Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Look for my Philly Folk Fest features on Vishten, The Wood Brothers and Buffy Sainte-Marie coming soon!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016



 The Wood Brothers to Co-Headline
Philly Folk Fest

By Rob Nagy

With decades of success under their respective belts, Chris Wood, a longtime member of “Medeski, Martin and Wood,” and his brother Oliver, of the Tinsley Ellis’ band and King Johnson, it was only natural that the duo would one day merge their creativity.

The Wood Brothers, whose line up includes Chris and Oliver Wood along with multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, released their debut albumWays Not To Lose” in 2006.  Awarded Editor’s number-one pick in folk for that year, the album made NPR’s "Overlooked 11" of 2006.

Speaking of their approach to music, Chris Wood says, “I’m coming from New York City, where I used to live and was highly influenced by jazz and things like that,” says Chris Wood, from his home in Nashville. “Oliver was living in Atlanta for so many years.  So, his strong influence was real roots blues music. In my mind I thought, ‘what if Charles Mingus and Robert Johnson started a band?  What would that sound like?’ I don’t know what you would call that.  But that was the initial impulse.”

“The secret to success - as far as getting along within a family - we didn’t start our band until we were already middle-aged,” adds Chris. “A lot of brother bands are tumultuous because they start bands when they’re kids and still have all this youthful baggage. We’ve been humbled plenty separately.   So, by the time we came together we were grateful enough for each other’s strengths. It outweighs any difficult brother stuff by far.”

After heading to Nashville, Tennessee for the recording of 2013’s “Muse” album, Chris and Oliver officially made Nashville their home base. For the first time the duo lived in the same City, and they were able to write and record uninterrupted.

With the merging of Chris’ jazz background and Oliver’s rock and blues experience, The Wood Brothers focused on American Roots music.  They released their latest album, “Paradise,” in 2015.  Standout tracks include “Singin’ To Strangers,” “American Heartache,” “Snake Eyes” and “Raindrop.”

“Most of that time we’ve lived far apart,” says Chris Wood, from his home in Nashville. “Over the years most of our writing has been long distance. We decided Nashville would be a good place in which to be a real functioning band that lives, rehearses and writes music in the same room together.”

“This was first time we wrote and made a record from scratch and toured on it,” adds Chris. “We never could do that before just because of the distance between us. That’s one of the significant things about this record.  It was great for us. It was also the first time we self produced a record, which we did because we felt we were finally ready.  We felt that we’d matured enough as a band and as writers and experienced enough that it was time to do it on our own. This is our most rockin’ album.”

With his success as a member of Medeski, Martin and Wood and The Wood Brothers, Chris finds himself elated by his ability to earn a living doing what he loves. Outwardly shunning the music industry’s practice of pigeon holing artists, Chris pays homage to the music and the artists that have been The Wood Brothers greatest inspiration.

“We are definitely influenced by “The Band,” says Chris. “A lot of people think of them as America’s first Americana band, really diving into roots music in a rock and roll setting. We absolutely relate to the writing and the combination of northern and southern influences and everything that’s in there.”

“Americana is quickly becoming another sort of meaningless genre,” adds Chris. “It’s a nod in some way to some roots kind of music.  Most of it seems to be mountain or blue grass. I think in our case there’s a lot more.  Delta blues, R&B and African American influences are what we love and are inspired by. It’s a very important part of the roots of music in this country.”

Anything but an overnight sensation, the ascent of The Wood Brothers has been slow and steady, as they crafted their signature sound while building an audience one fan at a time.  

“It’s been just right,” says Chris. “Until just the last couple of years, I was pretty much touring with Medeski, Martin and Wood as well as The Wood Brothers.  So, between that and slowly getting better and better at what we do and finding our own voice as a group, I think that the pace of the growth has actually been a good thing.”

Adds Chris, “You always think, ‘When are we going to get our big break?’ We’re just doing what we do and people, little by little, are catching on. We feel like we have a solid loyal fan base that really gets us and appreciates all of the work we’ve done and makes us feel really good.  That real connection to the audience that we have feels great.”

“We’re lifers in music,” says Chris. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. I want to do this my whole life. I feel like there’s still so much more to say. I just want to keep doing it little by little and keep people paying attention, which I’m so grateful for.”

Philadelphia Folk Festival runs August 18-21, 2016.  On your GPS, enter 1323 Salford Station Road, Schwenksville, PA.  For show times, general questions and ticket info, visit

To stay up to date with The Wood Brothers, visit


 Folk Icon Buffy Sainte-Marie
To appear at Philly Folk Fest

By Rob Nagy

A voice of social concern during the turbulent 1960’s, acclaimed Native American singer-songwriter, visual artist, educator, pacifist, philanthropist and social activist, native Canadian Indian Buffy Sainte-Marie still reigns as a voice of social change.

Routinely delving into controversial topics of our times, mysticism, love, war, religion and the ethical treatment of her fellow man remain the core of her powerful and compelling lyrical message.

Decades after establishing her presence on the Canadian and Greenwich Village folk scene and eventually the world, Sainte-Marie, at 75, remains true to herself and her commitment to create awareness through words, music and dialogue.

Her latest album release, “Power In The Blood” (winner of the 2015 Polaris Music Prize),
is a twelve-song collection and one of Sainte-Marie’s most impressive works. A riveting production from start to finish, the opening track, ”It’s My Way,” sets the tone for a heart felt, emotionally charged performance that Sainte-Marie pulls off with ease. Stand out tracks include “Power In The Blood,”  “We Are Circling,”  “Love Charms (Mojo Bijoux),” “Generation” and “Orion.”

“The record company came to my agent and asked, ‘Does Buffy feel like recording?’ I was still on a world tour from the previous album, says Sainte-Marie, from her home in Hawaii. “I was doing brand new songs and songs from the 60’s and 70’s that people had never heard before as well as songs from the 80’s and 90’s that nobody had ever heard. So, I had this diverse concert going on. I said, ‘Yeah sure. I do feel like recording, and the band is ready.’ So, we decided to record.”

“It’s very similar to all of the other albums that I’ve made in that it is very diverse,” adds Sainte-Marie. “There are love songs. There are protest songs. There are songs about the countryside and the environment.  There are different genres, hot and heavy blues and rock. I think American listeners who may have known me in the 60’s may not be surprised by the diversity. I just never got away from that. I’ve always been a real diverse kind of writer and singer.”

Born on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada, Sainte-Marie attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, earning degrees in both teaching and Oriental philosophy as well as a PhD in Fine Art.

Working alongside Canadian contemporaries Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, Sainte-Marie spent the early 60’s honing her skills as a songwriter and a performer in the burgeoning folk scene. Gracing the stage of a variety of folk festivals, concert halls, coffee houses and Indian reservations, Sainte-Marie rapidly became a notable music presence.

“I was fortunate enough to come up during the real folk music era when there were genuine folk singers around like Joan Baez and Pete Seeger,” recalls Sainte-Marie. “They were singing songs that lasted 400 years that were passed down from generation to generation. What they had in common was that they were singing about things that everybody has in common - love, loneliness, oppression. I think it was great encouragement for me.”

“I was just somebody from nowhere who showed up in Greenwich Village with a guitar, and I sang like nobody else,” adds Sainte-Marie. “I was really involved with the emotion of the song and trying to give the audience information with an accurate emotion that I was really feeling.”

After signing on with Vanguard Records, Sainte-Marie released her debut album, “It’s My Way” (1963), featuring the powerful protest song “Universal Soldier.” Follow-up singles that have become a staple in Sainte-Marie’s catalog include the 1972 Top 40 hit “Mister Can’t You See,” “He’s an Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo,” “Now That The Buffalo’s Gone,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying” and the theme song for the film “Soldier Boy.”  The song “Up Where We Belong,” which she co-wrote with Will Jennings and Jack Nitzsche for the film “An Officer and a Gentleman,” won an Academy Award for “Best Song” in 1982.

No stranger to television audiences, Marie has made appearances on “American Bandstand,” “Soul Train,” “The Johnny Cash Show,” “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” and the children’s program “Sesame Street.”

After publicly addressing the mistreatment of Native Americans, Sainte-Marie was ultimately blacklisted, first by American radio, as well by Presidents Johnson, Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

“I found this out years after the fact,” recalls Sainte-Marie, “and I was put out of business in the United States. I didn’t know what it was. It’s not like somebody calls you and says, ‘Guess what? You’re on a black list.’ I didn’t find out ‘til almost 20 years later. So I had no idea. I just figured all singers come and all singers go. I just thought it was a normal music business happening. I had no idea my music had been repressed.”

After a sixteen-year recording hiatus, Sainte-Marie released the album “Coincidence and Likely Stories” in 1992.  In 2008, she made a comeback in her native Canada after releasing her “Running for the Drum” album.

“Music is a gift that you’re trying to give to people for their own use,” says Sainte-Marie. “If you’re coming from a different country or a different generation, it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking to a grandparent or a grandchild.  There’s nothing that strikes us on a human level like a song that is going to make a long lasting gift.”

“My love and respect for uniqueness and my curiosity and my recognition of mutation is a good thing,” adds Sainte-Marie. “I really believe that everybody is always ripening. Nobody points that out to us. Everybody wants us to follow whatever we’re selling last month. I think in a better future we’ll recognize that everybody is growing every single minute of every day. Nobody is encouraging us to say ‘Yippee’ about that.  That has to do with curiosity and uniqueness, not being afraid to be unique. I consider that as a gift you’re giving to somebody else.”

The Philadelphia Folk Festival runs August 18-21, 2016.  On your GPS, enter 1323 Salford Station Road, Schwenksville, PA.  For show times, general questions and ticket info, visit

To stay up to date with Buffy Sainte-Marie, visit



Vishtèn Brings Canadian Roots to this Year’s Philly Folk Fest

By Rob Nagy

Immersed in the rich traditional music of the French Acadian settlers of Canada’s Prince Edward Island and archipelago, also known as the Magdalen Islands (Îles-de-la-Madeleine), Folk trio “Vishtèn,” featuring twin sisters Pastelle and Emmanuelle LeBlanc and Pascal Miousse, offers a unique and authentic visit into the past.

"I think it's hard for people to say what we are, because the name of the band "Vishtèn" is not a word - it's a made up language of Acadian french & mic mac sounds that make up a locally known song, says Pastelle Emmanuelle, while on tour in Canada. “I think in the states the word Acadian is known (as opposed to other parts of the world where we tour) because of the Louisiana connection with our Cajun cousins".

“We experimented with different instruments,” adds Pastelle. “We really wanted it to sound like us. We were reaching for a sound. Of course, it took years to just kind of play around with it.  Every musician in the band has contributed from their experiences.”

Direct descendants of the first colonial families to inhabit the Magdalen Islands; the members of Vishtèn individually embraced their musical heritage. From this inspiration, Vishtèn came to fruition in the early 2000’s. Drawing from their musical roots, the trio continues to meticulously craft their signature sound by combining traditional French-Acadian songs with original compositions accented with powerful driving rhythms.”

“Growing up, we were all kind of immersed in traditional music,” says Pastelle.  “When we left where we were from, we realized that was really special. There really weren’t a lot of people going out there and playing this type of music. It was pretty much just locally played.  We had a band that we grew up with called “"Barachois"” that toured extensively all over the world and in the States quite a bit, but they were kind of finishing at that point. So, there really wasn’t a band on the market that was doing this style and we thought that it was really important that people knew about this kind of music. So, that kind of pushed us into going out there and creating a band. “

“We consider ourselves in the Celtic world,” says Pastelle. “We do play traditional music that is a little bit different from the Celtic world. We sing in French. We do foot percussion that accompanies the music, which brings a big sound.  That’s pretty much our drum kit. There’s a different kind of swing to it. I think, from what people tell us and from listening to other bands, that what we are doing is a little bit different than the other groups.”

With accomplished multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, Vishtèn’s blend of guitar, fiddle, piano, accordion, harmonium, whistles, piano, bodhrán, jaw harp, Moog and electric guitar offers a music hybrid that finds them as one of the most uniquely diverse acts in today’s thriving folk circuit.

With four albums to their credit, including last year’s award winning “Terouge” (EMCA (East Coast Music Awards) “Traditional Album of the Year”), Vishtèn is winning fans around the world.

“We are really pleased with what we’re doing,” says Pastelle. “This year we’ve been very busy.
We started the year off in Australia then went to Louisiana and did the New Orleans Jazz Fest. We also did our first UK tour, including Scotland. It’s been fun to share our style of music. We get to travel and meet a bunch of wonderful people from all over the world. You get energy from all these activities.”

“I think we’ll be recording a new album in 2017,” says Pastelle. “We’ve got some new material that we’ve been testing out in the shows and we’ve got some new ideas. We just have to find time. I think the schedule is a little bit looser this fall. So, we’ll most definitely be working on some demos and putting stuff together for the New Year.”

“We feel like we’re developing all the time,” says Pastelle. “It’s not a goal for us to have a hit or something.  If it happens, then great.  But, that’s not really the goal. The goal is more about playing the music and teaching people about it. We’re doing well and we’re really doing what we love and doing it at a pace that we’re fine with.”

The Philadelphia Folk Festival run August 18-21, 2016.  On your GPS, enter 1323 Salford Station Road, Schwenksville, PA.  For show times, general questions and ticket info, visit

To stay up to date with Vishtèn, visit www.Vishtè

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Look for big news coming soon on a project I am doing with Graham Nash