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 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.

  • Episode 30: A Conversation with Larry Kirwan of Black '47

    July 16th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  49 mins 5 secs
    #black47, #celticcrush, #freedom, #ireland, #joestrummer, #nyc, #theclash

    Larry Kirwan is a true renaissance artist. Singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, historian—all wrapped up in one. Join me in this special episode of For Songs as Larry walks us through three great Black ’47 songs and an exclusive track called Rockaway Blue, based on his latest novel of the same name. We talk about Irish history, music, politics, and what Joe Strummer taught him about songwriting. Sit down, grab a drink, and listen to one of the greats!

  • Episode 29: A Conversation with Matt Easton of The Jenny Thing

    June 23rd, 2021  |  Season 1  |  39 mins 29 secs
    #berkeleyrocks, #cinematicrock, #indierock, #retronouveau, #synthrock, #thejennything, #tjt

    It certainly sounds like it wouldn’t work—blending the lush orchestration and bright pop of 80s bands like Erasure, New Order, and Peter Gabriel with the sparse, textural feel of 90s mainstays Nine Inch Nails. But for Matt Easton and his Berkeley, Ca.-based band The Jenny Thing, the result is masterful. The Jenny Thing first came to be in 1991. They came close to hitting it big during their nine-year run up and down the West Coast, but the band called its quits in 1999. If the masses weren’t ready for such a blend back then, they certainly might be now. Join me as Matt Easton talks about The Jenny Thing’s first album since 1999 called American Canyon. Matt talks about the band’s songwriting process, and just what a 90s band influenced by 80s music sounds like. Tune in!

  • Episode 28: A Conversation with Sandra the Pie Lady and Tony T. of the Pug

    June 9th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  13 mins 8 secs
    #guitars, #indierock, #livemusic, #music, #pandemic, #pieshop, #saveourstages

    Live music is back! But that doesn't mean everything is okay for the music industry, especially independent venues and the ecosystem that they support. In this episode of For Songs, we speak with Sandra the Pie Lady of the Pie Shop in DC and Tony T of the Pug about what they're going through as they get ready to reopen. Yes, live music is back--but those venues that it this far are barely hanging on. Listen in!

  • Episode 27: A Conversation with Maia Sharp

    May 23rd, 2021  |  Season 1  |  43 mins 1 sec
    #aaa, #americana, #cherylstrayed, #maiasharp, #nashville, #rootsrock, #singersongwriter, #womeninmusic

    If you’ve ever wondered the kind of pain and emotion that goes into writing a song, listen in as singer/songwriter Maia Sharp walks us through her newest album Mercy Rising. Written as her 20-plus year marriage was ending, Mercy Rising is an honest, brilliant look into the all the emotions that come from such a traumatic, lifechanging event. How do you start over? When can you start feeling good again? Maia gives us a tutorial into how these songs came together and how she made best-selling author Cheryl Strayed cry after writing a song influenced by one of her books. Take a journey with Maia Sharp on this episode of For Songs.

  • Episode 26: A Conversation with Dan Murphy

    May 7th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  50 mins 25 secs
    #altcountry, #goldensmog, #guitar, #joestrummer, #newmusic, #otherdanmurphy, #pandemic, #rock, #songwriter, #soulasylum

    Ready for an all-out fanboy episode of For Songs? This is it! In this special show, I speak with former Soul Asylum guitarist/singer Dan Murphy, who still performs one-off gigs with my favorite band from my college years, supergroup Golden Smog. We talk about two brand-new songs from a yet-to-be-released album and two songs from Golden Smog’s first full-length album, Down by the Old Mainstream. Making this even better, we discuss our love for the Clash, and he shares how he tried to convince Joe Strummer to join Soul Asylum onstage at a show in New York. If that’s not enough to get you to listen in to this, I’m not sure what will.

  • Episode 25: A Conversation with Emily Brown

    April 7th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  41 mins 26 secs
    #emilybrown, #folkrock, #glencambell, #singersongwriter, #womeninrock

    Take a deep dive into the songwriting process with Berkeley, Ca.-based singer/songwriter Emily Brown. Emily walks us through the making of her latest album A Fish of Earth, which is bursting with lush orchestration, strong melodies, and haunting instrumentation. It is an inspired album, made even more so by her personal-yet-relatable lyrics focused on relationships—relationships with romantic partners, with parents, with expectations, and with religion. Emily discusses her songwriting process with a refreshing candor and humble nature. So sit back and take it all in, and welcome Emily Brown to For Songs

  • Episode 24: A Conversation with Sandra the Pie Lady

    March 26th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  20 mins
    #bars, #dc, #music, #pandemic, #pielady, #pieshop, #pieshopdc, #saveourstages

    We’ve chronicled how hard the last year has been on the musicians, but what about the independent venue owners? So many have closed, and others are barely hanging on. Washington offered some hope in recent stimulus legislation, but will it be too late? In this episode, I speak with Sandra the Pie Lady, owner of the Pie Shop, a small live venue in Washington. Sandra talks about the last year, the struggles, and how the community has fought back and given her and others some much-needed hope. Listen in, and order some pies!

  • Episode 23: A Conversation with David Childers

    March 19th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  41 mins
    #americana, #davidchilders, #folkmusic, #interstatelullaby, #ramseurrecords, #songwriter, #songwriting

    It’s been said that late bloomers bloom best. Not sure where I heard that, but it certainly applies to David Childers, the singer/songwriter based outside of Charlotte, NC. David’s one of the sharpest songwriters around, mixing southern wit, imagery, and charm with an Americana feel. His latest album, Interstate Lullaby, covers a broad range of themes from climate change to white supremacy. The characters in his songs are rough around the edge, gritty, and far from perfect. You’d think he’s been at it for his entire life, but it wasn’t until his late 30s and early 40s that he got serious. So for all you aspiring songwriters out there, grab a beer and listen in. And keep at it!

  • Episode 22: A Second Conversation with Yasmin Williams

    March 5th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  37 mins 40 secs
    #2020, #2021, #bandcamp, #livemusic, #spinster, #urbandriftwood, #yasminwilliams

    Soo…how’s your year going? Well, if you’re my next guest Yasmin Williams, it’s going quite well indeed! Her newest album Urban Driftwood is getting rave reviews in some of music’s biggest outlets, such as Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and mainstream venues like NPR and the Washington Post. Oh yeah, and she’s been on this show a few times too! I’m honored to welcome Yasmin back to For Songs. Join us as we discuss her brilliant and breathtaking Urban Driftwood, how the album came together, and her expectations for the music industry in 2021…

  • Episode 21: A Conversation with Mic Harrison

    February 19th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  40 mins 59 secs
    #americana, #brightspot, #diy, #highscore, #micharrison, #steveearle, #vroys

    Some people are born to write songs and play in bands. Knoxville, Tenn.-based singer/songwriter Mic Harrison is one of those people. Music is in his blood, as his Dad gave him a guitar and taught him some early lessons. Since then, Mic and his band The High Score have been making music since the late 2000s. Mic joined me from Knoxville to discuss the band’s latest album Bright Spot, released in November 2020. We talk about four songs and how the pandemic has impacted not just the band’s trajectory but his artistic process. Grab a beer, take a seat, and enjoy!