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January 2018

The Cornbread Cafe #7: Charlie Parr and a few others we’ve been keepin’ warm for ya’.

Charlie Parr, Chrystyna Marie, and Kurt Fortmeyer are just a few of the great artists you’ll find on the specials board this week. So, I asked for your thoughts about how long the show ought to be. You weren’t shy about turning loose of your opinions, neither. The results were about three-to-two in favor of a half-hour episode. Hard to do when we’ve got so much music to share, but here goes!

Charlie Parr; photo by Nate Ryan.
Charlie Parr; photo by Nate Ryan.

Welcome! brothers and sisters to Episode #7—of the Cornbread Cafe. 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 hope to become your new new fave hang for the best in a sprawling menu of American Roots music. *

Featured in this Episode:

Charlie Parr“Evil Companion”Stumpjumper
Avery LeVine“Coins on the Ground”Lonesome City
Ray Wilson“Under A Lonely Sky”Coming Through in Waves
Chrystyna Marie“Down the Road”Loaded Gun
Rust Dust“Wayfaring Stranger” Diviners and Shivs
Comanchero“Watching Rome Burn”Thrown
Kurt Fortmeyer “Call The Bitchdoctor On You”Ameraucana

Charlie Parr


Charlie Parr; photo by Nate Ryan.
Charlie Parr; photo by Nate Ryan.

Life has always had a kind of soundtrack for me,” says Parr. “My memories fit nicely in the grooves of the records that played through those times, specific records, too, the very ones themselves, complete with the pops and scratches in just the right places.

Charlie Parr is a singular songwriter who has built a dedicated grassroots following for his haunting, topical songs and virtuosic picking, not to mention the fact that he’s on the road 300 days a year. Based in Duluth, MN, Parr’s inspiration is drawn from the alternately fertile and frozen soil of Minnesota; his songs exude a Midwestern sensibility and humility.






Avery LeVine


Avery LeVine; submitted photo.
Avery LeVine; submitted photo.

Avery LeVine is a Portland, OR based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist specializing in traditional Irish music and original, progressive Irish folk. With deep roots, and a BMus from the Dublin Institute of Technology, in traditional Irish music; Avery is one of the foremost performers on Irish flute, Irish bouzouki, tin whistle, and DADGAD guitar in the Portland area. His original music uses these roots as a base to explore the connections between Irish music and the traditional music of England, Scotland, America, and other Celtic nations. All while infusing it with jazz and eastern sounds in the hopes of exploring a new, Celtic-tinged chapter in New Acoustic Music.





Ray Wilson


Ray Wilson; submitted photo.
Ray Wilson; submitted photo.

“It’s been a wild ride already” Wilson says, “I’ve never had an experience like the one I’ve had recording and then turning around and playing ‘troubadour’ live!”

With roots in Alabama, Ray was introduced to music by his father, a construction worker who moonlighted as a honky-tonk musician. After living in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, Wilson gained a wide variety of musical inspirations ranging from The Doors and The Police to Chuck Berry and The Beatles. Wilson gained experience playing bass for both a punk and a heavy metal band in the 90’s.







Crystyna Marie


Crystyna Marie; photo courtesy
Chrystyna Marie; photo courtesy

Originally hailing from Toronto, Crystyna Marie sings with a powder keg voice over a cocktail of grungy blues and pop. The classically trained Canadian-born singer has supported Ontario acts and been featured as a demo singer on indie labels from as young as 18 years old.

Marie has taken first place in various categories in the Kiwanis Music Festival 2 years in a row. She’s taken lead roles in local community plays; West Side Story as Maria and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Over the years, she has racked up a long list of smaller roles in music videos, television and was also the lead singer in an LA founded pop group called Greencat. Writing and releasing her own music, with her own unique voice, however, is where her true passion lies.






Rust Dust


Rust Dust; submitted photo..
Rust Dust; submitted photo.

Rust Dust, formally known as Ardell Jason Shealy Stutts, is a South Carolina native with a healthy aversion for barbers and liars. He earns his keep repairing and dealing in guitars and amps of a certain age. After bonding with Oscar-winning, Grammy-nominated producer John DeNicola over their mutual affection for this sort of vintage gear, Jason explained his concept for a record.

“A set of songs came together. I rearranged and de-arranged them until they tell the story of Diviners and Shivs,” Jason says. “They seemed to fit naturally with the country, blues and gospel songs I always held dear, and I hoped to record them, live, with someone who wanted to contribute to the sound and feel so that this wasn’t just a ‘dude with an acoustic’ record.”




We will play tunes by Comanchero until you fully internalize their greatness. And then we'll keep playing them.
We will play tunes by Comanchero until you fully internalize their greatness. And then we’ll keep playing them.

Since 2003, Comanchero has crafted an Americana sound that combines old traditions with new, Country with Rock, Bluegrass with Blues, Honky-Tonk with Funk, and Roots with Rockabilly. While unique in their own sound, there is something strikingly familiar in Comanchero’s songs that weave influences ranging from The Allman Brothers, The Band, Little Feat, & Led Zeppelin, to today’s contemporaries such as Wilco, The Drive -By Truckers, & Mumford & Sons.









Kurt Fortmeyer


Kurt Fortmeyer; photo courtesy
Kurt Fortmeyer; photo courtesy

Kurt Fortmeyer was born in a barn and raised in a stable environment, or so he might tell an unwitting listener in one of his sillier moments. His life was changed irreparably at a tender and impressionable age when he was subjected to Roger Miller, Allan Sherman, Chubby Checker, and Trini Lopez.
His first solo show was at the HOLE IN THE WALL SALOON in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the late ’70s, influenced by Jack Kerouac, Jesse Winchester, and Townes Van Zandt, he hitchhiked coast-to-coast, playing in the streets and parks of New Orleans, New York, Memphis, and San Francisco. Brandishing his acoustic guitar and harmonicas, and writing and playing original songs with a traditional bent, Kurt has been found in venues as wide-ranging as Montessori Schools, motorcycle bars, restaurants, and rest homes. He has performed at the Festival for the Eno, the Castalian Springs Bluegrass Festival, and the Haw River Festival.

* Note: Artist links provide access directly to artists’ websites or social media homepages. All album links provide access to song or album purchase options, often through our affiliate programs with Apple Music or, which help make this show possible.

Musicians’ bio info comes from the artists, their websites, or their publicists. Click on names below to visit their websites where you can get the full story, photos, and very often video.


TLC #62 — Remembering the Women’s March: Voices from the Road

Hey Greylock Nation—

Today is Tuesday, January 16, 2018, and you’re listening to episode 62 of the Top Left Corner. I’m your host, Jay Velazquez, and, as always, I thank you for tuning in.

All photos by Jason Velázquez.
All photos by Jason Velázquez.

We’re coming up this week on the first anniversary of the Women’s March, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, with half a million attendees showing up for the flagship event in Washington D.C., approximately 4 million participating in events around the country, and well over 5 million demonstrators world-wide.

Although I haven’t talked much about it, I was fortunate, more than fortunate actually, to attend the Women’s March on Washington. At the last minute Meghan Whilden, Executive Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College, contacted me to let me know about an empty seat on one of several busses heading to the Capitol from Western Massachusetts. She wanted to send me down as one of the Berkshires’ own journalists on location at one of the most profound and powerful experiences on American soil of the 21st Century. My bus left from Northampton, Mass about 1:30 a.m. packed primarily with women from the Pioneer Valley, but also a good share of Berkshire residents. The buses leaving out of Pittsfield had all left earlier the evening before.

Our bus arrived and parked in the lot of a stadium outside of the Capitol, and, keeping close to my Berkshires contingent, I made my way toward the National Mall, interviewing people along the way. Long before I saw the columns of the Supreme Court or any of the monuments, I knew that I’d been captured by history and marked in a way that would be almost painful for its permanence.

I reported via Facebook LIVE video and through live audio broadcasts using the Mixlr Internet radio service. I posted photos and text updates until first the cellular service in D.C. got completely clogged, or intentionally disabled—we never found out— and then eventually my phone’s battery ran dry, and I had no way to charge it without finding my way through a rolling pink sea of determination.

On the trip back to Western Mass, I tried to piece together some way to tell a story that was weightier and more expansive than I’d ever been tasked to convey. Harder still was knowing what to do with the strange distance I felt between myself as a man and a reporter at the scene and the women who were returning as victorious participants. There were so many women who’d attended not just the March on Washington, but also the sister events in the Berkshires and beyond, who had their stories and experiences to share as women with other women. Who was I to show up at their campfire and ask to be passed the talking stick? And with such really excellent coverage by so many distinguished national journalists, I couldn’t see what contribution I might make.

I spent a good amount of time on both the way down and the way back talking with Emily Cutts, staff writer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette. I meant to ask her what it felt like to be a female journalist covering the story, and whether she felt she needed to try to keep a level of professional detachment from the events. I don’t know how any reporter, man or woman, could have kept their heart behind a fence, to be honest.

But I never got to ask her. The bus stopped moving about 40 minutes south of Northampton and wouldn’t budge again. In a flurry of calls to family and frenzied tapping on Uber, the women and men who shared such powerful solidarity for the last 24 hours made their separate ways out into the pre-dawn darkness and frost. My lot, and that of my traveling companion, was looking more and more dire as Uber drivers started running out, and I couldn’t get my phone to install the damn app anyway. In an act of selflessness and generosity, charity really at that hour of the morning, my newly met colleague gave up her seat so that we could make it back to Northampton. She ended up waiting over an hour in the cold until a friend was able to get there and shuttle her back to Paradise City. Thank you. Thank you again, Emily Cutts. Your strength, exhibited through kindness and self-sacrifice was so…feminine.

It didn’t take me long, sitting starting at the empty white screen of my computer, to realize that what Megan Whilden had done, intended or not, was not to dispatch me to the nation’s capitol to go get that story, but to send me there so that the devastating 24-hour transformation I underwent would inform my decisions on what topics I would cover and how I would cover them from that point on. If it seemed to you that the reporting coming out of the Greylock Glass was steeped in estrogen in 2017, well now you know why.

I looked for stories not just about women in the Berkshires, but about how those women, through their own work and lives, reflected the growing realization that America was about to reckon with a women’s movement that was gaining in power, momentum, and political sophistication. The country would begin to come to terms with gender inequities and injustice not because it was convenient at the moment, but because women had decided they were done with gradualism.

The Greylock Glass reported on many, many women achieving amazing things in education, literature, music, politics, and other areas. When searching for a source to talk to about a subject that wasn’t inherently masculine or feminine, I challenged myself to be sure to contact a woman with equal expertise or credentials if no reason existed not to feature a feminine voice. Finally, just as important to me as including women’s voices in our reporting was committing to give time to stories about issues that may have a veneer of gender neutrality, but which, in fact, affect women disproportionately, and often with strikingly unjust consequences.

What did I learn pursuing this slight editorial tweaking in 2017 was that including women more often in news coverage, as vital actors on the many diverse stages of human experience, as agents of their own fortunes and as agents of change in their communities? I learned that it’s really no professional challenge. It’s just a personal habit. Plenty of men made appearances in our podcasts and in our pages last year, too—when it made sense, in the interest of the informing the audience, to talk with them. But never as the default gender. And while I haven’t analyzed stories and podcasts from 2015 or 2016 to see if last year rectified a gender disparity of which I wasn’t aware, I don’t think I have to at this point. And I don’t think I’m going to have to make any special effort in 2018 to ensure journalistic gender equity. If, as I hope, I’m in a position to hire a reporter this year, I’ll be looking forward to nurturing the habits of awareness in her or in him that took root for me, and for the world, during the first Women’s March on January 21, 2017.

Although I never did come up with a satisfactory way to chronicle my trip to Washington, I did return home with a couple hours-worth of audio interviews. I’ve sifted through those conversations and pulled out a small collection of my favorite quotes. Except for the voice of Kamala Harris at the end, the speakers are going to remain nameless, though some of you will, doubtless, recognize one or two of the women I spoke with. So now, I’d like to share with you, as a small way the Greylock Glass can commemorate that historic demonstration, Ten Minutes of Voices on the Road to the Women’s March on Washington.


PRISM #67: Are you sitting down? We have some big news.

Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre
A ground nesting native bird, the bobolink. Find out more from Jonah Keane of Mass Audubon on the Cornbread Cafe. Yeah it’s a music show, but it’ll all make sense, trust me; photo courtesy Mass Audubon.
A ground nesting native bird, the bobolink. Find out more from Jonah Keane of Mass Audubon on the Cornbread Cafe. Yeah it’s a music show, but it’ll all make sense, trust me. Photo courtesy Mass Audubon.

🎧 The Cornbread Cafe #12 — Listen Free.
Another American Roots festival in Western Mass!
We celebrate the first inaugural Arcadia Folk Festival with mighty tunes from Laura Berman, Faint Peter, Divining Rod, Birds of Chicago, Darlingside, Heather Maloney, The Nields, and Celine Schmink.
Congratulations to Al Timpane! He scored two tickets to Misty Blues Sept. 28 at Jiminy Peak with his Zen-like #CureForTheBlues that boils down to “Change My Mind.” Why do I always forget that method?
Wazzup, Greylock Nation—

Have you ever gotten a piece of good news that was so great, you felt kind of swoony every time you thought about it, even the next day? We just did. Actually, two pieces.

If you read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Columbia Journalism Review, or many other titles, by now you’ve probably heard about the Civil Media Company. Civil is the journalism start-up with a mission to restore credibility to the news, circumvent censorship by authoritarian regimes, and create a clear path to financial sustainability for fledgling news organizations or outlets decimated by declining ad revenues and subscriptions.

Powered by blockchain technology and crypto economics, Civil has already launched a small constellation of Civil Newsrooms—independent news outlets that pledge to adhere to stringent standards of ethical journalism. By doing so, these newsrooms will gain access to many of the resources that a well-funded, well-organized media company like Civil can provide.
Vivian Schiller, former CEO at National Public Radio, was named CEO of the Civil Foundation, the nonprofit created to oversee the platform and promote its standards of journalism, earlier this summer. This month, after an editorial review process, the foundation selected a small handful of local news organizations from across the journalism sector internationally to include in the second group of official Civil Newsrooms.

The Greylock Glass — yourGreylock Glass — has been accepted into this collection of news agencies. Additionally, we have been awarded a grant of 2,000 CVL tokens to pay, in part, for our “stake” on the platform.

I just learned this by e-mail less than 48 hours ago, and I’m still trying to absorb what this all means. I am humbled at Civil’s confidence in our work. I feel a strong sense of validation in the vision of the Greylock Glass—though, if I needed excessive external validation to keep this project going, I don’t know that we’d still be having this conversation  ;  ) . Mostly, I’m in a state of shock and disbelief that our reporting will join that of journalists from publications like The New Yorker, LA Times, BBC, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Gawker, and DNAinfo in this exciting evolution in journalism.

Among the initial organizations participating in this network are the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the European Journalism Centre, the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the News Co/Lab at Arizona State University. The Associated Press is on board as a major supporter and is creating a process by which Civil Newsrooms can license its content through special arrangement.

I really encourage you to read more about Civil, especially in this article at the NYT and this piece in the WSJ. You’ll understand why I’m still reeling (in a good way) from the acceptance letter I received. Longform in the CJR here.

The other piece of great news I received is in the same vein, but more about our ability to reach a broader audience. The Greylock Glass has been accepted as an Apple News Publisher. If you’re not on an iOS device, you have no reason to know what that means, but if you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ve probably checked out the Apple News app. Again, I had to submit an application, which initiated an editorial review process for the Glass to be considered.

So many people are getting their news via their phones these days, I thought it was worth a shot, so I threw my hat in the ring and waited. I’d just about given up, too, but last month, I received notification from Apple that I could begin publishing on that platform, which I’ve been doing quietly for a couple of weeks. I’ve been working some of the kinks out and am now pleased to announce that, if your device can run Apple News, you can add the Greylock Glass to your list of favorites.

One of the side benefits that the Berkshires will enjoy is that Apple News is a major way audiences the world over can find out about the amazing people, organizations, and events in the Berkshires that we report on every week in the Glass. In other words, Apple News will signal boost information about our local businesses, arts, food, etc., to a global audience of potential visitors to the region. Get it? So while you’re on Apple News, be sure to hit that share button and spread some Berkshires love with the rest of the planet.

Our local focus is the main reason that the Glass was accepted as a Civil Newsroom. That focus needs to be intensified. I am now actively looking for part-time staff writers to report on North County stories that aren’t being covered elsewhere in ways that show how powerful, relevant, or consequential the issues are to the real people involved. An obvious result of this change is that you’re going to see much more text-based journalism on the site in addition to our podcasts.

A core tenet of Civil is that editorial independence is best maintained when news consumers pay for the journalism they enjoy. Of course, the Greylock Glass has NEVER installed data-harvesting, web-tracking ad systems, nor have we resorted to partnering with sleazy companies that place “recommended articles” in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page with click-bait headlines (which also typically harvest your data and track your every move online). We have only ever accepted static ads from local companies and organizations with whom we are proud to be associated. Still, as more and more people use ad-blockers, the writing on the wall regarding the future of this journalism revenue model becomes increasingly clear. And that will probably be a good thing in the end. The Press can never be truly “free and independent” if it always has to worry about offending the advertisers.

So, now that you’ve heard this spate of good news, tell me: aren’t you proud that the Berkshires is home to one of very few local news outlets to be accepted into this second wave of Civil Newsrooms?! That an outfit you’ve been following since its days as a scrappy startup is in the vanguard of technological innovation that will democratize journalism more than any other development in recent memory? Okay…we’re still a scrappy startup, but not. for. long.

Although I will continue to host some of the podcasts, and will do as much writing as I can, my role will necessarily pivot to more closely resemble that of a traditional publisher at the same time I seek to add a much wider diversity of voices to our pages and podcasts. The role of the publisher, as those of you who’ve been in the news biz know, is to make sure the organization is financially solvent and can weather any economic, political, or social storm.

To that end, I will be unabashedly soliciting support from all corners, starting with this newsletter. As the rabid promoter of YOUR local news alternative, I’m going to make P. T. Barnum look timid by comparison. And I’m not going to stop until the Greylock Glass is the media powerhouse this region deserves.

I promised, when I started this thing, that I’d build it up into a news organization that told local stories in a way that no one else could match and that I’d create jobs. I took care of the first goal, with over three hundred podcast episodes and articles published in three years. It’s time for you to help me make the second objective a reality, too.

In the past, I’ve asked you to contribute $1 a month to show your support for the Glass. If that’s really all you can dig out of your couch cushions, we’ll still take it, but that’s not going to get us where we need to go. The Berkshires, particularly North County, has the chance RIGHT NOW to go from being a region that’s suffered a severe decline in news coverage to being a model of remarkable, community-driven journalistic wealth and ingenuity. We have the chance, together, to show the WORLD how it’s done.

I’m not going to compare your contribution to “the price of a cup of coffee” ever again. That actually cheapens your involvement in the critical democratic institution that a free press is. I want you to care about your news more than that. I want you to really pause for a minute and just ponder the resources it must have taken to achieve what the Glass already has to date. I’m not asking for tips, donations, or gifts. I’m telling you that a window of opportunity has opened that can dramatically improve the news scene around here, but that YOU have to invest in that future.

The way to do that is to become a member. Right now. Like, I don’t even care if you finish reading this newsletter if you’re already on board with this plan. If you come on at the $10 per month level, will you get $10 worth of news right out of the gate? Depends on how you value supporting your local news. The Greylock Glass can’t create the amount of content you get from Netflix for the same money, but then again, Netflix has 120 million subscribers…which, now that I think about it, shows what’s possible when everybody ponies up a little individually.

So I’m putting $10 per month out there as the standard membership level. Some of you will choose the $5 level and others will choose the $25 level. I’m hoping that one or a few of you will kick in at the $100 level. Ideally, I want every single one of you to become a member at some level. When you read the articles or listen to the shows, I want you to know that you made them possible. I want you to take pride in it.

The results, when your dollars start flowing in, will be transformative, immediate, and visible. For starters, you’ll start seeing other people’s bylines on articles and shows. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? People have implied (rather bitingly, at times, I must say…) that I must love to hear myself talk. I don’t actually. But that’s not the point. This has never been about Jason. The Greylock Glass has only ever been about creating a sustainable media company that wasn’t dependent on shifty ad revenue or on the whims and generosity of millionaires. I knew that it’d be a steep uphill climb for awhile. It’s tested my resolve, strained my resources, and threatened my sanity just a little bit since I started out on this journey.

Last year around this time, our news delivery model was so unique that the trade group Local Independent Online News Publishers paid me to speak at their annual conference in Chicago to give other online newspapers an idea of how to incorporate podcasts into their offerings (I’m still grateful to those of you who contributed to my airfare then. You rock.) Since then, another local news podcast site is getting off the ground in the Pacific Northwest, covering the Tacoma area. Fully two years after the Greylock Glass launched in 2015, the New York Times started its local news podcast.

In the last two years, major newspapers across the country have fallen prey to corporate parasites. A national television network was revealed to have forced journalists across the country to read identical editorial statements on air as if they were their own. Journalists here at home have been identified as the “enemy of the people,” and have been murdered and jailed at increasing rates abroad. How do you fight back against these alarming trends? You strengthen the independent press in your own neighborhood to protect your oasis of news freedom.

Right now, the Greylock Glass is poised to enter a phase of unprecedented growth. We’ve been building toward this for three and a half years. With your help, we can propel this online newsthing into the success that will prove the local news is still the most important tool for holding the powerful accountable, reflecting the lives of residents, and helping its audience engage in the community in meaningful ways.

Let’s make history together. Become a member right now.

You can become a member on the website

You can become a member through Patreon

Or you can send a lump sum via PayPal (requires PayPal account)

However you choose to contribute, I thank you for deciding to become a real partner in this thrilling new chapter of the Berkshires’ mightiest independent alternative media thing.

Stay safe, be good to each other, and go easy on yourselves.

Yours —

Jason Velázquez
editor, the Greylock Glass

#CureForTheBlues Contest

Looking to score some highly coveted tix to Misty Blues, 9/28 at Jiminy? We’ve got you covered.

Misty Blues play Jiminy Peak September 28, 2018

Hit the “Send Voicemail” tab at the right-hand edge of this (or any) page. Leave me a message (up to three minutes), right with you’re computers microphone (depending on your settings, you may have to grant permission to SpeakPipe), sharing what YOU do to Give the Blues the Boot! This contest is open to the first 150 callers and ends September 7. Winner will be announced in this newsletter September 8.

I just prepaid 450 minutes worth of voicemail for this contest, and I want you to BURN. THEM. UP. trying to grab these tickets! If, for some reason, the recording from your computer thing doesn’t work, you can also submit your entry by leaving a message on our office voicemail: (413) 776-5125. If leaving a voice message just isn’t an option for you at all, send an e-mail to with your Cure for the Blues in 250 words or less.

Have fun! Be creative! Nothing is off-limits! Note that ANY and ALL responses will be shared with our audience on future shows, on the website, and in future newsletters. Good luck!

* One thing though — these are physical tickets, so you will have to provide us with an actual physical mailing address to send them!

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