Notlob Artists in the News
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What's happening in the lives and careers of artists who have played / are schedule to play the acoustic music series?

notloB News...keeping up with notloB's Alumni

notloB Artists in the News

22 January 2013

Emy Phelps’ “Bluegrass Tune”

Emy Phelps set out to write “Dancin’ Round Your Door” as her “offering to the world of bluegrass,” but the song apparently had other ideas. Have a listen:

Phelps is accompanied here by partner Darol Anger (who on this tune has traded his fiddle for an octave mandolin) and mandolinist Sharon Gilchrist. The song— which is featured on Phelps’ latest album— was recorded at anotloB Music concert in Jamaica Plain, Massachustetts last Spring.

Phelps doesn’t claim that her song is bluegrass, nor would I, but I’m also not going to spill any ink trying to demarcate the territory that is or isn’t defined by the bluegrass genre. I think we can all agree that it doesn’t pass theJustice Stewart definition of bluegrass: “I know it when I hear it.”

Hearing a straight-ahead bluegrass tune performed with salt and feeling is revelatory: it’s like having your head dunked in cold, clear water. That’s not an experience that can be compromised or adulterated. But in my view, the folks who experiment at the margins of bluegrass help us to keep reexamining the music. In doing so, they also keep us alert to new ideas. As Phelps says in her introduction to “Dancin’ Round Your Door,” “Stretch your imagination!”

PHELPS, ANGER & GILCHRIST: Dancin' Round Your Door

Katie McNally answers big challenge with élan Whirlwind tour with Carlos Nunez

By Sean Smith, special to the BIRJanuary 7, 2013

Boston-area fiddler Katie McNally already knew it was going to be a busy fall, what with recording her first album, getting ready for her annual stint with the Childsplay ensemble and, basically, living life as a college grad trying to make it as a Celtic musician.
Then, suddenly, opportunity came knocking.

McNally, a Westford native and Somerville resident, got the chance to go on tour in October with Carlos Nuñez, an internationally renowned bagpiper whose extensive resume includes collaborations with The Chieftains, Jackson Browne, Sharon Shannon, and Ry Cooder. It meant a frenzied couple of weeks learning a whole new repertoire to play with musicians she had never met before, followed by a slate of performances (one of them at The Burren in Somerville) interspersed with thousands of miles of travel across North America, and between-gigs downtime that featured a memorable museum tour, sing-alongs in a piano bar, and even a phone conversation with a pop music icon.

All pretty heady stuff for someone who, only six months before, had been finishing up her senior year at Tufts University – and McNally not only enjoyed just about every minute of the experience, but in her view, emerged from it as a better performer.

“The biggest thing I feel I learned from Carlos is the difference between being just a musician and being an entertainer,” explains McNally. “Those involve two skill sets, and just because you have one set doesn’t necessarily mean you have the other. Carlos has both and that’s why he’s so successful.”

McNally started out at age 8 as a classical violinist, but when she was 11 her teacher, Joe Jewett, introduced her to fiddle tunes from Celtic traditions. A class with Catriona MacDonald, a fiddle player from the Shetland Islands, at the Gaelic Roots Festival and Summer School at Boston College inspired her to further explorations of Celtic music, especially from Scotland and Cape Breton. She attended the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School and then studied with Hanneke Cassel, a highly acclaimed Boston-area fiddler in the American-Scottish style.

All the while, McNally was venturing more and more into the concert spotlight, with various bands or as a soloist, and taking on the role of fiddle teacher. Then in 2009, she was invited to join Childsplay, which gathers some of the most celebrated traditional and folk performers from Boston and elsewhere in New England for an annual tour and occasional recordings and concert videos; she has played with the group every year since then.

The past few years also have seen McNally turn increasingly to her own tradition-inspired compositions, while building a partnership with guitarist-mandolinist Eric McDonald. Earlier this year, McNally decided the time was ripe to record a CD, so she enlisted the help of McDonald and other musicians, including friend and mentor Cassel, who agreed to serve as producer. In late summer, McNally launched a campaign to fund her CD project, “Flourish,” on the Kickstarter website; she met her goal in two days, and wound up raising nearly twice the amount she had originally asked for.

Dramatic life events can often have unlikely, nondescript beginnings. So it was, during the recording of “Flourish,” when Cassel mentioned that Nuñez had invited her to go on his first-ever North American tour but, because of scheduling problems and tendonitis in her arm, she doubted she could do it. One day, after Cassel noted her unsuccessful efforts thus far to recruit a replacement, McNally piped up: “I’ll do it.”

“I was almost kidding,” recalls McNally, “because Carlos is so high-profile, and I didn’t have the reputation that Hanneke has. But because she’s worked with me so much, Hanneke had confidence in me, and Carlos trusted her judgment.”

Says Cassel, “Carlos was looking for someone with a similar vibe as mine, and I had no problem recommending Katie. She is, first and foremost, an amazing player and a hard worker. She’s able to learn tunes quickly and very well, and she’s very good with people.”

However spur-of-the-moment her “I’ll do it” comment might seem, McNally says her interest in taking Cassel’s place was not some rash impulse. She recognized that this was a prime opportunity for somebody trying to get established as a musician.

“It was a chance to play at large-sized venues I wouldn’t be able to by myself. It was a way to get my name out there, a jump-start. And, of course, it was a pretty good challenge for me as a musician.”

One aspect of that challenge was taking a crash course in the music of Galicia, the Celtic-influenced region of Spain that is Nuñez’s birthplace. McNally wasn’t completely unfamiliar with Galician tunes, thanks to her stints with Childsplay, but after putting finishing touches on “Flourish,” she set about learning in earnest her new repertoire through sheet music, sound files and even a Skype session with Nuñez himself.

“It was incredible, for all the differences, how Galician music was similar to Scots and Cape Breton,” she says. “Muñeiras, for example, are in 6/8 time like a jig, but they have a Spanish flavor and even an Arab influence, particularly in the harmonies. There also is the commonality of the bagpipe between the Galician and Scottish traditions, although Galician pipes are more subtle and sensitive than the great Highland bagpipes.”

The other challenge that awaited McNally was getting used to the dynamics of an ensemble built around a featured performer, and a very distinctive one at that. Nuñez is known for his rock star-like energy and charisma, as well as his virtuosity, and McNally knew she had some high standards to meet. What’s more, she didn’t have a chance to rehearse with Nuñez until the day of the first show.

Fortunately, notes McNally, she quickly found Nuñez and her new colleagues were a delight. “They’ve been playing and touring together for years, so they are total pros. They were very supportive of me. At the end of the tour, I had four friends.”

Cassel, who has played as a back-up musician to performers like Cathie Ryan, agrees that adjusting to personalities and temperaments is a fact of band life, but by no means an unpleasant one.

“It’s something you just don’t really learn about until you’re on tour,” she says. “I’ve personally found it a lot of fun, getting to interact with different people. And the traveling is awesome.”

For McNally, those nearly four weeks on tour live on as a kaleidoscope of memories, sights, and sensations. There was the stop in Seattle, playing in front of an enthusiastic audience at a concert hall that is home to the city’s symphony orchestra, followed by a huge reception attended by a number of Spanish dignitaries and ex-pats. Then there was the show at Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum, enhanced by a private tour of the museum, with its collection of some 13,000 instruments.

“We were like kids in a candy shop,” says McNally. “It was so cool seeing fiddles from around the world. This was a real spiritual experience, because it showed you the connectedness of different music from different cultures.”

And then there was Minneapolis, where the group had a few days off; the itinerary included a visit to the Mall of America and an evening at a piano bar, where McNally took part in some band sing-alongs of classic hits by the likes of Billy Joel and The Beatles.

One night, hanging out with the guys, McNally heard Nuñez’s brother Xurxo speaking on his cell phone. “There is a beautiful girl here you must talk to,” he said, and handed McNally the phone. At the other end of the line was Jackson Browne, who was celebrating his birthday. McNally wished him many happy returns of the day.

“He was very nice, very complimentary. He told me, ‘You have to be a real monster to play with Carlos.’ ”

It might have been easy to get swept up in all the excitement, but McNally was indeed a quick study – not only of the music she was playing but also of the traveling-musician lifestyle.

“I learned the importance of pacing myself,” she says. “It was key to take time to just chill out, not be overwhelmed by all the travel, the performances, the people we met.”

As the tour went on, McNally’s respect for Nuñez only grew. “I was amazed at how hard Carlos was working, not just at the music but everything else: e-mails or calls to promoters, organizers, radio announcers – he really paid attention to a lot of those details.”
Most of all, however different their personal styles and deportment might be, McNally saw in Nuñez a worthy role model for striking a rapport with one’s audience.

“It sounds simple: standing up rather than sitting down when you play, for example, and smiling a lot more during the performance. But you have to pay attention to these things, because they bring you closer to the people who are watching and listening to you. It’s not being phony; it’s just a way to show the audience that you really care about what you’re doing.”

McNally didn’t have a whole lot of time to kick back when the tour was over. There were still some details on the CD to attend to, and she had the Childsplay tour for which to prepare. December was a bit more low-key, but this month she’ll be playing with McDonald at BCMFest in Harvard Square (January 11 and 12) and on January 18 at the Loring-Greenough House in Jamaica Plain as part of the notloB Parlour Concerts series, as well as recording a new album and concert video with Childsplay. There’s also her CD release concert at Club Passim on January 24.

That may all sound humdrum compared to gallivanting around the country with a quartet of genial, fun-loving Spanish musicians, but McNally is perfectly delighted to be playing close to home.

“I just love being able to have this music, and the people I play it with, in my life,” she says. “I don’t know where it will take me, but considering where I’ve been already, I have to think the possibilities are pretty exciting.”

For more on Katie McNally, see

"This year, the inductees include Twin Cities blues legends Koerner, Ray & Glover featuring Tony "Little Sun" Glover, "Spider" John Koerner and Dave "Snaker" Ray on guitar and vocals. They'll be honored on Nov. 2 at the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Inductee Banquet."
Spiohn Koerner Electra publicity

8/29/12 - From Kristin Andreassen (notloB alumna, with Sometymes Why 6/2/07 and solo (supported by Laura Cortese and Tristan Clarridge) 2/29/08, who is currently touring in Europe:
"Mike + Ruthy's video for "My New York City" is partly filmed in my New York City apartment. Plus th 
e gorgeous lyrics and images from Woody Guthrie's New York City."
Mike and Ruthy will be returning to the Loring-Greenough House for their seventh and eighth appearances, respectively, on November 8. Details above
Enjoy the video.

Geoff Bartley Donates Proceeds of "The Ballad of Dave Rizzuti" to Rebuilding New Orleans

From 3x notloB artist Geoff Bartley (8/18/07, 11/14/08 & 3/7/10)

"Dear friends, fans, and everybody else with no idea how they ever ended up on this scurrilous list,
Following Hurricane Katrina, my friend Dave Rizzuti was so ticked at the  
George W. Bush administration's indifferent response to the destruction in New Orleans that he went down there to help. When he got there, he hooked up with an outfit called Community Collaborations International (CCI). CCI works around the world to restore and rebuild communities that have suffered damage from natural disasters. Dave goes down to the Big Easy every year to help rebuild and has also been to Haiti with CCI to help down there.
I wrote a swampy bluesy song about Dave called... you guessed it... The Ballad of Dave Rizzuti... and sent it to the guy who owns and runs CCI. He liked it and sent it to his marketing guy. I suggested putting it up for sale to benefit New Orleans, and he promptly put it up at with all proceeds going to CCI specifically to help rebuild New Orleans. 
If you go here: you can hear my fabulous song. Give your email and zipcode to CCI in the spaces provided on the page if you want to download my song for free. 
It's a pretty cool song... bluesy and swampy. I sang all the parts, played the basic National steel guitar part, then added mandolin, electric upright bass, and two electric guitar parts... whoa! 
You'll also be given the opportunity to send from $1 to $25 to CCI specifically to help rebuild New Orleans. 
P.S. The page at says "support this artist"... the "artist" is CCI... this is the way all pages at are set up. 

notloBBers Marylou FerranteAlastair Moock, Brendan Hogan lead Woody Guthrie hoots 

From Marylou:

"Wednesday, May 23rd I'll be leading a hootenanny at the ARTS Repertory Theater in Cambridge after the play, the life and music of Woody Guthrie "Woody Sez". I'll be leading Woody Guthrie tunes and other simple folks songs. All are encouraged to bring their voices and instruments and join in! It's going to be a lot of fun. The tunes will be easy to follow basic 1,4 &5.

"I was fortunate to attend the play last night and go to the hoot afterwards as Alastair Moock was leading it. Really enjoyed the play as well as the hoot. There is plenty of room inside the theater to put your instruments safely. I brought mine last night. If you have tickets to the play make sure to check the website below. There are a number of hoots being held. So all you musicians and singers and just plain folkies and okies…. it's really a lot of fun and a wonderful way to pay tribute to such a talented creative man who endured a huge amount of tragedy yet always looked out for folks best interest!

Hope to see you there!
Many blessings,
Marylou Ferrante

Marylou opened for Dennis Brennan at Loring-Greenough House 10/6/07 and featured at the Jackson Homestead 7/99/09. Alastair featured at Loring-Greenough House 5/17/08. Brendan Hogan opened for D. Miraglia and T. Bianchi at Loring-Greenough House 7/20/07 and featured at the Jackson Homestead 7/19/09.

From Jay Ungar, June 6, 2012.
"A new grandchild! Ruthy gave birth to a beautiful baby girl at 2:55pm today. Mother and daughter are in good health."

Photo by Jay Ungar

From Joan Sherman, February 23, 2012.

Bob Franke, the Bard of Moscow

Bob Franke is a two-time (12/22/07 & 3/22/09) notloB alumni.

"Bob Franke writes the kind of songs that will still be sung a hundred years from now." – Christine Lavin

After decades writing and performing songs that have become the delight of English speakers around the world, Bob Franke has been invited to Russia to perform his much-loved creations. In Russia, those who write and sing songs full of depth and meaning are known as “Bards”. So popular are the Bards that they have been known to fill stadiums. Recognized by some Russians as a Bard himself, Bob has been invited by the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin ( to perform two concerts in March accompanied by the chamber orchestra.

If you aren't familiar with Bob's music, then see what has captivated the Russians as well as English- and non-English speakers throughout the world. You may find links to his music at, or I would be glad to send you a live-concert CD. If you are familiar with Bob's music, then now may be a good time to consider bringing Bob to your venue or festival. After all, as of March 2012, Bob will be an international sensation. Perhaps he can be a sensation on your stage as well.   

February 2, 2012nd entertainment

By Sean Smith, special to the BIRFebruary 2, 2012

Brian Conway makes no bones about it: He understands that his particular tutelage in the Irish music tradition was a profoundly rare thing, and he feels very fortunate as a result. “I think that, in my upbringing, I definitely got the music pure,” says Conway, who will bring his widely admired fiddle-playing talents to the Boston area later this month....

 December 16, 2011
notloB Alumna Bronwyn Bird in the cast of the Christmas Revels
Two-time notloB alumna Bronwyn Bird (Blue Moose and the Unbutton Zippers) is appearing in the Christmas Revels at Sanders Theater, December16-29.

August 29, 2011

Follow the Earth Stringband September 8 through October 11 

as they travel the rhythm road!

All members are notloB alumni - Stash (3z), Sam (2x), Eric (1x) and Andy (3x).
The Earth Stringband is
Sam Grisman – Bass, Vocals
Andy Reiner – Fiddle, Vocals
Eric Robertson – Mandolin, Vocals
Stash Wyslouch – Guitar, Vocals

From their website (where one can download nine songs*)
This is Andy Reiner from The Earth Stringband!  We’re all beyond excited to travel to Southeast Asia on The Rhythm Road produced by The State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center.  If you are reading this, you are in the same place that each member of the band will be posting text, videos, and pictures of the people we meet and the places we go.  We’ll be travelling to Laos, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), East Timor, and South Korea.  We hope you will follow our travels as well as download our free album (though please feel free to donate!)  We’re leaving on September 8th and returning on October 11th so expect this site to be updated with new posts every chance we get!  Thank you and come back soon for updates!
Join the Earth Stringband on the rhythm road....

*All songs were recorded Live in Boston, MA and engineered, mixed and mastered by Andy Reiner, Fiddle Barn Productions.
While we are offering this full album for free download in order to reach as many people as possible from around the world, we are full time musicians who make our livings entirely from music.  We poured our hearts, souls, and time into making this music.  - so if you wish to help support us, we are providing this Donate button and we greatly appreciate your support.  Your money goes directly to the band and their livelihood.

Tornado Rider aims for a natural high at The Acoustic Cafe

By Mary Colurso -- The Birmingham News

May 28, 2010, 9:00AM
Tornado Rider  052810.jpgRushad Eggleston of Tornado Rider, center, has been playing the cello since childhood. “It’s such an expressive instrument,” he says. “I can make it scream. I have a bow and I don’t have any frets, and it’s so slippery. I can climb way out into the far reaches of the unknown.”

Read the full article here

Globe West Arts
The Boston Globe

Making traveling musicians feel at home

By Denise Taylor Globe Correspondent / February 18, 2010
Sarah McQuaid will perform next Thursday in a notfarG  House Concert.
 Read the article here.

Rest in peace, WGBH's canceled folk and blues programs.

On November 6, 2009 WGBH announced it was canceling its long-running folk and blues programs in order to become a "single stream" news/talk station.

"Folk on WGBH" and "Blues on WGBH" had been fabulous partners, hosting notloB's artists no fewer than eight times.

From Jim Kweskin, in Supporters of Folk and Blues on WGBH, November 11, 2009.

I can only assume this has something to do with the almighty dollar. Isn't this supposed to be public radio and aren't we the public. Folk music has been a mainstay on WGBH for as long as I can remember. Acoustic artists are as popular as ever and in some ways even more popular then in days gone by. I don't get it. WGB...H should be ashamed of itself. Well, as Ma Joad said, "We're the people and you can't stop us and you can't lick us. We just keep coming, 'cause we're the people."

More information (notloB Music blog, 11/6/09)

Facebook discussion group 

Creating a cozy setting for his folk family

By Jonathan Perry

Globe Correspondent / March 27, 2009

Boston Globe feature article on the series, read full story here.

Announced by JKS on Facebook 11/4/09.  notloB Folk Concerts presented Joy Kills Sorrow with the Boston Boys, May 9, 2009. Congratulations, JKS!



     With its bold new brand of acoustic music, Joy Kills Sorrow pushes right through the envelope and out the other side. The Boston-based string band brings a decidedly modern sensibility to an old-world sound, channeling the prodigious talents of its individual members into elegant arrangements and well-crafted songs. While the group pays due homage to its Bluegrass roots

    -its name refers to one of the first radio stations to broadcast the music of Bill Monroe-the band truly excels in its rich and textured treatment of more contemporary material. Boasting a full arsenal of original songs, Joy Kills Sorrow plumbs the entire spectrum of its spare instrumentation, effortlessly merging influences as diverse as folk, rock, pop, and jazz. The songs that emerge are dark and often funny, ruminating on modern life and love with eloquence and wit. The result is a radical new strain of folk music, one that bravely breaks with tradition even as it salutes the past. Welcome Joy Kills Sorrow! 


November 2, 2009

Malinky nominated for Scottish Trad Folk Band of the Year; Steve Byrne as Scots Singer of the Year

notloB presented Malinky on October 3, 2009.  

Received rom Steve Byrne.  Malinky is..."Very pleased to announce our nomination as Folk Band of the Year in the 2009 Scottish Trad Music Awards, and Steve Byrne as Scots Singer of the Year - if  your loyalties aren't too split already, please take a moment to vote for us! Starts today, ends 20 Nov, award ceremony on 28 Nov - all votes count!"

Congratulations, Malinky and Steve!

October 21, 2009 

Ted Drozdowski of the Boston Phoenix reviews Hogan's "Long Night Coming"

Brendan has performed at notloB three times!

Photo Beth Fridinger

Announced by JKS on Facebook 11/4/09.  notloB Folk Concerts presented Joy Kills Sorrow with the Boston Boys, May 9, 2009.
Congratulations, JKS!



    With its bold new brand of acoustic music, Joy Kills Sorrow pushes right through the envelope and out the other side. The Boston-based string band brings a decidedly modern sensibility to an old-world sound, channeling the prodigious talents of its individual members into elegant arrangements and well-crafted songs. While the group pays due homage to its Bluegrass roots-its name refers to one of the first radio stations to broadcast the music of Bill Monroe-the band truly excels in its rich and textured treatment of more contemporary material. Boasting a full arsenal of original songs, Joy Kills Sorrow plumbs the entire spectrum of its spare instrumentation, effortlessly merging influences as diverse as folk, rock, pop, and jazz. The songs that emerge are dark and often funny, ruminating on modern life and love with eloquence and wit. The result is a radical new strain of folk music, one that bravely breaks with tradition even as it salutes the past. Welcome Joy Kills Sorrow!


October 21, 2009 ~ Ted Drozdowski of the Boston Phoenix reviews Hogan's "Long Night Coming"

Brendan has performed at notloB twice, July 2008 and June 2009. 

Brendan Hogan | Long Night Coming

Self-released (2009)
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  October 21, 2009
Brendan Hogan | Long Night Coming0910_hogan_main" alt="photo of 'Brendan Hogan | Long Night Coming'">
3.0 3.0 Stars





The strength of originals like the wistful “Nothing Belongs to Me” and the rambunctious, blues-fueled “Big Black Car” lies in Brendan Hogan’s chiseled, unhurried performing style and his direct manner of storytelling. The Cambridge songwriter allows each sculpted note of his acoustic guitar to assume its correct emotional weight, and his lightly dusty voice resonates with a Northeastern twang mellowed by a sense of experience that extends well beyond his years and into the roots of his inspirations.

Those include Leadbelly, whose “Goodnight Irene” is potent fodder for Hogan’s worldly delivery, and Porter Wagoner, who’s represented here by a particularly bittersweet “Green, Green Grass of Home.” But Dylan, Robert Johnson, and the Band are also within his distinctly American scope, and so are the sounds of the open prairie and the dark Maine woods.


For the Sake of the Song, Malinky to play Somerville

 BMS talks with the members of Malinky before show on Saturday

Jon Kiparsky | Writer

When we think of traditional Scottish and Irish music today, we usually think of the dance music – the fiddles and flutes, the reels and jigs – and much less of the songs. Since the advent of the big bands in trad music, most notably the Bothy Band, the instrumental side of the music has been the workhorse, with the song relegated to the status of showpiece or afterthought, depending on your point of view. It was not always this way, of course. Until groups like the Bothies and Planxty achieved a sort of rock star status playing in this way, the song was king in the hands of folk revivalists like the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners and the tunes were mostly kept out of view. This Saturday, a young Scottish band will come to Somerville to put the focus back on the songs for the night.

Malinky came together in the pub sessions of Edinburgh to back a singer at a gig. The gig worked, and the band drew some attention, so they kept at it, and now eleven years and several personnel changes later, they’ve released their fourth album and hit on a strong ensemble sound which emphasizes collaboration and blend over individual showmanship. The band’s current lineup includes two of the players on that first gig, Steve Byrne and Mark Dunlop, as well as Fiona Hunter, Mike Vass  and Dave Wood, all of whom joined at different times over the years. Although the membership has changed, the focus of the band has remained constant. “The guiding principle has always been the furthering of traditional song” says founding member Steve Byrne in a recent interview. “Bands going around Scotland in the late nineties who were concentrating on instrumental music – with a few token songs – but there were no bands concentrating fully on songs”.

And Malinky certainly concentrates on songs. Their métier is the ‘English and Scottish popular ballads’ collected during the periodic folk revivals that have come along over the last few hundred years. When he is not touring with the band, Byrne has as perfect a day job as one could imagine. “My background is in ethnology, in folksong study, folksong collecting, and I work in an archive that’s attached to the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh”, he said in a recent interview with Boston Music Spotlight. This is a little like putting the young Bob Dylan to work assembling rhyming dictionaries, or hiring Nick Cave out as a contract killer: seldom does a singer’s day job  consist precisely of the act of assembling their material. Fiona Hunter, who plays cello and sings with the band, also has a background in the study of traditional song, having studied with well-known tradition bearers in the course of her studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, and Mark Dunlop draws on the material of his home turf in County Antrim, in the north of Ireland.

The band draws on this abundance of material to bring lesser-known songs to the stage, as well as intriguing variations on well-known ones. They incline towards the local, to the particular, recording well-known ballads in less-known versions that have a particular resonance for a member of the band. The centerpiece of the band’s recent release, “Fire and Iron”, is a song known on both sides of the Atlantic, here recorded under the title of “Sweet Willie and Fair Annie”, but also known in the Appalachian region as “The Brown Girl”. Byrne was drawn to this particular version because it was collected in the late 1700s from a woman in Arbroath, near where he grew up. “We always try to have that kind of a connection to the songs to give us an extra reason to do them, as well as the fact that they're great songs”, says Byrne. (Guitarist Dave Wood points out that there’s a local connection to Boston as well: the tune the band use is taken from Tim Eriksen’s recording of a song called “Boston”.)

Attendees on Saturday will hear a lot of singing from Fiona Hunter, the band’s cellist. This is a fine thing, to judge from the band’s recordings. Hunter’s voice is an excellent instrument all around, whether she’s singing in a dance tempo, as on “The Broomfield Hill” (a variation on a story which might be classified as “the maiden’s escape from seduction”)  in which she shows her grasp of the puirt a beul (“mouth music”) tradition, or on slower, more lyrically oriented songs like Archie Fisher’s “The Shipyard Apprentice”. This song, a modern composition with a lyric by the great Scottish writer Archie Fisher, is perhaps the best-known of the songs on this album, with its carefully painted scenes from a child’s view of life in Glasgow, “in the shadow of the Fairfield Crane”, during and after the second World War. Hearing it sung by someone who grew up close to where the Fairfield Crane once stood gives some idea of what Byrne means when he speaks of “trying to maintain the relationship and the intimacy of the song... there has to be more than a technical side of singing the song, somebody has to be involved with it.” While this is a fine song in anybody’s hands, the local connection is a vivid reminder that this is a song by someone, and about someone, and not simply a set of words that sound good together. With a bright and brash tone, unabashed but not abrasive, Hunter has the voice to handle this song and the wistful “Road tae Drumleman” as well as “Why Should I?”, which again hearkens to the dance music tradition.

Byrne is also a fine singer as well as being a song collector and scholar, and his contributions to the band’s repertoire, in addition to the old traditionals, include some fine new songs, such as Pete St. John’s  “When Margaret Was Eleven”, a song which can stand next to “Willie McBride” by the Australian Eric Bogle and Lester Simpson’s “Standing in Line”, and indeed with “The Shipyard Apprentice” in the long and noble list of songs deriving from the experience of the two World Wars of the last century.

The band is able to bring all of this disparate material – modern and traditional songs from Scotland, Ireland, and England, with the occasional American tune, sung by three singers – into a cohesive whole due to their fine and sensitive arrangements, which are devised to underscore the lyrics. The band use fiddle, flute, and cello to “follow the moods and dynamics” of the song, to “make complementary statements with the music and the words”, as Byrne put it, “rather than just singing five verses with choruses in between”. The band also allow themselves to make changes to the songs, as every singer has before them. “Quite a lot of alterations”, says fiddler Vass.  Among the changes is the addition of a number of new verses to an old ballad, “Pad the Road Wi’ Me”. The new verses are by Byrne, and it’s a measure of his skill as a writer and his understanding of the tradition that it’s not by any means obvious which are the new verses and which are the old.

Says Byrne, “Ever since the publication of things like the Child ballads, in the 1960s in the Dover edition, people have done all of those songs in various ways, there are landmark recordings by any number of wonderful artists of some of the big ballads, so we try and do something a bit different”. Something different is certainly what they do. What you can expect from the night is a range of songs from throughout a long and rich tradition of ballads, from the seventeenth century up to sometime last week, sung, as the great American writer put it, “for the sake of the song”.

Malinky will perform at the Unity Church of Somerville (6 William Street) on Saturday. Tickets are $17 at the door and more information on the show can be found here. For information on the band, please visit their official website.

Updated On: October 02, 2009

Broken Blossoms

 posted by John on 04.24.09 @ 11:58 am
 Tags: Broken Blossoms, Crooked Still

Broken BlossomsWhen I started learning to play bluegrass music as a teenager in the mid-1970s, the bluegrass mecca was the Washington, DC area. Seldom Scene and The Country Gentlemen were headquartered there, both considered wildly progressive by the traditionalists of that day.

Lexington, KY was also something of a hotbed in the ’70s, with heretical modernists like JD Crowe & The New South and Newgrass Revival emerging there.

These days, the Boston area is drawing talented young string players with a itch to stretch the boundaries of the music, resulting in an active and fecund environment for new music. The success of Crooked Still has surely fueled this movement, as have the twin academic trends of young players in conservatories trying their hand at acoustic string music, and these same schools seeking out students from the bluegrass and traditional music scenes.

I say all that to say this… Broken Blossoms may be the next Boston-based group to emerge from this primordial goo of new music. I’ve been listening to their debut, self-titled EP/CD and there is some beautiful music there, with great promise of more to come.

This gifted young band is fronted by Jenee Halstead on vocals with Andy Cambria on guitar and vocals, David Goldenberg on mandolin, Kimber Ludiker on fiddle, Simon Chrisman on bass and Charlie Rose on banjo. 3 of the 4 tracks on the EP are originals and the arrangements owe a lot to the sound that Crooked Still has pioneered - female vocals out front, with sparse, semi-orchestrated string band accompaniment.

I asked Cambria if the band is bothered by the obvious comparisons to their fellow Bostonians.

 ”No, we don’t mind any Crooked Still comparisons – we’ll take all the Crooked Still comparisons we can get! Those guys are great friends of ours, so it’d be nearly impossible for their vibe not to rub off a little.”

Here are a couple of audio samples, with more available on the band’s MySpace page.

A Wife So Young -  Listen now:   

Preacher -  Listen now:   

Broken Blossoms has been invited to take part in the band competition at DelFest in May, and then at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival in August. Perhaps they won’t be an unknown startup act much longer.

Hanneke Cassel ( 2/28/09) has completed a new album,

For Reasons Unseen, due to be released in the Fall.  See photo shoot pictures here.

Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers & Abi Tapia perform at the Kennedy Center, 5/10/09!

Photo of May 10, 2009 Performance

Inspired by a variety of musical cultures, members of the Boston-based Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers play an eclectic mix of instruments including accordion, ethereal nyckelharpa, and five-string fiddle. Part of the Falcon Ridge Preview Tour 2009.

Play this PerformanceVideo Icon

Four Notlob Artists Participate in Pete's 90th, 5/3/09.

Peggy Seeger, Mike and Ruthy Merenda and Laura Cortese! 

See all the photos here.

The Bowmans (presented April 25, 2009) on BBC radio.

Radio 2 Presenter Bob Harris presents his own pick of the best music, featuring classic tracks and new releases by established and emerging artists from all over the world.
From Claire "...just found out The Bowmans are being broadcast on BBC Radio2 with Bob Harris on May 16! This is the taping we did in London in January. Listen in 6 pm EST (11 pm London time)

Broken Blossoms(presented April 11, 2009) is featured in The Bluegrass Blog.

Liz Davis Maxfield(presented as a member of the Folk Arts Quartet, 4/11/09) is going to Ireland as a Fulbright scholar!

 Liz is a senior at Berklee and a member of the FOLK ARTS QUARTET

Congratulations, Liz!

Updated 5/18/09:  Read "Berklee's First Fulbright" in Berklee News, published 5/8/09.

Eilen Jewell's (presented as a member of the Sacred Shakers 1/31/09) new album, Sea of Tears, is on sale NOW, only through our website!

You won't be able to buy this album in stores until April 21, but you can order it now, only through our website!  We can't wait to share this stunning new album with you.  Click here to listen to sample songs and get your very own copy of the record.

Eilen Jewell's third album, Sea of Tears, fills in a vital, hitherto missing element of her musical persona. "Before I discovered Woody Guthrie and folk music," she explains, "I was listening to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and, later on, the Animals and the Kinks. I love that stuff, and I love to play it."

With Sea of Tears, Jewell and her longtime band of Jason Beek (drums, harmony vocals), Jerry Miller (electric, acoustic, and steel guitars), and Johnny Sciascia (upright bass) wed her elegantly unflinching songwriting with a rustic, pre-Beatles swagger that encapsulates vintage R&B, Midwestern garage rock, Chicago blues, and early rock and rockabilly, while maintaining the haunting, folk-inspired purity that first made her an artist to watch.

Sea of Tears small

Who knew? Gospel songs about the Titanic

by Michael Paulson / February 1, 2009

Boston Globe story about the Sacred Shakers' 1/31/09 concert.

New Eilen Jewell (presented as a member of the Sacred Sakers on 1/31/09) CD due in April ~ On April 21st, Signature Sounds will release Eilen Jewell’s third album, Sea of Tears, a recording that fills in a vital, hitherto missing element of her musical persona. “Before I discovered Woody Guthrie and folk music,” she explains, “I was listening to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and, later on, the Animals and the Kinks. I love that stuff, and I love to play it.”
With Sea of Tears, Jewell and her longtime band of Jason Beek (drums, harmony vocals), Jerry Miller (electric, acoustic, and steel guitars), and Johnny Sciascia (upright bass) wed her elegantly unflinching songwriting with a rustic, pre-Beatles swagger that encapsulates vintage R&B, Midwestern garage rock, Chicago blues, and early rock and rockabilly, while maintaining the haunting, folk-inspired purity that first made her an artist to watch.

Lissa Schneckerburger's (presented 3/15/08) "Song" was listed in the top ten records of '08 by Mojo magazine, fRoots, The Boston Globe, KFAI FM, WKAR FM, and WJZF FM. 

BRIAN WEBB (presented 9/21/07) and ROSE POLENZANI (presented 6/20/07) "Last week, my good friend Brian Webb called me up to say that he was going into the studio -hurrah!- and to ask me if I could come and sing on his new record -yes-. Oh, yes...."  more

MARE WAKEFIELD (presented 11/17/07) on Freight Train Boogie!

 "...featured on the November 15th edition of Freight Train Boogie, a wonderful blues-rock-flavored Americana Podcast out of Santa Rosa, CA...."  more

KRISTIN ANDREASSEN on "A Prairie Home Companion" this weekend!Kristin has graced the Notlob stage twice, once as a part of Sometymes Why (6/07) and once as a solo feature (2/08).

Audio & video

p.s. Keep your eyes and ears open for "Spongy Cactus", her new new/bluegrass project with Jefferson Hamer. more

New GEOFF BARTLEY (9/07 & 11/08) CD, "Blackbirds in the Pie" released @ Notlob 11/15! more

New SOMETYMES WHY (6/07) CD due 1/09! more

New FOLK BROTHERS (11/08)  CD to be released Spring, 2009! more

John Flynn (9/08) is aboard Merle Haggard's  Green Train 2009!!


Creating a cozy setting for his folk family

Notlob concerts, created by Jeff Boudreau (below), take place in venues like the Loring-Greenough House, where Tornado Rider (left) and Bob Franke have played.
Notlob concerts, created by Jeff Boudreau (below), take place in venues like the Loring-Greenough House, where Tornado Rider (left) and Bob Franke have played. (PHOTOS BY BETH FRIDINGER)
By Jonathan Perry Globe Correspondent / March 27, 2009

CAMBRIDGE - Jeff Boudreau is struggling to be heard over the din of a crowd jammed into Toad to hear Avi & Celia, a Cambridge-by-way-of-Burlington, Vt., folk-blues duo with a strong following.

On a bench squeezed into a space to the left of the stage, Boudreau leans forward to explain what compels him to dream up some of the area's most eclectic, and intimate, folk and roots-music concerts - in churches, living rooms, kitchens, and just about any other room with good acoustics. As he talks, he keeps an eager eye on the musicians setting up.

"I try to stay true and present to what I like - I'm not presenting to draw a crowd," Boudreau says of the almost two-year-old music series he's dubbed Notlob, which references a line from a famous Monty Python sketch in which the English town of Bolton is invoked as a failed palindrome (Boudreau happens to live in Bolton, Mass.). "People are starting to trust me," he says. "They're coming to shows not having heard the artist. Producing is like having a personal jukebox. It's a labor of love."

Right before Avi & Celia take the stage, one half of the duo - Celia Young, who possesses a big, brassy voice and the personality to match - cheerfully asks Boudreau for a hand arranging lights. "We moved down here [from Vermont] a year and a half ago, and it was sort of intimidating coming into this scene," Young tells me. "There are so many great musicians, but then all of a sudden, it's like a big family." She turns to Boudreau. "He's out there and does a good job."

This Avi & Celia show isn't a Notlob concert, but the pair is part of a growing network of musical friends Boudreau's made over the years. He even promoted the gig in his latest e-mail newsletter highlighting upcoming folk, bluegrass, Celtic, and other roots-music events in the area. At a dozen downloaded pages of show recommendations, artist bios, and pleas to recruit more volunteers for his series, the monthly missive is pretty ambitious. But then, so is Boudreau.

After the economy slowed and he lost his job as a materials manager for a bio-tech company - where he handled everything from scheduling to purchasing to inventory control - Boudreau decided to put his organizational skills to use. He kicked off the first Notlob concert in June 2007 and has hosted more than two-dozen shows since, most of them intimate "parlor concerts" at the historic 40-seat Loring- Greenough House in Jamaica Plain, as well as a handful of others at the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church in Somerville. Finding an optimum space isn't always an easy task.

"I wanted to present the music in an environment that was conducive to listening," he says of a series that relies on donations and volunteers to meet expenses. "I wanted to build a symbiosis between the musicians and the audience, and that's not possible in a commercial space. I'm always, always looking for that small, old room."

Boudreau describes Notlob as a fluid, constantly moving organism - a state of mind as much as a music series - which is fitting considering all the changing venues. The draw was so consistently strong at the Loring-Greenough House that the caretakers deemed the small dwelling too delicate to handle all the foot traffic. Tomorrow night's double-bill pairing of the highly regarded folks musicians Bob Franke and Martin Grosswendt will also mark the final show (at least for the time being) at Clarendon Hill. Starting with the April 11 concert featuring Broken Blossoms and the Folk Arts Quartet, Notlob will move to the Park Avenue Congregational Church in Arlington. And on May 16, a new Notlob series named the "Concerts in the Kitchen" debuts at the Newton History Museum at the Jackson Homestead with a performance by Celtic music standouts Sean Smith, Katie McNally, and Doug Lamey. And yes, the performance space is actually the homestead's former kitchen.

"The concerts always have a warm atmosphere and are fun to play," says Medford singer-songwriter Alastair Moock, who's been a Notlob participant. "From a musician's perspective, I really appreciate the effort Jeff puts into his shows. Nobody on the Boston folk scene works harder to pull a concert together."

Boudreau, who jokes that he's "older than the Worcester hills," though he's actually only 55, dates his involvement with folk music back to his days growing up in Grafton, not far from the iconic Old Vienna Kaffeehouse in Westborough where he used to go to catch folk acts.

"All of my life I've been into the music - traditional folk music like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie," Boudreau says. As a teenager, he was also turned on to the emerging folk-rock acts of the day, such as the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, and Neil Young. "I had friends who had great musical taste and would introduce me to the great blues players. So I'd be listening to Muddy Waters while everyone else would be listening to the Monkees." Boudreau laughs impishly, and the noise onstage swallows up his voice. He doesn't seem to mind.

Know about something cool on the local music scene? E-mail Jonathan Perry at

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Who knew? Gospel songs about the Titanic

Email|Link|Comments (3)Posted by Michael PaulsonFebruary 1, 2009 03:47 PM


I have to admit that country gospel is not a genre of music with which I can claim any familiarity, but last night I stopped by the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church in Somerville to hear the Sacred Shakers, a group of local roots musicians who get together every few months to play. Although their music has quite a bit of Christian content, they said last night was the first time they had played in a church. One song particularly struck me -- their cover of a Bessie Jones adaptation of a gospel song about the sinking of the Titanic. I had no idea that there was a set of religious songs about the Titanic, but, sure enough, the Encyclopedia of the Blues details (under the heading "Accidental Disasters") a number of songs about the Titanic, often with moralizing lyrics. The version popularized by Jones, and recorded by the Sacred Shakers on their album, goes like this:

God moves on the water, April the 14th day.
God moves on the water, everybody had to run and pray.

Now Titanic left Southampton, with all their sport and game.
But when they struck that iceberg, I know their mind was changed.

Their mothers told their daughters, on a pleasure trip they may go.
But when they struck that iceberg, they haven't been seen anymore.

Warned by a freight boat, Captain Smith did not take heed.
Instead of giving a warning, he ran with greater speed.

One John Jacob Astor, a man with pluck and brains,
While all this great ship was sinking, all the women he tried to save.

He kissed his wife one last time, when the boiler it did explode,
He helped her to the lifeboat, saying, “I won't see you anymore.”

The story of the shipwreck is almost too sad to tell.
One thousand and six hundred went down forever to dwell.

Well, the 14th day of April, it was in nineteen hundred and twelve.
The ship had a wreck by the iceberg; It went down forever to dwell.

Who knew?

(Photo by David Kamerman of the Globe staff.)


 Brian Webb and Rose Polanzani

This is great news, I believe Brian's last CD was produced last century!

From Rose Polenzani

Rose Polenzani performed (with Sharon Lewis) on June 20, 2007.

Brian Webb appeared solo on September 21, 2007.

Rose Cousins was to have performed that October, but we couldn't get the work papers in order.

Recording with Brian Webb

Last week, my good friend Brian Webb called me up to say that he was going into the studio -hurrah!- and to ask me if I could come and sing on his new record -yes-. Oh, yes. There is nothing I would love better. Brian is one of those people I would drop anything for - and I did drop an awful lot on that bitterly cold Wednesday. I woke early and called out of work, rousted my sweet wonderful friend Rose Cousins from her futon (she was staying with us for a few days in the middle of a tour), and we headed down to Harvard Square to pick up coffees and a rental car.

The drive was about three hours that morning. Rose played some rough mixes off her friend Jenn Grant’s new record. Rose sang on the record - it’s gorgeous! I love adventurous, orchestral, humble productions like this new album… watch for it out in February. I played Rose our live-at-club-passim cover of “lonesome polecat” - an mp3 I’m going to post on this site very soon -and we listened to the Radiohead tribute from Club Passim as well. Our directions had a good sense of humor: “Go left off the off ramp (even though signs indicate that there’s nothing of interest to the left).” This was true. There were a bunch of signs telling us to GO RIGHT!!! But we didn’t. And we made it there just fine.

Inside the studio, the boys were already recording. The studio was beautiful - remote - with a wood-burning stove and a paradoxically warm feeling way out in the cold vermont hills. Pete Weiss took pictures (he owns the place I think, and was engineering the record) with a gorgeous, professional-looking camera - I have the memory of him associated with a shutter-clicking sound, but I don’t even know it that sound is true or if I made it in my heart everytime his lens popped up around a corner.

Rose Cousins and I sang harmony on “That’s where I’ll be” first, and then I got to belt it out with Brian on “Changed by Love”. I thought we were done at that point, because “Changed by Love” had taken several passes to complete. But then Brian came out with his guitar and announced that he and I were going to work up a version of “Bird on a Wire.” Originally I think he meant for it to be just the two of us singing, with himself playing the guitar. But I absurdly reached for my baritone ukulele, almost just to be difficult. I brought the thing, I might as well play it, even if I just strum along, I thought. But ultimately, I recorded a solo that day!!! My first recorded solo on a stringed instrument (I think. My self-congratulatory crowing sounded a little deja-vu to my ears). The arrangement stretched out with Austin Nevins on banjo (also first-time soloist on the banjo), and Jeremy Curtis on the upright bass. It was such a lovely experience. The song took its time, had a sense of humor, and felt deadly serious all at once. I don’t know how Brian and I didn’t bust out laughing from staring into each other’s eyes during the song. I think we really meant it.

“Like a baby, stillborn, like a beast with it’s horn,
I have torn everyone who’s reached out to me.
But I swear by this song, and by all that I have done wrong,
I will make it all up to thee.”

-”Bird on a Wire” by Leonard Cohen

Mare on Freight Train Boogie!

Mare co-featured with Dan Gonzalez on November 17, 2007


We had a song featured on the November 15th edition of Freight Train Boogie, a wonderful blues-rock-flavored Americana Podcast out of Santa Rosa, CA.

It's up on iTunes -- so you can hear it too. It seems to take several minutes to load on iTunes, so you can click and then go make a cup of tea and be back in time to listen--and be sure you load the November 15th show.

The Blog link...
The iTunes page...

"Freight Train Boogie Podcast Show number 6 features a fine collection
of Americana artists.... including The Tejas Brothers, Danielle Talamini, David
Lykins, The Dixons, Adam Klein, Mare Wakefield, Axton Kincaid, Paul Rishell & Annie
Raines, Hang Jones, Blue Mountain and Wil Forbis and the Gentlemen Scoundrels"
Americana New Releases blog

Kristin Andreassen on "A Prairie Home Companion"

Kristin Andreassen on "A Prairie Home Companion" this weekend

Kristin has graced the Notlob stage twice, once as a part of Sometymes Why (6/07) and once as a solo feature (2/08). 

Tune in to "A Prairie Home Companion" for a real treat! 

Audio & video

p.s. Keep your eyes and ears open for "Spongy Cactus", her new new/bluegrass project with Jefferson Hamer.

Hey everybody! I'm sitting here at the St. Paul Hotel in Minnesota and I'm super excited to play on A Prairie Home Companion for the next two nights. Here's the deal:

Friday, November 21 • 7:30pm
Live theater show -- not broadcast for radio, but you can come if you're here!

Saturday, November 22 • 5pm
Theater show & live radio broadcast.
See for a complete list of radio stations and times.

Both shows are here:
The Fitzgerald Theater
10 East Exchange Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
Tickets & info: 651-290-1195;

I'll be joined by my good friends Jefferson Hamer (guitar), Emma Leahy-Good (pattycake) & Bryn Davies (bass, oh yeah)

Geoff Bartley's "Blackbirds in the Pie"

Geoff has performed on the Notlob stage twice, August 18, 2007 and November 15, 2008.

Having the CDs signed allows them to play back in stereo, and also allows you to hear all the other instruments . . . a little trick I learned from Tom Paxton.
~ Geoff

Any Geoff Bartley concert is a treat, but those who attended his concert this past Saturday in Somerville experienced something very special. In an extended set lasting more than an hour he performed several selections from "Blackbirds in the Pie". I was very produce to have played a small part in this story.

New CD to be released this fall IT'S HERE!
Come to the Notlob show tonight and get it hot off the press!

A new CD of seventeen songs and instrumentals, half of them originals, is due out in the fall of 2008. Material ranges from a humorous version of Bessie Smith's Send Me to the `Lectric Chair with a guest appearance by Billy Novick on clarinet to the heart-warming Song of Imaginary Gifts to the personal and mystical Open Any Door, both Bartley originals. Production values range from solo resonator guitar to full band.

"Blackbirds in the Pie" is

  • CandyMan ~ Rev. Gary Davis
  • I Could Dance All Night to the Blues ~ Geoff Bartley
  • Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair ~ George Brooks
  • I Fall Up ~ Ed White
  • Who Do You Love ~ Elias McDaniel (aka Bo Diddley)
  • Moonrise ~ Geoff Bartley
  • Play the Cards the Way They Lie ~ Geoff Bartley
  • Bozos on the Road #2 ~ Geoff Bartley
  • Lemonade Redoux ~ Geoff Bartley
  • The Song of Imaginary Gifts ~ Geoff Bartley
  • Raleigh and Spencer ~ Traditional
  • Moonset ~ Geoff Bartley
  • Backwater Blues ~ Geoff Bartley
  • God Bless the Grass ~ Malvina Reynolds
  • Central Square ~ Tom Paxton
  • Redemption ~ ~ Geoff Bartley
  • Open Any Door ~ Geoff Bartley

Geoff: acoustic, resonator, and electric guitars played fingerstyle, flat picked, and with slide, electric bass guitar, harmonica, drum machine, kalimba, cymbol, ocarina, and "vocals"; Billy Novick: clarinet on Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair; Paul Rishell: pedal steel guitar on I Fall Up.

"Geoff is an amazing player, he writes wonderful songs that speak to the heart and if that weren't enough, he is a great person who really cares about folk and roots music and the people who make it." ~ Brad Paul, Producer / Host "Folk on WGBH" 89.7fm, Boston.

Get thee to Geoff's website or to to the Cantab on a Monday or Tuesday to purchase this instant classic, my highest recommendation! 


Sometymes Why was Notlob's first concert, June 2, 2007.   Its members have also appeared subsequently as solo and special guest artists.

From Kristin "Sometymes Why is finishing a new album this month. It's incredible (if I do say so myself...). It's coming out on Signature Sounds in February of next year. Stay tuned for CD release tour dates in January, February, March & April"


A new CD of seventeen songs and instrumentals, half of them originals, is due out in the fall of 2008. Material ranges from a humorous version of Bessie Smith’s Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair with a guest appearance by Billy Novick on clarinet to the heart-warming Song of Imaginary Gifts to the personal and mystical Open Any Door, both Bartley originals. Production values range from solo resonator guitar to full band.  Geoff's website.


I spoke with Jack Hardy at the Taunton River Folk Festival and was able to confirm it will be out some time next Spring!  At their sanctuary concert, David said "It will be 50% my original songs, 50% Jack's original songs, 50% traditional covers and 50% covers of other composers' songs.

Geoff Bartley goes Hollywood

Geoff Bartley (8/08 & 11/08) A few seconds of my song A Letter from Prison (from my 1998 CD "One Kind Word") is in the movie "The Lucky Ones" starring Rachel MacAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Pena released yesterday (Friday, September 26).  It's an independent film from Lionsgate and will be shown only in some theatres.  The recording is by the progressive Nashville bluegrass band, The Infamous Stringdusters, who recorded a beautiful version of A Letter from Prison on their first Sugar Hill CD "Fork in the Road" released February 2007.  Some members of the Stringdusters met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and I often hired them to play at the Cantab in various line-ups under various names.  The Stringdusters are currently touted in bluegrass publications as the best bluegrass band in the US, followed closely by The Del McCoury Band.  Anyway, Jean Schwartz (my representative) and I went to see the movie yesterday and liked it.  It's a character study with an amorphous story line.  The recording of A Letter from Prison plays in the background of an indoor scene where the three principals are looking at Hummers.  The scene appears roughly half an hour into the movie and the song plays for maybe eight seconds.  As usual, the song credits are listed last in the credits at the end of the movie.  Credits for A Letter from Prison appear on the left and everything is spelled right.  Woo-hoo!


Mike and Ruthy have appeared together as a Notlob  feature twice (June 9, 2007 and June 28, 2008); Ruthy has also appeared as a member of Sometymes Why (June 2, 2007).

From: "Mike and Ruthy"

To: (me)

Subject:  Ruthy on David Letterman - Monday, 9/29

Date:Sunday, September 28, 2008 8:50:30 PM

Hello Everybody,

This is a quick email to let you know that Ruthy will be fiddling and singing with Pete Seeger on David Letterman on Monday, September 29th.
(Yes, that's tomorrow . . . or tonight, depending on when you get this email!)

I hope you can tune in,



John Flynn (9/20/08) will be riding Merle Haggard's GREEN TRAIN

"The first thing I remember knowin’/Is a lonesome whistle blowin’.
The opening line from the 40-year-old classic "Mama Tried" helped establish Merle Haggard’s love of trains, and he’s using the locomotive as a symbol for environmental change with the spring 2009 launch of The Green Train.

Tristan Clairridge (2/29/08) has once again claimed first prize in the National Old Time Fiddlers' Contest in Weiser, Idaho! 

 Ruthy Merenda's career is profiled in "Cover Lay Down" "For a young folk musician, fiddle and uke player and vocalist Ruth Ungar Merenda has gone through a surprisingly large amount of performing groups and incarnations. Starting off as a childhood sidegirl determined not to follow in the footsteps of her mother, luthier and singer-songwriter Lyn Hardy, and her father Jay Ungar, who with Ruthy's stepmother Molly Mason is a staple of the New England contradance and fiddlefolk revivals, Ruth headed off to Bard College, and from there to NYC, where she tried to make a go of it as an actress....."

Older news

Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson (4/19/08) will be interviewed by Dave Palmateron Friday, April 18 at noon (EDT). WUMB, 91.9fm, streaming live at

Flynn (6/20/08) -

Local Music Week 2008 is just around the corner (March 24-28). Listen in all week long to hear back to back live sets from you favorite local artists. Acts already confirmed include: Flynn, Ryan Montbleau, Mieka Pauley, The Everyday Visuals, and Antje Duvekot.

Lissa Schneckenburger (3/15/08)  will be the special guest vocalist with Irish super group Solas for all their shows in the month of March.(Go to if for some reason you’ve been hiding in a hole for the past ten years and have never heard them before, but seriously, shame on you!Lissa says “They are one of my favorite bands”).  She’ll be with them in CO, PA, and NC

Uncle Earl (Kristin Andraessen, 6/2/07 & 2/29/08) The album "Waterloo, TN" has won Folk Alliance's best album of the year! The award will be accepted February 22.

Kristin Andraessen interview in Gibson guitar magazine. Months before Alison Krauss was holding court with Robert Plant in sessions that would yield Raising Sand, all-girl supergroup Uncle Earl were holed up with John Paul Jones in a Tennessee studio, recording their sophomore album, Waterloo, Tennessee, under his watchful eye.

Dan Gonzalez(11/17/07) been selected as one of eight singer/songwriters to compete in the finals of the Plowshares contest on March 15 in Philadelphia.

Pat Wictor (12/15/07) Featured in DIRTY LINEN #134 (Feb/March 2008)

Each one of Pat Wictor's releases contains a stunner of a song. 2003's Temporary Stay has Fred Neil's "The Dolphins." Once done by Tim Buckley as an ethereal wonder, the song is given an easy grounding in Wictor's hands, his transcendent lap slide guitar weaving a warm tapestry behind his elegant vocals. Waiting for the Water boasts his own nearly a cappella tent-revival-like gem "Love Is the Water," while the recent Heaven Is So High, and I'm So Far Down virtually shines due to his emotional rendition of the late Dave Carter's "When I Go."...

Corey DiMario's (3/15/08) New Blog

Corey, who will be appearing with the Lissa Schneckerberger band, has completed studio work for the new Crooked Still CD.

"Corey, has just started a new blog. He'll be posting his thoughts all week."

Corey's blog.

Ruthy and Mike Merenda (6/2/07 & 6/9/07) These two members of The Mammalsare the proud new parents of a very tiny mammal; William Puck Merenda was born on January 28, 2008. The whole family is doing very well, and we wish them all the best!

Elana Arian selected as Editor Picks: Top 25 CDs of 2007

Corey DiMario (Crooked Still) & Lissa Schneckenburger (Hilali) (3/15/08) were married in November.