Charles McEnerney

Well-Rounded Radio

Featuring music interviews from every genre and industry thought-leaders. Past interviews include Akrobatik, Ashby, Balla Tounkara, The Baskervilles, Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom, Burnside Project, Clint Conley, Tanya Donelly, Howard Fishman Quartet, Grea
Well-Rounded Radio


Produced in Boston, Massachusetts, Well-Rounded Radio features interviews from every genre of music and industry thought-leaders. Past interviews include Akrobatik, Ashby, Balla Tounkara, Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom, Burnside Project, Clint Conley, Tanya Donelly, Howard Fishman Quartet, Great Lake Swimmers, Blake Hazard, Pete Miser, Mission of Burma, Mum, Joe Pernice, Pressure Cooker, Josh Ritter, Jimmy Ryan, Tarbox Ramblers, Twinemen, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Dan Zanes, and more.





Kyla Fairchild of No Depression: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Aug 5, 2010


The No Depression Festival takes place Saturday, August 21, 2010 at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington and features Sera Cahoone, The Cave Singers, Alejandro Escovedo, The Maldives, Chuck Prophet, The Swell Season, and Lucinda Williams. Buy tickets for $45.


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Long before the internet came barreling along, music magazines were one of the most important ways for music fans to read about their favorites and discover new artists.

I've spent my share of time and money reading great 4-color, glossy, music magazines and newspapers through the years: Rolling Stone. Creem. Trouser Press. NME. Melody Maker. The Big Takeover. Goldmine. Musician. The Bob. Record. Matter. Forced Exposure. Spin. Magnet. Ray Gun. Jazz Times. Paste. Filter. Harp. Mojo.

How would the audiences of modern music have grown and expanded were it not for all these magazines and dozens more like them? I'd be lying if I said all these wonderful publications didn't greatly shape my tastes in music, art, culture, and prose--and my record collection.

But why are they important? Just like blogs or podcasts, it was and is the people behind them...the writers and editors, photographers and designers, sales reps and trafficking and subscription folks. People who, by and large, really loved music and played the roles of tastemakers and critics and curators, bringing their favorites to the masses.

No Depression was another magazine I often bought, too. No Depression published its first print edition in 1995 and continued through 2008, carrying on the great traditions of smart writing and in-depth interviews with a focus on Americana or roots music or, alt-country, as it was called in its earliest days.

No Depression was co-founded and co-edited by Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock. The pair of writers brought Kyla Fairchild on as Publisher shortly thereafter and today she's keeping No Depression on as an online-only publication to galvanize fans and musicians of Americana and beyond.

The name No Depression comes from The Carter Family's 1936 song No Depression in Heaven, covered by Uncle Tupelo in 1990 on their debut album. From there, it became the name of a bulletin board about alt country that lived on America Online back in those early days of the consumer web, at the same time when this idea of country-influenced rock was beginning to gain traction. You can read more about this history of the song and magazine on

I first discovered No Depression in 1995 at the UW bookstore when I was living in Seattle while working at another start-up magazine: MovieMaker, a title about independent film.

Over the course of 13 years and 75 issues No Depression featured artists such as Blue Mountain, Solomon Burke, Steve Earle, Jason & the Nashville Scorchers, Patty Griffin, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Buddy Miller, Gram Parsons, The Shins, Son Volt, Ralph Stanley, The Waco Brothers, Whiskeytown, and Lucinda Williams, along with many others. We'll hear music from some of these artists during our interview.

Through the years the No Depression brand expanded through books, bookazines, radio series, tours, and more.

The Internet has clearly opened a lot of doors for music, without a doubt. I could argue, though, that it's reducing our attention span to nothingness in this era of “there’s always something else over there that is more shiny and new.” The reality of a shifting business model also means fewer record labels have a budget to advertise in magazines, making producing quality productions like No Depression magazine impossible.

Is this a good thing? I don't think so.

No Depression was highly regarded for its in-depth articles and interviews: they received Utne Reader’s Independent Press Awards for Arts & Literature coverage, and was cited as one of the nation's Top 20 magazines of any kind in 2004 by the Chicago Tribune.

With all their back-issues online, you can read 99% of their editorial content. You can also buy back issues of most of the print issues.

Fairchild is keeping the brand going by using the Ning social networking platform, volunteer writers and contributors, and 80,000 unique readers per month connecting and conversing at

In 2009, Fairchild added a concert held just outside Seattle in Redmond's Marymoor Park with Justin Townes Earle, Iron & Wine, Jessica Lea Mayfield, and Gillian Welch among others.

The 2010 No Depression Festival takes place Saturday, August 21st and features Sera Cahoone, The Cave Singers, Alejandro Escovedo, The Maldives, Chuck Prophet, The Swell Season, and Lucinda Williams. I’ve also featured many of them in this episode, too. Buy tickets for $45.

As so many online ventures, No Depression is now supported by advertising, merchandise and donations, so if you like what to hear in this show and on their site, then click on ads that interest you, buy something from from their advertisers, buy some No Depression back issues, books or bookazines, wearables, posters, bags and stickers, or make a donation.

I met with Fairchild in Seattle this spring to discuss:
* how she made her way into the publishing and advertising biz
* why she decided to take the leap to publishing No Depression online
* what she's learned being a pioneer in the field

Songs featured in the interview include:
1) Uncle Tupelo: No Depression (No Depression)
2) Lucinda Williams: Real Love (Little Honey)*
3) Son Volt: Catching On (Trace)
4) Blue Mountain: Blue Canoe (Dog Days)
5) The Shins: New Slang (Oh, Inverted World)
6) Jason and the Nashville Scorchers: Hot Nights in Georgia (Fervor)
7) The Carter Family: No Depression in Heaven
8) Buddy Miller: Returning to the Living Water (Universal United House of Prayer)
9) Merle Haggard: I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink
10) Emmylou Harris: Every Grain of Sand (Wrecking Ball)
11) Patty Griffin: Rain (1000 Kisses)
12) Loretta Lynn: You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man
13) Solomon Burke: Don't Give Up On Me (Don't Give Up On Me)
14) Steve Earle: Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best we Can Do) (Jerusalem)
15) Ralph Stanley: Poor Rambler
16) The Waco Brothers: Do You Think About Me? (Do You Think About Me?)
17) The Maldives: Tequila Sunday (Listen to the Thunder)*
18) Sera Cahoone: Baker Lake (Only as the Day is Long)*
19) Alejandro Escovedo: Faith (Street Songs of Love)*
20) Chuck Prophet: Where the Hell is Henry? (Let Freedom Ring!)*
21) The Swell Season: High Horses (Strict Joy)*

* Performing at 2010 No Depression Festival.

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George Wein of the Newport Jazz + Folk Festivals: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Jul 2, 2010


My friends at the Newport Jazz + Folk Festivals would like to invite you to become "one of the folk" and offer Well-Rounded Radio listeners some special ticket discounts.

Simply follow links to buy tickets for the Newport Folk Festival and enter the promo code "UFOLK" or buy tickets for the Newport Jazz Festival and enter the promo code "UJAZZ" when selecting tickets. (Discount is available for a limited time only. Offer good while supplies last. Not valid on previously purchased tickets or at gate. Does not apply to Friday evening concert.) See you at the shows!


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Festival owner and producer George Wein may not be one of those names in the history of music that everyone knows as he so often kept himself behind the scenes, but Wein has had an enormous impact on the world of live music and festivals, especially jazz.

Last year I interviewed Jay Sweet, who co-produces (with Bob Jones) the Newport Folk Festival; Sweet has worked with George Wein since 2005. You can hear that interview and check out the line-up for this year's folk festival, taking place July 30-August 1.

The Newport Jazz Festival takes place August 6-8, 2010.

Wein was born in in 1925 in Lynn, Massachusetts and grew up in Newton, where he learned to play jazz piano and performed in a variety of jazz groups. As he details in our conversation, after serving in the second World War, he opened Storyville, a jazz club that solidified his lifelong relationship with jazz musicians.

In 1954, Wein started the Newport Jazz Festival; five years later, with the help of Pete Seeger and others, the Newport Folk Festival was born. Wein went on to start a number of festivals in other cities, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, and JVC Jazz Festivals in cities around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, Warsaw, and Tokyo.

Throughout the years, the Newport Jazz Festival has featured the biggest and most innovative names in jazz. From Miles Davis to John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald to Billie Holiday, Count Basie to Louis Armstrong to Albert Ayler to Duke Ellington to Nina Simone to Wynton Marsalis, and the list goes on.

Wein and Nate Chinen wrote the biography Myself Among Others: A Life In Music, published in 2004 by Da Capo Press. It’s a terrific read for anyone interested in music festivals or the history of jazz over the last 60 years. Wein also now has a blog, Key of G: Notes from George Wein.

Wein could easily be called the grandfather of the modern music festival, introducing ideas like sponsorships into the equation as a way to sustain events of this scale.

For those who haven't been lucky enough to attend, the Newport festivals are held at Fort Adams on a peninsula overlooking Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay, and the 11,000 foot Newport Bridge. Surrounded by water, sail boats and listeners and a very easy-going crowd, the festivals' location is hard to beat. Do yourself a favor and go.

In 2007, Wein sold the the festivals to Festival Network, but in 2009, the company was headed for bankruptcy and Wein stepped back in to ensure the folk and jazz festivals in Newport took place again. As in 2009, the jazz festival is sponsored in 2010 by the healthcare company CareFusion. As Wein discusses, he's also organizing new kinds of festivals in New York City.

Over the years, the Newport Jazz Festival has brought live albums recorded during the festival and Wolfgang's Vault now has select, classic Newport concerts available to purchase. There's also several videos available, including 1960's Jazz on a Summer's Day and Newport Jazz Festival 1962.

The 2010 Newport Jazz Festival takes place August 6-8 this summer. The line-up includes more than 30 jazz artists and ensembles performing at three stages. For a full schedule and details on buying tickets or directions, visit For tickets for the Newport Folk Festival, taking place July 30-August 1, visit

I met with Wein in his Manhattan apartment--which you get to by walking down a hallway lined with beautiful, framed posters from many of his past festivals--to discuss:
* how he curates festivals for audiences and how its changed over the years
* how the festival has evolved over more than five decades
* why he came back to give the Newport festivals another life

Photo credit: John Abbott

Songs featured in the interview include:
1) J.D. Allen Trio: Sonhouse (Shine!) (in preview) *
2) Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Zeno (Infernal Machines) *
3) Glen Gray-Casa Loma Orchestra: Casa Loma Stomp (1930 Okeh version)
4) Benny Goodman: Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)
5) Elliot Lawrence: Elevation
6) George Wein: Back In Your Own Backyard (Wein, Women, & Song)
7) Ella Fitzgerald: Cotton Tail
8) Pete Seeger: Old Dan Tucker
9) Miles Davis: Fran-Dance (At Newport 1958)
10) John Coltrane: My Favorite Things
11) Dave Brubeck Quartet: How High the Moon
12) Charles Mingus: Cryin' Blues
13) Bob Dylan: It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Highway 61 Revisited)
14) Balfa Toujours: J'ai vu le loup, le renard et la belette
15) Duke Ellington: I Let a Song Out of My Heart
16) Esperanza Spalding: Ponta De Areia (Esperanza)
17) Ben Allison: Fred *
18) Dizzy Gillespie: Newport Blues (from Newport Jazz Festival 7/3/1959; available on Wolfgang's Vault)
19) McCoy Tyner: Four by Five
20) George Wein: Please
21) Uncle Tupelo: Graveyard Shift (preview for Kyla Fairchild of interview)

* Performing at Newport Jazz Festival 2010.

Song Sparrow Research: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

May 2, 2010


You might recall the 50th episode of Well-Rounded Radio with Mike Dreese of Newbury Comics where I talked about the origins of Well-Rounded Radio. My friend, Marion Seymour, who played a big part in the story, has two sons. Her oldest, Harrison Boyce, is a terrific designer and you can see his work at Harrison also created the current Well-Rounded Radio site (in Movable Type).

Marion's younger son, Hamilton Boyce, is a musician who Marion has been telling me about over the years, from going to the Garfield High School in Seattle and playing jazz to his first band, Grotto Fork, to the recording of Song Sparrow Research's first EP, The New Ragtime Revolution.

Last fall, I downloaded Song Sparrow Research's first full album, Welcome to the Potato Famine, from Bandcamp and was, to put it plainly, blown away.

Where The New Ragtime Revolution showed the band was finding its own sound, Welcome to the Potato Famine is the sound of a band becoming quite confident. It’s a sonic adventure that demonstrates both intensity and restraint. Some of the band’s songs are 6, 7, or 9 minutes long and have the effect of both exhilarating you and leaving you spent at the end.

Song Sparrow Research’s line-up for both recordings was David Balatero on bass and cello, Hamilton Boyce on guitar and vocals, and Nash Turley on drums and harmonica.

With the album recorded at the Caldwell Sculpture Studio in Seattle in the middle of winter and vocals in a studio, the album has a big, epic sound, but also a level of intimacy through the vocals.

Song Sparrow Research has been compared to a variety of artists, including Neil Young and Jeff Buckley, but I also hear hints of Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, jazz, improvisation, noise, and metal in the songs, too.

You can see some videos on their YouTube channel, including clips from live shows and music videos. Follow them on Twitter and become fan on Myspace.

You can still download Welcome to the Potato Famine at Bandcamp. Personally, I think $9.99 is an excellent price. Or, go cheap and buy at Amie Street and help drive them up the charts.

Song Sparrow Research is working on their second album now in Seattle, with an expanded line-up that includes more strings and stand up bass.

I sat down with Balatero and Boyce in December in Seattle to discuss:
* how the band recorded and produced their debut album in a giant metal working warehouse
* who some of their favorite artists are that also influence their work
* how are looking to make a living in this brave new world of music 2.0

Photo credit: Ethan Welty

Songs included in the episode include:
1) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine) (in preview)
2) Song Sparrow Research: Tall Landlords (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
3) Garfield High School Jazz Band
4) Grotto Fork: Not Guilty (Ungulate)
5) Grotto Fork: ADAT (Ungulate)
6) Song Sparrow Research: Dry Sun (The New Ragtime Revolution)
7) Song Sparrow Research: Short Sighted (The New Ragtime Revolution)
8) Song Sparrow Research: Told to Send (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
9) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (unreleased demo)
10) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
11) Song Sparrow Research: Colored Paper (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
12) Song Sparrow Research: Told to Send (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
13) Song Sparrow Research: Amp Dead (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
14) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
15) The Raggedy Anns: Standing in the Rain
16) Song Sparrow Research: Colored Paper (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
17) Song Sparrow Research: Heavy Shit (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
18) Song Sparrow Research: Experiments in Feedback Control (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
19) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
20) Song Sparrow Research: Green to the Ground (The New Ragtime Revolution)
21) Song Sparrow Research: Another Day/Gooseneck (The New Ragtime Revolution)
22) Song Sparrow Research: Heavy Shit (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
23) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
24) Song Sparrow Research: Tall Landlords (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
25) Song Sparrow Research: Amp Dead (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
26) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine)

Ken Irwin of Rounder Records: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Apr 15, 2010


At a moment where what being a record label means is certainly in flux, Rounder Records is celebrating its 40th anniversary and, in many ways, showing what it means for artists who share a label and what that means to its customer and fans. (News on 4/14/10: Concord Records acquires Rounder Records)

Rounder Records was started in March 1970 by Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton-Levy, and Bill Nowlin (left to right). In our interview, Irwin tells us how the label came to be, and how they began with blues and bluegrass, and evolved the label to include folk, Cajun, Celtic, and reggae music.

Rounder also manages 18 subsidiary labels, including Heartbeat and Zoe Records.

As someone who knows a bit about bluegrass music, but wanted to learn more, I also ask Irwin to take us through the history of bluegrass.

Irwin kindly takes us through the history of bluegrass from Bill Monroe to Flatt & Scruggs to Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to Alison Krauss to Steve Martin.

From the Theme from Deliverance to Bonnie and Clyde to O Brother, Where Art Thou? to bluegrass festivals around the world, Irwin helps us to understand some landmark moments in the history of the form and why it’s thriving now more than ever.

There are, of course, a lot of great resources about bluegrass music online, including Wikipedia, DMOZ, International Bluegrass Music Association, Society for the Preservation Bluegrass Music of America, International Bluegrass Music Museum, Bluegrass Works, and iBluegrass.

There is also a terrific book about Bill Monroe by Da Capo Press, Can't You Hear Me Callin': The Life of Bill Monroe by Richard Smith.

From starting a record label because, as Irwin put its, “nobody told us we couldn’t” to winning a Grammy Award for Allison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Raising Sand collaboration, there are many lessons within Rounder’s story for musicians in 2010 and beyond.

In our next episode of Well-Rounded Radio, we’ll feature an interview I did with Scott Billington, the Vice President of A&R for Rounder Records with a focus on Cajun and zydeco music, much of which Billington has produced himself.

Rounder Records celebrated its 40th anniversary in March with a new concert CD and DVD, as well as a concert special on PBS. The concert featured Mary Chapin Carpenter, Minnie Driver, Bela Fleck, Allison Krauss and Robert Plant, Allison Krauss & Union Station with Jerry Douglas, Steve Martin, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Madeleine Peyroux, and Irma Thomas.

They’ve also just revamped their web site, and there's a great book about Rounder, The Never-Ending Revival: Rounder Records and the Folk Alliance by Michael F. Scully.

I spoke with Irwin in Newburyport, Massachusetts to discuss
* why they started the label and how it has kept going
* how Rounder evolved through the years
* what some challenges are for roots music in the year 2010

Songs featured in the interview include:
1) J.D. Crowe and the New South: The Old Home Place
2) Alison Krauss and Robert Plant: Rich Woman
3) George Pegram: Mississippi Sawyer
4) George Pegram: Are You Washed in the Blood?
5) Joe Val: Along about Daybreak
6) Don Stover: Things in Life
7) Hazel Dickens: Hills of Home
8) Bill Monroe: Molly and Tenbrooks
9) Flatt & Scruggs: Go Home
10) MIke Seeger: The Memory of Your Smile
11) Bill Monroe: Blue Grass Breakdown
12) Jim & Jessee: Hard Hearted
13) Bill Monroe: Orange Blossom Special
14) Conne and Babe & The Backwood Boys: Home is Where The
15) The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will the Circle be Unbroken
16) Summertown Road: Summertown Road
17) Vern Williams: When Springtime Comes Again
18) Steve Martin: Late for School
19) Alison Krauss & Union Station: Every Time You Say Goodbye
20) J.D. Crowe & The New South: Long Journey Home
21) Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass: At the End of a Long Lonely Day
22) Whitstein Brothers: Arkansas
23) The Soggy Bottom Boys: I am a Man of Constant Sorrow
24) Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick: Is the Blue Moon Still Shining
25) Alison Krauss and Robert Plant: Gone Gone Gone
26) Jimmy Rogers with Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters: Left me with a Broken Heart
27) The Balfa Brothers: J'ai Vu Le Loup, Le Renard Et La Belette
28) Bela Fleck: Crossfire
29) Minnie Driver: Cold Dark River (Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert)
30) Irma Thomas: River is Waiting (Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert)
31) Sierra Hull: Secrets
32) James King: Leavin'
33) Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard: Montana Cowboy
34) James Hand: Don't Want Me Too
35) Marcia Ball: That's Enough of that Stuff

The Well-Rounded Radio Fundraiser, Sunday, April 18th at 1 PM at Middle East Upstairs

Apr 3, 2010


For about eight years I've been interviewing musicians and industry thought leaders for Well-Rounded Radio. To date I've interviewed more than 70 musicians from every genre plus music industry thought leaders. The series now draws 18,000 listeners per month from around the world.

It's always been a labor of love, but the time has come for our first fundraiser!

Join us on Sunday, April 18th at 1 PM at The Middle East (upstairs) in Cambridge, MA for an afternoon of amazing live music from some of Well-Rounded Radio's past guests.

The line-up of performers includes:

> Lovewhip (hear my 2003 interview )
> Jeffrey Simmons (hear my 2006 interview)
> Spouse (hear my 2007 interview)
> Michael Tarbox (hear my 2004 interview)
> Ryan Walsh of Hallelujah the Hills (hear my 2005 interview with The Stairs and my 2007 interview with Hallelujah the Hills)

Your $20 donation gets you in the door--and bring some extra cash to buy music and merch from these wonderful + generous musicians! The show is ALL AGES.

You can buy advance tickets at The Middle East box office or online at Ticketmaster.

RSVP on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for updates and more.

his afternoon event will raise funds to cover our costs for hosting the site and bandwidth plus some of our ongoing marketing expenses to spread the word about Well-Rounded Radio.

Want to help spread the word? Invite your friends online or print out our pdf flyer and hang some in your corner of the (New England) universe.

Here's a rundown of who is on the mixtape:

1) Hallelujah the Hills: Blank Passports (from Colonial Drones)
2) Michael Tarbox: Whose Fault but Mine (from My Primitive Joy)
3) Jeffrey Simmons: Gonna Get You (from the forthcoming album
4) Lovewhip: Wrecking Machine (from Love Electric)
5) Spouse: Keep Being You (from the forthcoming album
6) Jeffrey Simmons: Little Wishes (from the forthcoming album
7) Michael Tarbox: Darkness is a Rider (from My Primitive Joy)
8) Hallelujah the Hills: Station (from Colonial Drones)
9) Lovewhip: Love Electric (from Love Electric)
10) Spouse: Impressed by You (from the forthcoming album
11) Michael Tarbox: November Song (from My Primitive Joy)
12) Lovewhip: Chaueffer Blues (from Love Electric)
13) Jeffrey Simmons: Each Day (from the forthcoming album
14) Spouse: Sudden Moves (from the forthcoming album
15) Hallelujah the Hills: Classic Tapes (from Colonial Drones)
16) Jeffrey Simmons: Get Through This (from the forthcoming album
17) Lovewhip: Automatic (from Love Electric)
18) Michael Tarbox: Beautiful Girl (from My Primitive Joy)
19) Spouse: Coaster (from Relocation Tactics)

See you there! - Charlie

Lawrence Lessig: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Feb 23, 2010


This episode is dedicated to Dan Nash, a friend of mine in England who passed away on January 22. Dan was working on a number of different music projects including New Musical Order and Rockin' Daily. We were fans of each others' work online and were working together on Musicians for Music 2.0. Dan had a congenital heart defect and has left us at the young age of 28. I hope he is listening to this episode up there and enjoying it...

lessig.jpgIn many music and entertainment circles, the name Lawrence Lessig needs no introduction, but for those who don't know his work, here's some background.

Lessig is a lawyer and activist whose interests are mostly in intellectual property, copyright, technology, and political reform. He's has written five influential books, including Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (2000), The Future of Ideas (2001), Free Culture (2004), Code: Version 2.0 (2006), and Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (2008).

Remix was just published in paperback in October 2009.

Over the past 10 years, Lessig has worked for both Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School. He is currently a lawyer at Harvard Law School and director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Lessig is a founding board member of Creative Commons. In 2008, Lessig launched the Change Congress campaign, now called Fix Congress First.

Lessig talks about Creative Commons during the interview, but in a nutshell it's an organization with copyright tools that allows content creators to give various levels of freedom to others for them to remix and build upon the original work.

The idea behind remix culture is how an artist can take a work that a pervious artist has produced and build upon it to create something new. The term has become more commonplace in the last decade, but in fact the concept has been in use for decades, most notably in rap music starting 30 years ago.

Growing up in Queens, New York, I was lucky enough to hear the rap bands of the first era pretty early on (granted, thanks to bands like Blondie and The Clash and college radio putting Grandmaster Flash, The Sugar Hill Gang, Kurtis Blow, and Afrika Bambaattaa on my radar) which usually utilized sampling techniques when creating their music.

I have long been a fan of the groups who fine tuned the ideas behind audio sampling to perfection, in Long Island's Public Enemy and De La Soul. I’ve always thought both groups pushed the ideas behind sampling in ways that few others did before or since, albeit in very different directions.

With Public Enemy’s 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and De La Soul’s 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising, at the moment it seemed like the idea of what music “is” was being reinvented.

But, after a series of lawsuits for a variety of musicians and labels, the art of sampling and remixing was largely hobbled, in either using others work with or without their consent.

Twenty years later, it is still mostly the domain of those willing to tread in dangerous waters or for artists who want to engage their own fans by allowing them to remix work as part of the growing participatory culture community. For remix artists who might be looking to push their ideas further, it’s unlikely they can put their work into the public without a sizable budget.

Having read all of Lessig’s work and seen two recent documentaries about the remix culture (Brett Gaylor’s RIP: A Remix Manifesto and Benjamin Franzen’s Copyright Criminals), I wanted to speak with Lessig about how current musicians could utilize Creative Commons and share with their own audience as well as look at how we music fans can better understand this era of shared creativity, which dramatically changes the idea of those performers vs. us in the audience.

In addition to these films and Lessig’s Remix book, some good reads on the subject include DJ Spooky’s book Sound Unbound (2008) and Matt Mason’s The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism (2009).

The show includes music from the earlier era of sampling as well as some recent examples of mainstream musicians offering up their work for remixing, including David Byrne and Brian Eno, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, and Bjork.

I sat down with Lessig at his office at Harvard Law School to discuss:
* why it’s unlikely the current copyright system will change
* why Greg Gillis, also known as Girl Talk, has not been sued
* how Creative Commons works and how musicians can use it to engage their fans even more

Songs included in the interview include:
1) Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome ( ) (in preview)
2) Grandmaster Flash: The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
3) De La Soul: Me Myself and I (3 Feet High and Rising)
4) Public Enemy: Night of the Living Baseheads
5) Beastie Boys: Sabotage remix
6) Radiohead: Reckoner (In Rainbows)
7) Nick Olivetti: Nasty Fish remis of Reckoner
8) David Byrne + Brian Eno: Help Me Somebody (My Life in the Bush of Ghosts)
9) Owl Garden: Secret Somebody remix
10) Hit me somebody
11) Girl Talk: No Pause
12) Girl Talk: In Step
13) Danger Mouse: Encore (The Gray Album)
14) Nina Simone: Lilac Wine: The Album Leaf remix
15) Bjork: Venus as a Boy remix
16) Fatboy Slim: Praise You
17) Radiohead: Weird Fishes: Amplive remix

If you enjoyed this episode of Well-Rounded Radio, give a listen to other interviews with have done with music industry thought leaders, including Scott Kirsner, author of Fans, Friends, and Followers, Michael Bracy of The Future of Music Coalition, Tim Westergren of Pandora, and Dave Kusek, co-author of The Future of Music book.

Yoko K.: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Jan 14, 2010


The first time I heard Yoko K.'s music, through a submission I received via SonicBids, I found myself pulled into her alluring soundscapes and songs and kept coming back for more over the following weeks. With layered recordings hinting at influences like Bjork, Massive Attack, Portishead, Brian Eno's ambient work, and jazz vocalists, Yoko K.'s music is all her own.

Yoko Kamitani, who works under the name Yoko K., was born in Japan and moved to the United States in 2004. Her debut album, 012906, was released in 2006 by Asahra Music in Washington D.C., which won her the Best Album in Electronica/Dance award at the 6th annual Independent Music Awards.

Yoko K. performed, produced, programmed, and recorded the album almost entirely by herself. As singer and keyboardist, she also has the help of some string and horn players, but the scope of 012906 doesn't feel like an album recorded at a home studio with the help of a few musical friends. Instead, it's the kind of project an early-era Bjork might have created with a level of confidence, risk, and adventure that made me think Yoko K. was overdue for more attention. And, as with most albums that reward repeated listens, I kept finding new layers to what Yoko K. was doing on the album, truly moving electronic music a step forward through her choices of instruments that she pairs. I love the mood that the entire album creates when heard in sequence.

Yoko K.'s influences are trance, trip-hop, and classical, but she also weaves in jazz, Celtic, and funk at unexpected moments to great effect. There's an air of improvisation, though as a sole artists/producer in the studio, it is likely more planned than not.

Also like Bjork, Yoko K. has a playful persona that resonates throughout the work, as if she herself is finding her way through the words and music. 012906 mixes electronic instrumentation with acoustic instruments, resulting in organic electronica, as she calls it.

Yoko K. is working on her second album and, in something of a Well-Rounded Radio first, she has shared ten demo versions and early mixes with us in advance of the final product coming out later in 2010. To me, each piece sounds like Yoko K. is creating more complex pieces and I'm sure her next release will be even more accomplished than the first.

Yoko K. has also created music with other collaborators as well as producing music used in conjunction with artists and organizations with some political and societal inspirations. She is also a keyboard player and backing vocalist for Dust Galaxy, a solo project of Rob Garza from Thievery Corporation, and toured across the United States and Europe in 2006-7.

Yoko K. also performs with Aphrodizia, Aphrodizia at The Velvet Lounge, Aphrodizia at The Velvet Lounge II, Aprhodizia at The Velvet Lounge III, an experimental music ensemble, in the Seduce & Destroy series and with visual artists; some highlights can be seen at All Our Noise, Presentation at NMWA / CreativesDC and From Nothing. You can also see two videos of her songs Blues of Grande Chai and Hello Hello.

Yoko K. was also generous enough to let me use Hello Hello as part of the Musicians for Music 2.0 presentation that I recently posted online:

I sat down with Yoko K. in Washington D.C. to discuss:
* how her first album came to exist
* how those first songs come together for her while working mostly alone
* how her work with visual artists is impacting her aural work

Songs included in the interview include:
1) Take Off (012906) (in preview)
2) Uchu Ryokou (012906)
3) 012906 (012906)
4) La Complainte D'r2 (012906)
5) Blues of Grande Chai (012906)
6) Eleventh Year (012906)
7) Deviant Flower First Mix (demo for upcoming album)
8) Hello Hello (012906)
9) Bubblenest Short (demo for upcoming album)
10) This Beast (demo for upcoming album)
11) AppleZ videoedit (demo for upcoming album)
12) Hug Robot (demo for upcoming album)
13) Cry 129 (demo for upcoming album)
14) Yoake (012906)
15 Carry On (demo for upcoming album)
16) Vaspa (demo for upcoming album)
17) Prisoner (demo for upcoming album)
18) Underwater (demo for upcoming album)
19) Tap (demo for upcoming album)
20) Yun Ae Se Po

To purchase Yoko K.'s 012906 album visit the, Amie Street, Asahra Store, CD Baby, iTunes, or Lala.

Erin McKeown + Jill Sobule: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Nov 2, 2009


I've been a fan of Jill Sobule (left) and Erin McKeown (right) for a long time and, in the last year or so, they have become pioneers of new fundraising models for the music industry. They both also have new albums out and are out on a US tour together through the start of December, including:

* Wed Nov 04: Ann Arbor MI at The Ark
* Thu Nov 05: Cleveland OH at Beachland Tavern
* Fri Nov 06: Buffalo NY at The Ninth Ward
* Sun Nov 08: Chicago IL at Old Town School of Folk Music
* Mon Nov 09: Madison WI at High Noon Saloon
* Tue Nov 10: Minneapolis MN at Cedar Cultural Centre
* Thu Nov 12: Seattle WA at Tractor Tavern
* Fri Nov 20: Santa Monica CA at McCabe’s Guitar Shop
* Sat Nov 21: Santa Barbara CA at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club
* Sun Nov 22: San Diego CA at Casbah
* Fri Nov 27: Denver CO at Walnut Room
* Sun Nov 29: Kansas City MO at Record Bar
* Mon Nov 30: St. Louis MO at Off Broadway
* Thu Dec 03: Asbury Park NJ at The Saint
* Fri Dec 04: New York NY at Highline Ballroom
* Sat Dec 05: Philadelphia PA at World Cafe Live
* Sun Dec 06: Goshen MA at The IMA Big Barn

I was lucky enough to have some time with them both just before their first show of the tour at Club Passim the famed club in Cambridge, Massachusetts that started as Club 47 in 1958. You can find their upcoming dates at on McKeown's site or Sobule's site.

Sobule has released eight albums since her first, Things Here are Different in 1990, including releases on the Atlantic and Artemis Record labels. Her latest album, California Years, was financed entirely by her fans with tiers of donation levels and corresponding tiers of how donors were involved with hearing or participating in the record itself. Aiming for $70,000, Sobule ultimately raised close to $90,000 from 500 of her fans.

McKeown has also released eight albums since her first, Monday Morning Cold, in 1999 including releases on Nettwerk Records and Signature Sounds. McKeown raised money to produce her new album, Hundreds of Lions, by producing a series of online video variety shows, each webcast from different spots at her home in Western Massachusetts. McKeown charged a subscription rate to view all four episodes. You can still subscribe and view these. The album was just released by Ani DiFranco's label Righteous Babe Records.

McKeown was also on a panel called "The New DIY: Creative Control in an Accelerated World" at the recent Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington D.C.

McKeown and Sobule are literally leading the way in the new music ecosystem where musicians and music fans are connecting directly with each other via the internet. Instead of musicians sharing their revenue with a record store, a distributor, and a record label, artists are utilizing fan-funded opportunities to allow them to bring new work to their fans. Some other recent examples include David Bazan, Kristin Hersh, Idlewild, Issa (Jane Siberry), Marillion, Amanda Palmer (hear the Well-Rounded Radio Interview), Public Enemy, and Michael Tarbox (hear the the Well-Rounded Radio Interview).

Sobule's California Years was produced by Don Was (Was (Not Was) and producer of Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones, B-52’s, and many, many more) and written over the past three years after she moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and is often very much about the Golden State. As she has long done, Sobule switches between subjects that touch you and humor with some real substance...she keeps you guessing and coming back for more.

McKeown's Hundreds of Lions was produced by her longtime musical partner Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter (hear the Well-Rounded Radio Interview), Langhorne Slim, Kris Delmhorst). Together they experimented with pairing acoustic and synthesized sounds, resulting in a lush, sophisticated record that continues McKeown's musical journey as a performer that you can never quite predict what sounds she'll be creating next. Just the way I like 'em.

We recently spoke in the dressing room at Club Passim--with all the sounds you'd expect in a nightclub and restaurant-- to discuss:
* how each of them came to decide to organize fan-funded projects
* some pros and cons to recording and releasing your own work
* what they’ve learned by being pioneers...and what they still aspire to learn

Songs featured in this episode from McKeown's Hundred of Lions and Sobule's California Years albums include:
1) Erin McKeown: Santa Cruz
2) Jill Sobule: Nothing to Prove
3) Jill Sobule: San Francisco
4) Jill Sobule: The Donor Song
5) Erin McKeown: The Foxes
6) Erin McKeown: The Rascal
7) Jill Sobule: Where is Bobbi Gentry?
8) Erin McKeown: To a Hammer
9) Jill Sobule: Palm Springs
10) Erin McKeown: You, Sailor
11) Jill Sobule: Empty Glass
12) Erin McKeown: The Foxes
13) Jill Sobule: League of Failures
14) Erin McKeown: (Put the Fun) Back in Funerals
15) Jill Sobule: Spiderman
16) Erin McKeown: 28
17) Jill Sobule: Mexican Pharmacy
18) Erin McKeown: Seamless
19) Jill Sobule: A Good Life
20) Erin McKeown: The Boats
21) Jill Sobule: The Donor Song

Scott Kirsner of Fans, Friends & Followers: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Oct 4, 2009


Somewhat unintentionally, a number of the last handful of episodes of Well-Rounded Radio have been about what may well be the future of the music business, with interviews featuring Michael Bracy of The Future of Music Coalition, Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity, Jeff Price of TuneCore, and Joshua Boltuch of Amie Street.

As more and more power has been taken out of the hands of the traditional music industry and put in the hands of musicians, it's feeling like the goals are no longer a major record label deal, massive amounts of commercial radio airplay, a hit video on MTV, or the cover of Rolling Stone, even if those things are still all very welcome.

So what's next, for both musicians and music fans who want to discover their next favorite band or recording?

Certainly it's going to be a more direct relationship between them than ever before and, at least for the near future, will entail the artists or their "people" closely managing these relationships through tools like email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace,, and an ever-growing list of online technologies that are helping us all to connect.

Scott Kirsner's new book Fans, Friends, & Followers looks at how some pioneers are using the internet to connect with their audience, grow that fan base, and turn it into something profitable without the traditional infrastructure in the music, comedy, publishing, and film & video industries.

Kirsner is a journalist for Variety and The Boston Globe and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Wired, Fast Company, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, BusinessWeek, and Newsweek, among other publications.

Kirsner writes the CinemaTech blog, which explores the way technology is changing the entertainment industry. He is the author of Inventing the Movies, a technological history of Hollywood published in 2008, and The Future of Web Video: New Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers, first published in 2006.

Kirsner is one of the founders of the Nantucket Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Future Forward events. He also speaks and moderates regularly at entertainment industry events, including the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the South by Southwest Film Festival.

As some recent success stories like Jill Sobule, Issa (the artist formerly known as Jane Siberry), or Amanda Palmer (hear the Well-Rounded Radio interview with Palmer) are proving, artists can also go direct to their fans to help fund recording or visual projects as well.

Kirsner's book approaches each subject as a question and answer session, featuring such Internet music successes as Jonathan Coulton, OK Go, DJ Spooky, Jill Sobule, Richard Cheese, Chance, and the Coverville podcast, along with a look at new business models in video, visual arts, and narrative writing.

The episode features music from many of these artists as well as a number of musical artists who I am friends with or follow or are fans of on things like Facebook and Twitter. I essentially sent out a note to a variety of musicians that I am connected to and, to Scott Kirsner’s point, I basically crowdsourced the majority of music in this episode in a matter of about five hours. Many of these songs are new that have not been released or demos, which I think is a great example of how the internet has changed how musicians, online media like me, and audiences like you are all now interacting.

I sat down with Kirsner at his office in Beacon Hill in early Summer in Boston to discuss:
* why he decided to write about a book about this subject now
* how all these changes in connecting are changing how musicians are behaving
* some ways to use the internet to better engage your fans--and find new ones

Music featured in the episode includes:
1) Pressure Cooker: Without Purpose (in preview)
2) Zoe Keating: Walking Man (in preview)
3) Lovewhip: Love Electric
4) John Haydon: Blue Van
5) The Jescos (including Timothy Bracy of The Mendoza Line): Movable Feast Blues
6) Lagoon: Blind
7) Song Sparrow Research: Colored Paper
8) Hallelujah the Hills: Classic Tapes
9) Jonathan Coulton: Code Monkey
10) Jill Sobule: Nothing to Prove
11) Amanda Palmer: The Point of it All
12) John McGrath: Some Holy Ghost
13) Preacher Jack: I'm in Love Again
14) Richard Barone: Girl
15) Dear Leader: Barbarians
16) OK Go: Here it Goes Again
17) Young Tremors: Pebble in My Sea
18) Bodega Girls: She's Into Black Guys
19) Jenn Vix: The Fire
20) Richard Cheese: Gin and Juice
21) The Sissormen: Maddie Sweet Maddie

Jay Sweet of Folk Festival 50: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Jul 29, 2009


The Newport Jazz Festival started in 1954 by George Wein and is celebrating its 55th anniversary on August 8th and 9th in Newport, Rhode Island.

It's slightly younger sibling, long known as the Newport Folk Festival and going by the name George Wein's Folk Festival 50 this year, is celebrating its 50th anniversary on August 1st and 2nd. The folk festival was started by Theodore Bikel, Oscar Brand, Albert Grossman, Pete Seeger and George Wein.

Jay Sweet (pictured with founder George Wein) has been producing the festival for the last few years and you may also know his name as Editor-at-large for Paste magazine. Sweet also co-owns a music services company called Sweet & Doggett.

This year's line-up includes The Avett Brothers, Balfa Toujours, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, The Campbell Brothers, Neko Case, Guy Clark, Judy Collins, Dala, Dear Tick, The Decemberists, Brett Dennen, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Tim Eriksen and the Shape Note Singers, Fleet Foxes, Arlo Guthrie, Iron and Wine, Ben Kweller, Langhorne Slim, The Low Anthem, Del McCoury, Tift Merritt, Tom Morello: The Nightwatchmen, Joe Pug, David Rawlings Machine, Josh Ritter (listen to the Well-Rounded Radio interview with Josh Ritter), Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Pete Seeger, Mavis Staples, and Gillian Welch. You'll hear some highlights from many of these artists woven into my conversation with Sweet.

You can buy tickets to next weekend's festival at and if you can't make it to Newport, listen to NPR Music's webcasts.

It's safe to say most people know about the festival because of a single event: the time Bob Dylan plugged in and allegedly got booed by fans of his acoustic music, but when you think about it, that's kind of silly. Newport has been going for all these years bringing new talent to their stages long before and after Bob Dylan was booed (or not).

I've attended the festival several times in the past and it's always great fun. It's a beautiful venue at Fort Adams State Park surrounded by Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay and the mood feels more like a gathering of friends than it does like many big music festivals these days.

To learn more about the spirit and performances of the mid-1960s version of the festival, there's a 1967 documentary film entitled Festival based on the 1963-1965 festivals out on DVD.

With Boston's Summer of 2009 non-stop rain ceasing for a little while, we took advantage of it and did the interview in Sweet's backyard on Boston's north shore. There’s a bit of wind hitting the microphones at the beginning, but it doesn't last. And so when you hear birds, now you’ll know they are the real thing.

I sat down with Sweet to discuss:
* how and why the festival has kept its loyal audience over the years while also keeping up with times
* how they curate the festival with both familiar and unfamiliar names on the bill
* why playing the festival is a seminal moment for so many artists in their careers

Music featured in the episode from artists performing at the George Wein's Folk Festival 50 in 2009 include:
1) Langhorne Slim: Rebel Side of Heaven
2) Josh Ritter: To the Dogs or Whoever
3) Pete Seeger: The Wreck of the Old 97
4) Tift Merritt: Broken
5) Arlo Guthrie: Grand Coulee Dam
6) Iron and Wine: White Tooth Man
7) Ben Kweller: Things I Like to Do
8) Neko Case: Don't Forget Me
9) Fleet Foxes: Mykonos
10) Del McCoury: I'm Bound for the Land of Canaan
11) Dear Tick: Friday XIII
12) Dala: Lonely Girl
13) Tao Rodriguez-Seeger:
14) Mavis Staples: Freedom Highway (live)
15) Billy Bragg: The Beach is Free
16) The Decemberists: The Hazards of Love 2
17) Joe Pug: Hymn #101
18) The Campbell Brothers: Good all the Time
19) Ramblin' Jack Elliott: Sowing on the Mountain
20) Balfa Toujours: J'au vu le loup, le r
21) Tim Eriksen and the Shape Note Singers: The Maid Freed From the Gallows
22) The Low Anthem: Charlie Darwin
23) Gillian Welch: My First Lover
24) Joan Baez: God is God
25) The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You

Jay recommends Bonnaroo, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and The Forecastle Festival.

Charlie recommends Bumbershoot and Green River Festival.

Joshua Boltuch of Amie Street: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Jun 21, 2009


So, back in the 70s, my older siblings Michael, Maureen, Joseph, and John respectively turned me onto Arlo Guthrie, Carly Simon, Led Zeppelin, and The Monkees and my cousin Thomas turned me onto The Clash, The Ramones, and Talking Heads.

With that kind of introduction and education, it's no surprise I got hooked on music and started buying vinyl.

If I remember correctly, Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was my first in 1973 at Korvettes in Flushing, Queens...of course a double album. My dad told me that if it affected my grades in any way, he would take it away. I was seven.

$4.99 was then the going rate for a single LP. Then the prices slowly starting climbing over the years, despite Tom Petty’s very public efforts in the early 80s, and vinyl rose bit by bit until it was about $7.99 or $8.99.

When CDs came along in the late 80s, even though they were less expensive to produce, the list prices put them at $14.99 or more. Over the last 10-15 years, the street price has settled at about $11.99 or so, but of course lots of places sell them for more and less than that. Of course now CD prices are dropping in price to compete with digital downloads and they are often costing less than mp3s albums.

After the demise of the original Napster and the rise of iTunes, the $.99 a song model arose and somehow took hold. But in an era where many listen to music free from myspace or off of artists’ web sites and others file share, most working musicians are wondering how they will make a living making music when it's clear you can’t rely on the sale of a physical product any longer, along comes an idea that I really like.

Amie Street was started in Providence, Rhode Island on Amie Street on July 4, 2006 by Elliott Breece, Josh Boltuch and Elias Roman while at Brown University. They are now based in Long Island City, just across the river from Manhattan. Roman is the Director of Business Development and Operations, Breece is the Director of Product Development, and Boltuch is the Director Public Relations and Marketing.

We'll talk more about how Amie Street works during my interview with co-founder Joshua Boltuch, but the idea is that when a song is added, it starts free up to .98 and will go up in cost as demand rises up to a maximum of .98. Occasionally, shoppers who frequently recommend artists will also get credits from Amie Street, so it’s a bit of a buy back strategy.

The mp3 files are all free of digital rights management, or DRM.

Musicians receive 70% of the revenue from each sale. And yes, I know that for musicians recording music costs a lot of money, especially if you go into an 24 track studio to do it, but I also know there's something to pricing things at the right point to get those impulse buys. Part art and part science, on Amie Street more than a few times I have bought an artist’s entire album because I heard 60 seconds of a song, like it, and it was priced at $3.00. Would I have done that if it were priced at $9.99 or $16.99?

I find the interface of Amie Street to be among the best out there in terms of leading you from one genre, artist, or song to the next. It might not be quite the same as wandering the aisles of your favorite brick and mortar record store, but there is something about the interface and sampling opportunities that are more thought-out than what most of the big online music retailers have done.
It has also incorporated some social networking functionality into the site, so you can see what other friends are listening to and be turned on to artists in a more webby way.

This interview was recorded in October 2008 and I'm afraid it just delayed for a handful of reasons, but I’m happy that it’s seeing the light of day now, just as Amie Street comes up on their third anniversary.

I sat down with co-founder Boltuch at the Amie Street offices in Long Island City to discuss:
* How and why mp3s started getting priced at $.99
* How Amie Street is using the net’s technology to help music fans find more music
* Why musicians are submitting their music to Amie Street and what they like about the business model

Music featured in this interview includes:
1) Passion Pit: Little Secrets
2) Dirty Projectors: Stillness is the Movie
3) Harlem Shakes: Nothing but Change Part II
4) Juana Molina: Un Dia
5) Tulsa: Fill Her In
6) Machel Montano: Defense
7) Sadie: Dien Blaues Auge-Brahms
8) Camera Obscura: French Navy
9) The Faraway Places: Run While True
10) Marco Benevento: Now They're Writing Songs
11) Boyou Roux: Zydeco Sont Pas Sale (No Salt in The Snap Beans)
12) Prabir and The Substitutes: Who's Going to Love You?
13) Chuck Brown: Autumn Leaves
14) Heidi Berry: Time
15) Elvis Perkins in Dearland: Shampoo
16) Peaches: I Feel Cream
17) Gongui: Me Ama Te Amo
18) Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens: Trouble in my Way
19) The Kills: Fried My Little Brains
20) These United States: Honor Amongst Thieves
21) MSTRKRFT: 1,000 Cigarettes

Rick Berlin: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

May 7, 2009


Rick Berlin started making music in the early 1970s and continued through a handful of bands over the last three decades, including Orchestra Luna, Orchestra Luna II, Luna, Berlin Airlift, Rick Berlin: The Movie, The Shelley Winters Project, and, most recently, simply as Rick Berlin.

As a piano player and songwriter, Berlin's style has run the gamut from the theatrical to the confessional. In several of these incarnations, Berlin came close to breaking it in the music industry, but as he's learned, sometimes the stars don't always align the way they should. During our interview, Berlin takes us through anecdotes about some of these bands and we'll get to hear musical highlights from throughout the years.

Having grown up in New York, I was aware of Berlin's music over the years and learned about his 2006 album Me & Van Gogh from Hi-n-Dry Records from feature articles in The Boston Globe and The Boston Phoenix. His latest CD, Old Stag, was released in 2008.

In many ways, these latest two records and his upcoming project are a third (or maybe a fourth?) act for Berlin’s career and at 64, it’s great to hear him making such intimate, sparse, and powerful music. Berlin is a truly great story-teller songwriter, engaging you in parts of the story without giving it all away.

For fans of Tom Waits, Randy Newman, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Ben Folds, or Leonard Cohen, Berlin's albums will be a welcome addition to your collection.

Berlin recorded Me & Van Gogh at Hi-n-Dry, the studio and music collective that I’ve featured on Well-Rounded Radio in the past with our interviews with Twinemen, Jimmy Ryan, and Monique Ortiz. Billy Conway, drummer for Morphine, Twinemen, and the Chip Smith Project, co-produced Me & Van Gogh and Tom Dube engineered and mixed it.

Old Stag was recorded in Berlin's living room, with help from sound engineer (and neighbor) Joe Stewart and string arrangements from Brendan Cooney.

Berlin will be performing at the new Hi-n-Dry space at The Somerville Armory on Saturday, May 9th with a string quartet. For more information and to buy tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets. The concert is a fundraiser for The Mark Sandman Music Project. You can also check for other upcoming performances on Berlin's site.

You can see some video of Berlin on YouTube.

Berlin is also working on a video documentary about our shared home town, Jamaica Plain or JP. Take a look at some clips of Jamaica Plain Spoken on YouTube; Berlin is open to receiving donations to help complete the project.

We recently met at his apartment, down the street from the Brendan Behan Pub, to discuss:
* The various musicians and artists he's worked with while making music over the years.
* How he found himself playing on Mark Sandman’s piano to record Me & Van Gogh with the help of the Hi-n-Dry group
* How he recorded Old Stag at home and on a limited budget, with great results

Songs featured in the interview include:
1) Rick Berlin: House on Fire (Old Stag) (in preview)
2) Rick Berlin: Don't Talk about Joan (Me & Van Gogh)
3) Orchestra Luna: Doris Dreams (Orchestra Luna)
4) Orchestra Luna: Boy Scout Songs (Orchestra Luna)
5) Orchestra Luna: Little Sam (Orchestra Luna)
6) Orchestra Luna II: Greyhound (live) (Special Class)
7) Orchestra Luna II: Dear Kate (Special Class)
8) Luna: Dumb Love (demo)
9) Berlin Airlift: Over the Hill (Berlin Airlift)
10) Berlin Airlift: Don't Stop me from Crying (Berlin Airlift)
11) Rick Berlin: The Movie: Eddy Isn't Coming Home (Filmclip)
12) The Shelley Winters Project: Nothing (Forced 2 Swallow)
13) The Shelley Winters Project: Blood (EP)
14) Rick Berlin: Me & Van Gogh (Me & Van Gogh)
15) Rick Berlin: Rock n Roll Romance (Me & Van Gogh)
16) Rick Berlin: Do You Still Love Me (Me & Van Gogh)
17) Rick Berlin: City is Empty (Live at Jacques)
18) Rick Berlin: Never Stops Raining (Song Saves)
19) Rick Berlin: Unknown Soldier (Old Stag)
20) Rick Berlin: Happy Lesbians in the Snow (Old Stag)
21) Rick Berlin: Your Light is On (Old Stag)
22) Rick Berlin: Michiko (Old Stag)
23) Rick Berlin: Elle (Old Stag)
24) Rick Berlin: How Can I Hate People I Don't Know?
25) Rick Berlin: Walkin' in the Hood (Song Saves)
26) Rick Berlin: Criminal (Me & Van Gogh)
27) Rick Berlin: John Lennon's Nose (Old Stag)

Monique Ortiz: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Apr 30, 2009


The first time I learned about Monique Ortiz (visit her Facebook or Myspace pages) was in The Boston Phoenix four or five years ago in an article about Bourbon Princess, the band she played in for several years and who released three albums: Stopline (2000), Black Feather Wings (Accurate Records, 2003), and Dark of Days (Accurate Records and Hi-N-Dry Records, 2005). Reading about Ortiz, who is a singer/songwriter who plays fretless bass and 2-string slide bass, and Bourbon Princess, and their approach to jazz, rock, and blues, I knew I had to hear more.

Over these releases, Bourbon Princess' members have included Dana Colley of Morphine and Twinemen (baritone and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, melodica, samples; listen to his interview with Twinemen on Well-Rounded Radio from 2002), Jerome Dupree (drums and percussion), Russ Gershon of Either/Orchestra (baritone, tenor, and soprano saxophones; stay tuned for the Well-Rounded Radio interview in the coming months), Dave Millar (drums and percussion), Jim Moran (guitars, piano), and Jonah Sacks (cello and backing vocals). Other musicians who appeared on their albums include Jimmy Ryan (mandolin, listen to his Well-Rounded Radio interview from 2005).

In recent years, Ortiz has released a sparse, solo album with Reclining Female (Obskur Vudu Records, 2007) and a new venture into "low-rock" with the band A.K.A.C.O.D. with Happiness (2008). A.K.A.C.O.D. includes Dana Colley along with Larry Dersch of Binary System, Angeline, and the Bad Art Ensemble on drums. The band's acronym name stands for "also known as Colley Ortiz Dersch."

Ortiz was inspired by Morphine's Mark Sandman in both his bass playing and voice. She's also been compared by writers to Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, Bryan Ferry, PJ Harvey, Jim Morrison, Lou Reed, Nina Simone, Patti Smith, and David Sylvian of Japan.

Depending on how you look at it, Ortiz's sound has either borrowed from Mark Sandman's sound or helped take it to the next level. As she explains in the interview, she was drawn to the sound that Sandman and Morphine were making and, over the years, has worked with many of the musicians and artists that Sandman created with, many of which are a part of the former Hi-N-Dry recording studio (which was Sandman's home before his 1999 death) and the record label.

Ortiz wrote a terrific post on her
Myspace page
a few months back about the difficulties of being a traveling musician in this era of constant flux in the
music industry. I had been trying to have her on Well-Rounded Radio for several years, but the blog post made me
want to sit down and find out more about how musicians are tackling the new economy of the music business. We go into
the subject in depth.

I spoke with Ortiz in September in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss:
* how her musical paths led from Pennsylvania to Boston and what lured her
* why it's so difficult these days for bands and artists to thrive these days
* how her recent projects developed and what's next in the coming months

Photo: Kelly Davidson.

Jeff Price of TuneCore: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Mar 4, 2009


As anyone who buys music knows, the way we are finding it and buying it has changed radically over the last 15 years.

For musicians, it used to be that if you wanted someone to release your music, you'd have to get the attention and approval of an artist and repertoire (or A&R person) at a label, work to sign a deal either big or small so that the label would then press up your product and work with distributors to get your vinyl or 8-track or cassette or CD to ship them out to record stores where the music fan could have access to them.

Now, all you have to do it is get some audio files online and instantly be able to have your music available to the current online global audience of 1.5 billion people, which is still just about 23% of the world's population, so the potential for reaching new audiences continues to grow. As mobile devices get smarter, it's inevitable that consumers will be downloading more music and playing it without a desktop or laptop computer even being involved, too.

As a result of the rise of digital download stores such as iTunes and Amazon mp3, the need has come for new companies to aggregate songs and distribute them out to all these growing online stores.

That's where TuneCore comes in.

After SpinArt, Price went on to work with, first as a consultant, then as interim VP of Content Acquisition, and finally as the Senior Director of Music/Business Development. He contributed towards the creation of eMusic's initial business model and created and implemented the first subscription-based music sales and distribution structure.

In 2005 Price started TuneCore, which is an aggregator which helps get digital music into online stores such as iTunes, Amazon mp3, eMusic, Rhapsody, Napster, Amie Street, Groupie Tunes,, and lala.

TuneCore has also been in the news in recent months as some very mainstream acts have used the service to get their music direct to consumers, including Nine Inch Nails and Paul Westerberg. Just a few weeks back, it was announced that Aretha Franklin would be using TuneCore to distribute her version of My Country Tis Thee that she performed at the Obama inauguration.

TuneCore's competitors are services such as IODA, The Orchard, and CD Baby and I discuss with Price about what makes TuneCore different from these services. I hope to interview founders and representatives of these services in the future as well.

This episode includes music from a variety of independent music that has been submitted to be for Well-Rounded Radio. I can't say that all have used TuneCore, but they are indicative of independent musicians these days who are producing great music on their own and using the Internet to reach new audiences.

I met with Price during an event for held by The Future of Music Coalition's in New York City to discuss:
* how artists can use a service like TuneCore to get their music out to download-to-own music services
* what it costs to use and what other services TuneCore offers to musicians
* how it's a part of a very different music industry than what we had fifteen years ago

Music included in the episode includes:
1) Slow Car Crash: There It Is (in preview)
2) TVC15: Ao
3) Anais Mitchell: Shenadoah
4) Papermoon: House of Cards
5) Rev. Bob & The Darkness: Dead Man Running
6) Michael W. Smith: Above All
7) Ray Mason: Question to Answer
8) Clay McClinton: Left My Baby Blue
9) Los Soberanos: Francamente
10) Bill Noonan Band: Big Enough to Hide In
11) Satoru: Life is Never Long Enough
12) Fort Pastor: Fall With Me
13) Shauna Burns: Gotta Get Ahead
14) JJ Appleton: Falling Down
15) Nine Inch Nails: 3 Ghosts I
16) Paul Westerberg: Board of Edukation
17) Aretha Franklin: My Country Tis of Thee

Michael Bracy of The Future of Music Coalition: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Dec 6, 2008


A little over a year ago I interviewed Jenny Toomey, who co-founded The Future of Music Coalition in 2000 with Michael Bracy, Walter McDonough and Brian Zisk. Toomey and I discussed how the organization came into existance and some of its main areas of focus. You can hear that interview here. Toomey has since moved over to the Ford Foundation and Ann Chaitovitz is the new Executive Director.

Bracy is the Policy Director for The Future of Music Coalition. He also co-owns the Misra Records label and is a partner at Bracy Tucker Brown & Valanzano, a government and public affairs consulting firm in Washington D.C., so he knows his way around the worlds of both music and legislation.

The Future of Music Coalition is, to quote, "a national non-profit education, research, and advocacy organization that seeks a bright future for creators and listeners. FMC works towards this goal through continuous interaction with its primary constituency — musicians — and in collaboration with other creator/public interest groups."

To quote Google, “Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. The Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days. Today, the neutrality of the Internet is at stake as the broadband carriers want Congress's permission to determine what content gets to you first and fastest. Put simply, this would fundamentally alter the openness of the Internet.”

You can learn more about network neutrality at, Google, Wikipedia, and The Future of Music Coalition's Rock the Net pages.

The Future of Music Coalition's Rock the Net campaign was established in April 2007 to increase musician's awareness about the importance of net neutrality because certain telecommunications and cable companies would like to charge content providers higher fees for faster delivery of their sites. The result would be an Internet where those who couldn't afford to - or didn't want to - pay a toll would be stuck in the slow lane. Artists could lose an important connection to their fans and suffer financial loses, while listeners might be denied their freedom of choice.

The Future of Music Coalition’s benefit album, entitled Rock The Net: Musicians for Network Neutrality, was released by Thirsty Ear Recordings this past summer and the money raised goes toward supporting FMC's efforts on this front. You can buy the album direct from Thirty Ear. Artists who donated songs to the cause include David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion), Bright Eyes, The Classic Brown, BC Camplight, DJ Spooky, Free Form Funky Freqs, Guster, Aimee Mann, David Miller, Palomar, Portastatic, Matthew Shipp, They Might Be Giants, Wilco, and The Wrens.

I wanted to do an episode on the subject because the battle over net neutrality seems to be well known in geek circles, but the general population doesn't seem to be as aware and it's ultimately going to effect everyone using the Internet. I'm hoping this episode will help bring the idea to a broader audience, including music fans and musicians who will certainly depend on the web more than any other distribution channel in the future.

And while Barack Obama's selection of Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach to lead the FCC review team are encouraging, by all accounts the battle is far from done.

Many of today's most talented artists are demonstrating their support of an open Internet where all users can access the lawful content of their choice without undue restrictions. Founding Rock the Net artists include Calexico, Les Claypool, Death Cab for Cutie, John Doe, The Donnas, Guster, Kathleen Hanna, Griffin House, Kronos Quartet, Jerry Harrison, Ted Leo, The Locust, Bob Mould, Matt Nathanson, OK Go, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Boots Riley, Rogue Wave, Jimmy Tamborello, State Radio, Street to Nowhere, Matt Wertz, and The Wrens.

I met with Bracy during a recent Future of Music Coalition event at the Public Theatre in New York City to discuss:

* why network neutrality matters to musicians and music fans
* what it is about developing net policy that needs to improve upon past technological inventions
* how you can stay informed and take action to help keep net neutrality as a defining principle going forward

Songs featured in this interview from the Rock the Net CD include:
1) The Classic Brown: Modulation (in preview)
2) David Bazan: Cold Beer and Cigarettes (in preview)
3) DJ Spooky featuring Saba Saba: Uganda
4) Bright Eyes: I Won't Ever be Happy Again
5) Palomar: Red
6) Aimee Mann: 31 Today
7) Wilco: Impossible Germany (Live)
8) Portastatic: Hang Down Your Head
9) The Wrens: Sleep
10) Matthew Shipp Trio: New Orbit
11) FREE Form Funky Freqs: The Binds That Tie
12) They Might Be Giants: We Live in a Dump
13) BC Camplight: Soy Tonto
14) David Miller: Sunday Driver
15) Guster: Timothy Leary

Amanda Palmer: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Oct 23, 2008


I will admit I was kind of turned off by the initial onslaught of publicity when The Dresden Dolls debuted here in Boston back in 2001 and 02. I hadn't heard much of the music, but whenever something gets too overexposed so far, I always tend to look the other way, so I'll chalk that up to why I hadn't known their work better.

But a few months back, I had the opportunity to interview Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls for her collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. You can hear that interview here on iTunes. After listening to The Dresden Dolls albums, I dare say I began to get it.

For those who haven't heard their music, The Dresden Dolls are part rock, part cabaret, and generally pretty intense. The duo features Amanda Palmer on vocals, piano, harmonica, and ukelele and Brian Viglione on drums, percussion, guitar, and vocals.

Their influences seem to range from everything from Kurt Weill to punk rock to performance art to "Brechtian punk cabaret," as Palmer has called it. The Dresden Dolls catalogue includes their albums The Dresden Dolls (2003), Yes, Virginia (2006), and No, Virginia (2008).

Palmer's first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? was released by Road Runner Records in late September and co-produced by Ben Folds. The album is quite different from The Dresden Dolls, with both sparse songs featuring Palmer paired with vocals as well as lush, orchestral pieces that help push her songs to entirely new sonic tiers. Folds also plays piano on several songs as well.

Palmer has also worked on a Who Killed Amanda Palmer? book with Neil Gaiman, best known for The Sandman comic series, Stardust, and American Gods. The book will be released in November.

Palmer has also posted a series of music videos on her site for songs from the new album, which is a terrific idea in this era where music videos are all but dead on cable television, but while video is more popular than ever on the web. They are low-budget, but do the trick of letting you hear the music and get a bit of a preview of her live performances.

She's out on tour now in Europe and in November in the US; check for dates and details.

I met with Palmer in Boston's South End neighborhood just as she was starting rehearsals for her current tour to discuss:

* what lead her to starting work on solo material
* how she met Ben Folds and why she wanted to work with him
* how she is bringing the album to life on the road

Songs featured in the interview include:

1) Ampersand (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) (in preview)
2) Leeds United (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
3) Runs in the Family (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
4) Girl Anachronism (The Dresden Dolls)
5) Astronaut: A Short History of Nearly Nothing (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
6) Have to Drive (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
7) Guitar Hero (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
8) Strength Through Music (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
9) Blake Says(Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
10) What's the Use of Wond'rin? (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
11) Oasis (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
12) Another Year: A Short History of Almost Something (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
13) Leeds United (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)

San Serac: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Oct 6, 2008


Thinking back on it, I'm not exactly sure how or when I found out about San Serac, but I know I came across his Myspace page and I kept going back to hear his music, which is not something I do too often on Myspace.

I then sought out and bought his third CD, Professional, and found his music to be at an interesting intersection between David Bowie, disco, and electronic dance music. Thankfully, the album did not disappoint.

Nat Rabb works under the name San Serac, an artist who plays synthesizer, percussion, guitar, electronic saxophone, electronic drums, and sings. Rabb grew up in Baltimore and played in several post-punk bands including Candy Machine and INK. He now lives and works in the Boston area.

San Serac's music reveals his love of music of Roxy Music, Midnight Star, David Bowie, Maurice Fulton, Talking Heads, Shalamar, and Prince. The music touches on electronic funk, house, disco, garage, quiet storm, and freestyle. I love the fact that he's pushing the boundaries of what styles fit or belong together; not since Talking Heads' Remain in Light or Prince's Sign o' the Times have I listened to a record again and again and been rewarded each time. Frankly, I can't wait for San Serac's next release to see where he takes us next.

To date, San Serac has released three albums: Human Savagery is a Slippery Slope (2000), Ice Age (2004), and Professional (2006). He's currently working on his next release. San Serac has also remixed a number of other artists’ music, including Faunts, Misty Roses, My Favorite, Ova Looven, Shout Out Out Out Out, Tranzistors, Wilderness, and others. I've included a few of these remixes in the show. San Serac also toured with Junior Boys in 2007.

With Johnny Dark, San Serac has also released an album on September 23rd under the outfit Stereo Image and they will performing in Ontario, Canada in late October. Check their Myspace page for details. San Serac will also be touring in November and December 2008 in the US with Wilderness.

I met with San Serac in May in Somerville, Massachusetts to discuss:
* how he writes and records his albums—essentially all by himself
* what the gestation period is like for his own creations
* how the changes in the music business are effecting how he manages his own career

Photo: Drew Jarrett

Music featured in the show includes:

1) San Serac: Professional (Professional) (in preview)
2) San Serac: Fairlight (Professional)
3) San Serac: Love Tactics (Professional)
4) INK: Alger Hiss
5) INK: Real Life in the Deco
6) San Serac: Market Research (it's Time to Shop) (Ice Age)
7) San Serac: Astonishing Murders (Ice Age)
8) San Serac: What Price Revenge (Ice Age)
9) San Serac: Nihilistic Love (Professional)
10) San Serac: Sunlight in Electric Wires (Ice Age)
11) San Serac: You, Assassin (Ice Age)
12) San Serac: Tyrant (Professional)
13) San Serac: The Black Monolith (Professional)
14) San Serac: That Obscure Object of Desire (Professional)
15) San Serac: Command Shift Sexy (Professional)
16) Faunts: Instantly Dubbed (San Serac Mix)
17) Stereo Image: Dark Chapter (S/T)
18) Stereo Image: Exposure (S/T)
19) Stereo Image: Pack Moves (S/T)
20) Shout Out Out Out Out: In the End It's Your Friends (San Serac Mix)
21) Stereo Image: Red Nights (S/T)
22) Stereo Image: Your Collapsed State (S/T)
23) San Serac: Friends

San Serac recommends Maurice Fulton, Daft Punk, Faux Fox, Shout Out Out Out Out, and A Certain Ratio.

Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Sep 13, 2008


Thanks again to everyone who took our recent online survey. I learned some great information about who is listening to the show, what you like and what you'd like to hear more of. I was especially surprised to learn from the group that responded that 57% of you identified yourselves as musicians.

I have had fun doing interviews with music industry thought leaders in recent years as it's obvious that the music business is in a great deal of flux for both musicians and music fans. Truthfully, though, I haven't heard or read many good interviews about these changes. If you go to music conferences or subscribe to things like the Pho list you get to be on the inside of all these changes, but otherwise, it's a classic case of being shut out of ideas that are advancing around you.

I hadn't realized that musicians are tuning in to Well-Rounded Radio as an educational outlet, but that does seem to be the case and this episode, with an interview with Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity, it's a perfect case of providing some additional insight that I think can be very helpful to musicians.

As Hyatt explains in the interview, she started out doing traditional publicity in the music business, but realized that the world of music marketing was changing and so her own agency changed with it.

Ariel Publicity helps artists and labels get their music in front of the growing legion of citizen journalists or prosumers, as folks like me have started to be called, who are creating text, audio, and video for others to access via the Web.

Hyatt and her team also help to educate musicians through various online and in-person boot camp sessions and seminars and they're helping to connect independent musicians with independent media outlets like Well-Rounded Radio.

At the same time, music fans are discovering music in a wide range of new ways, from podcasts and audio blogs to recommendation engines, streaming stations, and mobile devices to simply speeding up the word of mouth process that have always happened, but now is happening faster and globally with new technologies.

As print publications cease production, terrestrial and satellite radio tries to evolve, and more people around the world start using these technologies as a matter of course, how will we each discover our next favorite band? I have heard the story again and again how music fans who used to simply listen to what was in the charts or featured on the cover of music magazines now are finding they listen to very little mainstream music and are finding all kinds of niches online that take their curiosity in new directions. The idea behind the Long Tail is very much changing what we consume.

This episode features a number of artists that Ariel Publicity has worked with over the last year or two. You can find out more information about them and links at

I met with Hyatt at her office in mid-town Manhattan back in February to discuss:

* how the agency came to be born and her own experience leading up to it
* some myths about the old music guard that need to be shattered
* how musicians can be smarter and strategic about using social media to advance their careers

If you enjoy this interview, be sure to listen to other interviews I have done with music industry thought leaders. Tell me who else you'd like me to interview and I'll do my best to get them on the show.

Music featured in the show includes:

1) Le Rug: Gloss (Bleenex) (in preview)
2) Fiskum: The Crossing (Darkness/Fire/Dancing)
3) Kaliopi: Naked (Around the World)
4) Kito Peters: CEO (Stories)
5) Booze Monkey: Solitaire (The Old Way)
6) N Side: Bad Manners (Just a Broke Brotha' Trying to to Come Up!)
7) Howard Britz: Scatterbug
8) Dudley Saunders: Take Me Back Home Again
9) Sarah VonDerhaar: It's Not the First Time
10) Animate Objects: Clive (Riding in Fast Cars with Your Momma)
11) Black Fortress of Opium: Dulcet TV (Black Fortress of Opium)
12) Blood Red Sun: Pray for Rain (A Nation of Saviors)
13) Inga Swearingen: Black Crow
14) The Callen Sisters: Wake Up
15) I/O/I: Compass (I/O/I)
16) Michael Wolff: Solar
17) Yahweh's People: Oh My Lord (Yahweh's People)

Photo: Greg Kessler

Well-Rounded Radio Mix 008

Sep 5, 2008


Back with another mix...if only had more time to do these, I certainly have the music to choose from!

For all 15 artists on this show who wanted to share their music with you, consider buying their music, whether it's on a shiny piece of plastic or as a digital file. Buy a t-shirt or a hat or whatever swag they're selling. Go see them live or make friends with them at myspace and or facebook or wherever. Tell a friend about them and share your good taste in music. Sign up to their email list or subscribe to an RSS feed. And tell them Well-Rounded Radio sent you if you can. The way the music business works is changing drastically by the day. Support the music you like and love and help change it.

Well-Rounded Radio Mix 008 features:
1) Matthew Loiacono: Only Memory (Kentucky)
2) One Ring Zero: The Ghost Of Rita Gonzalo (As Smart As We Are)
3) John Haydon: Last Night What You Told Me (Phantom Heart)
4) Hell's Kitchen: Jack is a writer (Doctor's Oven)
5) Ladytron: I'm Not Scared (Velocifero)
6) The Grownup Noise: Grey Skies (Grownup Noise EP)
7) Rayse Biggs: Um Da Da (For The Love Of It)
8) Ashley Pond: Never Seen Your Own Face (Dala)
9) Television Hill: Mulberry Bush (Twlight)
10) Vincent Bernay: track 2
11) Air This Side Of Caution: Here We Go (Nature Will Turn On Us)
12) The Kickbacks: I Crash Cars (Motel Stars)
13) Candida Rose: Kabu Verdi, Un Da (The Sum Of Me)
14) Daniel Ward: Reverance (After The Storm)
15) Terry Winchell: Waiting Here For You (Vice Versa)

Mike Dreese of Newbury Comics: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Jul 28, 2008


Newbury Comics started as a comics store on Newbury Street, a famed block for shopping in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, but now each of their 27 locations sells CDs, vinyl, DVDs, posters, toys, books, magazines, sports merchandise, clothes, shoes, housewares, and much more.

Given how much time (and money!) I have spent at Newbury Comics over these last eight years and how much great music I have discovered there and subsequently brought to my listeners, I was glad to be able to interview Mike Dreese, the co-founder of Newbury Comics, as we had a great conversation about the state of record retailing and the state of the music business in general.

If you live here, you already know why it's such a fun place. If and when you visit New England, be sure to stop by one of their stores and experience it for yourself. Newbury Comics now has locations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island with the majority of stores in Greater Boston. Check for address location and to shop online as well.

Our timing of featuring Dreese on Well-Rounded Radio's 50th episode is good as this year is Newbury Comics' 30th anniversary and they are opening two new stores this summer. One is a super store in Norwood, Massachusetts in a space formerly used by a car dealership, which sounds like it might give the Amoeba Records stores a run for their money, and a second store will be located at historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston. Maybe there is a future for the record store, yet.

So, I have made it to episode 50....yeah.

While I am not one to make too much of numbers, my arrival at it after producing the show for the last six years does make me stop for a minute to think about the path I've traveled and where it might be going.

Well-Rounded Radio was an idea born just outside Seattle on a sidewalk in Kirkland, Washington with my friend Marion Seymour back in 1999 during a conversation we were having about the great music interviews we both used to hear when growing up in the New York City area.

For me, it was hearing interviews with musicians from Jeff Foss on Hofstra University's Radio station (now called WRHU), on WNYU’s New Afternoon Show (which, I’ll admit, influenced my choice of NYU for college...), and from Vin Scelsa and all the New York radio station’s he’s been on over the years and who continues today on WFUV in New York and on Sirius Satellite Radio.

For Marion, it was listening to great rock and roll radio in New Jersey where she grew up and as a pioneering DJ herself in Seattle on KZAM, where she broke all kinds of programming boundaries and interviewed everyone who was anyone when they came through Seattle for more than a decade.

Since this kind of programming wasn’t something that existed to our satisfaction, I thought, why not create it myself?

In late '99 I moved back east and my wife Stacey and settled in Boston. Well-Rounded Radio started to formulate into an idea in 2000 and 2001. September 11th motivated me to do something I'd been thinking about, instead of just talking about doing, so I created a demo with a plan to pitch it to NPR. Little did I realize at the time that NPR is more competitive than most commercial radio syndication...and of course it is, because anyone with any taste would prefer to be on it!

Then came blogging and then came broadband and then podcasting. Then there was less of a need to find the distribution channel and more of a desire to take my passion for music and my joy in helping others discover really, really good music in an era where it seemed like mainstream radio didn’t care about anything but really awful hits. Of course, that’s only gotten worse.

I also hoped my show would make you feel like you were listening in on a conversation instead of it seeming like the host was trying to grill the subject or simply fawn over them. Hopefully I’ve succeeded at those goals to some degree.

As we all know, the media landscape is changing radically and while it's fascinating to watch it happen, and in some ways be a part of it, I'm sad about the passing of No Depression and Harp magazines and I'm sad that so many record stores are struggling and closing.

Part of the reason that I love record stores like Newbury Comics is that as someone who started out on vinyl and moved on to CDs and now mp3s, I think it will be sad when there are no longer these kind of physical places to interact with other music lovers and to discover new artists in surprising ways. Staring at your laptop can be fun, but it can also be pretty damn lonely, so I’m hoping "record stores" can evolve into something more than just a place to pick up an encoded physical product.

I could regale you with the time Bob Bortnick of the Dancing Hoods was working behind the counter at Slipped Disc, convincing me of the merits of The Velvet Underground and Nico, or all the hours spent digging through the vinyl at St. Mark’s Sounds or Bleecker Bob’s or Pier Platters or Midnight or Tower or that great record store on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck that I have long since forgotten its name, but who always got the import Clash albums in first!

Getting a tip from the record store clerk, picking up an album because the sticker on its shrink wrap had name-dropped all the right artists, or finding a used LP that was just cheap enough to make you want to buy it and give a band a chance...all those methods of introduction seem to be passing us by, even as new methods of introduction are becoming the norm. I'm not saying they are better or worse, but it is worth thinking about what we might be losing even as we move forward.

As a musician myself, I'm thrilled that musicians will have more power in their hands via the Internet, but I'm not that thrilled that the reduction of record stores, magazines, and record labels means that the power will rest in the hands of fewer corporate gatekeepers, like Wal-Mart, iTunes, Amazon, Microsoft, Napster, Rhapsody, Target, or whoever. Not that I have anything against any of these companies, but it's never good to have the power rest with too few, even if the Internet can connect us one to one in so many other ways. Of course there are bloggers and podcasters and other tastemakers, but distribution has always been the most valuable commodity in any media industry and that’s not likely to change.

Over the last year or two I have been looking at how I can take Well-Rounded Radio from hobby into something that I could make a living doing. I can tell by my web site traffic, emails from listeners, and the music coming to me from around the world that people like what I’m doing. My numbers keep growing and it’s clear that music fans still need real human people to filter their choices for them, just as record labels, DJs, music journalists, and record stores have done for decades. (If you want to help with this, you can take our online survey and tell us a bit about yourself.)

As a hobby, I've been careful to not let Well-Rounded Radio consume too much of my life as I raise a family and work a paying job, but it’s also something that I know is helping to connect independent musicians and an audience of listeners who also love that sense of discovery when you find a new artist that you connect to and, to put it plainly, fall in love with.

In many ways I’ve taken my activity from my 20s in making mix tapes and CDs for a group of friends combined it with my own professional experience in marketing, and upped the ante using the net.
In an era where the role of DJs, music critics, and music journalism is in flux, maybe all that we need is some ways to help us find things that we want as well as be open enough to discovering something new that might just fill some current need we have in our lives.

Although some of the artists and thought-leaders I've interviewed have been from outside Boston, the vast majority who have been on Well-Rounded Radio are from Boston's amazing music scene, which doesn't get nearly the kind of national press that it should.

Which brings me back to Boston and the 50th show.

It also makes perfect sense that Dreese is on this episode because when I was in my band Falling Stairs in the late 80s and early 90s, we used to come up to Boston from New York City to record at Fort Apache. We made it a point to go to a variety of great guitar stores in Allston and always made a stop at Newbury Comics, which was the kind of record store that I always wished we had in the New York area.

Now I've been in Boston for almost nine years and I take Newbury Comics for granted (and yes, I still shop in brick and mortar stores!), but when I go to other cities, I realize that record stores are becoming more rare each year.

Given Newbury’s success, part of me wanted to pick Dreese’s brain for how they've maintained their success and provide some ideas to other music retailers around the world to help them evolve as the music industry changes. I’m sure there’s a brilliant business plan in there just waiting to be born...

The show features a mix of music from the late 70s up to today, much of it from Boston artists.

I met with Dreese at Newbury Comics' offices and warehouse in Brighton, Massachusetts to discuss:
* how the regional chain got its start and grew to where they are today
* how the music business has changed since the late 70s and how they’re evolving with it
* the return of vinyl and what it might mean in the scheme of all the changes

Music featured in the interview include:
1) Classic Ruins: 1 + 1 < 2 (in preview)
2) Willie Alexander: Mass Ave
3) The Clash: Complete Control
4) The Cure: Boys Don't Cry
5) La Peste: Better Off Dead
6) The Lyres: I Want to Help You Ann
7) U2: Fire
8) The Neats: Red and Grey
9) Human Sexual Response: Jackie Onassis
10) The Proletariat: Options
11) Jerry's Kids: Uncontrollable
12) Treat Her Right: I Think She Likes Me
13) Dinosaur Jr: Kracked
14) Buffalo Tom: Crutch
15) Salem 66: Across the Sea
16) Throwing Muses: Bea
17) Mary Timony: Look a Ghost in the Eye
18) The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The Impression that I Get
19) Mr. Lif: I Phantom
20) Dresden Dolls: Coin-Operated Boy
21) Ho-Ag: Golden All Night
22) Marta Gomez: Dejalo ir
23) Tulsa: Breathe Thin
24) Frank Smith: Cut Right Through
25) The Radio Knives: Stone Stone

Mike recommends Flobots, Velvet Rope, Twist and Shout, Waterloo, Amoeba, The Record Archive, and Criminal Records.

Charlie recommends visiting Newbury Comics and and finding your local or regional record store through the Coalition for Independent Music Stores and buying locally! Bring a friend and help keep them all going.

Thalia Zedek: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Jun 16, 2008


Thalia Zedek's music career started in the late '70s with White Women, followed in the '80s with Dangerous Birds and Uzi and continued later in the decade when she joined the New York noise band Live Skull. In the early '90s she formed the band Come, whose 1992 album 11:11 is nothing short of a masterpiece. Come's members included Chris Brokaw on guitar, Arthur Johnson on drums, and Sean O'Brien on bass and if you don't own any of their work, you should.

Since Come stopped performing later in the '90s, Zedek has released a number of solo albums including Been Here and Gone (Matador, 2001) Trust Not Those in Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness (Thrill Jockey, 2004), and Hell is in Hello, 2004 (limited edition 2.000 copies). Her EPs include You're a Big Girl Now (Kimchee Records, 2002) and The Nature of Drones (Thrill Jockey, 2005). She also released a live disc entitled Live at Tonic, NYC 1/16/2000.

Zedek's latest CD, Liars and Prayers, was also released by Thrill Jockey Records in late April. Although I think all of Zedek's work with Come and her solo albums have been outstanding, Liars and Prayers is a powerful and emotional collection of songs tackling political and personal subjects. It features a five-piece band, fleshing out Zedek's sound to a new level of complexity and intensity.

The album was produced by the band and Andrew Schneider at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts and Translator Audio in Brooklyn, New York in December 2007 and January 2008.

The Thalia Zedek Band, as she's now calling the outfit, includes Winston Braman on bass (who also played with Clint Conley in consonant; I interviewed Conley for both consonant and Mission of Burma; Braman has long played with Hilken Mancini, who I also interviewed a few years back), Daniel Coughlin on drums and percussion, David Michael Curry on viola, trumpet, and vocals, Mel Lederman on piano, and Zedek on guitar and vocals.

Zedek has been inspired by a variety of artists, including Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, and Lou Reed, but over the years she has created her own distinct sound and found a strong cult audience that appreciates her impassioned vocals and moody songwriting. I've always loved the intensity in Zedek's work, really pulling me in and forcing me to pay attention to the music she makes.

Watch some videos of Come online, including live performances of Hurricane and Submerge, and music videos for Submerge, Cimarron, Somehow We're Together and a fan-produced video of The German Song. You can also see a slideshow of a song from the out-of-print Nature of Drones EP on myspace and a studio performance of 1926.

Zedek is out on tour in mid to late June with shows in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago. West coast shows and some European dates are also in the works and you can visit to find out more.

I met with Zedek in May in Allston, Massachusetts to discuss:

* how the new, larger version of her band came to exist
* who else has influenced her over the years
* what some of those veiled political songs are really about

Special thanks to Anna for the mp3s of Dangerous Birds and Uzi that are included in the show. I own it all on vinyl, but I must buy me an Ion one of these days! Thanks, Anna!

Music featured in the interview include:

1) Body Memory (Liars and Prayers) (in preview)
2) Begin to Exhume (Liars and Prayers)
3) Wind (Liars and Prayers)
4) We Don't Go (Liars and Prayers)
5) Back to School (Been Here and Gone)
6) Lower Allston (Liars and Prayers)
7) Manha De Carnaval (Been Here and Gone)
8) Green and Blue (Liars and Prayers)
9) Do You Remember? (Liars and Prayers)
10) Next Exit (Liars and Prayers)
11) Come Undone (Liars and Prayers)
12) Brother (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness)
13) Smile on Your Face by Dangerous Birds (Alpha Romero/Smile on Your Face single)
14) Criminal Child by Uzi (Sleep Asylum EP)
15) You're a Big Girl Now (You're a Big Girl Now)
16) Was by Live Skull (Snuffer)
17) Submerge by Come (11:11)
18) Bone (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness)
19) Island Song (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness)
20) Ship (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness)
21) Stars (Liars and Prayers)

Thalia recommends Arboretum, The Big Disappointments, Drug Rug, Major Stars, and Retribution Gospel Choir.

Charlie recommends the new album by American Music Club, The Golden Age.

Well-Rounded Radio's Three Minute Survey

May 28, 2008


Might you have three minutes to fill out a survey for Well-Rounded Radio?

Your answers will help me determine how or if I can add sponsors to the series and increase the frequency of the show to 2-3 times a month plus increase our marketing efforts to raise awareness about the great musicians and music industry thought leaders on the show.

Click here to start.

Thanks again for listening and if you have any other thoughts above and beyond what is asked, please just hit reply and email me!


Charles McEnerney
Host + Producer
Well-Rounded Radio

Eli "Paperboy" Reed and The True Loves: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Apr 26, 2008


I first heard Eli "Paperboy" Reed (nee Eli Husock) when one of his songs was in a Salon song competition with Hallelujah the Hills, who I interviewed last year. About twenty seconds into his song, I started Googling him and was surprised to learn that he was from Brookline, Massachusetts, one town over from me in Jamaica Plain. By the time I finished listening to the song, I wanted to know more: how did a guy so young learn to infuse so many great influences and be able to turn it back into something that is both familiar and exciting?

Exposed to a lot of great soul, rhythm and blues, country, and gospel music from his father, former Boston Phoenix writer Howard Husock, Reed became a fan of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Al Green as well as becoming something of a historian about less-known musicians working in all of these American genres.

Reed, now 24, is living in Boston again, but after graduating high school he lived in both Clarksdale, Mississippi and Chicago—two cultural homes to different styles of the blues. During those years he DJed at a pirate radio station, learned how to play to blues fans for hours on end, played organ in a Chicago church, and hosted a Chicago radio show for blues purists. Good training for the future indeed. The “Paperboy” nickname also was given to Reed during his time in Clarkesdale given his penchant for wearing his grandfather’s newsboy hat.

His first CD, Eli "Paperboy" Reed Sings Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits, was self-released in 2004 and is currently out of print, but hopefully will see a re-release soon as well. The disc was a mix of covers and original songs.

Reed's second CD, Roll with You, is a collection of all-original songs and was produced by Ed Valauskas (producer of recent releases by Graham Parker, Jules Verdone, and many others and bassist in The Gentlemen) at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts and will be released by Q Division Records on April 29, 2008. The album was recorded using only analog equipment and sounds amazing.

Walkin' and Talkin' features more of a southern, harmonica-infused blues, while Roll with You takes Reed toward more soul or rhythm and blues style, complete with horns, big bluesy ballads, and lots of dance numbers.

With its release, Reed has already racked up nice notices in Mojo magazine, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Billboard, The Boston Globe, No Depression, and Time Out NY. Mojo, my personal favorite, states, "There are singers who sing and there are singers whose sheer power of expression can knock you off your feet. Eli 'Paperboy' Reed falls firmly into the latter category...[he] threatens to be one of the defining voices of the year."

With some evolution over the years, The True Loves current 7-piece lineup includes Andy Bauer on drums, Ben Jaffe on tenor sax, Paul Jones on tenor sax, Mike Montgomery on bass, Patriq Moody on trumpet, and Ryan Spraker on guitar.

Reed and The True Loves are on tour now and playing all over the USA; check their myspace page for the latest dates and locations and see them live if you can as they are a very fun band in concert that will surely get you dancing.

My apologies in advance for the drop off in Reed’s voice at the very end of the interview. Afraid it happened due to a crashed hard drive and eaten file, so remember kids...back up those files.

I met with Reed in the fall of 2007, as he was working on Roll with You, in Allston, Masschusetts to discuss:

* what led him to move to two of the homes of the blues
* what doing night club DJing has taught him about performing on stage
* why he’s stopped downloading and still enjoys the hunt at record stores

Songs included in the preview include:
1) I'm Gonna Getcha Back (Roll with You) (in preview)
2) The Satisfier (Roll with You)
3) Cool Drink of Water (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
4) I'm Tired of Wandering (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
5) Walkin' and Talkin' (For My Baby) (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
6) Fat Mama Rumble (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
7) Woman Woman Blues (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
8) I Just Got to Know (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
9) Something You Got (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
10) Won't Give Up Without a Fight (Roll with You)
11) Take My Love with You (Roll with You)
12) Am I Just Fooling Myself (Roll with You)
13) I'll Roll with You (Roll with You)
14) Stake Your Claim (Roll with You)
15) (Doin' the) Boom Boom (Roll with You)
16) Don't Let Me Down (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
17) It's Easier (Roll with You)
18) Am I Wasting My Time (Roll with You)
19) She Walks (Roll with You)
20) Slippershell by Kristin Hersh (Pocket Mix) (in close)

Eli recommends Sam Cooke: Live at the Harlem Square Club, Sonny Boy Williamson's Down and Out Blues, O.V. Wright's If It's Only Tonight, Dixie Hummingbird's In the Morning Luther Ingram's Pity for the Lonely, Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings, and Doctor Dog.

Charlie recommends

John McGah of Give US Your Poor: The Well-Rounded Radio interview

Apr 10, 2008


Several years ago, right after my wife and I moved to Boston, I did some work with John McGah and a group of wonderful volunteers on fundraising events for Give US Your Poor, a project taking on homelessness. To quote their statement, "The Give US Your Poor mission is to create a revolution in public awareness, dispel myths and inspire action towards ending epidemic homelessness in the United States. It works to affect change at the policy level, engage volunteerism and contributions at the individual and corporate levels through media, technology and education; and to funnel support to partner homeless organizations."

Give US Your Poor is an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston. McGah is the founder and Executive Director of Give US Your Poor, a former Senior Research Associate at UMass Boston's Center for Social Policy, and is a recipient of a 2002 International Eisenhower Fellowships.

Released by Appleseed Recordings in September 2007, the Give US Your Poor CD is a diverse and powerful collection of songs featuring collaborations between homeless and formerly homeless musicians and celebrity artists, including Jon Bon Jovi, Buffalo Tom, Mario Frangoulis, Danny Glover, Jewel, Sonya Kitchell, Natalie Merchant, Mighty Sam McClain, Keb' Mo', Madeleine Peyroux, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins, John Sebastian, Pete Seeger, Michelle Shocked, Bruce Springsteen, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Dan Zanes (who Well-Rounded Radio interviewed a few years back).

Give US Your Poor held a concert in November 2007 in Boston as part of "Boston Helps the Homeless: Awareness to Action" weekend presented by Ipswitch Co. and hosted by the Fannie Mae Foundation and Mayor Thomas Menino's Office at the City of Boston. The concert was headlined by Buffalo Tom, Mario Frangoulis, Mighty Sam McClain, and Natalie Merchant and featured homeless and formerly homeless artists that appear on the Give US Your Poor CD. Between acts video messages appeared from Jon Bon Jovi, Danny Glover, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. See a recap and photos from the event here.

Buy the CD direct from Appleseed Recordings, at, or iTunes. Proceeds from the CD will go towards the national awareness and action campaign to end homelessness. In addition, local and national homeless organizations will be able to sell the CD to raise funds and awareness to their organization. Homeless artists involved will receive direct payment, all travel costs, and mechanical royalties for any original music.

Wondering what you can do to help solve our nation’s homelessness problem? Here's some suggestions from McGah:

1) write your U.S. Senator in support of the the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. As of March 2008 it had passed the House, but not the Senate, but is co-sponsored by both a Republican and Democrat Senator. The fund primarily provides matching money towards the creation of housing for people to live in the lowest income bracket.

2) For veterans, The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is supporting a bill "Homes for Heroes" for preventing homelessness among Iraq War Veterans. Visit The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to find out more.

3) Visit these sites, sign up for email lists, donate to, and/or join these organizations:
The National Alliance to End Homelessness
The National Coalition for the Homeless
The National Heathcare for the Homeless Council

4) Let your voice be heard!

Give US Your Poor is also currently working on a documentary film about homelessness along with creating educational curriculums and local outreach. Watch select video previews of Southwest stories and East Coast stories. There's also a great video segment about Natalie Merchant's participation and recording session with homeless and formerly homeless artists on YouTube.

In February I met with McGah in my current hometown of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts to discuss:
* what Appleseed Recordings is and what their particular social goals are
* how Give US Your Poor solicited and selected homeless and formerly homeless artists to participate in the project
* how this project can help combat homelessness and spread the word about this critical issue

Photo: Bryan How

Songs featured in the interview include:
1) Keb' Mo' and Eagle Park Slim- Baby Don't Let Me Go (in preview)
2) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason (in preview)
3) Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen - Hobo's Lullaby
4) Sweet Honey in the Rock - Stranger Blues
5) Michelle Shocked and Michael Sullivan - Becky's Tune
6) Buffalo Tom - Ink Falling (Father Outside)
7) Mario Frangoulis - Feels Like Home
8) Bonnie Raitt and Weepin' Willie Robinson - Walking the Dog
9) Tim Robbins - Impossible Boulevard
10) Madeleine Peyroux - I Think it's Going to Rain Today
11) Mark Erelli - Here and Now
12) Kyla Middleton and Dan Zanes - Boll Weivel
13) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason
14) audio documentary set to music - Land of 10,000 Homeless-Minneapolis
15) Danny Glover - My Name is Not "Those People"
16) Del Goldfarb and John Sebastian - Portable Man
17) Sonya Kitchell - So Lonely
18) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason

John recommends the song Last King of May by Natalie Merchant on her Ophelia CD and "I'll Work for Your Love" on Bruce Springsteen's Magic CD, and the band The Wait.

Charlie recommends Tune Your World, The Future of Music Coalition's education events in upstate New York, and following me on Twitter.

Ida: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

Mar 21, 2008


I first discovered the music of the band Ida in kind of a backward way. As a dad with crazy snobby tastes in kid’s music, I had discovered Dan Zanes’ music about seven years ago when my daughter was born. As a fan of his from The Del Fuegos, I got the chance to interview him for Well-Rounded Radio in 2004. When I asked him about other artists playing "good" family music, Elizabeth Mitchell’s name rose to the top (as did Ella Jenkins, who has also become a favorite of my clan).

Not long after I saw Mitchell and Littleton perform a terrific concert at FirstNight Boston in a cavernous convention room and picked up her first two CDs, You Are My Flower and You Are My Sunshine. Any band that plays Velvet Underground covers is alright with me. I was hooked. Digging a bit, I discovered that Mitchell and husband, Daniel Littleton, actually got started out playing music in the slow core band Ida, so I picked up a bunch of their earlier CDs and was equally blown away. I’ll attribute the fact that I was living on the west coast for the latter part of the 90s for why this Brooklyn-based band wasn’t on my radar sooner, but Ida has an impressive catalogue.

Mitchell started out making music at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island (at the same time as Lisa Loeb, who she later collaborated with) and then relocated to New York City. Littleton played in a number of Annapolis, Maryland bands in the late 80s, including the punk band The Hated and played in a number of bands in the early '90s, including Three Shades of Dirty, Choke, and Slack (with Jenny Toomey, who Well-Rounded Radio interviewed a few months back).

Ida was formed in 1992 by Mitchell and Littleton as a duo in New York City. The band is named for Ida Machado Schafer, the grandmother of Mitchell's old friend, the artist and playwright Erin Courtney. Schafer was 92 years old at the time Mitchell and Littleton formed the group.

The band's discography includes Tales of Brave Ida (Simple Machines, 1994), I Know About YouSimple Machines, 1996), Ten Small Paces Simple Machines, 1997), Will You Find Me (Tiger Style, 2000), Tour Support (2000), The Braille Night (Tiger Style Records, 2001), Shhh... (Time Stereo, 2002), Heart Like a River ( Polyvinyl, 2005), and The Bottom of the Hill (a live 2-CD set, Last Affair Records, 2005).

Their latest, Lovers Prayers was produced and mixed by Warn Defever (His Name is Alive) and Ida and released by Polyvinyl Records in late January 2008. The current line-up includes Jean Cook on violin, Ruth Keating, on drums, Daniel Littleton on guitar and vocals, Elizabeth Mitchell on guitar, harmonium, and vocals, and Karla Schickele on bass, piano, and vocals. The album was recorded at Levon Helm Studios, a studio owned by Levon Helm of The Band in Woodstock, New York and we talk about the place and the process in our interview.

In addition to collaborating with Levon Helm on the album, other contributors included singer-songwriter Michael Hurley, cellist Jane Scarpantoni (Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright), guitarist and drummer Tara Jane O'Neil ( TJO, Rodan, Papa M), pedal steel player Matt Sutton (The Malarkies).

Ida's music makes me think of what Neil Young would sound like if he fronted Luna and invited over Richard and Linda Thompson to sit in. Fans of Idaho, Low, Mojave 3, or any of the music from Mark Kozelek would also not be disappointed. At times, Mitchell’s voice reminds me of Aimee Mann and Karen Carpenter.

Mitchell’s family CDs include You Are My Flower (1998), You Are My Sunshine (2002), and You Are My Little Bird (2006). Mitchell and Lisa Loeb also recorded a children’s album in 2004 entitled Catch the Moon.

Mitchell’s children’s CDs are simple, homespun affairs that my children love. And I love them for teaching traditional songs and providing my little ones with singalongs. They have a wonderful calming effect and I’ve found them perfect for getting my guys going in the morning and for calming them down at bedtime. Littleton also released a solo album with Nobody's Fault But Mine/Down by the Riverside in 2002 that explored his more experimental side, with tape loops and such.

I recently met with Littleton after a recording session at Excello Recording (who were gracious enough to let me record the interview in their great studio) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to discuss:

* recording Lovers Prayers at Helm’s historic studio
* how the band worked up new material for the album
* how he and Mitchell switch gears between their various musical lives

Daniel recommends Moondog's album for children and Milton Graves.

Well-Rounded Radio recommends a new business model for financing music: Tune Your World.