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Folk Alley Sessions: The Small Glories

There’s a proud troubadour tradition in the folk music world: musicians heading out to unfamiliar and sometimes unfriendly places, gathering songs and stories and music they hear, and then sharing all of it with anyone who wants to listen. Often, that tradition is combined with a collaborative energy and spirit - the brave song and story collectors teaming up with others who feel the same way to compile and share something special, something unique. Well, that troubadour tradition is...


2017 30A Songwriters Festival: Sarah Lee Guthrie

(Session originally published in 2017) As Woody Guthrie's granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie's lineage is undeniable. But if you close your eyes and forget that her last name is synonymous with the river-legacy of a widening current of American folk music, you'd still be drawn to the clarity and soul behind her voice. There is a gentle urgency to her interpretations of the songs she sings and the classic music of her heritage. Over the last two decades on the road and in the studio, she and...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Pat Byrne

When you combine the transcendent poetry of Bob Dylan with the gritty, real-world rock-n-roll storytelling that Bruce Springsteen made so famous, and then add a dash of the political activism embodied by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, you’ll have Irish singer-songwriter Pat Byrne. Known for creating a rootsy, Americana sound that has a unique Irish twist, Byrne now lives part-time in the US (he calls Austin, Texas home) and his newest recording, Rituals, reflects his multiple geographical...


Folk Alley Sessions: Ana Egge

(Originally published June 2018) The rain was coming down hard one day in April in Upper Jay, New York. And that’s the day Ana Egge, along with Alec Spiegelman (keyboards, bass clarinet) and Dave Cole (drums) showed up at the pop-up studio our friends at Beehive Productions Studio set up at The Recovery Lounge. Egge, whose husky voice floats between a true-blue alto and the lowest possible soprano, was there to share some thoughts about her new album, White Tiger. She also shared some...


Folk Alley Sessions: Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves

So, what does “old-time music” really mean? If you think about it, you start to realize that it’s one of those incredibly broad terms, the kind of term that could mean anything from traditional 17 century English ballads and fantasies (or, phantasies) to the kinds of music that Bob Dylan and Joan Baez made popular in the 60s and 70s. Fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves and banjo player Allison de Groot first started their collaboration over the term “old-time music” and realized, pretty quickly,...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Courtney Marie Andrews

Musician Courtney Marie Andrews has lived, she says, at least 40 lives. And one thing she’s learned over the course of those 40 lives? How to distill the experiences into compelling stories about equally as compelling characters. The Phoenix, Arizona native has been singing on stages since she was a teenager – really, not THAT long ago, given that she isn’t 30 yet – and to say that her career has been “interesting” isn’t quite enough. She was a back-up singer and keyboardist with Jimmy Eat...


Folk Alley Sessions: Anna Tivel

Anna Tivel started making music when she was just a kid; it was her grandfather, she says, who first inspired her. He was a violinist and she started out on that instrument, too, playing it all the way through high school and college. It was only then that Tivel switched to the guitar and started thinking about writing songs, something she has been thinking about – and doing – ever since. During a recent east coast tour, she joined us for a special Folk Alley Session taping at CitySpace in...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Caroline Spence

Songs are personal, and important, parts of our souls, of our SELVES. That’s how Caroline Spence feels…and the songs she’s written over the last 5 years are hugely important to her…and, she hopes…to YOU. Spence joined us and our friends from Beehive Productions in January at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida share some thoughts about her songwriting process…and also to share some new music from her new recording, her first on Rounder Records, called Mint Condition.


Folk Alley Sessions: Molly Tuttle

Molly Tuttle knew from the time she was 4 that she wanted music to be a big part of her life. Now based in Nashville, this young, incredibly talented and much-awarded musician grew up in a musical household and tried a few different instruments, including fiddle, before realizing that guitar was the instrument that spoke most directly to her. By the time she was 11, she was making music with friends in the local pizza joint, and a few years after that, she started taking songwriting classes....


Folk Alley Sessions: Dead Horses

If you had to choose just one word to describe the duo Dead Horses, it might well be “personal”; nothing is off-limits when it comes to what inspires their sound and, maybe even more importantly, the stories they tell in their music. Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the duo, Sarah Vos and Daniel Wolff, first started making music together in 2010; they cut their musical teeth playing at every opportunity that presented itself: farmers’ markets, the sides of busy roads, bars – so many bars – and...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Mary Bragg

Nashville-based musician Mary Bragg describes herself as “annoyingly optimistic.” Now, everyone’s entitled to his or her own opinion, of course, but truthfully, there’s nothing annoying about the intimate truths and experiences she shares in her music. And, not all of those truths and experiences are optimistic, either. Indeed, each of the songs on Bragg’s 2019 release Violets as Camouflage had some element of masking: either fooling someone or being fooled yourself. Bragg says she wanted to...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Steve Poltz

Isn’t it funny how life never seems to turn out quite the way you expect? Steve Poltz is a Canadian native, one who lived in San Diego for years and years. He’s had success in the past as a singer’s songwriter, penning hits for other musicians, including, most famously, Jewel. One thing he’d never do, he vowed, was move to Nashville, Tennessee. And yet…that’s exactly what he did, just over a year ago now. He couldn’t resist the pull of this magical, musical town, he says, and it turned out...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Amythyst Kiah

There are hundreds and thousands of great musicians out there today, making music, giving concerts, tuning guitars and writing the lyrical poetry that becomes memorable songs. You have to wonder: how do they ever even get started with a life in music? Tennessee native Amythyst Kiah credits her parents for getting her to fall in love with music when she was just a kid. She’s got a powerhouse of a voice, guitar and banjo chops to put anyone to shame…and a unique musical worldview, informed by...


Folk Alley Sessions: Maya de Vitry

Sometimes even the very best laid plans go a bit awry. And singer/songwriter Maya de Vitry knows that firsthand. A talented fiddler who spent her childhood writing stories and poems, she always figured she’d participate in music in the background. As she got older, however, she realized a whole new world was wide open to her – the world of a singer and songwriter. While that discovery was truly magical, she says, she put it on the back burner for several years to participate in the renowned...


Folk Alley Sessions: Lula Wiles

In a world increasingly filled with uncertainty, tension, fear, and anger, how in the world are you supposed to get through each day, doing the best that you can do? That’s the conundrum the trio Lula Wiles ponders, analyzes, argues about, and tries to answer on their new album, What Will We Do. Mali Obomsawin, Ellie Buckland, and Isa Burke, friends for years in their native Maine before coming together, officially, in 2016 in Boston, are three musicians who believe that music has the power...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Foster is an extraordinary musician who has lived an extraordinary life. She started making music when she was just a kid, singing in Baptist churches around her home in Texas. It was gospel music all the time…until Ruthie Foster discovered the blues. But then, her life took a turn. She enlisted in the military and ended up in San Diego where she worked as a helicopter mechanic. Foster was destined for a life in music, however, and eventually made her way to New York City where she...


Folk Alley Sessions: Mipso

“At this point, we are wide open, I think.” That’s how the band Mipso talks about the evolution of their sound. Starting as a tried-and-true string band at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill several years ago, the band, earlier this year, released their fourth album, Edges Run. And it was with this album that they decided they no longer wanted to limit themselves to, as they say, “just strings.” Edges Run is a record that lets this group of talented young musicians experiment and...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Gretchen Peters

For Gretchen Peters, good music is all about creating compelling characters and telling a good story. That’s how she approaches her music and that’s how, she says, she was finally able to take on some of her chaotic and confusing feelings from the past couple of years and translate them into new songs. By focusing on creating and then giving voices to compelling characters, mostly women, Peters is able to tackle challenging and often heartbreaking subjects and ideas – political...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Lilly Winwood

There was never a definitive moment when Lilly Winwood decided to become a musician, rather, she says, it was something that was always a part of her - part of the person she knew she always wanted to be. It probably helped that she grew up surrounded by music - her mother is from Nashville and her father, Steve Winwood, is known for his work with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, etc. And Lilly says, she was the odd one out in her group of friends - the one who always listened to Bonnie...


30A Songwriters Festival: Mary Gauthier

(Session originally published in January, 2018) You know, songwriters, the really good ones, have this ability to twist a phrase or choose a word that somehow is exactly right. It's a real gift. But the truth is - everyone, songwriter or not, has a story to share. Not all of us, however, know how to share it. The desire to discover the stories we don't normally get to hear is what inspired Mary Gauthier to start working alongside combat veterans and the SongwritingWith:Soldiers...