25: The Rails

James and Kami Walbourne are The Rails, a husband and wife duo from London. “Fair Warning”, their first album was called by Mojo magazine the best folk album of 2014. Their newest CD, “Other People” broadens their sound and if possible is even better. James is the lead guitarist for The Pretenders and Kami is the daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson. This podcast was recorded with them in New York the morning after a very successful gig at The Mercury Lounge just before returning to London. Most anything you would want to discuss is covered in the conversation, their roots, musical and otherwise, their recent recording in Nashville with producer Ray Kennedy, their admiration for a varied list of fellow musicians and of course favorite guitars. Catch them live if you can. Their songs and their harmony singing will convince you that we will emerge from these Dark Times into a brighter future. Who doesn’t want some of that? 

©John Peden

The Mercury Lounge NYC


Video about the recording of “Other People” with Ray Kennedy at Room and Board in Nashville.

Here is the current recording discussed in the video above. It is just excellent.


Fair Warning is their first recording which I can’t get enough of


 We discuss this LP during the podcast with Kami and James.  The event and LP were produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson father of Cody Dickinson who is the drummer in Nashville for TheRail’s .”Other People ” CD. Both the L P and a CD are still available directly from Bear Family Records and Amazon.


24: Gene Santoro

We welcome noted author and journalist Gene Santoro for an extensive conversation about his long association with music both as a writer and performer. Gene is one of the lucky ones who roamed NYC’s music haunts in the 1960s and was able to see and hear first hand John Coltrane, The Blues Project, Dave Van Ronk, The Mothers of Invention, Tiny Tim and many others. Starting to write about music with Guitar World Magazine his articles have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Down Beat, Rolling Stone, The Nation and other periodicals. He is the author of “Myself When I Am Real” the definitive biography of Jazz Legend Charles Mingus and 2 collections of his music related articles “Dancing in Your Head” and “Highway 61 Revisited” for the Oxford University Press. The musicians he has interviewed are simply too numerous to mention. He doesn’t hold back in this podcast. It’s difficult to say what is more interesting, the people he has interviewed or his observations and opinions on American music and culture of the last 50 + years.


Gene wasn’t kidding when he talked about being at The Lone Star when Ronnie and Keith were there to see Irma Thomas. Here they are on another night after we had completed a photo and interview session with Lonnie Mack who was playing the Lone Star with Tim Drummond on bass. Who should join them but Ronnie and Keith?

Lonnie Mack and Keith
Lonnie Mack and Keith 2
Lonnie Mack-
Lonnie Mack c u

There are 2 books of collected articles that Gene has written. You will certainly enjoy both of them.



“Myself When I Am Real”,  Gene’s biography of Charles Mingus is considered definitive.


Gene interviewed and I photographed Keith Richards for the March 1986″Guitar World”. He could not have been more cooperative, a real pleasure to work with.

D-1740-Urns_Cast iron_-3

O K probably not their best LP but at least Gene got to Jam with them in the studio while they were recording it


Another great joint venture was the “Guitar World” interview with Buddy Guy. I always had an amp in the studio for these guys to plug into. Note lower right corner. He’s not faking it in this photo.

D-1740-Urns_Cast iron_-1

In this podcast Gene discusses a dream project we laid out “back in the day” of touring the classic Southern soul music recording studios and interviewing the musicians who worked in them. Unfortunately for us this trip never took place. To be honest we were both on fire having  just read Peter Guralnick’s amazing “Sweet Soul Music”.


Gene and I did attend a few shows in New York in the 80s to lay some ground work for our dream “Soul Guitar “project . Here are some shots for SOBs where Etta James was the headliner with support from Otis Clay backed by the fantastic Hi Rhythm Section.

Etta James SOBs 1986
Otis Clay NYC 1986

The Hi Rhythm Section L-R: Howard Grimes-drums, Charles Hodges Keys. Teenie Hodges Guitar and Leroy Hodges-Bass

Hi Rhythm Section NYC 1986

One thing for sure, Santoro’s got great taste. The other interview we did together was with the Meters great guitarist, Leo Nocentelli. This was at Tramps when it was on 21st St. Mr Nocentelli is the only guitarist who comes to mind that plays a Fender Starfire.

Leo Nocentelli NYC 1990

23: Emily Duff

If you follow live music in New York then the buzz about Emily Duff has been inescapable. She turns out great new songs with a frequency not seen since that scruffy fellow landed in the Village back in ’61. God bless whoever funded her recent trip to Muscle Shoals to record “Maybe in the Morning ” an L P that stands with the best to EVER come out of The FAME Studio and that’s not said casually. In this podcast, she discusses her music, life and passions with candor and humor. She is joined by her lead guitarist, Scott Aldrich for even more insights and a bit of candid string bending and tube torture. So clear a bit of time, grind some beans, brew a cup of the good stuff and prepare to be throughly entertained by Ms Duff and friends.


“Go Tell Your Friends” is an 8 song CD of Demos she cut with Scott that just had to be fleshed out to this finished product unfortunately no longer available as a CD. You can download it however and better yet catch her live. Prepare to be stunned by her “Force of Nature” live sets of original material. 

Her residency at The Cowgirl Hall of Fame (3rd Monday every month) is one of the best live music scenes in NYC. Greenwich Village like it used to be.

Duff Cowgirl (1 of 1)

The playlist for this podcast is naturally heavy with Muscle Shoals tunes.

The interplay between Scott and Emily is a rare thing and a joy to behold.

Duff+Scott-studio (1 of 1)
Walk of Shame (1 of 1)

Emily Duff’s latest “Maybe in the Morning” was recorded at The Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals. She completely channels the vibe of that storied studio. Do yourself a favor, get in as a vinyl LP.


Emily is returning to Muscle Shoals to record a 2nd Lp. You can support her effort with a contribution to her “Go Fund Me” drive at:



For an overview of FAME the Kent Records 3 C D set will fill all the holes

7-7855-Chest_3 drawer_Late Gustavian (1 of 1)

For more immersion into Rick Hall’s world don’t forget.




22: John Sebastian

A deep discussion with John Sebastian concerning his boyhood and musical development in Greenwich Village and the folk movement, his founding of The Lovin’ Spoonful, his move to California and his solo career which continues today. A raconteur of the first order who has had a front row seat when he hasn’t been on stage himself to some of the most important events in American popular music of the last 60 years. 

©John Peden

Especially good Spotify playlist link due to John’s involvement and direct references.

The 3 Lovin’ Spoonful albums produced by Eric Jacobson are essential, all remain relevant today. 


Born in Greenwich village with a professional musician father, John was perfectly positioned to catch the “Folk Music Wave” who’s epicenter was his neighborhood. The Even Dozen Jug Band  (more of a recording project than a touring band) was an early recording experience. Like Cambridge’s  Jim Kweskin Jug Band, The Even Dozen Band was loaded with talented musicians who would go on to great success. 

John developed a friendship with Bob Dylan which took them upstate to Woodstock. Here in 1964 John plays a favorite Gibson J 45 lost to the sands of time. Bob goes electric on a Japanese bass.


©Douglas Gilbert

 At this point John had more experience working numerous  recording sessions. He was able to help Dylan when he decided to add musicians for his 1965 LP “Bringing it all back Home”.


©Daniel Kramer

The Dylanologist are yet to nail down if and on what cut John (or Steve Boone) add the bass parts. Best guess is Maggies Farm. A Fender Precision Bass can be seen in John’s hands at the BIABH sessions. Note the Fender “Tweed” amp sitting on the chair left of Bob.


©Daniel Kramer

Steve Boone bass player for The Louvin’ Spoonful also played some bass at these sessions as did Harvey Brooks. Same Bass different wardrobe than Sebastian.

©Daniel Kramer

Here’s John with that J 45 again along with fellow Greenwich Village running buddy John Hammond on a Wurlitzer keyboard. Bob is playing his Gibson Nick Lucas acoustic which John sold him. This whole scene looks like lots of fun.


©Daniel Kramer

If you are interested in the Folk performers that went on to larger careers in rock then you will enjoy “Turn!Turn!Turn the 60s folk rock revolution” by Ritchie Unterberger. This guy has a head for details. There is a Vol II “Eight Miles High Folk Rock’s Flight from Haight-Asbury to Woodstock”


John’s first solo Lp after The Lovin’ Spoonful released early 1970 recorded in L.A. for Reprise is a fine LP


In this podcast, John discusses his chance attendance at Woodstock and being pressed into performing as well as his memorable tie dyed outfit and how he created it.


Mr Unterberger also wrote the liner notes for John Sebastian’s “Tarzana Kid John’s last LP for Reprise released in 1974. The list of musicians on this album is amazing : Lowell George,Amos Garrett, The Pointer Sisters, Buddy Emmons, Emmylou Harris, David Lindley, David Grossman, Ry Cooder and Phil Everly. Whew!


1996 saw the release of “I Want My Roots” John Sebastian and the J-Band which featured Jimmy Vivino, Fritz Richmond James Wormworth, Paul Rishnell, Annie Raines and Rory Block.


For “Chain’ Gus’s Ghost” released 1999 The J Band added Geoff Muldaur and Yank Rachell.


John is on board along with Fritz Richmond, David Grisman, Dan Hicks, Taj Mahal and others for Ms Muldaur’s 2006 CD “Maria Muldaur and her Garden of Joy”. “Good Music for Hard Times” Man were they prescient.



21: Zeke Schein

Zeke Schein’s  discovery of possibly the 3rd known photo of Robert Johnson sent the Blues community into a tailspin. In SLN Podcast #21 he lays out the story in a most thoughtful and intriguing manner.


“Portrait of a Phantom”,  Zeke’s book gives a detailed account of the acquisition of the photo and the story of it’s life altering effect.  It is a literary achievement that more than tells the story of the 3.25 X 4.25 tattered photo. His descriptions of life in NYC in the early 21st century are a delight.


Matt Umanov”s Guitar Shop has been a Greenwich Village landmark for 53 years. Zeke occupied sales “first chair” just inside the door. Chatting with Zeke on any given day was always a Great Hang. For one thing you’d probably be leaning on the counter elbow to elbow with John Hammond, Jack White, Steve Earl, Vince Gill  or John Sebastian. Here Zeke holds a period correct Gibson L 1 close to the make and model Robert Johnson holds in the Hooks Brothers photo used for the box set of his music.  Matt’s store will close in 2017. Umanov’s and 48th St. may be gone but NYC still has great guitar shops. Among them, Rudys in Soho where Zeke now works.


Tom Crandall with his E Bay skills helped Zeke get the photo. Here is Tom at the repair bench at Umanov’s a few years ago. Tom now runs T. R. Crandall Guitars on 3rd St. in NYC.


Most of us first were exposed to The Delta Blues through Sam Charters “The Country Blues” and the accompanying L P for RBF a division of Folkways.

The hardcore blues collectors considered Charter’s selections too commercial and countered with OJL “Really the Country Blues” 

However the squabbling was put to rest by  CBS releasing “Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Singers” in 1961.


In 1970 CBS released Vol II of “Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Singers” containing reissues of 10 Vocalion 78s plus 6 additional tracks 0f alternates takes and unissued masters. Don Law produced all of Robert Johnson’s recordings.


If you like this podcast topic you’ll probably enjoy the following books that explore the fascination and history of American roots music and recordings of it. Keep the highlighter at hand. These are dense reads.


The writing of Peter Guralnick needs no explanation to music fans. His “Sweet Soul Music” is a top 5 books on music for sure. This a smaller book but he’s alway enjoyable.


Make up your own minds Here are Robert Johnson photos #1 Hooks Brothers photo, #2 photo booth cigarette photo, #3 Zeke’s photo. Use your own senses and tell me what you think in the “leave a comment” section at the beginning of the blog. hint: check the eyebrows and fingers.


©Courtesy of the Estate of Robert L. Johnson

Robert Johnson’s music finds a home in many places Here luthier Mark Simon creates a special resonator guitar that also has a pick up designed for this model,the Terraplane.


So that’s it for now. Take another look at the 3 images and make up your own mind. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Zeke’s book “Portrait of a Phantom” which lays out his odyssey.


20: Martin Kelly

Martin Kelly is best known to readers of this blog and listeners to the podcast as part of the team that created “Fender The Golden Age” along with his brother Paul the photographer and previous SLN podcast participant Terry Foster . Martin lives in Oxfordshire near London where he runs numerous businesses under the “Heavenly” banner. He manages bands, has a record label and produces films. You’ll have to get up very early to beat Martin to something Fender Vox or other music related items or ephemera.  
Martin Kelly in his office

Sure you’ve got the book. You’ve read it cover to cover and drooled over Paul’s beautiful photos but have you got the CD?  If you haven’t you are missing a major piece of the puzzle, Full of great music played on Fenders by a very tasty selection of musicians but wait there’s more. Where did they find those vintage Fender radio ads? It’s on the ACE label out of the U K. Check their catalogue for some of the best Southern Soul compilations.


Here is your Spotify playlist for this episode, crazy varied just like we like them

This ’61 Vox Duo Tone was in a box by Martin’s door when he’d picked me up from the station. Maybe it wouldn’t win a beauty contest against a Strat but it sure is clean and ultra cool.


Here’s the custom colored Jazzmaster Martin discusses in the podcast not to shabby.


And here’s the “Ultra Rare” Rickenbacker 1965 Rose Morris model 1993 Martin found in Hamburg


That’s Sarah Cracknell lead singer for Saint Etienne and Martin’s wife. He found the Rickenbacker 12 string touring with the band.


Here’s anther item you don’t stumble on every day. I think these promotion items were used on the amps at trade shows. If they were sent to dealers they would be available today. They aren’t.


Leo put a lot of design time into his 12 string bridge which is why many consider the Fender 12 the most playable electric 12.


Any K&F amp is worth celebrating but this is a rare one with a 10″ speaker.


Martin manages The Rails which consist of James Walbourne and Kami Thompson daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson. Seek them out!

THE RAILS, Kami Thompson & James Walbourne, London 13-2-17 © Jill Furmanovsky

We look forward to Martin completing his major book on the history of Vox. This was laying on his kitchen table so you can believe he’s up to the task.


18: John Cohen

SLN # 19 John Cohen pt. 2
SLN # 18 John Cohen pt. 1

John Cohen has done almost everything worth doing, photographer, film maker, musician, teacher. We went to his home in Putnam County N Y for a full afternoon’s conversation. There are 2 podcast that resulted from our extremely pleasant visit.

Here John Is shown on the right with his Old Time Music band The New Lost City Ramblers accompanying Maybelle Carter.

Cohen’s neighbor in first loft on the Lower East side was photographer Robert Frank who’s seminal work “The Americans ” was published while John Lived next door


As neighbors should Robert was kind enough to produce photos for John’s Old Time Music band The New Lost city Ramblers


It’s hard to over estimate the influence of Folkways Records especially “The Anthology of American Folk Music” However well know that is, I do believe the following 4 LPs from Folkways also deserve ” Rosetta Stone” status


If you only get one John Cohen book (not a good idea IMHO) “There is No Eye” is the one to get. This is his first monograph and contains photographs from his days in New Haven, New York’s East Side, Peru, Greenwich Village folk music scene0 and groundbreaking trips to the American South to seek out regional musicians, monumental.


This book results from a session that was supposed to be a dry run for a film sound synch experiment that failed. Both Cohen and Dylan had the good instinct to catch lighting in a bottle. These images capture Robert Zimmerman becoming Bob Dylan, fascinating.


As long as we’re on the subject of Bob don’t miss “John Cohen Here and Gone”, photos of Woody Guthrie, 60’s music festivals, The New Lost Ramblers, what I believe was a cover shoot for Dylan’s “Self Portrait” and a lengthy conversation with Bob that originally ran in “Sing Out”. This book was printed by Steidl


Another masterful printing job by Steidl. Pawn grandfather’s watch to buy this book. Close to time traveling back to the source, the resulting photos from John’s trips to the American South in search of what he called “old time music” and is now called “Americana”. He found it and more. 1963, The High and Lonesome Sound, photos, a CD of audio recordings and a DVD of his film made primarily featuring Roscoe Holcomb. Way too much to take in in one sitting.


“Pull My Daisy” 1959 is a silent black and white film shot by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie from a Jack Kerouac play featuring Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Larry Rivers and others. John Cohen worked on this groundbreaking film which provides a look at The Beat Generation from within

The importance of The Newport Folk Festivals was immense. It began in response to the successful annual Jazz Festivals in Newport, Rhode Island managed by George Wein who recruited Albert Grossman to run the Folk Festival. Careers were started there. Most of the “rediscovered ” country and blues musicians played there. John Cohen and The New Lost City Ramblers played the first Folk Festival. It began in 1959 in “The Casino” now the International  Tennis Hall of Fame. This is how it looks today.




As the festival and the popularity of folk music grew the location moved to Freebody Park and the grounds of St Michaels school and for 1965 Festival Field now a housing site.

St Michael’s School today.


Dylan using Joan Baez’s O 45 Martin guitar Performs “Mr Tamborine Man” on the grounds of St Michael’s School at a workshop at the Newport Folk Festival 1964

It’s time for a shout out to our mutual friend Ed Grazda (John Cohen’s friend and photographer of Mr Cohen’s portraits) on the occasion of the publication of his new book, “Mean Streets” photos of New York in the 1970s – 80s. More time traveling. 

Much more to be added to this blog soon

17: Geoff Muldaur pt. 2

SLN # 17 Geoff Muldaur pt. 2

Recorded in Kingston N.Y. Part 2 of our conversation with Geoff where he discusses his time in the steel business (go figure?) and return to music recording the wonderful personal C D, “The Secret Handshake” , his 8 year classical music project in Antwerp, “Private Astronomy, the C D that features his arrangements of classic Bix Beiderbecke tunes, The Roots of Geoff Muldaur a project that now numbers 8 C Ds of material (the actual source recordings) that have inspired Geoff. Let’s hope the notes for this project will become an autobiography and trips to Japan that result in The Martin Guitar Co. producing the Geoff Muldaur Model Martin Guitar. If you caught SLN podcast #16 we know you’ve been waiting for part 2.

Bix Beiderbecke has been a favorite of Geoff’s since Boyhood. Private Astronomy his arrangements of Bix’s original piano and other compositions that Bix recorded in his lifetime. In this podcast Geoff discusses Bix, the hand picked musicians and the recording process for this C D.


A wonderful C D personally recorded by Geoff an absolute must. I think he actually likes this one


This really belongs in the blog for podcast #16 but I just came across this copy of the L P by Better Days Geoff spoke of in glowing terms in that podcast It includes their version of “Walking Blues” and “Highway 28”


16: Geoff Muldaur pt. 1

SLN # 16 Geoff Muldaur pt. 1

We sit down in Kingston, N Y with Geoff and have a far ranging conversation on all things musical. We get into his early fascination with Blues and Jazz recordings accompanied by his friend Joe Boyd and Joe’s brother Warwick. Geoff’s involvement with the Cambridge scene including his time with the famed Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Geoff and his wife of the time Maria’s  2 L Ps followed by his time in Woodstock as vocalist for Paul Butterfield’s band Better Days. Just too much to list here plus there will be a part 2 podcast #17.

Geoff with his Geoff Muldaur model Martin in Kingston Sept 2017

If you have fond memories of The Jim Kweskin Jug Band (most of us do) then Jim and Geoff’s newest C D release “Penny’s Farm” is an absolute delight. Jim and Geoff both vocalize and play guitar all tunes sometimes aided by Cindy Cashdollar on steel guitar, Suzy Thompson on Fiddle among others with Van Dyke Parks adding Accordion to Bobby Charles “Tennessee Blues”.


Geoff Disparages his first L P, “Sleepy Man Blues” for Prestige claiming “I wasn’t ready”. Don’t listen to him. As Richard Thompson says”There are 3 great white blues singers and Geoff Muldaur is 2 of them” He’s already doing it on these early recordings.

Sleepy man (1 of 1)
Here’s the L P that started the ball rolling for Jim Kweskin and the rest of the Jug band. Geoff Muldaur’s arrangements and performances were a key to this L P’s lasting appeal


Another trip down memory lane. Albert Grossman saw fit to move The Jug Band from “Folkie” label Vanguard to Reprise the happening record company out of L.A. “Garden of Joy” was their first L P for the label.

If you have a Spotify account you can play complete versions of all the tunes referenced in Geoff’s podcast. Click on any tune to play on your device.

Geoff and his wife Maria released 2 L Ps for Reprise “Pottery Pie” and ” Sweet Potatoes” seek them both out. Maria then hit with “Midnight at the Oasis” produced by Geoff’s long time friend Joe Boyd featuring Amos Garrett one of the great Telecaster players. The boys were then turned loose “In the musical candy store” for “Geoff Muldaur is Having a Wonderful Time” the participating musicians on this is L P is staggering


Throughout our interview reference is made to Geoff’s long time friend, Joe Boyd. We highly recommend Joe’s book , “White Bicycles” It’s a great read. He has lead an amazing life in music. That’s Geoff and Maria among others on the cover.


15: Richard Alderson pt. 2

SLN #15 Richard Anderson pt. 2

In pt.#2 Alderson discusses building his own studio, RLA Sound on W. 65th St in NYC with backing from his friend Harry Belafonte. He produces ground breaking free jazz from the likes of Sun Ra and many others for the ESP label.

Heliocentric edit

Always on the cutting edge of audio technology Alderson uses A P I solid state amplifiers (precursor to Melcor Amplifiers), faders in his stand up board, speakers of his own design, sticks with the Altec 1567A for mixing and mic preamps and an early  Ampex 1″8 track tape machine.

He has a hit with Johnny Nash “Hold me Tight” recorded partially in his studio and partially in Jamaica.


Alderson scores another hit L P with the Pearls Before Swine’s “One Nation Underground” which is about to be rereleased by Drag City on vinyl and other formats with the original Mono mix restored by Richard.


The quality of Alderson’s recording of the 1966 Live tour is an acknowledged fact. Nevertheless CBS decides to send another recording team to record 3 of Dylan and the Band’s shows. When CBS finally releases as Bootleg Series #4, the “Judas” Manchester Free Trade Hall show, erroneously  known as The Royal Albert Hall Show for years, they choose Richard’s 2 track recordings from the P A microphones because they sound better than the 3 track tapes their recording team produced. You can hear the difference in “Visions of Johanna”. Ricard’s tape ran out on the phrase “my conscious explodes” the next line is “The harmonica’s play…”( at 20minutes 37 seconds running time in Podcast #15).  The difference in sound is obvious. The acoustic guitar becomes “boomy” and Dylan’s voice becomes distant. Once again, thank God for Richard and his recordings. 

We recommend Robbie Robertson’s book “Testimony.. a good read


Here is the 36 C D box set that Richard Alderson recorded in 1966 on tour with Bob and the Hawks. You need to get it while you can


We can’t go any further without acknowledging the many contributions of our recording engineer, Mike Crehore who has been present for all of the SLN podcast recordings. Mike is front and center on this podcast contributing his knowledge of audio recording to the discussion with Richard, much appreciated Mike. 
Mike Crehore.jpg-1

We do hope you have enjoyed our conversations with Richard Alderson. There is so much more to his story much of it yet  be written. We eagerly await listeningto his new projects and hope to get him back for more stories.