Archive for November 2008

Twos & Fews’ first release: I Want to Go Where Things are Beautiful

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

On today’s show I speak with Nathan Salsburg, curator of the new record label Twos & Fews. Their first release is entitled “I Want to Go Where Things are Beautiful” by the legendary Kentucky/West Virginia singer, coal miner and union activist Nimrod Workman, recorded by Mike Seeger. Nathan talks about the new record and new record label he has created as an imprint of the Chicago record company Drag City.  He is also the production manager at the Alan Lomax Archive, he talks about his work there and plays some of his favorite finds from the archive’s vaults.

Click here to order a copy  of this excellent new CD!

Be sure to check out Nathan’s awesome internet radio show Root Hog or Die as well as the Root Hog or Die blog & list of world music Mp3s sites

Check out the Nimrod Workman Feature Episode of DHR from May of ’07 to hear more of his recordings.

(Whew… that’s a lot of links)

Here’s a selection from Nathan’s notes to the album:

“I’m really excited to be starting with this record of Mike Seeger’s recordings of Workman. I first discovered Nimrod while digging through Lomax’s record collection in 2000. Came across a 45 that was released on an Appalshop-related imprint called Dillon’s Run, and featured what have become – if anything can be so-called – Workman’s most famous compositions; namely, “42 Years” and “Coal Black Mining Blues.” The cover portrait of the man, his face stricken with deep rivulets, like a parched and lonesome scrubland, attested to his many years spent underground and along the picket line, and was a visual correlative to his eerie, bristling songs. Those songs floored me. I had never heard anything as starkly intimate and honest, (more…)

Interview with John Houx

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

John Houx

On today’s show I speak with New York song writer John Houx. Originally from northern California, Houx has been in NYC for less than two years, but in that time has written a slew of excellent songs. In my view, John has developed a lyrical style and musical sense that allows him to deal directly and plainly with specific personal, social and political issues that he encounters, while maintaining in his songs a broader, general perspective. John plays live on the air, talks about his background and influences and plays some records that he likes.

John Houx – Live at Banjo Jim’s May 24th, 2008 – which I recorded at my “Down Home Live” show that I host at Banjo Jim’s in Manhattan.

John Houx myspace page

Phoning It In with John Houx

John Houx on

See below for track information from the show:


Interview with Lech of the California Honeydrops

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

On today’s show I speak with Lech Wierzynski of the California Honeydrops.  This band of expert musicians has created a sound drawing from virtually all areas of African-American music – early folk and New Orleans music, blues, gospel, R & B and soul, creating an excellent and unique style.  They are writing some great new songs using conventional instruments such as guitar, piano, trumpet and snare, but also incorporate folk instruments such as the tub bass and washboard into their sound.

On the show we plays some songs from their new CD, “Soul Tub,” plus Lech speaks about their influences and gives us a brief but very well informed sample of African-American music history – a bunch of seminal recordings which I had not heard before.  Great stuff!

The band is:

Lech Wierzynski : Guitar Vocals Trumpet…. Nansamba Ssensalo: Washboard, Drums, Vocals, Fiddle, Jug, Tub Bass…. Chris Burns: Piano…. Ben Malament: Tub Bass, Drums, vocals

California Honeydrops Myspace page

Tracks played on today’s episode: (more…)

Jalopy Theater on Brooklyn TV

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

The Jalopy Theater & School of Music (the gravitational center of Down Home Radio) was recently featured on the Brooklyn Independent Television channel.  The show features interviews with owners Geoff and Lynette Wiley, with Roots n Ruckus host Feral Foster and with Eli Smith (me) as well as some excellent footage of the place.  This is from an excellent cable show, featuring different neighborhoods in Brooklyn each week.  We were included in the Redhook episode, Jalopy being located in the Redhook section of Brooklyn.

Jalopy has lots of great live music on weekends and throughout the week, sells and repairs instruments and offers music classes.  I teach the banjo class there.

The Library of Congress Banjo Collection

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The Library of Congress Banjo Collection

I recently received a request to post this fine album of banjo music drawn from the trove of material at the Library of Congress.  This album of field recordings representing different pre-bluegrass banjo styles was put together by Bob Carlin and released on LP in 1988 by Rounder records.  Amazingly it has not been reissued on CD.

There is some seriously amazing and important music on here.

I didn’t upload this album, the fine people over at
did and that’s where I first got the record.  Thanks!  Be sure to check out their website for a scan of the back of the record so you can read the excellent notes by Alan Jabbour and Bob Carlin. There’s lots of great records available on “Time’s Ain’t Like They Used to Be”.  Well worth checking regularly.


and be sure to check out my sort of complete list of free internet folk music resources


Studs Terkel Interviews Bob Dylan 1963

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Studs Terkel, author, radio show host, actor and activist died on Friday at his home in Chicago at the age of 96.  Terkel is perhaps best known for the amazing oral histories that he did with working class people.  He published these in books such as his well known Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970) and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974).  He has said in interviews that he first got the feeling for what he would later do and received his first bit of education at Bug House Square, a famous free speech zone in Chicago.  Terkel got his start in the world of media during the New Deal, working on various public works projects of the WPA.  From that time he worked on radio soap operas, in stage plays, as a sportscaster and a disc jockey. In 1944 he started a radio program on WENR in Chicago called ” The Wax Museum” that allowed him to express his own personality and play recordings he liked from folk music, opera, jazz, or blues. Perhaps Studs invented “free form radio” back in 1944?

Studs hosted a radio show on WFMT in Chicago from 1952-1997.  On today’s show I air an interview he did in 1963 with Bob Dylan.  He was truly a great interviewer!

You can download this interview cut up into tracks Here.

You can hear more audio from his radio program and learn more about Studs Terkel at his website

He was interviewed a number of times on Democracy Now