The Working Songwriter

By Joe Pug

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Joe Pug hosts a monthly conversation with one of today's best songwriters.

Episode Date
The Band of Heathens

Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist, the creative forces behind this Austin TX Rock and Roll institution, talk about learning how to record albums with a feeling, co-writing with Kid Rock and Bob Seger, and keeping a creative partnership going for over a decade.

Jun 05, 2020
Daniel Donato

One of Nashville's most promising young guitarists steps centerstage with songs and a band of his own, Daniel stops by our program to talk about the decision to strike out on his own, touring, managing a band, and learning his craft on lower Broadway.

May 29, 2020
The Mastersons

After having both spent years as sought-after musicians playing for Steve Earle, Regina Spektor, and Son Volt, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore have stepped into the spotlight as a duo that is at the vanguard of Americana music.

May 22, 2020
Field Report

Chris Porterfield discusses the process behind his modern folk songwriting, releasing a record with a major label, and the nuances of being a band leader

May 15, 2020
Shane McAnally

The writer of 40 Number One hits, three time Grammy winner, and star of NBC's "Songland" joins us to talk about his circuitous route to the top of Nashville.

May 08, 2020
American Aquarium returns

BJ Barham, the creative force behind American Aquarium, stops by to talk about putting an entirely new band together, learning to balance the demands of music and fatherhood, and making his new album with Shooter Jennings in Los Angeles.

May 01, 2020
Josh Ritter plus Jay Sweet of NFF

Josh talks about his time opening for the late, great John Prine.  And Jay Sweet, the executive producer of the Newport Folk Festival, talks about how the festival is helping its alumni in the unprecedented time of coronavirus.

Apr 24, 2020
Michaela Anne

The critically acclaimed country songwriter stops by to talk about growing up in a military family, studying jazz performance at the New School, and learning the business at Nonesuch Records before striking out on her own.

Apr 17, 2020
Hiss Golden Messenger returns

We begin with a remembrance of John Prine and then continue with our second interview with HGM's creative force, MC Taylor.

Apr 10, 2020
John Paul White returns

The insightful Alabamian returns to discuss leaving the road for the COVID crisis, starting another project in the age of white-noise, and making music for different reasons as he's gotten older.

Apr 03, 2020
Todd Snider

The quintessential 21st century working songwriter joins our show.  Todd has made his home in East Nashville for the last 25 years, he tours the nation relentlessly, and has become a folk music institution.

Mar 27, 2020
Erin Rae

This Nashville by way of Jackson, TN songwriter discusses honing her craft, finding inspiration, and meshing with creative partners.

Feb 29, 2020
Erin Rae

This Nashville singer/songwriter is a favorite of NPR, Rolling Stone, and American Songwriter.  She's toured with Jason Isbell, Father John Misty, and many others.  On this episode she describes getting her start, learning the craft, and staying inspired.

Feb 28, 2020
Fruit Bats

Eric D. Johnson discusses early days touring with the Shins and Modest Mouse, keeping the faith with a project through high times and low, and learning to write outside of the studio.

Jan 31, 2020
Chastity Brown

The renowned folk singer from Minneapolis, by way of Tennessee, discusses finding her voice, becoming a part of the cultural zeitgeist, and taking care of herself in order to create.

Jan 03, 2020
Elizabeth Cook

This native of Wildwood Florida is known for her critically acclaimed albums, her XM radio show, and her frequent appearances at the Grand Ole Opry.  She breaks down the early years of her career and persevering through difficult times to make art.

Nov 29, 2019
Drew Holcomb

The troubadour from Nashville by way of Memphis talks touring regionally to build a following, branching out and starting a vinyl subscription service, and how personal tragedy can inform one's lifelong creative aim.

Oct 30, 2019
Drew Holcomb

The Memphis native reflects on how tragedy informed his life and art from an early age, how he built a successful vinyl subscription business alongside his performing career, and learning how to tour with a family back home.

Oct 25, 2019
Nicole Atkins

The Nashville via New Jersey vocalist and songwriter discusses the turn of the century anti-folk scene in NYC, her major label debut being derailed by legendary producer Rick Rubin, and sobriety.

Sep 27, 2019
The Milk Carton Kids
The harmony duo from California, Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, discuss writing songs for commercials to stay afloat in their early years, touring economically, and the secret that has allowed their intimate creative partnership to flourish for so long.
Aug 30, 2019
Joe Pug

Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks flips the tables on Joe Pug and interviews him about his new album “The Flood In Color”.  Interspersed are songs from that album.  

Jul 19, 2019
Langhorne Slim

The beloved troubadour from PA speaks his mind on managing personal expectations, embracing the fact that people might love older albums, and the profound sense of gratitude he has for music in his life.

Jul 12, 2019
Citizen Cope

The DC native talks about his early musical influences, struggles with major labels, and his intuitive creative process.

May 31, 2019
Amanda Palmer

The former Dresden Dolls front-woman turned solo artist talks about her early years street performing, listening to her audience rather than third party critics, and her role as a pioneer in artistic crowdfunding.

Apr 26, 2019
Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket

The lead guitarist of MMJ is also a singer-songwriter in his own right, with three solo records to his name.  He talks about signing to a major with his first band, auditioning for MMJ and then touring just as the band was breaking, and reconciling fatherhood with playing music on the road.

Mar 29, 2019
Sean McConnell

The former staff writer for Warner Chappell has stepped centerstage with a solo career, discusses what the feeling of charting a #1 hit, home recording, and the pros/cons of co-writing.

Feb 22, 2019
Craig Finn

The Hold Steady frontman talks about making a life-changing move in his late 20s, the legendary Minneapolis music scene, and his daily writing process.

Jan 29, 2019
Jesse Dayton

The Beaumont native discusses playing studio sessions for Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, the balance of having his own band and playing for other people, and the simplicity that he's always chasing as a songwriter.

Dec 28, 2018
Courtney Marie Andrews
The acclaimed songwriter from Phoenix talks about touring as a backup musician, producing her own breakout album, and her love of the road.
Nov 30, 2018
Birds of Chicago

The husband and wife folk/soul duo now residing in Nashville talk vocal maintenance, plumbing subconscious depths for material, and learning to tour smart.

Oct 26, 2018
Ian Mackaye

The founding member of Minor Threat, Fugazi, and Dischord records sits down to talk about the mild "writer's block" that parenthood can usher in, the reality of not being able to control people's interpretation of songs once they're released, and the practicality of his storied business ethos.

Sep 28, 2018
John Moreland

The Tulsa troubadour describes his transition from hardcore music to folk, how to put on a compelling live show solo, and staying inspired even when the creative process is painful.

Aug 31, 2018
"Music Modernization Act" Emergency Episode

The "Music Modernization Act", which has enormous consequences for how songwriters and copyright holders will be compensated for streaming music, passed the US House of Reps unanimously but is now hamstrung in the Senate due to an eleventh hour change by SESAC.  Both sides of the argument are presented on this episode, and then our resident expert Brendan Anthony from the Texas Music Office calls in to help explain the situation as it stands now.

Aug 01, 2018
Hiss Golden Messenger

MC Taylor is the songwriter behind this Durham-based outfit.  He talks about finding his writing voice over the course of several different projects, working with a long-time collaborator, and developing less encumbered music listening habits.  Also, watch out for the surprise cameo by Phil Cook.

Jul 28, 2018
Lee Ann Womack

One of Nashville's favorite daughters, by way of Jacksonville Texas, discusses arriving for writing appointments with children in tow, finding song inspiration in everyday conversation, and dealing with the success of an international crossover hit.

Jun 29, 2018
Trampled By Turtles

Dave Simonett, songwriter and founding member of the Minnesota bluegrass powerhouse TBT, talks about the mania of touring in your 20s, keeping a band together through the power of respect, and techniques he uses to keep himself inspired.

May 25, 2018
Brian Koppelman

The screenwriter, essayist, and former A&R man speaks about changing careers with a young family, the need to protect a fledgling project from outside influence, and the discipline of creating.

Apr 27, 2018
Gregory Alan Isakov

The Colorado wordsmith remembers stuffing the cardboard sleeves of his first demo himself, putting off school on a lark to tour with Kelly Joe Phelps, and the joy of sharing the journey with his longtime band.

Apr 04, 2018
John Paul White

As a staff writer for EMI, a member of The Civil Wars, and now the owner of his own independent label, he’s seen a lot.  John Paul White stops by to share his wisdom on creativity and performance.  Plus, Brendan Anthony- the head of the Texas Music Office- stops by at the start of the show to discuss the finer points of the Music Modernization Act that is before Congress.

Feb 23, 2018
The Killers

Brandon Flowers discusses a meteoric rise to prominence in his early 20s, the feeling of responsibility that he's developed toward music, and writing songs on the dodgy upright piano in his house instead of the baby grand in his studio.

Jan 26, 2018
Lydia Loveless

The Ohio native discusses her passion for classic country, capturing the vitality of live performance on a record, and her habit of constantly collecting material for writing.

Dec 29, 2017
Mandolin Orange

This lyric-driven Bluegrass outfit discusses the perils of booking their own shows, signing with Yep Roc, and the art of arranging a band around great songs.

Nov 24, 2017
Steve Earle
The hardcore troubadour talks about his early days in Nashville as a staff writer, empathy as the essential goal of the songwriter, and gratitude for the job he loves.
Oct 27, 2017
Josh Ritter

The troubadour from Idaho discusses getting his break in Ireland, early years of van touring in the States, and writing on an empty stomach.

Sep 29, 2017
Pat Sansone

The creative force behind The Autumn Defense and a longtime member of Wilco discusses growing up in a musical household, playing punk bars in the American south, and locking himself in the studio to get a song finished.

Aug 25, 2017
Shakey Graves

Born and raised in Austin Texas, Alejandro Rose-Garcia is an internationally celebrated songwriter and performer.  He sits down to discuss his upbringing in a theatrical household, learning to record on a shoestring, and walking away from a budding film career to dedicate himself to music.

Aug 04, 2017
Matthew Logan Vasquez

The frontman for Delta Spirit and now a formidable solo artist talks about playing music in the church, pulling a full "Tony Clifton" at the Casbah in San Diego, and how fatherhood has informed his latest album.

Jun 30, 2017
Robert Ellis

The Texas songwriter and bandleader discusses dropping out of high school to play music, his passion for idiosyncrasy when it comes to band members, and his regimented writing process.

May 23, 2017
Heartless Bastards

Erika Wennerstrom, the creative force behind Heartless Bastards, discusses growing up in Dayton Ohio, signing to Fat Possum Records, and her techniques for bringing a song to life.

Apr 28, 2017
Noah Gundersen

The Seattle-based songwriter talks about holding down dead-end jobs to continue playing music, the myth of the flighty artist, and the process for composing his upcoming album.

Mar 31, 2017
Strand of Oaks

Timothy Showalter, the leader of this Philadelphia psych-rock-folk project, sits down to talk about growing up in small-town Indiana, how the radio shaped his sound, and learning how to maintain a private and public persona.

Feb 24, 2017
Sara Watkins

The southern California native reflects on her prolific career in bluegrass and beyond, with groups such as Nickel Creek, I'm With Her, and The Watkins Family Hour.

Jan 27, 2017
Horse Feathers

The leader of this chamber folk group, Justin Ringle, talks about learning to love Spotify, touring for the first time, and how he uses the studio to augment his writing process.

Dec 30, 2016
American Aquarium

The force behind American Aquarium, BJ Barham, discusses growing up in Lucky Strike's company town, being accepted by the Texas Red Dirt community, and how to keep a band on the road for a decade. 

Nov 25, 2016
Kasey Chambers

The Queen of Australian Country Music discusses her childhood in the outback, a Lucinda Williams concert that changed her life, and the tipping point of composing a song.

Oct 28, 2016
Hayes Carll

The laid-back writer of modern country gems such "Beaumont", "Chances Are" and, of course, "She Left Me For Jesus" joins the show to talk about sitting at the feet of Guy Clark, picking up merch from Beyonce's dad, and steering the direction of his career with his own hands.

Sep 30, 2016
Bruce Robison

This native Texan is the writer of #1 country music hits for Tim McGraw, The Dixie Chicks, and George Strait.  He sat down to talk about the art of writing without an agenda, the Texas-Nashville connection, and his love for analog recording.

Aug 26, 2016
Robbie Fulks

A linchpin in Chicago's vibrant folk and country for decades, Robbie reflects on the major label blues, recording techniques, and falling in love with music for the first time.

Jul 29, 2016
Tift Merritt

The Grammy-nominated songwriter from Raleigh, North Carolina reflects on her time in the studio and out on the road.

Jun 24, 2016
Slaid Cleaves

Originally from South Berwick Maine, the legendary songwriter has lived in Texas for the last couple decades.  He reflects on getting his start engineering sound at The Cactus Cafe and learning from music producer Gurf Morlix. 

May 27, 2016
Anais Mitchell

The Vermont-born songsmith reflects on signing to Righteous Babe, writing her celebrated folk opera "Hadestown", and parenthood as a working artist.

Apr 29, 2016
James McMurtry

An hourlong conversation with celebrated songwriter, James McMurtry.

Mar 25, 2016
Joe Ely

The Texas icon inaugurates our show with a few stories from his many years on the road.

Dec 28, 2015