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March 2017

The Cornbread Cafe #3 — Echo Sparks, The Suitcase Junket, CATFOX, Long Journey & more


Welcome! brothers and sisters to Episode #3—of the Cornbread Cafe.

D.A. Valdez, Colleen Kinnick, and Cindy Ballreich are Echo Sparks; submitted photo.
D.A. Valdez, Colleen Kinnick, and Cindy Ballreich are Echo Sparks; submitted photo.

I am the mongrel, and I will be your waiter today. Cazh and cozy, we’re located at the five-corners of Blues, Americana, Folk, Country, and Gospel. And you can sometimes catch an express to Rock ’n’ Roll at the bus stop across the way. We are the Internet’s new fave hang for the best in a sprawling menu of American Roots music.

 

On this Episode:

Echo Sparks, “Ghost Town Girl,” Ghost Town Girl
The Suitcase Junket, “What Was I Gonna Say,” Pile Driver
CATFOX, “Mama Don’t Say Why,” Thank You, I Love You, I’m Sorry
Long Journey, “I First Kissed You,” Fierce Folk
The Hunts, “Lifting The Sea,” Those Younger Days
Melika Miller, “Don’t Give Up Now,” by single
Munk Duane, “Stupid Pride,” Argue with Gravity
Misty Blues, “Next Time is the Last Time,” Dark and Saucy
The Delta Wires, “Goin’ Away,” Anthology
Gus McKay, “Extremely Voodoo,” Salt Flat Mojo Blues
Ray Wilson“Lone River Dance,” Coming Through in Waves
One Left, “Fare Thee Well My True Love,” This Land I Love

I think we need to clear something up before we get to the music today. A musician expressed the concern that their music wasn’t in the same league as the bulk of the artists we’re featuring on the show. I’d like to think that my response was adequately reassuring, but in hindsight, I’m kinda thinking I could have done better. So let me try again to explain what this show is and is not.

 

Matt Lorenz, performing as The Suitcase Junket; photo by Bill Foster.
Matt Lorenz, performing as The Suitcase Junket; photo by Bill Foster.

 

 

The Cornbread Cafe is a place to showcase some of the best in independent American Roots music. We play tunes that are original, authentic, and well-crafted. Period. It doesn’t matter whether those tunes come from an established artist or an emerging one. It doesn’t matter if half the songs on an EP are a little, you know, kinda “ehh.” Kinda could use a little more polish. That’s not the point of this show.

 

Catrin Lloyd-Bollard performs as CATFOX at the Castle Hotel, Aberystwyth, Wales; photo by Craig Kirkwood.
Catrin Lloyd-Bollard performs as CATFOX at the Castle Hotel, Aberystwyth, Wales; photo by Craig Kirkwood.

The point of this show…

And I should pause here to say that I should be so lucky that even half my episodes are winners…

The point of this show is that there’s this huge audience out there that’s fed up with the commercial crap that dominates the airwaves. They’re hungry for music that speaks to them, that says something real. The ingredients of American Roots music are the stuff of real life—good and bad. Not synthetically created in the marketing departments of the corporate tune factories.

 

So I don’t want hear any more excuses like that. You want us to feature your music, send us an e-mail to artists@cornbread.cafe. I’m going to point out though that we can only include about 1/10 of a percent of the music we’d like to on the podcast. But that’s OK, because we’re going to start livestreaming pretty soon, which will give us a chance to play tons more music. So send it our way.

And if you’re up for an interview, let us know that too. You could end up as a headliner like today’s featured artist, Echo Sparks out of Orange County, Calif. We spoke at length with D.A. Valdez, Cindy Ballreich, and Colleen Kinnick about…about everything, actually, which tends to happen on this show. You can listen to the full interview via the small audio player below the band’s name in the shownotes. And to whet your appetite, we’ll play an excerpt of that conversation in just a bit.

Echo Sparks

> Listen to the full-length conversation with them! <

The Hunts; photo courtesy The Hunts, via Facebook.
The Hunts; photo courtesy The Hunts, via Facebook.

You may recall that in Episode #1, we got to enjoy “Torch Song” of their 2016 release, “Ghost Town Girl.” In this episode, I thought we’d go straight to the title track, which captures several of the band’s many talents all in one track.

After that, we have another exciting treat: hailing from the Pioneer Valley in Western Mass, Matt Lorenz, who records and performs as The Suitcase Junket, unleashes his 5th release, Pile Driver, on April 21, at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.

Melika Miller; photo courtesty Melika Miller
Melika Miller; photo courtesty Melika Miller

Suitcase Junket

For those of you who haven’t heard Suitcase Junket play, some explanation is required. Yes, he’s a one-man show. No, you brain can’t comprehend that when you hear him play. It sounds like a three-piece at least, and if THAT weren’t enough, Matt learned how to do that overtone, throat-singing technique which is the other thing Mongolia is famous for besides yurts and Ghengis Khan.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to wait so long to get a taste of what I’m teasing you with? Well…ya don’t. Cuz it just so happens that I’ve got that album right here, and I’m going to treat you to the characteristically smouldering “What Was I Gonna Say.”

 

Munk Duane is also wicked funny; image captured from the 2014 video for "Some Rivers," directed by Michael Carroll.
Munk Duane is also wicked funny; image captured from the 2014 video for “Some Rivers,” directed by Michael Carroll.

CATFOX

We’ll finish off the set with CATFOX and “Mama Don’t Say Why,” from Thank You, I Love You, I’m Sorry. First though, let’s hear a little from our conversation with Echo Sparks.

Did I mention that we, here, at the Cornbread Cafe are Not. Afraid. To be different? We’re not. Which is why when we say we play Folk, we mean we play all kinds of Folk, including psychedelic folk, which is how CATFOX categorizes her sound. I might add “Northern Gothic” as another descriptor. CATFOX is the musical incarnation of live artist Catrin Lloyd-Bollard. A Brooklyn-based actor, writer, & performer, she’s played gigs in some far-flung, and at times rather mysterious venues. We have both the studio and down-home versions of CATFOX’s latest release, Zoömagnesis, so expect to hear more from this talented artist.

 

Misty Blues; photo courtesy Misty Blues
Misty Blues; photo courtesy Misty Blues

And if you were enraptured by the Suitcase Junket’s “What Was I Going to Say,” I have some good news. I was really torn between that song and the absolutely rockin’ “Evangeline,” also off the upcoming release Pile Driver.” I went with the former mainly because I was gonna send you to the Suitcase Junket’s Bandcamp page where you can pre-order the album if you so choose. And Matt has made “Evangeline” available to listen to in its entirety, which might help persuade you to drop a little coin and support this mad genius.

 

The Delta Wires; image courtesy the Delta Wires
The Delta Wires; image courtesy the Delta Wires

Long Journey

Well, we’ve got a whole lot of audio backing up on the conveyor belt, so what do you say we play some more brand new music, eh? Karl Mullen and Amrita Lash make up the mostly acoustic duo Long Journey, which released the 2016  “Fierce Folk” to widespread enthusiasm. Both performers are also visual artists and educators who teach it forward in the hills of the Berkshires. Additionally, Mr. Mullen is a music promoter who knows a seemingly  impossible number of people in the world of Roots music. We’ll be hearing more from him, and if we’re lucky, get him on for a conversation to talk about what he has lined up for 2017.

 

 

Gus McKay; photo courtesy Gus McKay
Gus McKay; photo courtesy Gus McKay

The Hunts

After that, a song that’s been around a little while, but one that continues to lift my spirits whenever I hear it—“Lifting the Sea,” by The Hunts off their 2015 effort, Those Younger Days. We’ll keep the positive vibe going with Melika Miller’s single “Don’t Give Up Now.”

But right now, here’s “I First Kissed You,” by Long Journey here at the Cornbread Cafe.

Munk Duane

Both of the next two artists I’ve actually had the pleasure of interviewing in the past. Munk Duane is a Boston-based singer/songwriter, composer and one mean mofo on the guitar. Not only is he a legend of the East Coast Indie scene, his generosity to the podcasting community has earned him the admiration and appreciation of podcasters nationally, including yours truly.

 

Misty Blues

Gina Coleman’s performance in the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun” was praised for its power and heart, which nudged her musical career into the Blues. Forming the fully loaded band, Misty Blues, was just about a given. We’ll hear “Next Time Is the Last Time,” off their 2016 release, “Dark and Saucy.”

 

Gus McKay

We’ll round out our Blues detour with Bay Area greats the Delta Wires with “Goin’ Away,” off Anthology followed by “Extremely Voodoo,” by Gus McKay (who’s really an Aussie—Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone). Right now, though, let’s get this set rolling with Munk Duane and “Stupid Pride.”

So, I have to wonder, after the Australians have taken over American T.V. and the movies, is this what they’re setting their sights on? American-style Blues? You think I’m kidding—I’ve got three more Aussie Blues artists in the hopper, and each one of them kicks ass.

I think we have time to squeeze in a quick peek through the festival-scope to see what the upcoming Roots scene looks like across America. Starting with:

Paluxy River Bluegrass Festival • Glen Rose Tex. • Mar 30 – April 1
Winter Wonder Grass Tahoe • Olympic Valley, Calif. • March 31 – April 2
French Quarter Festival • New Orleans, La. • April 6 – 9
Country Thunder Arizona • Florence, Ariz. • April 6 – 9
Rhythm N Blooms • Knoxville, Tenn. • April 7 – 9
Tortuga Music Festival • Fort Lauderdale, Fla. • April 7 – 9
Baton Rouge Blues Festival • Baton Rouge, La. • April 8 – 9

 

I should say that we could do a whole show looking into any one of these festivals individually. SO much history, SO much talent and experience and just plain LIFE goes into these celebrations, they’re more than just a chance for great entertainment. If you happen to make it to any of these events, send us some pics we can share, or post them on social media an tag the Cornbread Cafe so other listeners can get a sense of the experience.

Ray Wilson

We’re going to put the wraps on this episode though by making our way back to Texas—keep ending up there, right?—and we’re going to sample a track from the just released album, Coming Through In Waves, by Ray Wilson. The tune, “Lone River Dance,” is a ballad in the classic sense—a tale of choices, loss, and regrets. You’d be forgiven for becoming so entranced by the lyrics that you forget to pay attention to the instrumentation. It’s alright, you can go back and listen again.

One Left

Appropriately, we finish off this episode with the band, One Left,  an act that’s has done some solid picking over the last couple of decades—solid like curly maple. The band leader, Rick Rowland, posted recently that he’s lost all the hearing in one ear and about half in the other. I’ll try to find out what happened there, because if his talents have been stolen from us by a cruel twist of Fate, that would be way beyond unfair. The song is “Fare Thee Well My True Love,” off their 2010 release “This Land I Love.”

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The Cornbread Cafe #2 — Keeton Coffman, Alicia Beale, Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, much more


Welcome! brothers and sisters to Episode #2—of the Cornbread Cafe. We’ve got Keeton Coffman, Alicia Beale, The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, and SO much more!

Keeton Coffman discusses Life, The Universe, and Everything (especially music) in our extended interview below. We hear "Killer Eyes" and "What We're Reaching For" from his 2016 release, Killer Eyes; photo courtesy Keeton Coffman
Keeton Coffman discusses Life, The Universe, and Everything (especially music) in our extended interview below. We hear “Killer Eyes” and “What We’re Reaching For” from his 2016 release, Killer Eyes; photo courtesy Keeton Coffman

 

I am the mongrel, and I will be your waiter today. Cazh and cozy, we’re located at the five-corners of Blues, Americana, Folk, Country, and Gospel. And you can sometimes catch an express to Rock ’n’ Roll at the bus stop across the way. We are the Internet’s new hang-out for the best in a sprawling menu of American Roots music.

 

On this Episode:

“Killer Eyes,” Keeton Coffman, Killer Eyes
“What We’re Reaching For,” Keeton Coffman, Killer Eyes
“Beautiful,” Alicia Beale, Ignite
“Take That Bath,” Francesca Brown, Collide
“Whiskey In My Tea Master,” Signs Point East
“Nothin But My Whiskey,” Honey Whiskey Trio
“Big Ol Bottle of Wine,” Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, The Heart of the Run
“Bad Man Road,” The Walker Avenue Gang, Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws
“Homewrecker,” Sam Sliva, The Drained
“What You Took,” Faint Peter, Redoubt
“Swansong,” Molly Pinto Madigan, Wildwood Bride
“Goodnight,” Oh Susanna, Namedropper

 

Alicia Beale, with "Beautiful" from <em>IGNITE</em>; image courtesy Alicia Beale
Alicia Beale, with “Beautiful” from IGNITE; image courtesy Alicia Beale

I want to start off this show with a HUGE thank you to the listeners who shared links to our launch episode on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Without even being in iTunes, without even any marketing to speak of, Episode #1 racked up over 600 downloads almost right out of the gate, which is wicked good for a show that’s not produced by, you know, like WNYC or RADIOTOPIA or somebody. So, the management and staff of the Cornbread Cafe would like to acknowledge that we owe it all to YOU, you crazy roots-music lovin’ fools, you!

 

Francesca Brown with "Take that Bath," from Collide; photo courtesy Francesca Brown
Francesca Brown with “Take that Bath,” from Collide; photo courtesy Francesca Brown

 

 

Well, I’d never say that we’re trying to “top” a previous episode, but we did set a pretty high bar with that first show, so I’ve definitely been feeling the pressure. Choosing today’s music, and obsessively arranging each song in exactly the right order was kind of like making the first mix-tape for my sophomore year girlfriend in high school. It had to be juuuuuust perfect to demonstrate my undying adolescent love. And I’m not sure we want to go too deep into the analogy, but my promise to you is that I’ll use the same neurotic perfectionism in every single episode until you are convinced of my devotion to you and your musical edification. When I get a phone call from your parents telling me to stop leaving sticky notes with links to the show on your car windshild, then I’ll know I’ve hit the sweet spot.

 

Signs Point East, with "Back to the Start," off their EP Back to the Start; photo courtesy Signs Point East
Signs Point East, with “Back to the Start,” off their EP Back to the Start; photo courtesy Signs Point East

And what do we have for you today? We have another set of twelve exceptional tunes ranging from old-school Bluegrass to the very edge of the DMZ between Country and  Rock ’n’ Roll. And, to make it a baker’s dozen, we also have an interview with Houston-based Keeton Coffman. In Episode #1, we heard his recent hit “The Mountain” off his 2016 album Killer Eyes. The song resonated with a lot of you, and my guess is that it straddled the line between Alt-Country and Rock so comfortably, that you just couldn’t help but get hooked on it. Well, let’s have another round of that top-shelf tunage with the title track off Killer Eyes.

Extended Interview with Keeton Coffman

 

The Honey Whiskey Trio with “Nothin But My Whiskey,” which may or may not be included on their debut release later this year—only time will tell!
The Honey Whiskey Trio with “Nothin But My Whiskey,” which may or may not be included on their debut release later this year—only time will tell!

That was Keeton Coffman, with “Killer Eyes.” When Keeton accepted our invitation to come on the show and talk about that album and the just-released video for “What We’re Reaching For,” I knew exactly what I wanted to ask about. I wanted to know what drives the upbeat optimism that fuels his extremely danceable anthems. You can hear the full interview by clicking the player in the shownotes at cornbread.cafe, but here’s a preview of that conversation right now in the Cornbread Cafe.

 

I didn’t mean to start off this show with two Texans, but after getting into such a good mood with Keeton’s music, I was reminded of a song by our friend Alicia Beale, a Texas girl who now makes her home in Nashville. Alicia’s latest release, IGNITE, did exactly that to the Indie music scene last year. She was our guest on another show back in October, so you can imagine how excited we were for her when she took home the prize for Best Pop Single at the Independent Music Awards in November with “New Fling,” featuring Kristo Rewlz. Many of the tracks off IGNITE are perfect examples of the blurring of musical lines that this Cornbread Cafe was built to celebrate. Flavors of Country accent this deep track, “Beautiful,” off that breakout release by Alicia Beale.

Facetime Interview with Alicia Beale

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, with “Big Ol Bottle of Wine," off their live 2016 Heart of the Run release; photo courtesy The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, with “Big Ol Bottle of Wine,” off their live 2016 Heart of the Run release; photo courtesy The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

Well, I think I’ve heard myself talk about as much as I can stand for a little while, so why don’t we get some musical momentum started here, right? And, I should warn you, we’re going to go on a little bit of a bender at this point. I’ve been looking for an excuse to fire up the Dodge and make a whiskey run for a while now. Are you game? Joining us are some new friends Signs Point East with “Whiskey In My Tea,” followed by the soon to be everywhere Honey Whiskey Trio with “Nothin But My Whiskey.” And cashing out our tab are our good buds the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, and a live “Big Ol Bottle of Wine,” First though, Francesca Brown is going to intoxicate us with some poison of her own with my favorite track from her latest release, Collide, “Take that Bath”

The Walker Avenue Gang perform “Bad Man Road,” on the soundtrack of the film Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws, slated for a 2017 release; image courtesy The Walker Avenue Gang
The Walker Avenue Gang perform “Bad Man Road,” on the soundtrack of the film Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws, slated for a 2017 release; image courtesy The Walker Avenue Gang

 

You want to know how popular Roots music is getting? I’ll tell ya’. The largest contemporary art museum in the country, MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., is home to the Fresh Grass festival, now in its sixth season. The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow are actually playing a show there on St. Patrick’s Day. What kind of a wild time does THAT sound like, eh? Of course I want you to get to know all the artists on this show better—that’s why I put links every seventh word or so. But I want to make a special suggestion that you visit the Honey Whiskey Trio’s website and check out their videos section. Their harmonies on songs like “The Lone Wild Bird” are so defined and so clear as to be dizzying. They tell me that an album is due out this Spring, and when it shoots to the top of the charts, just remember you got your first taste of that sweet Honey Whiskey right here on the Cornbread Cafe.

 

Sam Silva, with "Homewrecker" from The Drained; photo courtesy Sam Silva.
Sam Sliva, with “Homewrecker” from The Drained; photo courtesy Sam Silva.

Sadly, there’s usually a good amount of air between sweet liquor and sound judgement, you notice that? And I reckon it’s a good time to throw a couple of cautionary tales into the mix to sober us all back up a bit. From the soundtrack to the movie Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws, scheduled to be released this year, we’ll hear “Bad Man Road,” by the The Walker Avenue Gang, followed by Sam Sliva with “Homewrecker,” here on the Cornbread Cafe. Buzzkill, I know, right?

Molly Pinto Madigan; artwork for Wildwood Bride, photo by Joey Phoenix Photography
Molly Pinto Madigan; artwork for Wildwood Bride, photo by Joey Phoenix Photography

Well, I think we have time for a little bit Roots music news don’t we? Not much, but some. First of all, this weekend kicks off the  South By Southwest festival, which has gotten so big that Vice President Joe Biden is a speaker and the festival has its own app for navigating time and space while you’re gliding through the marvels assembled in Austen, Tejas.

 

But SXSW ain’t the only game in town—not by a stretch. Rounding out the rest of March is:

South By Southwest (SXSW) • Austin, TX • Mar 10 – Mar 19
Suwanee Spring Reunion • Live Oak, FL • Mar 23 – Mar 26
Savannah Music Festival • Savannah, GA • Mar 23 – Apr 8
Paluxy River Bluegrass Festival • Glen Rose TX • Mar 30 – Apr 1
Big Ears Festival • Knoxville TN • Mar 23 – Mar 26

 

Joseph De Natale, performing as Faint Peter; photo courtesy Faint Peter
Joseph De Natale, performing as Faint Peter; photo courtesy Faint Peter

And, of course, you can find the link to more info on AmericanaFest 2017 WHERE? Yes, in the shownotes. You’re catching on.

We’re going to serve up a triplet of singer/songwriters who represent some of the best in poetic wordsmithing you could hope to hear on this or any show. First up is Faint Peter with “What You Took,” from the 2016 release Redoubt. Faint Peter is the Boston-born, Seattle-based Joseph De Natale, who, with this album of piercing storytelling, proves he might just be THE standard-bearer for new American folk.

Next, Molly Pinto Madigan mesmerizes us with Swan Song off her 2016 release, Wildwood Bride, which enraptured critics with brilliant lyrics sung with otherworldly elegance.

Suzie Ungerleider of Oh Susanna; photo by Heather Pollock
Suzie Ungerleider of Oh Susanna; photo by Heather Pollock

And closing out the episode will be beautiful, graceful, melancholy “Goodnight,” from Oh Susanna, off Namedropper. We’ve had the good fortune to speak with Suzie Ungerleider, who was born in Northhampton, Mass., and crafts her gorgeous melodies in Toronto, Canada.

I hope you enjoy the dessert course, starting right now with “What You Took.”

I think it’s best if I let Oh Susanna have the last word. Join us next time right here in the Cornbread Cafe.

This show was engineered and hosted by me, the mongrel, and I’m looking forward to serving up more great Roots to you and your kin next week. No reservations needed. Just bring your appetite for great music.

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