The Parlor Sessions Profile: Andy Zipf

6ffb9660a4c311e3b886125b351fb865_8The Parlor Sessions Tour, set to begin in 5 days at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, sounds like it’ll be my favorite kind of show.  It’s 4 singer-songwriters playing together in small venues and interacting with one another.  In addition, as Andy Zipf puts it, “We really want to bring the audience into the experience.”  Yesterday I posted a short interview with Dean Fields explaining a little about about the tour.  Today I’m posting the first profile of the 4 artists who’ll be traveling in the Parlor Sessions minivan, starting with Andy Zipf, not because I’m going in reverse alphabetical order, but simply because his responses were the first I found when pulling the four responses up on my computer.

It seemed an appropriately random way to choose which to write first for a tour that doesn’t have a clear hierarchy of acts.  This will not be 4 acts playing in order of ascending importance, building to the headliner, but rather a “mutual admiration society” as Dean Fields called it. Watching artists interact is always interesting, and it’s another reason to come see this show.

So who is this guy with a name so full of consonants?  He’s definitely someone who believes music can have a lot of power. Continue reading

The Parlor Sessions: Coming Soon to Your Town

1343Something that’s been getting a lot of play on my iPod lately is the free 12-song sampler for The Parlor Sessions Tour featuring Dean Fields, Andy Zipf, Jason Myles Goss and Eliot Bronson. It’s a 12-song sampler by four young singer-songwriters who are heading out on tour together June 5-15, making stops along the East Coast from New Hampshire to Georgia.  I knew Dean Fields, who’s been profiled in this site, and am a big fan, but Eliot, Jason, and Andy were new, delightful discoveries for me.  I’m a sucker for a good song and, one after another these tracks pulled me in.

You can hear the artists for yourself over the course of the next four days. Each day I’ll be posting a brief profile of one of the artists, along with a track or two and a brief Q&A, or you can download the sampler yourself at any time.  Of course I’ll be at the show here in Boston, so look for a report on that, too.

In today’s post, however, we’ll look at the tour itself. The Parlor Sessions is a great name for a tour by this kind of singer-songwriter, playing these kinds of venues.  It evokes Continue reading

Interview with Declan Bennet, the Singer/Songwriter Starring in the West End Production of Once

Declan Bennett accompanied by Alon Bisk

Declan Bennett accompanied by Alon Bisk

This past Friday I caught a show on Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3 that was a revelation. Declan Bennet, currently starring in the West End production of Once, is on a brief break, during which he played a show in New York. It was brilliant! It’s been a while since I left a concert this excited about the artist, but this guy is the real deal!

I’d only discovered his music a few weeks ago, when I read a short blurb about the live and unplugged remake of his 2011 album Record: Breakup. I didn’t know who he was, so I certainly wasn’t aware of the original, electric, studio version of Record:Breakup, but something about the blurb intrigued me. I remember jotting down the link on my phone, and finding it later that night, I was blown away.  Continue reading

Offbeat Holiday Music

a1023094489_2On Friday at Rockwood Music Hall Delcan Bennet played a new single, “Father Christmas Knows,” that comes from the perspective of the black sheep of the family, the one too often left out of the celebrations. The song has bells and is dark, but optimistic at the same time.

Now I have to admit, I have warm and fuzzy feelings toward Christmas, and I like Christmas music, especially the traditional stuff. Continue reading

Gallery: Saturday at the 2013 New England Americana Festival


This gallery contains 35 photos.

If you were anywhere nearby this weekend, Harvard Square was the place to be for the New England Americana Festival, now in its fourth year. This is a gallery of images from Saturday, September 28, featuring photos by Rachid Aadnani … Continue reading

Interview: Will Dailey on National Throat

will daileyBoston-based independent recording artist Will Dailey‘s advice to aspiring singer-songwriters is to seek out experiences that you can call on in your work, and “listen, not just to music, but to everything around you.” It seems to have worked for him. He grew up surrounded by music from across the spectrum from Classical to Folk and says it all left an imprint. He exercises the the songwriter’s prerogative to call on whatever styles of influences seem appropriate for the song. The result is songs that are rich and complex, gathered into albums that are varied and full of surprises, refusing to be constrained by the conventions of a narrow style of genre.

Will Dailey and Bleu duet during the last show on the PledgeMusic Tour

Will Dailey and Bleu duet during the last show on the PledgeMusic Tour

A hard working and prolific artist, Dailey has done well for himself since his first self-produced release in 2004, GoodbyeRedBullet, in spite of being repeatedly knocked around by the vicissitudes of a recording industry struggling to come to terms with the digital age. He’s released 4 albums to date, 5 if you count Torrent Volume 1 and 2 separately. Collectively they reveal a songwriter with mastery over a wide variety of styles, and an interest in exploring a wide musical pallet. And while each album has it’s own distinctive feel, each is also a a musical buffet of sorts, with varying musical styles juxtaposed and hidden gems to discover.
Continue reading

Dean Fields Talks about “Any Minute Now,” Arriving Tuesday

Cover artwork by Brian Thibodeau

Cover artwork by Brian Thibodeau

Any Minute Now is a new EP from Nashville-based singer-songwriter Dean Fields due to arrive… wait for it…. As much as I’d love to type “any minute now” at this point, there is a release date and it’s just days away, Tuesday August 13. The EP follows his 2011 EP Under A Searchlight Moon, a clever and wildly romantic selection of tunes that Fields wrote himself. On this collection all but one of the tracks were co-written with other artists, yet they are tracks that he felt strongly invested, and that he felt spoke for him as an artist. It was a big change for an songwriter who had always worked alone. It may seem odd to follow up an EP with another EP, and in fact, he had planned a full length album.  But a confluence of life circumstances and aesthetic considerations led to the decision to release this collection of songs now, saving the others for a later release. The songs seemed to belong together, and they were ready for release.

I learned about all of this and more in an August 1, 2013 interview with Fields in the Stratton Student Center at MIT, in the midst of a series of concerts in Cambridge, Boston and environs. Now based in Nashville, he grew up in Mechanicsville, VA, just outside of my hometown of Richmond, VA. I’ve been listening to his music for a while, but had not seen him perform. We talked the morning of his show at that institution of the Cambridge music scene, Club Passim. Of course the main topic of conversation was the new record Any Minute Now. Continue reading

Getting Gracefully from Formal: Eric Himan Tells the Story of his New Album

Eric Himan

Eric Himan

In 2012 Eric Himan decided he wanted to record an album with a different sound than anything he’d done before. Though the 34-year-old, Tulsa-based, singer-songwriter had already released 10 albums on his own label, he knew that this project would cost a lot of money, so he took to Pledgemusic to raise money for an album to be called Formal. T-shirts were printed with bow ties on them and everything. He recorded six songs,

but wasn’t happy with the results. So what did this guy who’s previously only been accountable to himself on his own label do? He pulled back, retrenched, and started over. The result was no longer called Formal, but Gracefully, named in honor of his grandmother who had raised him, and had died while he was working on the project.

Gracefully is a 12-track collection of original songs, the 8th such album he’s released since his self-titled debut in 2000, and it is different, both sonically and in the way it came into existence, but Eric doesn’t see it as radically so. He rightfully points out that there’s a natural progression between it and the albums leading up to it. He’s been increasingly experimenting with the styles of music on this album, as well as playing with other musicians and, of course, with the piano. On July 7 I had the chance to talk with him in some detail about the album, the frustrations and joys of making it, and the people he worked with. Along the way we also talked about the challenges of supporting oneself as a musician in the industry today, songwriting, and a few other topics.

Continue reading