277 episodes

Basic Folk features honest conversations with folk musicians hosted by Cindy Howes, a well-versed public radio DJ, and singer/songwriter Lizzie No. While we’re not gassing up the banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin, Basic Folk approaches interviews with warmth, humor and insightful (invasive?) questions. This podcast fosters the folk community and showcases a genre that is often misunderstood. Our definition of “folk” is extremely broad, so you’ll hear interviews from Molly Tuttle, Ben Harper, John Hiatt, Chris Thile of Nickel Creek, Joy Oladokun and many more.

Basic Folk is dedicated to showcasing the best in folk, bluegrass, acoustic and americana including Black, Brown and Queer folx who have been excluded, or felt like they did not belong, in the folk world. Both Cindy and Lizzie bring unique perspectives to our honest conversations and are dedicated to changing the landscape and the gatekeepers of the folk music community.

Basic Folk Backstage

    • Music
    • 4.9 • 78 Ratings

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Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

Basic Folk features honest conversations with folk musicians hosted by Cindy Howes, a well-versed public radio DJ, and singer/songwriter Lizzie No. While we’re not gassing up the banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin, Basic Folk approaches interviews with warmth, humor and insightful (invasive?) questions. This podcast fosters the folk community and showcases a genre that is often misunderstood. Our definition of “folk” is extremely broad, so you’ll hear interviews from Molly Tuttle, Ben Harper, John Hiatt, Chris Thile of Nickel Creek, Joy Oladokun and many more.

Basic Folk is dedicated to showcasing the best in folk, bluegrass, acoustic and americana including Black, Brown and Queer folx who have been excluded, or felt like they did not belong, in the folk world. Both Cindy and Lizzie bring unique perspectives to our honest conversations and are dedicated to changing the landscape and the gatekeepers of the folk music community.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Jontavious Willis Says Blues Music is for The Kids, ep. 256

    Jontavious Willis Says Blues Music is for The Kids, ep. 256

    Originally from Greenville Georgia, musician Jontavious Willis is a Blues music phenom. When we talk about the Blues, the phrase or the word "torchbearer" comes up a lot when it comes to young, new Blues artists. I think of that word as a double edged sword. When you think of a torchbearer, you think about someone who's carrying on a flame that was lit long ago. It's somebody who's carrying on a tradition, but it also can come with restrictions. Such as oldheads telling you you're not doing it right or asking you: "have you really paid your dues? Are you really faithful to the tradition?" And just asking you questions about whether or not you belong. Jontavious handles that double edged sword with such alacrity. His writing is firmly contemporary at the same time that his playing is rooted in the tradition of Country Blues. He knows so much about the genre that he's basically in a walking encyclopedia of the Blues. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but instead of the the traditional Basic Folk lightning round, we played a pop up game at the end of the interview. I put different styles of the Blues (like Delta or Piedmont) in one cup and different ripped from the headlines, 2024 topics in another. Then we just matched them up. He was so quick on his feet.

    Jontavious is a great example of a new spin on a genre that a lot of people think they know already. He is so adamant that the blues is a contemporary genre and always has been. He made the point during our interview that a lot of the Blues legends that we've kind of encased in the amber of memory were young teens or twentysomethings when they wrote their iconic songs. It's really a genre for free people, for young people, for people looking ahead. It's not about the past. Another point of his he made while discussing his southern roots was we talk about country, often we're talking about a musical genre with a certain difficult history. But for him, and I imagine for a lot of other artists, country is a way of life. It's about being out in the wild. It's about having a connection to nature. It's about sitting with quiet. It's about having time on your hands to experiment with songwriting or being a singer. It's about a genuine experience of being connected to a particular place in time.

    This interview and live performance was recorded for the podcast live at Fort Worth African American Music Festival (FWAAMFest). When I (lizzie) was a kid, my dad's family used to have these big reunions. They're from North and South Carolina Baptist family, and it would be like a big barbecue at the state park or in a church hall. We would have t-shirts made, people of all ages milling around, catching up. Often there would be an elder getting up to say a long prayer or make an announcement. This sense of belonging and intergenerational connection, that is what the FWAAMFest felt like. Brandi Waller-Pace, the founder, is such a visionary, and they bring together artists of so many different genres, all of which fit under the roots music umbrella. There's this beautiful link between all of the music based on The African American Storytelling Tradition and The Artistic Tradition. In addition to being able to interview, Jontavious, this was my first time headlining a festival, so it couldn't have been more of a special day for me.

    Follow Basic Folk on social media: https://basicfolk.bio.link/

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    • 49 min
    Aoife O'Donovan and Dawn Landes Surf All the Feminist Waves, ep. 255

    Aoife O'Donovan and Dawn Landes Surf All the Feminist Waves, ep. 255

    Coincidentally, long-time friends Aoife O'Donovan and Dawn Landes both have new albums with strong feminist themes, so I (Cindy) wanted to interview them together and talk about WOMEN. Aoife's album, All My Friends, is specifically centered around Carrie Chapman Catt, a prominent leader in the Suffragist Movement, and her work in the fight for the 19th Amendment. Inspired by speeches and letters, one song, War Measure, is even based on a letter of support from Woodrow Wilson to Chapman Catt. This album also marks the biggest project Aoife worked on with her husband Eric Jacobsen, who conducts the Orlando Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. It's also the first record she's released since becoming a mother. Of her Daughters song she says she sings "as a modern woman, not wanting to leave the fight to the daughters of our daughters."

    Dawn Landes, also a mother, has a more broad focus with her new album The Liberated Woman's Songbook. The album features songs from the 1971 songbook of the same title to inspire second wave feminists' women's liberation movement and modern feminism of the 1970's. The songs on Dawn's album span from 1830 (Hard is the Fortune of All Womankind) to 1970 (There Was a Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie as well as Liberation, Now!) showcasing how women of the past expressed political activism in the struggle for gender equality.

    Both Aoife and Dawn released their albums during Women's History Month, which leads to a discussion of what that means to each of them. We also talk about what is on their protest signs at the march, the Taylor Swift movie, gender stereotypes and, of course, all the waves of feminism. When thinking about the 19th amendment, we acknowledge that this only allowed WHITE women to vote. That leads to talk of how suffragists and feminist protest songwriters, like Meredith Tax, contributed to and gleaned inspiration from the civil rights movement. Aoife and Dawn are legends! We start with what their internal dialogue was like at first when undertaking these ambitious and important projects and end with Aoife putting Barbie on blast. All and all, this one's a winner.

    Follow Basic Folk on social media: https://basicfolk.bio.link/

    Sign up for Basic Folk's newsletter: https://bit.ly/basicfolknews

    Help produce Basic Folk by contributing: https://basicfolk.com/donate/

    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Appalachian Bluegrasser Missy Raines Explains The West Virginia Thing, ep. 254

    Appalachian Bluegrasser Missy Raines Explains The West Virginia Thing, ep. 254

    Acclaimed bluegrass musician Missy Raines is also a very cool and funny lady originally from West Virginia, not far from the Maryland border and the city of Cumberland. First of all, I had questions for her about why people from West Virginia are SO into their state. She gets into that and also the influence of the rich tapestry of bluegrass music she found there as well as the scene in nearby Washington DC. Raines has made a significant impact on the genre, earning 14 International Bluegrass Music Association awards, including 10 for "Bass Player of the Year." Her latest album, "Highlander," showcases Raines' mastery of the bass alongside an ensemble of top-tier musicians from Nashville (her home base for the last 34 years) and beyond, blending traditional bluegrass with innovative twists. Throughout our conversation, Raines reflects on her deep connection to Appalachian culture and the Appalachian Mountains, which have profoundly influenced her music. We explore her experiences performing live at music festivals and the evolution of bluegrass music. We recount the passion her family felt for music touching on the story of her mom and aunt crying their eyes out over John Duffy leaving their favorite bluegrass band, The Country Gentlemen. She also talks about taking care of her late brother Rick, who died in 1994 from AIDS at the age of 39. Through that experience, she was empowered to help others whose loved ones were also dying and suffering from HIV and AIDS. With her unique blend of banjo and fiddle music and her activism in a normally conservative genre, Raines continues to push the boundaries of the genre while staying true to its roots, making her a trailblazer in the world of Americana and folk music. Our conversation was in depth, fun and enlightening - I had high hopes for this one and I was not disappointed! Follow Basic Folk on social media: https://basicfolk.bio.link/ Sign up for Basic Folk's newsletter: https://bit.ly/basicfolknews Help produce Basic Folk by contributing: https://basicfolk.com/donate/

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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Bob Hillman's Rock and Roll Return: From Beach Volleyball to Marketing to Musician, ep. 253

    Bob Hillman's Rock and Roll Return: From Beach Volleyball to Marketing to Musician, ep. 253

    Bob Hillman had a real thing going on in the early 2000's. He had made waves in New York City rubbing shoulders with some of the finest songwriters of the era at places like the open mic, Fast Folk and The Living Room, the singer-songwriter was creatively fulfilled, but not gaining the momentum in order to experience strategic growth in folk music. After opening for a long list of dates for Suzanne Vega, Hillman decided it was time to step away and get back to business.... school that is. He got his MBA in Marketing and went on to hold a decent paying job for the next decade and a half, raising his family in the Bay Area.

    After a layoff, Bob thought it was time to dig in again and started writing, recording and performing. Since 2016, he's released a couple of albums and an EP (Extended Play) or two. The most recent is the mostly acoustic Downtown in the Rain. In our conversation, we talk about what it's like to reignite his creative entrepreneurial musical spirit, how he used that energy in his corporate jobs and also hoping to one day meet his singing partner on the EP, Maria Taylor.

    Follow Basic Folk on social media: https://basicfolk.bio.link/

    Sign up for Basic Folk's newsletter: https://bit.ly/basicfolknews

    Help produce Basic Folk by contributing: https://basicfolk.com/donate/

    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 55 min
    Joe Pug Will Not Ossify, ep. 252

    Joe Pug Will Not Ossify, ep. 252

    Joe Pug will not engage in the Left-Brained Vs Right-Brained debate. His artistry and pragmatic business sense have lived in actual parallel through his music career. His songwriting and creativity are fueled by passion and result in dramatic and exciting songs, as on his new album Sketch of a Promised Departure. He also has stayed ahead of the curve and created an ecosystem where self-reliance, growth and music business thrive especially with his latest venture, The Nation of Heat Vault that has every album, podcast, and newsletter up behind a paywall. In our interview, we dig into his creative process, artistic balance and family life while creating his latest project.

    The album was made on his own time at his new home studio (which he's been working on for a decade). His reflection of having complete control over the music production is one of relief and joy in that he was able to take as long as he wanted. We go through several songs on the album, remarking on songs like "Then the Rain," which shines in it's simplicity just like many of Lucinda Williams songs, one of his biggest inspirations. We also talk about his life journey into adulthood when he moved to Chicago, which is a chapter in his life he is writing about in detail on the new album. He talks about what he hopes for his own young kids' futures and how parenting has changed since he first became a dad seven or eight years ago. And of course, we talk about his fantastic podcast, The Working Songwriter and how being an interviewer has changed his attitude about being the interviewee.

    Follow Basic Folk on social media: https://basicfolk.bio.link/

    Sign up for Basic Folk's newsletter: https://bit.ly/basicfolknews

    Help produce Basic Folk by contributing: https://basicfolk.com/donate/

    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 58 min
    Hannah Connolly is Finding Her Happy Little Emo Heart Again, ep. 251

    Hannah Connolly is Finding Her Happy Little Emo Heart Again, ep. 251

    Singer songwriter Hannah Connolly, originally from Eau Claire, WI (same as Justin Vernon and the Bon Iver crew!) has just released her second solo album, Shadowboxing. Written to reflect musical and life transitions, it was recorded in beautiful Idyllwild, CA, just outside of her new hometown of Los Angeles. While in the mountain town, Hannah reconnected with nature through hiking and found joy in connecting with her friends and collaborators in music. The process of making the record was crucial for her mental health in music that was celebratory and fun. Her debut album centered around the trauma and healing she and her family faced after her little brother Cullen was killed by a drunk driver in 2015. Born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Cullen was the life of the party and a bright light in every room he entered. Being able to process and mourn his loss through the making of her first record was not only extremely difficult, but also very necessary for Hannah. We talk about who Cullen was and how he continues to influence Hannah's life and music. These days, Hannah is looking for the fun and lightness again, which is exactly what her little brother would want her to do.

    Even though Hannah's visual storytelling and folky roots are strong, they are no match for her love of emo music, which has influenced her since she was a teenager. She even performed, recorded and toured in an emo band prior to going solo. Hannah gets into her emo past, her childhood stint in musical theater and, of course, cheese curds. She also gives us the all important update on wedding planning! She recently got engaged to Eric Cannata of the alternative rock band Young the Giant. I'm so happy for Hannah not only for her future marriage, but also for creating this joyful new album.

    Follow Basic Folk on social media: https://basicfolk.bio.link/
    Sign up for Basic Folk's newsletter: https://bit.ly/basicfolknews
    Help produce Basic Folk by contributing: https://basicfolk.com/donate/

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    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
78 Ratings

78 Ratings

mplsexistance ,

Kara Jackson

Amazing episode!

Tina Bobeana ,

So freakin' good

As a folk musician myself, I love Cindy's approach to these interviews. She seems to have a way of making the musician's interviewed very comfortable. She asks very interesting questions and I love love love her casual tone. Plus, she picks the best people to interview. Thank you Cindy for giving folk lovers some really fun behind the scenes yumminess to chew on.

DJ John NY ,

Cindy’s interviews…

…are as good as it gets - full of info and insight with a personal touch!

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