Caroline Smith Interview

Caroline SmithMy first interaction with Caroline Smith was way back in July 2012, when her band still went by Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps. Caroline and her bassist Jesse Schuster agreed to record an interview during a house show in Madison, and the entire night was a lot of fun!

Over the past two years, Caroline developed a different style. The release of her 2013 album Half About Being a Woman marked a departure from her indie rock outfit to a more soulful sound. In my opinion, the new direction suits her well. It’s fun, and it’s completely genuine. It’s 100% Caroline.

From the beginning, I certainly knew she was talented—heck, that’s why I asked her to do a Murfie podcast. But ever since she tapped into her soulful roots, I’ve become really hooked on her music and current collaborations. In April of this year, we caught up again for another Murfie podcast, before her show with Dessa at The Majestic. The audio version is a lot of fun, but I’ve transcribed most of it below for your reading pleasure!


K: Right now I’m at Ancora Coffee in downtown Madison with Caroline Smith over here sipping her coffee.

C: Hi!

K: Thanks for meeting me! You mentioned you just drove here from Rochester, Minnesota, not Rochester, New York. So how are things in Minnesota?

C: Things are really great in Minnesota right now. I mean, if we’re just talking lifestyle-wise, the snow is finally gone, so life can begin again. People can start to smile again. But for us musically—for my band in Minnesota, things are better than ever. The regional music scene is just bar-none.

K: I’ve found a lot of bands now—I don’t think this has to do with the fact that we’re in Wisconsin—but Minnesota seems to be a hub for music now.

C: Yeah!

K: All kinds of music. Hip-hop….

C: Mm-hmm.

Half About Being a WomanK: Indie rock, stuff like that. I like the new direction that your album, Half About Being a Woman, is going in.

C: Thank you!

K: It’s kind of soul, R&B. The first few seconds of the first song, you know that something, something different is going down…

C: Something has changed, yes!

K: So tell me a bit about the evolution of your music—is this something you always saw coming, something that you always wanted to try?

Continue reading Caroline Smith Interview

Interview with Charlie Parr

To celebrate #ThrowbackThursday, we went into the Murfie Podcast vault to bring you this transcription of our interview with Charlie Parr, recorded on April 9th, 2012! You can listen to the full audio podcast here.

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INTRO: This is Kayla here, with your Murfie podcast. This week, we’re featuring the one and only Charlie Parr. Now, he’s humble about this, but he’s widely known for his work in gospel and bluegrass music. Recently, he gave me a call to tell me about his new album, Keep Your Hands on the Plow.

[MUSIC: “Gospel Plow” by Charlie Parr]

Kayla: So Charlie, where are you calling from?

Charlie: I’m actually calling from my mom’s house, in Austin, Minnesota. I came down with the kids for the holiday weekend, for Easter, and we’re still here and gonna get up in the morning and head back to Duluth.

Kayla: Ahhh. So, are you from Minnesota originally?

Charlie: Yeah, I’m actually from Austin, Minnesota. I grew up here, left in the mid-‘80s, I think it was, stopped in Minneapolis for a few years, and then headed for Duluth.

Charlie Parr 1922Kayla: Mmhmm. I saw that you spent some time in Australia, touring because of the success of your album, 1922—so how was that?

Charlie: Yeah, oh, it was good. I’ve been over there now…five times? I’ll head back over again in probably January of 2013, for another run. It’s great, I love touring in Australia. It’s kind of like touring in the Midwest—it’s relatively easy, and everybody’s really friendly…really nice.

Kayla: So, your success there…I know it started with the song “1922”, and I heard there’s kind of an interesting story behind that, about your father?

Charlie: Oh, about the song, yeah. I mean, I didn’t really start writin’ songs until my dad had died in ’95, and so that was one of the first ones I ever wrote. It’s named for the year he was born, in 1922, and it’s primarily just a bunch of little snippets of things that he had talked about, or told me about. He had all kinds of adventures when he was a kid, when he was a teenager, early teens, y’know. The Depression was on and they were livin’ in a large family—he had, I think, eighteen brothers and sisters, or seventeen brothers and sisters. And he took off, and went out and hopped freight trains, and done stuff like that for quite awhile, and had a bunch of stories to tell me when I was a kid, and I always remembered all of ‘em. So when I started tryin’ to write songs, some of the first songs I tried to write were about him, and those stories, and I think it was a way to grieve, y’know. I think it still is, ‘cause a lot of the songs I’m still writing to this day have touches of all the things that I kinda learned from him. He was a gigantic influence on me in a lot of ways. He was a good father, he was quite a mentor.

Kayla: Mmhmm. And musically, too, has he had any influence on you?

Charlie: He did, when I was a kid. Y’know, his record collection is my record collection now. He listened to old country western music and old folk music, and blues, and acoustic music. And when I was a kid, that’s what I listened to, ‘cause that’s what played all the time in the house. And he bought me my first guitar when I was seven years old. He traded a perfectly good boat motor in on this guitar, and I’d better learn how to play it, ‘cause that was a really good trolling motor, as opposed to the other motor he had, which wasn’t as good. But, yeah, so I mean, I kind of owe it all to him.

137842-largeKayla: I see that on your recent album, Keep Your Hands on the Plow, Emily Parr lent her talents on there for some vocals and tambourine—is that your wife?

Charlie: That’s my wife, yeah, she’s the other person I kinda owe it all to. It’s always nice when she gets to sing a little bit with me, and we planned this whole record out kind of together…songs that we both like, y’know, older songs…it’s some gospel songs, and some traditional songs, and even a chain gang song on there. It was really nice, gettin’ to record with her. Unfortunately, we don’t get to perform much together because, y’know, she’s got a job and works quite a bit.

Kayla: She’s got a great voice—does she have a history with music or singing?

Charlie: Oh, yeah, I mean she’s done this kind of stuff all of her life. She went to college and had a degree in music and theater, so she’s always been interested in music. And she plays the flute, and she’s played in symphony-type situations quite a bit. I’m untrained myself, so we can’t really play music together because I don’t have a clue what’s going on and it’s frustrating for her, I think.

Kayla: [Laughs] So you’re mostly self-taught then?

Charlie: I’m all self-taught, yeah. I just learned from listening to old records of my dad’s, tryin’ to pick out what they were doin’. And I’m still tryin’ to learn—I don’t think it ever stops…which is good, y’know, it keeps you interested. And sometimes it’s frustrating, and you feel like there’s gotta be a quicker way, but in a way, I think that’s maybe not a good way to think about it, because the way I took did me a lot of good, I think, even though it was longer.

Kayla: So, your new album was recorded in a church—how was that? Was it different than your other recordings, or have you done that before?

Charlie: I’ve done a few things in a church, once in awhile. It was decommissioned some time ago, and it’s now a performance space and recording studio in Duluth—the Sacred Heart. And it’s pretty amazing, I mean when you walk in, it’s a church, it’s a huge sanctuary, so you get that kind of church-y sound, y’know—it’s got a nine-second reverb time in the sanctuary. So it’s a pretty incredible place to just…be, and perform, much less record in. So it was really nice, and it is different…I usually record wherever I feel comfortable. We’ve recorded in garages and storefronts and bar basements, and wherever it feels right, y’know. So, it felt good…and we had a really nice afternoon, and pretty much got the whole thing done in an afternoon and a little bit the day before, when I came in and did a couple solo things.

Kayla: So, this album was released in 2011, and—I love it by the way—so, what have you got planned for this year?

Charlie: This year, I’m starting to record the next record which will be kind of more back to my own original material, and I’m probably gonna record it in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, at a friend of mine’s house down there. And it’s probably not gonna be out until early in ’13. I’m doing a lot of touring before then, so I don’t know if I’m gonna get around to recording it until sometime this summer. But I’m heading out for Ireland here at the end of this month, and then I’ve got shows all through the summer, and might be heading back to Europe in the fall, and then Australia in the early part of next year. But the new record, the next one comin’ up, it’s gonna be called Barnswallow. And it’s probably gonna be more of the same that I usually do, my own kind of songs, harmonica player and a washboard player, maybe talk Emily into comin’ down and singin’ a couple of songs…we’ll see what happens, I guess.

Kayla: Well, definitely keep us posted about that! We’ll have that to look forward to. And good luck with touring, too! It looks like you’re gonna be pretty busy.

Charlie: Yeah, it’s been good though—I’ve been really lucky. Thank you very much.

Kayla: Yeah—thank you!

OUTRO: And that was Charlie Parr. You can find him at charlieparr.com, and the album Keep Your Hands on the Plow is available now. Thanks for listening, and enjoy this clip of “Gospel Plow”.

[MUSIC: “Gospel Plow” by Charlie Parr]

Interview with Caroline Smith [Podcast]

photo credit: Reginald Van Nurden

Caroline Smith is a singer and songwriter who will not hesitate to point out how the music she creates, like herself, changes over time. Her sound could previously be clearly defined as indie rock, but a whole new world opened up to her when she covered the song “Drown in My Own Tears” by Aretha Franklin. Her new album Half About Being a Woman is a modern neo-soul/R&B/indie rock gem, young-spirited yet mature. As a woman in the music biz, Caroline has dealt with challenges. This interview was recorded before her show with Dessa at the Majestic Theatre, and it contains valuable insights about those challenges, and also advice for up-and-coming musicians.

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Who: Caroline Smith; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: Caroline talks about influences, the Minnesota music scene, and the world of a difference that two years can make
Where: Ancora Coffee, Madison, WI
When: Thursday, April 10th, 2014
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: mp3 version

Find music by Caroline Smith in our shop.

Checkout more at carolinesmithcarolinesmith.com.

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Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


[Album Review] Caroline Smith: Half About Being a Woman

Half About Being a Woman
Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith, who we originally met back in July 2012 at a house show in Madison, gave us a taste of her new material that night when she performed the song “Child of Moving On”.

Contrasted with the more indie rock sound previously conveyed with her band, Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps, this new song showcased a more soulful Caroline, with deep roots in soul and R&B.

That’s exactly what Half About Being a Woman is all about: Soul. Within the first few seconds of the first song, you know that this album brings something different to the table. It showcases Caroline’s powerful, soulful voice, over songs that range from more beat-driven R&B to slower jams about love.

That’s not to say the indie element is completely lost in this album. Songs like “Magazine” and “Walking Off Strong” sound very intertwined with indie rock still, with electronic garnishes. Contrast that with those slow jams including “All That I Know” and “Half About Being a Woman”, and you’ve got an album featuring the best of both ranges which Caroline so successfully masters.

This album really is incredible—and that’s coming from someone who went in with no preconceptions. I’m going to go ahead and say you’ll enjoy this album if you enjoy Billie Holiday, Norah Jones, and classic neo-soul queens like Erykah Badu. But keep in mind, it comes with a modern twist—and it doesn’t fully depart from the original indie rock sound which Caroline’s band started off playing.

Half about Being a Woman is now available on Murfie. Check out the track clip previews and I know you’ll want to hear more!

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner…and it’s a perfect time to remember to be grateful for all the good things in life. (And to eat!). Here are some albums that our Murfie staffers are grateful for as the holiday approaches.

Name: John
Thanksgiving plans: I think I’m going to go chill with my grandma. Not entirely sure yet.
Album I’m thankful for: I’m thankful for Ambient 1 by Brian Eno. This was one of the first albums that introduced me to ambient, experimental and avant-garde music, and it really introduced me to a ton of amazing and artistically satisfying music and people in my life.

Name: Daniella
Thanksgiving plans: Every year my family drives Up North and we have a big bonfire, eat tons of food, and take lots of naps.
Album I’m thankful for: Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens.

Name: Marc
Thanksgiving plans: None in particular, although I imagine I’ll cook food :)
Album I’m thankful for: My Early Burglary Years by Morrissey – Not necessarily the best collection of his you can buy, but it does pack in several of my favorite Morrissey tracks.

Name: Leah
Thanksgiving plans: Headed home to a cozy family Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s place in Chicago (fireplace, comfy couch, great conversation) and spending quality time together at our family’s restaurant.
Album I’m thankful for: The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian – this album was my first foray into the always-fun Belle & Sebastian, and as I dug back through their earlier stuff I found many of what are now my go-to tunes when I’m feeling down or stressed-out.

Name: Adam
Thanksgiving plans: Spending quality time with my beloved family in Minnesota. Eating ridiculous amounts of food and watching football. Maybe looking through Black Friday ads.
Album I’m thankful for: Classics by Ratatat. It’s one of the first albums I can remember that made me think, “Hmmmm, music doesn’t always need lyrics to paint a picture.” And for that I’m thankful.

Name: Gao
Thanksgiving plans: Watching the Packers destroy the Lions with my boyfriend’s family.
Album I’m thankful for: Backstreet Boys’ self-titled album. The sappy love songs always cheer me up. Plus, I’ve perfected the reach and grab move.

Name: Zach
Thanksgiving plans: Going up north to my grandparents house for good food and spirits.
Album I’m thankful for: Amelie (Soundtrack) by Yann Tiersen.

Name: Elsa
Thanksgiving plans: Going to a family friend’s farm in Monroe, WI for a big potluck dinner.
Album I’m thankful for: #1 Record by Big Star (1972). The quintessential power pop album, from a band that only became semi-known decades after their demise. This one is particularly special because it has the original lineup of the band, with the songwriting team of Alex Chilton & Chris Bell, both truly gifted singer/guitarists who deserved a lot more recognition than they received. You can hear the album’s influence in a lot of indie rock groups that came out of the ’80s and ’90s.

Name: Matt
Thanksgiving plans: Thanksgiving day for football watching and turkey #1 with the in-laws, and Thanksgiving night for turkey #2 with my family. I’ll have to pace myself :)
Album I’m thankful for: Moving Up, Living Down by Eric Hutchinson. I’m thankful for having discovered Eric during his live show in Madison over the summer. He’s a terrific performer, and every track on his latest album is terrific, fun listening.

Name: Tyler
Thanksgiving plans: Eat, eat…and eat! And of course, watch the Packers. Go Pack Go!
Album I’m thankful for: I’m really digging the new Avicii album True. I’ll have a fun time listening to it with my brothers when they are in town for Thanksgiving.

Name: Kayla
Thanksgiving plans: Visiting my friends in Milwaukee and eating at my parents’ house (word on the street is my mom’s making gluten free pumpkin cheesecake…yummm).
Album I’m thankful for: Is This It by the Strokes. For some reason I feel like my life would not be the same if I never discovered this album in particular. The lyrics, melodies, hooks, and layered instruments really speak to me. And I luuurrve Julian Casablancas :)

What album are you thankful for this year? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving from the crew at Murfie!

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Happy Earth day to all our fellow Earth citizens! Today is the perfect day to pick out some tunes that deepen our appreciation for this great blue/green planet.

What music inspires you to think about nature? What music ignites your environmental activist flame? What music makes you think of flowing waters, fields of flowers, and happy squirrels?

Here’s what our Murfie staffers have to say!

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Steel PulseAfrican Holocaust
Kayla: The song “Global Warning” is a smash hit. It points out the harsh reality that a lot of environmental problems are created by humans. But it is hopeful, calling us towards a common goal to re-arrange.

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Earth – Pentastar: In the Style of Demons
Jeff: A wall of slow, crushing sludge-rock from the forefathers of doom. How could this album not make you think about the Earth, especially its immense size, and how it would feel if it rolled over you?

1dbb9dc8-e007-11e1-af0b-12313d184814Ani DiFrancoRed Letter Year
Noah: The song “The Atom” is almost a hymn, calling for taking care of the Earth and disparaging the use of nature to destroy.

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R.E.M.Green
Matt: Look at the title and cover. Need I say more?

MI0000392903Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack
Matt: Best experienced while sailing on a windy night, listening to this soundtrack really puts me in the groove of the ocean.

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Yo La Tengo I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
Glynnis: “Green Arrow” has always perfectly encapsulated a lazy, aimless summer evening for me. Follow it up with “Autumn Sweater”, and you’ve got me longing for all my favorite kinds of weather, ready to go outside and enjoy a nice evening breeze.

e1d4cafe-85cb-11e1-9f65-1231381d530bBen Sollee 
RJ: My pick for Earth Day is any album by Ben Sollee. The reason I picked this wonderful musician is because he travels by bicycle when he tours. You can’t get any more earthy then Ben!

Bob DylanThe Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan6840-large
Tiffany: Bob Dylan hails from Minnesota and his music always seems to come straight from the agricultural heart of the Midwest. This album was the one that put Dylan on the map as a folk protest singer.

MI0001645112Nick Drake Fruit Tree
Pete: Fruit Tree by Nick Drake is my choice. As well as being a great song in itself, it’s also the title of a four-disc box set featuring all three of Nick Drake’s studio albums. His music always reminds me of the English countryside. 6748-large

 

Midnight OilDiesel and Dust
Preston: The track “Dreamworld” in particular makes me feel all warm and full of hope.

MI0001767347GojiraFrom Mars to Sirius
Keith: Not many people know this, but a lot of metal can be spiritual. Many of Gojira’s songs are about getting energy from the Earth and from nature. This is a great album, although it’s not for those who are new to the traditional death-metal sound.6351-large

RadioheadHail to the Thief
Henry: Stick it to the man.

We’re hoping that everyone gets a bit of sunshine today, and a chance to think about the great planet that we call home! Maybe one of these albums will become your top Earth Day pick too!

Interview with Charlie Parr [PODCAST]

Charlie Parr, a respected country blues musician, was kind enough to give us a phone interview. Check it out below, and make sure to also check out his newest album Keep Your Hands on the Plow.

Charlie Parr Keep Your Hands on the PlowWho: Charlie Parr; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: The self-taught musician: Where he comes from and where he’s going.
Where: Madison, WI
When: Monday, April 9, 2012
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: mp3 version

Like what you heard? Browse Charlie Parr’s albums on Murfie.

Check out more of Charlie at www.charlieparr.com.

Into RSS? Follow our podcast feed via: https://blog.murfie.com/category/podcasts/feed/