Return from Travel Musical Sunday Interlude — Heather Maloney performing “Woodstock”

Anointed one of the five music artists to watch for April 2015 by SPIN magazine, Heather Maloney is a singer-songwriter with an expressive, disciplined, and strong musical voice.  According to her website, she studied jazz and operatic vocals in New Jersey for several years, but couldn’t quite find her place or her voice in those disciplines.  As anyone who follows either of those musical traditions, while they provide a devotee with artistic heights rarely achieved in more folk-based or pop-based musical pathways, they are ones that provide few financial and material rewards.  Still, she followed her muse to a silent meditation retreat in central Massachusetts.  Oddly, she admits, three years of mostly silence allowed her to focus on the musical path that she decided to pursue.  With guitar in hand she performed in coffee houses, libraries, and meditation centers across New England the Northeast.  She signed with groundbreaking indie label Signature Sounds in 2013, which also carries Lake Street Dive and Josh Ritter.  This break gave her more exposure in the music industry and among other artists.  What follows is the song that made her mark, one of the most difficult songs to tackle, especially given its author: Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”

 

Saturday Music Interlude — Hurray for the Riff Raff Performing Look Out Mama

This group has been around since 2007 but–as with most worthwhile endeavors–took some time to build up some stream, noting small but notable successes along the way.  They caught the attention of Spin magazine at the beginning of the year and made a big splash at the latest SXSW Music Festival in Austin this past month.  The band is led by Alynda Lee Segarra, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent who left home at the age of 17 and settled in New Orleans.  Hearing her story alone caught my attention.  Then I heard the music.  It is folk, country, roots music.  It is music from the heart and it is no surprise that Ms. Segarra’s journey took her to New Orleans, the city where the soul of America resides: beaten, abused, milked, and exploited but refusing to die, to lay down, to quit.  This is America.  This is who we are and where we came from.  We are the mutts of the world, the ones no one wanted, the runts of the litter, the downtrodden and the poor, the cast offs, the survivors, the melting pot, (who if you cross us are a little dangerous), and we’ll not be defeated.