Monday, November 28, 2011

Harry Belafonte visits WUMB!

One of the most warm and gracious individuals who has ever visited the WUMB studios dropped by a few days ago with hardly any advance notice. Known to some as the “King of Calypso” -- singer-songwriter, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte is our guest for this Sunday’s Commonwealth Journal program.

In town to talk about his new memoir “My Song,” Mr. Belafonte had quite a bit to say about his influences growing up. “I have sought to alter the profile of poverty, but I have never chosen to leave it. So much of me resides there. So much of me was shaped by the environment of poverty. All of the nuances of my earliest years, the formative years, my adolescent years were shaped by the streets of Harlem and the mountainsides of the rural life in Jamaica and the Caribbean and West Indies where my mother was born.”

He also spoke about other things that shaped his life. “When you get the best riff from an improvisational moment in jazz nothing is more embracing, nothing is more fulfilling, nothing is more overwhelming than a good improvisational jazz moment. In a way my life has been like that. So many things came my way. I sat in so many sections of life filled with endless harmony, and to sit in the midst of that, and to play the chords of experience that came my way was really quite a fulfilling experience. That experience led me to all of the things that shaped what I was to do in life. It led to music. It led to art. It led to activism.”

You can hear the interview with Harry Belafonte this coming Sunday night at on WUMB’s Commonwealth Journal program. Above, Mr. Belafonte is shown after his interview with one of our newest Commonwealth Journal hosts, Barbara Lewis, Director of the UMass Boston Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History & Culture.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

This New Year’s Eve – UMass Boston’s WUMB will partner with two other local colleges and First Night Boston for a great concert on Saturday, December 31st.

Suffolk University has donated use of the newly renovated 184-seat Modern Theatre, which opened last fall. The Berklee College of Music will present alum Liz Longley. And, WUMB will air a live broadcast of Liz’s show at the Modern from .

Liz is a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music and is already showing signs of becoming the next acoustic breakout artist. In 2010, Liz received first prize in the BMI John Lennon Scholarship competition, grand prize in the International Acoustic Music Award contest (among 9,000 entries) as well as the Chris Austin Songwriting Award. She also appeared at the Newport and Rocky Mountain folk festivals. In 2009, Liz garnered first place in the Rocky Mountain Folk Fest Songwriter Showcase, and was co-winner of the Mountain Stage New Song Contest, among several other honors.

Whether you come and watch the show live, or decide to enjoy it from the comforts of your own home on WUMB, it’s sure to be a great way to bring in the New Year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Patty Larkin wins by 1 vote!

Earlier this week, Dave Palmater asked which artist's recent on-air interview would you like us to repeat for today's Live at Noon. The poll has ended and Patty Larkin won by one vote over Slaid Cleaves! Vance Gilbert came in third, followed by Catie Curtis and Dala. Did you vote?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks 2011

The season of brightly-colored falling leaves and frosty mornings is with us once more, and all of us at WUMB would like to express our deepest thanks to our listeners and donors over the past year. A lot of hard work goes into keeping WUMB on the air day in and day out, including all the technical and behind-the-scenes stuff you don’t hear on the air. Every time you tune in and enjoy what we have to offer or discover something new…makes all the effort worthwhile!

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day from all the staff and volunteers at WUMB.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pick this weeks Live at Noon!

While we may be cruel enough to ask performers to sing at the crack of noon (might as well be 5 in the morning to most) we're not cruel enough to ask anyone to do it on the day after Thanksgiving. That's why we'll rebroadcast a pervious Live at Noon, or other In Studio Interview this Friday. The problem is "Which one?" There have been so many great ones just over the last few months we couldn't decide so we're turning to you. Help us pick this week's Live at Noon encore by voting in the poll at the right of this page. Thanks!

-Dave Palmater

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thoughts on the Top 100 Countdown

It really is pretty amazing that year after year, no matter how much our audience grows, many of the same artists continue to show up time and time again on our annual Top 100 list.

Comparing this year’s Top 100 list with the one from five years ago in 2006, both Bob Dylan and Cheryl Wheeler have a strong command of the #1 and #2 positions.  In the top ten of both lists are artists like Nanci Griffith, Joni Mitchell and John Prine.  There were also strong increases with Brooks Williams, Cliff Eberhardt, Eva Cassidy, James Taylor, Mark Knopfler and Red Molly.

Eight names show up on the list this year for the very first time: Amy Black, Brendan Hogan, Brother Sun, Danielle Miraglia, Mumford & Sons, The Civil Wars, The Decemberists and The Head & The Heart.  Those who seem to have dropped off the list completely include: Ani DiFranco, Great Big Sea, Girlyman, Lyle Lovett, Maura O’Connell, Pierce Pettis, The Neilds, The Wailin’ Jennies and the Weepies.

One of our listeners remarked he couldn’t believe The Beatles only came in at #120.  And another – Bill – wrote, “I was disappointed that there was nary a mention of Jack Hardy, who, as you probably know, passed away this year.  Jack contributed to the contemporary folk scene(s) in so many ways.  He nourished the careers of a number of people on the list – Cliff Eberhardt, Lucy Kaplansky, Shawn Colvin and Christine Lavin immediately come to mind.  There were more.  Jack's Fast Folk project also recorded a number of other people on the list.  More importantly, at least to me, and what people seem to not appreciate, Jack was a great, great songwriter.  I find it sad that so few seem to have noticed, particularly in this the year of his passing.  I realize that the list was chosen via audience participation, so you WUMB’ers have little to do with the contents.  But I felt compelled to bring up Jack's name, as it would be nice if someone, somewhere in the folk community would some day give Jack his due.”  Here’s a tip of the hat to Jack Hardy!

What are your thoughts on the WUMB Top 100 list from 2011, which you can find at:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

20 Years at WUMB!

It's time to celebrate here at WUMB!  Dave Palmater, our Host of WUMB Music
Mix from Noon until 3 PM has been with us for 20 years, and was honored this
week at the annual "Years of Service" awards by the entire UMass Boston
Dave has been on-the-air in the Boston area for the better part of 40 years,
including WMBR (back when it was WTBS) and even worked briefly with Robert
J. Lurtsema at WGBH-FM.  During his score of years here at WUMB, he's become
a lynchpin in our organization, and a source of never-ending fun.  Once, as
part of a challenge during a WUMB fundraiser (which he obviously lost), Dave
even wore a Scottish kilt to a Member Concert.  He's more careful about his
bets these days.
A regular attendee at house concerts and coffeehouses all around New
England, he frequently vacations by taking in the music scene in the United
Kingdom.  A great admirer of Richard Thompson's performances, Dave can
answer just about any question one might have about Richard's compositions
and career.
We all love having Dave here at WUMB, so help us celebrate his tenure...give
him a call on our listener-line weekdays between Noon and 3 PM (617
287-6919) or send him an email ( with your congrats.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bill Morrissey Tribute

This Thursday there is a concert to honor the memory and accomplishments of the late Bill Morrissey. This is a wonderful thing with his friends flying in at their own expense to perform. Peter Case, for example, is coming in from the west coast.

There are some things about Bill that I want to remember above and beyond his skills as a songwriter and performer. He was generous, especially with younger artists. This was not only because he was a kind and giving person, but because he understood his place in the musical continuum. I remember one afternoon when a young songwriter, and I won't say who, came into the radio station very excited because Bill had talked to them. But not just talked to them - but treated as an artistic equal. And here's a name I will mention. Ask Mark Erelli about the concert he shared with Morrissey when Bill asked him to sing "Birches."

Bill was one of the funniest people I've ever known. His humor came from his humanity and from his incredible observational skills. The same things that made him not just a great songwriter but a great writer.

Though he would probably have denied it, Bill was a sensitive guy. Every mistake he made in his life, and every harm he caused another, lived like a barbed fish hook in his flesh.

Bill was also incredibly courageous. He fought demons all through his life that few of us can imagine. The demons finally took him, but he battled hard, right to the end. And that is the Bill Morrissey I want to remember.

~ Dave Palmater

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Susie Burke and David Surette this week on Live at Noon

Most of the artists I get to interview on Live at Noon each week are songwriters, but I'm equally intrigued by singers who aren't. Now this is not to say that Susie Burke is not a great songwriter. After all she has songs like "Lucky Stars" and "All of Us" to her credit. But much of her repertoire, with partner David Surette, consist of songs written by others. She casts her net wide, performing everything from traditional songs to those written by her contemporaries like Bob Franke, Chuck Hall and Si Kahn. In the video above, Susie and David perform "Stepping out" at the Elysium Arts Folk Club in 2009 (skip to 1:19 for the start of the song).

This year she and David have collaborated on an album of seasonal music called "Wonderland Christmas." In addition to them playing some songs, and perhaps a tune or two, I'll be chatting with them about all of that Live at Noon this Friday. What would you like to know about Susie Burke and David Surette?

~ Dave Palmater

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Top 100 Artist Countdown for 2011!

Who ‘just missed’ being in the Top 100? It’s finally here - the Top 100 Artist Countdown for 2011! Join us all this week, Monday thru Friday from 7am-6pm daily, as we count down the top 100 WUMB Artists as voted by our listeners. Each day, nearly every half hour, we’ll do three song sets featuring the artists that you voted for! For the last five years, Bob Dylan was voted #1, and both Joni Mitchell and Cheryl Wheeler ended up in the top five. Will they repeat? You’ll just have to listen all week to find out! You can check out the list of the twenty performers of who barely ‘just missed’ being included in the Top 100 – some by only one or two votes, at:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Story of "A Family Affair"

At 10 years old, Chico Colvard shot his older sister in the leg -- and ended up exposing a tragic family secret. Nearly thirty years later as a UMass Boston graduate and now adjunct professor, Colvard sparks a chain reaction in a documentary that exposes previously unspeakable actions in his family and the ensuing confusing reactions by members of his family. I have never been so captivated with, or drawn into a story and interview on any of our previous Commonwealth Journal interviews as with this story. Tune in this Sunday night at 7pm as host DeWayne Lehman talks with Chico about his family and his raw, award-winning documentary “Family Affair.” View a piece of the documentary here: FamilyAffairYouTube

- Pat Monteith

Friday, November 11, 2011

CD Review: Brigitte DeMeyer - "Rose of Jericho"

Quite frankly, I'd never heard of her, but I try to give every one a fair shake. Especially when she has very talented friends. One of the first things I look at on an album is who produced it and where. Not much to go on here. I didn't know the producer and it was recorded in Nashville, and really, what performing songwriter hasn't, or at least wants to. It got really interesting, however, when I got out the magnifying glass and checked the personnel. The band on almost every track included not just Will Kimbrough but Mike Henderson. And if that were not enough, Mike Ferris sings backup, Sam Bush plays on several tracks, and the great pedal steel player Al Perkins even makes an appearance. All of this adds up to an album that is worth trying and, in this case, it pays off well. Her voice is different but engaging, the songs are strong in a kind of Nashville way and, of course, the backup is superb. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about the album once you've gotten a chance to hear it starting next week on WUMB.

-Dave Palmater

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This week on Highway 61 Revisited

This Saturday (8am-Noon) on Highway 61 Revisited we'll have equal billing for two very important Youngs (forever young if you will), who are both celebrating birthdays: Jesse Colin Young, solo and w/the Youngbloods as well as Neil Young w/his various band incarnations as well as his solo work for the last 40+ years. I'm still putting the show together; do you have suggestions for what songs to play from either?

- Albert O

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

RIP - Terence Martin

We are saddened to learn of a second loss in our music community with the passing of New York singer-songwriter Terence Martin, to pancreatic cancer. Terence shared the stage with many notable performers including Roseanne Cash, Roger McGuinn and Dar Williams. We’ll most remember his performance at the 2006 Boston Folk Festival where he participated in an incredible song-swap of “Songs from the Heart” along with Jesse Winchester and Red Molly. Our condolences go out to the Martin family.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Billie Hocket Passes at age 89

Billie Hockett quietly passed away on Monday, November 7, 2011, at age 89. As far as anyone knows, it is the only thing that Billie ever did quietly. She was a firecracker, a rebel and a fierce defender and promoter of traditional music, most especially Celtic music through her non-profit Music For Robin concerts. Billie gained international renown by bringing top-notch musicians from overseas to perform in the Boston area. Her house concerts in her hometown of Lexington, Massachusetts, were legendary. She could bring in sell-out crowds to hear musicians the audience had never heard of. Billie was curious, knowledgeable and often irritatingly vocal on matters close to her heart. She did not like to do as she was told and always demanded proof before accepting anything as fact. She was loyal to friends and beloved by them. During the past year, Billie fooled her doctors many times by refusing to give in to failing health. The local and international folk community responded to her son’s requests for messages with enough memories to fill a book, which she treasured. Surrounded by devoted family, Billie Hockett said goodbye to this world the way she lived in it: on her own terms.

- Marilyn Rea Beyer

Monday, November 7, 2011

A trip to China changed Abigail Washburn's life

Abigail Washburn has had one of the most unique starts in music.  She had no intention of becoming a professional musician until a trip to China changed that.  Falling in love with the culture there made her reconsider the culture of her own country.  She now blends a unique mix of folk and bluegrass into her music and has released a new album this year called “City of Refuge.”  She’ll be in the WUMB studios this Wednesday at 2pm for live music and conversation with Dave. Has a trip ever changed your life or career?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Watch Amy Black perform at the WUMB Member Concert

Americana singer-songwriter Amy Black recently performed with her band at a WUMB Member Concert. Whether you were there in the audience and want to relive the show, or want to see it for the first time, you can watch her performance of “One Time” via the WUMB Flix & Pix page here:  Visit the same page if you would like information about how to access the one-hour long concert and you are a Comcast Cable subscriber. The entire concert & interview with Jay Moberg is available for free on Comcast’s XFinity On Demand channel through the end of November.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Joni Mitchell's Birthday

Can you believe it? One of the most influential songwriters of all times, Joni Mitchell turns 68 years old on Monday! Join us as we celebrate Joni’s birthday by featuring her music throughout the decades for a daylong celebration. Let us know what your favorite Joni Mitchell song is, and we’ll try to play it. Joni’s website reports that University of Virginia Professor Eric Lott recently announced he's writing a book about her:

Friday, November 4, 2011

WUMB's Big Read - In the Time of the Butterflies

WUMB has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to conduct the fourth year of a Big Read program in the Boston area. This year we’ll be reading Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. While the activities won’t be taking place until February-May, 2012, we’re currently in the planning stages to find partner organizations and to design activities to celebrate the book. In addition to giving out free copies of the book, we’ll be holding book discussion groups, showing the movie and having the author in for a lecture/discussion. We need lots of ideas about what else we can do. Last year, as part of our Big Read program celebrating Fahrenheit 451, we held a “Mechanical Hound Construction Competition” and created a four-part radio series of “Four Decades of Banned Music.” A few years ago, with To Kill a Mockingbird, we held a songwriting competition based on the themes in the book, and also held a day-long “Mockingbird Festival.”  Preliminary info about our Big Read program for this year can be found at:  What do you have for ideas about what else we can do this year to celebrate In the Time of the Butterflies?

Mickey Hart Collection

We've just gotten word that the American Folk Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress has just released the Mickey Hart Collection, a 25 album series from the Grateful Dead drummer and world-music expert! In celebration, 10 songs from the project are availabale for FREE download! To download the free songs go to Folkways or Mickey Hart, as for the albums themselves, Christmas is but 52 short days away...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tomorrow Live at noon -Alastair Moock.

Alastair Moock's latest family friendly album, These are my Friends, just won a gold medal from the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) and was also chosen as one of Time Out New York's top ten kids' albums of 2011. What else should I ask him about when he's here for Live at Noon on Friday?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vote for the 2011 Top 100 Artist Countdown

The last day you can vote for our 2011 Top 100 Artist Countdown is this Monday, Nov 7th.

For the past five years, Bob Dylan has been #1 and both Cheryl Wheeler & Joni Mitchell have each shown up in the top five. But, there hasn’t been another performer who has consistently made it to the Top Ten! Not Emmylou, not Joan Baez and not even Patty Griffin. Is this the year that Bob Dylan gets dethroned?! Vote today at

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Attention Members! Choose your next giveaway!

Hello loyal Members!

Next week we are letting you choose what you want for our Online Member Giveaway. We have three cd's to choose from. Just vote on the poll to the right of our blog to cast your pick!

If you want the music now, you can buy the albums here:

Ollabelle- Neon Blue Bird

Tedeschi Trucks Band- Revelator

Tinariwen - Tassili

Don't forget to enter this week's Giveaway here [].

-Anita Lee