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Quick Q and A With Catie Curtis
 by Kathy S-B  ·  21 October 2014

Catie CurtisA music critic once described the music of Catie Curtis as “sophisticated simplicity.” That’s an excellent way to highlight the fact that Catie’s songs reflect the pure emotions and feelings that resonate with her fans; yet those very same songs are wrapped up in an exquisite musical quilt of sound and rhythm. Well-respected songwriter, Mary Gauthier, praises Catie in one of the most heartfelt quotes I’ve seen in a long, long time. She says about Catie: “She is an inspiration to me. She knows the power of gentleness, and the vulnerability in her voice has always undone me. Made me want to be a better person.” Catie’s ability to sing about what really matters has made the world a better place.

To learn more about Catie, visit her website. Here’s a cool video of the song “The Voyager” from Catie’s latest CD, Flying Dream.

How do you manage to juggle all the aspects of being a full-time musician? Do you plot out time to be in “creative mode”?
Yes, I have to set aside time for writing or it just doesn’t happen!
Touring can be grueling. What do you do to keep yourself balanced when you’re on the road?
I go for walks, and do yoga in my hotel room. I focus a lot on writing/finishing new songs on the road because it helps me to feel fresh at each gig.
Tell us about your latest CD, Flying Dream. First of all, what does the title mean?
Flying Dream is a moment when life seems too good to be true. So the line in the chorus, “Don’t look down in the flying dream” means don’t get in your own way” let the good stuff happen. Most of the songs were co-written by Kristen Hall. She sings harmony and produces the CD too.
You’re now on your own record label. Is that a freeing experience or is it a bit scary after having been affiliated with a label for so many years?
I was with an indie label, so it doesn’t feel like that huge a change. I already had freedom and being in charge isn’t really scary- it’s just more work on my plate with the upside of more potential reward!
You’re co-written many songs on this CD with Kristen Hall. Were these forays into crafting songs together different than your previous co-writing experiences with Mark Erelli, Mary Gauthier and Beth Nielson Chapman?
Co-writing is remarkably similar from writer to writer. We just talk, play and brainstorm, riding the ups and downs of the creative process together. I love it!
Your promo for the album states that there is some “subtle jazz, electronic and AM pop shadings.” That sounds intriguing and very different from your other recordings. What’s the reaction been from your long-time fans?
I was going for dreamy and yummy, which we got. So far, my fans have said it’s one of their favorites, if not the best CD I’ve made. Of course my fans are kind, so you’ll have to listen for yourself and see. :)
You are well known for supporting causes like the Voices United for Separation of Church and State and Equal Marriage. Do these causes give you strength and insight which fuels your songwriting?
I get involved with causes because I believe that music can shift people’s thinking about issues. I also love bringing people together to support a cause — folk music is about ideas as much as music. The reality is that I’m singing mostly about love/relationships and stories that are not overtly political. But taking a stand on some issues brings a little more meaning to my work.
You’ve become an ordained minister and are able to marry friends and fans. What prompted you to take that step?
I went to a couple weddings at which the couple didn’t seem connected to the officiant and vice versa. What I like about getting involved in weddings is the preparation with the couple to help them create the content, and to get to know them. Then when we get up there on their wedding day, I’m relatively calm (having stage experience helps) so I can help them with their jitters, and help them feel as comfortable and authentic as possible.
You’ve had the opportunity to play at one of Obama’s inauguration parties as well as playing holiday shows at the White House. How did you come into the radar of the Obama administration?
The White House Director of the Office of Visitors is a fan. Sweet!
Do you have any cool stories about adventures in the White House?
My dad got to pick up basketballs from Obama’s rack, and I got to play with the White House dogs — Sunny and Bo. Both pretty great experiences.
Are you listening to any new artists these days? If so, who . . . and what are your thoughts about them and their music?
I love Boston-based Tall Heights. They are two guys who play cello and guitar, have gorgeous voices, great songs, and the love for what they are doing. Total package!

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. Melita’s brother Mladen Pozaic conducted the symphony in Sarajevo. My father’s cousin Nikolai Debelic was the conductor of the Dubrovnik symphony and Radovan Lorkovic, my uncle who is a violinist and music history professor in Switzerland he is currently whipping me into shape as a classical accompanist.
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.

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