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Basic Folk

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Basic Folk

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Basic Folk is a podcast with honest conversations between musicians and Cindy Howes, a well-versed public radio host and music curator, and guest host Lizzie No, a talented singer/songwriter. Basic Folk approaches interviews with warmth, humor and insightful questions. This podcast fosters the folk community and showcases a genre that is often misunderstood. Basic Folk features complex conversations about the human experience witnessed from an artistic angle. Our definition of “folk” is extr ...
 
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Eliza Gilkyson is a middle child, a constant reinventor of herself and a surprise teacher of songwriting. Her father, the acclaimed folk singer/songwriter Terry Gilkyson, moved his family to California in the late 1940's to pursue a career in folk music. He found success with his group The Easy Riders and as a staff songwriter for Disney. He wrote …
 
Welcome to the third preview of Basic Folk: Backstage! For this episode, we're taking you inside a very special moment that happened one night at Miles of Music Camp in 2019. It was a late night music hang where a guitar was being passed around. I had my mic with me and my friend Christopher Pappas asked me to start recording. He has been working o…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate It’s hard to put into words why I love MC Taylor so much, but I know when it started. His band, Durham’s Hiss Golden Messenger, stopped by to play live at WYEP in Jan of 2017. They were the first band I interviewed after Tr*mp was inaugurated. Like a lot of people (and like the white l…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Once Baltimore claw-hammer banjoist, radio host and community organizer Brad Kolodner got a banjo in his hands, it was game over. Brad had previously played the cello in the school orchestra and had held a strong interest in sports, but his true passion for old time was realized at Mea…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Miko Marks’ story starts in Flint, MI where she was immersed in music, specifically country music (Loretta Lynn and Kenny Rogers were in heavy rotation) and in the music found in Black church at the Church of God in Christ. As a young girl, she first sang live in that church and found …
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate! Dori Freeman is an Appalachian woman using her music to break the stereotype of her region, which specifically is her town of Galax, VA - where she was born and still lives. Dori's new album, Ten Thousand Roses, is a celebration of layered sound, beautiful drums and lyrics from an evo…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Editor's note: Lizzie No interviews Valerie June on Basic Folk! Be sure to got back and listen to Lizzie's previous guest host spots on the pod and subscribe, so you never miss Lizzie! Today’s guest, Valerie June, grew up as country as country gets in Jackson, Tennessee. She remembers …
 
Welcome to the second preview of Basic Folk: Backstage! For this episode, I wanted to share a very special interview I did with my favorite person to talk to: KT Tunstall. We discuss 2013's Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon, which is one of my favorite LPs. Born out of two difficult personal shifts, the death of her father and the end of her first …
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Ok I think that Erin McKeown was really into this conversation solely because it allowed her/them to dig deep into the new record Kiss Off Kiss. Halfway through the interview, Erin proclaimed how fun it was to get to address each track... I concur! It was very fun. KoK was funded throu…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Mary Gauthier's book, Saved By A Song, is a must-read for all humans with feelings that need feeling. Gauthier has been writing and recording songs since the the early 90's, but she actually started her music career relatively late at age 30. She had grown up as an adopted child in Thi…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate! Carl Nichols (aka Buffalo Nichols) found out that he liked playing guitar way more than anything else when he was around 12 years old. He took his older sister's guitar (what? she wasn't using it) and started obsessively learning to play. He'd listen to songs 200 times in a row to get…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate! This special episode of Basic Folk features Allison Russell, Jake Blount, Kaïa Kater, and guest host Lizzie No in a roundtable conversation about Black artists in folk music. Black musicians are more visible than ever in the roots music space, but they continue to face unique challeng…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate You can contribute $5 a month or more and get access to Backstage, our exclusive bonus content. Here's a preview of what's happening Backstage. Hope you will join us! For our first Backstage ep, we are going to check out something we like to call “Field Music.” We’ll hear a recording o…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Editor's note: Lizzie No interviews Dar Williams on Basic Folk! Be sure to got back and listen to Lizzie's previous guest host spots on the pod and subscribe, so you never miss Lizzie! Dar’s new album, ‘I’ll Meet You Here,’ is out now. Dar Williams, originally from Mount Kisco, NY, gre…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Amy Helm grew up surrounded by some of the most influential musicians in American roots music, including her father Levon Helm, legendary drummer and singer for The Band. That also meant that her childhood was a “very colorful” experience where she was raised by a “village of brilliant…
 
Carolyn Kendrick's California childhood was filled with music: from listening to music to musicians in her family, especially her father, a professional jazz drummer. Having a well revered musician in her family meant overcoming a reputation that preceded her, but it also gave her a special relationship with the beat as a guitarist and a fiddler. S…
 
Editor’s note: Basic Folk is pleased to introduce our listeners to one of our favorite podcasts by sharing an episode in our feed! One of my favorite and most insightful interviews on Basic Folk has to have been from Ben Arthur. Ben let the walls come down and allowed us to both dig into his psyche. It was a rare privilege to be able to strip feeli…
 
Martin Sexton's career was built by his work as a street musician on the Boston scene in the 80's and early 90's. His audience knows him for being connector by making them a part of the magic he, the performer, creates onstage. On the street, he would use tricks like strategically placing himself in an area that would bottleneck a crowd and keep pe…
 
Editor's note: Lizzie No interviews Alisa Amador on Basic Folk! We're so pumped for you to hear this conversation with Lizzie and Alisa. Be sure to got back and listen to Lizzie's previous guest host spots on the pod and subscribe, so you never miss Lizzie! Alisa Amador's EP Narratives is out on 9/17/2021 It was such a treat to talk with Alisa Amad…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, The Punch Brothers) has been making music nonstop since he was 5 years old. His musical parents found him a mandolin, he started taking lessons and jamming at nearby Southern California pizza shops. He met Sara and Sean Watkins when he was 12 and started the …
 
Paula Fuga is a magic person. The Hawaiian singer/songwriter has lived through some of life's horrors. When she was young, her living situation was extremely unstable for several years. She lived with her mom, who suffered from addiction, on the beach around a pretty shady crowd of people. She accounts her survival to her dream of being a performer…
 
Editor’s note: Basic Folk is pleased to introduce our listeners to one of our favorite podcasts by sharing an episode in our feed! I truly appreciate an interview where the hosts are basically scholars on their subject – aka they come so prepared it’s wild. Scott and Paul are industry professionals who are super knowledgeable about the songwriting …
 
Becca Mancari does things her own way. Raised in New York and Virginia, Mancari found herself living a nomadic lifestyle in her teens and twenties. As she grew as a songwriter and performer she also found her footing as an outspoken queer woman. She re-negotiated her relationship to spirituality and gender and this transformation found its way into…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Two years into starting his band Mandolin Orange, Andrew Marlin and his partner Emily Franz were having second thoughts about their band name. Nine years later, they announced their new name: Watchhouse. It's easy to understand why it took so long: they were putting out records, gainin…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Ok, so yes I cried when I interviewed Rachel Baiman. Her writing is stirring and brutal and then when you read about the inspiration behind the songs on her new album Cycles, it's like automatic water works for me. From frank observations of her grandparent's loss of agency to women re…
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate John Hiatt's latest is a collab with bluegrass great Jerry Douglas, with Jerry as producer and his band as backup for Hiatt. John's digging into some serious past memories for these songs, which include a song about his older brother Michael. Michael died by suicide when John was only …
 
Kaoru Ishibashi who is known as Kishi Bashi, is a violinist, guitarist, multi instrumentalist, singer and songwriter from WA state and VA. He got a really interesting start in music because he went to Cornell to study engineering, ended up flunking out, and kind of realizing his true path in music. He went to Berklee College of Music to study film …
 
Editor's note: Basic Folk is pleased to introduce our listeners to one of our favorite podcasts by sharing an episode in our feed! Get Up in the Cool is a sweet old-time/bluegrass podcast hosted by Cameron DeWhitt. What's amazing about this podcast is that Cameron has taken "the hang" at the jam and turned it into a podcast. The Jam happens *very* …
 
Alex Cuba grew up 50 minutes west of Havana immersed in the music of his town Artemisa. His father, the musician Valentin Puentes, is a household name in the country and prioritized Cuban music in the house growing up. When Alex was six years old, Valentin told his son not to sing, leading Alex to concentrate on his bass guitar playing. As a teenag…
 
Mali Obomsawin is the mighty bassist/songwriter/singer from Lula Wiles, whose musical talents run tandem to her activist spirit. She really had no choice in the matter, seeing that her parents met through their advocacy for Abenaki and First Nations sovereignty battles. Mali's dad is a member of the Odanak Abenaki Nation and her mom at the time the…
 
Joe Pug explains that the venn diagram of his fans and the people he'd like to have a beer with is almost exactly a single circle. The prolific troubadour has been organically gaining admirers one by one throughout his entire musical history. When he began, the Maryland songwriter would not only give away copies of his music, but he would send mult…
 
Editor's note: we're pleased to welcome guest host Lizzie No to Basic Folk for her debut episode with Amythyst Kiah! Lizzie will be on the podcast interviewing folk musicians once a month. We're thrilled to bring her perspective and insight to our listeners. Enjoy! Amythyst Kiah is a star rising so quickly in the roots music universe that it is alm…
 
Denison Witmer's music is gentle and kind, he's a skilled woodworker, an avid birdwatcher and until 2020 hadn't made a record for 7 years. Growing up in Lancaster, Denison was lucky enough to get some guitar lessons from Don Peris of The Innocence Mission, a well loved indie-folk band. This led to one of many lasting relationships in music as Don w…
 
Sunny War goes through her new album Simple Syrup track by track on the pod! Talking to Sunny is an absolute trip: she has lived through incredible trauma and addiction, but approaches life with a sharp sense of humor. This is all coming through on the new record, which was recorded in her usual spot in Venice Beach with producer Harlan Steinberger…
 
Bowerbirds have been off the radar musically since 2012's The Clearing. Lots has changed for the B-Birds, which now centers solely around Phil Moore since his bandmate and former partner Beth Tacular has left to concentrate on her own artwork. 2021 sees a new Bowerbirds album, becalmyounglovers, and a new version of Phil himself. He writes to his f…
 
Growing up, Oliver Wood thought he'd try the bass guitar, but after 6 months, he handed it to his younger brother Chris. That's right, *the* Chris Wood, virtuosic bassist of acclaimed Medeski Martin and Wood. Even at a young age, the brothers' styles were pretty clear. While Chris was getting intense about the bass, Oliver was meandering on the gui…
 
Raised outside of Austin, Texas, Katy Kirby grew up homeschool, enamored with Jesus and was rocking out to Christian Contemporary Music from the late 90's and early 2000's. BUT THEN: she went to college in Nashville and her world opened up. She started questioning everything she believed about God and the church. She fell in with a crowd of musicia…
 
Allison Russell's story is unreal and it's hard to know where to begin. Unfathomable childhood abuse: sexual, physical and emotional abuse (at the hands of her white supremacist step-father) is chronicled in searing detail for the very first time on her debut solo album Outside Child. Up until now she was not able to honestly address this story in …
 
Help produce Basic Folk by contributing at basicfolk.com/donate Tom Rush's career is a wonder. After stepping away from record labels and major tours in the 70's, he's managed to cultivate a dedicated audience that has loyally shown up for decades. His relationship to music had a rocky start with a dozen years of unenjoyable piano lessons. Tom talk…
 
Chris Pierce was raised by a white mother and a Black father, who impressed the importance of music in terms of finding peace and love within. While Chris was growing up, interracial marriage had only just become legal countrywide in 1967 and his family was not always accepted. At 5 years old, a burning cross was placed on his front yard and the wa…
 
The Brother Brothers are rooted in sibling harmony provided by twin brothers Adam and David Moss. Adam Moss would prefer if you didn't get really weird about twin stuff: “We sometimes find being twins a barrier to conversing and getting to know people quickly. It’s an easy thing for people to fixate on," he says. Truthfully there is PLENTY to discu…
 
Mark Kilianski (of Golden Shoals) had the unfortunate experience of coming of age in a time where mainstream rock was just terrible (late 90's - specifically 1999 was pretty bad). He was really getting into bands like Korn and Limp Bizket, and his first guitar was a BC Rich Warlock (a heavy metal style guitar). Lucky for him, he had a cool guitar t…
 
David Wax started visiting Mexico in 2001 and there he became enamored with the music of Central Mexico, particularly with styles of son music. He would spend summers going back to Mexico while studying at Harvard: Latin American History and literature. He was able to get a Harvard Fellowship which allowed him to live in Mexico for a year immersing…
 
Yasmin Williams is your new favorite guitarist! She plays the type of music she'd want as a soundtrack for hiking, which is funny to think when you consider her initial inspiration for picking up the guitar. When she was in junior high, she beat the video game Guitar Hero 2 (on expert level!). She was clearly very good at it and thought that she wo…
 
Kaiti Jones' vibe is truly chill with that special something that you experience in a real artist. She's got that thing that should propel her to great heights: her music is spot-on and as a human being, it feels like you're in the presence of some kind of greatness. Am I exaggerating? I don't know, but this woman is wicked cool. Her backstory star…
 
Local Natives are not a folk band, but this is my podcast and I do what I want. They are one of my favorite bands of all time, so I was geeked to talk to founding member, guitarist and co-frontman, Taylor Rice. Torchbearers of the Southern California band sound, Local Natives are originally from Orange County, CA. The core of the band have been pla…
 
If you do a web search for Steve Tilston, most of the results will be about John Lennon. Lennon wrote a letter to a young Steve offering him advice, but Steve did not know about the letter until decades later. His story would eventually become the 2015 film Danny Collins starring Al Pachino. Steve's talked about this subject probably one thousand t…
 
Alec Spiegelman has been making folk music weird for years. Recently, his partnership with Ana Egge has put him on the radar as one of the most creative producers for folk musicians, working with people like Taylor Ashton, David Wax Museum and Sadie Gustafson-Zook. He's a part of the innovative indie folk band, Cuddle Magic, who just released a rec…
 
Raye Zaragoza has strong spiritual leader vibes and I believe everything she says. Originally raised in New York City, she and her two siblings and parents somehow all lived together in a studio apartment. New York has been a strong influence on her identity and her work ethic. She's a person who's always moving and moving fast. Raye's mom is an im…
 
The Suitcase Junket's Matt Lorenz was guest #3 on this folk podcast and I'm thrilled to welcome him back to break down the latest album song by song. Released in November 2020, The End is New, was produced by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), who was working remotely (because of Covid precautions) from the West Coast. Matt describes how that changed the wa…
 
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