Newsletter: Sisters Folk Festival, Sept. 2010

September 21, 2010

This was my third visit to the Sisters Folk Festival and I’ve already emailed Julie at  Sisters Vacation Rentals about reserving a condo for next year.  Sisters Folk is THE perfect festival for acoustic music lovers who don’t like to camp.  It’s a weekend festival taking place from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.  They run six outdoor (yet covered) stages in the middle of the tiny and charming city of Sisters, Oregon.  All of the venues are within 4-5 easily walkable blocks of each other.  The venues all have chairs, too.  I’m a big fan of chairs myself.

Add to that that the shows start on time and the sound at this festival is about the best I’ve heard anywhere.   Every word of every lyric and every pluck of the mandolin is as clear as a bell.   I have a theory that good sound has more to do with the sound guy than with the equipment.   It’s just a theory :)

And, oh yes, they have music, too!  Wonderful music.  Here’s the line-up from this year.  When I look over the list of performers now, I’m a little shocked at how many of them I didn’t see, even though I attended about 14 hours worth of shows in two days.  There’s a lot of music!

My first show of the festival was the Peter Mulvey “workshop” show on Saturday morning in the grassy grove at the new Sisters Coffee Stage.  He opened with a song about talking ravens on the roof of his hotel during an Alaskan tour. It was so beautiful that I was teary by the second verse.  His whole set was beautiful, interesting and moving.  I liked or loved every show I saw that weekend but I knew right at that moment that Peter Mulvey, my first show of the festival, was not going be topped.

Among the “loved!” shows were Chris Kokesh (I’m crazy about her new album “October Valentine”), Betty Soo, Ellis (adorable) and Martyn Joseph (what a presence).  I only caught part of two songs in Nathanial Talbot’s set on the Emerging Artists stage but was so engaged that I bought his $5 CD to screen for the Acoustic Pie stream.  We’ll see!

I also caught the end of Peter Mulvey’s show at Bronco Billy’s on Sunday (still a wow).  I realized after a bit that I was standing next to Slaid Cleaves at Peter’s show.  That was a bit disconcerting.  Only a few hours later I was struggling to get a non-blurry picture of Slade waaaay up on the Main Tent Stage from the back of a standing room only crowd.  How quickly things change.  And I was not successful in my quest either ~ all of my Slade pics are various shades of blur (I’ll post a link to the slideshow at the end of this).

If you join me at Sisters next year (that’s Sept. 9-11, 2011), here are some other things you also absolutely must do there:  Have a latte at Sisters Coffee Co., eat a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie from The Depot, and get peaches and Gravenstein apples from Richard’s Produce.

View the slideshow here!

Thanks for reading, everyone!



Top 20 Songs on Acoustic Pie Radio, June 2009

July 3, 2009

Verrrry interesting!  Girlyman’s “Commander”, which squeaked onto the list last month at no. 20 was listeners’ top pick this month.  Have any of you caught a show from their current tour?  The San Diego concert was wonderful!   I just bought last year’s live album will be adding several songs to the Pie in the next few days.  Yes, it’s great, too.

Do you know who Kristen Hall is (no. 3 this month)? She was the third songwriter in the country trio Sugarland before they became a duo.  Wikipedia says she started her music career as a roadie for the Indigo Girls.  I like her solo work.  I hope she puts out another album soon.

San Diego artists are represented by Lindsey Yung at no. 5, Calman Hart (no. 11) and Gregory Page at no. 13.

Thanks for voting and listening to Acoustic Pie!


Artist ~ Song ~ Album

1. Girlyman ~ Commander ~ Hail to the Thieves, Volume III
2. Lori McKenna ~ How To Survive ~ Unglamorous
3. Kristen Hall ~ Nothing ~ Be Careful What You Wish For
4. Ellis ~ City on Fire ~ 2008/2009 Music to Life
5. Lindsey Yung ~ Providence ~ Opal Essence
6. Ingrid Michaelson ~ The Chain ~ Be OK
7. Ellis ~ Words You Said ~ Undefended Heart
8. Damien Rice ~ 9 Crimes ~ 9
9. David Wilcox ~ Beyond Belief ~ Open Hand
10. Jakob Dylan ~ On Up the Mountain ~ Seeing Things
11. Calman Hart ~ Barrel Of Rain ~ The John Boy Drum
12. Bob Sima ~ Last Resort ~ Pour It On
13. Gregory Page ~ Dusty Road ~ Bird in a Cage
14. Erik Balkey ~ Always One More Round ~ Sanctuary Road
15. The Weepies ~ Little Bird ~ Hideaway
16. Jonathan Byrd ~ The Ballad of Larry ~ The Waitress
17. Richard Shindell ~ Fenario ~ Vuelta
18. Patty Griffin ~ Burgundy Shoes ~ Children Running Through
19. Ingrid Michaelson ~ The Way I Am ~ Be OK
20. Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer ~ Red (Elegy) ~ Seven is the Number

Acoustic Pie Newsletter, June 2009

June 9, 2009

Hello and happy summer!

I love the summer.  I love outdoor concerts.  I’ll tell you about a wonderful new outdoor music festival if you keep reading.  Here’s the agenda…

1.  Even When I’m Very Lazy

2.  LA Acoustic Music Festival

3.  For San Diegans Only


1.  Even When I’m Very Lazy

… and I don’t write newsletters for a bit, I still post the Top 20 songs from Acoustic Pie Radio on the first of every month.   You’ll find them in the Acoustic Pie Blog.  I even made a new category for them, “Top 20”, to make them easier to find.  Here they are:  Top 20 Songs on Acoustic Pie

And I update the Featured Artist on the website periodically as well!  This month, David Wilcox will jump out at you from the Acoustic Pie home page.

2.  The LA Acoustic Music Festival

What a glorious place to listen to music.   A brand new outdoor festival took place on June 6-7 on the Santa Monica Pier with fresh air, sunshine and amazing views in every direction.  Perfect weather graced the first ever LA Acoustic Music Festival.  I went all day Sunday and I thought it was fabulous.  It was lightly attended but the organization, the sound, the atmosphere and the performances were top rate!  I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the traveling Woody Guthrie Tribute show “The Ribbon of Highway” with Jimmy LaFave, Joel Raphael, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Eliza Gilkyson and Slaid Cleaves among others.  It’s a beautifully organized tribute combining Guthrie songs with readings from his other writings.  I think I may just have to buy the album.

I took WAY too many pictures which is my excuse for why they are not yet posted on the website.  It’s going to take me a while to weed through them all!  But I hope to have a new album up by next week.  Hopefully.

3.  For San Diegans Only

I’ve added a few shows to the Acoustic Pie Picks Calendar and I wanted to especially recommend Girlyman at LeStat’s on Saturday, June 20.  I just love that trio.  It will be a huge treat to hear them on one of my favorite coffeehouse stages.

Ok, thanks for reading, everybody!


Acoustic Pie Newsletter, March 2009

March 9, 2009


Here’s what’s new and different at Acoustic Pie right now…

1.  New Featured Artist: Nathan Welden

2.  For San Diegans Only:  New Highly Recommended Shows Calendar


1. New Featured Artist:  Nathan Welden

Pop over to the Acoustic Pie home page to see the new featured artist Nathan Welden.  Nathan is a San Diego singer/songwriter whom Indie Edge describes as “a fresh fusion of James Taylor and Jim Croce”.  All I can say is, ohmygosh, what a beautiful voice.  There are bunches of songs to listen to on his webpage and his MySpace page.  And his new album Live Your Song is a lovely concoction of acoustic simplicity.  Listen to samples from it and buy it at my favorite online CD store CD Baby.

2. For San Diegans Only:  New Highly Recommended Shows Calendar

Although I’m not maintaining the full singer/songwriter show calendar any more (big whew on that one), I am going to do a mini-calendar of highly recommended shows and continue to do “Pick of the Month” shows when there’s something really special going on.  Right now there are three special upcoming shows on the Highly Recommended Shows calendar so check it out!

In particular, my friend Carole will be hosting a house concert for the Arkansas contemporary folkgrass duo Still on the Hill on this Thursday, March 12!  Also very dear friends of mine, Kelly & Donna just had a #1 album Ozark on the Folk DJs listserv and Carole’s house concert will be the kick-off for their California tour.  It will be a very exciting show!  I’ll be making peanut butter cookies!  More information and RSVP details are on the web flyer here.

And… this month’s Featured Artist Nathan Welden will be releasing his new album Live Your Song on March 21.  I will definitely be there!  Hope to see you, too!

Thanks for reading, everybody!


Acoustic Pie Newsletter, January 2009

January 14, 2009

Hello, lovers of original, contemporary, genre-free songs performed by the songwriter in primarily acoustic arrangements!  Here’s what’s on my mind today :)

1. What’s a Singer/Songwriter?

2. Ellis Paul (continued)

3. What’s New!


1.  What’s a Singer/Songwriter?

Speaking of that salutation/definition way back at the beginning of this newsletter, it took me a long time before I figured out how to describe the music I love most. I knew there was some commonality that linked Don McLean and Girlyman. Jim Croce with Anais Mitchell. Paul Simon and Teitur. I knew my favorite music crossed the genres that defined radio stations. I knew that the personality of the artist was stamped somehow on the songs themselves, not just the performance, with the clarity of a signature.  It’s kind of wordy but that introductory greeting pretty much sums it up for me:  Original, contemporary, genre-free songs performed by the songwriter in primarily acoustic arrangements

And then I stumbled onto the genre label singer/songwriter. That was a big deal.  A revelation really. A lot of artists now prefer the term “performing songwriter”. But as a lover of language (oh yes, there are blogs that confirm this ~ “What’s in a Rhyme” and Limp Lyrics), I’m enamored of the sing-song alliteration of singer/songwriter. The Wikipedia article on singer/songwriters is pretty good if you want a more in-depth definition and a nice list of the most prominent singer/songwriters.

Woody Guthrie’s picture is used as the graphic for the Wikipedia article. I always forget that  Woody Guthrie is considered one of the first American singer/songwriters.  His songs are so much a part of the American folk culture that I forget that he wrote them.  I added Arlo Guthrie’s new version of Pastures of Plenty to Acoustic Pie Radio recently.  It is the second of only two songs in the rotation that are not sung by the original songwriter.  Do you know the other?

2.  Ellis Paul (continued)

When I last wrote to you, I was on a train going to hear Ellis Paul at Russ & Julie’s House Concert series in Oak Park, CA.  Ellis Paul is the personification of the Boston school of urban, literate, individualistic singer/songwriters. The show was as wonderful as expected.  A great introduction to Ellis Paul is his new live album recorded at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta A Summer Night in Georgia.  I just added several songs from it to the rotation on Acoustic Pie Radio including my favorite new Ellis Paul song “Hurricane Angel”. I listened to the song so much in my car that I now know all of the lyrics and sing a really, really bad harmony line in the chorus.

3. What’s New!

There’s a new photo gallery up on the website featuring local artists at Carol Branch’s house concert series in University City here in San Diego.  Carol hosts shows almost monthly in her home.  Just another passionate and tireless fan promoting the music and artists she loves.  I love that!

The Top 20 Songs on Acoustic Pie Radio for December have been tallied and posted.  Read all about it in the Jan. 3 blog.  Don’t forget that you can vote for your favorite songs while you’re listening to The Pie by clicking the Thumbs Up button on your player.

Thanks for reading!  As always, I love to hear from you!


Acoustic Pie Newsletter, November 2008

November 7, 2008

Hi, everybody!


I’m writing this from an Amtrack train on my way from Del Mar to Carpinteria.  My mom and I are going to hear Ellis Paul tonight at Russ & Julie’s famous house concert series.  Ellis Paul at a house concert.  Yes, I am very excited.   I’ve seen him at venues ten times as big as Russ and Julie’s house and it’s partly because they have such generous supporters who will underwrite an artist of this caliber that makes this possible for the rest of us.  Acoustic music fans are the best.  House concerts are the best.  I’ll let you know in the next newsletter just how wonderful it was.  And here’s what else is on my mind today!


  1. What’s New
  2. New Blog:  “Music Lessons ~ Killing the Joy”
  3. Jimmy Webb
  4. Show Blurb:  The Swell Season


1.      What’s New


I have a new Featured Artist at Acoustic Pie ~ Jakob Dylan.  I just loved his new album “Seeing Things”.  You can read a bit more, get links and photos, and view my two different favorite YouTube videos of Jakob on my MySpace page and at Acoustic Pie. 


Have you noticed the new “What’s New” corner of the Acoustic Pie home page?  Over on the left-hand side?  I’m trying to put a little note and link there whenever something new goes up on the website.  For example, I always place a link there when the new Top 20 for the month is posted.  


2.      New Blog:  “Music Lessons ~ Killing the Joy”


At an election party on Thursday night a man was telling me about his beautiful grand piano that sits in his living room and never gets played.  Ever.  He loves music.  He studied classical piano as a child.  He felt he should own a piano.  He believes he should play it.  But he isn’t drawn to play the difficult classical repertoire that he eventually came to appreciate, if not love, as a young person.  Don’t you hear this story all the time?  I find it so sad and so frustrating.  And that’s what my latest blog is about ~ teaching music to people in a way that will give them the tools for a lifelong connection to music.  I post all blogs at both MySpace and here at the Pie blog site in case you have a preference.


3.      Jimmy Webb


I don’t have the patience to note the time/date/radio frequency of specific radio shows and then try and remember to listen to them.  So I listen to Internet radio and XM satellite radio and just catch what comes.  Last night, I caught the most amazing show on XM’s The Loft.  The Mixed Bag Radio show was interviewing Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell.  I’m a huge fan of Jimmy Webb’s songwriting and I even wrote a blog about his songwriting book Tunesmith which I called “What Jimmy Says”.  I think “Wichita Lineman” is about as pretty as a song gets and I can still be moved by the images and soaring chorus melody in “Galveston”.  Jimmy was giving his rather typically lengthy metaphysical descriptions of his processes while Glen kept saying very earnestly how he mostly focused on “trying to sing in tune”.  And then, without any introduction, they started playing “Wichita Lineman” live, right there in the studio.  Glen was singing and it was definitely Jimmy on the piano and I think Glen was playing the electric guitar leads.   It was beautiful and powerful and I felt like I was eavesdropping on a historic event.  And I felt so lucky to have caught that musical moment.  That’s what radio is all about.


4.      Show Blurb:  The Swell Season


My concert buddy Jimmy and I caught The Swell Season duo at the SDSU Open Air Theatre last month.  A very fun show!  Despite the concrete bleacher seats!   And House of Blues police-state management!  The Swell Season is Glen Hansard and Marketa Iglova of the movie “Once” fame.  They wrote and performed all of the songs for the very charming movie and played many of them along with some new works at the concert.  I can barely sit still for a full show with opening act any more but we even stayed for the encores and I was glad we did. 


Thanks for reading!  If you want to talk, you email me directly at or leave a public comment here on the blog!   



November 2008  


Top 20 Songs on Acoustic Pie Radio, Sept. 2008

October 1, 2008

With over 600 songs in the daily rotation on Acoustic Pie Radio, it’s somewhat unusual for the same song to be voted into the Top 20 two months in a row. This month, however, Krista Detor (no. 1 last month) returns with the same song at no. 9. And I’m glad I added a favorite old Still on the Hill song “Words on Birds” a few months back because it has also made two appearances on the Top 20 since being added (no. 4 in July and no. 17 this month).

CD compilations designed for radio promotion can be a mixed bag. But I always seem to find something I love on the Acoustic Rainbow Roots collections. This month, two such songs were also found liking by Acoustic Pie listeners: Cris Williamson’s at no. 8 and Sara Hickman’s at no. 12. You can also find these songs on the artists’ own albums by checking out their websites.

Jason Mraz admirably represents San Diego with a no. 3 showing this month as does John McGaraghan (no. 19) who used to live in San Diego and still drops in now and again!

Thanks for voting and thanks for listening to the Pie!

Acoustic Pie

Artist ~ Song ~ Album

1. Steve Earle ~ Goodbye ~ Train a Comin’
2. Sons of the Never Wrong ~ Variations ~ Four Ever On
3. Jason Mraz ~ You & I Both ~ Live
4. Chris Pureka ~ Silo Song ~ Driving North
5. Andrew McKnight ~ Times We’re Living In ~ Something Worth Standing For
6. Tom Dews ~ No More to Roam ~ Driving Dreams
7. Slaid Cleaves ~ Don’t Tell Me ~ No Angel Knows
8. Cris Williamson ~ Alazan ~ Acoustic Rainbow Roots Volume 32
9. Krista Detor ~ Aurora Means Dawn ~ Wilderness Plots
10. Cheryl Wheeler ~ The Rivers ~ Mrs. Pinocci’s Guitar
11. Steve Chizmadia ~ It’s Always Texas ~ It Is What It Is
12. Sara Hickman ~ Comfort’s Sigh ~ Acoustic Rainbow Volume 26
13. David Wilcox ~ Last One Gone ~ Into the Mystery
14. Dar Williams ~ The Hudson ~ My Better Self
15. Mark Erelli ~ Once ~ Barn Raising
16. Erik Balkey ~ Have Mercy on the Fallen Soul ~ Deadpan Alley
17. Still on the Hill ~ Words On Birds ~ Chaos & Calm
18. John McGaraghan ~ Big Sky ~ Back in the Saddle
19. John Gorka ~ Wisheries ~ The Company You Keep
20. Ellis ~ The Great Unknown ~ Undefended Heart