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Tuesday, August 20, 2019




I was lucky enough to be filling in on the air for Albert O on Thursday August 15th, 2019.  Lucky to get into the start of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock?  Yes, a little.  And I did sign off with Arlo Guthrie’s “Walking Down The Line” from that first night of Woodstock in 1969 – which included Arlo’s famous reference to the larger-than-expected crowd in saying “the New York Throughway is closed, Man!”  Why was that surprising, considering the incredible line-up?  Let’s consider that some of those legends were not yet well known, let alone “legendary” (Santana, for example). 

In that spirit, I was certainly lucky to be at WUMB that day to interview Martha Scanlan and her guitarist Jon Neufeld. 

It’s a funny thing about music.  For most people, if it’s not well known, it’s not worth their time.  And then there are pieces of music that just slip into you, regardless.  You could be barely conscious of their presence because of how they simply become a part of what you are doing while listening to them.  Walking, driving, sitting on the porch overlooking the sunset.  Martha Scanlan’s music inhabits that space.  A good way to explain that came from Martha herself during our session.  To paraphrase her, she talked about how everything has a rhythm.  “The rhythm of places” is a phrase that comes up in her online bio at MarthaScanlan.com.  As she talked about her music, that phrase made more and more sense.


Martha’s musical collaborator for many years now, Jon Neufeld, certainly contributed to that.  During the session, I caught myself thinking how Jon’s playing slipped into the background.  And then suddenly he would have these compelling lead guitar parts.  He came off as one of those guitar players who without a doubt is all about serving the song.  There’s much talent but little ego in his demeanor.  It was nice of Martha to plug Jon’s website as well as her own (neufeldjon.com).  Jon noted just a little that he was in Black Prairie, the side project of many of The Decemberists.  I was tempted to ask Jon about his guitar style being similar to David Rawlings, but decided not to in deference to this being Jon’s showcase.  Later that night at their gig at The Burren, I did approach Jon about that.  He related it partly to the type of guitar they both play.  If you know guitars, I wish you’d been there with me for that conversation.  But Jon did seem happy that someone else could talk about that style of picking and about the Rawlings connection.

When we have guests in studio, generally they play three songs from their newest release.  Martha and Jon played songs from throughout their catalog.   They started with “Las Cruces” from the most recent album, The River and The Light, released last October.  Next was “Honey Blue” from Feb 2018’s The Shape of Things Gone Missing, The Shape of Things To Come (and one of my favorite album titles…I forgot to mention that to Martha).  And they finished with “Guardian Angel,” which comes from the Feb 2011 EP Tongue River Stories: Autumn.  I recommend all these songs for a long drive through rolling hillsides and ocean/lake views.

Remember that if you are a member of WUMB, you will have access to whatever we post from our in-studio sessions.  So if you are thinking of becoming a member, you can take care of that at wumb.org (hit the “Donate Now” button and follow the steps from there).  Then search for Martha Scanlan and Jon Neufeld, in studio 8/15/19.

Thank you, Martha and Jon, for a terrific in-studio session.  And thank you, dear reader, for your support of WUMB

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

WUMB's "Spinning the Blues" Host Holly Harris Chats With Blues Legend Bobby Rush





Bobby Rush with WUMB Host Holly Harris.

WUMB's "Spinning the Blues" host Holly Harris recently chatted with Grammy Award-winning blues musician Bobby Rush ahead of his show at City Winery in Boston on Tuesday, August 20th. You can hear "Spinning the Blues" every Saturday night from 6-9 on WUMB. Tune in at 91.9 FM in the Boston area or stream at wumb.org.

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HH: Bobby, I'm so thrilled to be talking with you and that you're coming to Boston in a couple of weeks. I hope you're having a good summer. I'm loving the new CD, Sitting On top Of The Blues. Are you currently on tour?

BR: Yes, I am, like always.

HH: We had that nice sit down out in Shirley, MA right before you won a Grammy for Porcupine Meat. That was a memorable interview and evening. Can you tell me about this new CD and how it's different?

BR: I don’t think it’s any different, it’s as good or better. Trying to compete with your own self is one of the hardest things to do, but I did it…and I’m blessed to be able to do that. I want to thank you for being apart of that Grammy winning record's success, and I think you’re going to be apart of that again with this one.

HH: You always have such good players and dancers. You certainly have a smokin' band this round too. I see Vasti Jackson has a big part in the production and playing. Can you talk about some of the other world-calss musicians on here, and I just want to say how sorry I am about Lil Buck Sinegal's passing.

BR:Yeah Lil Buck was an inspiration to me, because I’ve been knowing him a long time. I had a chance to record with him on this record. I wanted to have him on the last album, but we had too many great guitar players on that last one. I had plans to do more with him on future recordings. The other musicians I didn’t know as well, but I know they play with other artists. I saw how they played and who they played with.

Scott Billington was with me from A to Z on the Grammy winning record and A to Z on this record. Not in production on this one aside from a couple of songs, but spiritually, with picking the songs, bouncing off his head to my head and there as a friend. I look up to him as a producer and professional.

I also had Patrick "Guitar Boy" Hayes. He played in the band with me at one time. He knows the licks with me like Vasti knows, but he knows me as a band member.

HH: All the tunes are great and there are some real varied styles and stories. I've been rockin' out to "Good Stuff' and "Bobby Rush Shuffle'; love that harmonica, Bobby! What will you be playing for us at the Boston show from the new CD?

BR: Thank you. [We'll be playing]“Good Stuff”, “Get Out Of Here” and “Recipe for Love”. I’ll be playing the show solo, so that changes the set a bit.

HH: What's on tap in the Fall for Bobby Rush?

BR: [I'll be] working harder than I’ve ever worked before in my life to make this record comparable to the Grammy winning one.