Sunday, November 30, 2008

Playlist: The Moonshine Show - 30 November 2008

Today's show was a rollicking ride (in part because I needed to switch studios mid-show in order to conduct a phone interview and without anyone else in the station to help me out). The centerpiece was a 15-minute phone interview with the great Laurie Lewis, who told us about her Thanksgiving and show last night at the Freight & Salvage, a new solo recording project and her upcoming East Coast tour. (She hits the Emelin Theatre in Mammaroneck, New York, on Friday night and also stops in Wilmington, Delaware; East Hartford, Connecticut; and Schenectady, New York.) We gave away two more pair of tickets to see the Seldom Scene at B.B. King's next Sunday, and we wrapped up with some super-fast Buzz Busby mandolin and then a classic John Hartford cut.


The Moonshine Show - 89.9 WKCR-FM, NYC
Sunday 30 November 2008 - 10 a.m. to Noon
Host: Matt Winters

Seldom Scene; "Rollin' and Tumblin'"; _Scene It All_ (Sugar Hill)


The Goins Brothers; "Nine Pound Hammer"; _Take This Hammer_ (Rebel LP)

The Johnson Mountain Boys; "John Henry, The Steel Drivin' Man"; _The Johnson Mountain Boys_ (Rounder LP)

The Bluegrass Album Band; "Lonesome Wind Blues"; _Volume Four_ (Rounder LP)


Cherryholmes; "Devil in Disguise"; _Don't Believe_ (Skaggs Family)

John Lawless; "The Guilty Pig"; _Five & Dime_ (Copper Creek)

Chatham County Line; "Saro Jane"; _Route 23_ (Yep Roc)

Peter Rowan; "I'm Just a Used to Be"; _The First Whipporwill_ (Sugar Hill)


Seldom Scene; "Hometown Blues"; _Scenechronized_ (Sugar Hill)

Seldom Scene; "She's More to Be Pitied"; _Like We Used to Be_ (Sugar Hill)

Pine Mountain Railroad; "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing"; _Alone with Forever_ (Steeltown)

Old & In the Way; "Wild Horses"; _Breakdown_ (Acoustic Disc)


Dry Branch Fire Squad; "Goin' Up on the Mountain"; _Golgotha_ (Rounder LP)

Chris Coole; "Hail Against the Barndoor"; _Old-Time Banjo Festival_ (Rounder)

Ginny Hawker; "Long Black Limousine"; _Letters from My Father_ (Rounder)

Rhys Jones & Christina Wheeler; "Grub Springs"; _Starry Crown_ (Vigortone)


Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands; "99 Year Blues"; _The Golden West_ (Hightone)


LIVE Phone Interview with Laurie Lewis


Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands; "Before the Sun Goes Down"; _The Golden West_

Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum; "Alaska"; _Guest House_ (Hightone)

James Alan Shelton; "Road to Columbus"; _Half Moon Bay_ (Rebel)

Larry Sparks; "Don't Neglect the Rose"; _Bound to Ride: The Best of..._ (Rebel)


Ralph Stanley with Gillian Welch; "Gold Watch and Chain"; _Clinch Mountain Country_ (Rebel)

Ralph Stanley II; "Jealousy"; _Stanley Blues_ (Rebel)

Alan Munde; "Sally Goodin'"; _Festival Favorites Revisited_ (Rounder)

The Reno Brothers; "I Love You"; _Acoustic Celebration_ (Pinecastle)


James King; "Saginaw, Michigan"; _The Bluegrass Storyteller_ (Rounder)

Buzz Busby; "Mandolin Tango"; _Going Home_ (Starday) [X2]


John Hartford; "Bye-Bye"; _Morning Bugle_ (Rounder)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Impressive Tony Trischka

Rumor has it that Tony Trischka made an appearance at Andy Statman's show at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research yesterday evening before heading over to Joe's Pub to play his own show! Trishcka wins this week's Urban Road Warrior Award.

Rumor further has it that when Tony took the stage with Andy, he was greeted with a loud request for "Dueling Banjos."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Playlist: Womenfolk (November 23, 2008)

Sunday Jonatha Brooke called in for a live conversation about her new Woody Guthrie inspired project called The Works. We played some cuts from the album and gave away some tickets to her December 1st show at the Guthrie Theater. If you missed the show, you can hear the archived version here.

Next Sunday tune in for my annual "Home & Hearth" special, celebrating food, family and the home place. Norah Rendell & Brian Miller will join us in the studio to play some Irish music and give us a sneak peak of our next Womenfolk concert on December 7th. Hope you have a wonderful holiday and that you and your family tune in for this special Thanksgiving themed Womenfolk!


WOMENFOLK (November 23, 2008)
Hosted by Ellen Stanley.
Fresh Air Community Radio, KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis/106.7 FM St. Paul
Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
*New Releases
**Womenfolk Theme Song

**Kris Delmhorst / Everything Is Music / Strange Conversation / Signature Sounds

Anais Mitchell / Your Fonder Heart / The Brightness / Righteous Babe
*Anais Mitchell & Rachel Ries / Come September / Country e.p. / Righteous Babe

*Molly Venter / Happier Now / Love Me Like You Mean It / Pavilion Entertainment
Kasey Chambers / Stronger / Wayward Angel / Warner Bros.

Lynn Miles / You’re Not Coming Back / Unravel / True North
Cheryl Wheeler / Lighting Up the Mighty Mississippi / Sylvia Hotel / Philo

[Womenfolk Find - Featured Artist of the Month]
Emily Kurn / Mississippi Moon / Things Change / Self
Dixie Chicks / Long Time Gone / Home / Columbia
*Kate Campbell / Fordlandia / Save the Day / Large River Music

*Nikki & The RueMates / New Bumble Bee / We All Live Together / Self
Gillian Welch / Honey Now / Hell Among the Yearlings / Almo
Lucinda Williams / Circles and X's / Little Honey / Lost Highway

[Behind Twin Cities Women’s Calendar]
Patty Larkin / Bound Brook / La Guitara / Vanguard
Memphis Minnie / Let's Go to Town / La Guitara / Vanguard
*Jonatha Brooke / My Battle / The Works / Bad Dog Records

*Jonatha Brooke / Little Bird / The Works / Bad Dog Records
*Jonatha Brooke / You'd Ought to Be Satisfied / The Works / Bad Dog Records

[Live Interview with Jonatha Brooke]

*Jonatha Brooke / Sweetest Angel / The Works / Bad Dog Records
The Story / Love Is More Thicker Than Forget / Grace in Gravity / Green Linnet

Kris Delmhorst / Water, Water / Strange Conversation / Signature Sounds

*Ellis / City on Fire / Music to Life Finalist Showcase 2008/2009 / Public Domain Foundation
Kate McDonnell / Fires / Where the Mangoes Are / Appleseed

*Lucy Kaplansky / Manhattan Moon / Road Trip: American Singer Songwriters / Feed Them With Music

I Want to Play in Alison's Band

On yesterday's show, I played Charlie Sizemore's song "Alison's Band" as part of a brief birthday tribute to the singer and guitarist who first entered the bluegrass world as a member of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys (following on the heels of the classic line-up that featured Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs).

The song, which was nominated for Song of the Year at the IBMA this year, is a ton of fun -- about wanting to be a member of the best-selling band in bluegrass history.

Take it away, boys:

Playlist: The Moonshine Show - 23 November 2008

I thought that it was a pretty fun and exciting Moonshine Show yesterday!

We started off with a seasonally appropriate tune, and then we played some music from Tony Trischka, who be appearing on Tuesday night at Joe's Pub in support of his excellent CD Territory on the Smithsonian Folkways label, and then we also played music from Laurie Lewis, who appears at the Emelin Theatre on December 5th, and the Seldom Scene, who will be at B.B. King's on December 7th. (We gave away a pair of tickets to the Seldom Scene show and will have two more pair for giveaways next Sunday!)

Then we turned things over to our intern Logan, who gave us a lesson on the mandolin technique of Bill Monroe. I played some music featuring Charlie Sizemore, who was celebrating his 48th birthday. Our other intern -- and now licensed WKCR programmer -- Jeff programmed two sets of ballads. And then we wrapped up the show with a couple of bluegrass classics: "Viva Las Vegas" and "Superfreak."


The Moonshine Show - 89.9 WKCR-FM, NYC
Sunday 28 November 2008 - 10 a.m. to Noon
Host: Matt Winters (with Logan Ledger and Jeff Kandel)

David Grier; "Turkey in the Straw"; _I've Got the House to Myself_ (Dreadnought)


Tony Trischka; "Molly and Tenbrooks"; _Territory_ (Smithsonian Folkways)

Dan Crary; "Salt Creek"; _Bluegrass Guitar_ (Sugar Hill)

David Grisman Bluegrass Experience; "Rock Hearts"; _DGBX_ (Acoustic Disc)

Blue Highway; "Some Day"; _Lonesome Pine_ (Rebel)


Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands; "Live Forever"; _The Golden West_ (Hightone)

Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum; "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes"; _Guest House_ (Hightone)

Seldom Scene; "Mama Tried"; _Scenechronized_ (Sugar Hill)

Seldom Scene; "Walking the Dog"; _Scene It All_ (Sugar Hill)


[Logan's Mandolin Set I]

Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys; "Letter from My Darling"; _1950-1958_ (Bear Family)

Nashville Bluegrass Band; "Baby Blue Eyes"; _My Native Home_ (Rounder LP)


[Logan's Mandolin Set II]

Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys; "Monroe's Hornpipe"; _1950-1958_

Mike Compton; "Old Mountaineer"; _Stomp_ (Acoustic Disc)


[Charlie Sizemore - b. 23 November 1960]

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "Somebody Loves You, Darling"; _Lonesome and Blue_ (Rebel LP)

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "The Family Who Prays"; _Child of the King_ (Rebel LP)

The Charlie Sizemore Band; "Devil on a Plow," "Alison's Band"; _Good News_ (Rounder)

Charlie Sizemore; "Me and Jesus"; _The Story Is... The Songs of Tom T. Hall_ (Rebel)


[Jeff's Old-Time Death Ballads Set I]

Paul Joines; "Hanging of Georgie," "Green Willow Tree"; _Ballads and Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains: Persistence and Change_ (Asch LP)


[Jeff's Old-Time Death Ballads Set II]

Bob Baker and the Pine County Boys; "Snow Dove"; _Mountain Music Bluegrass Style_ (Folkways LP)

Buell Kazee; "Wagoner's Lad"; _Anthology of American Folk Music_ (Smithsonian Folkways)


Dailey & Vincent; "Sweet Carrie"; _Dailey & Vincent_ (Rounder)

James Reams, Walter Hensley and the Barons of Bluegrass; "Wild Card"; _Wild Card_ (Mountain Redbird)

The Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show; "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone"; _In Full Color_ (Rebel)

Junior Sisk & Rambler's Choice; "You Let the Dog Off the Leash"; _Blue Side of the Blue Ridge_ (Rebel)


Bill Christophersen; "East Tennessee Blues," "The Flood of '57"; _Hell & High Water_ (self-released)

Silk City; "Think It Over One Time"; _Time_ (Sliced Bread)

The Grascals; "Viva Las Vegas"; _The Grascals_ (Rounder)

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby; "Superfreak"; _Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby_ (Legacy)


Dry Branch Fire Squad; "A Distant Land to Roam"; _Thirtieth Anniversary Special_ (Rounder)


Next Week: We'll talk with Laurie Lewis about her December 5th appearance at the Emelin Theatre in Mammaroneck.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Bless Lorraine...

Ben calls the following soon-to-be-seasonally-appropriate video to our attention:

The real action highlight comes at about 2:00 in.

It's related to a previous post here.

Why I Love Iowa

So last week I went to play my second Mother Banjo show in two months in the great state of Iowa. I was reminded how much I love our neighbor to the south. Here are a few reasons why:

1) People there are generous. All the Iowans I've met tip musicians and baristas well, support homegrown talent, buy music and art and invite you to be a part of their communities, even if they know you are just passing through.

2) The audiences in big and small towns are fantastic--enthusiastic, engaged and participatory. I was blown away by my first show in Iowa. I played in Spencer at Shaky Tree Coffee, and the packed house started singing and clapping with "Wade in the Water" without any invitation. Incidentally, they had rhythm and nice singing voices.

3) Iowa is home to many great music venues like the legendary Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake and the Ritual Cafe in Des Moines, where I played last week. The Ritual has great food (try the sandwiches!) and is run by two very cool women. The Shaky Tree in Spencer, Iowa (pictured here) is a great coffee shop, music venue and art gallery. This unique space was started by singer-songwriter and painter Chad Elliott. It is a cozy place that brings together the community and invites a variety of touring musical talent.

4) It produces great writers and musicians--Greg Brown, Dave Moore, The Pines, Joe & Vicki Price, Radoslav Lorkavic and my pal Chad Elliott.

5) It is not Illinois. No offense to all the lovely people I know in Illinois, but driving through your state sucks. As soon as you cross into the state, you're hit up with a hefty toll, huge gas prices, congested traffic, constant construction and awful roads (where exactly do those tolls and gas taxes go anyway?). Obviously there are great things about Illinois--Lake Michigan, Chicago, our next President, the home to the great blog songs: illinois--but driving through it is not recommended.

6) It is politically engaged. As the home to the first caucus of every presidential campaign, Iowa is interested in getting to know our future leaders and takes the job of selecting their favorite candidate seriously.

7) Its evocative rural landscape has inspired many great songs--Dar Williams' "Iowa," Susan Werner's "Barbed Wire Boys" and countless Greg Brown tunes.

8) It's close to Minnesota!

Playlist: Womenfolk (November 16, 2008)

We welcomed Mary Everest in to the studio to play live and talk about the benefit event happening this Saturday at the 331 Club. If you missed it, check out the archived edition here.

This Sunday tune in for a conversation with Jonatha Brooke about her new collection of Woody Guthrie songs and her December 1st show in Minneapolis!


WOMENFOLK (November 16, 2008)
Hosted by Ellen Stanley.
Fresh Air Community Radio, KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis/106.7 FM St. Paul
Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
*New Releases
**Womenfolk Theme Song

**Kris Delmhorst / Everything Is Music / Strange Conversation / Signature Sounds

*Annnabelle Chvostek / The Sioux / Reslience / Borealis
*Rosalie Sorrels / Starlight on the Rails / Strangers in Another Country: The Songs of Bruce “Utah” Phillips / Red House

Polecat Creek / Leaving Eden / Leaving Eden / Self
Anais Mitchell / Mockingbird / Hymns for the Exiled / Waterbug
*The Weepies / Little Bird / Hideaway / Nettwerk

[Womenfolk Find - Featured Artist of the Month]
*Emily Kurn / Hotel Room / I’m Just Like You / Self
*Erica Wheeler / Apache Motel / Good Summer Rain / Blue Pie Music

*Lucy Kaplansky / Ten Year Night / Red House 25: A Silver Anniversary Retrospective / Red House
*Lucy Wainwright Roche / Chicago / 8 More / Self
Dar Williams / Iowa / Out There Live / Razor & Tie
*Catherine MacLellan / The Long Way Home / Church Bell Blues / True North

[Behind Twin Cities Women’s Calendar]
Kaki King / Kewpie Station/Steamed Juicy Little Bun / Everybody Loves You / Velour

Kaki King / Carmine St. / Everybody Loves You / Velour
*Eliza Gilkyson / Rare Bird / Beautiful World / Red House
*Anne Heaton / Where Your Scar Is / Blazing Red

*Cherryholmes / Goodbye / Cherryholmes III: Don’t Believe / Skaggs Family Records
*Rachel Ries & Anais Mitchell / Grace the Day / Country e.p. / Righteous Babe
Heather & the Barbarians / Driving / Tell Me Tonight / Self

[Live in the Studio: Mary Everest]
Mary Everest / Phoebe, My Dear
Mary Everest / A Human Being

Eliza Blue / Bethlehem / Screen Doors & Back Doors / Lucky Micah Records

Friday, November 21, 2008

Leonard Bernstein and Janis Ian

Peter Matthews over at Feast of Music has been spending a lot of time celebrating the Leonard Bernstein centennial.

This past Saturday, he attended Bernstein Discovery Day at Carnegie Hall. As he reports, one of the guests included was Janis Ian.

They also managed to snag singer-songwriter Janis Ian, who apparently interrupted her own tour to talk about her 1967 Omnibus appearance at the age of 16, at which she was invited by Lenny to perform her hit single "Society's Child": a controversial song about an interracial romance that resulted in wide censorship and vicious attacks against Ian. Lenny didn't care about any of that: all he heard was a brilliant, groundbreaking song that incorporated both complex classical techniques and the latest innovations in electronics and pop. In other words, the kind of song that deserved to be heard on primetime national television.

Ian credits her entire career to the appearance, during which Lenny was clearly moved by her precocious ability:

"How did you ever write such a thing at such a young age?" he asked in the clip, holding her hand. "I congratulate you on what I'm certain will be a long and brilliant career."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Article on Bluegrass in New York

The Christian Science Monitor has a nice piece on Sheriff Uncle Bob's jam session down at the Grizzly Pear (on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village):

Noam Pikelny likes the openness of the culture here, too. Considered one of the best banjo players of his generation, Mr. Pikelny recently relocated to the city after having lived in Colorado and Nashville. “It was mind boggling,” he recalls of his first encounter with the Sheriff’s jam. “There’s nothing like that in Nashville. All the great jams there happen behind closed doors.”

The Moonshine Show gets a passing reference:

Still, New York isn’t Nashville, Tenn. The city hasn’t supported a country music station since the 1980s and features only one bluegrass radio program, which broadcasts from Columbia University.

And has since 1963!

(Thanks to Orrin Star for pointing this one out.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Artist-to-Artist Testimonials

Our friends in The Two Man Gentlemen Band have written up a testimonial for Alex Battles and the Whiskey Rebellion. Well said, Gentlemen.

Battles and company hit the downstairs stage at Hill Country on Friday night at 10:00 p.m.

I dropped by a set of theirs there a few Wednesday nights ago. The room was filled with sharply dressed young investment bankers, who were spending their waning cash on beef brisket and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and also a giant -- I mean GIANT -- stuffed panda. It was a bizarre mix of Texas roadhouse goodness and what I think purgatory might be like. And then at some point shortly after the band blasted through "They Kicked Me Out of Pennsylvania," one of the young (female) bankers gave a raised two gun signal, and the whole room cleared out in the course of one song -- whoosh! -- leaving tumbling tumbleweeds, a couple of mostly full beers and all of the grey hair in the room. It was a twentysomething stampede! I had never seen anything like it.

But it didn't slow the Whiskey Rebellion down at all. There were still blazing harmonica solos from Shaky Dave, serious skin-pounding from Smilin' Charlie Shaw, hot rubboard action from the Mighty Sammo and even some guest vocalists who came up from out of the now somewhat sparser audience.

As I've said before, Alex Battles brings the party.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Ghost of Blind Joe Death

There’s a good article in the November issue of Harper’s Magazine in which John Jeremiah Sullivan walks us through the lives of those who care a lot about the blues. (Subscribers can find the article here.)

The departure point comes from a time when Sullivan was working as a researcher for the Oxford American and had been charged by his editors to figure out some lyrics being quoted in an article by Greil Marcus. The song was by Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, who had recorded six sides for Paramount in 1930. In order to try and sort out the lyrics, Sullivan calls up John Fahey, who was on his last legs and living in a welfare hotel in Portland, Oregon.

”Sh*t, I don’t have any f*cking idea,” Fahey said. “It doesn’t really matter, anyway. They always just said any old sh*t.”

That seemed to be the end of our experiment. Fahey said, “Give me about an hour. I’m going to spend some time with it.”

And over the course of the day, Sullivan and Fahey figure out what some of the lyrics are, hitting the OED and other old record collectors up for information in the process. (If you don’t find rushing to consult the OED thrilling, then this article might not be for you.)

The key revelation for me was with regard to the word “kind”:

When Wiley says “kind”--as in, “The last kind words I heard my daddy say”--she doesn’t mean it like we do; she doesn’t mean nice; she means the word in its older sense of natural (with the implication that everything her daddy says is unnatural, is preternatural). Southern idiom has retained that older usage, in phrases involving the word “kindly,” as in “I thank you kindly,” which--and the OED bears this out--represent a clinging vestige of the primary, archaic meaning: not I thank you politely and sweetly but I thank you in a way that’s appropriate to your deed.

This description of Fahey also struck a chord (if I may):

It’s possible that he feared giving in to the almost demonic force this music had exerted over so many--or worried he’d done so already. I’m fairly certain his irony meter hovered at zero when he titled his 2000 book of short stories How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life.

And I thought that this factoid about the depths that one record collector went to was rather priceless:

Those trips to locate old blues guys started out as trips to canvass records. Gayle Dean Wardlow became a pest-control man at one point, in order to have a legitimate excuse to walk around black neighborhoods beating on doors. “Need your house sprayed?” Nah. “Got any weird old records in the attic?”

The remainder of the article describes some of the music released by the record label that John Fahey co-founded in his later years, Revenant Records, and reviews two recent books about blues collectors, Elijah Wald’s Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues and Marybeth Hamilton’s In Search of the Blues: The White Invention of Black Music. Worth a read.

Mandolin and Bass on Stage at Carnegie Hall

Over at Rattle My Cage, Allan is posting concert reviews from February, so I guess I shouldn’t have any qualms -- or at least fewer -- about finally getting around to describing Chris Thile’s debut in Isaac Stern Auditorium (a.k.a. the big room) at Carnegie Hall. (Peter over at Feast of Music got his account of the evening up in a timely fashion, I should note. I also should note that I'm using his photographs here.)

It was Wednesday 29 October when Chris Thile and his mandolin and Edgar Meyer and his upright bass gathered around a couple of microphones on the Carnegie Hall stage and started playing some selections from their recent Nonesuch CD. (They had been on the Moonshine Show the Sunday before to promote their appearance.) Being something in between a classical show and a folk show, there was a folksy joke or two -- “Nice hall!” – and they generally seemed like they were comfortable and enjoying themselves on stage. Soundwise, I could have done with a little additional volume in the speakers.

I enjoyed the first half of the show but honestly could have left at intermission -- as my friend Abigail was kind of hoping would happen. The only real highlight from the first half, I thought, was the three quick doses of Bach that they gave us. Their original music was pleasantly composed and skillfully played but ultimately lacking in grab. And with it being a school night and all…

But I am glad that I did not make an early retreat, as the second half picked up in intensity and moved my butt a little more toward the edge of my seat. They came out strong, hitting us with the energetic “This is the Pig,” the challenging “Rabbit Cakes” and then “Ham and Cheese.” That triple threat packed some serious punch (no pun intended).

Then Mark O’Connor came out. Wow. Repeat: Wow. The first number that the trio played was something swingy, and they each took a solo. Mark O’Connor’s touch on violin had me rethinking whether or not people that I consider good fiddlers are actually all that good. The sound that he coaxed out of his instrument was so smooth and buttery that my jaw dropped straight away, and I daresay that I might have drooled a little bit. This was a true professional and a true virtuoso musician taking the stage. The trio followed with a very sweet piece of music that Edgar and Mark wrote together 20 years ago. And then they played a simply fantastic piece of music from one of Mark’s albums that featured one shimmering melodic line after another played over three repeating bass notes. One winner after another after another.

O’Connor took his well-deserved bows, and Thile and Meyer gave us another dose of Bach. And then they concluded the program with “Fence Post in the Front Yard,” which featured an impressive precision ending coming out of cascading scales of notes being played on both the mandolin and bass.

Mark O’Connor returned for the encore, a delightful rendition of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

Annabelle Chvostek in Cali this week

Hiya. I'm traveling up and down (or down and up) California this week in an effort to hone my road manager skills, which I usually just practice on Tracy...

I'm road managing Annabelle Chvostek, a former member of the Canadian folk trio The Wailin Jennys (yes, they would be Red House Records artists). She's a pretty phenomenal multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, and her new album, Resilience, is great. I highly recommend it. You can listen on Myspace.

18th Coffee Gallery Backstage, Los Angeles, CA
19th Tales from the Tavern, Santa Ynez, CA
20th Don Quixote's Music Hall, Felton (Santa Cruz), CA
21st Fernwood Resort, Big Sur, CA
22nd Café Flo, Chico, CA 530-342-1055
23rd Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, CA

Monday, November 17, 2008

Excited Fans

I'm sorry that I missed this moment that Allan describes from the Hold Steady (opening for Drive By Truckers) concert on 6 November:
One particularly memorable fan in the second row–who had at least 20 years on all the other fans around him–was a particularly good gauge for each song’s high point. Whenever his enthusiasm seemed like it would overtake him, he would turn around to another fan who I don’t think he knew, they would simultaneously shout the song’s lyrics in each others faces at full volume, and then high five, and go back to watching the band.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Playlist: The Moonshine Show - 16 November 2008

On today's show, we started off with a set featuring Ricky Skaggs from over the years, played new all-gospel CDs from The Churchmen and Paul Williams, and then heard one 10-minute track from a 1982 David Bromberg live recording that recently has been released on CD. We celebrated the 41st anniversary of the recording of the ultimate bluegrass standard, "Rocky Top," which The Osborne Brothers cut on 16 November 1967. We played some music from the Carolina Jug Stompers, who will be passing through New York this week with a show at Banjo Jim's. There was new music from Beth Stevens & Edge (her band -- not the U2 guitarist), and a bluegrass song written by Sting ("I Hung My Head"). What a show!


The Moonshine Show - 89.9 WKCR-FM, NYC
Sunday 16 November 2008 - 10 a.m. to Noon
Host: Matt Winters

Ralph Stanley with Ricky Skaggs; "Shouting on the Hills of Glory"; _Clinch Mountain Country_ (Rebel)

Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice; "The Old Crossroads"; _Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice_ (Sugar Hill)

Keith Whitley & Ricky Skaggs; "All I Ever Loved was You"; _Second Generation_ (Rebel)

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder; "Goin' Back to Old Kentucky"; _Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947_ (Skaggs Family)


The Churchmen; "Are You Lost in Sin?," "Back to the Cross," "Take Me in the Lifeboat"; _I'll Be Long Gone_ (Pinecastle)

Paul Williams & The Victory Trio; "Back to the Old Home," "Hallelujah Morning"; _What a Journey_ (Rebel)


David Bromberg Quartet; "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down and Fiddle Tune Medley"; _Live New York City 1982_ (Appleseed)


The Osborne Brothers; "Rocky Top"; _Country Legends Bluegrass_ (Greenhill)

The Osborne Brothers; "Jesse James"; _Fire on the Banjo_ (CMH)

Bobby Osborne; "Sunny Side of the Mountain"; _The 3 Tenors of Bluegrass_ (CMH)


The Carolina Jug Stompers; "K.C. Moan," "Going to Germany"; _Rooster on a Limb_ (Old 97 Wrecords)


Chris Coole; "Skating on the Harbourfront"
Daniel Koulack; "Sally Anne"
Bruce Molsky; "Roustabout"
Bob Smakula; "Mama Tried"
All from _The Old Time Banjo Festival_ (Rounder)


Mark O'Connor (with Dan Crary); "Banks of the Ohio"; _Markology_ (Rounder LP)

Dan Crary; "Raleigh and Spencer"; _Take a Step Over_ (Sugar Hill LP)


Beth Stevens & Edge; "Heading Out of Heartache," "Sweet Peace"; _Strong Enough_ (Pinecastle)


Joey Cox; "Ponderosa"; _Cuppa 'Jo: The Huber Banjos Sessions, Vol. 2_ (Huber Banjos)

Alison Krauss + Union Station; "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow"; _Live_ (Rounder)

Blue Highway; "I Hung My Head"
The Grascals; "White Lightning"
Both from _A Celebration of Life_ (Skaggs Family)


Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; "John the Revelator"; _A Celebration of Life_

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dylan Talks in Concert!

Not only did Bob Dylan to return to the University of Minnesota to perform for the first time in his almost 50-year career, he also talked (about politics no less) and went back in his catalog to play classic songs of change on a night full of change--Election Night. You can read about it here. I was not in the audience, but I hear from folks that were that it was a pretty emotional night and that after the show, there were spontaneous celebrations after learning of Obama's win.

Cherryholmes: Minneapolis Version

After reading Matt's posting about Cherryholmes, I decided I needed to finally hear this acclaimed bluegrass band for myself. So I went to see them on a disgustingly cold, spitty night in Minneapolis. Accompanied by my bluegrass pal Heather, I got to the Cedar Cultural Center early enough to get sweet seats in what turned out to be a pretty good-sized crowd (great for their first time through). I'm happy to report that the sound was incredible (thanks to the masterful Chris Frymire) and nothing like the sound problems that Matt encountered in the show he saw. The instruments and voices were clear, and all was well-balanced. I agree with Matt that Molly Kate's vocals were one of the high points. Unfortunately, she only took the lead on one song, but she did do a nice instrumental swing tune with B.J. and Skip, which led me to think that these kids could be the next generation of progressive string players. And that's what impressed me about the whole show. Everything I had heard from Cherryholmes had led me to believe they were a solid contemporary bluegrass band (which they are), but I was surprised to hear how many styles they really embraced in their live show. Here were some of the highlights:

- a twin fiddles tune with some nice clogging (unfortunately some of the clogging sounds got lost--the one sound problem of the evening)
- "Knoxville Girl"
- "Mary Don't You Weep"
- "Never Be Whole Again" (really nice dual fiddling!)
- some really great yodeling by Mom Cherryholmes
- "I Can Only Love You So Much"
- "Sailing Man" (with nice clawhammer banjo--sadly Cia did not play 3-finger banjo at the same time)
- an old-timey finale where all except Dad clogged
- "Traveling Man" (after an encore much more enthusiastic than Minnesota audiences normally give!)

The music was great, they had a great live energy and they employed fun, witty banter. In short, this was a really great show--well worth $20.

Dr. Ralph and Modern Technology

From the October 15th New York Times Magazine:
The first person on stage was Ralph Stanley, the 81-year-old legendary bluegrass musician, who was born in nearby Stratton and makes his home in Dickenson County. He unfolded a piece of paper and read, in a shaky voice: “I want to endorse Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Thank you very much!” The gymnasium exploded. (When the candidate met Stanley backstage, Obama told him that he had some of Stanley’s banjo music on his iPod. Stanley nodded appreciatively, but a few minutes later he turned to a friend and asked, “What’s an iPod?”)

(Thanks to Danny Shameer of Little Rock, Arkansas, for bringing this to my attention.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Playlist: Womenfolk (November 9, 2008)

Today we played music in honor of Veteran's Day, gave away tickets to see Joan Baez and had a nice little chat with Lojo Russo, who will be returning to the Twin Cities this Friday for a CD release concert at the Acadia Cafe. If you missed the show, you can listen here. As you'll see, there are now two ways to hear KFAI's archived shows--via MP3 stream and real audio. Check it out!

Next Sunday, Mary Everest will be my guest, playing live and talking about a special benefit event at the 331 Club...Hope you can tune in for it!


WOMENFOLK (November 9, 2008)
Hosted by Ellen Stanley.
Fresh Air Community Radio, KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis/106.7 FM St. Paul
Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
*New Releases
**Womenfolk Theme Song

**Kris Delmhorst / Everything Is Music / Strange Conversation / Signature Sounds

The Lonesome Sisters / Rain and Snow / The Lonesome Sisters with Riley Baugus / Tin Halo Music
*Roma di Luna / The Romance of Wolves / Casting the Bones / Self

*Lucy Kaplansky / Over the Hills / Our Side of Town: A Red House Records 25th Anniversary Collection / Red House
The Wailin' Jennys / Glory Bound / Firecracker / Red House
*Dar Williams / Troubled Times / Promised Land / Razor & Tie

[Womenfolk Find - Featured Artist of the Month]
*Emily Kurn / Far Away / I’m Just Like You / Self
Rachel Ries / Chicago / Without a Bird / Self

Cowboy Junkies / Two Soldiers / Early 21st Century Blues / Latent Recordings
Natalie Merchant / Soldier, Soldier / The House Carpenter’s Daughter / Myth America
Nerissa & Katryna Nields / The Soldier at Your Door / Sister Holler / Mercy House
Eliza Gilkyson / Jedidiah 1777 / Paradise Hotel / Red House

[Behind Twin Cities Women’s Calendar]
Rayna Gellert / Ducks of the Millpond / Ways of the World / Self
Rayna Gellert / Old Yeller Dog Come Trottin Through the Meetinghouse / Ways of the World / Self
Rayna Gellert / Cotton-Eyed Joe / Ways of the World / Self

Rayna Gellert / Ways of the World / Ways of the World / Self
Adrienne Young / Soldier’s Joy / Plow to the End of the Row / AddieBelle

*Kate MacKenzie / Past the Point of Rescue / Red House 25: A Silver Anniversary Retrospective / Red House
Linda & Robin Williams / 50,000 Names / Radio Songs / Red House
Iris DeMent / There’s a Wall in Washington / The Way I Should / Warner Bros.

*Joan Baez / Requiem / Day After Tomorrow / Razor & Tie
*Meg Hutchinson / Song for Jeffrey Lucey / Come Up Full / Red House

Ollabelle / Troubles of the World / Riverside Battle Songs / Verve
*Rachel Kilgour / Cheap Grace / Music to Life: Finalist Showcase 2008/2009 / Public Domain Foundation
*Lojo Russo / 13 / Little White Box / Self

[Live Interview with Lojo Russo]

*Lojo Russo / Full Moon Morning / Little White Box / Self

Playlist: The Moonshine Show - 9 November 2008

On this morning's show, we started off with a set of gospel, and then transitioned into an old-time set through some classic bluegrass. Then I had a great time playing some early 1970s recordings of Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys featuring Roy Lee Centers on the lead vocals (and sometimes John Duffey on the high baritone harmonies!) -- these were classic recordings and made me want to play a bunch more! I also included a set of songs for Veteran's Day, including the distinctly not-bluegrass-or-old-time "Veteran's Day" by Tom Russell.


The Moonshine Show - 89.9 WKCR-FM, NYC
Sunday 9 November 2008 - 10 a.m. to Noon
Host: Matt Winters

Nashville Bluegrass Band; "Gospel Plow"; _To Be His Child_ (Rounder LP)

Jimmy Murphy; "Electricity"; _Electricity_ (Sugar Hill)

Paul Williams and the Victory Trio; "Stay by the Brook"; _Old Ways & Old Paths_ (Rebel)

Wildwood Valley Boys; "I'm a Believer"; _I'm a Believer_ (Rebel)


Hylo Brown; "Blue Eyed Darling"; _Hylo Brown_ (LP)

Jimmy Martin; "Steal Away Somewhere and Die"; _The King of Bluegrass_ (Audium)

The Boys from Indiana; "My Night to Howl"; _Good Time Blues_ (Rebel)

Benny Martin (with John Hartford); "Hillman"; _The 'Big Tiger' Roars Again (Part 2)_ (OMS)


Bob Carlin and John Hartford; "Dry and Dusty"; _The Fun of Open Discussion_ (Rounder)

Matt Brown; "Shady Grove"; _Falls of Richmond_ (5-String)

Ginny Hawker; "You Don't Tell Me That You Love Me Anymore"; _Letters from My Father_ (Rounder)

Molly & Jack Tuttle; "The Old Apple Tree"; _The Old Apple Tree_ (self-released)

Crooked Still; "Orphan Girl"; _Hop High_ (Signature Sounds)


[Roy Lee Centers - 8 November 1944 - 2 May 1974]

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "Take Your Shoes Off Moses"; _Cry from the Cross_ (Rebel LP)

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "All I Ever Loved was You"; _...Play Requests_ (Rebel LP)

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "Lord I've Been Walking"; _Old Country Church_ (Rebel LP)

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "Lonesome River"; _A Man and His Music_ (Rebel LP)

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "The Fields Have Turned Brown"; _I Want to Preach the Gospel_ (Rebel LP)


James King; "Roy Lee"; _Thirty Years of Farming_ (Rounder)

Jack Cooke; "Gotta Travel On"; _Sittin' on Top of the World_ (Pinecastle)

Red Allen & Frank Wakefield; "Sad and Lonesome Day," "I Don't Believe You'd Do Me Wrong"; _Keep on Goin': The Rebel and Melodeon Recordings_ (Rebel)

Aubrey Haynie; "Buckner's Breakdown"; _The Bluegrass Fiddle Album_ (Sugar Hill)


Blue Highway; "Homeless Man"; _Through the Window of a Train_ (Rounder)

Bob Paisley and the Southern Grass; "Margie"; _Live in Holland_ (Strictly Country)

Dave Evans and River Bend; "Soldier's Return"; _The Best of the Vetco Years_ (Rebel)

Tom Russell Band; "Veteran's Day"; _Poor Man's Dream_ (Rounder)

Rhonda Vincent; "God Bless the Soldier"; _All American Bluegrass Girl_ (Rounder)


Jon Sholle; "E B A"; _Catfish for Supper_ (Rounder)


Northern Lights; "Northern Rail"; _Take You to the Sky_ (Flying Fish)

Sam Bush; "Bananas"; _King of My World_ (Sugar Hill)


King Wilkie; "President Garfield's Hornpipe"; _True Songs_ (self-released)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Richard Shindell on Election Night

From the latest Richard Shindell newsletter:
I spent election night in Harlem. Here's a cell-phone pic I took (sorry about the quality). I think it pretty much captures the mood on 125th street that night.

Well, if only I had known! He just never calls...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Playlist: Womenfolk (November 2, 2008)

This Sunday we welcomed members of Mila Vocal Ensemble into the studio to talk about their music and give a sneak peak of their fabulous performance that as part KFAI's monthly Womenfolk concert series at Gethsemane Church. Also, we played songs to prep you for Election Day.

Next Sunday tune in for a live interview with Lojo Russo, who returns to the Twin Cities for a CD release show on November 14th!


WOMENFOLK (November 2, 2008)
Hosted by Ellen Stanley.
Fresh Air Community Radio, KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis/106.7 FM St. Paul
Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
*New Releases
**Womenfolk Theme Song

**Kris Delmhorst / Everything Is Music / Strange Conversation / Signature Sounds

*Tracy Chapman / Sing for You / Our Bright Future / Atlantic
Joan Baez / Jerusalem / Bowery Songs / Koch

*Kate Campbell / Save the Day / Save the Day / Large River Music
*Eliza Gilkyson / Great Correction / Beautiful World / Red House

Julie Lee / Change Is Gonna Come / Take Me Out to Hear the Band / Self

[Womenfolk Find - Featured Artist of the Month]
*Emily Kurn / I’m Just Like You / I’m Just Like You / Self
Anais Mitchell / Before the Eyes of Storytelling Girls / Hymns for the Exiled / Waterbug

Suzzy & Maggie Roche / Who Cares / These Times We’re Living In / Red House
Tracy Grammer / Hey Ho / Flower of Avalon / Signature Sounds
Kate MacDonnell / Mercy / Where the Mangoes Are / Appleseed
Ani Difranco / ‘Tis of Thee / Up Up Up Up Up Up / Righteous Babe

[Behind Twin Cities Women’s Calendar]
Karen Mueller / 30-Year Jig / Still Point / Self

Karen Mueller / Music for a Found Harmonium / Still Point / Self
*Maria Dunn / Tell Her I Was Brave / The Peddler / Self

[Live in the Studio: Mila Vocal Ensemble]
Mila Vocal Ensemble / Zeleneye zhyto / Leb I Sol / Self
Mila Vocal Ensemble / Nyilik az egnek / Leb I Sol / Self
Mila Vocal Ensemble / Lepi Juro / Leb I Sol / Self
Mila Vocal Ensemble / Zamrukhnala e mari hubava Jana / Leb I Sol / Self

*Sara Thomsen / Todo Cambia / Everything Changes / Self
*Nikki and the RueMates / I Can't Be Satisfied / We All Live Together / Self

*Maria Muldaur / Yes We Can, Can / Yes We Can! / Telarc
*Mavis Staples / For What It's Worth / Live: Hope at the Hideout / Anti-

Playlist: Womenfolk (October 26, 2008)

Much delayed, here is my playlist from a few weeks ago...


WOMENFOLK (October 26, 2008)
Hosted by Ellen Stanley.
Fresh Air Community Radio, KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis/106.7 FM St. Paul
Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
*New Releases
**Womenfolk Theme Song

**Kris Delmhorst / Everything Is Music / Strange Conversation / Signature Sounds

*Alison Rae / Birds / Road Trip: American Singer Songwriters / Feed Them With Music
*Audrey Auld Mezera / Last Seen in Gainesville / Burnside Distribution Folk Sampler / Burnside Distribution

*Jonatha Brooke / My Sweet and Bitter Bowl / The Works / Bad Dog Records
*Eliza Gilkyson / Pastures of Plenty / Ribbon of Highway Endless Skyway: The Woody Guthrie Tribute Tour / Music Road

*Pieta Brown / In My Mind I Was Talkin’ to Loretta / Remember the Sun / One Little Indian
*Emmylou Harris / Broken Man’s Lament / All I Intended to Be / Nonesuch

[Womenfolk Find - Featured Artist of the Month]
*Natalia Zukerman / The Last Few Miles / Brand New Frame / Weasel Records
*Meg Hutchinson / Come Up Full / Come Up Full / Red House
*Ellis / How Would It Be / Break the Spell / Rubberneck Records

*Valerie Smith & Becky Buller / Heart of the House / Here's a Little Song... / BellBuckle Records
Cherryholmes / Cherryholmes II: You Don't Know What Love Is / Black and White / Skaggs Family Records
*Crooked Still / Undone in Sorrow / Still Crooked / Signature Sounds

[Behind Twin Cities Women’s Calendar]
Karen Mueller / Farewell to Whisky / Clarity / Self
Karen Mueller / Sandy River Belle/Cherokee Shuffle / Clarity / Self

*The Belleville Outfit / It’s a Good Day / Wanderin’ / Self
Erin McKeown / Melody / Melody / Sing You Sinners / Nettwerk
Memphis Minnie / Me and My Chauffeur Blues / Folk, Gospel & Blues: Will the Circle Be Unbroken / Columbia
Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem / Limo to Memphis / Cocktail Swing / Signature Sounds

Eva Cassidy / Autumn Leaves / Songbird / Blix Street
*Catherine MacLellan / Stronger / Church Bell Blues / True North
Thea Ennen & The Algorhythms / Poor Doe / Hold Back the Sun / Atomic Theory

*Abbie Gardner & Anthony da Costa / Red Barn / Bad Nights/Better Days / Self
*Lojo Russo / Full Moon Morning / Little White Box / Self
Tracy Grammer / The Verdant Mile / The Verdant Mile / Self

Mila Vocal Ensemble / Polegala trava detela / Leb I Sol / Self
Madrigaia / Um canto de afoxe para o Bloco do Ile - Ile Aye / Pleiades / Self

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dailey & Vincent

Entertainer of the Year. Album of the Year. Vocal Group of the Year. Emerging Artist of the Year. Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year. Male Vocalist of the Year. These were the awards picked up my Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent at the International Bluegrass Music Association's 2008 Awards Ceremony. And Darrin Vincent shared in one other one, as well, such that the two members of the band walked off with an unprecedented seven IBMA awards. Well deserved, I say.

When the Dailey & Vincent CD arrived in my mailbox at WKCR, I couldn't wait to take a listen to it. I consistently had enjoyed Jamie Dailey's work with Doyle Lawson -- he was a member of Quicksilver for nine years -- and I had found Darrin Vincent to be an underused element of Ricky Skagg's Kentucky Thunder -- he played some light archtop rhythm guitar and added harmony vocals in that ensemble for almost 10 years without ever really getting to step out of the shadows (and sometimes quite literally being hidden behind the rest of the band). And now they had united together to record a CD for Rounder.

The album opens with a blast of classic (but largely unknown) bluegrass in the form of Al Wood's song "Sweet Carrie." Originally recorded in 1973, Dailey and Vincent fire this one up with help from Joe Dean on banjo and Andy Leftwich (from Kentucky Thunder) on fiddle. The song just has all of the right elements: a blistering banjo lead-in; a trifecta of thematic lyrical elements (railroads, an inspiring woman and a mean boss); a hot fiddle solo; and beautiful harmony vocals on the chorus. Many of these elements come around again on "Poor Boy Working Blues," a song that Jamie Dailey wrote and first recorded with Doyle Lawson on the Hard Game of Love CD. I loved it there, and I love it again on the Dailey & Vincent disc. The song leads with unaccompanied harmony vocals -- then the blistering banjo kicks right in.

The award for Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year was given for Dailey & Vincent's treatment of the great Gillian Welch and David Rawling's song "By the Mark." When I first listened to the CD, I found the singing on this one to be a bit too nasally -- and I still think that -- but since it won the award, I've given it a few more listens, and I think it's a terrific song, and I'm pleased that it will get some additional attention from their recording of it.

"By the Mark" is sung in a classic brother duet style -- a la the Monroe Brothers, the Blue Sky Boys or the Delmore Brothers -- with a lead part (Jamie Dailey) and a high tenor harmony (Darrin Vincent) and guitar (Jamie Dailey) and mandolin (Darrin Vincent) accompaniment. This style returns on the Jamie Dailey/Doyle Lawson gospel composition "My Savior Walks with Me Today" and then the Ronnie Bowman co-authored "Music of the Mountains." The former is a straight-ahead gospel number where Darrin takes the lead. They maybe take it a hair too fast, but the harmonies are spot on. The latter is a nostalgic and folky little ditty.

The other winner from the disc is "Don't You Call My Name." Recorded before by Del McCoury and the Johnson Mountain Boys, this is a typical bluegrass cheatin' song where the spurned lover now rejects the unfaithful partner:
Don't you call my name
'cause I won't answer.
Don't you call my name
'cause I won't be there.
You cheated on me, dear,
For your last time.
Don't you call my name
'cause I don't care.

Stuart Duncan is the fiddler on this one, and Joe Dean again plays a solid banjo part.

The last great duet supergroup was perhaps the Dudley Connell and Don Rigsby union. Their first disc was excellent, but they they slipped a little bit on the follow-up. Let's hope that Dailey and Vincent can avoid that sophomore slump and keep the great albums coming!

Musica Mexicana en Falls Church, Virginia

I knew it was going to be a good show at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia, last night from the second that we walked in the door. I'm used to rock 'n' roll shows in New York where crowd members stand still with slouching postures and slightly cocked heads, acknowledging the presence of a band playing music through the direction of their eyes but rarely with any real movement -- perhaps a tap of the foot at some point. Inside of the State Theatre, people were dancing (some of them rather elaborately) and jumping up and down and throwing their hands in the air and clapping loudly at the end of songs -- and this was only the pre-show house music coming through the PA.

When the main attraction -- and the only attraction, since there was no opening act -- took the stage, the pre-show fun turned into fervor. This crowd -- ranging from those just making the 18-and-over cut-off to a good number of thirtysomethings -- was here to show its love and respect for Mexican rockers Café Tacuba. It was one of those shows where the crowd sings along with more songs than not, screams within the first bar of a song, jumps up-and-down with hands in the air and grooves along as one organic whole.

I knew pretty much zero about this band before going to see them. My first and lasting impressions was how delightfully derivative they are. The Who was clearly a big influence with direct rips from "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again," and one song -- "Chilanga Banda," I believe -- that had a Lou Reed "Walk on the Wild Side" kind of thing going on, as lead singer Rubén Isaac Albarrán Ortega (whose name apparently changes for every new album and new world tour) riffed in Mexican slang over a two-note bass line with a slight rise in the chorus. And then Thomas Dolby kept coming to mind -- "She Blinded Me with Science," remember? -- both because of the way the band looked (bassist Enrique Rangel Arroyo with his Eraserhead hairdo and keyboardist Emmanuel del Real Díaz with his sweater vest and distinguished-looking goatee) and because of their heavy use of the Roland synthesizer and various sequenced rhythms. All of these flashback moments just made the band more fun for me to watch, as I got to soak in the live sounds of the 1980s in a way that I never have before and in a very alive way as well.

The band had a terrific light show -- small light curtains in front of the risers on which the drums and keyboards were located and then a large screen in back. The light screen took some of its visual cues from U2's light shows over the years, it seemed (e.g. a pencil drawing of a boombox rotating on a field of fluorescent green); it was extremely well done -- the lights were well-timed with the songs -- and added a lot to the entertainment.

And in general, this was a band that aimed to entertain. Lead singer Cosme was all over the stage, pointing his finger at people in the audience, inviting a gaggle of young women to join him on stage (which quite possibly was more entertaining for him than for the majority of the crowd), and smiling widely (and honestly, I think) at the crowd's reactions to the performances. Keyboardist Meme would come to the front of the stage -- often with the sequencer running -- pick up a guitar and rock out. During the encore, he led the crowd in a call-and-response vocal pattern. At one point, all four members of the band came to the front of the stage -- with the drummer still pounding on the skins -- and performed a rather endearing and pretty hilarious dance routine, also straight out of the early 1980s.

Seeing this show was not what I expected out of this weekend in D.C., which began with a Hindu wedding in Maryland and also included political canvsassing in Fairfax County, but it will be a lasting memory from it, and I would see these guys again in a heartbeat.

Playlist: The Moonshine Show - 2 November 2008

This week, I listened to the Moonshine Show rather than hosting it. I was down in Virginia, pounding the pavement in advance of the election, and so WKCR's American Director David Seidenberg and our Moonshine show intern Jeff Kandel took the helm. They played a bunch of classic Flatt and Scruggs material for the first half of the show and then opened the doors to some other bluegrass greats in the second half. Whenever David hosts the show, I always get e-mails from listeners, saying, "Great show today, Matt!" and I have to fess up that it wasn't me hosting the show. So kudos and thanks to David and Jeff for a good one in my absence.


The Moonshine Show - 89.9 WKCR-FM, NYC
Sunday 2 November 2008 - 10 a.m. to Noon
Hosts: David Seidenberg and Jeff Kandel

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs; "Kay Hill," "Dim LIghts Thick Smoke,"
"Preachin', Prayin', Singin'," "I'm Head Over Heels in Love with You,"
"A Purple Heart," "I Heard My Mother Call My Name in Prayer," "Grey
Eagle," "Salty Dog Blues," "I Have Found the Way," "Lover's
Lane";_Martha White Biscuit Time_(Radio Gems No. 1)


Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs; "Pick Along," "Nothing to it,"
"Evelina," "Jazzing," "Liberty," "Tammy's Song"; _With Doc Watson,
Strictly Instrumental_ (Columbia)


Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs; "Why Did You Wander?" "Thinking About
You," "I'm Gonna Settle Down," "You're Not a Drop in the Bucket,"
"Foggy Mountain Special," "Reunion in Heaven"; _Don't Get Above Your
Raisin'_ (Rounder)


Red Allen; "Little Maggie"_ Folkways Years 1964-1983_ (Smithsonian Folkways)

Red Allen; "Froggy Went a Countin'"; "Sad and Lonesome"; _Keep on Going_ (Rebel)

Jim and Jesse; "Maidens Prayer," "Remington Ride," "Fireball Express";
_The All Time Great Country Instrumentals_(Epic)


Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys; "Little Glass of WIne,"
"Let Me Be Your Friend"; _The Columbia Sessions 1949-1950_ (Rounder)

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; "Earl's Breakdown," "Orange Blossom
Special"; _Will the Circle Be Unbroken_ (United Artists)

Doc Watson; "Wabash Cannonball," "When the Work's all Done this Fall,"
"Little Sadie"; _On Stage_ (Vanguard)


Country Gentleman; "Weeping WIllow"; _Country Songs, Old and New_
(Smithsonian Folkways)

Country Gentleman; "Brown Mountain Light," "Matterhorn," "Amelia
Earhart's Last Flight"; _Can't You Hear Me Calling_ (Rebel)


The Seldom Scene; "The Fields Have Turned Brown," "Hit Parade of
Love"; _Live at the Cellar Door_ (Rebel)