Thursday, May 21, 2015

Local Folk Spotlight: Northampton

This Saturday on Local Folk we take a deeper look at the tight knit and vibrant music scene of Northampton, MA. Despite a population of less than 30,000, the city consistently punches above its cultural weight. In addition to venues like the Iron Horse, Calvin Theater, and Parlor Room which attract top local and national talent, Northampton-based record label Signature Sounds has helped to shine spotlight onto a bevy of local artists like Lake Street Dive, Crooked Still, and Eilen Jewell.

One such artist is Heather Maloney, whose album Making Me Break was released in April by the label. After studying everything from classical Indian music to opera, Maloney spent years living and working in a silent retreat center in Central MA. She eventually channeled these experiences into a haunting debut solo release, followed by a self-titled album in 2013. Her latest record was produced by Bill Reynolds (Avett Brothers, Band of Horses) and builds on this foundation with an edgier and more textural sound.

The Sun Parade specializes in lush red-eyed pop tinged with the psychedelic American roots of artists like The Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers. The group’s latest release, a 2014 EP entitled Heart’s Out, has paved the way to a larger following and more touring opportunities, including with Lake Street Dive and fellow Northampton band And The Kids.

Like tour mates The Sun Parade, And The Kids share a love of jangly ear-catching arrangements. Led by the huge vocals of guitarist Hannah Mohan, the group takes simple ingredients and makes them transcendent by using insistently repeated vocal and melodic lines to create mesmerizing soundscapes that continually build and recede.

Despite a recent move to Nashville, Jamie Kent remains inextricably linked to the Northampton music scene. In addition to constant touring, Kent helped to found and book the Northampton Summer Music Series and other events that have helped build foundations for many of the acts that have followed in his wake. His most recent EP Embers & Ashes was described by Rolling Stone as “country soul channeling Townes Van Zandt”.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The 15th Annual Non-Commvention: Ryley Walker, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Shelby Lynne

The Non-Commvention is an annual event, currently hosted at WXPN/World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, serving as a meeting of the minds for Non-Commercial radio stations across the country, record industry professionals, and music fans. The convention was founded in 2001 by Dan Reed at WFPK in Louisville, Kentucky and was brought to WXPN when Reed moved to the station in 2004. Now in it's fifteenth incarnation, Non-Comm consists of a balanced blend of industry panels and meetings as well as performances from both up-and-coming and well-established musicians from all over the world. The highlights from Non-Comm night one included Ryley Walker, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Shelby Lynne.

Ryley Walker is fresh off of an extensive European tour celebrating the March 31st release of his sophomore record, Primrose Green. It seemed as if everyone in the building had been told to absolutely not miss the Chicago native's set. It was impossible to get anywhere near the PRX stage, people were crammed in so tightly. Maybe it was the intimacy of his performance--he was performing sans his  backing band--or simply the urge to see the twenty-five-year-old's fingerpicking style in real life, but the crowd was pulled toward him with magnetic strength.

Canadian-American Cree singer-songwriter, social activist, musician, pacifist, composer, and visual artist Buffy Sainte-Marie, a legend with over two dozen albums under her belt, is seventy-four years old and one would have no idea. Sainte-Marie's catalogue focuses on the issues of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, as does her latest album, Power In the Blood. Her performance was dynamic and energetic, sporting a blonde streak in her black hair and a fringe jacket that inspired fashion designers to name entire products after her, she powered through a set that I overheard being referred to as "folk metal".

year marks the fifteenth anniversary of I Am Shelby Lynne--the record that earned her the Grammy for Best New Artist--and she is still going strong. Her distinctive contralto voice was soothing, powerful, moving and so much more. Though she founded her own record label, Everso Records, Lynne has recently joined the Rounder Records roster. It was through Rounder that her seventh album, I Can't Imagine, was released last week.
Shelby Lynne's

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

In-Studio Performance: Joe Pug

Singer-songwriter Joe Pug dropped by the station on April 30th, ten days after his 31st birthday and just a few weeks after the release of his third album, Windfall. Pug had visited the station previously while promoting 2012's The Great Despiser, a tour that nearly burnt him out on making music altogether. After kicking the session off with "Bright Beginnings", the first track from the new record, he went into detail about how he almost quit music entirely. He had been touring non-stop and by the end of the tour he was "really low on [him]self, low on music" and wanted to take a step  back in order to gain perspective as he "needed to have joy while making music". (Though let's not forget his gorgeous rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Downbound Train" on Dead Man's Town A Tribute To Born In The USA from 2014.)

"If Still It Can't Be Windfall the whole way through.
Found"was the second tune he played, which he wrote on an out-of-tune piano he found on Craig's List. He found a section of the site dedicated to people with pianos they are trying to get rid of--if someone can get it out of their house then it's theirs. The track is particularly powerful and Pug strategically placed it last on the album. "People don't listen to full albums anymore", and he wanted to make sure people listened to

Windfall was recorded at Shangri-La studios, with a simpler approach to songwriting and recording than Pug's previous efforts. He also cites more contemporary influences on this album as well--M. Ward, Josh Ritter and Ryan Adams among others, and finishing out the performance with "Burn And Shine".

Joe Pug will be supporting Brandon Flowers in the UK next month, as well as performing at the Green River Festival on July 12th, and Newport Folk on July 25th (Friday). More information can be found at

Thursday, May 7, 2015

In-Studio Performance: Tall Heights

Local boys, Tall Heights, stopped by the studio on April 25th to chat with Dave about their currently unnamed forthcoming album. The duo, Paul Wright and Tim Harrington--both currently sporting ponytails--grew up together in Sturbridge, Massachusetts and in 2008  began busking, playing covers in Faneuil Hall.

Wright is a classically trained cellist, playing his grandmother's cello. She passed away when he was just 5 years old. He first tried to play her cello at the age of 8, but found that the instrument was too big for him, "I grew into it in high school". Now he runs the cello with reverbs which, he says, allows him to "play with more colors". Harrington on guitar stated that they both have memories of writing poetry when they were small children and that that now influences their songwriting. They have also been known to lock themselves in cabins for twenty-four hours and refusing to leave until they've written songs.

While in-studio they played four songs including "Spirit Cold" for which a video was just released. They also performed "Back To Autumn" was written for Wright's grandfather and Harrington's grandmother. Wright's grandfather, a classical pianist, passed away at the age of 100, and Harrington's grandmother passed away exactly one year and one day later.

The new album was recorded in the home studio in the spare room in Harrington's apartment in Somerville and will be pressed to vinyl  and will also be available digitally. It will not be released on CD, however, because as Harrington says "CDs are a completely locked box that [people] don't have the key to," they believe that CDs are no longer accessible to people. More information can be found at

Thursday, April 30, 2015

WUMB Member Screening: Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis

Over the weekend WUMB hosted a screening of the film Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Musice of Inside Llewyn Davis for our members. Inside Llewyn Davis is a film by the Coen Brothers starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham, and Justin Timberlake. The movie is set in 1961 and chronicles a week in the life of a struggling folk singer named Llewyn Davis.

Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis is a concert film directed by Christopher Wilcha, of the concert by the same name--organized by T Bone Burnett who collaborates with The Coen Brothers quite often--in September 2013 at New York City's Town Hall. The film includes performances by Jack White covering Tom Paxton's "Did You Hear John Hurt", Rhiannon Giddens, Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford, also of The New Basement Tapes, Locals Lake Street Dive with their own "You Go Down Smooth" and The Milk Carton Kids among others.

If you would like to attend WUMB Member Concerts you can become a member today here or by calling the membership office at 617-287-6902.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Local Folk Spotlight: Providence, RI

This Saturday on Local Folk we celebrate the release of Axis Mundi, the final studio album from Rhode Island duo Brown Bird, by spotlighting the flourishing music scene of Providence, RI.

Brown Bird founder David Lamb released albums as far back as 2003, but it was not until the summer of 2008 when a chance encounter with MorganEve Swain led to full blown partnership musically and otherwise(the two would eventually marry). Together the pair organically wove elements of folk, psych rock, Balkan and gypsy grooves, while touring and recording relentlessly. That process was abruptly cut short in May of 2013 when Lamb was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, to which he would eventually succumb in April of 2014. A year later, the final recordings (many of which were undertaken during Lamb’s treatment) are being released as the album Axis Mundi, named for the place where heaven and earth meet.

If 2008 was the genesis of Brown Bird’s wildly inventive sound, it was also a breakout year for another Providence group that insistently pushed past folk-rock labels. That year The Low Anthem released their third album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, which would eventually be picked up by Nonesuch Records leading to performances at festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits.

Although currently touring less, members Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, and Bryan Minto, continue to channel the group’s DIY ethos (the band would famously dumpster dive for cereal boxes to hand cut and silk screen for their first CD covers) with the opening of the Columbus Theater and Cooperative . The theater, originally built in 1926, had fallen into disrepair by the mid-2000s. Following extensive rehabilitation it was opened under the direction of the co-op in 2012. Since then it has been critical in raising the profile of Providence artists as well as showcasing performers like Charles Bradley, Juliana Hatfield, and Hurray For the Riff Raff. Says Columbus programming manager Tom Weyman, “We want the Columbus to be the bloody beating heart of Providence's music scene, unpolished, where art is created and performed, and where musicians are inspired to do their best work.”

Following the breakout success of groups like The Low Anthem and Brown Bird, there has been a rise in the regional and national profile of Providence artists like Joe Fletcher (recently departed to Nashville), The Silks, Smith&Weeden, and many more. Tune in this Saturday to Local Folk to hear just a few examples of the artists who have contributed to this rise as well as those who are positioned to continue building the city’s reputation in New England and beyond.

The Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Then and Now April 21st, 2015: Cowboy Junkies

Every weekday at 8 PM is Then and Now with Brendan Hogan. This is when Brendan plays a set of songs back to back from the same artist emphasizing the beginning and the current status of their career. Tonight he will be playing "Walkin' After Midnight" and "We Are The Selfish Ones" from Cowboy Junkies.

Margo Timmins, Alan Anton, Peter Timmins and Michael Timmins founded Cowboy Junkies in Toronto in 1985. They released their debut record, Whites Off Earth Now!!--produced by Peter Moore and recorded in their family garage--the following year. The band gained notoriety, however, this their 1988 sophomore release, The Trinity Session, recorded on a single microphone at The Church of The Holy Trinity in Toronto.

Walkin' After Midnight: The Trinity Session is comprised of a mixture of covers and original material. "Walkin' After Midnight" is a cover of the song performed by Patsy Cline and written by Donn Hecht and Alan Block. The songs on The Trinity Session were inspired by the music the band heard while The South on the U.S. leg of their Whites Off Earth Now!! tour. It was producer Peter Moore who suggested recording in the church because of the natural reverb in the building. The band referred to themselves as The Timmins Family Singers and said that they were recording a Christmas Special in order to gain access to the building.

We Are The Selfish Ones: "We Are The Selfish Ones" is taken from Volume 4: The Wilderness of The Nomad Series, box set from 2012. The Nomad Series is a four disc box set spanning an eighteen month cycle between 2010 and 2012 . Each disc displays a different style of the group, Volume 1, Renmin Park, shows their experimental side, Volume 2: Demons is comprised of all Vic Chesnutt covers, Volume 3: Sing In My Meadow is more fun and boisterous and The Wilderness serves as the introspective, atmospheric one.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Daily Dylan April 17th, 2015: "Tears of Rage", "On The Road Again", "Forever Young (Live)"

Every day at 5:30 PM Albert highlights songs spanning Bob Dylan's career from deep cuts to collaborations, to recent recordings. Today he is featuring "Tears of Rage", "On The Road Again", and "Forever Young (Live)" from The Last Waltz. 

Tears of Rage: "Tears of Rage"--melody by Richard Manuel and lyrics by Bob Dylan--was recorded both by The Band on Music From Big Pink  and Bob Dylan and The Band on The Basement Tapes. Considered one of the most celebrated tracks from The Basement Tapes, it was in fact first recorded in 1967 during rehearsals at Big Pink, The Band's house in Upstate New York with The Band backing Dylan on lead vocals. This version of the song was widely bootlegged but wasn't officially released until The Basement Tapes in 1975. The non-Dylan version with Richard Manuel on lead vocals, however, was featured on The Band's Music From Big Pink in 1968. The song has since been recorded by various artists including Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia and Gene Clark.

On The Road Again: Produced by Tom Wilson--the famed produced who also worked with such acts as The Velvet Underground, The Mothers of Invention, and Simon and Garfunkel among others--and recorded in January, 1965, "On The Road Again" is featured on the electric first side of Dylan's fifth studio album, Bringing It All Back Home. The record is separated into two sides: the electric side and the acoustic side. On the whole Bringing It All Back Home, continued to distance Dylan from the folk community as on the electric side he had a rock band backing him and the second song featured more personal lyrics than the protest songs he was known for. It was also the first of Dylan's albums to break the Billboard Top 10, peaking at number 6.

Forever Young (Live): This track originally was featured on Dylan's 1974 album, Planet Waves, in both a slow and a fast version. The record--Dylan's fourteenth--was also a collaboration with The Band and was supported by a reunion tour beginning a few weeks before its release. It was originally slated to be titled Ceremonies of The Horsemen, a callback to the track "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" off of Bringing It All Back Home, but Dylan chose to change the title at the last minute, delaying the album's release. This version is a live recording, on November 25th, 1976, from what was supposed to be The Band's final show. Other guest performers included Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield, The Staple Singers, Neil Young, Bobby Charles, Emmylou Harris, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Hawkins, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell. Martin Scorsese filmed the concert for a documentary of the same name, which came out in 1978.