine “Silver stuns with new Americana album... a journey of self and re-discovery of her dreams through nostalgia and beautiful storytelling.” Divine Magazine

Website

Amy SpeaceAmy Speace — July 25, 2021

Heralded by Rolling Stone and Billboard Magazine, Amy Speace’s newest release “There Used To Be Horses Here” has received widespread critical acclaim. Performing Songwriter gave it 5 out of 5 stars and Americana UK writes “a remarkable display of songcraft.” Beautifully uplifting and deeply personal, the album sets Speace’s majestic voice to symphonic arrangements, yet her songwriting remains intimate and emotional. She began her career in the iconic folk venues of New York City where she was discovered by Judy Collins and signed to her Wildflower Records label. Relocating to Nashville in 2009, she has become one of Contemporary Folk’s leading voices. In 2020, “Me and the Ghost of Charlemagne” was named International Song of the Year by the Americana Music Association UK. Her songs have been recorded by Judy Collins, Red Molly, Memphis Blues Hall of Famer Sid Selvidge and others. She is also a published prose writer, with essays appearing in The New York Times, American Songwriter, The Blue Rock Review. She has played festivals from Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festival in England to the Philadelphia Folk Festival and Rocky Mountain Folks Festival.

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John ShipeJohn Shipe — July 18, 2021

“The album of my life,” says John Shipe of his aptly titled The Beast Is Back, “brought me to places of brutal honesty.” Like his previous work, it’s a diverse collection, hitting all Americana sub-genres through 18 songs on a double CD. But this goes deeper, making up for a decade-long dry spell that involved addiction recovery. One way to put it comes from Dori & Doug Donoho of KECH & Star 107.5 (Idaho): “In tune with the age, swells up the chest, and threatens to escape in a blood curdling scream.” Over 30 years, a dozen releases, and thousands of shows, John has eased through multiple genres of music with ruthless empathy and literate flair. In both solo and ensemble incarnations, he’s been on bills with Taj Mahal, Keb Mo’, Derek Trucks, Los Lobos, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Cliff, Roger Clyne, and believe or not Hootie & The Blowfish. The Beast Is Back is the third in a trilogy of acoustic-leaning albums since Shipe parted ways with the rowdier, but limiting confines of Rock. The first two, Yellow House and Villain, charted in 6 countries on 3 continents. Beast previews to the same promising reception, densely packed with love songs for grown-ups, triumphant anthems, slow-burn reckonings, rollicking stompers, and swampy blues-hauntings. Vividly drawn characters are treated with empathy, humor, passion, and swagger “If you’re a fan of Jason Isbell or John Prine, add this to your together-forever playlist.” (Global Texan Chronicles) On Shipe albums, you’ll hear an acoustic & semi-electric palette of pedal steel, piano & organ, strings, horns, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and Shipe’s fine slide guitar, honed on years of touring as an electric front man. On the heels of Beast, Shipe launched a poignant socio-political single, "A Song About This" (proceeds going to NAACP) of which Glide Magazine writes: “…delivers a fervent punch with scalding alt-country flair.” 40 Shipe tunes have rotated on over a 100 independent and commercial radio stations. Nominated for Best Original Song at the Los Angeles International Indie Short Film Festival, Shipe music can be cinematic. Two songs appear in the AOF award-winning Vicktory to the Underdog, nominated for Best Soundtrack. (“Pit Bull Blues” has received million YouTube hits.)

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Sofia TalvikSofia Talvik — July 11, 2021

With her wistfully gilded new album Paws of a Bear, Swedish artist Sofia Talvik gazes upon her life’s journey, carefully weighing each chapter. Lead single “Take Me Home” recently debuted in the top ten on the U.S. Folk Radio Charts, offering a hint of what’s to come for this artist on the rise. Beneath timeless layers of lush string work and a voice as angelic as it is heart-rending, Talvik explores dualities of stagnation and freedom, sacrifice and dream-chasing, work and family, along the way experiencing personal revelations that forever shift her perspectives on time, life and love.

Talvik has performed at festivals ranging from Lollapalooza to SXSW, she’s opened for Maria McKee & David Duchovny, and has collaborated with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, as well as Tobias Fröberg (Peter Bjorn and John), who produced her 2008 LP Jonestown. Primarily a live artist, Talvik has taken her music across Europe and through 47 U.S. states, riding in her 1989 Winnebago Warrior with her husband and sound technician Jonas at the wheel, digging deep into the American sound and channeling it through her Nordic roots to create a singular brand of Americana.

Delving into folk melancholy akin to fellow Swedes First Aid Kit, Paws of a Bear delivers Talvik’s own neatly packaged stories across its 10 stunning tracks. Haunting pedal steel intertwines with warm upright bass, acoustic guitars and piano, creating an ideal foundation for the stark beauty of Talvik’s vocal work. Her carefully thought-out steps serve her airy productions well, meandering between reflections of her childhood on the island of Orust, on Sweden’s west coast (“Take Me Home”), the transformation of age (“Reflections”) and love’s sweet elixir as our greatest, most cherished gift (“Wrapped in Paper”).

“When you’re younger, I don’t think you appreciate things in the same way,” Talvik says. “Different subjects are important to you, and you take much of it for granted. You never stop to look at where you are. Then when you come back to this place a little further down the road, with more wisdom, you see things differently. You see nature in a different way and maybe you appreciate new things you didn’t appreciate before.”

Talvik releases all of her music on Makaki Music, a record label she started early in her career to maintain full control over her own recordings. While her Swedish roots serve as the basis for her songwriting, she often calls upon her many journeys and experiences for inspiration, especially the uniquely American archetype of roaming the endless highway. It’s no surprise that Paws of a Bear unspools threads of longing, uncertainty, adventure and hope.

“A lot of people stay in one place, raise a family and work the same job their whole lives,” Talvik says. “Others go on the road and have all these wild experiences. People always say to me, ‘You’re living the dream! You get to see the world!’ I mean, yes, it’s wonderful, but also it’s hard. I don’t get to do anything. I work really hard for it everyday. It’s a choice that I’ve made.”

Paws of a Bear plays like a picture book, flipping through some of life’s most earnest moments. Through her tattered indie-folk, Talvik’s tells her own tale, while giving listeners plenty of room to contemplate their own lives. As the album unfolds, she lures you into her world with stunning heft and grit, once again proving a master of her craft.

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Julie GrowerJulie Grower — June 27, 2021

Originally from New York State, SERFA member Julie Grower lives in Nashville, TN. Her contemporary folk, country and rootsy pop songs have earned her two Billboard certificates of achievement. Her debut CD "In A New Light", co-produced by Jon Gordon, who has served as musical director and guitarist for Suzanne Vega and Madonna, receives regular airplay on independent U.S. and European radio. Julie has performed at The Bitter End, CBGB's Gallery, MacDougal Street Cafe (NYC), The Kendall Café (Boston), and throughout the northeast and UK. In Nashville, Julie appears at such venues as The Bluebird Café, Hotel Indigo, and The Commodore Lounge, and has had the opportunity to share the bill with songwriters Tia Sillers ("I Hope You Dance"); Lisa Carver ("Wake Up Older") and Chris Wallin ("Speed", "I'm Tryin' ) and Walt Aldridge ("Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde"). Julie is represented by Washington Street Music, an independent song plugging and publishing company.

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Kenneth BrawnerKenneth Brawner — June 20, 2021

Kenny Brawner is a critically acclaimed keyboardist, vocalist, composer and actor, who as a musician, plays his own distinctive style of Jazz, Funk, R&B and Blues. Kenny was born in Augusta Georgia, a city and state rich in the traditions of music from the Black diaspora. As a teenager he met and got to witness performances by James Brown, an Augustan who was then a budding star. He also saw and was influenced by Ray Charles and Otis Redding, both Georgians. Growing up, Kenny developed an appreciation for many genres of music. He was classically trained as a pianist but also studied with jazz teachers. He attended Howard University where he often entertained fellow students with the music of one of his idols, Ray Charles. For nearly a decade Mr. Brawner led and composed for a jazz-funk recording band called “Raw Sugar.” During that period, his funk composition Whups it on Me was chosen ‘Showstopper of the Week’ on WBLS in New York and featured with the band on the television show, Soul Train. In recent years he lead a group, along with his brother, Everett, called the Brawner Brothers Band which was known for its old-school sweet soul music, blues, Latin, African and jazz modes and volcanic funk. With this band he recorded the album This Is Where You Wanna Be which is a compilation of Jazz and funk tunes. Kenny has been featured with BB King in a Wendy’s hamburger commercial and has dazzled, according to the New York Times in Blues Suite, a dance piece in which he performed a medley of Blues songs live on a Broadway stage with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He has also recently played lead theatrical roles as a blues man in both Dan Dietz’s Clementine in the Lower 9 at Theatre Works in Mountain View, California and a blues based musical called The City Club, Off Broadway in New York. He played a leading role in Canadian Stage’s production of What Makes A Man, a show about the life and music of the legendary Charles Aznavour, one of the world’s best “showmen”. Most recently he played a soulful organist in Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s The Total Bent at New York’s Public Theater. He can be seen in the classic movie musical Hair as an army officer performing the song White Boys. Kenny is now leading and touring with a 12- piece band and 3 female vocalists doing a concert/ theater production called Ray On My Mind, in which he brings the music and the story of the great Ray Charles to life. His latest album Cross Water Blues is a collaboration with a versatile and highly regarded guitarist from Rome Italy. The album was recorded in Italy and New York with musicians from both sides of the Atlantic, hence the title Cross Water Blues. And check out www.rayonmymind.com All about Kenneth's Ray Charles show.

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Julie GrowerJulie Grower — June 17, 2021

Originally from New York State, SERFA member Julie Grower lives in Nashville, TN. Her contemporary folk, country and rootsy pop songs have earned her two Billboard certificates of achievement. Her debut CD "In A New Light", co-produced by Jon Gordon, who has served as musical director and guitarist for Suzanne Vega and Madonna, receives regular airplay on independent U.S. and European radio. Julie has performed at The Bitter End, CBGB's Gallery, MacDougal Street Cafe (NYC), The Kendall Café (Boston), and throughout the northeast and UK. In Nashville, Julie appears at such venues as The Bluebird Café, Hotel Indigo, and The Commodore Lounge, and has had the opportunity to share the bill with songwriters Tia Sillers ("I Hope You Dance"); Lisa Carver ("Wake Up Older") and Chris Wallin ("Speed", "I'm Tryin' ) and Walt Aldridge ("Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde"). Julie is represented by Washington Street Music, an independent song plugging and publishing company.

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Kalinec and KjKalinec and Kj — June 13, 2021

Texan Brian Kalinec and Pennsylvanian Kj Reimensnyder-Wagner met by chance during one of Brian's shows in East Texas in 2013 when Kj happened to be in nearby Shreveport, Louisiana where she was conducting a seminar in educational songwriting. Later that year, when she came down to Texas on a trip, they had a chance to play a few songs together. Their impressive, combined sound--songs, voices, and musicianship--convinced them that they should perform shows as a duo and began to do so the following year. As Kalinec & Kj, they have toured in the Northeast, in the west from New Mexico to Washington, and in Texas over the past few years.

Swedish reviewer Staffan Soldy of Rootsy calls Brian "a combination of Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck, James Taylor, and Rodney Crowell in the stories he tells". He is considered "one of the most creative songwriters from the Texas music scene" by Robert Bartosh of Roots Music Report. In No Depression, Kathy Sands-Boehmer writes "Brian's heartfelt lyrics and impeccable playing and production are testament to the hard work that he has given to his craft...these are songs that stick to your soul and refuse to budge." Brian has been recognized in the US and Europe for both his songwriting and musicianship, winning the Songwriter Serenade in Texas, the Big Top Chautauqua in Wisconsin, placing second in the prestigious Woody Guthrie Songwriting Competition, and was named a finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest. He has performed at venerable festivals and venues including the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Bugle Boy, Gruene Hall, and Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse in Texas, the Rose Garden Coffeehouse in Massachusetts, and tours regularly in the UK. He and his wife Pam own Berkalin Records, with a roster that features many well-respected singer-songwriters.

Kj is a full-time touring Singer-Songwriter. She has performed across the US and the UK as a solo artist and along with other artists including Steve Weisberg, Ted Vigil, and Dougie MacLean at noted venues and festivals including the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen Colorado, and in Scotland at the Killin Music Festival and the legendary Taybank's Real Music Bar in Dunkeld. Kj is also a recognized educator, trainer and multi-instrumentalist, providing keynotes, workshops, assemblies and residencies and has mentored hundreds of teachers and students through story, song, and songwriting. Her joy of teaching special-needs children has taken her across the Atlantic where she not only mentors and sings in traditional schools throughout Scotland but also for special-needs and gifted classes in the communities of Dalguise, Bannockburn, and Pitlochry, Scotland. Kj has been awarded several distinguished honors for educational songwriting from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture in the Classroom (NAITC) and The Visionary Award from Danville's Child Development Center.

Produced by Kalinec and veteran producer/engineer Michael Mikulka at Mikulka's acclaimed Lucky Run Studios, Let’s Get Away features a fine cast of musicians-- Rankin Peters bassist, Jeff Duncan, fiddle, Tyson Sheth,--percussion.

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Sean AltmanSean Altman — June 6, 2021

Ex-Rockapella star Sean Altman is "tuneful and sharply witty" (Los Angeles Times), "relentlessly clever" (Chicago Tribune) and "bawdy with a wicked modern streak" (Washington Post), with "hilarious pleasures" (The New Yorker) that combine "the tunefulness of the Beatles and the spot-on wit of Tom Lehrer" (Boston Globe) with a “silky tenor voice that produced chills” (New York Times). Altman, “a terrific singer and a songwriter with an ear equally attuned to comic satire and the power of pop music” (The New Yorker), "writes brilliant and irreverent acoustic rock songs about his awakening Jewish awareness" (Jerusalem Post) to make you "laugh your tuchis off" (Time Out) as "part of a new breed of Jewish hipster comedy that includes Jon Stewart, Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman" (Philadelphia Daily News). He is a former, founding member of Rockapella and led that pioneering vocal group through its heyday years on the Emmy-winning PBS-TV series, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, for which Altman co-wrote the famous theme song. His classic Passover song "They Tried To Kill Us (We Survived, Let's Eat)" has been featured on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Altman has twice performed at the White House Chanukah Party, he has shared concert stages with Billy Joel, Steve Miller, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno, Joey Ramone and Moby, and he has recorded with artists as diverse as Steve Miller, XTC, John Cale, Richie Havens and They Might Be Giants. Altman currently records and performs acapella with The GrooveBarbers and Doowopera, original pop songs on guitar as a solo artist, original comedy songs as JEWMONGOUS, and in two touring tribute acts: The Everly Set and Forever Simon & Garfunkel.

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Bryce ThomasBryce Thomas — May 23, 2021

Bryce Thomas describes his sound as “mariner folk-rock.” It’s partly because many of his songs reference bodies of water in some way, although on his new album Across The Neuro Seas, the title’s play on words speaks to a much deeper meaning.

The Toronto-based singer/songwriter wrote the 12 tracks for his fourth full-length album during the spring of 2020, just as pandemic restrictions were taking hold. He credits the creative surge not only to lockdown anxiety, but also to a five-year recording hiatus as his family expanded.

“I’d sneak away to record whenever the house was quiet,” Bryce reveals, “which was challenging when you’re part of a family of five, plus three dogs, all stuck at home. It’s also why all the songs on the album were written and recorded within two months.” Nonetheless, musically Bryce didn’t hold back. He performed all vocals, guitars and keyboard tracks along with a variety of other instruments, only making exceptions for drums, some bass, a horn section, and duet on his song Everything with his wife Lisanne.

From the outset, Bryce says he intentionally put the songwriting focus on creating a collection of songs that offered listeners a continuous journey from beginning to end. “Contrary to the current trend of artists producing ‘singles’, I knew I wanted this to be a true album in the sense of all the songs relating to each other in some way. For me, the storytelling arc is grounded in reflections on love blooming and love lost, and I took a lot of songwriting inspiration from early Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Cat Stevens albums.”

Proof to the point, songs such as “Young Lovers” and “Summer Nights In Summertime” exquisitely capture the push and pull of relationships both new and well-worn—in a gloriously ragged folk-rock manner on the former, and in a stunningly intimate way on the latter. Conversely, he injects the power of experience into “Widow’s Walk” and “Hope And Chance,” two songs that had sat on the shelf for 25 years until finding their moment on this album.

While there are sure to be many “what I did during my pandemic lockdown” records on the horizon, Bryce Thomas’s Across The Neuro Seas bears all the hallmarks of a true folk-pop auteur, with its timeless sound sure to remain relevant long after we’re allowed to once again get close to our loved ones.

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Ciaran MacGowanCiaran MacGowan — May 16, 2021

Ciaran is from Belfast, born and raised; he has shared the stage with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Arlo Guthrie, Nancy Griffith and quite a few more. His band rocks through all the genres of Folk, Bossa, Jazz, Rock and Blues. He has a fabulous voice and an extraordinary talent for whistling!

But for years Ciaran lived in another world - leaving music twenty years ago to pursue he passion for photography. He lived in California shooting for Capitol, EMI, Sony and Polydor - in the thick of the Los Angeles record business with a camera, not a guitar!

But last year he came back home to music, his first love, and to Belfast Ireland, settled in and put together a new band. On bass is Nicky Scott (Mary Black), on drums Eamonn Ferris (Van Morrison), guitar Pat Gribben (The Adventures, a UK charting band) and out front is Ciaran, composer, writer and front-man of a set that is 100% original. They were just getting started when lockdown came!

He has a ‘back story’: Long before any of this, the ‘Ciaran Mac Gowan Band’ played weekly in The Errigle Inn; an eight piece band complete with horn section. Andy White on bass, Gerry McIlduff (Pretenders) on drums. He recorded live radio and television several times for BBC, UTV, RTE and Downtown. He supported the ‘big acts’ of the day, Janis Ian, John Martyn, Richard Thompson, and his first record ‘London Trip’ released on Good Vibrations was play-listed ‘Record of the Week’ on RTE. He was twenty-five. Then they blew up the Errigle Inn and gone was the band’s residency. These were dangerous times in the N. Ireland conflict. Six months later with the venue rebuilt, the band was back in residence. Three weeks after that they blew it up again! Ciarán later joked, ‘they definitely didn’t like that band!’

In frustration Ciarán jumped ship to California, made a success of a different career, headed up the Photography Department at San José City College, CA, worked in Hollywood, and photography on Ireland is archived in several international museums. But through those years Ciarán always came home and in Belfast he often was the support to some of the world’s leading musicians: Dylan, Morrison, Guthrie, Nancy Griffith, Christy Moore, appearing twice in the Belfast/Nashville annual Festival.

Now he’s back in permanence with a superb band.

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Mandy RowdenMandy Rowden — May 9, 2021

Brought up in East Texas, Mandy Rowden has been a practicing musician since the tender age of six. That’s when she began learning classical piano and guitar, laying the foundation for an eventual career in music. It wasn’t until the Americana sound found its way into her soul that she embraced her true path: that of a real-deal, down-in-the-dirt singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who’s weathered some storms and emerged with tales to tell. In fact, living up to being a multi-instrumentalist, Rowden took on the bulk of Parachute’s instrumentation. “Like most worthwhile things, it was both rewarding and challenging!” Mandy adds that her producer on the album, Matt Smith, held her to some very high standards. “That initially made me nervous,” admits Rowden, “but I was pleasantly surprised every time. It's my feeling that we can accomplish pretty much anything with an open mind and the right kind of support and this album is the perfect example.” Rowden’s sound is equal parts bourbon and honey, seeking answers while reveling in the wonder of it all. With all her projects, there is a common thread that

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Pete SeegerPete Seeger — May 2, 2021

Join us again for a very special birthday show to honor the legendary Pete Seeger, who would have turned 102 on May 3. We'll be doing a special Pete Seeger Mini Concert with many of the songs selected by his daughter Tinya. Also the fantastic Singer Songwriter Showcase with songs submitted by artists throughout the country. The theme: Pete Seeger - presenting songs of and /or by Pete!

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Mike WardMike Ward — April 18, 2021

Detroit-based, singer/songwriter Mike Ward is noted for lyric-driven, simple folk songs. Currently living in Detroit, Mike grew up listening to the Irish music of the Clancy Brothers and singing in church choirs. His influences are the likes of Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen and John Prine.

His second studio album “The Darkness and the Light” explores a life lived while looking over the past, the present and toward the future. Regrets. Hope. Contentment. As well as reflections of our changing world and the importance of embracing new ideas.

Joining Mike on this record are David Roof playing bass (traditional and stand up), mandolin, piano, Hammond organ and percussion. Jimmy Showers jumped in on acoustic and electric guitars. Sara Gibson performs on cello. Jeff German added electric guitar for “The Line Between Us”. Vocally, Alison and Tessa Wiercioch of Jackamo, Dave Toennies of Border Patrol and Downtown Judy Brown provided harmonies. The full collection of voices join in a chorus to bookend the album.

“I’ve always been drawn to songs that can make you smile but can also make you cry,” said Ward in an interview with Detroit area music writer, Jeff Milo. “I grew up listening to a lot of Irish music…., which, there’s a lot of that material that’s considered ‘drinking songs,’ but there’s also really a lot of heartache in there.” He lists John Prine as an all-time favorite but also points to Jason Isbell as a more contemporary influence. What these artists and these types of songs spark inside of Ward is the potential for maximal emotion impact and provocation of compassionate thoughts, all compacted into a simple 3 minute folk song. And THAT’S precisely what Ward’s achieved on this new album, produced by Dexter-based songwriter Mike Gentry and Grand Blanc-based musician David Roof.

The opening song, titled “Our Turn to Shine” presents a reflection of our changing world and the importance of embracing new ideas. A fun video introducing the song was created by Brooklyn based filmmaker, Danny Ward.

“No Way to Live” is the album's closing song and "was born out of walking around, (Detroit and other cities) meeting people on the street (who are experiencing homelessness); being able to give a meal to someone in need, or even just to talk to them, look them in the eye, and realize that there’s an individual in there.” Ward worked as an advertising creative job for years and business took him to cities like San Francisco, Portland, New York — places with large rates of people experiencing homelessness.

“It’s always had an effect on me,” said Ward. “And I’m not professing that this song solves anything. It’s just a song about all the places that that person can come from; what can be done and how can you help them….” Ward reached out to the Motor City Mitten Mission and The Empowerment Plan in Detroit. Both are organizations that strive to assist the homeless population and both will benefit from all the downloads and donations from the new single, said Ward.

Now it turns out there are a lot of Mike Wards' producing music. Well, Mike’s nickname, PsychoWard, provided a solution. (If you’ve seen him dance or play hockey, you’ll get it). So, for publishing and distribution, Mike Ward: Psychosongs was born.

“Mike Ward’s radiant songs regard both the darkness and the light....humanistic approach to lyricism salvages a brightness from heavyhearted subject matter.”

– Jeff Milo, e-Current

“Perfect for taking a drive down backroads, reflecting on your memories and looking forward to making new ones.” – Liv Conaty, Local Spins

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Annette WasilikAnnette Wasilik — April 11, 2021

ANNETTE WASILIK "Love & Fire is a masterpiece." ~ Tom Prasada-Rao Annette's performances are marked by her compelling alto and moving songs that "touch you to the bone". In the tradition of the poet songwriter, with rich tones reminiscent of Linda Thompson or Natalie Merchant, she weaves a spell both startling in its intimacy and expansive in its vision. Her songwriting influences include Jane Siberry, Lucinda Williams and John Prine to mention just a few. Both down to earth and deeply atmospheric, Annette’s songs are explorations into longing, love, loss, God, home, homesickness and hope. "I found my first guitar in an old tin wardrobe in my basement. Its bridge was broken but it was love at first sight, as if I found a buried treasure in my backyard. The room spun and everything. I glued the bridge back on and never looked back." On songwriting Annette says, "It feels like diving for pearls. I sink down and don't know what's going to happen. Usually a combination of emotion, melody and phrasing opens the way for the lyrics." In her late teens and twenties. Annette was performing in local cafes, small venues and eventually festivals. When her daughter was small, Annette took a break from performing to attend her family and grow her healing practice. Now she is out performing again and becoming known in the DC area and nationally as a powerful songwriter and performer. Annette's debut CD, Songs from the Talking House, was awarded Contemporary Folk Recording of the Year by the Washington Area Music Association in April 2016. She also won Honorable Mention for her song Don't Look Down in the 2016 MidAtlantic Song Contest. Her January 2020 release, Love & Fire, is her first album on the Azalea City Cooperative label. On release, it landed at #6 on FAI Folk DJ chart and #1 on the NACC chart and ended up #40 for the year. (That's ahead of Bob Dylan and several Folk Alliance nominees. Woot!) In 2019, Annette created a new concert series, Local Cream, to showcase the best local and regional songwriters and co-hosts a popular monthly songwriting circle. She has just  created a new livestream series, "Takoma Girl & Guests" featuring songwriters from around the country.

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The Twangtown ParamoursThe Twangtown Paramours — April 4, 2021

The Twangtown Paramours are an award-winning husband and wife duo from Nashville. Their music is a blend of Nashville, New York, and Austin influences and has been called “Sophisticated Americana”. Some of their tunes are poetic, but many are just a whole lot of fun. Recently, other artists have begun recording their songs. They are 3-time Kerrville New Folk finalists and winners of the Wildflower Contest in Richardson, TX.

Their latest single, “Stars Without a Heaven” was #2 on the Folk DJ chart in January and is being played in a number of Holocaust museums around the world.

The Twangtown Paramours are in the studio right now putting the finishing touches on their new album, “Double Down on a Bad Thing.” It will be released to AAA radio at the end of this year.

MaryBeth sang background vocals for Eva Cassidy and is the main author of the most meaningful songs in the Twangtown Paramours catalog.

Mike is a session musician and songwriter and author of a #1 platinum selling pop ballad in Korea. He also sometimes plays upright bass for Jimmie Dale Gilmore and does a little TV acting. He has appeared on the Investigative Discovery Channel and as a background actor on CMT’s “Nashville”.

You can find the music of the Twangtown Paramours on Spotify, Amazon, and other music outlets. And they will be doing brief Northeast tours in July and in October, 2021. Please check their website for details.

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Lisa JeanetteLisa Jeanette — March 28, 2021

Born and raised in Philadelphia, the youngest of nine, Lisa took to time sharing her siblings’ guitars. She also studied piano, organ and double-bass - getting her music performance degree in the latter instrument at Temple University. Lisa began songwriting after she finished studying classical music in college but stopped writing for a time when life got in the way. More recently, she got a new roommate in the form of a baby grand piano and began to write songs again. She has been finding her voice and honing her song-writing skills while being mentored by Vance Gilbert and attending Ellis Paul's songwriting retreats. Lisa is a multi-instrumentalist and accompanies herself on guitar, piano and sometimes a Harpsicle!



Lisa's latest hit holiday song “Mrs. Claus” (featuring iconic Folk Artist Vance Gilbert) skyrocketed to #1 on the December 2020 Folk Alliance International (FAI) Folk DJ chart and her new album, Jellyfish on the Moon, debuted at #12 on the FAI Folk DJ Chart in December with the holiday release. The new album is Jeanette’s first full album release since her debut album Chasing Happy in 2017.



Jellyfish on the Moon, a song loosely based on the true story of NASA’s experiment of sending jellyfish to the Space Station to study the effects of zero gravity on the sea creatures’ equilibrium after returning to Earth, embodies a whirlwind of topics, ranging from the wistful to the whimsical, each expertly showcasing Jeanette’s songwriting dexterity.

To ensure that this eclectic eccentricity translated seamlessly, Jeanette partnered with Producer Glenn Barratt of MorningStar Studio, to masterfully record her compositions with both bold choices and musical sensitivity. A “who’s who” of all-star musicians were also brought in to create the magical sound of the album including Ross Bellenoit (guitar), Erik Johnson (drums) and Chico Huff (bass), who provided a wonderful collaboration of ideas and took each song lyric to task, creating a variety of arrangements to keep the listener’s ear attuned.

Surprise guest appearances by renowned artists including Gilbert, who has served as a mentor to Jeanette for several years and contributes his wit and charm to the aforementioned chart-topping “Mrs. Claus,” and the highly-acclaimed Jay Davidson on saxes and flutes can also be found on the album, while spotlight performers lend added surprises to some of Jeanette’s standout songs. One of these tracks is the upbeat albeit comical “Aging Like a Son of a B,” which includes fiddle riffs by Gary Oleyar; while the more serene “Top of the Ferris Wheel” features a frolicking cello played by Michael G. Ronstadt.

Jellyfish on the Moon leaves no subject unturned and even the topic of historical fiction is in the mix with The Brahms Trilogy – three songs that depict the intense love triangle of Robert and Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, each song told from the character’s perspective. From there, the album delves into more topical issues including women’s empowerment with “Don’t Blame Me (Jolene’s Reply),” which offers the other woman’s side of the iconic Dolly Parton song, and “Still You Choose Love,” an anthemic track highlighting the bravery of the LGBTQ community and their commitment to love against adversity.



Before the quarantine, Lisa performed at Philadelphia area venues including The Kennett Flash, The Living Room, and Jamey’s House of Music. She also performed at many festivals in 2019 including The Black Bear Festival in Goshen, CT, The Ladybug Festival, Wilmington, DE, Turks Head Fest, The Downingtown Arts Fest, the Wayne Porchfest, and the Chester County Restaurant festival.



Lisa's performance at the 2020 Philadelphia Folk Festival Contest led her to be first performer booked for the 2021 festival. Her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, Deezer

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Paul KaplanPaul Kaplan — March 21, 2021

Veteran musician and songwriter Paul Kaplan has been an enthusiastic participant in the folk music world since the late 1960s when his early anti-Vietnam War songs were published in the legendary protest song magazine Broadside.

His involvement with the singer-songwriter movement was sparked by his early love of the songs of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton. He pursued that love as a regular attendee at the Songwriters’ Exchange at the Cornelia Street Café in New York, and as a prolific contributor to The Fast Folk Musical Magazine, in which ten of his songs appeared. In the late 1970s, Paul had the opportunity to produce three posthumous albums by Phil Ochs.

His first album, Life on This Planet (1982), featured the songs “Call Me the Whale” and “Henry the Accountant,” later covered by such folk music greats as Sally Rogers, David Massengill, Jay Mankita and Ed McCurdy. His song “I Had an Old Coat” from King of Hearts (1985) has been sung by Nickelodeon stars Sharon, Lois and Bram (“The Elephant Show”), as well as Claudia Schmidt, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Lui Collins, Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise, Priscilla Herdman and countless others.

Paul’s interest in traditional music is reflected in his four years as a member of the group The Derby Ram, resident band of the Eagle Tavern in New York City. With band founder Dan Milner, Paul co-authored the popular A Bonnie Bunch of Roses—Songs of England, Ireland and Scotland, published by Music Sales in 1983.

In his solo career, Paul’s warm style and gentle humor have charmed audiences at The Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Clearwater Festival, The Gotta Get Gon, Denmark’s prestigious Tønder Festival, and dozens of coffeehouses throught the Northeast.

Paul has been honored by the inclusion of his songs in many songbooks, textbooks and Smithsonian Folkways collections, including the Grammy-nominated Best of Broadside. “We Shall Stay Here”, Paul’s fifth album, was just released. It contains twelve songs that reflect the way he sees the world. Some may leave you in stitches; some may leave you in tears; some may leave you in your car in the driveway unable to stop listening. Along with the brilliant engineer Max Cohen, Paul has fashioned each cut on the album to maximize both its musicality and its emotional punch. All in all, the album represents a ray of light and hope coming out of what has been a bleak time. The high point for Paul in preparing this album was the opportunity to collaborate with some of his musical heroes. “Let’s Make a Toast” is a duet with John Roberts of “Roberts and Barrand” fame, to which John contributes his distinctive singing voice and concertina playing.  Four of the songs feature pitch-perfect backup from Jay Ungar, composer of “Ashokan Farewell” and considered by many to be America’s finest fiddler. The bottom range on those four songs is filled out by the splendid acoustic bass playing of Molly Mason.  The title song features brilliant button accordion player Billy McComiskey, whose sterling reputation got him an invitation to play at the Trump White House. He saved that reputation by saying “No thank you.”  Pete Seeger said “I am a big fan of Paul Kaplan. I love his singing; I love his songs.” Listen to Paul on “Hootenanny Cafe” and found out why.

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Aoife ScottAoife Scott — March 14, 2021

Aoife Scott is an Irish artist, based in Dublin. In 2013 she graduated from the National College of Art and Design with an honours degree in Fine Art Print and Visual Culture. Upon graduating Aoife received The Graphic Studio - Graduate Award where she worked for four years before moving to London in 2017 to study a Masters in Fine Art Print at The Royal College of Art. 
Having recently moved back to Dublin Aoife is working towards various exhibitions and projects in 2020. She remains a full time member of The Graphic Studio and has recently joined Pallas Project/Studios. Having exhibited internationally and in Ireland Aoife has won and been nominated for numerous awards including The Wilkinson Print Award at the RHA Annual Exhibition - 2018, The Honorary Mention at The KoMASK Masters of Print Exhibition, Antwerp and shortlisted for The Fingal Arts Studio Award - RHA 2019. Over the past seven years Aoife has worked in print studios in Dublin and London editioning for established artists including Norman Ackroyd, Richard Gorman and Barbara Rae. Her work has also been collected by The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, The British Library, London and The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

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James Lee BakerJames Lee Baker — March 7, 2021

There's something to be said about the ingenuity it takes to put a group of great musicians together in a great room to record great songs and having them all coming together in one take. Undoubtedly, James Lee Baker has just pulled it off. Coming as no surprise to Baker's existing fans-No Depression once said, "to call him anything other than brilliant would be criminal"-his new album 100 Summers accomplished this feat with graceful execution and the backbone of timeless songs and stories. Available everywhere now, 100 Summers is an eleven-song collection of soothing folk-song melodies that circle around a centralized theme; that of personal transformation. Garnering the attention of outlets like The Bluegrass Situation, American Songwriter, 303 Magazine, and Glide Magazine-the latter of which called Baker's songcraft "poetry at its purest; tender, touching, and flush with sweetness, sadness, and sentiment in equal measure" – 100 Summers is poised for more of the same accolades Baker has received for his previous efforts.

Recorded in one-take recordings at Blue Rock Studios in Wimberly, Texas, 100 Summers finds Baker working with an exceptional group of collaborators - among them, Chris Bell (the man behind the boards for the Eagles, Don Henley and Christopher Cross), Doug Pettibone (John Mayer, Jewel, Lucinda Williams), Matt Hubbard (Willie Nelson, Billy Bob Thornton), Roscoe Beck (Leonard Cohen, Eric Johnson), Paul Simon's Grammy-winning accompanist Joel Guzman, Americana Songwriter of the Year nominee Mark Erelli, and Laurie MacAllister from the famed folk group Red Molly. "I elected to record at the most appropriate studio I could find, with the best session players I could afford and the right engineers for the genre," Baker reflects. "I aimed to give this everything I had in hopes that people who are seeking it can receive it."

The aforementioned theme of "personal transformation" rears its head more obviously in some places than in others – "Santa Barbara" being a good example of the former. The rejoicing refrain of "Santa Barbara, I have come to hear your mission bells ring" precedes Baker's proclamation; "I am here to start a new life again." "In a way, the second verse is a kind of double entendre," says Baker. "While I'm talking about the city and its hay days and eventual struggles, I'm really talking to myself and trying to give a needed pep talk – 'you were a treasure chest of the gold rush, once a dangerous and lawless place.'" Album opener and title track "100 Summers" explores a more subtle change; one that comes through maturity and reflection. "As I grow older, it becomes clearer to me what truly matters most in this short and fragile life we have," Baker reflects. "For me, it is my family, my pursuit for integrity, and my focus on craftsmanship as an artist. While I am always learning, I am coming to find material things and adventurous experiences pale in comparison to the tender and priceless moments I share with my family and dearest friends."

On the whole, 100 Summers reflects a noble effort in Baker's ongoing quest to put pen to paper to song to microphone in a way that not only relates to his life experience but, universally, the lives of anyone who might listen. With his shimmering 100 Summers, that quest continues.

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Sparky and Rhonda RuckerSparky and Rhonda Rucker — February 21, 2021

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker deliver an uplifting presentation of toe-tapping songs spiced with humor, history, and tall tales. They play old-time blues, Appalachian music, slave songs, spirituals and originals, and they accompany themselves with fingerstyle picking and bottleneck blues guitar, old-time banjo, blues harmonica, piano, spoons, and bones. Rhonda is also an author, and her recent novel, Welcome to Bombingham, is set against the backdrop of the Birmingham Children's March during the civil rights movement.

Over decades of performing, Sparky and Rhonda have performed at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well as NPR's On Point, Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, and Morning Edition. Their CD, Treasures & Tears, was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award, and their music is on the Grammy-nominated anthology, Singing Through the Hard Times. The duo’s most recent recording is Down by the Riverside.

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Ben BullingtonBen Bullington — February 14, 2021

“Ben Bullington's work draws life-breath from the earth, rivers, sky and people of Montana,” says Rodney Crowell, the Nashville songwriting legend who plays guitar and performs a duet on Bullington’s second CD, White Sulphur Springs. “In the same way Guy Clark's jeweler's vision captures the eloquent essence of Texas culture without being regional, Ben frames the stillness of Montana winters, the strength of her women and the spiritual bankruptcy of no-account politicians with disarming ease. Plus, the guy's a pretty damn good doctor for a songwriter.” Ben released his third CD Satisfaction Garage, with Rodney Crowell returning to produce two tracks, and guest instrumentalists including Will Kimbrough, Fats Kaplin, George Bradfute, Kenny Malone, and David Jacques. Vocals were added by Ben Bullington, Rodney Crowell and Joanne Gardner. Bullington’s fourth CD “Lazy Moon” had a slightly different approach, with guests like Little Feat’s Bill Payne, Fats Kaplin and Gardner. His “I Despise Flies” and “Cup of Strong Black Coffee” are just two of the high points from this strong release. Ben’s final CD, “Ben Bullington” was recorded just after he’d received a Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Ben elected to hold off on chemotherapy until this was recorded. The songs are introspective and ponder deeper topics, understandably. During the recording of “Ben Bullington,” at the historic Station Inn in Nashville, Ben was joined by longtime friend Rodney Crowell, producer Will Kimbrough and songwriter friend Darrell Scott for an intimate show. Darrell had met Ben in years past, but never knew he was a songwriter. Luckily, video exists of that show and No Depression writer Holly Gleason captured it all here: http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/frommontana- to-music-city-rodney-crowell-ben-bullington-more-the At this point, Ben gave up his medical practice and spent the last several months of his life on tour, playing music and spending time with friends and family. Ben and I performed at festivals in Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Montana and Ben took road trips through the West Coast, the South, along the East Coast and included his hometown of Roanoke, VA. He played theatres and clubs and bookstores and roadhouses. He played to five people and to thousands, with a grin on his face the whole time. That night led to Darrell immersing himself in Ben’s songs, capped off by a release called “10-Songs of Ben Bullington.” Ben was able to hear one track from Scott’s album – “I’ve Got to Leave You Now” – which was recorded on his cell phone. Ben was quite ill at the time and loved the track. Darrell left the track exactly the same on the release – performed on an old upright piano on his cell phone. It is just perfect the way it is. Ben died in November of 2013, surrounded by people he loved. Gretchen Peters added a song of Ben’s to her retrospective – “Ring Around the Moon” and Darrell Scott’s cover of “Country Music, I’m Talkin to You” is a favorite on playlists worldwide. John Lowell released a song about Ben’s journey called “Velvet Western Sky” on 2019’s “Long Stretch of Gravel.” His music continues to touch other musicians and a legion of fans worldwide. Ben is buried in a cemetery in Livingston, Montana with a headstone that says, “He Loved Words, Guitars and Wide-Open Spaces.” People visit from all over the world and leave picks, heart shaped rocks, deer antlers and recently, small whiskey bottles.

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Barbara Jo KammerBarbara Jo Kammer — February 7, 2021

Barbara Jo Kammer has become a popular fixture on the acoustic music scene in and around Colorado. She is the band leader of Barbara Jo & The Hippie Buckaroos, performing at local community events, charities and fundraisers, and for elders in retirement communities as part of their music therapy work. In addition to her work as a band leader and music therapist, she recently released her sophomore album, Big Blue Sky In The Morning, which peaked at #13 on the Folk DJ Top Albums chart (July) and was nominated by IndieShark for Album of the Year.

Barbara Jo & The Hippie Buckaroos is composed of seasoned musicians who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Their passion and love for music is proclaimed through an exceptional mix of tunes from Classic Country and Bluegrass, to Folk, Western Swing, Gospel and Blues. The Hippie Buckaroos were named one of the Best 10 Cover Bands in Colorado by Westword Magazine in 2016.

Barbara Jo has released two solo albums as an independent artist, produced by accomplished instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter KC Groves (Uncle Earl). Barbara Jo’s message of hope on the album is personal, having been inspired by her own journey in sobriety. At the age of 62, Barbara Jo released her solo debut album, One Song at a Time. She was named one of the Top Folk Artists of 2017 and her debut album peaked at #2 on the Folk DJ charts.

On June 1, 2020, she released her second album, Big Blue Sky In The Morning: “Since age three, singing has carried me through the rollercoaster of life that includes a 15-year eating disorder and 40-year struggle with alcohol and drugs. I am 12 years clean and sober, and thrilled to be releasing my sophomore album. This album features songs representing different stages of my journey. I remain incredibly thankful for my precious life and my ability—one day at a time—to stay in the present with heartfelt gratitude.”

Recently, being unable to perform with the full band, Barbara Jo has been of service by providing solo music therapy performances, singing to residents of retirement communities, with the full continuum of care, from patios, courtyards, and through open windows. Current events have been challenging, especially for elders who may have limited visits from friends and family, and it is her hope that her music uplifts those in need.

“Barbara Jo has made a strong second album: more sure footed, great song selection, great sound and production—and Barbara Jo is sitting perfectly at home in the center of it all. It’s great to hear her growth.” — Darrell Scott

“A New Album from Barbara Jo Kammer, the mighty voice of the Front Range. Anyone who has heard Barbara Jo Kammer sing knows that if you had to pick one word to describe her sound it would be ‘joyful.’” — Kevin Slick, President, Colorado Bluegrass Music Society

“Barbara Jo Kammer’s Big Blue Sky In The Morning is no ordinary sophomore release. Her vocals soar in such a strong way that you wonder if she drank an elixir of youthful exuberance. The musicianship and the production are first class and I’m proud that I was part of it.” — Mollie O’Brien

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