Tag Archives: Folk Music

Artist Feature: Poor Old Shine

Poor Old Shine | Photo by Sarah Lefroncois

Poor Old Shine | Photo by Sarah Lefroncois

No matter what you do in life, you will leave some mark on the world. It is up to you to decide what kind of a mark you want to leave and how you want to be remembered when all is said and done. 

– Poor Old Shine

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

POS: We met at the University of Connecticut. Antonio Alcorn and Chris Freeman met as members of UConn’s Folk Music Club (believe it or not, that existed) and were mistaken to be a band by a friend who booked them for a show. After pulling together a few songs and fishing out a lyric from one of the songs they were playing that night (Ain’t No More Cane) to be their band name, the band was born. With the addition of Max Shakun on Guitar and Pump organ, Harrison Goodale on Bass and Glockenspiel, and Erik Hischmann on drums, the band has evolved quite a bit since that accidental first gig. We still live around the area of UConn as we enjoy its rural lifestyle and pace. 

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

POS: Reflection is when you make an observation of what is going on inside and outside yourself. The response is what you decide to do with this newfound knowledge from your observation. 

How does your song Weeds or Wildflowers fit in with that definition?

POS: Weeds or Wildflowers ties in with these definitions as the song discusses how no matter what you do in life, you will leave some mark on the world. It is up to you to decide what kind of a mark you want to leave and how you want to be remembered when all is said and done. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

POS: We are currently touring with our first full length album, Poor Old Shine, and that has been keeping us very busy! We really love touring as it gives us the opportunity to experience new people and places that we would have never seen otherwise. Next up for us is heading back into the studio to record an EP that will be released this summer.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Amber Stiles

Musician and songwriter Amber Stiles is at the center of a talented and inspiring group of artists centered in Madrid, Spain. I met Amber at the well-known Triskel Tavern where musicians from all over the world seemed to find a home on its stage during Thursday open mics. Since playing there, Amber has been performing all over Madrid focusing both on her own material and collaborating with others while beginning recording at Spaceland Records. Peep the dialogue below for Amber’s words on her folk/country music, her artistic growth in the city and other ideas from this expanding and creative artist.

Amber Stiles

One of the reasons I love folk music and country is that it’s generally very simple in form and it allows you to explore subtle variations with your voice, tempo, lyrics, etc. I enjoy singing a song the way that I’m feeling it at that particular moment.

– Amber Stiles

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at? 

AS: I’m from a small town in New York State, about half an hour from the Canadian border. It’s about 6 hours from the City and 4 hours from Buffalo. No one can really figure out where it is. We have a Dairy Princess Parade and obviously lots of cows. I’ve moved around quite a bit since I left home but I’ve spent the last 4 years in Madrid, Spain.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: I’ve never really thought about it before but I suppose the word reflection conjures up a few thoughts and images. I associate it with a mental process, a forming of thoughts and beliefs. On the one hand I think it’s important for us to process what we see and what we experience. I interpret and share my experiences to connect with other human beings. But at the same time I think too much introspection can make us overly cerebral and rigid. If we assign an idea a name and call it a belief we’re really limiting ourselves in a lot of ways.

I suppose I relate more to response. I approach music in that way, at least. I don’t try to overanalyze a song or break it down into a set formula. I prefer to intuitively explore things. If I think about what I’m doing too much I get overwhelmed and blocked. Yeah, Response is definitely more interesting for me. I figure my intuition is utilizing more resources within me than my conscious, rationalizing brain can muster.

How does folk music fit in with that definition?

AS: One of the reasons I love folk music and country is that it’s generally very simple in form and it allows you to explore subtle variations with your voice, tempo, lyrics, etc. I enjoy singing a song the way that I’m feeling it at that particular moment. One of my first idols was Billie Holiday and I always admired how much feeling she put into her vocals. Sometimes her songs were sad and slow, other times lively and upbeat. I always try to stay tuned into the meaning of a song and how I’m interpreting it in that moment.

Amber Stiles

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AS: Recently I’ve been collaborating mostly with Miguel Gonzalez who is a very talented vocalist and gifted songwriter out of Texas. We play acoustic sets at intimate cafés around Madrid which is the atmosphere I feel most comfortable in, really. I’ve also been providing vocals for Padraig O’Connor and Richard Harris, both musicians that I have deep respect for.

My next goals are to write some inspiring songs and get into the studio. Richard Harris is running Spaceland Studio at the moment and it’s a great opportunity to capture a moment in my life with the incredible musicians I’m surrounded by. I’m decidedly lo-fi so taking the plunge into the studio is big for me.

Who or what inspires you? Continue reading

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Argentina Thursdays: A Pair of Coplas

Buenos Aires, early 2010. Coplas. Found throughout the Spanish-speaking world, the set up is a call and response format accompanied by a bombo, or drum. The coplas I recorded by folk music activist Pablo Martinez are Andean in origin. The instrument that sounds like an elephant is called an “erke.” I played the erke in Pablo’s folk music band, and play the erke part between the vocal parts on the track.

Think Spanish gospel.

Pablo Coplas

Aquí estoy porque he vendio

Porque he venido aquí estoy

Si no les gusta mi modo

Como he venido me voy

Una sola mujer tengo

Dos hijas quiero tener

Una pa de vez en cuando

Otra pa permanecer

Jujeño yo soy señores

Yo no niego a mi región

Jujeñito lengua dura

Canta cuando hay ocasión

Here I am because I have arrived

Because I have arrived I am here

If you don’t like my way

As I have arrived I’ll go

I have only woman

I want to have two girls

One for every now and then

The other for always

Gentlemen I am Jujeño

I do not forget (negate) my home

Young Jujeño of hard tongue

Sing when there is an occasion||

I then did a remix of Pablo’s track and added some drums, piano, bass, and chopped up his vocal sample. This remix was a fun way to collaborate with a kind of music that I had never heard before.

Coplas Remix

 

Reflection and Response

-P

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Argentina Thursdays: From Jujuy to Buenos Aires

This week I present two mash ups. One is “Horn Track,” and it samples my friend Pablo Martinez’s horn line. His music is directly influenced by his home region of Jujuy, where he grew up before coming to Buenos Aires for college (See “Things a Peña Does” below for more info). This was one of my first Argentine folk music mash ups. I threw some drums, piano, and some distorted electric guitar on the horns to fill out the beat.

Horn Track

The second mash up is entitled “Porteña de mi Corazón,” and is a remix of a king of Argentine Tango Astor Pizzola’s track Libertango. Here I threw some drums, bass and a little sax and vocal breakdown in the middle. This track is for my man Nassim, who told me he felt it way back in 2010 in our apartment in Buenos Aires.

Porteña de mi Corazón.


These two tracks are remixes of two versions of the many identifications of Argentine music.

Reflection and Response

-P

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The Villa

The Villa comes from my study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina during 2010. In Argentina “villa,” or “villa miseria,” describes temporary housing areas  found throughout urban areas. One day someone who worked in the apartment building I lived in invited me to dinner at his house in the outskirts of the city. He lives in Villa Caraza, south of the center and he plays in a band. During my visit I recorded an instrumental performed by a young keyboard player.

As a friend gave me a ride home back to the city we discussed life in Villa Caraza during and after the military dictatorship that ruled over Argentina from 1976-1983. I wrote the lyrics for The Villa the night after and chopped the piano player’s sample into the song. The sample in the middle is from Manu Chau. Whoever can guess what song it is on a comment gets a shout out on Twitter plus a bonus mini ep from me!

The Villa

The following is an acoustic version.

The Villa

I’ve never been to a place like this where the house is nice if it’s made of bricks

I’ve never talked to people like this who fondly remember that dictatorship

I’ve never been to a place like this where the house is nice if it’s made of bricks

I’ve never talked to people like this who fondly remember that dictatorship

Fondly remember years when/ People were behind bars that now offer drugs to their children/Psychos and they’re all on the loose/ There’s vice in the street when it used to be taboo/ Used to leave their cars unlocked/ Now there isn’t a single car left anywhere on the block/ Sure they tell me there were thousands tortured/ Now everybody is tormented by disorder/ Something we can’t understand where I’m from/ Dictatorship’s the antithesis to America/ But this isn’t quite Myrtle Beach/ I mean these places been told what do since they were colonies/ now it dawns on me/ The futility/ Of passing judgment on other societies/ Cuz life in the villa just keeps worse/ It’s hot out here these people hunger and thirst/They rumble and burst/ Quick to rob and usurp/ While we blog and research/ These places rot in the dirt/ And some of these people seem happy as hell gave me pollo a la parrilla and cared for me well.

I’ve never been to a place like this where the house is nice if it’s made of bricks

I’ve never talked to people like this who fondly remember that dictatorship

I’ve never been to a place like this where the house is nice if it’s made of bricks

I’ve never talked to people like this who fondly remember that dictatorship

The following is a short video of some of the musicians involved in the making of the Villa. The younger person is the one who plays the piano in the clip. They’re playing Chamamé, music that comes from Northeastern Argentina.

Reflection and Response.

 

P

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