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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
Folk Plus is hosted and planned
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 http://www.wjffradio.org/wjff/index.php?section=38
with playlists at http://www.wjffradio.org/FolkPlus
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
Kitchen, Calkins Creamery, Beach Lake Bread & WJFF.
for upcoming shows. February 6th 2008 is David
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
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
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
Charlie And Dog, [Self, 2/08] (439 airings)
6. Eliza Gilkyson - Wildewood
World, [Red House, 5/08] (410)
Red Molly - Summertime 237
Other Tragedies, [Self, 5/08] (380)
8 Joan Baez - God Is
Tomorrow, Razor And Tie, 9/08] (323)
Joel Mabus - Naked
Retold [Fossil, 1/08] (313)
Crooked Crooked Still [Signature, 6/08] (311) "Tell
Her To Come Back Home" dont own this
Kathy Mattea -(Phillips) Green
Rolling Hills 347
Coal," [Captain Potato, 4/08] (302)
Of European World Of Bluegrass," Various Artists [Strictly Country,
(294)Gave this release to the show after mine.
11: The Gordons- I Can't
Settle Down 245
Time - [Inside Out, 6/08] (284)
Pat Wictor - Well,
Well, Well 429
Waltz," [Risky Disc, 5/08] (284)
Tim Grimm - Or
The World," [Vault, 5/08] (278)
Danny Schmidt - Company
Of Friends 347
Little Grey Sheep , [Waterbug,
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.
Robin And Linda Williams - Maybelle's Guitar And Monroe's Mandolin 330
Vista," [Red House, 9/08] (265)
"Chameleon," Tim O'Brien
[Obus, 3/08] (264) "Get Out
There And Dance" Dont own
The Refugees - Unbound 409
Unbound - [Wabuho, 7/08] (261)
17. Carrie Newcomer - One
Woman And A Shovel 320There
Is A Tree
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 &
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 -
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 - Lownav.com
23. Magpie - Wash Our Spirits
Clean - In This world - Sliced Bread
Derry ran Oberlin college's radio station while at college there
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 - WA9.org
25. City on Fire 317 - Break The Spell -
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
favorites that I discovered last year...
29. Danielle Miraglia - Snow Globe
Norhing Romantic -
30. Betty So- Little Secrets 255
Little TIny Secrets - bettysoo.com
31. Keeleigh McKenzie - Underground 427
Chances - Keeleigh Mckenzie.com
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
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) www.burkesurette.com
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
Joe Crookston: Able Baker Charlie & Dog (Milagrito JBJO 78) www.joecrookston.com
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) www.kittydonohoe.com
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,
Greg Greenway: Standing on the Side of Love (Face SOH 005) www.greggreenway.com
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) www.cindykallet.com
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) (www.enochkent.ca
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) www.lownav.com
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) www.magpiemusic.com
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
Kathy Mattea: Coal (Captain Potato 7653260-2) www.mattea.com
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) www.carrienewcomer.com
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 (www.debracowan.com
Derry ran Oberlin college's radio station while at college
there. Here are some of her picks and comments :
Randall Williams: Praying for Land
(Musafir 06) www.whereisrandall.com
(Just a note on this one: Incredible voice, outstanding songs,
Tom May: Blue Roads Red Wine (Waterbug WBG80) (www.tommayfolk.com
" I'm always torn between the seasoned performer who's
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 http://lastfivesongs.bravehost.com
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
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
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
without being maudlin, and she sings like she's earnestly sharing a
secret, playing catchy folk-pop grooves underneath all the while.
production is more polished than on her previous albums, with
well-chosen instrumentation and percussion. (And for those who
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)
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
(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.
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
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:
of her sales are donated to AFSC.
Danny Schmidt -- Little Grey Sheep
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
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,
would perhaps start with his last album "Parables and Primes" as an
introduction to his music, "Little Grey Sheep" is a valuable and
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
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 http://scottalarik.com/
Kathy Mattea "Coal" (Captain Potato). The
fierce populist message into a tenderly observed homage to her West
Her gorgeous, gritty vocals prove that country music still benefits
little honest dirt under its nails.
The Duhks "Fast Paced World" (Sugar Hill). Canada's premier
from world-beat to blues, urban-pop to old-timey, with wild-eyed
haunting traditionalism, and spine-rattling groove. Who says the Frozen
can't sizzle, eh?
Pete Seeger "At 89" (Appleseed). It almost
feels like the old folk lion
scouring his vast musical pantry, making sure that every scrap of
is given away. A compellingly personal peek into Seeger's resplendent
Lissa Schneckneburger "Song" (Footprint). New England's long-obscured
of native-born traditional songs is brought to gorgeous, toe-tapping
the brilliant Downeast fiddler-singer. How can something so culturally
significant be this much fun?
Various"The Imagined Village" (Real World). Electrifying reinventions
British folk classics, with an intriguing, divergent cast, including
Martin and Eliza Carthy, Simon Emmerson, Tunng, Sheila Chandra, and
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
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
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
John Gorka's romantic realism, Meg Hutchinson's intimate impressionism
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
given its due. Find out why this old picker is Alison Krauss's favorite
Jonatha Brooke "The Works" (Bad Dog).
Woody Guthrie's lyrics find
voice within Brooke's sleek, winking alt-pop. If the Dust Bowl
matriculated at Amherst, he'd sound just like this.
FYI: Reflection through years from my notes from Cost of War
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
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Thanks to all
wishers with my curret battle with neurotoxic
poisoning and chemical sensitivities (http://pagewebberink.com/~angie/)
We should no longer accept the counsel
of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous
we should look around and see what other course is open to us."
There are no accidents... there is only some purpose that we haven't
yet understood. Deepak Chopra