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The High Note


Shaun Smith brings you the latest in new music, concert reviews and music news as well as music-related information in the Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey region.

Shaun Smith brings you the latest in new music, concert reviews and music news as well as music-related information in the Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey region.


United States


Shaun Smith brings you the latest in new music, concert reviews and music news as well as music-related information in the Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey region.





BRAN NU is a rapper and artist based in South Jersey. He has been rhyming since he was in high school and is currently touring throughout the east coast. During a brief break in his touring schedule, we chat about his influences, his music career, his most recent tour and the projects he is currently most excited about. You can see him on the Full Blast Fall Tour featuring CL Smooth beginning Nov. 3, 2022. His mixtape "Total B.S." is available on Soundcloud and you can listen to his...


Mike McKenna Jr.

Mike McKenna Jr. is a helluva singer-songwriter from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. He carries on the Canadiana folk music tradition in his songs his homespun lyrics with historical references and a warm voice. We talked Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022 at the 60th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival where he was a performer throughout the weekend. His latest album is "At The Edge of the World." He is showcasing Saturday, Nov. 5 at Nova Scotia Music Week at the Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney,...



South Korean shamanic folk-pop band ADG7 quickly became one of my favorite acts of the 60th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival - so much so that I, along with many, many others, saw the nine-piece band Saturday night and again Sunday morning. See all the show notes, links and photos here. Follow @HighNoteBlog anywhere you go on social media including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. The intro and outro music was written, composed and recorded by Paul “Dawg” Dixon. Photos by...


Talisk Returns!

My old friends from Talisk, concertina player Mohsen Amini and guitarist Graeme Armstrong return to The High Note podcast and bring along their new fiddle player Benedict Morris to chat about performing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival for the fourth year in a row, and the recording process for the latest Talisk album due out in February 2023. Get tickets to see Talisk Sunday, Feb. 19, 2022 at the Ardmore Music Hall. Learn more about Talisk and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, ...


Episode 26 - Can't Miss The Philly Folk Fest

It's been a while, friends! I dust off the microphone as I prepare for the 60th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival this weekend - Aug. 18-21, 2022 at the Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township, Pennsylvania. I run through the list of my can't miss performers including Emily Drinker, Talisk, American Acoustic: Punch Brothers, Watchhouse and Sarah Jarosz, Crys Matthews, Christine Lavin, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Tom Rush, Runa and Hiss Golden Messengers. I also mention some of my favorite...


Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson is one of my favorite singer-songwriters. I first discovered him through the album "Funeral Bonsai Wedding" and I fell in love with the song "Ezra Pound and the Deep Wood River." He currently teaches songwriting at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. His latest solo album "At The Bottom Of A Canyon In The Branches Of A Tree" was released July 17 on Pravda Records. We discuss his journey in the music industry, his work with Stump The Host, Dolly Varden, Funeral Bonsai...


Episode 24 - Originaire

Ken Shiles and Cibon, two-thirds of the Atlantic City acoustic folk band Originaire join The High Note podcast for this episode, recorded Saturday, Jan. 25 at Ventnor Coffee. We chat about the band's debut EP "Off the Ship," set for release Feb. 21, 2020, their songwriting process including stories of overcoming addiction which is a central theme of the album, the South Jersey music scene and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Originaire will play an EP release show 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 at...


Episode 23 - Talisk

Talisk is a Scottish Celtic band consisting of three incredible musicians, Mohsen Amini on concertina, fiddle player Hayley Keenan and guitarist Graeme Armstrong. They have accumulated multiple accolades across the United Kingdom. We met for a chat Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 at the 58th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival to talk about their music, the festival and Scotland, including our favorite football clubs. Talisk's second album, Beyond, was released October 2018 and the band is touring...


Episode 22 - Dave Gunning

Folk singer-songwriter Dave Gunning has a lot of passion. The pride of Pictou County is passionate about both his music and his hometown, particularly dedicating a decade to trying to clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill, which is polluting the local beaches and waterways. We met after his "Wheel Decide" workshop Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 at the 58th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. We talked about playing upright bass on tour with Stompin' Tom Conners, our shared love of Stan Rogers, how the...


Episode 21 - Steve Poltz

Singer-songwriter Steve Poltz is one very talented and interesting fella. From Halifax, Nova Scotia to San Diego, California, Poltz has blazed his own path toward the American dream. He was the frontman for the indie-rock band The Rugburns and co-wrote “You Were Meant For Me” with Jewel. His latest album, "Shine On" is available now and he is constantly touring around the world. We met at the 58th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival before his set on the Martin Guitar Main Stage Saturday,...


Episode 20 - Bush, Live and Our Lady Peace Review With Justyna

Justyna and I review the Bush and Live with Our Lady Peace concert at the Etess Arena at Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City on the drive home. I 100 percent had a few New Belgium Voodoo Rangers, as you will hear, but this is a fun one. Gavin Rossdale ran past us and I'll drop the video on The High Note YouTube channel. Our Lady Peace stole the show, Live was loud! Watch the video from this podcast on The High Note YouTube channel. Subscribe to The High Note podcast anywhere you...


Episode 19 - Dean Randazzo

Dean Randazzo is a professional surfer, surfing instructor, surf shop owner, real estate agent and four-time cancer survivor. He is the first New Jersey competitor to qualify for the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour. In 2001, at the height of his career, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He won the Garden State Grudge Match in 2002, and again in 2007. In 2004 Randazzo earned MVP at the X Games and won the Red Bull Icebreak. He is preparing to race a...


Episode 18 - Renée Wahl

Singer-songwriter Renée Wahl of Nashville, Tennessee joins me for this episode of The High Note podcast. We discuss her album "Cut to the Bone," released March 15, 2019 and our connections to Philadelphia and greater Pennsylvania. She's a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and went to school for physics before leading her current band Renée Wahl & The Sworn Secrets. Get "Cut to the Bone" at, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, Tidal and anywhere you listen to music. Follow...


Episode 17 - Patsy

Patsy is a singer-songwriter based in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York. He incorporates elements of The Great American Songbook, folk, rock 'n' roll and surf rock on his debut "The EP" released Friday, March 1 on Broad Channel Records. We talk about his roots in music and surfing, being a local in a beach town and "The Big Lebowski." In this episode, you will hear "Why Am I Waiting On You," from Paty's debut "The EP" which is available on Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and Tidal....


Episode 16 - Clive Carroll

Clive Carroll is a guitarist and composer who has toured across the world, including with John Renbourn and Tommy Emmanuel. Hailing from Chelmsford, Essex in England, Carroll graduated from Trinity College of Music in London. We discuss his composing process, alternate tunings and what he does to achieve the right sound and vibe in his music. In this episode, you will hear "The Adventures of Wilfred" from his most recent album "The Furthest Tree." In March 2019, he will be touring...


Episode 15 - The Barrett Brothers

I sit down with the Barrett Brothers - Kevin and Dave Barrett for this special episode of The High Note podcast. We talk about our love of vinyl, our favorite music and the best concerts we've seen - including some we've seen together. We also chat about Dave's documentary project, which includes interviewing people like Lewis Black and Howie Mandel. Follow Dave @daveyd78 and Kevin @htothepizzle on Twitter and Dave puts a lot of great music trivia on his Facebook page. You can see Dave's...


Episode 14 - Talkin' Bob Dylan With Mum

Hop in the car with me and my mum as we talk about Bob Dylan following his show Saturday, Nov. 17 at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Neither one of us are Dylanologists but we talk about his musical legacy and his various performances in New Jersey and Philadelphia including this most recent one - which we both agree was the best. Don't think twice - read my Dylan in Atlantic City review. Subscribe to The High Note podcast anywhere you subscribe to podcasts including iTunes,...


Episode 13 - Dweezil Zappa Review with Nick Valinote

My friend Nick Valinote and I review Dweezil Zappa's Choice Cuts tour show Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Fresh from the concert, we talk about Frank Zappa and how Dweezil is carrying the family torch in the form of the guitar that Jimi Hendrix set ablaze at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival. Excuse the background noise as we recorded while driving home from the concert. Read my review and see photos from the show at Subscribe to...


Episode 12 - Know Yourself Mashup

For this swapcast episode of The High Note with Shaun Smith, I welcome Dan Udale, a counselor and the host of the podcast "Know Yourself" based in the United Kingdom. We talk about how he met Gary Vaynerchuk, who connected us, and the impact music has on mental health. We both created playlists on Spotify that we talked about in this episode. Dan's playlist Shaun's playlist Subscribe to The High Note podcast anywhere you subscribe to podcasts including iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google...


Episode 11 - David Myles at Philly Folk Fest

David Myles is a singer-songwriter who hails from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and was a featured performer at the 57th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. We speak before his first performance Saturday, Aug. 17, 2018 in the hospitality tent on the Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township, Pennsylvania. His tenth studio recording, "Real Love," is available now and his upcoming album "Le grand départ" will be released Sept. 14. He is @mylesdavid on Twitter and @davidmyles on...