JPR picked for the Emerging Artist Showcase at the 2015 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
This morning I was in the studios of WSYR to perform with my bandmates Wendy Ramsay and John Dancks. We played the title track off the Almost There album.
This was a kick-off to the Jam at the Ridge festival happening on Sunday, June 26, in Chittenango, New York, with a great lineup of folk and bluegrass bands including the Cadleys, Loren Barrigar and Donna Colton, Rabbit in the Rye, the Bog Brothers, and the Rigs. We will be performing as a five-piece band, with Wendy, John, Josh Dekaney on percussion kit, and Jason Fridley on saxophone.
Happy birthday, Woody Guthrie.
You are a songbird right this minute. Today you’re a better songbird than you was yesterday, ’cause you know a little bit more, you seen a little bit more, and all you got to do is just park yourself under a shade tree, or maybe at a desk, if you still got a desk, and haul off and write down some way you think this old world could be fixed so’s it would be twice as level and half as steep. . . . It wouldn’t have to be fancy words. It wouldn’t have to be a fancy tune. The fancier it is the worse it is. The plainer it is the easier it is, and the easier it is, the better it is—and the words don’t even have to be spelt right. . . . They don’t even have to rhyme to suit me. If they don’t rhyme a tall, well, then it’s prose, and all of the college boys will study on it for a couple of hundred years, and because they cain’t make heads nor tails of it, they’ll swear you’re a natural born song writer, maybe call you a natural born genius.
—Woody Guthrie, from the introduction to Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People
Image from my article on songwriting lessons from WG, Acoustic Guitar April 2013.
I believe that a good song, like a good book or a good film or anything, has to have a universal message. It has to talk about the human story that we all share. The details might be different, but the heart of the story is something that hopefully everyone can relate to.—Emmylou Harris
From the August 2015 issue of Acoustic Guitar. Read the full interview here.
Almost There is here!
Featuring “Eight Days in January,” with Rani Arbo on fiddle and harmony vocals
“Spot-on work from an American wordsmith”—Patty Larkin
“Mind candy for the listener to chew on”—Syracuse New Times
“Deft commentary…a call to be ornery but sympathetic—cautionary but optimistic.”—Kenneth Pattengale (the Milk Carton Kids)
“Genre-defying folk rock”—NYS Music
“Understated raw beauty”—Minor 7th
I know a lot of old ones and I’ve done a lot of old ones. Sometimes if you feel inclined to write something, you take something that you’re comfortable with. A lot of people have said that my stuff sounds traditional. Down through the years in anything I wrote, I always wanted to try to write something that would be as good as the old stuff that I knew. That was my guideline. I didn’t want to write something I’d consider substandard.—Norman Blake
From an interview in Acoustic Guitar magazine, July 2015.
Every song that I ever started is about something. I know what it’s about and what I’m trying to say, and I know at the end of the song whether I’ve said it. I’ve always been a hyper-rational person and also songwriter, and Kenneth [Pattengale] is exactly the opposite. He comes from this really intuitive, nonrational, more emotional side. When you write the way that he writes, also in my opinion the way Joe Henry writes, it has the effect of giving the listener a more direct experience of the thing that inspired you to write the song. Rather than telling the listener what it was, you actually give them the experience.—Joey Ryan
From an interview with the Milk Carton Kids in Acoustic Guitar magazine, July 2015.
Usually when I have a song [idea], I get a feeling of how many verses I want to have, how many choruses and bridges. Then I know the length of the song, and I get a sense of how many syllables I need and where they should rhyme to make it sound musical. I have brainstorming sessions where I write down words that could fit into the song, and with those I find synonyms. I make lists of words, basically, and make sure to have words that rhyme. With these sheets of words and sentences, it’s easier to brainstorm a finished lyric.—José González
From an interview in the June 2015 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.
JPR may be the quintessential acoustic singer-songwriter, but he colors with a full palette of folk, rock, blues, and soul. Adding elements tastefully to create works that entice rather than overwhelm, he makes the mixes of genres seamlessly smooth, while retaining the emotion of his topics. —Greg Jackson, NYS Music