Archive for June 2009

Interview with Æ

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

On today’s show I speak with Aurelia Shrenker and Eva Primack, amazing singers and ex-UCLA enthnomusicology students who have relocated to New York and together form the singing duet “Æ.” They do a wonderful and unprecedented mix of songs from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, mixed and mashed with ballads from the American South.  A & E sing together in a capella arrangements and also accompany themselves on accordion and panduri, a 3-string lute from the Republic of Georgia.  Because of their wonderful voices, good approach and depth of knowledge, it works really well.
Tamar Korn, the singer with the Cangelosi Cards told me I had to come down to Barbes, a club in Brooklyn to hear Æ, so I went not knowing at all what to expect.  They were great!  I caught up with them a few days later to record this interview before they left for a West Coast tour.

Check out their website for tour dates:

More info on the band bellow (from their press release):
Æ (Aurelia Lucy Shrenker and Eva Salina Primack) has been performing as a duo for a year.  Aurelia and Eva have performed together in Europe, New York, and California and are finishing up their debut CD!  The two women bring together a deep knowledge of different vocal traditions, and create something new and daring with each song they sing together. They have chosen the name Æ (the joined a and e, officially pronounced “ash”) because it represents something of a dual nature–not singular, not plural, but exactly two.  They primarily perform a cappella but enjoy accompanying themselves on mountain dulcimer, accordion, and Georgian panduri.  In addition to their upcoming CD, Æ recently contributed to the soundtrack of “The Great Soviet Eclipse”, the newest film produced under the auspices of the Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Information ( Æ’s work is rooted in folk culture and never falls short of being visceral and provocative–in their music, the exuberance of youth and the reverence of ancient tradition coincide.

Banjo Workshop with John Cohen

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Banjo Tunings and Styles Workshop with John Cohen

Here’s the first bit of audio I’m posting from the Brooklyn Folk Festival John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers leads a banjo workshop focusing on different tunings and styles used by a number of banjo players he has learned from either directly or studied through their old recordings.  Banjo player Wade Ward describes tunings as “different atmospheres.”  Each banjo tuning carries its own set of possibilities and its own feeling.  In 1965 John Cohen encountered Ward and many other banjo players as he journeyed through the South finding musicians, making field recordings, discovering banjo tunings and lots more along the way.  Many of these field recordings were released on his wonderful album “High Atmosphere”. John discusses and demonstrates these many styles, sounds and techniques in this workshop from May, 17th, 2009.

The first play button plays a banjo music mix tape of all the original recordings of songs John covers in this workshop.  The second play button plays the audio of the workshop itself.  This is for banjo players only! (Unless you’re really interested)

John begins with a bit of Pete Seeger up picking, then a bit of frailing and thumb lead 2-finger picking, then more up picking (the same rhythm as clawhammer but picking up instead of hitting down on the string), Charlie Poole style finger picking banjo, Bascom Lamar Lunsford / George Landers style up picking (the workshop focuses a lot on this style, where in the first finger picks the melody and also then brushes up over the strings and the thumb picks the fifth string and drops down to some of the other strings.  There are no downward motions in this style.)  Sydna Myers style clawhammer, Dock Boggs finger picking and finally Pete Steele finger picking

Film about John Cohen on Remembering the High Lonesome
Down Home Radio Rufus Crisp Feature Episode – playing recordings of Crisp, a banjo player very influential to John Cohen and the early folk music scene in New York.

Tunes included in the workshop: (more…)