2015 Sammy Award for Best Americana

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Almost There album cover

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)

“Understated raw beauty”Minor 7th

Learn more about the album, and join us for the Sammy Award celebration show in Syracuse on May 6: buy advance tickets, and invite friends on Facebook.

Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids on Almost There

At first glance, Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers’ Almost There appears steeped in the tradition of the narrative song—and framed through the lens typical of that tradition. But upon further inspection you’ll notice an immediacy and relevance to the contemporary human experience that often escapes our brethren who utilize the same framework. Where that utility meets the stories within, you’ll find a deft commentary that we might all observe: a call to be ornery but sympathetic—cautionary but optimistic. Every bit personal as expansive, Rodgers has identified, perhaps, what are noteworthy signposts along the way. Ones we would all be well-served to pay heed.
Kenneth Pattengale

Brandi Carlile interview for Acoustic Guitar

AG 269 Brandi Carlile cover

 I’m a really tortured songwriter. Everything I’ve loved that I’ve written has been when I was absolutely miserable, and I’ve been miserable a lot in my life. Honestly, I’ve been worried about it for the last three years, because brick by brick my life’s been getting deliriously wonderful. I’ve wondered, well, what about my lonely friend? What about my lonely passenger, my songwriter, who needs to be really twisted to get this stuff out? I was worried about it, and the twins were reassuring. Tim said something I think is really cool. The gist of it is that you can even write better sad songs when you’re happy.—Brandi Carlile

The May 2015 issue of Acoustic Guitar features my interview on with Brandi Carlile and her twin collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth, about their collaborative songwriting and their great new album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter. Read the full story here.

Pete Seeger interview, 2002

Pete Seeger AG 2002

You know, my basic philosophy in life is I’m a teacher trying to teach people to participate, whether it’s banjos or guitars or politics or whatever.
Pete Seeger

 

Acoustic Guitar magazine just pulled out of the archives the first of several in-depth interviews I did with Pete Seeger. The full article is posted here.

I feel very lucky to have had these conversations with a real American hero.

Song Talking with Hamell On Trial

Song Talking with Ed Hamell
I’m thrilled to announce that the second episode of Song Talking, my new live online interview/performance series, will feature the one and only Hamell On Trial. He’ll be in my home studio on Sunday, March 8, at noon EDT to play songs and talk music—taking questions from me and the online audience.

I first heard Ed Hamell back in the ’90s, opening for Ani DiFranco out in California, and was shocked and awed by his intensity (musical and verbal), humor, and fearlessness—he’s truly an equal opportunity offender. Around the same time, when I was editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, we ran a short profile of Hamell that generated an extraordinary amount of reader mail—indignation as well as praise. He’s just as feisty and funny today. Here’s a recent performance.

The Song Talking show airs on my Concert Window channel, and you can pay what you want for tickets. Post a question, request a song, and say hello.

Invite friends on Facebook.

Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar workshop at Union Music

On April 11th I’ll be back at Union Music in Worcester, Massachusetts, for a Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar workshop. Looking forward to sharing some arrangements of classic Dead songs! Find more info on the workshops here.

That night I’ll also be playing a house concert in Concord, along with Wendy Ramsay, and then on the 12th we’ll be at the Burren in Somerville with others as part of the Back Room Acoustic Series. Check out the details on the full calendar.

I’ll be bringing my shovel in case friends in the Boston area still need a hand!

Dead workshop Union Music 11x17-lo

Acoustic Guitar cover story on the New Basement Tapes

“It was our good fortune that these lyrics came to light and we were given them to play with. It was a playground.”
—Elvis Costello

For the April 2015 issue of Acoustic Guitar, I wrote a cover story on The New Basement Tapes, the remarkable project in which five songwriters set to music newly discovered lyrics written by Bob Dylan in 1967—at the time he recorded the original Basement Tapes with the Band. I interviewed Costello along with album producer T Bone Burnett, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Elvis Costello Acoustic Guitar magazine April 2015