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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Barry 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.

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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

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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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Wyatt EasterlingWyatt Easterling — January 24, 2021

Wyatt Easterling has enjoyed success in the music industry over the years as a performer and songwriter as well as a record label and publishing executive. His experience and success in all of these areas have given him a full understanding of what it takes to succeed in this industry.

When Atlantic Records opened their Nashville offices, Easterling signed on as Chief of A&R.” Easterling's track record of success included signing artists Tracy Lawrence, Michael Johnson, Neal McCoy and John Michael Montgomery. Easterling produced Montgomery's multi-platinum debut album, Life’s A Dance, which has sold well over three million units worldwide to-date.

Following his tenure with Atlantic Records, Easterling partnered with Miles Copeland (the Police and Sting) to form the Nashville Division of Bugle Publishing Group and Firstars Management as Director of Operations. Easterling brought Keith Urban to Firstars Management, and worked at length with Urban in the studio recording the project that landed Keith’s first major deal at Warner Brothers Records. Easterling then brought alternative roots artist Paul Thorn into the company for management and publishing. Easterling produced Paul's album, "Hammer & Nail" along with Greg Wells and Billy Maddox for A&M Records, Los Angeles. In addition to ushering notable artists into the mainstream, Easterling organized Nashville’s participation with Bugle Publishing’s Printemps de Troubadours, a songwriter's retreat held twice a year at Miles Copeland’s Chateau Marouatte in France. This event saw great success with a long list of esteemed artists and writers such as Carole King, Peter Frampton, Cher, Olivia Newton John, Jon Bon Jovi, Stuart Copeland and Keith Urban to name a few.

After Bugle Publishing, Easterling decided it was time to get back to the creative side of the street and signed with DreamWorks Publishing, and eventually with EMI. He has had numerous songs recorded by major label acts. In addition to his writing Easterling has been touring extensively with his new CD release “Where This River Goes” on High Horse Records.

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Amy KucharikAmy Kucharik — January 17, 2021

Amy Kucharik is a ukulele-slinging singer-songwriter based in Somerville, MA. The 2015 Kerrville Grassy Hill New Folk winner explores the full range of her instrument's capabilities as a tool to convey a complex array of subjects and moods: Whether humorous, topical, or intense, Amy steers listeners to view the ukulele as a real instrument, not a toy. At the same time, Amy entertains her audience, and her performances are infused with Vaudevillian charm and an infectious, danceable swing. Her music draws from a range of influences including blues, ragtime jazz, folk, pop and country, as well as aesthetics garnered from film and literature. Amy's catchy, sometimes haunting songs recount tales of reluctant love, revenge, grit, and the challenge of self-expression in a tumultuous political age.

Originally from a musical family in Southern IL, Amy grew up singing in choir and playing piano and french horn. At Southern Illinois University, Amy majored in art and creative writing, ultimately earning her MFA in poetry, meanwhile playing horn in the University Wind Ensemble. However, it was after moving to Boston and through a swing dancing friend that Amy first became interested in the ukulele, the instrument that ignited her songwriting. In 2012, she put together her Friends With Benefits band.

Amy's bands feature a revolving cast of talented musicians. Their 2013 EP, "Dance Crush Blues," was created as a tribute to their mutual love of the swing and blues dance community. The band was selected to perform at Montreal Bagel & Blues 2014 dance exchange and Boston's Sweet Molasses Blues exchange in 2013 and 2015. In 2016, Amy formed Tiger Moan, a blues-specific band, which performs regularly at Boston's Sweet Molasses Blues dance exchange and other blues dance events.

Amy's full-length debut album, "Cunning Folk," was released in 2014. It contains 10 of Amy's originals arranged for a diversely instrumented band featuring luscious vocal harmonies and swirling New Orleans-inspired brass. "Cunning Folk" was nominated for Red Line Roots Album of the Year in 2014.

In 2015, Amy was a winner of the Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk competition, an honor given to six songwriters selected from a pool of 800 applicants. She toured central Texas with the other five winners, and has collaborated with New Folk finalists on various other musical endeavors. Amy has also shared bills with Denver, CO-based YouTube ukulele sensation Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Boston Music Award 2014 Folk Artist of the Year Dan Blakeslee, and notable ukulele-based singer-songwriter, Victoria Vox. Her song "Creepy Dead Bug," co-written with Greg Klyma, was covered by Trout Fishing in America (who NPR call "the Lennon and McCartney of kid's music") on their 2013 release, "Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers." Amy was a formal showcase artist at SWRFA in 2015, WFMT Folk DJ Rich Warren’s pick for the DJ showcase at NERFA in 2016, and a Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist for 2018. Her second full-length album of original music, "Until the Words Are Gone," was released worldwide in 2018. In 2018, she was also chosen as the Somerville, MA Arts Council December Artist of the Month.

Amy also performs with her swing dance band, the Mezzcats, her 1920s project, the Four-String Serenaders, and as a guest vocalist with other bands, including Chris Hersch and the Moon Raiders. In 2020, her DIY social-distancing video for her song "AloneTogether" was featured on CNN Entertainment.

Amy has taught beginning and intermediate ukulele classes at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education as well as various workshop sessions, and is available for private lessons via Zoom.

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Len SeligmanLen Seligman — January 10, 2021

"It's been said that John Lennon distilled his entire catalog down to one word: 'love.' Len Seligman walks gracefully in the master's footsteps." - The Kennedys (Maura & Pete), award-winning recording artists



LEN SELIGMAN (pronounced "SELL-ig-min") is a Sarasota, Florida-based singer-songwriter and string instrument virtuoso. Inspired by poets Rumi and Mary Oliver, songwriting greats John Lennon and Randy Newman, and the world music fusion of Ry Cooder, "Seligman's music radiates joy. When you listen to him, you’ll find your spirit lifted to a higher, truer realm, and you may just find yourself dancing!" (Independent Artist Buzz blog). His awards include First Place, 2015 Great American Song Contest and Finalist, Best Video, 2018 Positive Music Awards.

OUR TURN NOW is Seligman’s third album. It features 10 original songs, including a co-write with Tom Kimmel, and one traditional song of peace and justice. Seligman says, "I hope it will inspire joy and a feeling of connection with all life. Themes include gratitude, loss, playfulness, mindfulness, and the ongoing struggle to create a more just and compassionate world."

Commenting on the album, award-winning recording artist (and Bonnie Raitt's long-time bassist) Freebo called it "a lovely, very upbeat, positive, and relevant album! It is beautifully produced, brilliantly played, with a whole bunch of well-written, excellent songs."

The title track, which reached #14 on the Folk Alliance International Folk DJ chart as an advance single for October 2020, pays tribute to civil rights icon John Lewis and all those who get into "good trouble, necessary trouble" to advance the cause of human rights.

The album features stellar guest musicians Moksha Sommer and Jemal Wade Hines (of HuDost, winners of the 2020 Indie Music Award for Social Justice), Tom Kimmel, JD Martin, Jan Garrett, piano virtuoso John Lee Sanders, and world percussion master (and brother) Jon Seligman.

Seligman began his music career in folk and rock groups in New England in the 1970s before pursuing a career as a PhD computer researcher geek. In 2018, he returned to his first love and again became a full-time musician.

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Tracy NewmanTracy Newman — January 3, 2021

TRACY NEWMAN… Picture a scrawny fourteen-year-old girl sitting on a diving board over an empty pool on an overcast day, strumming the same four chords over and over again, on her brother’s cheap acoustic guitar. From her point of view, the pool is full and clear blue, it’s a bright sunny L.A. day, and her brother’s guitar is the best guitar in the world! And so, the lifelong journey as a writer and performer was born.

As a teen Tracy led summer camp singalongs; in her 20’s she was a singer-songwriter and had her own children’s TV show “What’s New” on PBS; in her 30’s she taught nursery school and ran the singing programs. Her 40’s brought the high-profile career as a TV comedy writer/producer. Shows included: Cheers, Bob, The Nanny, Ellen and The Drew Carey Show. In 1997, she and writing partner, Jonathan Stark, won an Emmy and Peabody Award for the groundbreaking “coming out” episode of Ellen. In 2001, they created the hit ABC comedy, According to Jim. Tracy is also a founding member of the LA-based improv group, The Groundlings, which has become the farm company for Saturday Night Live.

After two decades in television, Tracy returned to her first love as a singer-songwriter releasing three CDs to date: “A Place in the Sun,” “I Just See You” and “That’s What Love Can Do to Your Heart.” Several of her songs have garnered awards with The Great American Song Contest, American Songwriter Lyric Contest, Song of the Year Songwriting Contest, and the International Songwriting Competition.

A keen observer of life, Tracy plucks a snapshot from everyday life and brings it to the forefront, painting pictures with clever storytelling and even a bit of whimsical satire. Her voice is simple, clear and lyric-centric, and her honest vocal deliveries make you feel as if she is having a conversation with you and you, alone. The musicians and singers on her recordings are the frosting on the cake! The purity of the arrangements and production and beautiful vocal harmonies underscore beautifully those snapshots of life that Tracy so nimbly navigates.

“She is one of the most talented story-song lyricists on the folk scene today.” – Jackie Morris (Folkworks)

And not to leave a stone unturned, Tracy also writes songs for kids, releasing three multi-award-winning CDs of children’s music with her new company, RUN ALONG HOME.

And the stories and music continue. Stay tuned!

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Severin BrowneSeverin Browne — December 27, 2020

If you tell Severin Browne’s fans that he’s about to release a new album, the collective response is, “Well, it’s about time.” His new album is called, “Overdue,” to celebrate its title track. For eight years Severin’s been a member of the Tall Men Group, a collective of – yes – tall men who agree to write a new song 10 times a year to a common prompt. Never missing a challenge over those years means that many more song nuggets have found their way out of his prolific mind. Even in 2020, the age of digital song streaming, Sev’s loyal fans still crave a physical CD with a cover, liner notes, and lyrics. In “Overdue,” Severin has curated a solo album that’s sure to satisfy. Anthems, upbeat reflections, a loving story told in haiku of the Fukushima Japan nuclear disaster, and an out-of-print treasure are among the tracks.

When not hampered by COVID gathering restrictions, Severin Browne performs solo to house concerts, intimate listening rooms, and even an occasional almost-rowdy bar crowd with friends from his SoCal roots. He is a sought-after guest in many singer-songwriter festivals and shows, and is regarded as one of the most delightful performers in the Los Angeles area. Severin’s easy manner in front of an audience convinces you that playing his guitar and singing his songs is effortless and second-nature for him. His brilliant lyrics invite listeners into the songs while his solid melodies carry the story from one note to the next. This natural and inviting delivery has charmed audiences for almost 50 years.

Whether performing solo or as a member of the Tall Men Group band, Severin’s songs are crowd pleasers. There are toe-tappers, dance favorites, thought-provoking charmers, and sing-alongs. This new album is … overdue … and a much-anticipated follow-up to the widely acclaimed “Lucky Man,” released in 2012.

As if that isn’t enough to keep a man busy, he is a popular guitar and songwriting teacher at festivals, retreats and camps.

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Doug GillDoug Gill — December 13, 2020

Doug Gill might just be writing the story of your life. The Monterey, CA native has a knack for reaching into his own heart and finding the core of emotions that drives us all. He has spent the last thirty years writing, recording and performing music in Nashville and has worked with some of the best writers and musicians on the planet. His songs have been recorded by a long and illustrious list of artists, including Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Chris LeDoux, Tammy Wynette, Wynonna and the Marshall Tucker Band. Doug's song "I Just Come Here For The Music" was the first single from Don Williams album "And So It Goes". Recorded as a duet with Don and Alison Krauss, it was nominated for a 2013 Grammy award. The following year saw the release of "Stronger Back" on Williams' last album, "Reflections." In 2018 his song “Peace In This House” was featured in the British film “Wild Rose”.

After stints at Acuff Rose and RGant Music, Doug wrote for Nashville's Hori Pro Music for many years. He currently operates his own publishing company, Peacehouse Music, in affiliation with Eleven Eleven Music, and has released two fine studio albums, "Stronger Back" and "Everyman". He is a committed volunteer at Operation Song, an organization providing songwriting therapy to American veterans, and at the Country music Hall of Fame’s Words and Music Program. As Langham and Gill, (a duo with Lynn Langham) he is a regular performer at festivals and house concerts across the country. His powerful songs speak of strength and redemption, passion and perseverance, and he sings them with a voice that resonates with the truth.

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Ray CardwellRay Cardwell — December 6, 2020

If an Americana listener doesn’t know Ray Cardwell’s name yet, it is understandable. Tennesee Moon, his album debut, came just three years ago, charting 10 songs, and he has since charted six more from his follow up Stand On My Own. Four of his 16 charting songs reached the top spot in Grassicana and “Hurricane Rain” and “Alright” ended 2019 as numbers three and four on the yearly Grassicana charts.

The classic bluegrass configuration of his latest album Just a Little Rain doesn’t hide his polish, but rather bends the genre to it. Five of the tracks are written or co-written by Cardwell, with his powerful four-octave voice is on display. Getting his start performing regionally with The Cardwell Family in Missouri, this collection was heavily inspired by the singer’s humble upbringing, which included stops at venues and Bluegrass festivals throughout the 70s and 80s, along with performing as a member of New Tradition in the 90s.

While the straight ahead “Standing on the Rock” reminds us of Cardwell’s upbringing in the grass tradition, that same appeal and Jimmy Buffett-esque relaxation in his voice keeps the song a universal statement. An advance track, “Born to Do,” hit No. 1 on Bluegrass Today's Grassicana Chart. “Take Me To The River” would be a bold choice for any acoustic artist without Cardwell’s range, clarity, and savvy. The cleverness and refinement of this bluegrass arrangement of Al Green’s song keeps the same energy and sparseness that made it a smash hit on radio.

Adam Hayne’s fiddle on “Thief in the Night” grounds the band’s progressive tendencies and the smoky blues of Cardwell’s vocals squarely in bluegrass. “The Grass is Greener” has the same ‘grass appeal, but an uninitiated listener would guess the percussive opening guitar work to be that of a Dave Matthews or Keller Williams before the band kicks in. Two tracks have a more folk/acoustic instrumentation. "I Won’t Send You Flowers" is a beautiful song about showing love through actions not objects of affection, and “Constant State of Grace” would find a home in Elton John’s catalog, or even as a power ballad, but here Cardwell’s sophistication blankets the tune with a sensitivity and a subtlety that keeps the tune from drifting into sap and gives both the song and the subject, a homeless woman, dignity and beauty.

Cardwell set out here to make a bluegrass album, and ended up making much more. It is sometimes a curse in the music industry to have a sound that is both distinguishable and universal, but Cardwell’s Just a Little Rain is more proof that bluegrass and Americana are still growing and still have places to go. From the song selection to the performances, it is as welcome an addition to Cardwell’s catalog as it would be to any fan of Americana or Bluegrass.

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Aaron Nathans and Michael G RonstadtAaron Nathans and Michael G Ronstadt — November 22, 2020

Cello-based songwriters are rare, and the alt-folk duo of Aaron Nathans & Michael G. Ronstadt take advantage of Ronstadt’s adventurous and wildly creative technique to face our shared disaster, head-on. Philadelphia based guitarist /songwriter Aaron Nathans and Cincinnati cellist / songwriter Michael G. Ronstadt present their third album, the rich, dark and foreboding Shadow of the Cyclone, released October 1. With sobering clarity the duo weave intricate metaphors in the form of fallen saviors (“Strongman”), a Leonard Cohen-esque embrace of the anti-hero (“I Go Low”), and straightforward accounts of our loss of empathy (“Sinner’s Bible”). These songs hint at a sense of just retribution for the troubles we’ve brought upon ourselves, while “Haunted House” and “Come on Sun” coax a sense of levity and hope while accepting our brutal present. As an acoustic duo, the two create a compelling musical palate. Ronstadt’s cello lines are reminiscent of the live-layered magic of Zoe Keating, and his songwriting reflects the creative diversity of Paul Simon. He weaves intricate patterns around Nathans’ baritone voice, studied folk meters and dash of irony in the tradition of David Wilcox and Dar Williams. As multi-instrumentalists the two play a total of 33 distinct instruments between them while Serenity Fisher guests on piano and vocals, Stan Ginn on drums, Phil Henry on backing vocals and percussion and Ciara Grace on backing vocals. Ronstadt, nephew of Queen of Rock Linda Ronstadt and a member of a family with a rich musical heritage, holds a master’s degree in cello performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Nathans is an award-winning songwriter and a leader in Philadelphia’s community of songwriters. Shadow of the Cyclone brings in fans of folk, Americana and singer-songwriters who are seeking refuge from the storm that 2020 has unleashed on us.

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Burns and KristyBurns and Kristy — November 15, 2020

Burns and Kristy: Terry Burns and Ron Kristy, a/k/a/Burns and Kristy, met in 2003 in Nashville, TN, where Terry was a former staff writer for EMI Publishing, MCA/Universal and others, and Ron was one of Nashville's most prolific composers for TV/Film. They were married in 2004, but it was not until 2012 that they made the decision to become a musical duo and produce their first CD. Their debut CD, "Caravan" was released to rave reviews; "Caravan" is one of the most entrancingly beautiful and timeless set of songs to grace a debut album in many years!" ~ Simon Beards, Maverick Magazine, UK 5 Star review, and was followed by "Always Home", a spiritual, healing journey through song. Terry Burns: Terry Burns's music has been described as "fresh, contemporary, moving, melodic and fun". A former staff writer for EMI Publishing, MCA/Universal and Larga Vista Music, her songs have been recorded by many artists, including David Kersh, Lari White, River Road, Alecia Elliott, Ruby Lovett, Pam Rose, Dawn Sears, Jason Sellers, The Burns Sisters, and many more. Her music has been featured on various TV shows, including "Nashville", "The Fosters", "Alecia", and "Who Wants to Marry My Dad?". While in her Early 20's, Terry recorded 2 CDs on Columbia records with her sisters, "The Burns Sisters". She has also recorded an independent CD of some of her favorite original tunes. Ron Kristy: Ron Kristy has been a songwriter/TV & Film composer for many years, literally since his teens, and has been a composer for Universal Production Music for over 20 years. He has composed many genres of music, from deep trailer/sports/action projects to the more recent "fun, upbeat, guitar-based" music projects, which are played daily around the world. A former staff writer/producer for Warner Chappell Music in NY, Ron was co-writer of Aretha Franklin's Coca Cola spots and Brook Benton's "If You've Got the Time" Miller Beer spots, among many others. Later, while living in Mexico, Ron co-founded the largest music production company in Mexico, Musicastil. Since returning to the States, he has continued to be one of Nashville's and New York's most prolific composers for TV/Films for over 30 years, composing and performing many hundreds of TV/film scores. Ron's music can be heard daily around the world on shows such as "20/20", "Good Morning America", "The Voice", CBS Sports, and The Summer Olympic Games, to name just a few. "Burns & Kristy are what we call a 'triple threat' here in Nashville. Great songwriting, gorgeous vocals and perfectly tasteful & highly skilled guitar playing all rolled into one beautiful act! And, they are as sweet and professional as they are talented. The Music City Center For Spiritual Living LOVED them and we can't wait to have them back!" ~Rev. Dyann Woody, of the Music City Center for Spiritual Living Ithaca LOVES the Burns & Kristy band! They performed at the UU Church venue for a packed house last night and received several well-deserved standing ovations. They embody the celebration of light, love, humor, spirit, and humanity in us all. Many thanks to them and all their

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Bianca De LeonBianca De Leon — November 8, 2020

‘Who ever saw a concert by Bianca undoubtedly knows what I mean: though you're somewhere in the Netherlands, you look at her and listen, and get the feeling that you are in Texas. This lady writes, I think, quite often from her own experience; and you can hear that this is real, this sounds lived, this goes right to the heart.‘ Dani Heyvaert, Rootstime BE ‘ "I Sang Patsy Cline" is a story that any singer would give her soul to have been able to write truthfully.’ R2 Rock N Reel, UK “Bianca’s songwriting has matured into a ripe fruit, texture, flesh and juice. You can bite into her songs, tearing the pulp with teeth, with juice running down your chin” Robert Earl Hardy, A Deeper Blue, The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt ‘Wistful tales of love and loss and that feeling which forms in the décor of the local cantinas and bars where broken hearts hide somewhere in a dark corner to lick their wounds. Bianca De Leon is not to be underestimated as a songstress.’ Door Cis van Looy, Written In Music, NL

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Kerry Patrick ClarkKerry Patrick Clark — November 1, 2020

Step right up! Come one, come all! To the greatest spectacle on earth . . . Life.

Kerry Patrick Clark has reached into his childhood memories to find juggling clowns, flying trapeze artists, dazzling plate spinners, death-defying tightrope walkers and red-coated lion tamers among them. This larger-than-life cast of characters winked at him as he sat rapt in the bleachers, their smiles an invitation to run away with them and join the circus. It was such a tempting idea that his first song, Circus Town, written when he was 11, gave voice to that dream. And now he revisits the fantasy from the distance of decades to release his 9th studio album.

The ringmaster in Kerry has always understood the appeal of being transported away from the monotony and challenges of real life, and getting caught up in a more magical and captivating world. That’s what entertainment is all about! After all, “living life is crazy, people need amazing, for just one moment we forget.” But in a world increasingly full of dangerous distraction, disconnection and carnival spin, he sinks more deeply into the real wonders of living. Love. Silence. Hope. Justice. Connection. Being heard.

What a Show! is whimsical, thoughtful, probing and self-reflective. In it, Kerry recognizes his longing for simplicity as he grapples with how to make sense of our world. He seeks to speak comfort, spark gentle conversation, and root us to the moment. For each marvelous moment we have is a wonder to behold.

So, here’s to life. Cue the spotlight and the music. Enjoy the show!

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