Music Makers and Soul Shakers Podcast with Steve Dawson

By Steve Dawson

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A longform interview and sometimes performance with various guests involved in the making of great music that is organic and innovative. Artists, producers, musicians, and even some industry people will be profiled in this podcast that focuses on Americana, blues, songwriters, soul and folk music. Enjoy!

Episode Date
Episode 59 - Gabriel Roth (Daptone producer/bassist for Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields)
My guest this month is Gabriel Roth, a/k/a “Bosco Mann”. He is a Grammy award winning engineer, the founder and chief producer/engineer of Daptone Records, and a prolific song-writer, having penned over 150 songs. Roth is highly regarded throughout the industry for his detailed and analog approach, a rare find in today’s computer-obsessed production world. Since the mid-90s, Roth has been honing his craft, first under his label Desco Records and then as co-founder of Daptone Records, producing, writing and arranging for the numerous artists on the label. His own band, the Dap-Kings, are the foundation of the Daptone House of Soul Stable, backing the label’s premier act Sharon Jones, and sought after by a growing list of artists. A superior bass player, Gabe is enlisted as a member of the Dap-Kings to perform on a wide range of sessions, but his talents as a producer, arranger, engineer and mixer immediately place him in an elite class. Early mainstream followers included Kanye West (who sampled Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings’ “Pick It Up, Lay It In the Cut” on Rhymefest’s “Brand New“) and Hank Shocklee (who hired the Dap-Kings to perform on the American Gangster Soundtrack). Mark Ronson quickly followed and what resulted was Amy Winehouse’s Grammy award winning, multi-platinum smash “Back To Black” (for which Roth received a Grammy as engineer). Gabe has expanded his operations to the West Coast, now operating Penrose Studios out of Riverside, CA (while still maintaining an active presence in New York at Daptone). Gabe has made good use of the new space in California, engineering sessions for Bob Rock-produced Michael Buble records and producing, engineering and arranging James Hunter’s latest album Minute By Minute. Enjoy my conversation with Gabriel Roth, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Dec 05, 2018
Episode 58 - Billy Bragg
My guest this month is the incredibly original singer, songwriter, author and activist, Billy Bragg. Bragg was the leading figure of the anti-folk movement of the '80s and for most of the decade, Bragg bashed out songs alone on his electric guitar, singing about politics and love. While his lyrics were bitingly intelligent and clever, they were also warm and humane, filled with detail and wit. Even though his lyrics were carefully considered, Bragg never neglected to write melodies for songs that were strong and memorable. With a strong DIY ethic and punk-rock attitude, Billy recorded an incredible body of work from the late 70's up through his recent collaborations with Joe Henry. Billy went from his obscure first recordings (which are awesome) through commercial success, working with artists like Paul Weller and Johnny Marr. Kirsty MacColl had a hit with "New England" and Billy's own solo recordings gained attention worldwide. Then in 1998, he teamed up with Wilco to record Mermaid Avenue, a collection of performances based on unreleased songs originally written by Woody Guthrie. That spawned 2 follow-up records that are all incredible documents of Americana. His latest records, "Tooth and Nail" and "Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad" mark a new direction in his work and prove that he's as vital as ever. He has also recently released an incredible book that details the history of skiffle music in Britain entitled "Roots, Radicals and Rockers". Thanks go out to Joe Henry for introducing us, and please enjoy my conversation with Billy Bragg!
Nov 07, 2018
Episode 57 - Chuck Leavell (Part 2)
Please go and listen to part one of this episode first to get the full story! Chuck Leavell is one of the great piano and organ players of our time. A member of The Allman Brothers Band throughout their commercial zenith in the 1970s, he subsequently became a founding member of the jazz rock ensemble Sea Level. He has served as the principal touring keyboardist and de facto musical director of The Rolling Stones since 1982. As a session musician, Leavell has performed on almost every Rolling Stones studio album released during his tenure. He has also toured and recorded with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, David Gilmour, Gov't Mule and John Mayer. I was lucky enough to speak with Chuck about his many musical adventures, recording the classic Allman's album "Brothers and Sisters", his epic solo on "Jessica", and being in the studio with Mick and Keith for albums like "Undercover", "Steel Wheels" and "Blue and Lonesome". We yakked for a while, so I had to split this into 2 episodes. Enjoy my conversation with Chuck Leavell, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Oct 10, 2018
Episode 56 - Chuck Leavell (Part 1) (keyboards for Allman Bros, Rolling Stones)
Chuck Leavell is one of the great piano and organ players of our time. A member of The Allman Brothers Band throughout their commercial zenith in the 1970s, he subsequently became a founding member of the jazz rock ensemble Sea Level. He has served as the principal touring keyboardist and de facto musical director of The Rolling Stones since 1982. As a session musician, Leavell has performed on almost every Rolling Stones studio album released during his tenure. He has also toured and recorded with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, David Gilmour, Gov't Mule and John Mayer. I was lucky enough to speak with Chuck about his many musical adventures, recording the classic Allman's album "Brothers and Sisters", his epic solo on "Jessica", and being in the studio with Mick and Keith for albums like "Undercover", "Steel Wheels" and "Blue and Lonesome". We yakked for a while, so I had to split this into 2 episodes. Part 2 will come next week. Enjoy my conversation with Chuck Leavell, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Oct 03, 2018
Episode 55 - Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane)
My guest this month is guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jorma Kaukonen. Jorma grew up in Washington, D.C., where he first turned to the guitar. He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early '60s, playing backup to Janis Joplin in local clubs. In 1965, he became a founding member of Jefferson Airplane which soared to fame in 1967, and his distinctive guitar-playing was crucial to its sound with signature solos and parts in classics like "White Rabbit" and "Somebody To Love". With bassist Jack Casady, Jorma formed a spinoff duo from the group in 1970 called Hot Tuna, and this became his primary musical vehicle after the Airplane broke up in 1973. Jorma's fingerstyle guitar playing was a big part of my musical education, and introduced me to the music of Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake and many more. His acoustic playing in the Airplane was a real eye opener for me too, with pieces like "Embryonic Journey". He has just released a great auto-biography called "Been So Long", but I thought it would be fun to hear some of his stories coming from his own mouth, so here we go! Enjoy my conversation with Jorma Kaukonen, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Sep 05, 2018
Episode 54 - Season 3 Intro
In this brief episode, Steve gives you the rundown of what's going to be happening starting next week when the season begins for real!
Aug 29, 2018
Episode 53 - Greg Leisz
My guest this week is the incredible pedal steel, guitar, mandolin, and dobro player Greg Leisz. The word "ubiquitous" is usually placed in front of Leisz's name. With good reason -- the man's resumé is daunting, boasting spots with Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Peter Case, Paul Westerberg, Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Victoria Williams, Joe Cocker, Dave Alvin, k.d. lang, Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, and the name a few. Not to be pigeonholed in just roots music, Leisz has also played with the likes of Beck, Matthew Sweet, Bad Religion, the Smashing Pumpkins, St. Vincent and Brian Wilson. Greg's inspired playing on many of Bill Frisell's projects form the last 15 years is what made me want to play the steel. Leisz spent his younger years catching acts like the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers in Southern California clubs. Part of his universal appeal -- which certainly draws on the experimental nature of those influences -- comes from an open-minded approach to lap and pedal steel, an approach that casts aside Nashville references. Leisz is also somewhat of a stylistic chameleon: You can't pin down a distinctive style for him because he chooses to serve and accompany a song rather than place his mark on it. His creativity and open-mindedness as a musician have allowed him a genre roving usually not accorded renowned steel players. Enjoy my conversation with Greg Leisz, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Mar 14, 2018
Episode 52 - Matt Chamberlain
My guest this week is the incredible drummer, composer and all-round musical wizard, Matt Chamberlain. Matt is one of the most in-demand studio drummers of the past 20 years, whose eclectic talents found him working in various genres from rock to classical, jazz, and the avant-garde. I first heard Matt with his band in Seattle, Critters Buggin, and then he started appearing on all kinds of great albums through the 90's and 2000's. Chamberlain started playing in the mid 80’s Deep Ellum scene in Dallas where he joined Edie Brickell and New Bohemians. He then moved to NYC and spent a season with the Saturday Night Live Band from 1991 to 1992. After leaving SNL, Chamberlain based himself out of Seattle and embarked on a fruitful career as a gun for hire. He has racked up an impressive list of credits appearing on albums/tours by David Bowie, Fiona Apple, The Master Muscians of Jajouka, Soundgarden, Bill Frisell, Robert Fripp, Tori Amos, Morrissey, Phantogram, Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen, The Wallflowers, A Perfect Circle, Willie Nelson, Frank Ocean, Elton John, Brad Mehldau, Randy Newman, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, and many others, as well as soundtrack work with Hans Zimmer, Marco Beltrami, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Jon Brion. Enjoy my conversation with Matt Chamberlain, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Mar 07, 2018
Episode 51 - Amos Garrett
My guest this week is the incomparable telecaster-slinger and all around guitar maniac, Amos Garrett. Detroit native Garrett began working as a professional guitarist north of the border in Toronto. There he played with the Dirty Shames, a folk jug band, before moving on to the country-rock-oriented Great Speckled Bird at the invitation of Ian and Sylvia. Perhaps best known for his inspired and jaw-dropping work on Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis", Amos went on to play on many classic albums for Jesse Winchester, Anne Murray, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, and Paul Butterfield. His studio work led him to California, and eventually to Alberta, Canada where he has resided for many years. Garrett also put out his own recordings, more than half a dozen, on Stony Plain Records. In 1989, his album The Return of the Formerly Brothers, garnered a Juno Award. Enjoy my conversation with Amos Garrett, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Feb 28, 2018
Episode 50 - Adam Levy (guitarist for Norah Jones,Tracy Chapman)
My guest this week is studio guitarist Adam Levy. Adam is a killer guitar player with an impressive history of live and studio work. A member of Norah Jones' band for years, Adam got his start playing around San Francisco and LA, eventually landing a gig with Tracy Chapman. Adam is tactful and tasteful in his guitar playing, never stepping into a solo spotlight without something meaningful to add to a song. Understated but memorable, Adam’s solos draw on elements of jazz and country to reflect perfectly the simple, earnest sentiment of the composition. Beyond continuing his recording career as a sideman for celebrated artists, Levy has risen as a songwriter in his own right. His compositions have been recorded by Norah Jones, Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), and Miles Zuniga (Fastball). The full force of Adam Levy’s songwriting is in play on his six solo recordings, the latest being 2016’s lyrically driven Blueberry Blonde, a collaboration with drummer Jay Bellerose. Enjoy my conversation with Adam Levy, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Feb 21, 2018
Episode 49 - David Bromberg
My guest this week is songwriter and guitar player David Bromberg. David is mostly known as a guitar player, but also plays a mean fiddle, pedal steel guitar and dobro. Bromberg began releasing albums of his own in the early 1970s, but at the same time was building a career as a prolific sideman, recording with everyone from Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia and Jerry Jeff Walker to George Harrison and Ringo Starr. After a string of solo albums through the 70's, David decided to switch gears and got into violin repair and sales, starting his own shop in Delaware. David has recently hit the road again with a killer new band, and made his latest record last year, entitled "The Blues, The Whole Blues and Nothing But The Blues". Enjoy my conversation with David Bromberg, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Feb 14, 2018
Episode 48 - Tommy Shannon (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Johnny Winter)
My guest this week is legendary bass player Tommy Shannon. Best known as the bassist in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Tommy was also an integral part of Johnny Winter's initial success, not to mention more recent projects including Arc Angels and Storyville. Growing up in west Texas, the future bass legend launched his music career in the usual fashion, playing guitar in local cover bands during his high school years. When Johnny Winter, described by Tommy as “an encyclopedia of the blues,” invited Shannon to join his band, he used his own vast record collection to immerse his new bassist in all things blues. While living in Houston, he read that Stevie Ray Vaughan, that “real awkward looking, scrawny 14-year-old kid” he remembered from years ago at The Fog, was playing at Rockefeller’s and decided to go check him out. The story of Tommy’s time with Stevie is well known: the musical highs of sold-out concerts all over the world, the multiple Grammys, the gold and platinum records. Tommy has been through the highest highs and lowest lows in his life and career and was kind enough to share his story with me. Enjoy my conversation with Tommy Shannon, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Feb 07, 2018
Season 2 Mid-Season Update
An update on the podcast, reasons for the sudden break in Season 2, and a bit of news...
Aug 25, 2017
Episode 46 - Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan, early Allman Bros, Joe Bonamassa and more!)
My guest this week is the legendary keyboard player Reese Wynans. Wynans is probably best known as the keyboard player in Stevie Ray Vaughan's band, Double Trouble. From '85 until Stevie's death, they were like a freight train - touring worldwide and recording smash albums like "Soul To Soul", "Live Alive" and the final SRV album, "In Step". Hardcore Allman Brothers fans also know that Reese was a member of the Second Coming, which, from November 1968 to March 1969 also included guitarist Dickey Betts and bassist Berry Oakley. That band was the launching pad for initial jam sessions with Duane Allman, Betts, Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe that led to the formation of the Allman Brothers Band. Reese also had stints with Boz Skaggs, Joe Ely and Jerry Jeff Walker. Since moving to Nashville in 1992, Wynans has played keyboards for a number of country artists including Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, and Hank Williams Jr. Wynans has also played for blues artists Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Colin James, Ana Popovic, and has been a full-fledged member of Joe Bonamassa's band for a number of years. Enjoy my conversation with Reese Wynans, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Aug 09, 2017
Episode 45 - Kenneth Pattengale (Milk Carton Kids)
My guest this week is guitarist and songwriter Kenneth Pattengale. Pattengale makes up one half of the killer duo Milk Carton Kids, which formed in 2011 when Pattengale teamed up with fellow songwriter Joey Ryan. The duo formed a fast chemistry which relies on tight and intricate harmony singing, and the slippery guitar playing of Pattengale. Together they have made 4 albums, and have had an incredible run over the last 5 years working with Joe Henry, T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Freeland, receivig a Grammy nomination, and touring all over the world. Previous to the Kids, Kenneth was a solo artist living in LA, making solo records under the radar and getting really good at Scrabble. I've been a fan of these guys since seeing them a few years ago at Folk Alliance and then at the Americana Conference in Nashville. Recently, my friends in Birds of Chicago, another killer band, did an EP at my studio and Kenneth was a guest. We had a good hang, played some music together and then he was nice enough to drop by and talk about his young but extremely successful career. Enjoy my conversation with Kenneth Pattengale, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jul 31, 2017
Episode 44 - Lloyd Green
My guest this week is pedal steel legend Lloyd Green. Lloyd is most notable for his session work, having played on records with artists such as The Byrds, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, The Monkees, Paul McCartney, Charley Pride, Bob Dylan, Johnny Paycheck, and many others. Green landed in Nashville after college and soon found steady work as a road musician supporting artists like Ferlin Husky and Faron Young. He stayed with Young's band for 18 months and then left town to be with his new wife. During those months, he appeared on the George Jones track, "Too Much Water Runs Under the Bridge" and then for some reason had a hard time finding more work. At that point, Green basically quit playing and became a shoe salesman in Nashville. A few years and a couple of fortunate turns later, Lloyd became one of the top call steel guitarists in Nashville in the 60's and 70's, and definitely one of the most recorded of all time. His memorable, bluesy licks grace so many classic country recordings, not to mention kicking off the classic "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album by the Byrds. Lloyd dropped by The Henhouse Studio here in Nashville to talk about his life and career and give us all a glimpse into what life was like as a session ace, playing on hundreds of records every year. Enjoy my conversation with Lloyd Green, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jul 26, 2017
Episode 43 - Bil Vorndick (Engineer for Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas and many more)
My guest this week is the incomparable Nashville recording engineer, Bil Vorndick. I first started seeing Bil's name on albums as I was getting into bluegrass, and he seemed to be the engineer on everything coming out by Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas and the rest of the top players of the time. Bil's artistry as a producer and engineer has helped earn his clients over 45 Grammy nominations that encompass 9 that won (among them Alison Krauss’ very first Grammy). He has worked on many albums during his 40 years in music. These include projects for such other Grammy recipients as Ralph Stanley, Marty Robbins, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Mark O’Connor and jazz bassist Charlie Haden. His credits appear on No. 1 albums in 5 different musical genres. I've had the pleasure of working with Bil a number of times and his easy-going manner, incredible knack with acoustic instruments, and attention to detail make him one of the very best in the business. Enjoy my conversation with Bil Vorndick, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jul 17, 2017
Episode 42 - Ronnie Hawkins "The Hawk"
My guest this week is the legendary rockabilly singer and bandleader, Ronnie Hawkins. I grew up knowing of Ronnie through his electrifying appearance in The Band's "The Last Waltz" movie, but as I learned more about the history, came to realize his importance as an artist in his own right, but also his abilities as a bandleader and talent scout. Like John Mayall did in the British blues scene, Ronnie could find the best players hidden away in remote corners, nurture them and bring them together like he did for one of the greatest bands ever, The Band (known originally as The Hawks)! In 1958 Ronnie released his first hit “Hey, Bo Diddley”. This was followed by "Marylou", which turned Hawkins into a teenage idol. Hawkins, an Arkansas native, started touring in Canada, and with an exploding rockabilly and Rock & Roll scene in Toronto and around more rural Ontario, Ronnie decided to stay. In 1959, Morris Levy signed him to Roulette Records for five years and tried to lure him back to the United States but Hawkins had fallen in love with Canada and didn't want to leave his new home. The membership of his band, The Hawks, kept changing as the talent flowed in and out, but the name stayed the same. Aside from The Band, there was another incarnation that became Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band, and another Robbie Lane and the Disciples. Other famous Hawk alumni include David Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat and Tears, actor Beverly D'Angelo, musician Lawrence Gowan, and fellow Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Burton Cummings and David Foster. It was great to have a chance to hear these stories first-hand, have lots of laughs, and learn new things about a key piece of Rock and Roll history. Enjoy my conversation with Ronnie Hawkins, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jul 12, 2017
Episode 41 - Sara Watkins
My guest this week is singer, songwriter and fiddle player Sara Watkins. Watkins debuted in 1989 (at the ripe old age age of 8!!) as a founding member of the progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek along with her brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile. With Nickel Creek, Watkins released five studio albums, won a Grammy and many other awards, and worked with some stellar producers like Allison Krauss and Eric Valentine. At the height of their success, the band decided to go their separate ways (for a while) and in the years of the bands' hiatus, she started recording solo albums, and has made incredible records with the likes of John Paul Jones, Blake Mills and Gabe Witcher. Her new album is called "Young In All The Wrong Ways". It was great to have a chance to sit down and talk about all this and more with her - Enjoy my conversation with Sara Watkins, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jul 05, 2017
Episode 40 - Mike Bub
My guest this week is one of the great bluegrass and roots music bassists, Mike Bub. Mike had a long and celebrated stint with the Del McCoury band, the most awarded band in the history of the International Bluegrass Music Association, and Mike himself won the award for Bass Player of the Year himself 5 times! While with Del McCoury, the band recorded the seminal album 'The Mountain' with Steve Earle, taking their brand of bluegrass to a whole new audience. Mike is a staple around town here in Nashville, and performs every Monday night at the Station Inn with a killer band. Recent years have seen Mike recording and performing with the likes of Vince Gill, Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet, Tim O'Brien, Shawn Camp, Dale Ann Bradley, Ashley Monroe, Chris Scruggs and countless others. We got into all of that, and got to discuss the impact of Roy Huskey Jr. on his bass playing, and a few great John Hartford stories to round it all off! Enjoy my conversation with Mike Bub, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jun 28, 2017
Episode 39 - Lloyd Maines
My guest this week is the great Texas musician and icon of the recording world, Lloyd Maines. Best known as a pedal steel player, Maines is a multi-instrumentalist who has also performed and/or recorded playing dobro, electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, lap steel guitar, and banjo. He toured and recorded as a member of the Joe Ely Band and has also played with Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and other Texas musicians. As the father of Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, he was instrumental in bringing the current lineup of bandmates together in 1995, which jump-started their sudden popularity and change in sound. Maines won a Grammy Award for Best Country Album in 2003 as producer of the Dixie Chicks' album, "Home". Enjoy my conversation with Lloyd Maines, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jun 20, 2017
Episode 38 - Charlie Musselwhite
My guest this wee is harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite. Charlie has been one of the most loved and respected harp players from his early days in the clubs of Memphis and Chicago to his extensive solo recording career and his incredible sideman history playing on albums for Tom Waits, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker and so many more. We talked about his playing style, influences, growing up in Memphis, and some of the highlights of a long and incredible career in music. Enjoy my conversation with Charlie Musselwhite and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jun 14, 2017
Episode 37 - David Mansfield
My guest this week is the superb fiddle player, steel guitarist, sideman and composer David Mansfield. At age 18, David joined Bob Dylan's band for four years, starting with the legendary touring spectacle "Rolling Thunder Revue". He recorded three albums with Dylan and appears on numerous compilations and live albums, including "Biograph" and "Bob Dylan Live 1975 The Bootleg Series Vol. 5". David went on to form The Alpha Band along with fellow Rolling Thunder Review members T-Bone Burnett and Steve Soles. He later produced the soundtrack for numerous films including "Heaven's Gate" and "Year of the Dragon". Enjoy my conversation with David Mansfield, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jun 07, 2017
Episode 36 - Oz Fritz (engineer for Tom Waits, Bill Laswell, John Hammond, and many more!)
My guest this week is Grammy winning producer and engineer, Oz Fritz. Oz is the man behind many amazing sonic masterpieces, including a number that we hold in high esteem on this show. In particular, John Hammond's "Wicked Grin" and Tom Waits' "Mule Variations". But those 2 faves aside, he has collaborated on over 60 projects with John Zorn and Bill Laswell and has worked on albums for Iggy Pop, The Master Musicians of Joujouka and many more. Oh, and I found out he made a rap album for Hulk Hogan in his early days! We got a chance to talk through all that and more. Enjoy my conversation with Oz Fritz, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
May 30, 2017
Episode 35 - Ron Sexsmith
My guest this week is one of the great songwriters of our time - Ron Sexsmith. Ron's career has spanned over 25 years, and from his humble beginnings in the coffee shops and church basements of Toronto, to playing some of the biggest international stages, he's been through it all. His recording career includes about 15 albums under his own name, and his songs have been covered by everyone from Emmylou Harris to Rod Stewart. We got a chance to discuss his long career, his writing process, his brand new album, as well as working on records with producers as diverse as Mitchell Froom, Steve Earle, and Bob Rock. Enjoy my conversation with Ron Sexsmith, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
May 23, 2017
Episode 34 - Chris "Critter" Eldridge (Punch Brothers)
My guest this week is guitar player Chris "Critter" Eldridge. As a member of Punch Brothers since the band's inception, guitarist Chris Eldridge has been at the vanguard of acoustic music for much of the past decade. Although initially drawn to the electric guitar, by his mid-teens Chris Eldridge had developed a deep love for acoustic music, thanks in part to his father, a banjo player and founding member of the seminal bluegrass group The Seldom Scene. Chris Eldridge has worked with a diverse cast of musical luminaries including Paul Simon, John Paul Jones, Julian Lage, Fiona Apple, Elvis Costello, Jerry Douglas, Sara Watkins, Del McCoury and others. Enjoy my conversation with Chris Eldridge, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
May 17, 2017
Episode 33 - Van Dyke Parks
My guest this week is the incredibly enigmatic composer, arranger, and record producer Van Dyke Parks. I've had the good fortune of working with Van Dyke on a few projects over the years and his creativity, musicality and sense of humour are absolutely unlike any other human I've ever encountered. Van Dyke has been involved in so many legendary projects, it boggles a mind like mine. He has worked with Ry Cooder on his great early albums, Little Feat (Lowell George was one of his closest friends), not to mention classic recordings by such performers as Phil Ochs, Donovan, Haruomi Hosono, the Byrds, Tim Buckley, Arlo Guthrie, Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus Wainwright, U2, Joe Henry, Harry Nilsson, not to mention his famously shelved (until 40 years later) collaboration with Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys ill-fated "Smile" album. Oh, and I didn't even mention that he arranged "The Bear Necessities" for The Jungle Book movie - this could go on and on, but I'll stop here so you can get on with it and have a listen for yourself! Enjoy my conversation with Van Dyke Parks, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes... Spread the word. Thank you!
May 10, 2017
Episode 32 - Charlie McCoy (Legendary Nashville session ace)
My guest this week is the legendary session harmonica maestro and multi-instrumentalist, Charlie McCoy. Charlie is perhaps the definitive Nashville session musician, a multi-talented performer best known for his harmonica playing and whose mastery of the instrument virtually defined its role within the context of modern country music. By the mid-'60s, McCoy was a fixture on Elvis Presley's Nashville and Los Angeles sessions, and in 1965, he began working with Bob Dylan, appearing on a string of legendary LPs that included Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding, and Nashville Skyline. As a result, McCoy became as much in demand among rock and folk artists as he was within the Nashville community and recorded with the likes of Ringo Starr, Al Kooper, Roy Orbison, Simon and Garfunkel, and Gordon Lightfoot. At his peak, he was performing on over 400 sessions annually. Charlie is still very active around Nashville and was generous enough to spend some time talking with me about his incredible history. Enjoy my conversation with Charlie McCoy, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
May 03, 2017
Episode 31 - Sylvia Tyson (Ian and Sylvia)
My guest this week is singer and songwriting legend Sylvia Tyson. Tyson started performing professionally in 1959 as one-half of the internationally acclaimed folk duo, Ian and Sylvia. She wrote her first song, which turned out to be one of her most successful ever! “You Were On My Mind” was a hit for Ian and Sylvia in 1962, and three years later it reached number 3 on the Billboard chart for a group called We Five. Through the sixties and early seventies, Ian and Sylvia produced thirteen popular albums and toured extensively in North America and Europe, sharing their manager, Albert Grossman, with such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, The Band, and Janis Joplin. The duo went their separate ways in 1977, and Sylvia went on to have an extensive solo career. Enjoy my conversation with Sylvia Tyson, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Apr 25, 2017
Episode 30 - Norman Blake
My guest this week is bluegrass guitar legend Norman Blake. Norman's recordings have had a huge impact on me, and I see him as one of the most inspired and quietly influential acoustic musicians of all time. Blake came into view in the late '60s, when he began performing as a sideman with artists such as Johnny Cash, June Carter and Bob Dylan. Norman was also a member of John Hartford's seminal Aero-Plain band. During the '70s, he began a solo career that quickly became one of the most popular and musically adventurous within bluegrass. He continued recording and performing - often with his wife, Nancy - well into the '90s. In recent years he has worked with T-Bone Burnett on soundtracks to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou", "Cold Mountain" and the collaboration between Robert Plant and Allison Krauss "Raising Sand". While Norman has quit touring, he still plays and we are lucky enough to have a brand new album, "Brushwood Songs and Stories" that sees Norman in fine form. Norman was kind enough to discuss all of these aspects of his life and career with me. Enjoy my conversation with Norman Blake, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Apr 19, 2017
Episode 29 - Steve Berlin (Los Lobos/producer extraordinaire)
My guest this week is multi-instrumentalist and record producer Steve Berlin. A longtime mainstay of the Los Angeles music scene, Steve Berlin is perhaps best known as a member of Los Lobos, although he is also a sought-after producer and session player. Berlin's production, arranging and session work includes REM, Sheryl Crow, The Replacements, Faith No More, Dave Alvin, John Lee Hooker, The Tragically Hip, Buckwheat Zydeco and  many more. I got to speak with Steve and we discussed his long career, the ins and outs of record production, the legendary 80's roots/punk scene in LA, turning down an "offer he couldn't refuse" from Ray Manzarek, creating the masterpiece "Kiko" and much more. Enjoy my conversation with Steve Berlin, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Apr 11, 2017
Episode 28 - Dave Alvin
My guest this week is songwriter and guitarist Dave Alvin. Dave, along with his brother Phil, is a founding member of the Rock n' Roll group The Blasters. The Blasters tore it up on the LA roots/punk scene from the late 70's through the 80's and toured endlessly around the world. Dave went on to join The Knitters and X, as well. He has great stories about growing up in the outskirts of LA, the great scene that evolved there, songwriting, and his lengthy career making a string of excellent solo records. I love Dave's songs and delivery, but he's also a badass guitar player - a rare feature in singer-songwriters! In recent years, Dave has teamed back up with his brother Phil for some great duo recordings. I got to know Dave a few years back when we worked together on a tribute to the Mississippi Sheiks, and he's always been one of the artists that I hold in the highest regard, so he seemed like the perfect guest to kick off Season 2 of the show! Enjoy my conversation with Dave Alvin, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Apr 05, 2017
Episode 27 - Season 2 Intro
A message of welcome to get you all prepped for Season 2 which will begin for real next week!
Mar 28, 2017
Episode 26 - Bettye LaVette
It's the final episode of Season 1 and I'm signing off in style with my guest this week, the spectacular Bettye LaVette. Bettye has a memory like a steel trap and an engaging and self-deprecating way about hr that makes for great storytelling. Since her first single "My Man - He's a Lovin' Man" in 1962 at age sixteen, Bettye has had a career full of ups and downs, and as she tells it, more downs than ups in the first forty! But in those years she managed to drift on and off Atlantic Records 5 times, and at one point, due to some questionable advice, actually asked legendary producer Jerry Wexler to be let off the label. He handed her $500 and told her she'd need it! Growing up in Detroit, and learning to sing in her parents' living room while they were selling booze to the locals, as well as the touring gospel groups of the day (Sam Cooke used to drop in for refreshments), Bettye developed an incredible voice and a desire to get out and perform. Some early success put her on the road with Ben E King, Clyde McPhatter, James Brown, and Otis Redding, but every success seemed to be followed by disappointment with some bad timing, poor promotion, and sketchy advice. It really wasn't until the mid-2000's that Bettye found a new audience and since then has made a string of incredible records with producers like Joe Henry and Patterson Hood with the Drive By Truckers. Her recent book "A Woman Like Me" tells her story, but as always, it's more fun hearing them straight from her! Bettye's latest album is called "Worthy" and is well worth seeking out. Thank you for listening to the show and being a fantastic audience. I'll return soon for Season 2 - stay tuned, and please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes!
Sep 07, 2016
Episode 25 - Jay Bellerose
Drummer Jay Bellerose is my guest on the show this week. If your musical taste crosses over with mine at all, Jay is probably the drummer on some of your favorite records of the last 15 years. If you've been following this show, Jay's name has come up many times in other interviews, so it was high-time to drag him in for an episode of his own! Jay's unique approach to drumming, with unorthodox setups and an awesome palette of vintage drums has made him the go-to drummer for producers like T-Bone Burnett and Joe Henry. We talk about his approach to drumming and musicality in the studio, and how he tries to be very selective about the projects he takes on. In fact, he once turned down a gig with David Byrne, only to take his first gig with Joe Henry, opening for David Byrne! Jay has played on albums for BB King, Gregg Allman, Ray LaMontagne, Allen Toussaint, Bettye LaVette, Solomon Burke, Bonnie Raitt and the list goes on and on. Jay and I talked about his early days at Berklee, his long stint with Paula Cole, how to survive in a multi-drummer session with Jim Keltner, and how he had to work to fit into the Robert Plant/Allison Krauss touring band after making the acclaimed "Raising Sand" record. It's an illuminating conversation for any music fan - please share and enjoy, and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Aug 31, 2016
Episode 24 - John Convertino (Calexico, Giant Sand)
My guest this week is the very creative and grooving drummer, John Convertino. Along with Joey Burns, John started Calexico in the mid-90's after a long stint playing and touring with the seminal group, Giant Sand. His work with Howe Gelb in Giant Sand brought him from LA to Tucson, where he's been living for many years, and has helped to develop a creative and nurturing music scene. Calexico has released a series of amazing albums, and John's unique approach to the drums is always a highlight. The group successfully mixes folk, rock, twang, mariachi, and avant-garde music into their sound, and it was great to discuss all of those elements with John, as well as his history playing in his family band, how he met Howe Gelb and started playing in LA, his move to the desert of Tucson, and his experiences recording and working in the studio. Enjoy my conversation with John Convertino and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Aug 24, 2016
Episode 23 - Dom Flemons
Known as The American Songster, Dom Flemons brings a deep knowledge of old-time, stringband, blues, and ragtime combined with the sensibilities of a modern songwriter to audiences all over the world with his band and as a solo artist. A founding member of Grammy-winning group, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dom has gone on to release a string of solo and collaborative albums that explore these musical forms, and preserve the music of the past while keeping it fresh and modern at the same time. Dom is a great guitar player, but also plays the bones, jug, fife, banjo, and probably lots more. He's used all those instruments to make some great records, and Dom and I talked about his recording history in his early days in Phoenix, meeting the members of the Chocolate Drops at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, North Carolina, and how he wants to keep the spirit of that event alive in his music. We also discussed making records with Joe Henry and Buddy Miller and his current projects that include a collaboration with British guitarist Martin Simpson, and an upcoming release of Black Cowboy songs that will come out this fall. Enjoy the episode!
Aug 17, 2016
Episode 22 - Hal Blaine (Drummer for The Wrecking Crew)
Studio drumming legend Hal Blaine is my guest on the show this week! Hal's career has been beyond remarkable - he is one of the most recorded drummers in history and was an integral part of the most prolific and adaptable recording teams in the history of music. From the Beach Boys to Sinatra, Elvis Presley to John Lennon, Hal Blaine played on everything coming out of LA in the 60's and 70's. Coming from a jazz background, and a traumatic event in his early life, Hal grew up playing in bands and orchestras before finding work in the studios of Los Angeles. Before long, Hal's personality and incredible skill made him the top call session player for almost any style of music. He had close ties to Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, and is even a character in the recent Brain Wilson biopic "Love and Mercy". Be sure to check out the great documentary "The Wrecking Crew" on Netflix, which documents the session players of that time. Hal was happy to talk about his history and some of the memorable sessions that he took part in. Please excuse the audio quality of Hal's voice - his phone was a little distorted, but you'll get used to it, and it'll be worth it! Enjoy my interview with Hal Blaine and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Aug 10, 2016
Episode 21 - David Hood (Bassist from Muscle Shoals and FAME Studios)
David Hood, the legendary bassist and member of the Swampers, the Muscle Shoals-based band that backed up countless classic soul records, is my guest this week. Guys like David are the reason I was inspired to do this show in the first place. I first heard him through the Duane Allman anthology, an album I picked up as a kid that contained all this amazing soul music that Duane had been a part of in the late 60's. Upon further investigation, I was led to the world of Muscle Shoals, and FAME Studios, the home of classic soul music for artists like Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs, John Hammond, Clarence Carter, and so many more. David also went on to play on albums for Paul Simon, Traffic, and the list goes on and on. The Muscle Shoals documentary from a few years back is a must-see, and David was kind enough to spend some time with me talking about the studios, life during that time in Muscle Shoals, and to detail some of the sessions that so many of us know and love. Enjoy my conversation with David Hood and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Aug 03, 2016
Episode 20 - Bernie Finkelstein
Bernie Finkelstein is my guest on the show this week. It's a natural companion piece to last weeks' interview with Bruce Cockburn. If you haven't heard that one (Episode 19), please check it out as well! Bernie has been in the biz for decades, originally starting out as a helper and manager for folk artists and rock bands around Toronto's buzzing scene in the mid/late 60's. His early success in the US with The Paupers and working with the legendary Albert Grossman (Bob Dylan's manager) led him back to Toronto to start his own label, True North Records. He made his mark early signing Bruce Cockburn, a relationship that continues to this day. His other successes have included clients like Murray McLauchlan, Dan Hill, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Stephen Fearing, and he even signed a little weirdo instrumental band from Vancouver called Zubot and Dawson. Bernie has great stories from all of those eras and tells them in his recent book "True North", but it's more fun to hear him tell them in person, so Bernie was nice enough to spend some time with me for the show. Enjoy my conversation with Bernie Finkelstein, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
Jul 26, 2016
Episode 19 - Bruce Cockburn
My guest on the show this week is legendary performer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn. Bruce has been recording and touring for over 40 years, and has 30 spectacular albums to his credit. One of the most beloved of Canadian artists, Bruce has made a huge mark in the US and Europe as well. With humble beginnings in the folk scene of Toronto in the 60's, to releasing his first few classic albums on True North Records, before achieving massive commercial success in the late 70's and 80's with classic songs like "Wondering Where The Lions Are", "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" and "If I Had a Rocket Launcher". I've always been drawn to Bruce's creative guitar playing, which incorporates blues, jazz, folk and ragtime elements into a unique sound that instantly recognizable. Bruce and I had a chance to discuss his life and career in music and all the stages of his amazing career. Enjoy my conversation with Bruce Cockburn, and please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free!
Jul 20, 2016
Episode 18 - Gurf Morlix
Producer and multi-instrumentalist Gurf Morlix is my guest this week. Gurf has been an integral part of the Austin, Texas music scene for decades now and has worked on stage and in the studio with an incredible list of artists such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Slaid Cleaves, Warren Zevon, Mary Gauthier and Ian McLagan. Gurf was also a key member of Lucinda WIlliams' original band and produced her first albums. Gurf is a great producer, and plays a mean guitar, steel, bass and whatever else he can get his hands on. We talked about his career that took him to LA to work with Lucinda Williams, why he split and went back to Austin where he's been since the 90's, his production style, and the way he approaches recording, mostly out of his home studio. Enjoy the conversation, and please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free!
Jul 13, 2016
Episode 17 - Holger Petersen
Broadcasting legend and iconic label-head, Holger Petersen is my guest this week. For anyone living in Canada over the last 40+ years, Holger has been the voice coming at you on Saturday nights on CBC Radio, bringing you great blues music on Saturday Night Blues, or even longer in Alberta on CKUA Radio. His label, Stony Plain Records, is one of the oldest and established roots music labels in North America. Holger has a long history with music, playing drums in bands growing up in Edmonton, promoting shows for the likes of Reverend Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt, and releasing a steady stream of music to the world by artists such as Jeff Healey, Long John Baldry, Duke Robillard and so many more. Holger and I had a chance to talk about that history, hanging with Jimmy Witherspoon and Jay McShann, being a fly on the wall for a Herbie Hancock record, traveling with Long John Baldry, and the path his life has taken to be one of Canada's great purveyors of amazing music. Thanks for listening!
Jul 06, 2016
Episode 16 - Joe Henry (Part 2)
This week is the conclusion of my conversation with producer and artist Joe Henry. Joe is one of my favorite producers, taking huge risks and pushing sonic boundaries in the studio, mixing cutting-edge jazz with folk music, and capturing stellar live tracks that sound larger than life. He's been at the helm for some of what I think are the coolest sounding records of the last decade, for artists like Solomon Burke, Mary Gauthier, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint, and so many more. Last week, I spoke with Joe about his upbringing and how he got into record-making, his association with T-Bone Burnett, and some of his first production projects. This week, the story continues and we delve into Joe's philosophies on recording, some of his recent work, and his amazing encounter with the great Ornette Coleman. Thanks to Joe for being so generous with his time and giving us this cool 2-part interview. Enjoy, share it, and please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free!
Jun 29, 2016
Episode 15 - Joe Henry (Part 1)
My guest on Episode 15 is producer and artist Joe Henry. Joe came up through the ranks originally as an artist, but through some early interctions with T-Bone Burnett, ended up being T-Bone's assistant on a number of projects, which led to him producing artists for himself. Joe continues to make great albums of his own every couple of years, and I’m a huge fan of all of them. He’s developed a close working relationship with my guest from episode 6, Ryan Freeland. Ryan’s ability to capture depth and live performances in the studio along with Joe’s abilities to set the stage, and create a sonic vision for his recordings has led to what I think are some of the most interesting albums made over the last 10 or 15 years. Their recordings have inspired me both as a musician and producer, and their philosophy of recording live and letting the moment dictate the feel, and spontenaity override perfection has pushed me more and more down a similar path over the years, and is something that I hold in high regard and strive for. Joe has been at the helm for some great records by Aimee Mann, Bettye LaVette, Allen Toussaint, Rodney Crowell, Mose Allison, Bonnie Raitt, his grammy-winning album for Soloman Burke, my pals the Birds of Chicago, and so many more. It’s a huge and important slice of American Music that his body of work represents, and I was really excited to talk to Joe about some of these sessions and his path to where he is now in his career. Enjoy Part 1 of my conversation with Joe Henry!
Jun 22, 2016
Episode 14 - Fats Kaplin
In episode 14, I welcome a Nashville veteran to the show. Fats Kaplin is his name, and when not performing slight of hand magic, Fats is one of the most in-demand sideguys around. He plays fiddle, mandolin, pedal steel, banjo, harmonica, dobro, guitar, oud, button accordion and I’m sure a bunch of other stuff. And he plays them really well. Fats has been in Music City for a long time, but he grew up in New York and got a gig as a youngster with Roy Bookbinder, a fantastic blues and ragtime player. Fats went on to play for years with Roy, and then the Tom Russel Band, touring the world. He moved to Nashville in the early 90’s and hooked up with Keiran Kane and Kevin Welch to form the Dead Reckoners, who were sort of a collective of great songwriters and instrumentalists. In the last few years ended up getting a gig in Jack White’s band, with whom he now performs and records regularly. Fats is active around Nashville and plays with his wife Kristi Rose as well. At the end of the interview, Fats brings out the violin and rips up the fiddle as only he can. Enjoy my conversation with Fats Kaplin! Get more info and subscribe to the podcast at:
Jun 15, 2016
Episode 13 - Lee Townsend (Producer for Bill Frisell among many others!)
Producer Lee Townsend is my guest on the show this week. Lee is a producer in the truest sense of the word. He’s not a performing musician, never has been, but has always been deeply into music and he brings a philosophy and easy going nature to sessions that make people rally around and perform their best. Lee is best known for his decades-long relationship in the studio and as manager for Bill Frisell, with whom he has made many records, earned Grammy Awards and countless other accolades, but he has also made some amazing records for artists as diverse as Dave Holland, Viktor Krauss, John Scofield, Louden Wainwright, Charlie Hunter, Carrie Rodriguez, and many more. He is an artistic member of the group Floratone, which is an experimental collaboration with Frisell, Matt Chamberlain, Tucker Martine, and Lee. He has also worked as VP of A&R for Verve/Polygram and as General Manager of of ECM Records in the USA. I thought Lee would be a great addition to the series here as someone who brings an intense love and passion for music to the table and has a long history of great records under his belt. He is a true Music Maker and Soul Shaker! Visit for more info on the podcast!
Jun 08, 2016
Episode 12 - Duane Eddy (Part 2)
This week we have part 2 of my epic conversation with guitar legend Duane Eddy. If you haven’t heard the first part of the interview, head on back and pick up episode 11 of the podcast and check it out. As I mentioned last week, he grabbed a guitar off my wall and kept it on his lap the whole time we talked and when the spoirit moved him, he plucked out some examples to illustrate his point. What you’re hearing is an electric guitar unamplified, and very casual! This week we pick the story up after he’s had some hits and we get into his further series of twangy records, how he got into the blues, working on major soundtracks and a classic country record he made in Nashville in the 60’s. Visit for more info on the podcast!
Jun 01, 2016
Episode 11 - Duane Eddy (Part 1)
This week we're honoured to have the legend of TWANG drop into the Henhouse, Mr. Duane Eddy himself! For those of you who don’t know him, Duane Eddy revolutionized the sound of the electric guitar and became the king of "twang" with his trusty Gretsch guitar in hand. He had huge records in the 50’s and 60’s, most of which were instrumental. His playing and innovative guitar sounds, in conjunction with the pioneering production work of Lee Hazelwood resulted in over 12 million records sold before 1963! He had massive hits with “Rebel Rouser”, “Peter Gunn”, “Movin’ and Groovin’” and so many more. These songs were fixtures on the radio as well as TV, being a regular guest on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. He toured and performed with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, BB King, Chet Atkins and countless others. Duane was rightfully inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Duane Eddy lives in Nashville and was generous enough to drop into the Henhouse a while back and sit and tell stories and talk about some of the sessions for those legendary songs, some of his earliest musical experiences, and his involvement in the pivotal years of American Rock and Roll. He saw an Epiphone Casino hanging on my wall, which is the closest thing I have to a Gretsch, asked to play it and kept it on his lap the entire time and picked out some examples as he talked. There’s no amp, you’re just hearing him plucking on an unamplified electric as he talks. It was a huge thrill to have him here, and because of the length of our conversation, I decided to split it into 2 full episodes. Have a listen to now to Part 1 of my conversation with Duane Eddy! Visit for more info on the podcast!
May 25, 2016
Episode 10 - Cindy Cashdollar
Cindy Cashdollar joins me this week on the show. Cindy is a highly respected musician and sideperson, who has developed an incredible style and facility on the lap steel and dobro. Early on in her career, before she was really fluent on the lap steel, she got a gig with the popular western swing band Asleep At The Wheel, and had to really learn how to play that style on the fly. She ended up mastering the instrument, and her success as a player and sideperson to artists such as Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Dave Alvin, Van Morrison, Ryan Adams and many more is a testament to that fact. Cindy has released one album of her own called “Slide Show” that features some great performances with her and a number of high-profile slide and dobro players. She was also just nominated this week for an Americana Award for "Instrumentalist Of The Year"! I reached Cindy at her home in Woodstock, NY and we talked about those gigs I mentioned, the music that inspired her to pick up the guitar, growing up in Woodstock, getting in to blues and bluegrass, hooking up with Levon Helm and Rick Danko, and her trip through an 8 year stint with Asleep at the Wheel, to playing on Dylan’s 2007 masterpiece "Time Out Of Mind". Visit for more info on the podcast!
May 18, 2016
Episode 9 - Stephen Hodges (drummer for Mavis Staples, Tom Waits and many more!)
Stephen Hodges joins us this week on Music Makers and Soul Shakers. Stephen is an incredibly creative and grooving drummer who plays on the most iconic Tom Waits' albums (Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, and Mule Variations to name just a few!), all of Mavis Staples' recent recordings, and lots of other cool sessions and albums. He worked with David Lynch on the "Fire Walk With Me" Soundtrack, and cut his teeth in the bars of Long Beach and Los Angeles in the late 70's and early 80's alongside Los Lobos and the Blasters. Stephen discusses his early days as a drummer/composer for modern dance classes, working in seedy bars in through the 70's, getting his mind blown by Howling' Wolf, developing his unique drum setup with James Harman, and landing gigs with Tom Waits and John Hammond. This is a hilarious and energetic interview with a very humble and generous musician and much can be learned from him by drummers and non-drummers alike! Subscribe for free on iTunes, and get more info on the show at:
May 11, 2016
Episode 8 - Marc Ribot
The mighty Marc Ribot joins us on the show this week! Marc is one of the most sought after session and performing musicians in modern music, not to mention an intensely creative spirit who is just as comfortable hanging with the most experimental free jazz players as he is playing with Robert Plant, Tom Waits, Joe Henry, Buddy Miller or any of the many other roots and Americana artists he regularly collaborates with. Marc emerged from the well-documented New York scene of the late 70's and early 80's with the Lounge Lizards and John Zorn before playing on some of Tom Waits' most iconic albums and creating his own impressive string of varied solo projects. Marc and I discussed those projects, his earliest influences, the importance and complexity of Chuck Berry, his history with John Lurie, how he got a gig early in his career with Solomon Burke, and lots more. It was a real honour to have Marc on the show and his stories and insights make him both an incredible Music Maker and a Soul Shaker! Subscribe for free on iTunes, and get more info on the show at:
May 03, 2016
Episode 7 - Danny Barnes
Danny Barnes is my guest on the show today. Danny is one of the most accomplished and eclectic musicians, songwriters, and wildly creative DIY artists out there. He just won the "Steve Martin prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo" and is a stellar banjo picker, but his adventurous nature and interest in improvising,new music and electronics really sets him apart. He fronted the genre-bending Austin-based band The Bad Livers before moving to Seattle about 10 years ago. Danny and I talked about his background, how he got into playing music, his history with his band the Bad Livers, Frippertronics, his love of the "Dr. Who" Theme, his epic hangs with John Hartford, and much more... His new album "Get Myself Together (10 Years Later)" is out now and well worth seeking out! This conversation swerved all over the musical spectrum and was extremely insightful for me, and I think it's a revealing look into the mind of a great creative artist.
Apr 24, 2016
Episode 6 - Ryan Freeland
Ryan is the first engineer I've had on the show, and what an honour it is to have him! This Grammy Award-winner has worked on recordings for Joe Henry, Bonnie Raitt, Aimee Mann, Ray Lamontagne, Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, The Milk Carton Kids, and countless others. Ryan has engineered many of my favorite albums from the past 15 years and I've always admired his sense of fidelity and space that comes through on his albums. I spoke with Ryan from his Stampede Origin Studio in LA, and we discussed how he went from being a classical pianist to a recording engineer, getting his first job with Bob Clearmountain on a Springsteen recording, working with long-term collaborators like Joe Henry, how he's approaching mixing the final Allen Toussaint record, and his philosophy on the recording process and his role in it. It's a very illuminating discussion for anyone interested in art and music, not just recording nerds! Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free here:
Apr 14, 2016
Episode 5 - Mary Gauthier
In Episode 5, songwriter Mary Gauthier drops by The Henhouse in Nashville for a wide-ranging conversation about her unorthodox path in the music business that didn't start until she was 40! She has had songs on Grammy winning albums, and had them covered by artists as diverse as Jimmy Buffet and Bettye Lavette. Mary has recorded a number of exceptional albums, working with some heavy-hitters in the production world, such as Joe Henry and Gurf Morlix. Her latest album, Trouble and Love is some of her finest work to date. Mary and Steve discuss her songwriting process, how she approaches making records, some of her studio experiences, her new book and some of the hurdles she has overcome to go from being a successful chef and restaurant owner to one of the most respected songwriters of her generation. At the end of the interview, Mary and Steve pick up the guitars and perform her song "Last Of The Hobo Kings". Subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes here:
Apr 09, 2016
Episode 4 - John Hammond
In Episode 4 of the podcast, I speak with the legendary blues artist John Hammond. John has had an incredible career that spans over 5 decades. Since his debut in 1965, John has recorded over 40 albums, and has worked with luminaries in the field such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, The Band, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and many more. During the 70's and 80's John stayed true to his roots and almost singlehandedly kept the solo country and delta blues styles alive. John and I had a great conversation that touched on his guitar playing, his recording history, a memorable night in New York that had him playing with BOTH Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton in his band, signing numerous record deals that never seemed to quite work out, how the Wicked Grin record with Tom Waits almost never happened, and lots more! Leave some comments - we love to hear from you! Subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes here:
Apr 01, 2016
Episode 3 - Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers)
In this episode, Oliver Wood drops in at The Henhouse to talk about the evolution of the Wood Brothers, his early experiences playing in rock and blues bands, being on the road with Tinsley Ellis, and recording with a 14-year old Derek Trucks. While his brother Chris was off starting Medeski, Martin and Wood, Oliver's band King Johnson was touring all over the US. When they finally reconnected as brothers and musical partners, the Wood Brothers recorded a string of killer acoustic and electric albums that draw from blues, soul, funk and jazz. We hear about all that from Oliver, and hear some of the songs that influenced him, and we also grab a couple of axes and have at it on an old blues number and a Wood Brothers tune! Subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes here:
Mar 23, 2016
Episode 2 - Tim O'Brien
Tim O'Brien dropped by the Henhouse Studio here in Nashville for a conversation and a little pickin'! Tim is an indelible fixture on the acoustic music scene and is one of the most accomplished and well-versed instrumentalists out there, not to mention a hit songwriter. He has a fantastic new album out called "Pompadour" that explores all aspects of his diverse musical identity. We talked about his musical influences, how he got into music, starting the seminal Hot Rize with Pete Wernick, his songwriting, and sessions with Mark Knopfler, Steve Earle and lots more! Then we picked up a couple of axes at the end and had ourselves a little jam. Enjoy! Subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes here:
Mar 17, 2016
Episode 1 - Bill Frisell
In the first episode of Music Makers and Soul Shakers, I speak with guitarist and composer Bill Frisell over the phone from his home in Seattle. Bill has created an incredible body of work as an artist and sideman over the last 35 years that has straddled the lines between jazz, blues, and Americana music. Bill and I talked about growing up in Colorado, his early years as a struggling musician, hooking up with legendary jazz musicians in New York and Europe, why he walked away from his diploma at Berklee, his first guitar, playing the clarinet, his band with Ginger Baker, what the sessions were like for some of my favorite albums of his, and much more! You'll also hear clips of Bill's music and some of the music that inspired him throughout his life. Feel free to leave some comments, and please share! Subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes here:
Mar 09, 2016