Artist Interviews

  • This Is the Year, This Is the Life

    This Is the Year, This Is the Life

    This Is the Year, This Is the Life A Q&A with Blake Christiana of Yarn           By Geoff Gehman Blake Christiana once lived on a Lehigh County farm owned by big fans of Yarn, the alternative Americana band he birthed in Brooklyn. The New Tripoli home doubled as a sanctuary for writing songs and escaping the … Read More

  • The Changeling

    The Changeling

    The Changeling A Q&A with Tony Fernandez Of Peace Frog By Geoff Gehman Tony Fernandez was 11 when the Doors began opening his doors to a life without domestic violence. The freedom march began when he first heard “The End,” the psychedelic tone poem that turns apocalyptic when Jim Morrison says, with spooky serenity, “Father … Read More

  • I Feel Like I Win When I Lose

    I Feel Like I Win When I Lose

    I Feel Like I Win When I Lose A Q&A with Halina Ulatowski Of Dancing Dream By Geoff Gehman Halina Ulatowski fell under the spell of ABBA the night that millions of fellow Europeans were spellbound by Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny and Bjorn. Then 11 and living in her native Poland, she was totally tuned into … Read More

  • Your Gold Teeth III

    Your Gold Teeth III

    Your Gold Teeth III A Q&A with Dale DeJoy of Hey Nineteen By Geoff Gehman   Dale DeJoy was a high schooler when he turned a Steely Dan lyric into a Christmas-dinner blessing. It all began when his mother asked him to say grace before the holiday meal. Not knowing any graces, he decided to recite … Read More

  • Making a Joyful Noise

    Making a Joyful Noise

    Making a Joyful Noise A Q&A with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams By Geoff Gehman   Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams are deeply, truly rooted. The musicians married in 1988 under a cedar tree planted by her great-great grandmother on her home turf, a seventh-generation cotton farm in Peckerwood Point, Tenn. She originated the role … Read More

  • One Man Guy

    One Man Guy

    One Man Guy A Q&A with Loudon Wainwright III By Geoff Gehman   “The Man Who Couldn’t Cry” was the first song by Loudon Wainwright III that made me realize that the man has the goods. Released on his 1973 album “Attempted Mustache,” it’s the shaggy saga of a writer whose inability to shed tears … Read More

  • Cosmic Contemplations

    Cosmic Contemplations

    Cosmic Contemplations A Q&A with Hiroya Tsukamoto By Geoff Gehman Hiroya Tsukamoto likes to call his music “Cinematic Guitar Poetry.” The acoustic guitarist composes meditative mini-movies inspired by everything from the Colorado mountain town he imagined as a youngster in Japan to the West Virginia mountain home where he heard an opera-house manager recall the … Read More

  • Everyone is Someone

    Everyone is Someone

    Everyone Is Someone A Q&A with Amanda Walther of Dala   By Geoff Gehman   Pretty much everything about the duo Dala is as tight as a peapod. Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine grew up singing Beatles tunes with their musical dads and brothers in their hometown of Scarborough, Ontario, where they met in high-school … Read More

  • Cleaning Out the Cobwebs

    Cleaning Out the Cobwebs

    Cleaning Out the Cobwebs A Q&A with Julian Dorio of the Whigs By Geoff Gehman   Julian Dorio has done a ton as the drummer for the Whigs, the buzzing, buzzsawing band he co-founded 14 years ago as a college student in Athens, Ga. The 34-year-old Atlanta native has played 10 times for five top … Read More

  • Rocking Out on ‘This Big Old Rock’

    Rocking Out on ‘This Big Old Rock’

    Rocking Out on ‘This Big Old Rock’ A Q&A with Les Dudek By Geoff Gehman Interviewing Les Dudek is like being strapped to a Stratocaster plugged into a Marshall. A musician’s musician for five decades, he tells amped-up, ramped-up stories about his nice niche in the history of electrified rock ‘n’ roll blues, Duetting with … Read More

  • Squeezing Lemonade from Adversity

    Squeezing Lemonade from Adversity

    Squeezing Lemonade from Adversity A Q&A with Cruz Contreras Of the Black Lillies By Geoff Gehman  Cruz Contreras specializes in turning scrap metal into sculpture. The founding frontman of the Black Lillies wrote a lively, tail-wagging song, “40 Days and 40 Nights,” about the band’s first tour, a mess of roadblocks and wrong turns. The … Read More

  • Crowning a Musical Knight

    Crowning a Musical Knight

    Crowning a Musical Knight A Q&A with Lenie Colacino of The Most Excellent Order of Sir Paul By Geoff Gehman Lenie Colacino grew up in metropolitan and suburban New York in the 1950s and ’60s, a left hander in a right-handed world. An avid New York Yankees fan, he felt a little less odd because … Read More

  • Caravan of Soul Sirens

    Caravan of Soul Sirens

    Caravan of Soul Sirens A Q&A with Ina Forsman And Layla Zoe of the Blue Sisters   By Geoff Gehman   Looking for a rousing, arousing, take-no-prisoners performance of “Chain of Fools”? Look no further than the YouTube video of the Blue Sisters putting a serious hurting on Aretha Franklin’s siren song. Ina Forsman, Tasha … Read More

  • Build Me a Sunset

    Build Me a Sunset

    Build Me a Sunset A Q&A with Ari Hest By Geoff Gehman   Ari Hest’s musical career has been a slo-mo yo-yo between yin and yang. He celebrated his independence from a major label by writing, recording and posting a song each week for a year, then let subscribers help program his sequel CD “Twelve … Read More

  • True-Blue Troubadour

    True-Blue Troubadour

    True-Blue Troubadour A Q&A with Al Stewart   By Geoff Gehman   I became an Al Stewart fan in 1976, the year of “Year of the Cat,” a commercial breakout for him and an aural awakening for me. I was hooked, line and sinker, by his crisply melodic, poetic mini-movies about an ecstatic aviatrix, a … Read More

  • Leaping into the Waterfall

    Leaping into the Waterfall

    Leaping into the Waterfall A Q&A with David Mayfield   By Geoff Gehman   David Mayfield’s musical mantra fits on a bumper sticker: Just Jump In. He jumped in as a rookie guitarist, learning chords on the fly during a concert with a family friend of his family bluegrass band. He jumped in as a … Read More

  • Sister in the Amen Corner A Q&A with Ruthie Foster By Geoff Gehman   One of the highlights of a Ruthie Foster concert is “Travelin’ Shoes,” a traditional blues that she and her band members rip open into a soul picnic and a gospel pilgrimage. It runs, scoots and zooms on Foster’s remarkably potent, agile, … Read More

  • Soul Cruiser

    Soul Cruiser

    Soul Cruiser A Q&A with John Nemeth   By Geoff Gehman   The 1973 Cadillac Eldorado convertible on the cover of John Nemeth’s “Memphis Grease” album is much more than a cool set of classic wheels. For the song-writing, harmonica-playing, Memphis-living singer, the sporty luxury car symbolizes the vintage early ’70s Blues City soul—sweaty, sweet, … Read More

  • (Un)locking the Heart

    (Un)locking the Heart

    (Un)locking the Heart A Q&A with Heather Masse   By Geoff Gehman   Heather Masse’s voice can stop time and end traffic jams of the mind. She sings with pizzazz, panache and presence whether she’s performing a folk hymn with the Wailin’ Jennys, a shot of stardust sorrow with legendary jazz pianist Dick Hyman or … Read More

  • Kind Town Blues

    Kind Town Blues

    Kind Town Blues A Q&A with Tina “T-Bone” Gorin Of Jane Lee Hooker   By Geoff Gehman   Tina “T-Bone” Gorin has her dream gig in the rock/blues/punk quintet Jane Lee Hooker, which seriously troubles the waters of such standards as “Wade in the Water,” the spiritual bible, and “Mean Town Blues,” Johnny Winter’s turbo-charged … Read More

  • Traveling Between the Eternities

    Traveling Between the Eternities

    Traveling Between the Eternities A Q&A with Jorma Kaukonen   By Geoff Gehman   Jorma Kaukonen likes to call his psychedelic days in Jefferson Airplane, and the ’60s, as “a voice from another dimension.” That voice buzzsawed through him on Jan. 28, the last day for his Airplane comrades Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson. … Read More

  • Get Out Yer Ya-Yas & Yin-Yangs

    Get Out Yer Ya-Yas & Yin-Yangs

    Get Out Yer Ya-Yas & Yin-Yangs A Q&A with Popa Chubby   By Geoff Gehman   Popa Chubby not only makes opposites attract, he makes them kiss, make up and tell. As a guitarist, he’s just as comfortable with punk country funk as low-slung, bucket-seat, hot-rod blues. As a singer, he’s equally effective at Leonard … Read More

  • Surfing the Astral Waves

    Surfing the Astral Waves

    Surfing the Astral Waves A Q&A with Nick Rhodes Of the Ten Band   By Geoff Gehman   By day Nick Rhodes teaches algebra in cyberspace. At night he surfs Eddie Vedder’s astral waves. Rhodes is the lead singer of the Ten Band, a 12-year-old ensemble that performs songs created and recreated by Pearl Jam, … Read More

  • The Congregation of Rhythm

    The Congregation of Rhythm

    The Congregation of Rhythm A Q&A with Noah Adams Of The Dirty Bourbon River Show   By Geoff Gehman   Anyone who writes “Somebody get this man a tissue because he needs to blow his soul out” has an open-tuned mind, body and, yes, soul. Noah Adams slipped that transcendental thought into a practical ditty … Read More

  • Mission: Possible

    Mission: Possible

    Mission: Possible A Q&A with Eric Mintel   By Geoff Gehman   Eric Mintel plays two universal languages: jazz and TV theme songs. As a teen the pianist cut his teeth on “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and the “Popeye” cartoon sea shanty, sometimes entertaining his friends with his improvisations. As a quartet leader he … Read More

  • Across the Universe

    Across the Universe

    Across the Universe A Q&A with Carlo Cantamessa   By Geoff Gehman   Carlo Cantamessa has spent 37 years soaring across John Lennon’s universe. For 28 of those years he’s played the founding Beatle in The Cast of Beatlemania. For 13 of those years he’s performed Lennon songs and told Lennon stories in “In My … Read More

  • Stone Impeccable

    Stone Impeccable

    Stone Impeccable A Q&A with Keith Call Of The Glimmer Twins   By Geoff Gehman   Keith Call was 10 when he first heard “Brown Sugar,” the first song he couldn’t forget by the Rolling Stones, the first band he couldn’t forget. The elementary schooler was hooked line and sinker by the crunching opening riff; … Read More

  • Noble Stranger

    Noble Stranger

    Noble Stranger A Q&A with Nuala Kennedy of The Alt   By Geoff Gehman   Nuala Kennedy has spent many years in Celtic music’s many chasms, coves and hollows. The singing flutist grew up living and breathing performing in Dundalk, County Louth, a heritage she references in an Irish-Canadian quartet called Oirialla. She spent a … Read More

  • Gamblin’ Ramblin’ Man

    Gamblin’ Ramblin’ Man

    Gamblin’ Ramblin’ Man A Q&A with Rick Murphy Of Hollywood Nights   By Geoff Gehman   Rick Murphy went to the Spectrum in Philadelphia on Dec. 21, 1976 all ready to rock and roll all night long with KISS, his favorite musicians made up like the faces on Japanese fighter kites. The 11-year-old never expected … Read More

  • Harping with the King

    Harping with the King

    Harping with the King A Q&A with Sugar Blue   By Geoff Gehman   One of the many treasured pleasures on YouTube is a 1995 live video of Sugar Blue, the fine singer and exceptional harmonica player, turning Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man” into an erotic odyssey.  Decked out in a black beret and a … Read More

  • Melody Gypsy

    Melody Gypsy

    Melody Gypsy A Q&A with Frank Vignola   By Geoff Gehman   Frank Vignola loves gypsy jazz and the life of a musical gypsy. The 49-year-old guitarist cut his teeth by touring with Leon Redbone, the celebrated singer of Dixieland and ragtime ditties; gigging weekly at a Manhattan club with guitarist Les Paul, the legendary … Read More

  • Cosmic Caravans

    Cosmic Caravans

    Cosmic Caravans A Q&A with Jean-Pierre Durand of Incendio   By Geoff Gehman   When Jean-Pierre Durand feels like bitching about the musical grind, he shuts himself up by remembering how his favorite punk bands refused to bitch about the musical grind. The guitarist tends to forget the hassles of being a professional performer—the touring, … Read More

  • Power Trio Heaven

    Power Trio Heaven

    Power Trio Heaven A Q&A with Craig Thatcher   By Geoff Gehman   The Mauch Chunk Opera House is Craig Thatcher’s soul kitchen. The very busy, very talented, very popular guitarist has played the Jim Thorpe house nearly 30 times over nearly 10 years, as a trio leader and an opening act for pals Laurence … Read More

  • Wise Lullabies for Brave Adults

    Wise Lullabies for Brave Adults

    Wise Lullabies for Brave Adults A Q&A with Anna Mitchell   By Geoff Gehman   Anna Mitchell burrows to the marrow on “Down to the Bone,” the first full-length record from the Irish singer-songwriter-keyboardist with the Appalachian soul. The Cork resident’s characters yearn to escape to Tennessee, allegedly the land of greener hills and non-smothering … Read More

  • Alternatives to Alt-Folk

    Alternatives to Alt-Folk

    Alternatives to Alt-Folk A Q&A with Dave Wilson Of Chatham County Line   By Geoff Gehman   The four members of Chatham County Line like to add new colors to bluegrass and alternatives to alternative folk. Their ballads and breakdowns have an unusually large cast of characters: a Confederate soldier, Woody Guthrie, the victims of … Read More

  • Back to the Eggs

    Back to the Eggs

    Back to the Eggs A Q&A with Laurence Juber   By Geoff Gehman   Laurence Juber is in a groovy time-warp groove. His new book, “Guitar with Wings” (Dalton Watson), is a photographic memoir of his stretch as a crazy-busy go-to session man in the ‘70s for the likes of Charles Aznavour and James Bond … Read More

  • Fleet Feet

    Fleet Feet

    Fleet Feet A Q&A with Noah Wall Of The Barefoot Movement   By Geoff Gehman   The four members of The Barefoot Movement like essential elements. Harmonies that ring, rhythms that zing, songs that sing. Stories about love, loss, legacy. Playing ballads, reels and hoedowns barefooted, around a single microphone, in places as far flung … Read More

  • These Fires

    These Fires

    These Fires A Q&A with Paula Cole   By Geoff Gehman   I once crawled across Paula Cole’s desert of desire. My erotic odyssey unfolded during her 2011 concert at the Sellersville Theater. We all sweated up a storm as Cole and her band mates slow-burned through “Feelin’ Love,” an erotic ode that revolves around … Read More

  • The Morrissey Medium

    The Morrissey Medium

    The Morrissey Medium A Q&A with Ronnissey Of The Sons & Heirs   By Geoff Gehman   Ronnie Scott didn’t want to believe the fans and band mates who kept insisting he sang just like Morrissey. Raised as a grunge guitarist, the twentysomething Brooklyn native thought the former Smiths front man was too weirdly neat, … Read More

  • Beautiful Dreamer, Beautiful Danger

    Beautiful Dreamer, Beautiful Danger

    Beautiful Dreamer, Beautiful Danger A Q&A with Suzy Boggus   By Geoff Gehman   Suzy Bogguss was a music-loving teen in a rural town when she was first captivated by the beautiful danger of Merle Haggard’s songs and singing. She was a 32-year-old road-tested musician when she had her first charting single with “Somewhere Between,” … Read More

  • Tiara of Creation

    Tiara of Creation

    Tiara of Creation A Q&A with Joanne Lediger Of Reverend Jefferson   By Geoff Gehman   Joanne Lediger was 14 when Grace Slick became her rock ‘n’ roll queen. The brand-new high schooler pretty much crowned Jefferson Airplane’s co-pilot as a musical pilot. Slick had everything that Lediger craved: a soaring, rallying, thrilling voice; a … Read More

  • Triple Trouble

    Triple Trouble

    Triple Trouble A Q&A with Albert Cummings   By Geoff Gehman   Albert Cummings flirts with fire. He plays electric guitar as if he’s running through a blazing forest, sings as if his belly is full of burning coals, dances as if he’s jigging across a bed of hot rocks. He performs without a set … Read More

  • Mac Attack

    Mac Attack A Q&A with Scott McDonald of TUSK   By Geoff Gehman   Scott McDonald was nine when he suffered, and savored, his first Fleetwood Mac attack. The blows were delivered by the band’s “Rumours” album, which he heard over and over and over again blasting from his parents’ cabin cruiser of a stereo. … Read More

  • Wingman for a Wingsman

    Wingman for a Wingsman

    Wingman for a Wingsman A Q&A with Yuri Pool Of The McCartney Years   By Geoff Gehman   Yuri Pool once stopped traffic on a roof. This remarkable act took place on Jan. 30, 2009 above the streets of London, Ontario, when his band performed a 40th-anniversary facsimile of the Beatles’ fabled final public concert … Read More

  • A Coney Island of the Mind

    A Coney Island of the Mind

    A Coney Island of the Mind A Q&A with Neal Shulman Of Aztec Two-Step   By Geoff Gehman   Aztec Two-Step shows are mini-holidays, one-night vacations from the grind and the gristle. Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman unwrap gifts they’ve been creating together for over 40 years. Fluid, flashy acoustic guitars. Branching, brotherly vocals. Topical, … Read More

  • Deadicated

    Deadicated

    Deadicated A Q&A with Butchy Sochorow Of Splintered Sunlight   By Geoff Gehman   Butchy Sochorow was way too sick to show up at the show but he showed up anyway. There was no way in hell or heaven that the teen-aged musician would miss the final concert of his first tour with the Grateful … Read More

  • Ensemble Actor with a Violin

    Ensemble Actor with a Violin

    Ensemble Actor with a Violin A Q&A with Esme Allen-Creighton Of the Serafin String Quartet   By Geoff Gehman   Esme Allen-Creighton loves to play chamber works that fill the body’s chambers. The violist’s heart-expanding favorites include Leo Janacek’s “Intimate Letters,” a soundtrack to his wildly mercurial missives to an unrequited object of affection, and … Read More

  • Wizardly Warrior

    Wizardly Warrior

    Wizardly Warrior A Q&A with Shawn Phillips   By Geoff Gehman   Somewhere in amazon.comdom is someone who ranks Shawn Phillips’ 1970 LP “Second Contribution” among the all-time top pop albums, way up there with Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman.” Somewhere in Canada is someone who whistled Phillips’ tunes to make planting trees more … Read More

  • My Make-up Is My Makeup

    My Make-up Is My Makeup

    My Make-up Is My Makeup A Q&A with Janis Ian   By Geoff Gehman   Many thoughts glow in Janis Ian’s song “I’m Still Standing Here,” a radiant declaration of pride in a body that’s well-lined and well-used. The one thought that glows in the dark concerns bruises and scars so tactile, they can be … Read More

  • Flying a Musical Time Machine

    Flying a Musical Time Machine

    Flying a Musical Time Machine A Q&A with Rick Benjamin Of Paragon Ragtime Orchestra   By Geoff Gehman   Rick Benjamin is in his 30th year of making the popular music of the silent-film era more popular and less silent. His vehicle is the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, which plays concerts and makes recordings from original … Read More

  • Raise the Roof and the Soul

    Raise the Roof and the Soul

    Raise the Roof and the Soul A Q&A with Winifred Horan of Solas   By Geoff Gehman   For nearly 20 years Winifred Horan and Seamus Egan have run Solas as a global experience with an Irish tilt and a Gaelic lilt. The American-born children of Irish parents have used traditional idioms–reels, waltzes, keening ballads–to … Read More

  • Love’s Rock-and-Rollercoaster

    Love’s Rock-and-Rollercoaster

    Love’s Rock-and-Rollercoaster A Q&A with Ward Hayden Of Girls Guns and Glory   By Geoff Gehman   Ward Hayden has lived, sung and written plenty of songs about love’s rock-and-rollercoaster His former muse was an eight-year relationship that ended badly and inspired therapeutic tunes like “Inverted Valentine.” His current muse is a four-year relationship going … Read More

  • ‘The Strange, Beautiful, Painful Parade’

    ‘The Strange, Beautiful, Painful Parade’

    ‘The Strange, Beautiful, Painful Parade’ A Q&A with Simone Felice   By Geoff Gehman   Simone Felice aims to write about, sing about and march in “the strange, beautiful, painful parade of being a human being on earth.” Over the last four years his parade has been a fish-tailing, cork-screwing, heart-warming odyssey. He received a … Read More

  • Rollicking & Roaming & RubberBanding

    Rollicking & Roaming & RubberBanding

    Rollicking & Roaming & RubberBanding A Q&A with Ryan Shupe   By Geoff Gehman   Ryan Shupe surfs a different wavelength. He’s a snowboarding, singing, song-writing, fifth-generation fiddler with a shaved head and a seriously sly sense of humor. For 18 years he’s been fronting the RubberBand, an elastic quartet that specializes in a hemi-powered … Read More

  • Maximum Hardcore R&B Man

    Maximum Hardcore R&B Man

    Maximum Hardcore R&B Man A Q&A with Curtis Salgado   By Geoff Gehman   Curtis Salgado learned to sing like there’s no tomorrow after watching Buddy Ace, the famously sweaty soul vocalist, work a house party as seriously as a coronation at the Apollo Theater. He learned to live like there’s no tomorrow after receiving … Read More

  • One Way In, Many Ways Out

    One Way In, Many Ways Out

    One Way In, Many Ways Out A Q&A with Lou Meresca Of Live at the Fillmore   By Geoff Gehman   Lou Meresca is connected to the Allman Brothers Band by a cosmic cord, or chord. The singing guitarist fell for the Brothers the first time he heard them, during a 1970 concert in his … Read More

  • Modest Revolutionaries A Q&A with Brian Buchanan Of Enter the Haggis   By Geoff Gehman   The five members of Enter the Haggis like to make records that test the faith of their fiercely faithful fans. Two years ago the Celtic-infused fusioneers pushed the loyalty of their loyalists to the metal by asking them to … Read More

  • Riding with the Gods

    Riding with the Gods

    Riding with the Gods A Q&A with Dar Williams   By Geoff Gehman   Dar Williams had a crush on Hermes, the Greek god of travelers, long before she was a professional traveler, a touring musician with a ton of tread. So it makes sense that she would write a song where Hermes picks up … Read More

  • Musical Alarm Clocks (Waking Up to Hank and Woody)

    Musical Alarm Clocks (Waking Up to Hank and Woody)

    Musical Alarm Clocks (Waking Up to Hank and Woody) A Q&A with Randy Noojin   By Geoff Gehman   Randy Noojin and Hank Williams are almost as thick as thieves. In fourth grade Noojin woke up to Williams records played extremely loud by his father, a Williams fan who recognized the power of Hank as … Read More

  • Two Musicians, One Brain A Q&A with AJ Swearingen and Jayne Kelli   By Geoff Gehman   The first time AJ Swearingen heard Jayne Kelli perform in person, he was impressed by her distinctive singing, expressive songwriting and unusual poise. The first time Kelli heard Swearingen perform in person, she was impressed by more. “If … Read More

  • Doing the B Street Shuffle

    Doing the B Street Shuffle

    Doing the B Street Shuffle A Q&A with Willie Forte Of the B Street Band   By Geoff Gehman   In 1973 Willie Forte had a life-changing experience in Joe Maddon’s Dodge Dart. The former high-school football teammates were cruising their native Hazleton when Maddon popped in an eight-track cassette of the second album from … Read More

  • Farm to Table to Stage

    Farm to Table to Stage

    Farm to Table to Stage A Q&A with Kevin Ruch Of Free Range Folk By Geoff Gehman Three members of Free Range Folk were jamming on a tune most bluegrass-fed roots bands would never dream of fiddling with: “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” forever known as the cosmic alarm-clock theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Banjo player … Read More

  • Diamonds in the Coal

    Diamonds in the Coal

    Diamonds in the Coal A Q&A with Bret Alexander And Pete Palladino Of the Badlees By Geoff Gehman The Badlees are very good at staying in tune by staying fresh. For three decades the central Pennsylvanians have remained vital with infectious roots rock, stick-to-your-soul lyrics and novel projects like the soundtrack to “Lit Riffs,” an … Read More

  • Mad Scientist of Groove

    Mad Scientist of Groove

    Mad Scientist of Groove A Q&A with George Hrab Of the Philadelphia Funk Authority By Geoff Gehman The best advice that George Hrab, the drummer in a dance band, ever gave his son, also named George Hrab and also the drummer in a dance band, was to imagine himself driving a stage coach onstage. Treat … Read More

  • Toss a Pebble, Create a Tidal Wave

    Toss a Pebble, Create a Tidal Wave

    Toss a Pebble, Create a Tidal Wave A Q&A with Mary Fahl   By Geoff Gehman   Jesus wandered in the desert for a month and change to find his spiritual strategic plan. Singer-songwriter Mary Fahl played a summer of open mikes in the middle of Pennsylvania to find her musical compass. This boot-camp tour … Read More

  • The Musical Matrix

    The Musical Matrix

    The Musical Matrix A Q&A with Joe Louis Walker   By Geoff Gehman   At age 16 Joe Louis Walker played house guitar in a San Francisco club called the Matrix, where on any given night you could hear everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Thelonius Monk, Magic Sam to Pigpen. At age 63 Walker is … Read More

  • Jedi master, Zen warrior

    Jedi master, Zen warrior

    Jedi master, Zen warrior A Q&A with Larry Coryell   By Geoff Gehman   “Never finish a phrase” said Miles Davis to Larry Coryell, the trumpeter dropping a nugget of wisdom on the guitarist like a Zen koan. Leave the phrase open so it leaves you open to play something bigger, bolder, better. Why tunnel … Read More

  • Honky Tumbleweed Yellow Brick Chateau

    Honky Tumbleweed Yellow Brick Chateau

    Honky Tumbleweed Yellow Brick Chateau A Q&A with Greg Ransom Of Bennie and the Jets   By Geoff Gehman   Greg Ransom was minding his own business, performing songs by Jackson Browne and James Taylor, when the hotel owner suddenly asked him to play a tune by a bigger ’70s star. Ransom shuffled through his … Read More

  • Flying into the Sun to Make Notes

    Flying into the Sun to Make Notes

    Flying into the Sun to Make Notes A Q&A with Todd Snider   By Geoff Gehman               Todd Snider writes songs dosed with sneaky sociology. He believes it’s his job—maybe even his sacred duty–to hang out with strangers for the express purpose of musical storytelling. After all, if he hadn’t accepted an invitation to … Read More

  • Lord, Deliver Me from Penn Station

    Lord, Deliver Me from Penn Station

    Lord, Deliver Me from Penn Station A Q&A with James Felice Of the Felice Brothers   By Geoff Gehman   James Felice answered the questions below while taking a break from chipping wood chopped to make way for a friend’s orchard. It’s the sort of quirky crossroads often found in songs created by the Felice … Read More

  • ‘Folk Music for Mutts’

    ‘Folk Music for Mutts’

    ‘Folk Music for Mutts’ A Q&A with Ben Taylor   By Geoff Gehman   Ben Taylor is one stand-up singer-songwriter. He raises money for a local-food collective. He considers concerts a form of spiritual nourishment. He added a verse to a song to suit a stranger who said the song helped him recover from a … Read More

  • De(a)dication

    De(a)dication

    De(a)dication A Q&A with Marc Muller Of Dead On Live   By Geoff Gehman   Marc Muller is 52 going on 16 or 13. The multi-instrumental impresario gets to roll and rock back time every time he gigs with Dead On Live, an ensemble that plays fiercely faithful versions of records by the Grateful Dead, … Read More

  • Can Buy a Thrill

    Can Buy a Thrill

    Can Buy a Thrill A Q&A with Jon Herington   By Geoff Gehman   Jon Herington considers his job as Steely Dan’s lead guitarist “the best gig on the planet.” He gets to gig with Dan founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, those mad scientists of precise, popping grooves. He gets to groove with exceptional … Read More

  • Subversive Sensitivity

    Subversive Sensitivity

    Subversive Sensitivity A Q&A with Aimee Mann   By Geoff Gehman   Aimee Mann specializes in writing sensitive, smart-ass, smart songs about the need to control, be controlled and lose control. She dissects domination in tune after tune after tune: “Pavlov’s Bell,” “Deathly,” “I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up for Christmas.” Her knack for … Read More

  • Tilt-a-Whirl World

    Tilt-a-Whirl World

    Tilt-a-Whirl World A Q&A with Willy Porter   By Geoff Gehman   A tilt-a-whirl operator who yearns to seduce a seven-foot bearded woman. A gleefully greedy banker who has no guilt whatsoever about spanking debutantes and wanking congressmen. A believing non-believer who grills God about non-believing believers. These colorful characters appear in songs by Willy … Read More

  • Don’t Avoid the Void

    Don’t Avoid the Void

    Don’t Avoid the Void A Q&A with Peter Kater   By Geoff Gehman   Peter Kater needed an escape from the dead end of playing contemporary jazz. The pianist found his release in the ancient folk-jazz of R. Carlos Nakai, who can make a Native American cedar flute sound earthy and ethereal, personal and universal. … Read More

  • Super Trouper

    Super Trouper

    Super Trouper A Q&A with Anne Tormela Of Manhattan Lyric Opera   By Geoff Gehman   Anne Tormela is an equal-opportunity opera singer. The lyric soprano has performed arias in concert halls and hospitals, libraries and nursing homes. She swears that the most animated, honest venue is a subway station. For 14 years Tormela has … Read More

  • Bodacious Bassist

    Bodacious Bassist

    Bodacious Bassist A Q&A with Victor Bailey   By Geoff Gehman   Bassists aren’t supposed to wreck the joint. Yet that’s exactly what Victor Bailey did to the Mauch Chunk Opera House during his 2009 gig. He rocked, bopped and generally tore up the psychedelic shack. He did things to the bass that his guitarist, … Read More

  • ‘Folk Music … It Ain’t for Sissies’

    ‘Folk Music … It Ain’t for Sissies’

    ‘Folk Music … It Ain’t for Sissies’ A Q&A with Jonathan Edwards   By Geoff Gehman   The headline above appears on a T-shirt advertising Jonathan Edwards as a fierce, fiercely funny facilitator. For five decades he’s been promoting a healthier world through folk and pop, bluegrass and cowboy country; hits above-ground (“Sunshine”) and underground … Read More

  • Piping Up, Out and All Around

    Piping Up, Out and All Around

    Piping Up, Out and All Around A Q&A with Mike Katz of the Battlefield Band   By Geoff Gehman   Mike Katz is the Frank Zappa of bagpipers. That is, he’s definitely a rare cat: a Jewish Los Angeleno who plays Highland and small pipes in the Battlefield Band, Scotland’s most prestigious, adventurous balladeers, hornpipers … Read More

  • Communication Breakdowns

    Communication Breakdowns

    Communication Breakdowns A Q&A with Mickey Coviello of Cabinet   By Geoff Gehman   Todd Kopec, the fiddler in Cabinet, has compared performing with his band mates to painting a large mural on the side of a building. Kopec and company basically invite listeners to join their Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn party by offering live recordings, … Read More

  • Sonic Mirror

    Sonic Mirror

    Sonic Mirror A Q&A with Billy Cobham   By Geoff Gehman   Billy Cobham’s first solo record, “Spectrum,” has been a mother-and-father ship for jazz-rock-funk fusioneers for most of its 40 years in outer and inner space. Everyone from Jeff Beck to Chick Corea has been bowled over by the ferocious, ferociously creative grooves played … Read More

  • Chop Wood, Carry Water, Pay Dues with Cash

    Chop Wood, Carry Water, Pay Dues with Cash

    Chop Wood, Carry Water, Pay Dues with Cash A Q&A with Fred Eaglesmith   By Geoff Gehman   Fred Eaglesmith’s song “Johnny Cash” is a front-door slam at Johnny-come-latelys who began liking the Man in Black when he was fading to gray. It’s also a back-door salute to dyed-in-the-cotton Cash fans like Eaglesmith’s father, who … Read More

  • Surfing with the Sharks

    Surfing with the Sharks

    Surfing with the Sharks A Q&A with Montag the Magnificent (aka Ian Hansson) Of Great White Caps   By Geoff Gehman   The first time Ian Hansson heard “Misirlou,” during the opening credits of “Pulp Fiction,” he was hooked line and sinker. Chaperoned to the R-rated flick by his “very cool” parents, the 13-year-old punk-rock … Read More

  • Nantucket-to-North Pole Sleigh Ride

    Nantucket-to-North Pole Sleigh Ride

    Nantucket-to-North Pole Sleigh Ride A Q&A with Craig Thatcher   By Geoff Gehman   For Christmas 1966 Craig Thatcher received a budding blues-rock guitarist’s greatest gift. His grandmother gave him what he wanted most, a copy of the album “Blues Breakers,” John Mayall’s coming-out party for Eric Clapton. Clapton’s revolutionary guitar-and-amplifier mix—fuzzy, ballsy, mountainous, earth-quaking—hooked … Read More

  • Falling Up

    Falling Up

    Falling Up A Q&A with Jeanne Jolly   By Geoff Gehman   Jeanne Jolly loves old-time over-the-top country heartbreakers; the bigger the break, the better. So when it came time for her to write a tribute to honky-tonk humdingers like “Stand by Your Man,” she naturally poured on the pity. She made “Tear Soup” a … Read More

  • Rocky Mountain Highs

    Rocky Mountain Highs

    Rocky Mountain Highs A Q&A with Steve Weisberg By Geoff Gehman   Steve Weisberg played lead guitar, dobro and pedal steel with John Denver from 1973 to 1977, when Denver became a pop-culture king big enough to star in a movie with George Burns as God. It was five years of nirvana, and not just … Read More

  • Twice in a Lifetime

    Twice in a Lifetime

    Twice in a Lifetime: A Q&A with Jon Braun of Start Making Sense By Geoff Gehman   The Talking Heads have pretty much been dead for 21 years, but their spirit has been very much alive for a fifth of that time. Launched nearly four years ago in a Bethlehem bar, Start Making Sense reincarnates … Read More

  • True-Blue Troubadour

    True-Blue Troubadour

    True-Blue Troubadour A Q&A with Al Stewart By Geoff Gehman I became an Al Stewart fan in 1976, the year of “Year of the Cat,” a commercial breakout for him and an aural awakening for me. I was hooked, line and sinker, by his crisply melodic, poetic mini-movies about an ecstatic aviatrix, a gloomy sailor … Read More