Category Archives: Folk

INTERVIEW: Suzy Bogguss: ‘I’m still out there playing’

Suzy Bogguss

Suzy Bogguss

Country singer brings her eclectic sound to Daryl’s House on Saturday

If you even half paid attention to country music in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the name Suzy Bogguss will surely ring a bell.

She was on fire, releasing one platinum and three gold albums, along with six top 10 country singles. She was named top new female vocalist of 1988 by the Academy of Country Music, and won the Country Music Association‘s Horizon Award in 1992.

After taking a few years off after the birth of her son, Ben, in 1995, Bogguss returned with a decidedly folkier, indie approach to her craft. It’s kept her flying a little farther under the radar of mainstream country music, but hasn’t prevented her from having a decent career of touring and recording.

After Ben’s birth, “I was only doing about 40 to 45 shows a year when he was in his younger years,” Bogguss tells Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?  “Now I’m really having to rebuild a lot and just let people know I’m still out there playing… I never really went away.”

On Saturday (March 28), her tour brings her to the Hudson Valley, where she’ll play at Daryl’s House, rocker Daryl Hall’s club in Pawling, New York.

It’s a good thing she didn’t disappear. Her latest album, “Lucky,” is a collection of 11 well-chosen and beautifully performed versions of songs by honky-tonk legend Merle Haggard, one of the originators of the swinging Bakersfield Sound.

Casual listeners may know Haggard best for the 1969 hit “Okie From Muskogee.” Bogguss’ collection omits that tune, and yet it’s still crammed with familiar numbers, including “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “If We Make It Through December,” and “The Bottle Let Me Down.”

‘I like where I’m at in my life’

At age 58, Bogguss sounds like an artist who’s enjoying her career more than ever, even side of being an independent artist who has to lug her equipment around without a road crew

“In my head, I still look like I’m 21 doin’ that,” she says. “But then I think about how ridiculous it must look to see a 58-year-old woman schlepping her gear around like a teenager. I think that’s probably pretty funny to some people, but for me, it just feels like, ‘Hey, that’s what I do.’

“I’m a working musician. We schlep our stuff through the airport. Sometimes I actually find myself with a giddy, stupid smile on my face walking through the airport with my guitar on my back going, ‘Yeah, I got a good job,'” she adds with a laugh.

“I like my freedom. I like where I’m at in my life. I like playing these smaller places,” she explains.

“I know what I’m doing, I choose my own gigs, I make my own choices, and I really like that a lot.”

‘Glad I’m not doin’ that anymore’

She says she’s reminded that she doesn’t miss her days of mainstream country stardom when she watches the ABC prime time soap opera “Nashville.”

“It doesn’t compare to the life that I have now, but it does compare to the life that I had in the ’90s. A lot of that stuff is true, especially when you get to the drama of record labels, and publishers, and just the everyday ‘I need to think of something that will make me be in the public’s eye.’ Like, ‘Here’s a new recipe for dip,’ you know. ‘What can I do to get people to look at me right now,”’ she says.

“That gets old, that really gets old — especially people coming to your house and showing you racks of clothes and sticking makeup brushes in your face every second. I feel for them when I see that stuff on the show. I go, ‘Oh, I’m glad I’m not doin’ that anymore.'”

Always eclectic

While she’s always been what she calls an “eclectic” country artist, making an all-Merle album was a bit of a risk, but one that was probably inevitable. It certainly got fan financial support, with 964 backers kicking in at total of $75,211 on the album’s Kickstarter campaign, which had a goal of $50,000.

But she admits that some fans have been a little leery of the idea of her doing Haggard songs.

“Some of my fans are going, ‘Honky-tonk music, that’s not what we’re used to from you.’ But then when they hear it, they’re like, Oh, that’s a Suzy Bogguss record, not a Merle Haggard record. Sometimes you have to get over those little perception hurdles. But, all in all, once they hear it, they’re delighted,” she explains.

deeper connection to Haggard

Her own connection to Haggard deepened as a result of making the album.

“My first song that actually got on the charts was a Merle Haggard song. It’s called “Somewhere Between,” and that was my first album title on Capitol. So I already had an affinity for him from my youth,” she says, adding that the process of making the album gave her a deeper appreciation for Haggard’s music.

“Listen to what an amazing craftsman this guy is,” she says. “I think I came out just thinking, wow, before, I always thought Merle Haggard has a gift, he can just sit down and write these songs that sound like this happened to him last night and it’s real easy for him.

“But as I got into arranging the songs, and these melodies and stuff, I was like, this is not easy stuff. He has worked his ass off to hone these things down to where there’s not one extra word in there.

“Half the time he didn’t even sing the chorus twice. He would just go, ‘OK, here’s a 2-minute song that’s gonna break your heart. Listen to this.'”

Album of originals up next

The experience also challenged her to do more songwriting herself, with husband Doug Crider.

“We took all of January off and we’ve been writing like crazy,” she says.  “I really got inspired by doing these Merle arrangements to go back and really hone my songwriting chops again. I will probably go back in at the end of the year and cut an album of all originals.”

IF YOU GO
  • What: Suzy Bogguss, with Craig Smith on guitar and Charlie Chadwick on bass
  • When: 9 p.m., Saturday, March 28 (doors at 7:30)
  • Where: Daryl’s House, 130 Route 22, Pawling, NY 12564
  • Tickets and info: $25 standing, $45 seated, available online by tapping or clicking here or calling 845-289-0185

 

 

 

 

 

John Cohen: ‘I’m drowning in my past’

John Cohen  (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

John Cohen (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

I got the chance recently to spend an hour or so talking to John Cohen, one of the legendary figures of the musical and artistic scene of Greenwich Village in the 1960s, for The Journal News/lohud.com.

Cohen, the founder of the New Lost City Ramblers is still making music — now with a trio of much younger musical traditionalists in the Down Hill Strugglers — promoting his documentary films, working creating a cultural center in his hometown of Putnam Valley, New York, and preparing to start painting again.

The 82-year-old says he has explored so many ways of expressing his creativity over the years that “I’m drowning in my past.”

Check out the full interview online at lohud.com by tapping or clicking here. Or pick up a copy of the Tuesday, March 10, edition of The Journal News.

Jennifer O’Connor Launches Free Music Series at Nyack’s Prohibition River

Singer-songwriter Jennifer O'Connor moved to Nyack in 2012.

Singer-songwriter Jennifer O’Connor moved to Nyack in 2012.

You may recognize singer-songwriter Jennifer O’Connor‘s name — perhaps for her two critically acclaimed Matador Records: Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars in 2006 and Here With Me in 2008.

Since the end of her contract with Matador, O’Connor has continued to make music, which she’s released, along with the work of other artists, on Kiam, the record label she operates.

While she continues to perform her own material — she opened for Laura Cantrell at Rough Trade NYC in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last month — she says lately she’s been doing music for TV shows, movies, and commercials.

O’Connor’s also became a Rocklander, moving to Nyack from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, late in 2012.

“I really love it out here,” she tells Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? by email.

Jennifer Castle

Jennifer Castle

Recently, she added concert promoter to her list of vocations. She’s presenting shows in the upstairs room at Prohibition River, a bar and restaurant at 82 Main St. in Nyack. On Friday, Nov. 7, Jennifer Castle, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter,  will do 2 sets, starting at 9 p.m.

The open-ended series will feature free concerts by artists — including O’Connor — from 9 p.m.to midnight, mostly on Fridays.

O’Connor says she started the series because she saw a need.

“I started booking shows at Prohibition because I think there is a need for more music (especially from touring acts) to come through town,” O’Connor says. “And it’s also proven to be a great way for me to get involved with the community — musically and just in general.  It’s been a lot of fun so far.”

Here’s the schedule as of now, but O’Connor says to stay tuned for more artists to be added:

• Friday Nov. 7
Jennifer Castle (indie folkie from Toronto who’s worked with Constantines, Fucked Up)

• Friday Nov. 14
Michael Purcell Trio (jazz)

• Saturday, Nov. 22
Jennifer O’Connor

• Friday, Dec 5
Ryan & Ryan (folk)

• Friday,  Dec 14
Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices, Nada Surf)

• Friday, Dec 26
Regret The Hour (indie rock)

 

 

Amy Helm’s Hudson Valley roots keep her anchored

Amy Helm

Amy Helm

I was thrilled to chat with Amy Helm the other day ahead of her appearance this Saturday at the 10th annual Pleasantville Music Festival in lovely downtown Pleasantville in Westchester County, N.Y.

Helm talked about her famous surname and her recent move out of ensemble work and into the spotlight as the leader of her own band, Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers.

Read the full interview with Helm at lohud.com by tapping or clicking here, or see it in print in Friday’s editions of The Journal News.

 

Update: Rodeo Bar announces shutdown

Rodeo Bar is ending its policy of free live music at the end of July.

New York’s Longest-Running Honky-Tonk to shut down at the end of July; The Eugene Chrysler Band to play the venue’s final show

UPDATE: Around 11:45 a.m. Thursday, just hours after Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? posted an item confirming that Manhattan’s Rodeo Bar was no longer booking bands, the bar posted a notice on Facebook  that it’s shutting down altogether  after July 27. This is the full post:

Dear Rodeo Bar patrons and music lovers,

We are deeply saddened to announce that after 27 years in business, Rodeo Bar and Grill is closing its doors after July 27, 2014.

Here at New York’s longest-running honky-tonk, we stayed open during some of the city’s toughest times — Hurricane Sandy, the 2003 blackout, 9/11 — but recent rent increases, combined with a changing landscape, have made it impossible for us continue.

For the past three decades, Rodeo Bar has been home to thousands of bands, and we’re proud to have helped define the country, Americana and rockabilly scene in New York City for all these years. But more than that, we were supported by an incredible community of people from New York and all over the world who helped make this bar great. We can’t thank y’all enough.

For the rest of July, we’re open every night, and the music schedule is killer — and free, as it always has been. So come on down and join us for every show, every Shiner, and every moment with the horse trailer we call home. We’re going out with our boots on.

Much Love, and Until the Buffalo Sings,

Rodeo Bar

The final show at the Rodeo has just been announced: The Eugene Chrysler Band at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 26. The announcement promises free CDs and guest stars.

My original post appears after the jump.

Continue reading

Last-Minute Music Tip: Check out today’s Rockland-Bergen Music Festival

Joe Durso

Joe Durso

Rockland County-born rocker Joe D’Urso is celebrating his 50th birthday this month by taking over the German Masonic Park in his hometown of Tappan, N.Y., all day Sunday and throwing a music festival featuring his musician friends.

The result is the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, with gates opening at 11 a.m. , with music starting at 11:30 a.m. and running nonstop through 7:15 p.m.

It’s the first festival of its kind in the Rockland County area in my memory. It should be a blast. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day at this point, an hour before the music starts.

The festival brings together in my backyard a bunch of artists that I’d happily go to New York City to see play separately: Willie Nile, Marshall Crenshaw, Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, Jesse Malin, John Eddie, Piermont’s Tom Chapin and many, many more.

Willie Nile

Willie Nile

But here you don’t have to travel as far, pay outrageous parking charges, or deal with all the hassles of a drive into the city. And with a family-friendly vibe and tickets priced at $50 (free for anyone 12 or younger, and for anyone born in 1964) at the gate, you can afford to bring the kids and introduce them to some of your favorite musicians without breaking the bank.

I interviewed D’Urso and Nile for a preview in The Journal News/lohud.com. Tap or click here to see what they have to say and find out more about the festival.

IF YOU GO

Where: Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, German Masonic Park, 120 Western Highway, Tappan, N.Y.

When: 11 a.m.-7:15 p.m., Sunday, June 29; rain or shine.

Tickets: $50 at the gate; 12 and under free; free for anyone born in 1964 with driver’s license proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cynthia Hopkins samples the candy and finds it bittersweet

Cynthia Hopkins in a solo performance at Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on June 17, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Cynthia Hopkins in a solo performance at Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on June 17, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

How long has Pete’s Candy Store been a concert venue on the Northside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn?

I’ve been meaning to get thee since the day it opened, but something always got in the way — my schedule,  other priorities, whatever.

So what (or should I say who) did it take to finally get me there?

Cynthia Hopkins, that’s who. Continue reading