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The Show On The Road with Z. Lupetin
43 minutes | 9 hours ago
This week, we jump in our podcast time machine for a face-to-face (remember those?) interview with the acclaimed blues and roots guitarist and singer-songwriter Samantha Fish. Now based in New Orleans, the pod caught up with Samantha at the Sugar Magnolia Music Fest in Mississippi before the world shut down – and to be real, until recently, the very idea of airing this interview seemed inappropriate. Two songwriters speaking into one mic at close range? With everyone crammed into a little trailer? No sanitizer in sight? Indeed. And yet as in-person interviews are set to commence and venues are reopening at last, it felt good to remind ourselves what a real Show On The Road conversation felt like. There are no Zoom glitches or quick edits needed here. We talk about favorite restaurants in New Orleans, dream festival lineups, guitar solo self-esteem pep talks, we question if Elvis’s ghost is watching over us as we record – and you’ll notice the sound is not pristine, but maybe that’s the best part. You can hear the squeak of the seats, the grit in the voices before they are warmed up for an upcoming set. There’s a band warming up in the background and you can hear Samantha tuning her acoustic guitar just off mic before playing her favorite forlorn love-song “I Need You More” at the end. For folks who are not familiar with Samantha’s work, she’s been one of the hardest touring bandleaders on the blues and Americana circuit since she started recording out of her hometown of Kansas City a decade ago. She was still slinging and delivering pizzas then, but now she’s an award-winning veteran of various music scenes now, a headliner at music fests from the Crescent City (she played her first Jazz Fest) to jazz and blues gatherings across Europe and beyond. With seven albums and counting under her belt, including her Memphis brass-embellished newest Kill Or Be Kind – and her standout rocker Belle Of The West, (created with Luther Luther Dickinson – which we discuss at length here,) Samantha is proving again and again that she is in it for the long haul. One of the more moving moments of the talk centers on Samantha’s memories of growing up playing the drums and jamming with her musical family. Even then she didn’t see many girls like her taking the lead guitar as their destiny – she had to believe in herself before anyone else would, and here she is. Representation matters and Fish is showing a whole generation of young players that despite Rolling Stone barely mentioning women in their ongoing “greatest guitarists of all time” lists – there are new people who walk and talk and look a little different taking up the mantle of guitar god (or goddess).
56 minutes | 8 days ago
This week, we bring you a deep dive with the silky-voiced southern gothic-folk songwriter Lera Lynn, who has recently gained notoriety for her mysterious and lushly cinematic sound, as heard in her haunting 2020 LP On My Own (on which she writes, produces and plays every instrument on each song) and in the music of HBO’s True Detective (produced by T-Bone Burnett), on which she also became a cast member in Season 2. We’ve all had our dark moments during this last year. For Lynn it was figuring out how to put out a new album, which she had painstakingly make herself in isolation (see Springsteen’s moody and homemade Nebraska,) right as her first baby was on the way without any family being allowed to help shoulder the load. At times the burden seemed too much to bear - but what emerged was a touchstone set of songs that unintentionally seemed to pinpoint the exact center of our collective dread - and the flickers of hope of a new beginning that can come out of a such a societal time-quake. Searching reverby rock standouts like "Are You Listening?" seem to be calling out into a void that we never knew we had, perhaps reminding us again how much we need human touch, friendship, family warmth and true soul connection. While we are currently emerging into the light-filled end of this Covid-19 tunnel, it’s important to note that this interview was conducted back in 2020 in the thick of the harshest lockdowns (the taping footage was lost, then finally found) and songs like “Isolation” hit the exact pain point for many artists like Lynn who once thrived on bringing live-music’s unique sweaty joy to strangers in a new town each night. Lynn’s rising calls of “Is anybody out there?” ring like echoes from a very recent bad dream - a dream of course that is still very much a painful reality in many parts of the world. Coming out of the fertile roots rock scene of Athens, GA, Lynn’s earlier records like the intimate and country-inflected Have You Met Lera Lynn? from 2011 and its pop-forward follow ups The Avenues (2016) and Resistor (2017) focused mostly on her endlessly warm and rich voice - and the fury and frustration she was processing growing up an only child of an alcoholic dad. But it was her guest-star-laden LP Plays Well With Others (2018) where Lynn began to realize the extent of her gifted arranging and vocal powers together. Teaming up with a murderer’s row of Americana artists like Shovels & Rope, John Paul White of the Civil Wars and Rodney Crowell, it may be the most high-spirited of her works - like a basement party jam session going off the rails in all the best ways. The tough year at home did make Lynn come to appreciate how far she’s come since those early days - maybe it took a decade of hard-won acceptance and practice to be able to create On My Own without any help from other musicians or producers - and the result is a wonder to hear. Now if she could just play it for an actual live audience. Stick around to the end of the episode to hear her introduce her favorite broken-romance number "So Far."
65 minutes | 15 days ago
This week, we bring you a truly inspiring talk with the activist, author, and free-spirited feminist folk icon Ani DiFranco, who just released her lushly orchestrated twenty-second album - Revolutionary Love. There has been many things said about the music Ani DiFranco has created for the last thirty years since she burst on the scene with her fiery self-titled LP in 1990. With her shaved head on the cover, fearlessly bisexual love songs, dexterous guitar work and hold-no-prisoners lyrics sparing no one from her poetic magnifying glass, DiFranco’s persona became almost synonymous with a rejuvenated women’s moment that blossomed in the late-1990’s Lilith Fair moment. And yet she was always a bit more committed to the cause than some of her more pop-leaning contemporaries who faded away as soon as their hits subsided. Framing herself somewhere between the rebellious folksinging teacher Pete Seeger and the gender-fluid show-stopping rock spirit in Prince, (who she recorded with after he became a fan) - DiFranco was always just as passionate about raising awareness for abortion rights, safety for gay and trans youth and bringing music to prisons, as she was promoting her latest musical experiment. She began playing publicly around age ten, and as a nineteen-year-old runaway from Buffalo, NY, she started her own label Righteous Babe Records that allowed her to operate free of corporate (and overwhelmingly male) oversight. Indeed, despite gaining a wide international fanbase she has released every album herself since the beginning - as well as championing genre-defying songwriters like Andrew Bird, Anais Mitchell, Utah Philips and others. It was DiFranco’s encouragement that helped Mitchell’s opus Hadestown become a Tony-winning Broadway smash. DiFranco may have been deemed a bit too left-of-center for pop radio, but her beloved live record Living In Clip from 1997, went gold. Let’s get something out of the way real quick. Was this male podcast host initially a bit intimidated to dive into her encyclopedic album collection after admiring her work from afar and believing the songs were not meant for his ears? Indeed. I grew up with girlfriends and fellow musicians who rocked Ani's Righteous Babe pins and patches on their jean jackets like they were religious ornaments. What I found during this mind-bending conversation, and after listening to her polished and mystical newest record especially - was that DiFranco has never tried to push away people that don’t look or talk like her - or try to mock or belittle conservative movements she doesn’t agree with or understand. There is a deep kindness and empathy in her songwriting that I never expected - and in her 2019 autobiography No Walls And The Recurring Dream, she acknowledges how lonely and exhausting it can be trying to fight against a societal tide that doesn’t want to stop and give you space to be who you are. What became increasingly clear during the conversation was that DiFranco wants to make music for everyone. She prides herself on her quirky, multi-generational fanbase - with grandparents and kids, dads and sons, daughters and aunties alike singing along to favorites like “Both Hands” , “Untouchable Face” and covers like Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” at packed shows across three continents. I had my own goosebumps-inducing moment singing with Ani that I’ll never forget. The oldest folk festival in America, The Ann Arbor Folk Fest once put me on stage to sing harmony on “Angel From Montgomery” with DiFranco at the acoustically perfect Hill Auditorium. I attended The University Of Michigan years earlier and I saw John Prine sing that classic in that same room and it felt like a full circle moment. Seeing how DiFranco transfixed the crowd that night, and how the lady songwriters and musicians offstage especially watched her with such admiration made me want to see what her music - which I had never fully listened to - was all about. If you have a chance, listen to Revolutionary Love start to finish - and stick around to the end of the episode to hear DiFranco read the lyrics as poetry.
60 minutes | 22 days ago
This week, we feature a conversation with one of the rising stars in our current roots music renaissance: a gifted Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter who grew up in the Pentecostal church and creates a fiery gospel backdrop behind his tender then window-rattling rock-n-roll voice: Parker Millsap. When you’ve been touring hundreds of days a year down southern backroads from Tulsa to Tallahassee since you were a teenager like Parker has, you know a thing or two about how to keep your head when things go off the rails. But it was the forced year-long break during the pandemic that really made him stop and accept how far he’s come from his intense, anxious, folky debut Palisade in 2012 (he released it when he was 19), to his soulful self-assured new record Be Here Instead. What’s clear is we see a relentlessly hard-working performer who no longer has to chase the next gig for gas money, or has to worry if the world will accept his work. Holed up outside of Nashville with his wife, Millsap let the songs do the talking.
36 minutes | a month ago
This week, a special rebroadcast of our conversation with the three-time Grammy award winning roots n roll poet and rogue founding father of the thriving Americana movement - Steve Earle. The conversation was recorded outside Romp Fest in Kentucky on Earle’s tour bus. Remember when we could do stuff like that? After nearly four decades of relentless recording, international touring with his loyal group The Dukes, and a commendable fight to overcome his own substance abuse troubles, (not to mention six marriages and counting) Earle watched his talented song Justin Townes Earle go down a similar path - only to lose his fight with depression and opiates, passing away at the age of thirty-eight in August of 2020. With a new intro, we try and honor Justin’s memory and highlight Steve’s haunting newest record JT, where Earle tries to process his son’s passing by recording a collection of his most cherished songs.
64 minutes | a month ago
This week, we feature a conversation with one of most admired and sharp-witted singer-songwriters in the fertile Nashville Americana scene, Caroline Spence. A sought-after lyricist who mines her own vulnerabilities and lovelorn past to tell delicately crafted story-songs, her voice seems to always hover angelically above the page, bringing to mind new-wave country pop heroines Alison Krauss or her vocal hero, Emmylou Harris. Growing up in Charlottesville, VA daydreaming to Harris’ signature twangy honey-toned records like 'Wrecking Ball,' Spence admittedly was a bit starstruck when the silver-maned lady herself came on board to sing harmonies on the title track of Spence’s newest LP 'Mint Condition.' It quickly became a critic’s darling and an Americana radio staple nationwide. As a conversationalist, she usually leads with cheerful southern modesty, but beginning with her 2015 debut 'Somehow,' Spence wasn’t afraid to push at country music’s guy-centric boundaries. She brought aboard a talented group of genre-defining collaborators like blue-eyed soul hero Anderson East and folk pop favorite Erin Rae to give the songs new heft. Her follow-up 'Spades And Roses' brought more lush atmospherics to her yearning acoustic stories, elevating the clear-eyed feminine power behind emotive songs like “Heart Of Somebody.” While Spence will tell you she is just furthering the empowered spirit of roots songwriter pioneers who came before her, during this time of high anxiety, her deeply felt love songs like “Sit Here and Love Me” and “Slow Dancer” seem especially fitting, touching on her bouts of depression and her inability to connect with the ones who are trying to help her through. Sometimes sad songs truly do make people happy, and if you’re feeling a bit low, maybe pop on her newest single “The Choir,” about finding your people when you need them most.
59 minutes | a month ago
This week, we feature an intimate conversation with beloved soul and R&B singer Bettye LaVette. Covering her remarkable six decades in show-business, we dive deep into her beginnings as a Detroit hit-making teenager during Motown’s heyday (her neighbor was Smokey Robinson), to her early career touring with Otis Redding and James Brown, and the hard times that followed as a music industry steeped in racist and sexist traditions largely turned its back on her. While other soulful song stylists like Sharon Jones, Tina Turner, Mavis Staples and others have seen their status and popularity rise with time, LaVette remains a best kept secret in the nascent Americana circuit, with younger listeners just discovering her remarkable work covering anyone from The Beatles to Neil Young to Billie Holiday. After nearly dropping out of music, her remarkable comeback began in 2005 with a string of acclaimed records - bringing her from half-filled bars to singing “Blackbird” at The Hollywood Bowl with a 32-piece orchestra, being nominated for five Grammy awards, and being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. One thing you’ll notice immediately is her fiery laugh which punctuates the episode - even when telling the darkest stories like her early manager getting shot and her 1960s hits being recorded by white artists, leaving her versions largely forgotten. Her Grammy-nominated newest LP 'Blackbirds,' produced by legendary drummer Steve Jordan, shows her at her most vulnerable best.
57 minutes | 2 months ago
The Tallest Man On Earth
This week, we take the show to the countryside of Sweden for an intimate talk with Kristian Matsson, poet-songwriter and masterful acoustic multi-instrumentalist who has released five acclaimed albums and two EPs over the last decade and a half, performing as The Tallest Man on Earth. Growing up in the small hamlet of Leksand, a three hour trek from Stockholm, Mattson was in rowdier indie-rock outfits like Montezumas before breaking out with his own dreamier acoustic material - gaining international notice with his breakout solo offering 'Shallow Grave' in 2008. Tours with Bon Iver across North America gained Matsson an adoring audience in the states, where he ended up setting up shop in Brooklyn. Most often performing solo even on the biggest stages, Matsson is known to have seven or more intricate tunings for his guitars and banjos, and with his high, cutting voice and cryptic, nature-inspired lyrics, he has been compared to some of his heroes like Roscoe Holcomb, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon but with a Swedish-naturalist touch. Songs like “Love Is All” or “The Gardener,” while gaining tens of millions of steams on folky playlists, pack quite a punch, often detailing how the cold cruelty of the animal kingdom filters into human life with its many frailties. In 2019, Matsson found his marriage to a fellow Swedish singer-songwriter ending and he holed up in his Brooklyn apartment to write, produce and engineer his newest Tallest Man On Earth LP, 'I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream.' Like Springsteen’s eerie and emotional 'Nebraska,' Matsson's collection is a clear-eyed view of our current state of interpersonal (and even societal) isolations. Standout songs like the warm guitar and echoey harmonica opener “Hotel Bar” - though written before he knew what would happen with our current pandemic - seem to capture the lost closeness and romance of our very recent past, where one could fall in love with a new stranger every night in a new town and think nothing of it. Sequestered in a small house in the middle of Sweden since the world shifted last year, a new Tallest Man On Earth album is sure to be on its way. Admittedly Matsson is going a bit stir-crazy away from the road, but really he’s grateful to be able to have the time to explore and create new sounds without any distractions. A fall tour of the states is in the works (fingers crossed), including an opening slot at Red Rocks joining Mandolin Orange and Bonny Light Horseman.
53 minutes | 2 months ago
The Allman Betts Band
This week - it’s a rock-n roll-family affair with a special conversation with Devon Allman and Duane Betts - two guitar-slinging sons of the iconic Allman Brothers Band who formed their own soulful supergroup in 2019 - The Allman Betts Band. With their debut record 'Down To The River,' Allman and Betts - who took turns playing alongside their revered dads Gregg and Dickey as teenagers - finally banded together to create a new collection of the soaring slide-guitar-centered Gulf-coast rock and brawny road-tested blues that both pays homage to their heady upbringings and forges their own way forward. Even their touring bassist has a familiar name to Allman die-hards: Berry Oakley Jr., whose dad was one of the Allman Brothers' founding members when they formed in 1969 out of Jacksonville, FL. While many groups were stuck at home licking their wounds as the pandemic shut down most touring options, Devon and Duane’s crew tapped into the nascent drive-in circuit, bringing their spirited 2020 release 'Bless Your Heart' to a whole new set of excited fans. Always sticking to their southern roots, they laid down both records at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios with producer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Elvis Presley.) While history is always dancing in the margins of the songs, it’s clear on this second offering that they wanted to create stories that didn’t only reflect their roaring live shows. Standout songs like the soft piano ballad “Doctor’s Daughter” show the group roving in new, more nuanced directions - while “Autumn Breeze” is a pulsing, slow-burn, but features the effortless twin guitar lines that made their dads' work so instantly recognizable. Of course playing in the family business wasn’t always a given for the guys - especially Devon who only met his hard-touring father Gregg at sixteen. Devon first started hanging out with young Duane - then only twelve - in 1989 on the Allman Brothers' 20th Anniversary tour. As he describes in the episode, Devon wasn’t sure he wanted to follow in his father’s hard-to-follow footsteps, but once he sat in on “Midnight Rider“ and the crowd went crazy? It was off to the races. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Allman Brothers' breakout record 'Live At The Fillmore East' - which I grew up listening to on loop with my father. Though Duane Allman died tragically in a 1971 accident before his namesake was born, and Gregg passed away in 2017, their spirit lives on in the Allman Betts’ epic live show - which is already gearing up for the tentative 2021 touring season.
67 minutes | 2 months ago
Low Cut Connie
This week, we call in to Philadelphia for a conversation with the highly-theatrical pianist and tireless, much-adored performer Adam Weiner, who for the last decade has gained a cult following around the world fronting his soulful bizarro-rock outfit Low Cut Connie. Some artists have retreated into obscurity during the pandemic shut-down; some have made turned lemons into personalized live-stream lemonade. But Adam took it to another level when he launched his often twice-weekly vaudevillian interactive web show “Tough Cookies” from a back bedroom in March. Charging around his small home stage like a schvitzing piano preacher, often losing clothing along the way, Adam has learned nearly six hundred covers in the last eight months alone - from Barry Manilow to Cardi B’s "WAP" to Macho Man to an entire Little Richard set, which he performed to honor his hero after his passing. He then interviews anyone from Beyonce’s dad to members of Sly and the Family Stone - in short, it's a rollercoaster every week that you kind of have to watch to believe. Alongside his 2020 LP Private Lives, Low Cut Connie’s heartfelt and sweat-dripping sets have gained him some famous supporters: Elton John for one, fellow New Jersey-born hero Bruce Springsteen for another - and that up-and-coming playlist presenter Barack Obama unexpectedly placed Low Cut Connie’s defiant cabaret rocker “Boozophilia” on his must-listen list. Indeed, this taping - which often showed Adam jumping from his piano to his guitar to play favorites like the Kinks-esque “Revolution Rock N Roll,” initially had to be delayed so he could play an inauguration event for new president and Philly-piano lover Joe Biden. While Adam is basking in some much-earned attention, it hasn’t always been an easy road. He readily admits to scrapping by on side jobs into his mid-thirties, for years playing around dim New York City piano bars as his sequined alter-ego Ladyfingers. If Adam's learned anything during this strange era, it’s that people desperately still need live music - in all its spur-of-the-moment, sweaty glory. One of the more moving stories he tells is seeing groups of nurses in beleaguered hospitals taking a much needed break to watch his livestreams. Much like his hero and patron Elton John, Low Cut Connie’s songs can leap from intimate folk-rock to greasy soul to bombastic musical theater and back with ease - and his relentless spontaneity keeps fans waiting for that he will do next.
53 minutes | 2 months ago
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washurn (Rebroadcast)
This week, we’re bringing back a favorite episode featuring banjo heroes Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn. We caught up with this well-traveled roots music super couple a few years back on a tour through LA (back when live music was a thing). As we reckon with the one year anniversary of the music industry’s full shutdown, most touring artists and songwriters find themselves still sequestered at home with their partners, families or podmates (and in Abigail and Béla’s case, two rambunctious kids who can be heard in the taping). The beautiful connection and respect Fleck and Washburn have for one another on stage and at home is on full display during the episode - and if you follow their social media, you’ll see they are truly making the best of this dark downtime. Both could be considered pioneers not just in advancing the banjo into the mainstream - but in creating nuanced multi-lingual world music with an instrument once thought to only belong in front porch jam sessions or in barnstorming bluegrass bands. As we jump into women’s history month - now would be a good time to thank all the hard working moms, grandmas, sisters, aunties, wives, caretakers and creators of all stripes who helped make it possible for your favorite music to exist. We will be back every Wednesday with new episodes.
59 minutes | 3 months ago
Shovels & Rope
This week, we celebrate the newest record by Charleston’s hellion harmonizers Shovels & Rope, with a new conversation with the married co-leads Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. You’d be hard-pressed to find two harder-working singer-songwriters than this prolific duo; and that was before they got together to record their honey-voiced self-titled first album over a decade ago. Thinking it was just a sonic souvenir before they split off again to pursue their barnstorming bar-band solo careers, the human heart and some encouraging listeners had other plans, convincing them to keep creating as a team. They’ve been off to the races ever since - making five acclaimed records of originals starting with the acclaimed O’ Be Joyful and three gritty covers albums with an assassins row of collaborators like Lucius, Shakey Graves, Brandi Carlile, The War and Treaty, and more. Their newest cover project Busted Jukebox Volume 3, which dropped on Feb 5 via Dualtone Records, is a new experiment. You could say it’s an angsty rock record for kids, or maybe it’s an homage to the yearning, defiant, ever-hopeful teenager in all of us. With indie-darlings like Sharon Van Etten sitting in on standouts like the Beach Boys' “In My Room” and Deer Tick joining a rollicking version of the Janis Joplin favorite “Cry Baby” - like a good Pixar animated flick, this collection has just as much to offer Mom and Dad as it does for the kiddos. If you’ve seen them live, you’ll notice that Trent and Hearst often face each other, not the audience; their eyes never seem to leave each other. Almost all their songs, like the award-winning favorite “Birmingham,” include spot-on harmony and intensely-focused unison singing. Somehow they create a blisteringly big sound despite always remaining a duo. Even on the biggest stages, from Red Rocks to their own acclaimed festival High Water Fest (set in their longtime South Carolina home base), they stick to their simple but potent formula. Switching back and forth between jangly and crunchy guitars, humming keyboards and pounding piano, hopping from sweat-strewn stripped-down drum kits to aching accordions, their joyous garage-rock Americana keeps gaining them new fans worldwide. If you’re stuck at home and have kids running rowdily through your house like Michael and Cary Ann do, (this taping had to be rescheduled three times), maybe try turning on Busted Jukebox Volume 3 nice and loud and see what little ones think. Or just put them to bed and rock out yourself! Stick around to the end of the episode to Hearst and Trent present the sweet campfire jam “My Little Buckaroo” featuring M. Ward.
61 minutes | 3 months ago
The Lumineers (Jeremiah Fraites)
This week, host Z. Lupetin talks to one of the founding members of beloved folk-rock hitmakers The Lumineers - drummer and pianist Jeremiah Fraites. After following his heart to Italy, Jeremiah dialed into the podcast from Turin - his wife’s hometown. Alongside juggling duties as co-songwriter and performer in one of the most successful acoustic groups of the last twenty years and raising his two-year-old son, Fraites released a gorgeous instrumental record called Piano Piano this January. Nearly fifteen years in the making, Piano Piano was created at his former home in Denver during the height of the early COVID-19 lockdowns, with his two favorite pianos leading the way as main characters in a story that seemed to unfurl, as his wife would say in Italian, “step by step” - delicately, but with passion. First he used a newer Steinway for the brighter, more forceful tones, and then a warmly creaky creature, that his piano teacher sarcastically named “Firewood,” for the most personal moments. Really, it’s the tiny imperfections that make this solo work shine: when you can hear the bench swaying slightly, when you spot his wife making dinner in the next room as the sustain pedal is pressed into the wood floor, when the aged instrument struggles to hammer out the final notes (but finally does,) and when Fraites and the instrument seem to breathe and speak and cry out, together. While certain smaller songs like “Departure” and “Chilly” are as intimate as fateful field recordings, other standouts like “Tokyo” and “Arrival” are more polished pieces, blooming from that same small space but growing into masterful orchestral widescreen soundscapes with the help of violinist Lauren Jacobson (who often plays with The Lumineers,) cellists Rubin Kodheli and Alex Waterman, and the 40-piece FAME's Orchestra from Macedonia. Fraites was born in New Jersey, where he grew up with Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz. When they self-released their confessional and warm-hearted self-tilted record in 2012, the two friends never imagined that they would have a chart-topping hit on their hands. Playing the scruffy bars around Denver before their fanbase expanded exponentially and their first record went triple-platinum, The Lumineers soon found themselves headlining international pop festivals, opening for U2 and Tom Petty, placing songs in The Hunger Games and Game Of Thrones, selling out Madison Square Garden (twice) and finally filling their favorite hallowed Colorado venues like Red Rocks. Before the pandemic slowed them down, The Lumineers were bringing their same acoustic spirit to a full-on arena tour coast to coast - showcasing their newest album III. If you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably found yourself singing along to their romantic, stomping ear-worms “Ho Hey” or “Ophelia” or heard them accidentally a thousand times in the last decade, (both have been streamed over 500 million times and counting,) but all of that is paused for now. What a perfect time for a peaceful piano record to clear our heads. As Jeremiah has gained confidence as a sought-after composer, songwriter and unlikely pop performer, he’s given himself the space to finally create the deeply personal record he’s been hoping to share for decades.
42 minutes | 3 months ago
Blind Boys Of Alabama
This week on the show, to help honor Black History Month, we bring you a conversation with members of the foundational gospel group The Blind Boys Of Alabama - including longtime singer Ricky McKinnie, and beloved senior member Jimmy Carter who has been with the group for four decades. Formed in the late 1930s with talent discovered at the Alabama Institute Of The Negro Blind, the troupe has superseded its limitations by bringing its own high-spirited version of jubilee gospel throughout the world. Their music was often the backdrop to the civil rights movement as Martin Luther King JR. toured the south, and Jimmy and Ricky are amazed and grateful that their message was still ringing true during the Black Lives Matter protest movement of the tumultuous last year. While the members of the band have changed through history, the group has stayed steadfast to preserving a kinetic church-based music that doesn’t seek to evangelize, but can bring people of all faiths together. Indeed, watching Jimmy and the other bespectacled members walk with hands on each other’s shoulders into the youthful crowds of adoring festival goers from Bonnarroo to Jazzfest is really something to behold. Their body of work continues to grow. In the last few decades they’ve gamely collaborated with a wide range of secular artists from Peter Gabriel to Ben Harper to Bonnie Raitt, made an album with Bon Iver (the stellar 2013 release I’ll Find A Way) and shrewdly reworked the ominous Tom Waits classic “Way Down In The Hole” which became the theme for HBO’s The Wire. Their newest full length Almost Home, a treatise on morality and mortality, is particularly moving. It features songs written by Marc Cohn, Valerie June, The North Mississippi All Stars and many others - and was the last record that longtime member and bandleader Clarance Fountain was a part of before he passed away. Fountain was part of the group for for nearly sixty years. As Jimmy playfully mentions throughout the conversation, they’ve never let being blind stand in the way of doing what they do best: putting on a show. They’re entertainers at heart and it’s so small feat that they’ve brought a nearly lost form of swinging, soulful (and expertly arranged) gospel from the small southern towns where they grew up, all the way to the White House, where they’ve held court for three different presidents. They’ve won five Grammy Awards along the way. Stick around to the end hear their rich cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”.
68 minutes | 3 months ago
This week, a wide-ranging conversation with the peripatetic Pennsylvania-born confessional folk songwriter Sean Scolnick, who for the last fifteen years has become the troubadour truth-teller of the Americana circuit, amassing a devoted following performing as his many-hatted, impish alter-ego: Langhorne Slim. Host Z. Lupetin caught up with Langhorne to discuss his much awaited new LP Strawberry Mansion (just released last week via Dualtone) which is named after the neighborhood in Philadelphia where both of his grandfather grew up. Coming out of a deep creative funk, Langhorne produced a record of many entwined reckonings. A flurry of twenty two diaristic sonic sketches, incantations, and emotive story-songs following, sometimes in real time, his struggle with mental illness, pandemic isolation and sobriety - it is an overall hopeful collection that shows Langhorne may be finally finding his true calling on the other side of the darkness. Sean is never shy about revealing how his mental health and creativity are ever-evolving. Without playing the hundreds of international shows and festivals a year he normally does, Sean had to create at home in a new way. A note his therapist gave him still holds true as he releases his newest record without being able to take his guitar and his trademark worn hat in public to support it: “when you’re freaking out, just play”. Make sure you stick around the end of the episode where he plays an acoustic rendition of “Morning Prayer, joined briefly by his cat Mr. Beautiful.
66 minutes | 4 months ago
The Secret Sisters
This week, Z. talks with Laura and Lydia Rodgers, Grammy-nominated songwriters and preeminent harmonizers from Muscle Shoals, AL, who for the last decade have recorded as The Secret Sisters. First breaking through with their warmly-vintage, vocally-entwined self-titled record in 2010, they’ve toured the world relentlessly, while recording with a who’s who of Americana royalty like Dave Cobb and T Bone Burnett. If you’ve ever seen them live, Laura and Lydia are known for their sharp-tongued and story-filled live shows - which, even over Zoom, made them particularly rip-roaring interviewees. After breaking free of a major label hell which sidelined and nearly bankrupted them for a time, the sisters regrouped and created their most personal and pop-forward work yet, the heart-string pulling You Don’t Own Me Anymore (2017) and 2020’s fiery Saturn Return. Both were made with friend and producer Brandi Carlile, and both were nominated for a Grammy. While the last year plus was hard - they lost both grandmothers - there was quite a silver lining: Lydia and Laura each become moms, and have begun to sing their own lead pieces, courageously facing uncomfortable truths about their southern upbringing, calling out the double standards and sexual politics of the music industry, and showcasing their very different experiences as young mothers. With Carlile pushing them to find their own voices, Laura wrote the tender “Hold You Dear” while Lydia penned the more yearning and sardonic “Late Bloomer,” two favorites that stick out after repeated listens to the album. Still, the true beauty of Saturn Return - which they recorded with Carlile's beloved band - may be how Laura and Lydia can split off into new territory and then return together in chills-inducing harmony, as only real sisters could. Stick around to the end of episode for an intimate acoustic performance of “Nowhere, Baby.”
69 minutes | 4 months ago
To launch season four, we bring you a special cross-continent episode with acclaimed Canadian singer and guitarist Afie Jurvanen, known as Bahamas. Born in Ontario and now residing in Nova Scotia, Z. caught up with Afie from LA to discuss his playful and powerful newest record Sad Hunk - how he’s transitioned from brooding globe-trotting guitar wiz (he first became known as Feist’s right hand man) to a to cheerful mustachioed family-man, breaking out as a solo act making squirmy vocal-rich albums like Barcordes that made him a headliner across Canada, once playing recorder in front of Beyoncé at the Grammys, (the best story of the interview) and how he has let his recent songwriting get more personal and introspective during the 2020 upheaval where he was surrounded by his kids during his writing. Big thanks to Podcorn for sponsoring this episode. Host your own podcast? Check out Podcorn for sponsorship opportunities and start monetizing your podcast by signing up here: https://podcorn.com/podcasters/
48 minutes | 5 months ago
JD McPherson (Rebroadcast)
We made it to the end of 2020. To counteract the darkness of the longest days of the year, here is a special rebroadcast of our holiday show with Tulsa’s talented rocker and accidental new king of Christmas: JD McPherson. Much like the cosmic conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn which twinkled in the city sky last night (it only happens once every eight centuries or so), it is this podcast’s opinion that McPherson’s equally fractious and festive holiday masterwork “Socks” is, like Mariah’s holiday opus, a once in a generation record. It’s a record to cherish like a family heirloom, a record about weirdo Santas eating deep dish pizza that you want to play all year long without apology. Put it on, trust us. You need this right now. Thanks for sticking with us. See you in the new year with new episodes!
63 minutes | 5 months ago
The Show On The Road Presents: Under The Radar Podcast with Fantastic Negrito
This week we're bringing you an episode from another podcast we think you’d really like. It’s called Under The Radar Podcast and this episode features the fantastic Oakland-based artist Fantastic Negrito. Under The Radar is a monthly music podcast with host and producer, Celine Teo-Blockey. She's a music journalist who writes for the longtime indie music mag, also called Under the Radar. She interviews indie songwriters and independent artists, going deep into their childhood memories and the musical milestones that have helped shape their most recent albums. Committed to giving voice to a diverse host of artists, her guests have included Native American Singer/Songwriter Black Belt Eagle Scout, gender non-conforming Ezra Furman who also did the soundtrack for the popular Netflix show "Sex Education", Scottish band Travis, and Caroline Rose who started with an earnest country sound and evolved to electro-pop. The whole series is sound immersive, using archival tape, field recordings and music from the back catalogue of these artists. Under the Radar will be back with new episodes in March, 2021, and has some great guests lined up, including Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips and Emmy the Great, a Hong Kong-born Brit singer/songwriter. Subscribe to Under the Radar wherever you get your podcasts to catch up on their first season and get ready for what's to come in 2021.
77 minutes | 6 months ago
Bobby Rush (Rebroadcast)
This week we bring you a special rebroadcast of our episode featuring living blues legend Bobby Rush. Why now? Well this week he turns 87 and while he may be older than your harmonica-playing grandpa, he’s still going very strong. Bobby dropped his 27th studio record Rawer Than Raw this year and was nominated for a Grammy for good measure. As we react to the historic 2020 election results, it is more important than ever to hear from elder statesmen like Rush who was making music during the civil rights movement, met icons like John Lewis and know what’s really at stake. For the last six decades, Rush has been playing his own brand of lovably raunchy, acoustically crunchy and soulfully rowdy blues. Starting from his days as part of the Southern migration from his hometown of Homer, Louisiana, to the south side of Chicago (where he used to have Muddy Waters himself sub in for him when he couldn’t do a gig) Bobby won his first Grammy at the humble age of 83 after creating 370 plus recordings.
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