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Quick Q and A with Radoslav Lorkovic
 by Kathy S-B  ·  20 October 2014

Radoslav LorkovicIf you have never had the opportunity to experience Radoslav Lorkovic, you are missing a master at work. Whether it be his virtuosic piano playing or his uncanny way of adding just the right touches from his beautiful red accordion, concert goers are in for a real treat. It truly doesn’t matter who he is playing with; he’s played with so many of the A list musicians in the country and each and every show that he is involved with is an utter pleasure and delight. Born in Croatia, but his musical pedigree comes from many years on the road all around the world — traveling and doing his thing with the best of the best and on his own. Rad’s music is unique; it’s atmospheric; it’s jazz and blues infused. Give your ears a treat and listen!

To learn more about this formidable and most talented musician, check out his website. Watch Rad playing a haunting song called “Northwind.” Here’s a fantastic video of him playing with Odetta.

Has music always been a major part of your life?
It’s really all I remember. My singer Grandma was teaching me Slavic folk songs as classical music played. I had a whole set learned by age three which I would perform for my gramp’s pals. They would throw money. As a toddler I would wander around the place singing several key passages to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
I understand that you that your grandmother, Melita Lorkovic, was a classical pianist. Is anyone else in your accomplished family musical?
Melita headed the list. The list is quite long. My maternal great grandfather conducted the opera in Ljubljana. Hilarius Benishek. Melitas brother Mladen Pozaic conducted the symphony in Sarajevo. My father’s cousin Nikolai Debelic was the conductor of the Dubrovnik symphony
Was practicing something that you did willingly?
Absolutely not! I was a teacher’s nightmare. My assignment was likely “Mary had a Little Lamb.” My diligent teacher asked “Radoslav, did you practice?” I said no. After a few more unproductive sessions I arrived not knowing the assignment but I did learn a Bach two part invention instead
You may have studied classical music but you grew to love popular music. So you were one of those kids who had a transistor stuck to your ear all the time? Do you recall what songs captivated you during those early years?
It was a green transistor radio. It was tuned to WDGY. Minneapolis. I liked “Sweet Pea” and “Red Rubber Ball” but likely had the top 40 memorized. This led to the subsequent slippery slope which led to blues.
When did you first start playing the accordion? Was the main reason because of its portability? Did you find that having an accordion at a folk festival is a lot easier than relying on a decent piano?
An accordion literally landed in my lap at a party in Iowa City. Everyone had guitars so I made do. Took it to sound check with Bo (Ramsey) the next day. He said. “Keep doing that.” I fell I love with Clifton Chenier and Flaco Jimenez simultaneously and did my best to imitate them
What are your fondest memories of your days working with Bo Ramsey and Greg Brown?
Many of them I am unable to discuss :). But it was basically living the dream playing with those guys. Still livin’ it.
How did your tours in Europe come about? I’m intrigued about you getting to play in castles and exotic other locations!
My first European tour came about by accident and fate. Dave Moore had a hit record in Italy. He said stop by and sit in on one show. I did. The promoter went nuts and added me to the whole month-long tour. The rest was history. I met most of my folk scene friends in Italy
There’s a video of you accompanying the legendary Odetta. When did you first meet her and discover that you’d be a good combination?
My friend Seth Farber was running out of substitute pianists. He was Odetta’s principal pianist. She disliked most that he sent as a result of his music directorship for “Hairspray.” It was musical love at first sight at our first show at Maine’s Flye Point Festival
You’ve probably seen it all — huge capacity festivals to small, intimate house concerts. Is there any rhyme or reason to the music business?
I’m writing this from the humblest of house concerts. No reason but lots of rhyme. It never made any sense. That’s why I love it!

Quick Q and A with Greg Klyma
 by Kathy S-B  ·  16 October 2014

Greg KlymaGreg Klyma is a product of the Rust Belt — Buffalo, NY to be exact. As his bio states, he’s an old-school troubadour with contemporary savvy. He’s a guy who has a ton of stories to tell and songs to sing. He’s rambled all over the country but decided to call Somerville home in recent years. The greater-Boston area has benefited from his presence. If he’s not on stage doing his own set, he’s sitting in with the best of the best at any number of clubs, coffeehouses or festivals. He’s a go-to kind of musician who is much beloved for his musical integrity and hard-working ethic.

To learn more about Greg, check out his website. Here’s a video of Greg singing “Talking Talking Blues Blues.” And for good measure, here’s Greg and friends playing at his regular Monday night gig.

I’m always interested to hear about what hooked musicians on music. What’s your story? Were you influenced by someone in your family? Or did you have an inspirational teacher? Or did you discover music by listening to some kind of electronic device?
Music was always around. Whether it was mom and dad listening to Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, going to see my cousins’ Polka band or listening to grandpa play harmonica in the living room while my uncle played guitar and sang country songs, there was music. My friends and I bought and shared records, made mix tapes. I didn’t know people lived otherwise.
Has your taste in music changed over the years since you’ve gotten deeper and deeper into the Americana scene. Who would you say are some of the best musicians and songwriters around today?
Anais Mitchell and Jonathan Byrd are two of the best songwriters I know. Duke Levine and Michael Bean are a couple of my favorite musicians. I don’t listen to much current music ’cept what I might catch on WUMB. At the moment, I’m listening to Kris Kristofferson’s first albums on Monument Records. “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is as good as songwriting gets.
Did you take music lessons or are you self taught?
I took guitar lessons when I was 13. I studied music a little in college, mostly because I thought I was supposed to. I haven’t stopped learning. If I live a long life, I hope this remains truth. Lately, I’m inspired to work on my lead guitar playing. I have a Telecaster and Fender Princeton Reverb. Now, if I only had chops.
Tell us about your latest release, Another Man’s Treasure. It got some great radio airplay which makes me do all kinds of crazy happy dances.
Thank you. Yeah, it was in rotation on WUMB for a while and then got added to rotation on The Village on Sirius XM. All very exciting!
Another Man’s Treasure was my first fan-funded project. We reached our goal a full week before the deadline. Then, on two glorious days in June 2013, me and 7 friends gathered at a barn-turned-studio in Eden, NY. Some had driven in from Boston, a couple live in Buffalo, the organ player drove up from Central PA by way of a wedding in Indiana, and yet another flew in from Houston, TX. On Day 1, we tracked 10 songs over 13 studio hours; on Day 2, 6 more songs in 8 hours. All on 1• analog tape! The 16 songs were mixed down and we found the 12 songs that made for the best album. I couldn’t be happier with the sound, vibe and feel of this record. Folks can find it online here:
I’m not familiar with Village Produce. Is it like CD Baby or Amazon?
I’m really down on all the big stores and how they ultimately undercut us independent artists, playing on our emotion and desire to get our music out there. I prefer farmer’s markets to big chain grocery stores (even though the big chains fit my budget better • which is why I end up shopping at them). Village Produce is run by a friend. He’s local to Boston. So, while in theory, I’m supposed to have my music available in as many outlets as possible, the only place you will find Another Man’s Treasure is at my concerts or at Village Produce. This is what local looks like.
One track that stands out is actually not written by you but you definitely made the song your own. What inspired you to give “You Are My Sunshine” such an interesting and plaintive take?
You told me once dear, you truly loved me and no one else could come between. Now, you’ve left me for another. You have shattered all my dreams.
She “shattered” all his dreams. This is a happy song?
The production of the album is really spectacular. There’s a lot going on and it’s all so tight. Did you produce it or did you work with someone else on it?
Ryan Fitzsimmons and I produced it. I’ve played a lot of gigs with Ryan and had played some with most of the other musicians, but they all hadn’t played together until we started to roll tape. It was an interesting experiment. They all brought independent gig experiences to the songs, but there was this freshness and excitement of playing this music with new talented friends. Everyone clicked, and that’s good luck.
It was great to work on this project with my brother in arms. Ryan was particularly helpful when it came to mastering and sequencing the album. I nearly left “Scream” off the album. Ryan fought for it. It was a great call.
If you were asked to put a compilation of your favorite Greg Klyma songs for someone who was not familiar with your music, which ones would you choose and why?
I think you just asked me what my favorite songs by me are. I’d probably just make someone a mix tape of Steve Earle, Tom Petty, Todd Snider and The Band with some Dylan, Stones, Waylon, Willie and Cash peppered in there. Then, I’d invite ’em to pick up a copy of Another Man’s Treasure. It’s where I’m at right now. By the time you read this, I’ll have a different answer. Come to show. I don’t play songs I don’t like.
You’ve created a lively scene called Americana Mondays at P.A’s Lounge in Somerville. Do you generally play with the same band every week or do you have guest musicians sit in and mix it up a bit? What’s your favorite part of playing gigs like this?
Americana Mondays make my week. I’m regularly joined by Joe Klompus on doghouse bass and Steve Latt on pedal steel, fiddle and harmony vocals. We play a lot of Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and the like. Most Mondays we start as a trio. I’m lucky to have a lot of talented friends. They come out for a beer or to network with other musicians, then I put ’em to work in the 2nd set. By the night’s end, there are usually more musicians in the band. It’s a fun hang.
What is it about the Cambridge / Somerville area that attracts so many musicians?
Community. The sense that we’re all in this together. That’s what got me.
One of your many talents, beside playing a multitude of instruments and writing fine songs, is that you are a most excellent storyteller. It’s clear to me that you craft these stories very carefully and choose the correct words and phraseology to set a tone for the tale you’re spinning. Have you always had a penchant for storytelling?
Growing up I remember being asked a lot “do you talk just to hear yourself talk?” For a while I wondered, “do I?” All the while I was simply honing my craft of choosing correct words and phraseology. Could be I talk because other people like to hear me talk.
You spend an awful lot of time in your car when you tour. Do you listen to music, NPR, audiobooks, or all of the above?
I’m not touring so much these days. When I am out there, I don’t listen to much of anything. The road is noisy. I might look for All Things Considered and I do keep the iPod nearby should I need a fix of Hank Williams or Tom Petty. By and large, I value the alone time.
What’s the longest road trip you’ve ever taken? Do you have any advice for young singer-songwriters who wish to pack up their cars and take their songs on tour?
I have all sorts of advice for young songwriters. If they happen to be in town, we can go out for coffee or drinks and I’ll yap till it crushes their souls. If they aren’t dissuaded, then good luck to ’em. No one is doing this because it’s easy.

Quick Q and A with Jeff Black
 by Kathy S-B  ·  3 October 2014

Jeff BlackI’ve been an admirer of Jeff Black’s music since the very first time I heard his music on the radio about ten years ago. Then I had the joy of digging into the back catalog of his music and discovering his early material. One of the most wonderful things about finding a new artist is that you get to play “connect the dots” and see who that artist has played with, been covered by, or any other number of cool tidbits of information. I got to learn more about Sam Bush, Waylon Jennings, Dierks Bentley, and Jerry Douglas through Jeff Black. They all covered his songs.

There’s a lot to learn about Jeff Black by visiting his website. In addition to reading all about him, you can also listen to a number of podcasts in which he shares some rare recordings of his music. Here’s a good example of Jeff Black in concert in Nashville — playing one of his signature songs, “Gold Heart Locket.”

If you had to describe your music in one sentence, what would you say?
Urban dirt road folk and roots for the traveling social romantic.
Who were your early influences? Who inspired you as far as songwriting is concerned? Do you any guitar (banjo, piano, etc.) heroes?
My earliest influence was of course the transistor radio. Big on the list was my brother’s record collection which included imports from his time in Okinawa — Guy Clark, Billy Callery, the lyrics of Bernie Taupin. I can’t exclude a powerful influence my sister had by her mail order Reader’s Digest purchases of albums “great country ballads by great country stars”
Artists like George Morgan, Little Jimmy Dickens, and a parade of Nashville icons. I was influenced by the great songwriting and production skills on an album that I still have in heavy rotation —Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits—. After I read Bound for Glory, we got Woody and all of the satellite artists around him — Leadbelly Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott etc. were explored and put into the library as well.
The music business is filled with ups and downs. Can you recall the first real “UP” that you had — when you were buoyed and fulfilled so much that you knew that you had made the right choice to follow your dream of being a singer-songwriter?
Byron Jones was a local Opry star in the Kansas City area — and through a songwriter’s night I met him. He invited me to come and play with his band at the famous Possum trot down in the Kansas City stockyards. When I was about 14, it looked like there were at least 10,000 people there although I’m sure those numbers are inaccurate :)
There is an epiphany that happens when you start connecting with people through music, conversation, art and actions — I played a show with Nanci Griffith at the Folly Theatre in Kansas City and not long after that opened a show for Guy Clark right before I moved to Nashville and it was like the universe was giving me the green light. I am a very fortunate man.
You’ve also talked about the life of a traveling musician and how difficult it can be. How do you keep a sense of humor about the crazy music business?
My mantra is: “I love to go, I hate to be gone.”
If I don’t perform my songs live, if I don’t get a chance to play my guitar and try to make that connection on a regular basis, something feels wrong inside. The crazy music business is just that — an infinite learning process particularly for independents and I found the best way to deal with the crazy music business is to learn how to operate as an independent as successfully as you can. It’s much different now than it was before the Internet. That’s the only way to deal — empower yourself.
I’ve heard some songwriters tell tales about writing a song in a very short period of time — 10 minutes or so. Have you ever had the experience of a song popping out of you extremely fast? Were you ready to catch it or were you driving down the highway and missed it?
Yes I’ve been lucky like that a few times — I would say the “Carnival Song” that I had written for my great old friend Jack Banister after he passed away. Waylon Jennings recorded that song many years later and it changed my life.
The liner notes for your last recording, Folklore, are quite poignant. I love how you talk about some of your family history and describe the photo of the two young boys and the dog that your grandmother took circa 1930 that appears on the cover of the CD. The composition of these liner notes reveals a lot about you and how you approach your art. How did your love of music and writing get instilled in you at an early age? How did you realize that art was not something to take for granted?
The gift of music was instilled in me by my father. And not from a first-hand lesson, but rather the stories he told about my grandmother playing piano in church and his experience is playing tenor banjo with my uncle while they were working to survive as young boys during the depression.
I spent a long time this week listening to your Black Tuesday podcasts and enjoyed them tremendously. Tell us about them and how they came about.
The podcasts were started with the need for me to create an outlet for my writing which seems to run a little faster than the machinery of releasing a traditional album. They were also created as a format to stay connected in between traditional releases and allowed a stage for me to experiment and share new songs and song demos — even with shaky legs. . . .
Do you have any musical career aspirations that you have yet to achieve?
I’m not sure — I think I’m getting better at measuring success and that’s a big one in our society. My son is a super bad a&%! bass clarinet player and my daughter Zuzu wrote a song the other day that blows a lot of mine out of the water — that’s what every parent hopes for. So, to answer your question, I guess there’s not a musical career aspiration that’s going unfulfilled — except for I am thinking about learning to play the fiddle and I’d like to keep working on being a better songwriter.

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