The Flowing Waters of Lake Jefferson

Saturday January 3, 2009: New Year welcome
and some "best" and "favorites" lists of 2008

Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit  [happy new year in gaelic] All the best for 2009!

Welcome to the fragrance free, chemical free, member-funded, volunteer-run, hydro-powered studios of public radio WJFF.  Our stream and website are online at The studios are by the dam which powers the station.

Folk Plus is hosted and planned by Angela Page and airs Saturdays from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on WJFF,
at 90.5 fm in Jeffersonville, N.Y. and 94.5 in Monticello N.Y.   Folk Plus is mostly lyrically and theme based and is archived for two weeks at  with playlists at 

Thanks to the health accommodations that the staff an management make for me, which allow me to continue volunteering

Live music feature for this weekend: Joe Crookston is sold out for tonight, but is helping launch a brand new folk series called River Folk.  River Folk is presented by Jill’s Kitchen, Calkins Creamery, Beach Lake Bread & WJFF.  See   for upcoming shows.  February 6th 2008 is David Roth.   

And here to bring in our new year is David Roth. Consider calling to make a reservation for Febrary to catch David before that show is sold out. 
Following David is another cut about the new year, and two on resolutions before addressing some bests and favorites by folk djs for 2008.

1. David Roth - This is the Year 255  - Nights at the Chez -

2. Herdman, Hills and Mangsen - Turning of the Year 453 - Turning of the Year - Hand and Heart Music

3. Artisan - Kicking the habit 336 - Our Back Yard -

4. Linkin Park - Breaking the Habit 316 - Meteora - Warner Brothers

Now on to top airplay for folk dj list of 2008 as gathered by Richard Gillmann of KBCS-FM, WA. This is an early draft based on 166,455 airplays from 200 different DJs who post weekly setlists. Data is still being tweeking, but here I present some releases with the heaviest airplay, roughly a dozen of the top two dozen releases....  those that I own.

5. Joe Crookston - Bird By Bird 314
Able Baker Charlie And Dog,  [Self, 2/08] (439 airings)

6.   Eliza Gilkyson -   Wildewood Spring 430
Beautiful World,  [Red House, 5/08] (410)             

7: Red Molly -   Summertime 237
Love And Other Tragedies,  [Self, 5/08] (380)

Joan Baez - God Is God 330
Day After Tomorrow,  Razor And Tie, 9/08] (323)

9: Joel Mabus - Naked Truth 439
Retold  [Fossil, 1/08] (313)

Still Crooked Crooked Still [Signature, 6/08] (311)  "Tell Her To Come Back Home" dont own this
10. Kathy Mattea -(Phillips) Green Rolling Hills 347
Coal,"  [Captain Potato, 4/08] (302)

"10 Years Of European World Of Bluegrass," Various Artists [Strictly Country, 4/08] (294)Gave this release to the show after mine. 

11:  The Gordons- I Can't Settle Down 245 
Our Time - [Inside Out, 6/08] (284)       

12. Pat Wictor - Well, Well, Well 429
unset Waltz," [Risky Disc, 5/08] (284)

13: Tim Grimm - Or Bust 256
Holding Up The World,"  [Vault, 5/08] (278)

14: Danny Schmidt - Company Of Friends 347
Little Grey Sheep ,  [Waterbug, 2/08] (274)   

At noon break I read an e mail from a listener who is sympathetic with my breathing issues. I always begin my show thanking the staff here for accomodating my serious health affects from breathing synthetifc chemicals and fragrances. evidently John Travoltas son passed away yesterday from seizures that his parents blame on chemical cleaners affecting his system since birth.

15: Robin And Linda Williams - Maybelle's Guitar And Monroe's Mandolin 330
Buena Vista,"  [Red House, 9/08] (265)
"Chameleon," Tim O'Brien [Obus, 3/08] (264)  "Get Out There And Dance" Dont own    

16: The Refugees - Unbound 409
Unbound -  [Wabuho, 7/08] (261)
17. Carrie Newcomer - One Woman And A Shovel 320There Is A Tree
The Geography Of Light  - [Philo, 2/08] (259)

Many of the former were on other "favorites" lists. The following were others from a list of some favorites of Rich Warren is host of The Midnight Special & Folkstage    at 98.7 FM WFMT Radio (syndicated / XM15)
His full list and reasoning are at the end of my playlist

18. Kitty Donohoe - When I was the Queen 437  Northern Border - Roheen Records

19  Greg Greenway - Lately The Church of What is 334 - Standing o n the Side of Love -

20. Kallet, Epsein, Cicone - Sally Free and Easy - HeartWalk -

21. Enoch Kent - Supper is Na Ready 35 - One More Round - Borealis

22. Lowen & Navarro - U Still Belive 330 - Learning to Fall -

23. Magpie - Wash Our Spirits Clean - In This world - Sliced Bread

Rebbecca Derry ran Oberlin college's radio station while at college there until recently up to about a year ago. I look to her to reflect more of the younger folk listening crowd. Here are some of her picks and comments are posted at the end of my playlist.

24 We're About 9 - Miscfreant men - Paperdust, Stardust -

25. City on Fire 317 - Break The Spell - Rubberneck Records

Boston Globe as  posted by Boston Journalist Scott Alarik- many already played above as well  as:

26.  Duhks - Fast Paced World- Fast Paced World - Sugar Hill

27. Pete Seeger - - False From True - Pete Seeger at 89 - Applessed

28. Lissa Schneckneburger - Harmony - Song - Footprint

Some favorites that I discovered last year...

29. Danielle Miraglia - Snow Globe
Norhing Romantic -

30. Betty So- Little Secrets 255
Little TIny Secrets -

31. Keeleigh McKenzie - Underground 427
Chances - Keeleigh

 Rich Warren is host of The Midnight Special & Folkstage Chicago Illinois.    at 98.7 FM WFMT Radio (syndicated / XM15)  Here is his full list and reasoning.

I refrain from calling these "The Best of 2008" because the following list is but one listener's biased opinion. I have culled these from the many good recordings that crossed my CD player this year. I'm sure I forgot to include a few notable recordings. All told, I estimate The Midnight Special received at least 800 new recordings, and I listened, however briefly, to about 400 new recordings, of which about 200 made it into the WFMT library, and about 150 received airplay. I do not include reissues and most compilations among these favorites. As the cut-off date is November 15, some of the newest recordings will not be considered until next year.

Maybe I am becoming jaded or maybe just overwhelmed by mediocrity. There are ten favorites this year. There was good music, but only these grabbed me. While I thought about these choices long and hard for several weeks, if not most of the year, had I made the list a day earlier or a day later it might have been slightly different.

If a good friend visited from out-of-town with only an hour or two to spare, and asked me to play my favorites from 2008, I would play the following. Actually, I have purchased quantities of several of them to give to friends for the holidays. Listed below alphabetically.

Susie Burke & David Surette:  When the Small Birds Sweetly Sing
(Madrina MM104)
An absolutely charming, highly melodic CD from two people who lovingly perform the songs of others rather than writing their own. They've made wonderful choices from the likes of Pierce Pettis, Mark Simos, Pete Sutherland, Jean Ritchie, Pat Donohue, Elmer Beal, and even Stephen Sondheim. The instrumentation and production of this CD is as perfect as it gets. I'd buy this CD just for Burke & Surette's performance of Pat Donohoe's "All My Life." They only issue a new recording about once every seven or eight years, so the enjoy the luxury of making it perfect.

Joe Crookston:  Able Baker Charlie & Dog (Milagrito JBJO 78)
Crookston is a weirdly eclectic songwriter and his songs vary widely. They range from inebriated roosters to the building of the runways on Tinian Island in the Pacific for the Enola Gay (which is the title song, the alpha designations for those runways). Crookston's pleasing voice and ample, but appropriate production supports his songs well. Although very simple, "Bird By Bird" is a song that's hard to get out of your head. It took awhile for this album to grow on me, but once I accepted its diversity and unusual topics I realized its greatness.

Kitty Donohoe: Northern Border (Roheen RR007)
Donohoe only records a new album about once every seven years. (More singer-songwriters should follow her lead.) So she whittles it down to her best songs carefully honed. This CD shows impressive attention to detail highlighting memorable songs. Her Irish roots imbue the CD with a strong Celtic flavor aided and abetted by rich acoustic production. She's one of the rare songwriters who composes truly sticky melodies. This is her first CD to include "There Are No Words," perhaps the best song drawn from the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

Greg Greenway: Standing on the Side of Love (Face SOH 005)
There's no defining Greenway, he's all over the map in context and style. He's a bit of Jacques Brel, Phil Ochs, and Ray Charles. He also knows how to compose great melodies and complex lyrics to weave into them. He's at home on guitar and piano. The production varies from loud to intimate, but the quality never wavers. His song for his mother "The Weight of Feathers" is worth the entire CD.

Cindy Kallet - Ellen Epstein - Michael Cicone: Heart Walk  (Overall Music OM-3)
Heart Walk is the fruit of the tree of friendship. These longtime friends unite about once a decade to record a CD. Their personal styles widely vary, but when they come together it's a match made in heaven. About half the CD consists of original songs, which are very good and the other half their favorites by other writers. The performance style varies from a cappella harmonies to simple acoustic instrumentation. It's an amazing CD.

Enoch Kent: One More Round (Borealis BCD190) (
If you like traditional music, Kent is your man. Raised in Scotland, resident in Canada, the music runs in his blood. I consider him the best traditional interpreter since Ewan MacColl and those are mighty words of praise considering my worship of MacColl. Of course, Kent sneaks in a few originals and a few by other traditional sounding writers, just as MacColl did. His assured voice and absolute love of the music affirm the timelessness of traditional music. And his own closing song, "Crematorium Song" shows his droll sense of humor.

Lowen & Navarro with Phil Parlapiano: Learning to Fall  (Red Hen EGG 6)
This poignant CD could be the duo's last after a long and impressive career together. Many of the songs reflect upon or are colored by Eric Lowen's debilitating fatal illness, but none are bathetic or maudlin. While I normally don't choose a "pop" oriented CD as a favorite, this one is so well produced with such strong songs I could not resist. Since Eric no longer plays guitar, talented Parlapiano fills in admirably on a variety of instruments and back-up vocals. This CD richly flows out of the speakers with songs that make you think about life. And you can hum them while doing that thinking.

Magpie:  In This World: Looking Back, Moving Forward  (Sliced Bread CDSB75315)
There's always an exception to the rule. While compilations and collections rarely are favorites, this one is so radiant and phenomenal that I have to include it. Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, who are Magpie, celebrated 35 years of making music together by recording this CD of 16 of their favorite songs from the past 35 years. These are fresh takes, recorded in 2008, of songs they truly love. These performances always match and usually exceed the original recordings. There's a new depth, maturity and inner radiance found in each song. It is a mixture of originals and covers, the latter extremely well chosen. Their originals "Before the Morning" and "Give Light" along with Rachel Bissex's "One Another" and Phil Ochs' "When I'm Gone," are worth twice the price of this CD. (This is a different version of "When I'm Gone" than the closing theme of The Midnight Special.") The instrumentation and its musicianship, harmonies, and of course songs, make this an outstanding recording.

Kathy Mattea:  Coal  (Captain Potato 7653260-2)
One of the most gorgeous voices in Nashville put her successful country-folk career on hold to record this CD of conscience and passion. She was raised in coal country and felt the need to give back by making people aware of the struggle and strife through the 11 songs on this CD. Normally coal mining songs are performed by artists with more heart than voice. Mattea sings these songs with heart and voice, making them more accessible to a broader audience. She's chosen some of the best songs of the genre including Jean Ritchie, Utah Phillips, Billy Edd Wheeler, Si Kahn and Hazel Dickens. Mattea is accompanied by some of the best studio musicians in the trade. This is not casual listening, but it is beautiful.

Carrie Newcomer: The Geography of Light (Philo 11671-1253-2)
Newcomer is philosopher, sage, mystic and poet with an alto voice that I would follow to the ends of the earth. She also finally reached the perfect balance of accompaniment/production with her voice. The thoroughly engrossing songs require several listening to see all the light (and dark) within them. Newcomer improves with every CD and her poetry grows more complex and luminous. Or perhaps it's her voice that grows more complex and luminous. There's also a postscript on this CD is her hilarious and timely "Don't Push Send."   

Here are some honorable mentions, which, if you caught me on a different day, might have made this list:
Debra Cowan: Fond Desire Farewell (Falling Mountain FM1054 (
Randall Williams: Praying for Land (Musafir 06)
(Just a  note on this one: Incredible voice, outstanding songs, dreadful production.)
Tom May: Blue Roads Red Wine (Waterbug WBG80) (

Rebbecca Derry ran Oberlin college's radio station while at college there.  Here are some of her picks and comments : 
" I'm always torn between the seasoned performer who's released lots of albums, all of which are consistently good, and the new artist who comes onto the scene with a less polished but fresher album..." Cheers, ~'becca derry (newly updated!)


Joe Crookston -- Able Baker Charlie & Dog
This is an especially interesting album conceptually: several of the songs are based on the stories that Joe Crookston collected while interviewing people in rural New York.  This project informs the album, which is bursting with compelling snapshots of lives and stories that feel simultaneously intimate and universal, songs that pull you in and keep you listening.  The songs range from the nostalgic to the boisterous, but they are held together by Joe's inviting voice, driving melodies, and catchy guitar hooks, musically distinctive enough that his Supertramp cover sounds practically like an original.

Crowfoot -- Footpath
Having already secured a name for themselves in the contra dance world, Crowfoot is starting to incorporate more concert sets as well, showing off a different side of their consistently impressive musicianship.  "Footpath" reflects this new direction: over half the tracks have vocals (as opposed to two on their last album), though the flute, violin, and guitar continue to complement the melodic line as opposed to merely supporting it.  Dancers need not worry, though: they retain their dynamic soaring melodies and rhythms.

Elixir -- Super Tonic
While Elixir is primarily known as a contra dance band, and their experience as dance musicians is reflected in the rhythmic and driving quality of the songs throughout, "Super Tonic" is crafted to appeal to a wider audience.  The winds-and-strings musical lineup -- fiddle, guitar, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, and a smattering of vocals -- is appealingly distinctive, and they're all first-rate musicians.  The CD itself ranges greatly in style, swirling from reels to waltzes to ballads, from Ireland to Quebec to America past and present, but it ultimately presents itself as a cohesive whole.

Ellis -- Break the Spell
"Break the Spell" is easily Ellis's best recording so far.  Her songs are intimate and heartfelt without being maudlin, and she sings like she's earnestly sharing a secret, playing catchy folk-pop grooves underneath all the while.  The production is more polished than on her previous albums, with well-chosen instrumentation and percussion.  (And for those who prefer as less produced sound, she also released a version of the album that is all vocals and acoustic guitar under the name "Undefended Heart.")

Girlyman -- Somewhere Different Now (Live)
I don't usually include live albums on my list of favorites, but this one stands out.  While several live CDs incorporate a smattering of introductions or stage patter, "Somewhere Different Now" dedicates ten full tracks to their banter and improvised pseudo-songs, which gives the CD the authentic flavor and fun of a live Girlyman show.  Musically, fans will also not be disappointed: the album includes several new songs, as well as new arrangements of familiar songs.

Patty Larkin -- Watch the Sky
Patty Larkin never rests on her laurels: she is always exploring new ways to express herself musically.  Given this, it is no surprise that "Watch the Sky" is another departure.  She wrote, produced, and engineered the album herself, and she also played all twelve instruments (mostly variations on the guitar), looping them over each other to create a distinctive sound.  The result is not as polished as some of her albums, and her (typically impressive) lyrics are downplayed, but her innovative vision makes up for it.

Kathy Mattea -- Coal
Coal mining songs are often considered more of a folkloristic than contemporary genre.  Hailing from coal country herself, Kathy Mattea effectively debunks this perception with "Coal":  the songs are well-chosen and varied, her interpretations are emotionally honest (at times wrenching), and her beautiful voice breathes new life into these songs.

Carrie Newcomer -- The Geography of Light
Carrie Newcomer is one of the best songwriters out there; she writes luminous songs that resonate intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.  Add a beautiful rich alto, graceful melodies, and tasteful production (the cello, violin, mandolin, piano, and percussion enhance her vocals and guitar without taking attention away from it), and the result is a lovely album that invites you into the conversation and keeps you there until morning.  She is also combines her music with her activism: 10% of her sales are donated to AFSC.
Danny Schmidt -- Little Grey Sheep
Danny Schmidt's songwriting stands out among the contemporary guitar-poets: his well-crafted lyrics are subtle, penetrating, and emotionally affecting, and they are woven together with introspective melodies, lovely and sensitive fingerpicking, and gentle production.  As Danny discusses on his website, "Little Grey Sheep" is a collection of songs that were too personal to fit cohesively with the more abstract and archetypal songs that characterize his other albums.  As such, while I would perhaps start with his last album "Parables and Primes" as an introduction to his music, "Little Grey Sheep" is a valuable and intimate complement.

Twilight Hotel -- Highway Prayer
This Canadian duo went down to Nashville to record their sophomore release, and the result is an album with both retro charm and a refreshingly original sound, combining elements of Americana, country, roots, and rock.  It features, as their biography describes, "dark twang and noir cabaret all the while centered around their rich harmonies."

We're About 9 -- Paperdust :: Stardust
A long time coming, "Paperdust :: Stardust" delivers.  Like We're About 9's previous releases, it features distinctive (at times appealingly quirky) lyrics, unexpected perspectives, and outstanding vocal harmonies, but the result is more mature.  The production is notably more polished, the choice of supporting musicians thoughtful and spot-on for each song, and the songs themselves are richer and subtler.

Pat Wictor -- Sunset Waltz
Like Pat Wictor's earlier albums, "Sunset Waltz" blends together the musical stylings (and sometimes subject matter) of the blues with the sophistication and storytelling of the contemporary northeastern singer-songwriter, offering something for the (often not overlapping) fans of both subgenres.  Add his warm voice, first-rate musicianship, quietly virtuoso lap slide guitar, and complementary supporting musicians, and the result is a notable collection of original and reinterpreted songs.

Boston Globe's full list - as posted by Boston Journalist Scott Alarik

Kathy Mattea "Coal" (Captain Potato). The country-folk hitmaker folds a
fierce populist message into a tenderly observed homage to her West Virginia roots.
Her gorgeous, gritty vocals prove that country music still benefits from a
little honest dirt under its nails.

The Duhks "Fast Paced World" (Sugar Hill). Canada's premier neotradsters romp
from world-beat to blues, urban-pop to old-timey, with wild-eyed invention,
haunting traditionalism, and spine-rattling groove. Who says the Frozen North
can't sizzle, eh?

Pete Seeger "At 89" (Appleseed). It almost feels like the old folk lion is
scouring his vast musical pantry, making sure that every scrap of useful music
is given away. A compellingly personal peek into Seeger's resplendent and
radical genius.

Lissa Schneckneburger "Song" (Footprint). New England's long-obscured canon
of native-born traditional songs is brought to gorgeous, toe-tapping life by
the brilliant Downeast fiddler-singer. How can something so culturally
significant be this much fun?

Various"The Imagined Village" (Real World). Electrifying reinventions of
British folk classics, with an intriguing, divergent cast, including Billy Bragg,
Martin and Eliza Carthy, Simon Emmerson, Tunng, Sheila Chandra, and Benjamin

Rosalie Sorrels "Strangers In Another Country" (Red House). Raw, tender,
wise, and wounded, Sorrels creates an intimate musical wake for
songwriter-raconteur Utah Phillips, whose legend she did so much to create.

Malinky "Flower & Iron" (Mad River). This young Scottish quintet may be the
best ballad band in the Celtic realm. Their sound is as primal as Highland
moors in March, as seductive as a first kiss.

Various "Red House 25" (Red House). The superbly realized retrospective
tracks the modern songwriter movement from Greg Brown's Grant Wood naturalism and
John Gorka's romantic realism, Meg Hutchinson's intimate impressionism to the
primitive neotrad landscapes of the Pines.

Tony Rice "Night Flyer: the Singer-Songwriter Collection" (Rounder). The
bluegrass guitar god's earthy, spacious, and propulsive vocal style is finally
given its due. Find out why this old picker is Alison Krauss's favorite singer.

Jonatha Brooke "The Works" (Bad Dog). Woody Guthrie's lyrics find urbane new
voice within Brooke's sleek, winking alt-pop. If the Dust Bowl troubadour had
matriculated at Amherst, he'd sound just like this.

FYI: Reflection through years from my notes from Cost of War dot com:
3/21/05 157,517,884,000
11/28/06 346,237,170,000
3/17/07 409,020,800,000
9/8/2007 449,755,240,000
1/5/2008 483,112,100,000
12/28/2008  583,508,999,999

costs of 2008...$341.4 million per day.  $4,681 per household, $1,721 per person up from the costs of 2007.. at $275 million per day

Folk Plus is a SING OUT! magazine Radio Partner (

Index to Folk Plus setlists. Check out Angela's interviews    /    Return to WJFF
Thanks to all well wishers with my curret battle with neurotoxic poisoning and chemical sensitivities    (
We should no longer accept the counsel of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous chemicals, we should look around and see what other course is open to us."  Rachel Carson
There are no accidents... there is only some purpose that we haven't yet understood. Deepak Chopra

Folk Plus is a SING OUT! magazine Radio Partner (

Thanks to all well wishers with my curret battle with neurotoxic poisoning and chemical sensitivities    (

Index to Folk Plus setlists. Check out Angela's interviews    /    Return to WJFF

Folk Plus has over a decade of playlists at



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Last update 01/12/2008