Friday, April 25, 2008

Eli "Paperboy" Reed and The True Loves: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

I first heard Eli "Paperboy" Reed (nee Eli Husock) when one of his songs was in a Salon song competition with Hallelujah the Hills, who I interviewed last year. About twenty seconds into his song, I started Googling him and was surprised to learn that he was from Brookline, Massachusetts, one town over from me in Jamaica Plain. By the time I finished listening to the song, I wanted to know more: how did a guy so young learn to infuse so many great influences and be able to turn it back into something that is both familiar and exciting?

Exposed to a lot of great soul, rhythm and blues, country, and gospel music from his father, former Boston Phoenix writer Howard Husock, Reed became a fan of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Al Green as well as becoming something of a historian about less-known musicians working in all of these American genres.

Reed, now 24, is living in Boston again, but after graduating high school he lived in both Clarksdale, Mississippi and Chicago—two cultural homes to different styles of the blues. During those years he DJed at a pirate radio station, learned how to play to blues fans for hours on end, played organ in a Chicago church, and hosted a Chicago radio show for blues purists. Good training for the future indeed. The “Paperboy” nickname also was given to Reed during his time in Clarkesdale given his penchant for wearing his grandfather’s newsboy hat.

His first CD, Eli "Paperboy" Reed Sings Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits, was self-released in 2004 and is currently out of print, but hopefully will see a re-release soon as well. The disc was a mix of covers and original songs.

Reed's second CD, Roll with You, is a collection of all-original songs and was produced by Ed Valauskas (producer of recent releases by Graham Parker, Jules Verdone, and many others and bassist in The Gentlemen) at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts and will be released by Q Division Records on April 29, 2008. The album was recorded using only analog equipment and sounds amazing.

Walkin' and Talkin' features more of a southern, harmonica-infused blues, while Roll with You takes Reed toward more soul or rhythm and blues style, complete with horns, big bluesy ballads, and lots of dance numbers.

With its release, Reed has already racked up nice notices in Mojo magazine, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Billboard, The Boston Globe, No Depression, and Time Out NY. Mojo, my personal favorite, states, "There are singers who sing and there are singers whose sheer power of expression can knock you off your feet. Eli 'Paperboy' Reed falls firmly into the latter category...[he] threatens to be one of the defining voices of the year."

With some evolution over the years, The True Loves current 7-piece lineup includes Andy Bauer on drums, Ben Jaffe on tenor sax, Paul Jones on tenor sax, Mike Montgomery on bass, Patriq Moody on trumpet, and Ryan Spraker on guitar.

Reed and The True Loves are on tour now and playing all over the USA; check their myspace page for the latest dates and locations and see them live if you can as they are a very fun band in concert that will surely get you dancing.

My apologies in advance for the drop off in Reed’s voice at the very end of the interview. Afraid it happened due to a crashed hard drive and eaten file, so remember kids...back up those files.

I met with Reed in the fall of 2007, as he was working on Roll with You, in Allston, Masschusetts to discuss:

* what led him to move to two of the homes of the blues
* what doing night club DJing has taught him about performing on stage
* why he’s stopped downloading and still enjoys the hunt at record stores

Songs included in the preview include:
1) I'm Gonna Getcha Back (Roll with You) (in preview)
2) The Satisfier (Roll with You)
3) Cool Drink of Water (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
4) I'm Tired of Wandering (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
5) Walkin' and Talkin' (For My Baby) (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
6) Fat Mama Rumble (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
7) Woman Woman Blues (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
8) I Just Got to Know (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
9) Something You Got (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
10) Won't Give Up Without a Fight (Roll with You)
11) Take My Love with You (Roll with You)
12) Am I Just Fooling Myself (Roll with You)
13) I'll Roll with You (Roll with You)
14) Stake Your Claim (Roll with You)
15) (Doin' the) Boom Boom (Roll with You)
16) Don't Let Me Down (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits)
17) It's Easier (Roll with You)
18) Am I Wasting My Time (Roll with You)
19) She Walks (Roll with You)
20) Slippershell by Kristin Hersh (Pocket Mix) (in close)

Eli recommends Sam Cooke: Live at the Harlem Square Club, Sonny Boy Williamson's Down and Out Blues, O.V. Wright's If It's Only Tonight, Dixie Hummingbird's In the Morning Luther Ingram's Pity for the Lonely, Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings, and Doctor Dog.

Charlie recommends

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

John McGah of Give US Your Poor: The Well-Rounded Radio interview

Several years ago, right after my wife and I moved to Boston, I did some work with John McGah and a group of wonderful volunteers on fundraising events for Give US Your Poor, a project taking on homelessness. To quote their statement, "The Give US Your Poor mission is to create a revolution in public awareness, dispel myths and inspire action towards ending epidemic homelessness in the United States. It works to affect change at the policy level, engage volunteerism and contributions at the individual and corporate levels through media, technology and education; and to funnel support to partner homeless organizations."

Give US Your Poor is an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston. McGah is the founder and Executive Director of Give US Your Poor, a former Senior Research Associate at UMass Boston's Center for Social Policy, and is a recipient of a 2002 International Eisenhower Fellowships.

Released by Appleseed Recordings in September 2007, the Give US Your Poor CD is a diverse and powerful collection of songs featuring collaborations between homeless and formerly homeless musicians and celebrity artists, including Jon Bon Jovi, Buffalo Tom, Mario Frangoulis, Danny Glover, Jewel, Sonya Kitchell, Natalie Merchant, Mighty Sam McClain, Keb' Mo', Madeleine Peyroux, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins, John Sebastian, Pete Seeger, Michelle Shocked, Bruce Springsteen, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Dan Zanes (who Well-Rounded Radio interviewed a few years back).

Give US Your Poor held a concert in November 2007 in Boston as part of "Boston Helps the Homeless: Awareness to Action" weekend presented by Ipswitch Co. and hosted by the Fannie Mae Foundation and Mayor Thomas Menino's Office at the City of Boston. The concert was headlined by Buffalo Tom, Mario Frangoulis, Mighty Sam McClain, and Natalie Merchant and featured homeless and formerly homeless artists that appear on the Give US Your Poor CD. Between acts video messages appeared from Jon Bon Jovi, Danny Glover, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. See a recap and photos from the event here.

Buy the CD direct from Appleseed Recordings, at, or iTunes. Proceeds from the CD will go towards the national awareness and action campaign to end homelessness. In addition, local and national homeless organizations will be able to sell the CD to raise funds and awareness to their organization. Homeless artists involved will receive direct payment, all travel costs, and mechanical royalties for any original music.

Wondering what you can do to help solve our nation’s homelessness problem? Here's some suggestions from McGah:

1) write your U.S. Senator in support of the the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. As of March 2008 it had passed the House, but not the Senate, but is co-sponsored by both a Republican and Democrat Senator. The fund primarily provides matching money towards the creation of housing for people to live in the lowest income bracket.

2) For veterans, The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is supporting a bill "Homes for Heroes" for preventing homelessness among Iraq War Veterans. Visit The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to find out more.

3) Visit these sites, sign up for email lists, donate to, and/or join these organizations:
The National Alliance to End Homelessness
The National Coalition for the Homeless
The National Heathcare for the Homeless Council

4) Let your voice be heard!

Give US Your Poor is also currently working on a documentary film about homelessness along with creating educational curriculums and local outreach. Watch select video previews of Southwest stories and East Coast stories. There's also a great video segment about Natalie Merchant's participation and recording session with homeless and formerly homeless artists on YouTube.

In February I met with McGah in my current hometown of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts to discuss:
* what Appleseed Recordings is and what their particular social goals are
* how Give US Your Poor solicited and selected homeless and formerly homeless artists to participate in the project
* how this project can help combat homelessness and spread the word about this critical issue

Photo: Bryan How

Songs featured in the interview include:
1) Keb' Mo' and Eagle Park Slim- Baby Don't Let Me Go (in preview)
2) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason (in preview)
3) Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen - Hobo's Lullaby
4) Sweet Honey in the Rock - Stranger Blues
5) Michelle Shocked and Michael Sullivan - Becky's Tune
6) Buffalo Tom - Ink Falling (Father Outside)
7) Mario Frangoulis - Feels Like Home
8) Bonnie Raitt and Weepin' Willie Robinson - Walking the Dog
9) Tim Robbins - Impossible Boulevard
10) Madeleine Peyroux - I Think it's Going to Rain Today
11) Mark Erelli - Here and Now
12) Kyla Middleton and Dan Zanes - Boll Weivel
13) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason
14) audio documentary set to music - Land of 10,000 Homeless-Minneapolis
15) Danny Glover - My Name is Not "Those People"
16) Del Goldfarb and John Sebastian - Portable Man
17) Sonya Kitchell - So Lonely
18) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason

John recommends the song Last King of May by Natalie Merchant on her Ophelia CD and "I'll Work for Your Love" on Bruce Springsteen's Magic CD, and the band The Wait.

Charlie recommends Tune Your World, The Future of Music Coalition's education events in upstate New York, and following me on Twitter.