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Quick Q and A with Jim Trick
 by Kathy S-B  ·  21 September 2014

Jim TrickJim 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. . . .

Quick Q and A with Linda Sharar
 by Kathy S-B  ·  20 September 2014

Linda ShararLinda Sharar is an award-winning singer-songwriter whose songs are honest and pure. Linda expresses herself in an easy, familial, and tangible way as though she’s been a good friend for years . There’s a musical comfort zone that wraps around you with each and every song. That kind of rapport is something to appreciate and respect.

To learn more about Linda Sharar, visit her website. Here’s a sweet video of Linda playing “Harmony with You” along with Adam Michael Rothberg.
Your bio states that you started playing guitar and writing songs when you were a teenager and started playing open mikes during college. Looking back, what do you think of your songwriting back then?
In my teen years my songwriting was very predictable lyrically but had emotional truth and a strong feeling musically. My older sisters were all musically talented and encouraged me as a writer, which made me feel confident enough to keep at it. But I was a very shy about my songs and did not promote myself as a songwriter with any real effort until I graduated from college.
If you could pick up a brand new instrument and have the time to learn to play it well, what would it be?
I would love to have another go at the fiddle, and there is also a very nice Appalachian dulcimer at my home waiting for me to spend more time with it.
What’s it like playing with your sisters. Did you grow up playing together or is this something that you started to do as adults?
We’ve been playing music together forever. Our mom Helen played guitar, sang, covered songs and wrote poetry. Our dad Paul also encouraged us all to sing and recorded us often as kids with his basic tape recorder… My mom had a group that performed around town (and surrounding areas). So all of us were inspired and learned guitar and/or singing… part from Mom, part from lessons, from listening to and watching others perform. At family holiday gatherings and often just around the house we were always singing, playing instruments and carrying on. . . . As kids and into adulthood, we’ve all had different musical paths. Carol studied violin and has played professionally with large symphonies to folk acts to large pop acts from a young age. Carol also teaches orchestra, bluegrass and other instrumental classes at a NJ middle school. Connie and Kathy have both performed as singers in rock/blues bands and have learned some instruments. I took piano and tried violin but ended up mostly a guitar player and songwriter. But there have been periods in our teens, and later, where we did gigs with each other and would get up on stage at times at each other’s performances. Our divergent paths have kept us from performing as an “act,” at least until recently. Just in the past few years we’ve had regular appearances at the Black Potatoe Music Festival as well as some other smaller venues (Fox Run last year). Playing gigs with my sisters is one of my utmost favorite things to do in life.
When you moved to New York City, was your intention to make your living as a musician?
I was exploring several different options, including possibly going to law school. I worked for a year as a legal assistant in a large firm in Manhattan, then switched to a job in Business Affairs/Legal at Sony Music, where I stayed for 5 years. At that time I knew I couldn’t afford to live off of being a musician, but was exploring all the possibilities of my various skillsets. Eventually I realized I could probably work as a software engineer/IT professional (something I picked up at the Sony job), and play music at the same time. I made that career change in 1996 when I moved to Boston.
How did you hook up with the Fast Folk songwriters and what did you learn at Jack Hardy’s songwriting sessions?
Jack (and Wendy Beckerman) lived diagonally across from me in New York. I had a little apartment on MacDougal St off 6th Ave below Houston, and they were on the north east side of that large intersection. Some of my friends including Chris Bauman, Gregg Cagno, and Catie Curtis were involved with Fast Folk and so eventually through one of them, I met Wendy, and then joined the regular meetings at Jack’s. It was a wonderful community to join at that time because they had just gotten the Fast Folk Cafe going and there were not only great songs to hear but gigs to be had. My first Fast Folk gig was opening for Cliff Eberhardt, then Paul Geremia, and I played there several times over the years. I also was recorded performing my song “Nathan” on the “New Voices NYC” CD in 1996, and had a song covered, “Carriage Horse” at a Fast Folk show at the Bottom Line. Also at the same time there were songwriting meetings held over at David Seitz’s apartment (Prime CD) and just tons of great songwriters were revolving between those two meetings. I was extremely grateful for the regular nights of shared meals and creative community, which is not always easy to find in a sprawling city like New York.
Tell us about Camp Hoboken. That musical collective was a big part of your life for a few years. What was your biggest joy during that time?
It’s hard to tell the tale of Camp Hoboken in a short answer, but my sisters were involved… one of my best friends Gregg Cagno, his best friend Chris Bauman, and I were initiators of it. We would meet in the front room at Maxwells in Hoboken, and plot how we could improve our music careers. Don Brody booked the front room and started singing with my sister Connie in a rebirth of his well-known duo, the Marys. Out of some late night imaginings we decided to create a sort of a traveling variety show with several different members, the goal being to make self-promotion, traveling and conferences easier to manage (and bear). Our first real engagement was the 1995 National Folk Alliance Conference in DC, and we made a compilation tape of all of our music, setting up several showcases as a group where we played songs in the round and together. People came to see us and said, “can we book you as a group?” We also had our own campsites at Falcon Ridge and other festivals. Don (who also worked at Razor & Tie) was in many ways our fearless leader and guru. We lost him to a heart attack in 1997. That was devastating to all of us but made us closer. Read Chris Bauman’s book “In Hoboken” to really get a feel for what our lives were about. I’d say the great joy for me in being a part of Camp Hoboken was all the incredible fun we had, anywhere we went. We focused on the fun first, and always treated each other like family. Too many wonderful stories to tell here really, but a highlight for me was a tour I did with Gregg and Chris through Atlanta, Dallas and back. We met Woody Guthrie’s daughter, were attacked by ticks, ate too many ribs and almost crashed my car but that doesn’t really capture it at all much…
You’ve released three solo records and have taken a bit of a break to raise your children. Have you been able to grab some time now and again to write some new songs so we’ll get a new addition to your discography?
I have been writing recently, I think mostly inspired by the passing of Jack Hardy. His loss really hit me in a deep way and I started to hear his voice urging me to get off my soapbox and start writing again. I also can thank Esther Friedman and Chris LaVancher who host a songwriting meeting I attend, as well as Timmy Riordan who hosts an online “Fearless Songwriting” challenge regularly. I am lucky to have so many talented musicians, engineers, promoters, DJs, etc in my life who I truly appreciate just as people. The quality of the music is enhanced by these relationships, and so I hope my musical compositions/recordings also reflect that.
You were deeply involved with the Respond compilation which was a benefit CD for domestic abuse causes. That collection caught the attention of many people and the songs were powerful. Tell us about the genesis of that project.
I had moved up to the Boston area in 1996 and started playing open mikes and gigs almost immediately. Charan Devereax was hosting the open mike at Club Passim on Tuesday nights and she invited me to a pancake breakfast at her house with some of the other women playing the open mikes, including Colleen Sexton, Kris Delmhorst, Jess Klien, Pamela Means, Lori McKenna, Mary Gauthier etc. Charan spearheaded the project but got several of us on board as co-producers as well as artists. We brainstormed together at a few meetings and came up with a list of other better known artists we also wanted to involve, as well as producers, promoters etc, and once we found the Somerville organization “Respond” to be the recipient of the fundraising, lots of people jumped on board. I feel very lucky to have been a part of it. What a group of women and what an amazing compilation we made!
Do you listen to much new music these days? Have you discovered any new voices that you feel are comparable to those whom you knew from the Fast Folk days?
I do love to listen and find new music, not through radio exposure or the typical channels, but mostly via house concerts, word of mouth, and/or at festivals. Mary Lou Lord has a great Facebook feed where she promotes a lot of great bands who are under the radar. I also just poke around to see who my favorite bands are working with and that kind of thing…
Will there be a new Linda Sharar recording any time soon?
In the past four years or so I’ve recorded some individual songs at different places with different levels of finish. I think I would consider putting out an EP in the next year but nothing dramatic or expensive. I suppose in this day and age it might be enough to do this online and have a few youtube videos to complement the songs. But I also am hoping the Sharar sisters get some recordings in the works, because we all realize how valuable it is to document what happens when we make music together.

Quick Q and A with Cricket Tell the Weather
 by Kathy S-B  ·  13 September 2014

After winning last year’s FreshGrass Festival Award last year, this eclectic band has continued to blossom and spread their music up and down and across the Northeast. Their music falls under the musical umbrella of bluegrass but at the same time they exhibit a bit of indie-rock, old-timey and Americana. As with most music these days, it’s simply impossible to label a band with one word. Well, to tell you the truth, we could label this band with one word:–how about “excellent”?

For more information about Cricket Tell the Weather, visit their website. Here’s a video of Cricket Tell the Weather performing their award-winning song, “Remington.”

Cricket Tell the Weather

I’ve got to ask — where did the band name Cricket Tell the Weather come from?
Originally it was an old-time tune referenced in a play that our banjo player was in, but we love the idea that crickets actually do tell the weather! You can tell the temperature based on the number of chirps a cricket makes. The next time you hear a cricket, count the number of chirps you hear in 14 seconds, then add 40 to get the temperature.
Was the genesis of the band created when Andrea and Jason co-wrote a song for the Podunk Bluegrass Songwriting Competition?
The songwriting competition definitely helped launch the idea for writing more songs and putting together a full band. The competition helped award us a grant by the City of Bridgeport to record the song in a professional studio, and we used the tracks to help recruit the original band.
How did the band form?
Andrea and Jason met playing together in a string band in Syracuse, NY. Eventually they moved to Connecticut and NYC, respectively, and found musicians to collaborate with in the local bluegrass communities and festivals. The group of five helped arrange and record the band’s debut album and won the band competition in the 2013 FreshGrass festival. The band has since been touring our original material throughout the northeast, from Pennsylvania to Maine.
Your music is described as progressive bluegrass, What makes it progressive?
We love traditional bluegrass music and met at bluegrass festivals and jams. When we write our own songs, some come out sounding more like bluegrass than others. The roles of the instruments stay similar as in bluegrass, and the styles of each player are very much informed by the genre, but we let go a lot of the rules of the traditional genre when we’re arranging and playing our own material. What comes out is bluegrass with more jazz, chamber, and indie influence.
We’d love to know about your debut album. Tell us about what it was like in the studio
We recorded the album at Signature Sounds Studio in Pomfret Center, CT. It’s a beautiful spot in the quiet corner of Connecticut in an old farmhouse that used to be an artist co-op in the 70s. We worked with sound engineer Mark Thayer and with Wes Corbet as producer. It was our first time in a professional studio and we enjoyed learning about the process and having a few long weekends together to get the tracks where we wanted them.
What about the songs on the album. Are they all originals?
All the songs are original, except for the third track “Who’s That Knockin at My Door?” by Pat Enright, which we played as part of the FreshGrass competition. The remaining tracks are all original, including our award-winning song “Remington”, as well as songs that are more bluegrass oriented, like “No Big City” and “Rocky Mountain Skies”; softer Americana songs like “Salt and Bones” and “Let it Pass”; and songs with more indie influence like “Embers” and “So Fast So Long.”
I understand that you’ve done some work with kids in schools. What’s that like? Have you run into situations where it’s the first time that some children have heard bluegrass music. What’s their reaction?
Yes, we’ve been including workshops and performances for elementary through high school kids in public schools, Montessori schools, and educational arts centers. We’ve found that most kids, from both urban and suburban areas, have very limited experience with bluegrass music, but they enjoy seeing it up close, engaging in singing and dancing, and learning about the many influences that inspired bluegrass–from Irish fiddle to the blues and beyond. Student responses have been overwhelmingly positive to the opportunity to experience more about American traditional music.
What do you have in store for the immediate future and farther off into far away future? Any band goals?
We are starting to expand our touring schedule and head further south and west with our music. We have many new songs in the works and are excited to start work on our next album.

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