It seems that Jonah Tolchin is everywhere! He’s become one of the media’s darlings this year. The release of his latest recording, Clover Lane, has attracted a good deal of attention. He was signed to Yep Rock Records and has been touring all over the country. And he’s a newlywed! Yes, we’d have to say that 2014 has been a good year for Jonah Tolchin.
You may recall Jonah’s appearance at the me&thee last January when he opened for the legendary Chris Smither. He impressed many and we knew that we wanted to have him back sooner than later. His alliance with Yep Roc made that wish come true since Mandolin Orange (also on Yep Roc) added him to their show at the me&thee on October 3.
Here are some recent articles about Jonah:
He was chosen as Writer of the Week by American Songwriter.
Jonah made an appearance at the recent Americana Festival and got written up by NPR Music.
Here’s his official video of “21st Century Girl.”
If that’s not enough, he was even asked to give a Tedx Talk at the Northwood School about making your own path ln life.
The sound of stars rising — Mandolin Orange! This dynamic duo from North Carolina has been described as the contemporary version of Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris or maybe even Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. National Public Radio chose their latest CD, This Side of Jordan, as one of the Top 10 Folk / Americana albums of 2013. Mandolin Orange played at the legendary Newport Folk Festival this summer and has been keeping up a relentless touring schedule.
To learn more about Mandolin Orange, visit their website. Here’s a lovely video of “There Was a Time.”
- One music critic has cited that your music is a mixture of folk, bluegrass and pop. Another music writer says that it’s a mix of bluegrass, rock, and country. If you had to divide your ‘sound’ up like a pie, how would you slice it?
- It probably depends on the era. We definitely went through a Mandolin Orange rock phase, but it was pretty short-lived. We’re feeling pretty grounded in more of the old- time music lately, so I’d say the pie is currently 50% singer-songwriter (less genre-oriented), 18% bluegrass, 17% old-time, 10% country and 5% rock.
- Has your music evolved in any noticeable ways since you first started playing together?
- It’s kind of a constant evolution. We go through phases of what kinds of sounds we want to make (see first question) but I think it’s all still rooted in the same place. We’re always going to be singing harmonies, and playing acoustic guitar, fiddle and mandolin. The details come and go but those are the constants.
- Do you have any mutual musical heroes? Anyone who we’d be surprised by?
- We spend almost all of our time either playing together or listening to the same music in the car, so most of our heroes and influences are mutual at this point. They’re usually instrument specific — for fiddle it has always been Stuart Duncan, for mandolin, Mike Compton and Tim O’Brien. Acoustic guitar would be the obvious Tony Rice and Norman Blake, but a less obvious choice would be Neil Young — his solo acoustic guitar style is a huge influence of mine (Emily). The songwriting influences are a lot more wide-reaching. John Hartford, Paul Simon, Eddie Vedder, Cass McCombs, Doug Paisley, the list goes one. We picked up a copy of Pantera Far Beyond Driven the other day in a record store. . . . it probably won’t get as much airplay as the other stuff in the van but it’s a good throwback.
- You met each other at a music jam in 2009. Had you both been into music for a while prior to that fateful meeting?
- Andrew had been songwriting since he first picked up the guitar, but was just learning mandolin. I had played fiddle throughout middle and high school but hadn’t been playing for the several years leading up to our meeting, so it really was by chance that we both ended up at that jam!
- Were you surrounded by the sounds of Appalachian music when you were young? Was it cool to like it or were all your friends into heavy metal or rap or other types of music?
- I think we were both more aware of that kind of folk music than we would have been had we grown up somewhere else. That said, neither of us got super into it until we were older. There was a lot more heavy metal and bad pop country playing in our cars as 16-year-olds.
- Tell us about your first attempts at playing together. Could you sense that it was a good fit?
- It was really natural from the start. It was super easy to sing together, maybe because we both have pretty straight-ahead voices.
- How long did it take before you both agreed that this was a musical venture to put time and energy into?
- Not very long — after the first night we played together we were constantly making more plans. We played around in local bars a lot during those first few months. It kind of developed naturally and took a while before we consciously decided to be a “band”.
- You’ve had some amazing opportunities to play all over the country. You’ve probably played in all kinds of places — big and small. Do any stand out in any memorable ways or do they all tend to blur together?
2014 has been a bit of a blur. We’ve played more shows this year and covered more miles than ever before. But each show is unique and we remember places pretty well so far. We love big and small shows — it really just depends on the energy we get from a crowd and how interactive we’re able to be. We like to be conversational as much as possible.
- Is there a new recording in the works any time soon? What’s in store for 2015?
- Yes! We’ve been working on some new stuff that we’re really excited about! I don’t have many details to share yet but there will definitely be new tunes out there in 2015.
Jim Trick is one of a kind. His joyful sincerity and contagious enthusiasm are perfect for the stage and it helps that his songwriting is meaningful and his stage presence is magnetic. Think about musicians who have that kind of palpable connection with their audiences — and multiply that sensation by two or three. That’s the kind of guy Jim Trick is. He’s the real thing whether you meet him on the street or if are sitting in the audience. You come away feeling a bit better for the encounter and a bit more hopeful about the future of the human race.
To learn more about Jim Trick, check out his website. Here’s a video of Jim performing at Club Passim recently.
- What’s been the reaction to Further from the Tree. Are your fans digging it?
- I was playing a big show in NH recently and I asked for requests. People asked for specific songs off the new album! Its not even officially out yet but people who supported the trickstarter (kickstarter) have it and seem to love it. I’m really proud of it so I’m glad my peeps are appreciating.
- I always love hearing the back stories behind songs. I understand that “Jungle Girl” came about from an interesting encounter. . . .
- Bruce Springsteen wrote a song early in his career called “Jungle Land.” It mentions a barefoot girl on the hood of a Dodge drinking warm beer in the summer rain. I met her! She lived near Asbury Park and knew the Boss. She told me the story and as she did, her entire posture changed. It was like she was there and not a day had passed. I dubbed her the “jungle girl” and made up the story of what I thought she might have been like.
- Have you ever played in a band or have you always been a solo act?
- I was in a band from the time I was 18 until I was about 20. We were called Just As If, and played churches and camps. It consisted of my two friends and I and our pastor who had made his living as a touring musician prior to becoming a minister. He became a mentor to me and was the first person who told me that I could actually do this for a living. I really love being a solo artist because of the flexibility it allows.
- Are there any special songs on the new CD that you’re particularly proud of?
- “A Road Called Home” is about an eight-week, cross-country road trip that my wife planned for last May and June. In many ways, the song and trip are a line we are drawing in the sand in terms of how we want to live our lives going forward.
- When the song was first being written a trip like we were going on was just a dream. And it happened. In some crazy way, this album is propelling us into a truer life, steeped in freedom and adventure.
- Your spoken word pieces on the CD are nice interludes between the songs. Did you plan on including them when you began planning the CD or was it a plan that got hatched during production?
- I had planned on it but my producer wasn’t sure. When you are working with someone as gifted as Michael Pritzl you really want to pick your battles. I picked this one and he agreed in the end. I like mixing it up and plan on adding them to my live show as well.
- Tell us about your road trip. What did you learn about yourself and how will a trip like that impact your music and your life going forward?
- Leading up to the trip I thought I’d love it but realized I’d never done an thing like it before so I was worried about how I’d feel if this dream of mine wasn’t actually for me. I discovered that it was even better than I could have ever imagined and that I am, in fact, made for the road. America became small and my love for this amazing country became bigger.
- There are stories around every corner and therefore songs as well.
- I learned that I need absolutely nothing other than what I had in the back of my 2004 Honda Element. (Clothes, guitar, PA, fly fishing gear, MacBook Pro and camping equipment) and I will be working this fall to move further in the direction of minimalism.
- I’m excited about what this trip means for touring. I was blown away by how many friends we have everywhere and I think 2015 will see the first official Jim Trick tour.
- The trip changed everything really. I got to feed a lion in Texas. I got to hug a giant redwood tree in Northern California. I listened to U2’s Joshua tree on my way to Joshua tree. The list goes on and on and on.
- What was the most profound place of beauty that you saw on your trip? And what was your most memorable human encounter?
- We hear the phrase “America the beautiful” all the time, but until you’ve seen it you can’t know how truly beautiful it is.
- Taos, New Mexico, Yellowstone National Park, The redwood forests of Northern California, Southern California, Chicago!!!! I can’t pick a most beautiful part but I can say that I left parts of my heart in every place we visited. The gritty areas that are struggling are beautiful for their grit. The lush vistas of the Shenandoah Valley are beautiful for their lushness. I was surprised by the emotional impact that Mount Rushmore had on me.
- As for the most memorable human encounter, there was a magical moment that happened in Chicago. Ali and I both woke up grumpy. I yelped to find a place for breakfast and got lost walking to. I’m apparently the only person alive that gets lost with a GPS in my hand. Not my typical but it was that day. It didn’t help that the diner had no sign and looked like it was part of an old Howard Johnson hotel, though it wasn’t.
- We went in, still grumpy and sat down in a mini booth, generally unaware of the other people eating.
- Halfway through our breakfast a well-dressed couple in their late sixties came up to us and said, “this may mean nothing to you but we feel like we are supposed to tell you this.” We had no idea what was coming and had not noticed them until that moment. “We are visiting from California and just got word that our best friend’s son was in a horrible motorcycle accident last night and might not make it.” I looked him in the eye and asked if he wanted us to pray for them. He then looked at his wife as if to say “see — I told you” and looked at me with a sigh and said “I had hoped you would.” Keep in mind we had never met, he knew nothing about us and we had been nearly silent while eating (grumpiness does that to you). They squeezed into our mini booth. His wife next to Alison and he was next to me. I put my arm around him and as I prayed they began to sob. It is one of the most powerful things I’ve been party to.
- The couple left after we chatted for a while and then our server asked how we knew them. We told her we didn’t and told her the whole thing. We then got to hear her recount the story in Spanish to the rest of the servers and cooks.
- Truthfully the whole trip was like that. It has changed my life. . . .