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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...


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...


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 –...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


Folk Alley Sessions: Kaia Kater

(Session originally published in September, 2015) Born in Quebec of mixed Afro-Caribbean ancestry, Kaia Kater, resides in Toronto and spends extensive time in West Virginia, where she ardently studies balladry and traditional dance. As an original songwriter, she works to incorporate her perspective as one of the few people of color in roots music into the complex racial history of the traditions themselves. Her music combines beautifully subtle old-time banjo with soft sensibilities,...


2017 30A Songwriters Festival: Sarah Lee Guthrie

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 her husband Johnny Irion have created a...


2017 30A Songwriters Festival: John Gorka

From New Jersey, folk legend John Gorka got his start living in a music club’s basement and acting as resident MC and sound man. His exposure to folk troubadours inspired him, and before long he was performing his own songs – mostly as an opener for visiting acts. Soon he started traveling to New York City and folk meccas like Texas’ Kerrville Folk Festival (where he won the New Folk Award in 1984) and Boston where his stunningly soulful baritone voice and original songwriting began turning...


Folk Alley Sessions: Ana Egge

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 songs from it: the title track, a song...


Folk Alley Sessions: Anna & Elizabeth

In April, the duo Anna and Elizabeth (Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle) came to Beehive Productions studio in Saranac Lake, New York with their friend and colleague, Jarrett Gilgore (percussion). The duo arrived ready to share thoughts about and music from their new album, The Invisible Comes to Us. But maybe even more importantly, Anna and Elizabeth talked about the importance of preserving musical traditions from the past, bringing them into the present, and working hard to...


Folk Alley Sessions at 30A: Anna & Elizabeth

In April, the duo Anna and Elizabeth (Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle) came to Beehive Productions studio in Saranac Lake, New York with their friend and colleague, Jarrett Gilgore (percussion). The duo arrived ready to share thoughts about and music from their new album, The Invisible Comes to Us. But maybe even more importantly, Anna and Elizabeth talked about the importance of preserving musical traditions from the past, bringing them into the present, and working hard to...