The Glass Sho ~ Kristen Graves Discusses Her Music, Her Causes, and Pete Seeger

CT-based singer-songwriter Kristen Graves sat down and chatted with me for one of my best interviews featured on The Glass Sho podcast! She discussed Pete Seeger and her music, and also talked about how she became the 15th State Troubadour of Connecticut!

Listen to the podcast here:
The Glass Sho: Episode 28 (Kristen Graves)

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Kristen Graves

Simply Smiles
simplysmiles.org
Click here to donate to Simply Smiles

The Glass Shō ~ Lauren O’Connell Returns

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Lauren O’Connell has done another cool interview with me, this time for The Glass Sho podcast, and you can hear it here (The bottom link or on the top right of this page) in its entirety. She spoke about recording, touring, fan support from her Patreon page, and the reaction to the use of her recording of ‘House of The Rising Sun’ in promos for FX’s American Horror Story: Coven.

In this excerpt from the interview, I had asked Lauren about her influences as her music had become so progressive from her first mostly acoustic records to her last 2 full-length albums being in a much more experimental vein production-wise.

“It’s hard to know what your biggest influences are–it’s really hard to know what gets into your head and stays there. A lot of music I listened to when I was younger and don’t really think about anymore–I’m sure a lot of my melodies are rooted there whether I know it or not.
In terms of artists that I try to learn things from now–Gillian Welch is definitely a big one. Gillian Welch, by the way, is really a duo of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. They perform under her name, but they write the songs together and perform them, and their records are pretty much just the 2 of them. There’s so many distractions with production that are available to everybody now, and writing and production are often blended together, but just the fact that they’re still writing songs with 2 voices and 2 guitars, and they are still basically releasing records with just that, and the writing is that strong and they don’t need to add things in production–I really admire that, and it’s something I try to learn from.
And then St. Vincent is kind of in the other direction. I wouldn’t say she’s one of my biggest influences, at least consciously, but she’s going far out, trying to do these new things with her songs, and making all these new sounds, really doing something fresh. It’s kind of the other end of the spectrum, but I love what she does as well.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 5 (Lauren O’Connell)

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“Levers and Gears”

Lauren O’Connell (laurenoconnell.com)

Lauren’s Patreon page (Lauren O’Connell is creating songs; patreon.com/laurenoconnell)

THE GLASS SHŌ ~ Cindertalk on His New Single and Playing Glasses

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Jonny Rodgers, now going by the moniker Cindertalk (Jonny explained that there were too many other noted personalities that have the same or similar names, thus the reason he uses this as a handle at present) sat down with me to do an interview for The Glass Shō. I asked him about the upcoming single titled “Spero”, which will be available to purchase on Record Store Day (April 19th) to benefit the charity Love146, which is an organization dedicated to ending child trafficking and exploitation (By the way, you can get involved with their cause as well by clicking on the link)
Below are excerpts from our chat, but you can hear the full interview on the links for the Glass Sho episode on the bottom or at the top right of this page.

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“This song I did called ‘Spero’–it’s a song I wrote after doing a benefit. Basically, I’ve done a lot of spokesperson stuff for an organization called Love146 for years, they combat child sex trafficking, and my wife is a co-founder of the organization. I’ve partnered with them and other groups for a long time, and at one point they did a benefit where I did some music, and I was placed at the same table with a couple of young survivors that came to tell their stories. Talk about feeling like you’ve met a rock star–They’d been through some hellish, harrowing things and have courageously come out the other side and told their stories to all of us without flinching. Horrific stories and amazing resilience from these survivors, and that’s the fundamental basis for the song, lyrically–It’s based upon the Latin paraphrase ‘Dum spiro spero’, which means ‘While I breathe, I hope'”

I also asked him about playing glasses, his second instrument to guitar.

“The glasses–I built the case I play now, and there was a pretty big shift in my playing–It used to be a case of 9 notes, and it2013_Jonny-Rodgers was really as supplemental filler for a 9-person ensemble. I still do that kind of thing, but it was always standard that I played with 9 people, and the case was always a small part of that. Now I use 19 notes, it’s enough that I can do anything harmonically that I want to, and small enough that I can wheel them through an airport–Those were my 2 biggest criteria for the upgrade.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 3 (Cindertalk & Michael Vincent Waller)

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Cindertalk (cindertalk.com)
Cindertalk (Bandcamp page)

The Glass Shō ~ Debbie Chou on “Little Prince” and its video

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Singer-songwriter Debbie Chou sat down with me again to do another great chat, this time for The Glass Sho, and we spoke about her current single “Little Prince”. I had been sort of letting her know that in my mind, her music and the rich, passionate alto vocal of hers is comparable to some of the best early 80s artists like The Motels or Siouxsie and The Banshees, and she responded to that thought in this excerpt from our podcast chat (which you can listen to in its entirety on the link below or at the top right of this page).

“It’s funny you mention the 80s aspect–when I first wrote [Little Prince], I had the drum track first–I wanted that beat, and when I was done with that tune, I realized I had written an 80s-feel pop tune. You hear a lot of 80s elements in indie-pop tunes today, and those songs stick out to me, so I thought this was a good time to release the song! Even the chorus with the harmonies at the end of the song–Someone told me it reminded them of the chorus in Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels”, and I said ‘That’s exactly what I was going for!’, so I’m glad it turned out well!”

Official video for “Little Prince” (Director of Photography: Chloe Lee)

I also asked her about the making of the video and whose concept it was. Before the video was launched, she had been posting many images of her dollhouse and its figures on her Facebook page.

“I had the idea of shooting it in a dollhouse, so I ordered the set online, and built it at home. It’s easy to become obsessed with dollhouses and small things–I was almost there, and I started collecting stuff for shooting the video, and while posting the pictures on Facebook, I was giving hints to everyone saying ‘Hey, this is a dollhouse, stay tuned, there’s going to be a video’, so this is what came out of it!”

The Glass Shō: Episode 2 (Debbie Chou)

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Click here to purchase the “Little Prince”/”Waterfall” single

Click here to purchase her newly-released Songs From Rockwood EP

Lisa Dowling ~ Crowdsourcing Kills to Kisses

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Lisa Dowling (whom you all may remember from an earlier interview I did) is back to talk about raising money through indiegogo.com for a major upcoming project under the name of Kills to Kisses. This recording, titled Cloven Tongues, is not only going to be her first official album release, but it will also be issued on vinyl LP. Those of you that will support the fundraising campaign will get some rather interesting rewards such as downloads of the album, temporary tattoos, a haiku written especially for you, and a personalized mixtape.

You can click on the campaign link here or on the bottom. Continue reading

The Rebecca West

The Rebecca West are (L to R): Matt Hammon, Cameron Dezen Hammon, Alex Dezentherebeccawest

The Rebecca West, a folk trio that has roots in both the East and West Coast, have made a wonderful debut recording titled Lost And Found (which can be purchased on here) and perform concerts mostly in a sparse setting with vocals and 2 guitars that seem to allow a brilliant harmony to reveal itself and resonate, as I witnessed when they opened for Dar Williams at a concert in NYC.

The group’s Cameron Dezen Hammon had a few minutes to speak with me.

CM: Please explain the origin of the name of the group.

Cameron: The Rebecca West is an homage to Rebecca West, British writer, early 20th century. She is acknowledged by some as the first “feminist” writer. She wrote a book about Yugoslavia called “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon,” that’s Matt’s favorite book. We were kicking around names for the band and I suggested Rebecca West, which morphed into “The Rebecca West” Continue reading

Lou Reed (1942 ~ 2013)

Photo courtesy of Jean Baptiste Mondino; From the final photo shoot, Sept 2013
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I’d like to remember Lou for several things.

With a single, solitary song of his (“Walk On The Wild Side”) that was his only exposure to mainstream rock radio for many years during my youth, it was very weird but intriguing to see articles and reviews about him in Rolling Stone and not having any real idea who he was. And it would be a long time before I’d get to hear The Velvet Underground, as their records were unavailable to us by the time I’d heard about them (I just needed to know where the cool record stores were). Continue reading

Dar Williams

Photo courtesy of Amy DickersonDarWilliams_AmyDickerson2high

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams will be making an appearance this Saturday, Oct. 19th at 8 PM at Symphony Space in NY. Click up here or on the link below for tickets.

She actually had some time to speak to me via phone for a little bit! 🙂

CM: Is it a normal kind of thing for you to play in places that are mostly known for classical/symphonic music?

Dar: Actually, my experience with Symphony Space is that it has a lot of different kinds of music (many of my friends play there), but what you are saying touches upon, I think–Some of the best cultural venues have a lot of diversity in what they do, and they kind of have to feel around sometimes, to get the genre right, but they really work hard to make their space as diverse as possible, especially in New York, where you can play Uptown or Downtown to completely different crowds. People with really savvy directors know how to do different kinds of concerts, so it benefits them. I would say that my music is put side by side with classical venues on a regular basis, so I’m definitely in the singer-songwriter venue world, for the most part. Continue reading

Eleni Mandell

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Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell is appearing live tonight at 8 PM at Yoshi’s San Francisco on a double bill with Gabriel Kahane. Click the bottom link for info on the show. Eleni had a few minutes to speak about this and related things.

CM: Please talk about this gig with Gabriel Kahane.

Eleni: I was contacted by Lara Downes, and I hadn’t heard of Gabriel before, but I was really impressed with what I’d heard! I love playing live, going to San Francisco and getting to see people up there and play a show. I feel a little rusty right now, I did a lot of touring last year, but not much this year, so it will be fun!

CM: It’s great to see that one of your biggest influences is Tom Waits.

Eleni: Yes, for me, having him as an influence was a really good thing. There weren’t a lot of female singers that I wanted to emulate, and I did want to sound like him, but I couldn’t, but it’s sort of great to reach for something and then end up just becoming who I am, so, it worked out having him as an influence because he’s such a great songwriter, and really one of the best performers you could ever see live.

Eleni Mandell ~ “Magic Summertime” Official Video

CM: I would say you come very close to that good in terms of songwriting. I always like to hear the alt-country or alt-folk, and that’s one of my favorite things about your music.

Eleni: I’m definitely influenced by old-time country music, amongst many other things, but that’s definitely a favorite of mine.

CM: I know it sounds ridiculous, but the sound of pedal-steel guitar just does something to me.

Eleni: That doesn’t sound ridiculous, I think a lot of people agree with that!

CM: Then I’m in good company! [laughs]

Eleni: Yeah, honestly it’s a very special instrument!

CM: It sort of has the equivalent of a musical sigh.

Eleni: Yeah, very true!

CM: You also have a new recording coming out?

Eleni: I’m super, super excited about it, maybe moreso than any other record, but I guess it’s hard to remember..[laughs] but I recorded it in London with a new group of people. I got to open for Nick Lowe last year, and on that tour, I met his producer, Neil Brockbank, so I got him to produce this record, and I also recorded it with Nick Lowe’s regular band. These guys are so incredible to work with. I think it’s the greatest record I’ve ever done, and I’m just real excited to share it with people. And this comes out January 28th, 2014! Mark your calendars!

Eleni Mandell ~ Just Another Lonely Heart

Click here for tickets/info on the Artist Sessions show at Yoshi’s w/Eleni and Gabriel Kahane

Eleni Mandell.com