Korby Lenker – Thousand Springs

For many artists, stepping into a studio to record an album can be challenging enough. But when East Nashvillian Korby Lenker began working on his seventh album, Thousand Springs, he decided to skip the studio altogether and head to his home state of Idaho to record in places that held particular meaning for him. Venturing forth with his guitar, some recording gear and a tent, he captured his vocal and guitar parts in more than a dozen locales, including the edge of the Snake River Canyon, a cabin north of Sun Valley and his undertaker father’s mortuary.

Then he spent months driving around the country to collect vocal and instrumental contributions from nearly 30 of today’s finest folk talents, among them Nora Jane Struthers, Anthony Da Costa, Carrie Elkin, Amy Speace, Molly Tuttle, Kai Welch, Angel Snow, Becky Warren and the Punch Brothers’ Chris “Critter” Eldridge. In Madison, Wisconsin, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston, Austin and Nashville, he recorded their work in backyards, hotel rooms and even a bookstore, then went home to edit them into Thousand Springs.

Lenker plotted his plan for Thousand Springs after Nashville-based Turner Publishing Co. released his first collection of short stories, Medium Hero, in December 2015 – an experience that, he says, helped him find his “true voice” (and earned him high praise not only from book-world luminaries including Kirkus Reviews and National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien, but Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak).

“For me, the two most important qualities of good art are originality and meaning,” Lenker explains. “You’ve got to tell your own story and not try to borrow someone else’s.”

When he moved to Nashville, he quickly discovered singer-songwriters were about as common as pickup trucks. And most of them were about as original.

“It forced me to really dig in and figure out what I did that was different than what everyone else was doing,” he says. “I spent my first three years in town parking cars at a hotel and taking a bunch of chances, creatively speaking. No one really cared about me, which turned out to be very freeing.”

During that period, he wrote many of the stories in Medium Hero, and focused on writing songs that meant something to him rather than worrying about hit potential.

“Along the way, I discovered there was an audience for this approach to telling my story,” he says. It was a thrilling, and empowering, revelation.

In the years since, he’s played everywhere from small listening rooms to Seattle’s world-renowned Bumbershoot festival, delivering what American Songwriter magazine called “huggable folk-pop” on stages shared with artists from Willie Nelson, Keith Urban and Chris Isaak to Susan Tedeschi, Amy Grant and Nickel Creek. Along the way, he’s earned nearly a dozen songwriting awards, including first-place wins at the 2016 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, 2012’s Kerrville Folk Festival and 2006’s Merlefest. He also placed second in the 2017 Hazel Dickens Songwriting Contest for ‘Friend and A Friend’, a beguiling Thousand Springs track co-written with Molly Tuttle, who sings harmony. Allowing life to imitate art, Lenker also has been conducting a one-man campaign of sorts, engaging strangers for conversation and shared selfies in an Instagram-hosted exercise he calls #MakeAmericaFriendsAgain. (He also touches on that subject in a new song titled ‘Let’s Just Have Supper’. Written and performed with Struthers, it’s not on this album, but the NPR-premiered video, is worth checking out.)

Ironically, while recording Thousand Springs (and making friends), Lenker lost his voice for nearly two months.

Addressing the loss of a dear family member, Lenker wrote the affecting song ‘Wherever You Are’ while his voice was gone. He also visited the Vanderbilt Voice Center, where doctors immediately started him on physical therapy. Soon, he was recording again. He did ‘Wherever You Are’ solo, in one take. It’s one of five songs he penned alone; the other seven are collaborations with a variety of musical friends including Speace, Tuttle, Robby Hecht, Jon Weisberger and Liz Longley.

Coincidentally, the song that precedes it, ‘Mermaids’, has an understated lightheartedness, almost a softer ‘Magical Mystery Tour’/’Yellow Submarine’ vibe, that would easily appeal to kids. Throughout the album, Lenker deftly shifts through a wide range of moods. He captures his love of literature with charming playfulness in ‘Book Nerd’. The opener, “Northern Lights,” is a spare, contemplative tune containing just a couple of verses, but Lenker’s vivid imagery and forlorn voice are all he needs to speak volumes about lost love.

There’s a delicacy to most of these songs, due in part to Lenker’s gentle delivery; in ‘Nothing Really Matters’, he sounds as if he’s whispering in your ear – in a voice that somehow suggests both James Taylor and Michael Franks, delivered in an Afro-bluegrass style. Driven by Jon Reischman’s outstanding mandolin, it’s reminiscent of Paul Simon’s Graceland; Lenker cites both the artist and the album as major influences.

The hardest-rocking track, ‘Last Man Standing’, was written about Chief Sitting Bull after Lenker read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He recorded parts of it at Standing Rock, near Sitting Bull’s grave, a month before the Dakota-Access Pipeline protests began. Musically, the song more or less references his own roots; Lenker started studying piano at age 7 and picked up guitar in his early teens, playing a lot of Neil Young and similar artists before joining the obligatory high-school rock band (his was Clockwork Orange).

“There weren’t a lot of people around me making music,” he says about growing up in Idaho’s isolation. “I had to go out and find it.” His search included attending college in Bellingham, Washington, where he studied music theory – and Phish. Reading about jazz led him to Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller – and to an understanding that, as he puts it, “music had a story, a thread that went from musician to musician, through time.” “The idea of finding my place in that timeline has become more and more important to me,” he notes, adding, “Every time I play a show, I think of it as an audition for the next show. Everything for me is a slow build.”

That might explain another of the album’s delights: ‘Late Bloomers’, in which he sings, Here’s to the late bloomers/Holding on till their time arrives/Some people might have gotten there sooner/But for us, it’s gonna be right on time … No matter how hard the path was/We always knew/No dream can outlast us/When it’s coming true.

For Lenker, as for any of us, some dreams come true and some don’t. That’s just life. But on Thousand Springs, he shares those highs and lows as only an artist with a “true voice” can. And that voice, he’ll never lose.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Wed 4 London The Troubadour, Earl’s Court
Thu 5 Birmingham Kitchen Garden Café
Fri 6 Saltaire, West Yorks. The Live Room, Caroline Social Club

Further dates to be announced…

+ Saturday August 18 Purbeck Valley Folk Festival

Artist’s website links:


KEITH JAMES talks to Folking.com about forty years in music

Keith James
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

This year sees Keith James celebrating his fortieth anniversary as a professional musician. He has followed an unconventional, one might say unique, career path but didn’t always make it easy for himself. Keith took up the guitar at age twelve and formed a school band called The Velvet Haze. “We were The Orange Lantern but had a name change and went for something a bit more racy. It was mostly blues – I was listening to John Mayall, Peter Green; the British blues movement – and just copied it. That didn’t last very long and I was more attracted to the acoustic guitar and started listening to Dylan, Paul Simon – I really liked Paul Simon – and I really liked James Taylor.” The head boy at George Abbot school was John Renbourn and as Keith says “we all learned guitar together”.

“I quickly put a set together on acoustic guitar and I was invited to take over from a couple of chaps who were playing a wine bar in Guildford so I sat in with them and learned the ropes. I got a job playing a couple of nights a week and then was head-hunted to play in another couple of bars. Looking back now, in terms of playing what people wanted in the Home Counties, middle-class Liebfraumilch-drinking crowd – now desperately un-hip and unfashionable – I was really in the right place at the right time but from the music business point of view it couldn’t have been worse.

“I came home from a holiday in the Greek islands having missed the opportunity to go to university because I stayed out there too long. I completely ran out of money and began playing live in Pugh’s wine bar in Guildford as a matter of needing to get through the next week and it just organically grew from that. That was in the mid-seventies and I built up a circuit in a completely parallel universe just prior to punk breaking. The folk scene was quite healthy but I didn’t seem to have anything to do with any of it. I didn’t feel that I fitted with the folk world at all and never have done but I built up a fairly healthy following for the best part of a decade in the wine bar era, which went really well.

“So, from coming back from a Greek island with a guitar and a handful of songs I built up a circuit which also funded the production and release of three or four vinyl albums. I was really bookable and, in fact, I won the Wine Bar Entertainer Of The Year award in 1981. I could have played every night of the month and I was in my own little universe.”

I’d always imagined that playing that scene was a bit soul destroying. Keith disagrees.

Keith James
Keith James on stage in 1982

“I had a brief foray into folk clubs and I gave it a good try but I felt like a real fish out of water. Playing the wine-bar circuit I think that I was probably good enough to keep their attention and people would come along specifically – I had loads of bookings on Mondays and Tuesdays because people would come along and share an orange juice and listen to me but that wasn’t profitable for the proprietor. That ran of steam and I went off to South America.”

Keith visited almost every country in South America, spending most of his time in Brazil and being influenced by the country’s writers and musicians and he seems very at ease with the rhythms that he uses on the Lorca album. “I don’t know why. I like odd rhythms; ‘The Mask’, for example: everything is strange about that. It’s in five time, it’s in a strange guitar tuning, it’s played on a flamenco guitar and it’s in Spanish but I really like it. I find it adventurous and intriguing and really exhilarating. If I’m playing a Leonard Cohen concert, for example, because there is a long-standing Lorca-Cohen connection I’ll put that in and it wakes the audience up.”

His travels have taken him to Spain several times, the first time partly with the aim of meeting Chris Stewart, the author of Driving Over Lemons. “Because we used to play Charterhouse when I was at school I was convinced that somewhere down the line I owed him a kick in the shins but I was also there to do a proper study of Federico Garcia Lorca. There is an area south of the Sierra Nevada where Lorca spent a tremendous amount of time particularly around his book Romancero Gitano. I went to a town called Órgiva and into a pizza bar and the first person to walk in after me was Chris Stewart. He told me a huge amount about Lorca.”

 Had he made it to university Keith would have read for a literature degree and his life has, in some ways, also been one of study.

“I’ve always found, even in music, everything to do with the prose far more important. If you’re learning an instrument, particularly the guitar, you realise that the parameters that you can work with in terms of the accompaniment to a song have limitations, which is why they often sound similar. If you start with C, G, D and F they are going to sound similar. It’s the intent and the lyrics and the poetry behind what you’re doing that’s the most important thing so I’ve always been drawn to a set of words that would really, really make me cry. One of my great loves in life is poetry

“Having said that, I dismiss a tremendous amount of poetry – the world is full of poetry or things that people write that they think are poetry. It all is, I suppose, and I can’t be the judge and if T.S.Eliot is, to me, like bathing in asses’ milk then it may not be to someone else. People may like things that are more domestic: I really struggle with Larkin, for instance, because quite a lot of his poetry is based around domesticity and a really small world, nothing expansive.

“I did a huge study for about a year of Dylan Thomas. I was given a commission by the Arts Council of Wales to set a collection of his poetry to music and his poetry is unbelievably wonderful and he’s not scared of anything at all. He’s not scared if it doesn’t scan right or if nothing makes sense.”

Following his return from South America, Keith’s career took another turn.

“There was a period of about ten to fifteen years when I started a recording studio in Reading where I worked as a sound engineer and record producer. It came out of necessity: I came back with a virus which affected me to such a degree that I couldn’t really sing properly but I really began to enjoy the work. This is before the days of computers and we were recording onto big analogue tape. I built up a clientele and I made an album called Tomorrow Is Longer Than Yesterday which, listening back to now, is quite disturbing. I think I felt so upset about humankind and the way things were that it’s almost an album’s worth of philosophical protest songs.”

That album surfaced at the beginning of the 90s and from it Keith got lots of requests to produce albums from “the folk/singer-songwriter world” and some jazz – “anything that had something organic and real and acoustic about it”. He reckons that he made ninety-nine albums for other people but out of that period grew another love.

“Various people came in to record Nick Drake songs. They would say ‘I’ve got eleven of my own songs and I’m going to do a Nick Drake song as well’. I did what I normally do in a situation like that – I really fell in love with his music – and I did a huge amount of research on him as person. I’ve internalised it and thought ‘where would I be if I were Nick?’.

“More or less at the same time I’d come to the end what I thought I could give to sound engineering. The business was changing dramatically – we were coming to the end of the analogue era – and it was a bit of a dark age for recording studios and for the business. I wanted to do something different so I did a pilot Songs Of Nick Drake concert at Windsor Arts Centre which was full and I sprang into action to do some more.”

Lorca followed The Songs Of Nick Drake. “The original Lorca album is mostly material from The Gypsy Ballads of the mid-20s and that went so well that the Lorca estate were keen to do another one. So I was really keen to do Poet In New York but, believe it or not, they had on the table a project that had been put together by a Spanish composer and Elvis Costello and they were about to do Poet In New York. The Lorca Foundation is run by his niece, Laura, and I think they’d been waiting for the Costello project but it never did surface so I was called in and told ‘let’s do Poet In New York’.

“There was a lot of time spent doing the first Lorca album and touring it twice and then Poet In New York and touring that twice – taking up most of 2007 to 2010 – but it’s proved to be a very worthy thing to do.”

Keith once observed that he doesn’t get to play his own songs very much but that is slowly changing. “Yes. During all this I’ve been writing songs which, for some strange reason, I still feel timid about. I feel safer doing a tour which has a concept, where it can be a bit third person. The projects that I’ve done where I’ve set poetry to music are really enjoyable; it’s almost like working with a team member – a long dead team member – but there is someone else bringing something to the table and it’s extremely inspiring.

Twenty years on from that first pilot concert Keith is still performing Nick’s songs and, with both Federico Garcia Lorca and Leonard Cohen in his repertoire, is playing about a hundred dates each year, split into two tours. They rotate and Keith is currently touring The Songs Of Leonard Cohen again and toying with the idea of a Pablo Naruda project. Captured, a best of collection is out now and it will contain some new original songs – something we don’t hear enough of these days. I’ll leave Keith to sum up where he is now.

“I absolutely love it. I have to say that, particularly with The Songs Of Leonard Cohen tour, I feel completely and utterly blessed. I feel completely honoured to be doing this tour because some of his material is just unimprovable. I live inside a bubble where I get to play all that lovely material in lovely places and all the people who come to my concerts are lovely.”

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: http://www.keith-james.com/

David Harley’s review of Captured: https://folking.com/keith-james-captured-the-best-of-keith-james-hurdy-gurdy-hga2927/

‘The Mask’ live on the radio:

Reverend Shawn Amos – Breaks it Down

We would like to introduce you to; The Reverend Shawn Amos, a Los Angeles-based, chart-topping bluesman ready to turn any venue into a 1960s’ Chicago blues club. His foot-stomping, harp-wailing performances, guarantee to energize the faithful, and convert the wayward to the Rev’s message of booty-shakin’, deeply joyful blues.

The Rev came up in 1970s Los Angeles, at the feet of musical legends like Marvin Gaye and Quincy Jones, as well as all manner of Hollywood street folk. The son of music agent-turned entrepreneur, Wally “Famous” Amos, and R&B nightclub singer, Shirlee May, Shawn found music early, and has worked within it his
entire adult life. His rich career as a producer includes overseeing new music and retrospectives from R&B blues legends Solomon Burke, John Lee Hooker, and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and scores of other legacy acts.

“What a tight and exhilarating show, fantastic!”
-Blues Magazine

“The Reverend Shawn Amos, a showman not to be missed!”
-The Blues Alone

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Album Track Listing

1. Moved
2. 2017
3. Hold Hands
4. The Jean Genie
Freedom Suite:
5. Uncle Tom’s Prayer
6. Does My Life Matter
7. We’ve Got To Come Together
8. Ain’t Gonna Name Names
9. (What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding

Artist Web Link: http://www.shawnamos.com/

The Self Preservation Society

Here is something that must have been a lot of fun to do… Released by ECC Records – 19th February 2018 – A really folking brilliant, folk-rocking and beautiful listen, I can tell you – the folkmaster.

‘The Self Preservation Society’, a stunning vinyl-only triple compilation album, three years in the making. Personally curated by Mark Constantine, founder of Lush and a passionate music fan, the album features 34 versions of songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s, bringing together some of the finest progressive, folk and psychedelic moments of that era. Original compositions by artists as diverse as Genesis, Nick Drake, The Doors and Frank Zappa have been reinterpreted by a galaxy of established and rising stars including Teddy Thompson, Eliza Carthy, Jackie Oates, Marry Waterson, Julie Tippetts and Honeyfeet. The album captures a period of time that was rich with experimentation; an era when anything and everything could happen. The result is a magnificently diverse, six-sided jewel of a record.

Mark Constantine on Teddy Thompson’s version of The Zombies classic, She’s Not There, taken from the album…

The track is one of many “from a period of time when my friends and I were experimenting by listening to everything from West Coast bands like The Byrds to classically-inspired groups such as The Nice,” says Mark Constantine. Honoured and thrilled that that some of his favourite artists, many of whom he had worked with before, shared his enthusiasm and passion for these songs, he added, “Each track has had the deluxe treatment from a collection of great individuals, bands and producers. The result means a great deal to me, and I can’t stop listening to it.”

The album will be available from all Lush stores (plus via the amazon link below) bringing this extraordinary collection to a new audience. The record is full of breathtaking moments, many of which sound unlikely on paper but are stunning in reality. The Imagined Village’s take on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, featuring pounding dhol drums of Johnny Kalsi and Eliza Carthy’s incredible vocal performance, is an undoubted highlight. Barney Morse Brown’s version of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love”, a face-off between layered cellos and pounding drums, adds a sinister, ghostly edge to a rock classic. Beautiful vocal performances by Jackie Oates, Rosie Doonan and Marry Waterson bring nostalgic memories of The Zombies, The Byrds and Leonard Cohen into sharp focus. And two versions of Quincy Jones’s “Get A Bloomin’ Move On” – the theme to the 1969 film The Italian Job – bookend the album.

“They were truly extraordinary times,” says Simon Heyworth, who mastered the record. “I was an avid attendee at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco… I would go to every concert I could, including Cream, Blind Faith, The Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield. I never saw The Zombies perform, but Teddy Thompson’s rendition of ‘She’s Not There’ is brilliant. I love the way all these recordings sound.”

‘The Self Preservation Society’ is released on heavy-weight triple-vinyl . If you would like to order a copy, then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

‘The Self Preservation Society’ Track list:

Get A Bloomin’ Move On – The Pickled Walnuts
The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack – Beagle & Amalthea
Hocus Pocus – Man Diamond
Time Of The Season – Jackie Oates
Fresh Garbage – Julie Tippetts
I Wouldn’t Leave My Wooden Wife – Iamesh and the Secret Collective
Gunga Din – Rosie Doonan & Ben Murray
I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) – Beagle & Amalthea
Lady Eleanor – Ben Murray
As You Said – Doonan, Oates & Manga
Sunshine Of Your Love – Barney Morse-Brown
Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye – Marry Waterson
Hello, I Love You – Beagle & Amalthea
Reasons For Waiting – Honeyfeet
She’s Not There – Teddy Thompson
Riders on the Storm – The Dhol Foundation featuring Charlie Casey
Kashmir – The Imagined Village (feat Eliza Carthy)
White Rabbit – Honeyfeet
America – The Naked King
Utterly Simple – Sheema Mukherjee
For What It’s Worth – Kami Thompson
Don’t Bogart Me – Honeyfeet
Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band – Iamesh and the Secret Collective
Lullaby – Matt Shaw & James Porter
Graveyard – Jackie Oates & Barney Morse-Brown
Terrapin – James Porter
The River – The Naked King
Montana – Iamesh and the Secret Collective
Get A Bloomin’ Move On – Dream Themes
Nantucket Sleighride – Beagle & Amalthea
Stamping Ground – Iamesh and the Secret Collective
Moonchild – The Naked King
Time Has Told Me – Ben Murray

USB EXTRA – It Happened Today – Wojtek Godzisz

ECC Records Web link: https://www.eccrecords.co.uk/about/

Buffy Sainte-Marie – Medicine Songs

Photo by Lyle Aspinall

Since her groundbreaking debut, 1964’s It’s My Way!, Buffy Sainte-Marie has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate. For more than a half-century, Sainte-Marie has been a disruptor of the status quo. In 1969, she made one of the world’s first electronic vocal albums; in 1982 she became the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar; When she was blacklisted and silenced from American radio airwaves she joined the cast of Sesame Street and became the first woman to breastfeed on national television. She’s written pop standards sung and recorded by the likes of Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Donovan, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes in addition to writing ‘Universal Soldier’, the definitive anti-war anthem of the 20th century.

Coming off her critically acclaimed, Polaris prize winning 2015 album Power in the Blood, and after winning the 2016 spirit of Americana Award, Buffy Sainte-Marie has delivered her new album Medicine Songs – and has made it her mission to educate and inform the world using her strongest tool – her music, by – in her own words – “putting the songs to work”.

The album starts with ‘You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind)’, the new unreleased collaboration with fellow Polaris prize winning indigenous artist Tanya Tagaq, followed by the politically charged ‘The War Racket’. There are also new recordings of some of the most powerful songs Buffy’s ever written, including ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’, ‘Starwalker’, timeless protest classics like ‘Universal Soldier’, ‘Now That the Buffalo’s Gone’, and ‘Little Wheel Spin and Spin’, as well as forgotten gems that were simply ahead of their time when first released, like the shimmery, eye-opening ‘Priests of the Golden Bull’” and the chillingly prescient ‘Disinformation’.

Medicine Songs has been a lifetime in the making and is perhaps, Sainte-Marie’s most powerful gift. In a statement, Sainte-Marie describes the album:

“This is a collection of front line songs about unity and resistance – some brand new and some classics – and I want to put them to work. These are songs I’ve been writing for over fifty years, and what troubles people today are still the same damn issues from 30-40-50 years ago: war, oppression, inequity, violence, rankism of all kinds, the pecking order, bullying, racketeering and systemic greed. Some of these songs come from the other side of that: positivity, common sense, romance, equity and enthusiasm for life.

I’ve found that a song can be more effective than a 400-page textbook. It’s immediate and replicable, portable and efficient, easy to understand – and sometimes you can dance to it. Effective songs are shared, person-to-person, by artists and friends, as opposed to news stories that are marketed by the fellas who may own the town, the media, the company store and the mine. I hope you use these songs, share them, and that they inspire change and your own voice.

It might seem strange that along with the new ones, I re-recorded and updated some of these songs from the past using current technologies and new instrumentations – giving a new life to them from today’s perspective. The thing is, some of these songs were too controversial for radio play when they first came out, so nobody ever heard them, and now is my chance to offer them to new generations of like-minded people dealing with these same concerns. It’s like the play is the same but the actors are new.

I really want this collection of songs to be like medicine, to be of some help or encouragement, to maybe do some good. Songs can motivate you and advance your own ideas, encourage and support collaborations and be part of making change globally and at home. They do that for me and I hope this album can be positive and provide ideas and remedies that rock your world and inspire new ideas of your own.”

Format CD, LP & DL
Label True North Records
Cat. No. TND681
Release Date January 26 2018

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.


You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind)
Learning to overcome the odds is what makes a champion, to be your own best friend beyond the money, the greed and the prize.

The War Racket
Billionaire bullies on both sides collude in wars that suck money out of the heart of both domestic economies and into the big pockets at the top. It’s a racket and it’s obscene.

Portraits of indigenous healers, activists, wisdom keepers, health sustainers, intellectuals. Some of the names mentioned are real people.

My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying
Indian 101 for people who’ve been denied the real history of how Indigenous people in North America got to be in the tragic states of affairs most suffer today: poor health, domestic insecurity and poverty. I wrote it in the 1960s before people used the word genocide or acknowledged the indigenous holocaust of the Americas, or the horror of residential schools.

America the Beautiful
I wrote two new sections to the classic song by Katherine Lee Bates and Samuel Ward.

Carry It On
This is my favorite song. It reboots me and sets me straight, whatever’s going on.

Little Wheel Spin and Spin
The little hatreds we host in our hearts add up to be the big things we hate about the world. The gear-like interaction of private and public actions, what goes around comes around.

No No Keshagesh
Keshagesh means greedy guts in Cree. It was the name of a puppy who would eat his own dinner, and then want everybody else’s too. The song is about counterbalancing environmental greed.

Soldier Blue
This song is more ma-triotic than patriotic. Think crickets, not guns. A contrast between the nation-state America and natural North America, from toe to crown.

The Priests of the Golden Bull
Uranium is a presence in Indian Country, and so are predatory energy companies. The Windego is a greed monster like the European idea of a vampire.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
The theft of uranium lands from the Pine Ridge reservation during the Nixon administration led to incidents involving Annie Mae Aquash, Joe Stuntz and Leonard Peltier.

Universal Soldier
A song I wrote in 1961 about individual responsibility for the world we’re living in. I wish it didn’t still make sense.

Power in the Blood
Contemporary issues: You can kill me but you can’t provoke me into becoming a killer. I modified A3’s original violent lyrics and turned it into a peace song, with A3’s blessing.

The following songs are available on the DIGITAL release of Medicine Songs:

This song takes place in the world of mercenaries & spies, James Bond types who compete for excellence in the deadly acts of a corrupt system.

Fallen Angels
When a hero hired to protect corrupt bosses decides to tell the truth with no immunity, no good deed goes unpunished: but Hallelujah anyway.

Now That the Buffalo’s Gone
This is the first song about Indigenous people most radio listeners ever heard. Although it’s about a specific incident (the breaking of a treaty and eviction of the Senecas to build Kinzua Dam for which there were other alternative sites), the song was used to spotlight many similar issues in the 1960s and 1970s.

Life goes on in spite of bank fraud, bozo politicians and bad parenting.

The Big Ones Get Away
Loving a company guy. Some men will do anything to be the hero. Corruption, cover-ups, taking the blame for crooked politicians. Your own chances to do miracles get away from you while you help the big bosses get away with murder.

Working for the Government
A little tongue in cheek powwow rocker about some of our favorite assassins like James Bond and G.I. Joe.

Artist Web links:



Daria Kulesh Quartet
Photograph by Jason Emberton

For their many fans there is sadness at the news that the latest iteration of Kara has disbanded. With the plan not quite coming together, both Phil Underwood and Pete Morton have had to take their leave to continue with other projects with founding members Daria Kulesh and Kate Rouse enthusiastic to focus on new music. Daria goes back to the beginning of the story.

“I started my musical journey as part of Kara and then, on a whim, decided to release my solo album, Eternal Child, and thought it would just be a little vanity project. Then Long Lost Home was an epic project for me and I really poured all my heart and soul into it and hopefully it’s paid off. The last year has been really incredible on the back of that release and all my adventures and journeys that went with it. Effectively Daria Kulesh has become a thing – I don’t even really know who she is any more – and that has taken over from Kara.

“It was following Kara’s gig at The Troubadour that Pete said it really should be about my leading the band. I was quite excited about working with Pete and sharing the spotlight but what he felt was that I needed to be a mean diva with a mean band backing me.” Pete always had a neat turn of phrase.

The first recruit to the new line-up was pianist Marina Osman. “We’ve known each other for a long time. We were doing some covers…” At this point Daria interrupts to explain that the episode in question was too embarrassing to talk about and then proceeded to explain that they were doing Lady Gaga covers. Marina finally gets a word in again. “It was a great experience but Daria had some much creativeness in her that she could not do just simple covers…and she decided to be a diva.”

Marina starts to explain that they have been working together as a duo on “the Russian project” and Daria leaps in again. “There is just so much serendipity in all of this. Marina and I were, not exactly out of touch, but we hadn’t done anything together for quite a while.” And now it gets complicated – let’s see if I’ve got it. Daria’s song ‘The Moon And The Pilot’ went viral after her appearance on the BBC World Service and her name was out there in Russia and Ingushetia. The presenter also suggested her for an event at Pushkin House, the Russian Cultural Centre, performing music that is virtually unknown in the UK.

“Marina and I learned thirty minutes of material for this event and the director of Pushkin House immediately rebooked us for a full set so we started work on a set of Russian film songs and some Russian folk classics. We kept getting repeat bookings and started mixing it up with some original material and then Marina had a little jam with Kara at The Troubadour. That was when Pete told me she was gold dust and to get her in my band.”

The fourth member of the new band is guitarist Tristan Seume who also works with Jackie Oates and admits to combining classical guitar lessons with busking Levellers’ songs in an underpass. I get the impression that Tristan knows pretty much everybody but how did he end up here?

“I got an email from Kate just over a year ago, asking me if I’d like to try out for a band. I was flattered to get an invitation but at the time I was so committed elsewhere that I left it in my unread folder because I wanted to write a nice, polite, thoughtful response but it just slipped further down my to-do list. Fast forward a year and a change of circumstances and I was going through unread emails and decided to respond to it. Because I was in a silly mood I thought I’d write something just to say ‘for what it’s worth I’ve got some time on my hands’. Within an hour I got a response from Kate.”

Prior to the formal interview, I’d watched the band at work, developing a new arrangement of Daria’s single ‘Vasilisa’ and working on a new song, ‘Pride Of Petravore’, a Percy French piece that had been suggested by Pete. Daria knew the song; Kate knew it in a different key, because Kara had performed it as an instrumental, but neither Tristan nor Marina knew it at all. Within about thirty minutes they had it ready to take into the studio to record a demo. That is the measure of the new band. The interesting thing is that Kate seems to be the one with the ability to sift through all the ideas and pull together the best ones.

“It’s my background”, she says modestly. “I’ve always been arranging my own parts and perhaps hearing things in a slightly different way. I’m the one more familiar with the Kara material but we’ve all learned lessons and become more aware about refining the music in a certain way. Someone needs to say ‘I think it should be this’ and not be shy about it. Plus the dulcimer is a big part of the band and I’m a bit protective about it.

The name of the new line-up was, for a while, a matter for debate. It might have been The Daria Kulesh Band or Daria Kulesh And Friends. I made several suggestions that were, quite rightly, rejected but they have now settled on The Daria Kulesh Quartet. Daria and Marina have recorded some new tracks which may figure on a Vasilisa EP and the new band has spent time in the studio preparing for their first gigs in the new year. It’s all very exciting and I’m looking forward to the finished product.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.daria-kulesh.co.uk/

‘Pride Of Petravore’: