A Sound Recommendation: Boston Folk Duo Ari & Mia


photo:  Kat Waterman


Ari & Mia reference the styles of Southern and Northeastern fiddle music and the early American songbook to create a realm where their own compositions cross paths with older traditions. Their stylish and sophisticated music honors the sounds of Appalachian cottages, rural dance floors, and urban concert halls. Combine this with their innovative approach to songwriting and the result is a captivating sound.

Since 2008 the sisters have toured all across the U.S and Australia and are both graduates of New England Conservatory’s cutting edge Contemporary Improvisation department. They’ve opened for Cheryl Wheeler, performed alongside Sarah Jarosz, and played at venues such as Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center, Club Passim, the Parlor Room, New Bedford Folk Festival, and Jordan Hall. Both are award winning songwriters.

Strikingly beautiful, distinctive and exhilarating, with expressive vocals that will find a way into hearts and minds”  No Depression

Ari & Mia are not creating a new music; they are taking it to another level and exploring areas that have not been attempted in decades. Their all-acoustic, pure and honest approach has significance. Treading the edges of traditional folk in a more faithful manner, they share the lyrical wizardry of 70’s bands Steeleye Span, Tir-na-Nog, and the Incredible String Band, with searing harmony as good as The Beach Boys. The sisters sing in unison like two violins,” continues No Depression on the review of their most recent release, “Out of Stone.” Their two previous albums, “Land on Shore” and “Unruly Heart,” ranked high on the national folk radio charts and the duo anticipates the release of a brand new album Sew the City in March.


We recorded Sew The City in the gorgeous and isolated Great North Sound Society in Parsonsfield, ME,” says Ariel. “An old farmhouse was the perfect place to access quiet and creativity.”

The sisters produced the album themselves, and it was engineered by Ariel Bernstein, with help from GNSS intern Abigale Sullivan. Bernstein also provided insightful input on the production side. “We recorded all of the takes live together in one room, other than a few third harmony parts that we overdubbed and Ariel Bernstein’s added percussion on two tracks,” says Mia. “This resulted in an album that sounds exactly like what our audience would hear at a live show. The sound is organic and full, and it features intricately designed parts for all four of our voices—two vocals and two instruments.”

Recording Sew The City felt freeing and exhilarating for the pair, “most likely due to being isolated in a gorgeous place where our only goal was birthing this album,” says Ariel. “We allowed ourselves to be influenced by the place itself, like when we recorded ‘Unquiet Grave’ directly after we had visited the extremely old and definitely haunted basement. It was late in the evening and raining buckets outside.”

With a sound that SingOut! Magazine praised as “a traditional rootsy grounding with a clear background of classical training” as well as “soothing and fresh, tasteful and accomplished,” the sisters have toured across the United States and Australia since 2008, and both are both graduates of New England Conservatory’s cutting-edge Contemporary Improvisation department. They’ve performed alongside Sarah Jarosz, have opened for the likes of Cheryl Wheeler and Catie Curtis, and have played at venues such as Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s Mainstage Emerging Artist Showcase, Club Passim, the Parlor Room, New Bedford Folk Festival, and Jordan Hall. Both are award-winning songwriters: Mia’s song “Across the Water” won the 2010 John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the folk category, and Ari’s song “Old Man” was a semi-finalist for the 2016 International Songwriting Competition.



Rickie Lee Jones Announces Vinyl Reissues


After years out of print, Rickie Lee Jones ’ first two albums will be available on LP. Rickie’s self-titled debut album and the lauded follow up Pirates were re-released digitally and on CD via AWAL Recordings in the latter half of 2018. Now they will receive their long overdue vinyl reissues on January 18. 





Rickie Lee Jones skyrocketed to fame in 1979 when as a barely known artist she appeared on Saturday Night Live. Performing her biggest hit “Chuck E’s In Love” in her trademark red beret, Time Magazine instantly dubbed her “the Duchess of Coolsville.” Since then she has gone on to win two Grammy Awards, appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone twice, and included in VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll.

Released in 1979, her self-titled debut on Warner Brothers won her the Grammy Award for Best New Artist and reached #3 on the Billboard Albums chart. The album’s brilliant songs include the exceptional “On Saturday Afternoons in 1963“, the haunting “Last Chance Texaco“, and the popular “Chuck E’s In Love“, a top 5 pop single. Check out Jones’ Coolsville 1979 Trilogy featuring the music videos for “Coolsville“, “Young Blood”, and “Chuck E’s in Love” below.

Two years after that Grammy-winning debut, Jones released her much anticipated sophomore effort Pirates, which was awarded 5/5 stars by Rolling Stone and called “a remarkable piece of work” by The New York Times. The album featured an all-star band supporting Rickie, including Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, Victor Feldman, and trumpeter Randy Brecker.

Longtime Times music critic Jon Pareles said “The few unconventional songs on (her debut album) hardly foreshadowed what Miss Jones would attempt – and pull off – on ‘’Pirates’ in 1981…’Pirates’ was unabashedly ambitious.”

In recent years, Pirates’ reputation has continued to grow. British magazine The Word included the record as one of pop music’s 25 Most Underrated Albums of All Time while NPR Music listed it on their 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women.

Contemporaneous with that chart’s publication, Rickie performed the album in its entirety as part of NPR’s “Turning the Tables” live show at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park in 2017. On the NPR site, in a feature about Pirates, Alison Fensterstock said, “Few pop artists have ever been as effortlessly cool; still fewer have managed to create a piece of art that sounds like it could have been crafted thirty years before it was, or thirty years after. Pirates has been influential, but rarely imitated. Who could?”

With a busy year ahead, Jones will play her first shows of 2019 in the Northeast this February. Full list of tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

2/21 – New York, NY @ Sony Hall in NYC
2/ 22 – Toms River, NJ @ The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for Arts
2/23 – Beverly, MA @ The Cabot
2/26 – State College, PA @ The State Theatre
2/28 – Derry, NH @ Tupelo Music Hall
3/1 – Albany, NY @ The Egg
3/2 – Old Saybrook, CT @ The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center
3/3 – East Greenwich, RI @ The Greenwich Odeum
6/7 – Park City, UT @ Egyptian Theater
6/8 – Park City, UT @ Egyptian Theater
6/9 – Park City, UT @ Egyptian Theater

A Sound Recommendation: The Blueflowers


It’s pretty tough to leave the world of Blueflowers once the song starts. You may not want to. The Detroit-based outfit set the mood, they dim the lights, they spark the projector and they transport the listener.

Led by the husband/wife songwriting-duo of singer Kate Hinote and guitarist/producer Tony Hamera, Blueflowers evoke a noir-drenched neverland clouded by a surreal, cinematic haze of reverb.

The group began performing and recording in 2008, eventually self-releasing their debut Watercolor Ghost Town, in 2009. Produced by Hamera, The Metro Times called it “…a genuinely beautiful and touching piece of work…Hinote’s voice remains note-perfect and goosebump-inducing throughout; the musicianship is finely executed and lovingly arranged.”

The Metro Times would crown their 2011 follow-up In Line With The Broken-Hearted, Detroit’s “Best Indie-Release” of the year. Retrospective Magazine credited their sensibility for striking “a weepy but wonderful wall of sensuous sounds, sad but strengthening, emotionally deep without being a downer.” With longtime members David Johnson and Erica Stephens on acoustic guitar and bass, the group welcomed talented journeyman drummer Jim Faulkner on drums after their first couple of years together.

2012’s Stealing the Moon was a transcending trip “down the rabbit hole,” as RUSTZINE called it, inducing vibes of a “David Lynch-esque Blue Velvetworld of dark shadows, cigarette smoke and strong liquor…” Hamera, meanwhile, with his production of the record, cited the dreamy, mellifluous melodrama of icons such as Roy Orbison, The Zombies, Mazzy Star and Nick Cave. Local keyboardist/singer Erin Williams joined to further augment the dark beauty of these songs after having enhanced The Blueflowers’ live show the year leading up to Stealing the Moon’s release.

Hamera and Hinote welcomed their first child in 2012, which surrounded them with the creative chaos and energy they needed to write and record their fourth full-length album, 2014’s At the Edge of Disaster, and earned them a nomination at that year’s Detroit Music Awards, as well as their introduction to the world of licensing, with multiple television placements. “This is one of the most sumptuous albums I’ve heard in forever. Every chord, every note, every word out of Kate Hinote’s lovely throat drips with dark, romantic foreboding. …this is what Patsy Cline would be doing were she alive today. Hamera’s ringing, jangly guitars call to mind everything from Duane Eddy to Peter Buck, and the trippy title track that leads off the CD has a sultry neo-Spaghetti Western vibe.” – Scholars & Rogues

In 2017, Stephens left the band to pursue other interests and Blueflowers’ original drummer, Marvin Shaouni, returned on bass with a few song ideas of his own to hash out. Shortly after, when keyboardist/vocalist Williams moved out of state, Blueflowers returned to a five-piece, and had some creative energy to expel. The result of all this transition and new collaborative effort is the 2018 release Circus on Fire, which may sound like a different band to some.

After nearly 10 years, Blueflowers are still exceptionally adrift between cemented genres. They were never “country,” in the traditional sense, though they’re “western” in a surreal sorta way. It was the twang and the reverb, the mystique and the neo-goth splendor, the evocation of a sound, a style, and a presence that pulled you away toward some lucid dreamsphere beyond a sunless horizon. They diverged from the woolly garage and howling rock n roll of its native music scene and glided further still from the post-punk and indie-pop that propagates along the east coast, and took you west, or at least elsewhere, into a sort-of weird west, into the dark west.



A Sound Recommendation: Singer-Songwriter Ryan Gibeau


Ryan Gibeau, a New Hampshire native is a singer/songwriter residing in Brooklyn, New York. His stunning music is a concoction of heartfelt honest lyricism, soulful melancholy soundscapes and alternative pop/rock. Gibeau’s songwriting is an emotional and poignant documentation of a love lost. Through his use of powerful and authentic musicianship Gibeau has been resonating with listeners across the nation.

Gibeau’s debut album entitled Quiet Fall is an eclectic journey through style and mood, narrating a love story from start to finish. With essences of pop and alternative rock, the use of strings brings a unique flavor to the tracks. Thematically the album is about seeing the change you need, taking care of yourself and leaving behind what isn’t right for you. Sometimes we turn life against ourselves, play victim and it stops us from inspiring others. Quiet Fall is about empowering yourself, seeing that change is necessary and getting back up. Written as an immersive and meaningful album designed to inspire others to be your best self, Gibeau reveals “The album was inspired by a relationship kept together by two people suffering from emotional addiction, what it takes to leave and how to get back on your own feet”.

Leading single ‘Flying Away’ was written whilst flying to Los Angeles to leave behind an unhealthy on-again/off-again relationship. The act of finally and physically leaving allowed the lyrics and chords to almost fall out of Gibeau, essentially sonically journaling his experiences and emotions. ‘Flying Away’ highlights the songwriters signature style of beautiful string arrangements, organic instrumentation and raw vocals that tug on your heart strings.


Room Gets Hotter’ features twangy guitars, smokey vocals and a throbbing bassline. Gibeau reveals, “The theme of my music centres around the concept of love. Often the music subconsciously surfaces and the songs write themselves. I love the exploration and discovery in my songwriting”.

Ryan Gibeau has found success performing to sold out audiences at some of the most prestigious venues in New York. He continues the next chapter of his musical endeavour with Quiet Fall set for release this month.





New Music and Memoir from Jeff Tweedy


Jeff Tweedy has released, WARM, a solo album of all new material via dBpm Records.

WARM was produced and recorded entirely by Jeff at Chicago’s now legendary studio, The Loft (with help from some of his usual collaborators – Spencer Tweedy, Glenn Kotche and Tom Schick).


WARM follows the acoustic retrospective release, Together at Last (2017), and Wilco’s 2016 album, Schmilco.

Lead Single:  Some Birds

The incredible liner notes for WARM were written by George Saunders. Jeff’s long-awaited memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc., is also now available.






New Christmas Music Out From Rodney Crowell


Rodney Crowell’s first ever Christmas album, Christmas Everywhere, was released earlier this month via New West Records.

The 12-song set of all original songs was produced by Dan Knobler and features guest appearances from Vince Gill, Lera Lynn, the poet Mary Karr, Brennen Leigh, and more.

Christmas Everywhere exhibits a unique and masterful approach to the traditional Christmas album from the legendary songwriter. While many selections exhibit the joy of the season, the collection also explores crass commercialization & loneliness exacerbated by the holidays, as well as songs co-written with his daughters and granddaughters.

Crowell has read Clement Clarke Moore’s legendary “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” to his children, and now grandchildren, on Christmas Eve for the past forty one years. A masterful storyteller himself, Christmas Everywhere commences with the lyrical prelude “Clement’s Lament (We’ll See You In The Mall),” which sets the tone for the album with “Peace, peace, peace on earth, good will to one and all. The season starts in August now, we’ll see you in the mall.” The title track, a duet with Lera Lynn, includes a dream sequence in which she asks Santa for a time machine in which to go back and prevent John Lennon’s murder,” and the closing track, the endearing “All For Little Girls and Boys” was recorded in the early 80s and features his two oldest daughters.


In celebration of Christmas Everywhere, Crowell will support Amy Grant & Vince Gill’s unprecedented twelve-night “Christmas at the Ryman” stand beginning tomorrow night in Nashville, TN. He has also announced additional tour dates throughout the Spring of next year (please see all dates below).

Of the album, Crowell says, “Since the arrival of my first child, the Crowell family has detonated forty-one Christmas bombs, discarding in that time-span enough wrapping-paper to be held accountable for the deforestation of, I’m guessing here, twenty-plus acres of prime timberland. In defense of our participation in the commercialization of baby Jesus’s birth, the best I can offer is the fact that for the last two decades we’ve conscientiously recycled the aftermath. A few years back it became evident to my family, and indeed myself, that I’d gone sour on all things related to Christmas, a source of particular disappointment to my wife, Claudia, whose creative flair peaked with the holidays. One rather warm December day in 2011, I heard on satellite radio, Hayes Carll’s soulfully written ‘Grateful for Christmas’ and was so moved by the song—it’s wry humor and bare-bones honesty—that I ditched whichever errand or appointment I’d set out on in favor of an honest-to-God Christmas shopping spree. Not only did ‘Grateful for Christmas’ jolt me out of a self-indulgent funk, it also tweaked my creative curiosity. I began mulling over the idea of writing an album’s worth of original Christmas songs. As far back as the early eighties, for fun and without bothering to put words down on paper, I’d made up with my two oldest daughters, Hannah and Caitlin, silly little Christmas songs that we’d sing around the house. ‘All For Little Girls and Boys’ is one of those tunes that somehow made it onto a cassette tape. Around the same time, in a proper studio, I recorded with my kids a carefree piece I’d written called ‘Very Merry Christmas,’ which, in lieu of Christmas cards, we sent out that year on cassette tape as well. Sometime around Christmas 2016, I came home to find my granddaughters, Addie and Iris—age ten and eight— sitting side-by-side and playing on our old upright piano a melody that to my ear sounded like something from the early nineteenth century. I asked them what song they were playing and in unison they replied, ‘something we just made up.’ I hit record on my iPhone and asked them to play it again. Using their melody almost entirely, I spent a couple of months composing the words to ‘Come Christmas.’ A generation had passed since I first made up a Christmas song with their mother.”

Fifty years after Crowell first started playing as a teen in Houston garage bands, he has moved into elder-statesman territory, and continues to extend the path carved out by the top-tier songwriters who preceded him. His songs have been recorded by country legends (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Strait), to current country chart toppers (Tim McGraw, Keith Urban) to blues icons (Etta James) to rock and roll legends (Van Morrison, Bob Seger). He is a Grammy award winner, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, recipient of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association, and the author of his autobiography, the stunning Chinaberry Sidewalks.