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Gus McKay

Cornbread Cafe #11

The Matchstick Architects, Gus McKay, Misty Blues, Toney Rocks, CATFOX, Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints, Trevor McShane, Ameraucana Kurt Fortmeyer

Misty Blues; photo courtesy mistybluesband.com.
Misty Blues; photo courtesy mistybluesband.com.

From our interview with Gina Coleman of Misty Blues, available on Episode #66 of the Top Left Corner, releasing August 29.

“So, last year we won the Capital Region Blues Network International Blues Challenge competition which sent us to the greater International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, where we competed against about 250 of the best Blues bands around the world. Each blues Society gets to pony up their best band and send them to Memphis in January every year, and I think this was the 33rd or 34th year of this competition. We were really excited—we thought, “What a wonderful opportunity…we held our own and it really afforded me the opportunity to learn that we are right in the mix with Blues bands throughout the world.”

— Gina Coleman

Keep Reading

The Cornbread Cafe #6: INTERVIEW with Janie Barnett, too many new tracks to list!

Janie Barnett discusses her gracefully drifting release, You See this River.

Janie Barnett; submitted photo.
Janie Barnett; submitted photo.

 

Welcome! brothers and sisters to Episode #6—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.

 

Click the play button on this audio player to hear the complete interview with Janie Barnett.

 

This is episode six of the Cornbread Cafe, and do I have a special treat treat for you this time around. Actually I have a whole hour of special treats, as always, but one of them is especially rare and wonderful. We have with us Janie Barnett, who if she were the last Americana musician to be minted in this world, would be give us a perfect last lingering chord in the genre.

Artists Featured in this Episode:

Janie Barnett, “You See This River,” You See this River
Janie Barnett, “Better Times Are Coming,” You See this River
Molly Pinto Madigan, “Seven Tears,” The Cup Overflows
Bees Deluxe, “Industrial (espionage),single
Gus McKay, “Married a Snake,Salt Flat Mojo Blues
Heather Maloney, “Let Me Stay,” by Just Enough Sun
Almond & Olive, “We Will,” Standing at the Precipice
Birds of Chicago, “American Flowers,” American Flowers
Janie Barnett, “Sweet Thursday,”  You See this River

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 Amazon.com.

 

On her just released album, You See This River, Janie crafts stories dug out your family’s cedar trunks up in the attic, memories traced in carbon copy from old letters in the shoebox in the back of the closet. Her ballads are painted in emotions as fresh as eternally wet paint. Her creations are woven from Words that seem like she could have teased them out of my own brain if I were an immeasurably more talented poet.

Some are Songs of stubbornly optimistic, inevitable love filtered through a self-knowledge even the most enlightened gurus would envy.

Some Songs echo the lives people who are really living their lives on the back stoops, in the kitchens, in bedrooms together in vulnerable companionship or the complex internal lives we’re living alone in our hearts and minds as we travel through our labors or little luxuries.

Penetrating and heartbreaking. Wise and reckless. True. Imagined. True anyway.

Janie Barnett thanks for being on the show!

(audio clip of our interview with Janie Barnett)

Upcoming Event

Janie Barnett, opening for Paula Cole
Saturday December 16, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.
The Center for Arts in Natick
info & tickets

Molly Pinto Madigan's 2017 release, The Cup Overflows, builds on her impressive songwriting and vocal skills with a heightened level of self-assurance that suits her musical direction.
Molly Pinto Madigan’s 2017 release, The Cup Overflows, builds on her impressive songwriting and vocal skills with a heightened level of self-assurance that suits her musical direction.

I think it’s about time that we all get a taste of the work that I know Janie can do, does do, and has done with Blue Room on this recent release “You See This River.” Before we do, though, I need to pause and explain that I had no idea just how engaging our conversation was going to be. I will confess right here and now that I was prepared to record for 20 minutes, keep the best 10, and share them with you. When I looked up at the clock and saw that a full 30 minutes had gone by, and realized that she had so many more stories and nuggets of wisdom to share, I made the decision to keep rolling tape and figure it out later.

And I think I’ve got it figured out, now. I’ve edited the entire conversation, keeping almost every syllable, and have made the entire talk available as bonus audio here in the show notes. Just look for the audio player below the first paragraph. You’ll want to hear everything Janie has to say. And to create the most powerful, most tempting incentive, I’m going to sprinkle jewels from our talk throughout the rest of the show. That way, you still get almost as much music as usual, AND you get an exclusive interview with one of Americana’s leading ladies.

Bees Deluxe Front: Conrad Warren, Allyn “Aldo” Dorr Back: Patrick Sanders, Carol Band photo courtesy Carol Band via Patch
Bees Deluxe
Front: Conrad Warren, Allyn “Aldo” Dorr
Back: Patrick Sanders, Carol Band
photo courtesy Carol Band via Patch

So let’s have two right now from Janie—One, a searching, buoyant rendition of Steven Foster’s “Better Times Are Coming” from 1862, but first the title track off this tuneful treasure trove, You See This River.

And THAT last number was “Seven Tears” off our old friend Molly Pinto Madigan’s very recent release The Cup Overflows. Before that, we heard Better Times Are Coming and the title track from You See This River, from the very phenomenal Janie Barnett and Blue Room. You can find purchase options for their most recent as well as prior releases in the “Artists Featured in this Episode” section, above.

After hearing Janie Barnett, you’re likely to ask yourself, “This is great, but how and where can I experience the magic live?” You’re in luck, because she has a couple shows coming up in the next couple of months, including a one-of-a-kind performance December 16 opening up for Paula Cole at the Center for Arts in Natick, Mass. If you’re anywhere in the Boston Metro neighborhood, you won’t want to miss what is sure to be a powerful evening of tunes.

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

Next course coming out of the kitchen is a sub-genre we have not explored much yet on the Cornbread Cafe—and that’s Acid Blues. Oh it’s true blue, but just a little bit gacked out. We’ll have a double shot that starts with a band I’ve been following since my days at the helm of the Mongrel’s Howl podcast, back in 2005. In fact, that’s why I was so grateful and honored that they responded to my note asking if they wanted to be part of this new show. Ever-gracious, they obliged, and YOU dear listener, reap the benefits of my association, I promise you that.

Also in this block, we’ll hear a deeper cut “Married a Snake,” off Gus McKay’s recent release, Salt Flat Mojo Blues. I don’t know if Gus would categorize his music as acid blues, but I’ll let you be the judge of whether it belongs in the same drawer as Bees Deluxe’s newest single, “Industrial (espionage)” right here on the Cornbread Cafe.

(audio clip of our interview with Janie Barnett)

Heather Maloney; photo courtesy heathermaloney.com
Heather Maloney; photo courtesy heathermaloney.com

That’s Janie Barnett talking about the need to wrangle, and ultimately reconcile time and creativity as responsibilities of family and paying gigs eat away at the leisurely time once spent waiting for the muse to show up with inspiration. In our extended conversation, Janie shares some deeply personal perspectives on subjects like family. I really encourage you to to listen to what was, for me, one of my most absorbing interviews ever. In fact, let’s have a listen to one of my favorite gems from our talk before we hear brandy new just released tracks from Heather Maloney, Almond & Olive, and Birds of Chicago.

We just heard the title track from the just released EP American Flowers, by Birds of Chicago, available through Signature Sounds. On a different podcast, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of sharing a long conversation with JT Nero who, along with Allison Russell, makes up the principle force of the group that’s been described as “secular gospel.” That identifier certainly seems to fit, doesn’t it? The affect some of their songs have on me definitely goes beyond simply my heart and mind.

Almond & Olive; submitted photo.
Almond & Olive; submitted photo.

Before that, we heard “We Will” off the new release from Almond & Olive. This duo, sometimes known simply as A&O, is comprised of singer-songwriters Natalie Alms and Ollie Davidson. The also call Chicago home, so if you think detect some shared musical DNA, you’re probably not wrong. The track comes from “Standing at the Precipice,” an album that came about less than two years after the two met in 2015.

And we started the set with another artist on the Signature Sounds label, Heather Maloney, who brought us “Let Me Stay,” from her latest effort, Just Enough Sun, which also features the instrumentation of Ryan Hommel.

You’ll be hearing plenty more cuts off each of these albums in the near future, probably just as soon as my heart recovers from the extreme emotional workout that triple of tunes put it through.

Birds of Chicago; submitted photo.
Birds of Chicago; submitted photo.

Before them, Janie Barnett gave us a deep look into the emotional dimensions of her own creative source material, and how motherhood instilled a sense of forgiveness in the artistic space she inhabits these days.

Let’s hear from Janie again as we work our way through dessert and coffee. She talks about the process of creating her new album, You See This River, one of the most consistent and structurally sound I’ve heard. She suggested we close out the show with a song she described as one of her more light-hearted compositions, “Sweet Thursday.” I think you’ll agree that it’s just the balm you need some days, these days.

(audio clip of our interview with Janie Barnett)

 

Janie Barnett; photo courtesy janiebarnett.com.
Janie Barnett; photo courtesy janiebarnett.com.

 

Well, that’s our show for the week. I know you won’t want to miss next weeks episode of the Cornbread Cafe, so I’d encourage you to subscribe through iTunes or Google Play Music—you’ll find the subscribe buttons on just about any page of our site. And when you subscribe, I’d be grateful if you left us a review—it really helps people discover us.

I’ve been your host, Jay Vee, aka the mongrel, and I thank you for listening. We’ll tuck into more heaping helpings of American Roots music next week. Take care.

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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