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 20: A Conversation with Dom Flemons

    February 5th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  38 mins 44 secs
    #americansongster, #carolinachocolatedrops, #chocolatedrops, #domflemons, #maraineyblackbottom, #maraineyfilm

    Dom Flemons is on a mission: As the American Songster, Dom is out to right the terrible wrong that has left us with an incomplete history about American folk music. Throughout his career, starting with the Grammy winning African-American string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops and now as a full-fledged solo artist, Dom is unearthing the ignored and stolen contributions from Black musicians. But he’s as versatile as it gets—we talk about his reissued album Prospect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus, which covers pre-war blues, jazz, folk, all the way up to early 80s hip hop. So settle in and get comfortable, and let Dom Flemons walk you through time.

  • Episode 19: A Conversation with 3 Pairs of Boots

    January 22nd, 2021  |  Season 1  |  38 mins 38 secs
    #3pob, #americana, #countryrock, #everywhereigo, #guitar, #livestream, #longrider

    How many of us have wanted to leave our day job for our dream job? Meet Andrew Stern and Laura Arias of the California-based Americana duo 3 Pairs of Boots. In this episode, Andrew and Laura talk about their California-tinged country music and their newest album Long Rider, coming out on Jan. 29. Just two years ago Andrew quit his day job to focus on music full time. Learn more about their journey together and how the adventures of another free spirit inspires their songwriting. Listen in!

  • Episode 18: A Conversation with Michael Patrick F. Smith

    January 8th, 2021  |  Season 1  |  42 mins 18 secs
    #folk, #folkrock, #indierock, #mpfs, #thegoodhand

    Join me as I catch up old friend Michael Patrick F. Smith about his latest album The Great Away. Michael & I go waaayy back, elementary school! We haven’t seen or talked to each other in 25-plus years. Over that time Michael has written plays, songs, and now a book, which comes out next month. He’s shared the stage with Ramblin’ Jake Elliot and #forsongs veteran @Palefaceonline. In this episode, we talk about his latest album The Great Away, which came out last fall. We talk about his influences, writing styles, and how he goes about his work. Its not everyday you chat w/ someone you haven’t seen in 25-plus years!

  • Episode 17: It's a For Songs Christmas!

    December 17th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  54 mins 33 secs
    #christmasmusic, #cuba, #fairytaleofnewyork, #havana, #holidaymusic, #indierock, #mavericks, #musicpodcast, #paleface, #podcast, #pogues, #raulmalo, #scottmiller, #slp, #sqs, #sweetlizzyproject, #themavericks, #thescottmiller

    It’s the holidays! We know it wouldn’t be #Christmas without Christmas music, so for the last episode of For Songs this year, I feature four different and unique non-traditional holiday songs. We’ve got two covers—indie-rock legend Paleface’s tender take on the Pogues’ classic Fairytale of New York and DC-based world-music trio Veronneau’s evocative rendition of Joni Mitchell’s River. Then we highlight two originals: The Sweet Lizzy Project’s stunning This Christmas I’m Not Coming Home and Scott Miller’s Americana hymn The Kingdom Has Come. So sit back, drink some eggnog, or any kind of nog, curl up by the fire and listen in as we feature four holiday classics.

  • Episode 16: Another Word from Our Sponsor--The Pug

    December 11th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  18 mins 38 secs
    #bars, #dc, #music, #pandemic, #playlists, #saveourstages, #spotify, #thepug, #virus

    DC-based restaurant and bar owner Tony T of @thepugDC joins the show again to catch us up on the latest in DC #COVID19 news, its impact on local businesses and jobs (hint—it’s not good), and what not to joke about with your server if you are eating out these days. But most important, Tony dishes about music and how he creates playlists as a means to keep patrons in their seats at the bar. Yep, there’s a secret to it! So listen, find Tony’s latest playlists on Spotify and play along!

  • Episode 15: A Conversation with Peter Argyropoulos

    December 4th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  42 mins 50 secs
    candlebox, indierock, la, music, newmusic, pearl jam, peterg, rock, rocknroll, sonsofsilver

    Sit back, grab a beer, and listen in as LA-based indie rocker Peter Argyropoulos and I talk about his new band Sons of Silver’s newest EP Doomsday Noises. Doomsday Noises is a collection of five blistering songs that chronicle what happens when societies deliberately peddle misinformation, censorship, and vanity. Peter exquisitely details his band’s songwriting process and discusses how weird it is to be performing livestream shows with limited audience engagement. Buckle up for this one!

  • Episode 14: A Conversation with Lisset Diaz

    November 23rd, 2020  |  Season 1  |  44 mins 36 secs
    #christmasmusic, #cuba, #havana, #mavericks, #raulmalo, #slp, #sqs, #sweetlizzyproject, #technicolorslp, #themavericks

    It wasn’t that long ago that Lisset Diaz was teaching science at the University of Havana in Cuba. Now, after coming to Nashville in 2017, she is the lead singer and chief songwriter of an inspiring rock-and-roll band called the Sweet Lizzy Project. Lisset and her band came here to record a new album called Technicolor, which was released in February 2020. In this episode of For Songs, Lisset details the Sweet Lizzy Project’s incredible odyssey from Havana to Nashville, along with her own personal journey that led her to quit teaching and commit to music full time. Lisset’s story is one of perseverance, persistence, patience, and incredible talent. Listen in!

  • Episode 13: A Word from Our Sponsor--The Pug

    November 18th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  11 mins 49 secs
    #bars, #dc, #music, #pandemic, #saveourstages, #thepug, #virus

    Meet Tony T, owner of For Songs’ sponsor, the Pug, a bar on H St NE in Washington. Like many bars and restaurants in the area and around the country, the Pug has been closed since March. In this special edition of For Songs, we talk with Tony about how he’s been holding up and hanging on these last several months. What’s it like to own a bar that voluntarily shut down eight months ago, thinking and hoping the worst would pass, only to see the virus rage on stronger than ever as we enter the winter. What will it take to hold on? And how can you help the Pug and similarly situated venues? Find out by listening in…

  • Episode 12: Episode 12: A Conversation with Emily Barker

    November 9th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  38 mins 50 secs
    #climatechange, #emilybarker, #folkrock, #podcast, #redclayhalo, #songwriting

    What’s the best way to get a critical message across to your listeners? For Emily Barker, the best way is to make it personal. On her latest album A Dark Murmuration of Words, Emily recounts her travels from her native Australia in her early 20s to England to become a singer/songwriter. She uses her personal experience missing home to make a direct plea in her music for combatting our world’s climate crisis. On this episode of For Songs, Emily talks her passion for the environment, how she drives the point home in her writing, and her musical inspirations.

  • Episode 11: For Songs #Election2020 Special!

    October 29th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  50 mins 10 secs
    #election, #election2020, #emilybarker, #music, #podcasts, #scottmiller, #songwriting, #theclash, #thescottmiller, #vroys, #yasminwilliams

    Time to cash in on #election2020! What makes great political music? I’ve assembled an all-star panel of songwriters and authors to walk us through some of the best political music in recent years. From racial justice, social justice, and the system itself, we cover it all on this special episode! We’ve got three returning guests—Scott Miller, Yasmin Williams, and Mark Andersen—and a musician making her first appearance, Emily Barker. Settle in & get comfortable—you’re gonna enjoy this!

  • Episode 10: A Conversation with Mark Andersen

    October 16th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  40 mins 55 secs
    #books, #joestrummer, #musicbooks, #punk, #punkrock, #theclash, #thisisengland, #wearetheclash

    Listen in as Mark Andersen, co-author of a breathtaking book called “We are the Clash,” walks us through the most overlooked and unheralded era of the Clash—the making of their last album, “Cut the Crap.” Almost universally reviled and expunged from the band’s official history, “Cut the Crap” is one of the most ambitious if-not-most-misunderstood albums of all time. To Mark Andersen, it is as equally meaningful as anything the band had ever done. In this episode of For Songs, I speak with Mark about his book, this era of the band, and four songs—“This is England,” “Are You Red…y,” “Movers and Shakers,” and “North and South.” Buckle up!

  • Episode 9: A Conversation with Mackenzie Nicole

    September 30th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  35 mins 36 secs
    #mackenzienicole, #mentalhealth, #mystic, #strangemain, #strangemusic

    Music means different things for different people. For some, it’s an escape. For others, it’s a way to confront and overcome your fears. And for me, it’s something in between. For Mackenzie Nicole and her latest album The Mystic, music is certainly about addressing your fears directly. In this episode of For Songs, Mackenzie talks about her musical journey, not only through the amorphous world of pop music, but also through mental illness and recovery. We talk about four songs from The Mystic and how each symbolizes a step in her recovery. The message is this: If you are suffering, hope always exists.

  • Episode 8: A Conversation with Louis Michot

    September 20th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  40 mins 51 secs
    #cajunmusic, #fiddle, #folkmusic, #lostbayouramblers, #michotsmelodymakers, #poguetry, #poguetrylive, #traditionalmusic

    Louis Michot of the @lostbayouramble & @michotsmelody makers talks about his deep passion for #cajunmusic, his band’s 2020 tour with two founding members of @poguesofficial that was cut short, and how he’s been creating new music since the #pandemic hit earlier this year. Most importantly, we talk about four traditional Cajun songs spanning his career, and how audience engagement and encouragement is more important now than ever.

  • Episode 7: A Conversation with Paleface

    August 16th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  42 mins 18 secs
    antifolk, folkrock, indiefolk, indierock, monicasamalot, newmusic, paleface, pf&mo

    Listen in as indie-rock legend Paleface and his partner/drummer Monica “Mo” Samalot talk about their latest album “Go Forth,” their first self-made, self-produced record. “Go Forth” came out in early 2020, and their touring plans came to a halt as the pandemic settled in. Paleface (PF) talks candidly about how he got into the music biz in New York’s anti-folk scene in the late 80s, his process for writing, and how things have changed over time.

  • Episode 6: A Conversation with Yasmin Williams

    August 4th, 2020  |  31 mins 28 secs
    #guitar.yaz, #musicatyourfingertips, #skytopguitars, #yasminwilliams

    Take a journey with Yasmin Williams, the brilliant acoustic-guitar player who burns up the fretboard with astonishing ease. Find out how beating Guitar Hero 2 as an eighth grader has lead her down the path to become a recording artist with music degrees from New York University, one album already under her belt and another about to be released in the fall. Her breathtaking skill will leave you mesmerized and wanting more. Listen in!

  • Episode 5: A Conversation with The Rails

    July 20th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  39 mins 50 secs
    #folkrock, #jameswalbourne, #kamithompson, #lindathompson, #railsofficial, #richardthompson, #thepretenders, #therails

    Few people know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into songwriting than Kami Thompson and James Walbourne of the English rock duo the Rails. James has played with some of the songwriting greats of the last few decades, including Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and Shane MacGowan (!). And Kami is the daughter of the renown English songwriting duo Linda and Richard Thompson. So songwriting is in her blood. Yet it can still be a challenge for them, and only recently have they found a strong way of working. How does it all come together? And how has it changed over the years? Listen in…