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 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…

  • Episode 4: A Conversation with Eli Cook

    July 8th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  36 mins 29 secs
    #blueridgemountains, #blues, #bluesmusic, #elicook, #guitar, #rootsmusic

    Sometimes an interview is an education. That was the case when I spoke with Eli Cook, the brilliant blues guitarist based just southwest of Charlottesville, Va. Eli is a true student of music, but in this interview, he was the teacher. Join us as Eli takes us on a journey that crosses generations and how he created a sound inspired by the past but authentic to his times.

  • Episode 3: A Conversation with Veronneau

    June 22nd, 2020  |  Season 1  |  40 mins 49 secs
    #antidotesounds, #bluesalley, #brazil, #jazz, #jazzsamba, #samba, #veronneau, #veronneaumusic

    Anyone who's ever doubted the power of music has never met nor seen the band Veronneau, the D.C.-based jazz trio that's been making waves for the past 10 years. In this episode we speak with Lynn Veronneau and Ken Avis, the real-life couple that is the bedrock upon which the band is based. And once you hear their story, you'll understand just how powerful music really is.

  • Episode 2: A Conversation with Kevin Adkins

    June 9th, 2020  |  Season 1  |  35 mins 58 secs
    #black47, #dcmusic, #franklingotham, #icewagon flu, #irishrock, #mixtapestudios

    Not every capable songwriter gets a record contract. Some come close but for whatever reason it doesn't work out. In this episode, we talk with Kevin Adkins, a veteran of New York's Irish rock scene and now one half of the songwriting duo Franklin Gotham. Kevin's first band Icewagon Flu nearly took off in the early 2000s, but the timing wasn't right. Thankfully, he's still at it. And this is his story

  • Episode 1: A Conversation with Scott Miller

    May 23rd, 2020  |  Season 1  |  34 mins 6 secs
    commonwealther, singersongwriter, songwriter, songwriting, storytelling, thescottmiller, vroys

    Join me as I chat at length with singer/songwriter Scott Miller, a renowned musician from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. We discuss four songs (get it, “for songs,” four songs…) from Miller’s solo career. We touch on his inspirations, influences, and wrap it up with his plan to save America!