For Songs

A podcast for and about songs and songwriting

About the show

This podcast is for those who love music but can't write a tune to save their lives. We talk with singer/songwriters of all stripes, professional touring musicians to those who can't quite catch a break. Maybe you'll hear something you'll like. Maybe not. But you will come away with a greater appreciation for the gift of songwriting, and how hard it really is.

Now sponsored by @thepugdc!

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  • Episode 46: A Conversation with the Waymores

    May 6th, 2022  |  Season 1  |  41 mins 27 secs
    country, countrymusic, countryrock, elvis, indierock, johnnycash, junecarter, thewaymores, waymores

    Funny how the world works, at least in the world of music. This is the story of Kira Annelise and her husband Willie Heath Neal, who together make up the country duo The Waymores. When they met, Willie was a seasoned songwriter about to hang it up. He was still singing in bands when Kira saw him performing, and her world changed. Kira started playing guitar and found out that she was a helluva songwriter too. Fourteen years later, Kira and Willie are still at it, and their newest album The Stone Sessions is proof positive of their magic. In this episode of For Songs, Willie and Kira talk about their past, their future, and, most importantly, their compelling present. Buckle up, grab a drink, and welcome Kira and Willie to For Songs.

  • Episode 45: For Songs Singles! Restless Companion, Michael Patrick F. Smith

    April 18th, 2022  |  Season 1  |  23 mins 10 secs
    dakota, folkmusic, folkrock, indierock, newmusic, thegoodhand

    It’s been a little more than since my next guest first joined me on For Songs. Michael Patrick F. Smith returns to the show for the first time since January 2021, a few weeks before his book The Good Hand was published. The Good Hand is a blistering read, telling the tale of his journey to North Dakota at the height of the shale-gas revolution that turned parts of the state into a latter-day gold rush. With the paperback version having just been released, Michael joined me to discuss a new song called Restless Companion. Restless Companion is a breezy tune that would fit right at home on Uncle Tupelo’s Anodyne, or Son Volt’s Trace. The song itself is an ode to The Good Hand and all the literal blood, sweat, and tears that went into it. So sit down, grab a beer, and welcome back Michael Patrick F. Smith to For Songs.

  • Episode 44: Another Conversation with The Pug--Talking the Clash, Joe Strummer, Big Audio Dynamite & Much More!

    April 10th, 2022  |  Season 1  |  39 mins 53 secs
    bigaudiodynamite, clash, dc, gogo, indierock, london, music, pandemic, poguetry, punk, punkrock, theclash

    It’s been a rough two years, to say the least. In this unique episode, Tony from the Pug joins me for an enthralling conversation about music, the Clash, and so much more. The general theme of this conversation is as follows: What Big Audio Dynamite/Joe Strummer solo songs would’ve been great Clash songs? We tried to put in some ground rules, but those quickly went out the door. So rather than sum it up, it’s better if you just listen in. And join us online for an ongoing conversation!

  • Episode 43: A Conversation with Emily Capell

    March 20th, 2022  |  Season 1  |  45 mins 33 secs
    blondie, donletts, dreadzone, emilycapell, indierock, joestrummer, london, newmusic, ska, theclash

    If you had the chance to spend an hour in the car with one of your musical heroes—you are driving—what music would you play? My next guest, London-based Emily Capell, faced this very dilemma. Emily, who literally grew up on the Clash and its various offshoots, is inspired by, well, the Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, but it goes beyond that. In his exhilarating interview, Emily and I talk about two songs from her 2019 debut album Combat Frock and then we talk about two newer songs, 2020’s Flamingo, recorded with the London-based Dreadzone, and a cover of Big Audio Dynamite’s E=MC2. Emily is one of the freshest talents recording today, so go grab your beer, sit down, and welcome Emily Capell to For Songs.

  • Episode 42: A Conversation with the Whitmore Sisters

    February 18th, 2022  |  Season 1  |  44 mins 58 secs
    americana, ghoststories, indierock, newmusic, steveearle, themastersons, thewhitmoresisters

    It is a cliché that blood is thicker than water, but its also true. And my next guests are living proof.. Eleanor and Bonnie Whitemore have been in and around the Americana genre for pretty much their whole lives. Eleanor and her husband Chris Masterson make up folk rock duo The Mastersons, and they also play in Steve Earle’s backing band The Dukes. Bonnie has released a number albums over the years and has played with a who’s who. Despite their roots, though, Ghost Stories is their first album together, and let’s hope there’s more to come. We talk about four songs—Hurtin’ for a Letdown, Ghost Stories, Greek Tragedy, and The Ballad of Sissy and Porter. We talk about death, drugs, influences, and, of course, songwriting. This interview gets pretty heavy at times, so be ready. It is my high honor to welcome Eleanor and Bonnie Whitmore to For Songs.

  • Episode 41: A Conversation with Ian Jones

    January 21st, 2022  |  Season 1  |  40 mins 58 secs

    So if there’s one theme in most all these interviews I’ve conducted the last nearly two years, it’s that the music biz is a tough one, even in the best of times. And my next guest, Seattle-based singer/songwriter Ian Jones, knows this better than most. Back in the 90s and early 2000s, Ian left his Pacific Northwest home to give music a go in California, moving to Santa Barbara. While the weather may have been better, the industry changed so dramatically from when he first started that after a good many years, it was time to head back home. He chronicles portions of this journey on his new EP The Evergreens, released in October 2021. We discuss four songs from the EP—Evergreens, Liars Beggars Criminals and Thieves, Promised Land, and Last Call. Please join me in welcoming Ian Jones to For Songs.

  • Episode 40: For Songs Singles! Keeping On, Franklin Gotham

    January 7th, 2022  |  Season 1  |  21 mins 54 secs
    altrock, franklingotham, icewagonflu, indierock, newmusic, poprock

    Here we go—nearing Year Three of this pandemic. If you are struggling to trudge ahead as the news seemingly gets worse every day, have I got a song for you. Joining me for this first episode of 2022 is my old friend Kevin Adkins of Franklin Gotham. In this episode, Kevin and I talk about Franklin Gotham’s latest single Keeping On, a tune for our time. It is no doubt one of the catchiest songs you’ll hear all year, and it’s also a perfect way to start 2022. Kevin and I talk about how the song came to be, how they recorded it across two states, and how their writing process works. If you need a bit of a pep talk heading into the year, dig into this!

  • Episode 39: A Conversation with Nicole Atkins

    December 26th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  41 mins 55 secs
    indierock, jerseyshore, judygarland, memphisice, newepisode, nicoleatkins

    It is Christmas time, and while this isn’t a Christmas episode per se, it is the gift that keeps on giving. If you’ve ever heard Nicole Atkins sing, you know there’s something eerie, calm, haunting yet beautiful about her voice. In this episode of For Songs, Nicole joins me from her home in Nashville, which was filled to the brim with her newest album Memphis Ice. Recorded in Memphis in one day, Memphis Ice is Nicole’s Judy Garland moment. She stripped down songs from her slick, enchanting 2020 release Italian Ice and recreates them here, and the results are breathtaking. We talk about four songs—Promised Land, Domino, Mind Eraser, and Captain. Nicole discusses her songwriting process, how she was able to do more with less, and how her hometown still seeps into her music. Please welcome Nicole Atkins to For Songs.

  • Episode 38: For Songs Singles! Dreaming of a Revolution, by the Sweet Lizzy Project

    December 17th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  24 mins 54 secs
    cubalibre, cubanband, dreamingofarevolution, protestsongs, slp, soscuba, sweetlizzyproject, womeninrock

    In this episode of For Songs-Singles, we bring back Lisset Diaz of the Sweet Lizzy Project to discuss her band’s latest single, Dreaming of a Revolution/Otra Revolucion. The song is inspired by the protesters in Cuba, who are putting their lives on the line to protest against the existing regime. we talk about the English and Spanish versions of the song, along with the special editions featuring legendary Cuban singers Carlos Varela and Raul Malo. Listen in as Lisset details the emotional ride that led to this song and the difficulties in getting the translations just right. Ready to be inspired? Listen in!

  • Episode 37: A Conversation with the Mighty Joshua

    December 3rd, 2021  |  Season 1  |  42 mins 43 secs
    africa, bemighty, bobmarley, mightyjoshua, rasta, reggae, reggaemusic

    Never doubt it—music can change lives. My next guest is living proof. Renowned reggae singer The Mighty Joshua certainly had no intentions of singing and playing in front of thousands. But at the heavy urging of well-traveled reggae keyboardist Chris ‘Peanut’ Whitley, Joshua embraced his calling and truly became Mighty. In this episode of For Songs, The Mighty Joshua talks about his journey, how he went from a shy percussionist to an energetic front man capable of moving mountains. You will be inspired, educated, and uplifted. Please welcome The Mighty Joshua to For Songs.

  • Episode 36: A Second Conversation with Louis Michot

    November 19th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  38 mins 1 sec
    cajunmusic, hurricaneida, ida, michotsmelodymakers, nouveauelectric, ragincajun, solarpower, tinyisland

    Louis Michot is a true renaissance man. In his second appearance on For Songs, Michot, singer/fiddler for the Louisiana Cajun band the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Michot’s Melody Makers, talks about his work bringing goods and services to those areas devastated by Hurricane Ida. These efforts include bringing portable solar generators into indigenous areas wrecked by the storm. We also talk about the latest Michot’s Melody Makers latest release, a five-song live EP called Tiny Island, featuring renowned cellist/singer/songwriter Leyla McCalla. We talk about three songs from the EP, how the band maintains its tight sound without rehearsing, and how cool it is when the bugs and frogs living on Louis’s property accompany the band. Please join me in welcoming Louis Michot back to For Songs.

  • Episode 35: A Conversation with Jade Jackson and Aubrie Sellers

    November 5th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  43 mins 20 secs
    americana, aubriesellers, countryrock, indiemusic, jacksonsellers, jadejackson, newmusic

    A chance meeting in 2019 between established singer/songwriters Aubrie Sellers and Jade Jackson turned into one of the most compelling new albums in years—October 2021’s Breaking Point. In this episode, Jade and Aubrie detail how their unlikely partnership came to be and how Breaking Point became the most authentic album both have made to date. Listen in as the duo—officially called Jackson+Sellers—walk us through four songs from the album and how difficult it is to make a living as a musician.

  • Episode 34: For Songs Singles! Hesitate, Sons of Silver

    October 15th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  18 mins 16 secs
    hesitate, indierock, iwarnedyou, newmusic, politics, rocknroll

    Welcome to the first episode of For Songs Singles! Instead of four songs, we talk about one. On this first episode we feature Hesitate, the blistering new song from LA-based indie-rock band Sons of Silver. Hesitate is a musical and lyrical tour-de-force. It jumps out of the speakers with driving guitars and pounding bass and drums. Singer/songwriter Peter Argyropoulos takes the global decline of our discourse, where we wall off those we disagree with, whether they are family or friends. You may not agree with what Peter says or how he says it, and that’s almost the point. For those who aren’t sure where they fit in these hyperpartisan, hypersensitive times, Hesitate is the song for you.

  • Episode 33: A Conversation with Dar Williams

    October 1st, 2021  |  Season 1  |  39 mins 52 secs
    darwilliams, folk, folkmusic, folkrock, joanbaez, newalbum, newmusic, pandemic

    Time has a funny way of working, right? Some days feel like they last forever, while others are over in a blink of an eye. And the cruel joke is that as you get older, time seems to move even faster. On this episode of For Songs, singer/songwriter Dar Williams covers these themes and more on her latest album “I’ll Meet You Here,” released on Oct. 1. Dar has been making music since the early 90s, following in the footsteps of folk-rock luminaries Joan Baez, Jim Croce, and others. In fact,Joan took Dar under her wing, offering her advice and spots on tour throughout her career. And now Dar is roughly the same age as Joan Baez was when they first met, and she is returning the favor. Dar and I discuss four songs from “I’ll Meet You Here,” along with her influences—some will surprise you—and how she is gearing up to tour during a pandemic. So join me and welcome Dar Williams to For Songs.

  • Episode 32: Catching Up with Dom Flemons

    August 26th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  27 mins 13 secs
    americana, americansongster, domflemons, folkmusic, livemusic, rootsmusic

    It’s a #ForSongs first! Check out my in-person interview with the mighty Dom Flemons, singer/songwriter/historian/storyteller/trailblazer. Dom and I chatted about a hour before a mid-August 2021 show just south of Washington. Listen in as Dom discusses his important work in changing the narrative of American folk music and highlighting the contributions African-American artists have made throughout the course of history. Listen in as Dom Flemons makes his return appearance to For Songs.

  • Episode 31: A Conversation about #Cuba with Lisset Diaz

    July 18th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  35 mins 17 secs
    #cuba, #cubalibre, #lissetdiaz, #slp, #soscuba, #sweetlizzyproject, #vivacubalibre

    This is the most important interview I’ve ever done. It is my humbling honor to welcome the amazing singer/songwriter Lisset Diaz of the Sweet Lizzy Project back to For Songs. If you’ve been watching the news, you know there is a once-in-a-generation protest movement in Cuba. Cubans are putting their lives on the line to bring an end to the authoritative regime. Listen in as Lisset, a Havana native, bravely talks about her hopes and fears for her country. She talks about the pain of not knowing what is happening to her friends and family still in Cuba. She knows that by speaking out, there’s a chance she she may never be able to return to Cuba as long as the current regime is in power. And because Lisset is taking such a huge risk, we owe it to her to listen. Please, if you care about what’s happening in Cuba, share this episode with a friend or family member. Make sure the world knows what is happening.