Southern Songs and Stories

In the first episode of this series, you got to hear about how BJ Barham turns uncomfortable conversations about the dark parts of Southern history into songs, about racial and class divides, how influential Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen are to his music, and about how things stand for American Aquarium and in the music business more generally during the coronavirus pandemic.

From WNCW Program Director Joe Kendrick: This is the first of a two episode series on BJ Barham, front man of NC band American Aquarium, with in depth conversations with BJ as well as guests Ronda Chollock, a music promoter from Charlottesville, Virginia, and music artist Tyler Boone, who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, but now calls Hollywood, CA home. We get into topics like how Barham articulates the dark history of the South so that people will start having conversations about racial and class divides, however uncomfortable those conversations might be.

From WNCW Program Director Joe Kendrick: You will never be bored when it comes to Paul Thorn. Whether it’s his life story, his conversations, or his main gig, music, there’s nothing run of the mill about any of it. None of it is what you would call normal, but at the same time, everything about him has a wide appeal and relatability. There’s the surface level of what seems like a carnival show, but pretty quickly it’s obvious that, deeper down, there’s a profound love for humanity, a rare level of self-awareness, wit and intelligence in everything he does.

On this podcast of Southern Songs and Stories, WNCW’s Joe Kendrick talks with Elonzo Wesley members Jeremy Davis, Taylor Winchester and Dennis Contreras about the concept of their sound, how influences like Radiohead are still present in their music, the inclusive nature of the Charlotte music scene, and an after hours tour story that ended surprisingly better than it began.

Chatham County Line

Chatham County Line songwriter and frontman Dave Wilson and multi-instrumentalist John Teer are our guests on this episode of Southern Songs and Stories, where you will hear songs from their latest album, Strange Fascination, along with conversation on their lives in the midst of a pandemic, how they enlisted Sharon Van Etten to sing on the album’s title track, how Dave enjoys writing lyrics that make their point subtly and poetically, and more.

 

Songs heard in this episode:

“Oh Me Oh My” from Strange Fascination (excerpt) 

Collage of Balsam Range Band Members performing on stage
Photos by Vicki Dameron

The first time Balsam Range won the International Bluegrass Music Association award for Entertainer Of The Year back in 2014, bassist Tim Surrett recalled how someone came up to the band and asked, “How's it feel to be the best bluegrass band in the world?” It was a question they were not quite ready for, as Tim went on to say, “all of us just started laughing.

Collage Dolly Parton and of musicians who work with the icon
Amanda Anne Platt Photo By Jeff Fasan

If there’s one thing in music that practically everyone knows something about, it’s living legend Dolly Parton. And if there’s one thing in music that few people know anything about, it’s how film soundtracks are made. Both of these are a given; like the sun rising and setting, there is music in movies, and there is the transcendent career of Dolly.

Music so often gives you more than you bargained for. Talk to anyone with an interest in music, and it will lead to discovery. You find out about great artists you did not know about; you trace whole branches of the tree of song. To discover Mac Arnold is to realize that not only does his branch of the song tree have much more substance to it than you might have expected, but also that it directly touches so much more of this mythological and historic giant.

On first listen, you will quickly recognize some of the ingredients in the music of Marcus King. Blues, rock and soul jump out right away. And when you look at Marcus, it is easy to sum things up by saying that he is a young guitar phenomenon with a powerful voice and a super tight band. This is all true, but there is so much more to discover with Marcus King, and the deeper you go, the more you find out about how intricate his music can be.

Joe Kendrick

From Program Director and Southern Songs and Stories Producer Joe Kendrick:

 

Collage of images of band playing at Albino Skunk Festival in South Carolina
John Gillespie and Joe Kendrick

"The Deer is a band that does not fit into any one box, or any single term you might use to describe them," said WNCW Program Director Joe Kendrick. "The term “folk” comes up a lot when you hear about this Austin, Texas quintet. Descriptors like “indie folk,” “transcendental Texas folk,” and “psychotropic folk” are all floating around out there, but like so many handles we try to put on music, they are often slippery and ill suited to pick up what artists are laying down.

Collage of musicians playing music
Images By Joe Kendrick

When talking about how things used to be two decades ago, Adam Aijala, guitarist and founding member of Yonder Mountain String Band said, “We could play a hardcore bluegrass festival, and we'd be the weird band; we could play a jam band festival and be the only band without drums.” That’s not always the case for this now five-piece group nowadays, but they still find themselves in a place where few artists stay for long: bridging the musical territories of classic bluegrass with jam and psychedelia. 

Band members playing music on stage
John Gillespie

Dan Lotti once said, “For me, the whole artistic process is rooted in a sort of spiritual practice. I’m not outwardly yogic, but every single day I’m involved in a yogic practice of meditation and stretching. I think that practice inevitably breathes and inspires the music. It opens you up to a lot of different perspectives.” For Dan and his band Dangermuffin, the music they make is meant for both fun and for healing. Their songs are both for bringing community together, and for letting loose and enjoying a tight jam. Here, those jams are mostly acoustic.

From the desk of WNCW Program Director and Producer of Southern Songs and Stories, Joe Kendrick:

 

John Gillespie