Above The Basement - Boston Music and Conversation

Above the Basement offers casual and candid discussions with musicians, artists, producers and others from Boston and beyond. The conversations offer experiences ​from those shaping Boston's music community and for whom music is a passion. You'll hear their stories, hardships ​​faced and overcome...and why they love what they do.
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Above The Basement - Boston Music and Conversation


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Dec 5, 2017

Boston born and raised rocker Carissa Johnson plays with energy and attitude and her quick hitting songs are a throwback to gritty punk rock and roll.

Carissa is nominated for three Boston Music Awards, including Rock Artist, New Artist and Unsigned Artist of the Year.

She was also the winner of the 2017 Boston Rock & Roll Rumble and has her own media label called Fuel Heart Productions. She is currently doing workshops on DIY touring with musician Vanessa Silberman of A Diamond Heart Production.

We were fortunate to have Vanessa as a special guest on this episode as well.

Song List:

Song 1: The Fool (Long Way Down)
Song 2: Sinking, Flying (Long Way Down)
Song 3: Only Roses (Long Way Down)
Song 4: Deleria (Long Way Down)

Live songs: You Lost You and Cardinal (from the upcoming album Talk Talk Talk)

Nov 22, 2017

Vapors of Morphine is Boston's own Dana Colley (baritone saxophone), drummer Jerome Deupree and New Orleans transplant singer/guitarist Jeremy Lyons.

Vapors continues the story of the great Boston 'Low Rock' band Morphine through their music while creating their own unique sound.  Morphine disbanded after the sudden and tragic death of frontman, composer and bassist Mark Sandman in 1999.  

They shared their thoughts last week and talked the new Morphine LP, how they all came together to form Vapors, their recent tour of Europe and what they are doing now.

Song List:

Song 1:  If (A New Low)
Song 2:  Hurricaine (Members of Morphine w/ Jeremy Lyons)
Song 3:  The Other Side (A New Low)
Song 4:  Pulled Over The Car (Members of Morphine w/ Jeremy Lyons)
Song 5:  Renouveau--Daman N'diaye (A New Low)

Nov 19, 2017

Kyle Bent has been rapping in Randolph, Massachusetts since the third grade and began recording his own material soon after that. Over the years he has honed his freestyle talents and become an introspective lyricist with a positive message.

The Jamaican born performer has seven albums under his belt including Dreams of God and Complex Simplicity just released in 2016.

Song List:

Song 1:   Life's Good (from the album Complex Simplicity)
Song 2:   Conversations (Complex Simplicity)
Song 3:   Higher Power (from the album Dreams of a God)
Song 4:   Complexity (Complex Simplicity)

Nov 15, 2017

Indie electronic trio CONTACT with Matt Rhoades, Austin Bryant and John Mellino sat with us to talk about their dark, melodic orchestral pop with an '80s post-punk influence.

CONTACT's sound blends infections hooks, hauntingly beautiful compositions, and stadium sized energy.

They just released the first single Gravekeeper off their upcoming album and they are nominated for two 2017 Boston Music Awards, including Electronic Artist of the Year' and Pop Artist of the Year.


Song List:

Song 1: DYK
Song 2: Blood Drive
Song 3: Killing Mine
Song 4: Gravekeeper

Nov 12, 2017

We sat around a very tiny table in the art room of a local school with the Grammy nominated and chart topping band The Fray.

The Fray’s debut album, How to Save a Life in 2005 was certified double platinum and they have had numerous other hits including Over My Head (Cable Car), You Found Me and enough other great songs to have them come out with a compilation album last year called Through the Years: The Best of the Fray.

We talked with Isaac Slade, Joe King, Dave Welsh and Ben Wysocki just before they went on stage for The Umbrella Community Arts Center concert series.

They are all really wonderful guys and we had a great talk.

Song List:

Song 1: How To Save A Life - from How To Save A Life
Song 2: Over My Head (Cable Car) - from How To Save A Life
Song 3: You Found Me - from The Fray

Nov 8, 2017

Julie Rhodes began singing in front of audiences only a few years ago and has taken Boston by storm.

Her debut album Bound To Meet The Devil has garnered rave reviews for her beautiful, soulful voice and she has wowed enough people with her live performances to get 5 Boston Music award nominations, including Live Artist of the Year, Unsigned Artist of the Year, Americana Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and a shared nomination for Music Video of the Year with STL GLD, Dutch ReBelle and Tigerman WOAH.

She also just received Musician of The Year for 2017 from Improper Bostonian Magazine, so she may need a bigger mantle to hold all her awards by the end of the year.

Song List: All songs from Bound To Meet The Devil

Song 1: Collector Man
Song 2: Hey Stranger
Song 3: Skyscraper Blues
Song 4: Holes

Nov 1, 2017

Singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Kris Delmhorst sat with us at Club Passim and talked about recording her new album The Wild, her upcoming tour, her dreams of having a porch to play guitar on with her musician husband Jeffrey Foucault (who co-produced the new album with her) and whether or not to sing with your eyes open or closed.

Yup - we talked about that.

The wonderful Rose Polenzani co-hosted. Rose is a singer-songwriter as well and the host of the roving band of musicians Sub Rosa. She has also sung on some of Kris’s past recordings including a Cars cover album that Kris did back in 2011.

Song List:

Song 1: All The Way Around (The Wild)
Song 2: Hollow (The Wild)
Song 3: The Light In The Hall (The Wild)
Song 4: You Might Think (Cars)

Live songs: I Don't need To Know It All and Lonely West (The Wild)

Oct 25, 2017

Singer-songwriter and teacher at Berklee College of Music, Susan Cattaneo switched gears towards a life in music after finding a sign in the cracks of a sidewalk (there's a song in there somewhere).

She then took the big leap to join the amazing music community of songwriters in Boston. A well respected songwriter with numerous awards for her music, her songs have been described as "New England Americana with a twang."

She has just released her latest album The Hammer and the Heart.

Jonathan Beakley guest hosts.

Song List: All songs from The Hammer & The Heart

Song 1: The River Always Wins (featuring Mark Erelli)
Song 2: In The Grooves (featuring Bill Kirchen)
Song 3: Fade To Blue (featuring Nancy Beaudette)
Song 4: Work Hard Love Harder (live)
Song 5: Field Of Stone (live)

Oct 18, 2017

Alyssa is the founder of Lysten Boston and has been booking, promoting and developing Boston bands and artists since 2014. 

This is the second year in a row she has been nominated for the Boston Music Awards Promoter of the Year. She also works for PledgeMusic - an online direct-to-fan music platform that helps connect musicians to their fanbase.

She is the primary booker for The Plough and Stars in Cambridge and recently produced the Tremont Takeover event at The Wang Center and she currently has a fantastic roster of musicians, including Radclyffe Hall, Le Roxy Pro, Cruel Miracle and Ed Balloon.

Song List:

Song 1:   Cruel Miracle - Do You Owe Me from Manifesto
Song 2:   Ed Ballon - Bounce Back from Yellow 20-Somethings
Song 3:   Radclyff Hall - Rather Be from Ghosts
Song 4:   Le Roxy Pro - Bushkill from the self titled Album


Oct 11, 2017

We made a trip up to Burlington, VT and ventured to the home of Ryan Miller, the Accidental Ambassador of the great state of VT.

Maybe you ran into Ryan in an apple orchard in Vermont, or possibly downtown Burlington. Perhaps you’ve heard him on the radio as lead singer and guitarist in the acclaimed group Guster.

Ryan has built a career in scoring for film and also hosts a PBS TV show aptly called Makin' Friends with Ryan Miller, where he travels the state of Vermont speaking with “high functioning weirdos.”

We discovered that Ryan is a creative force in many ways when he kindly invited us to his home for a great conversation.

In this episode we include new songs from his upcoming film scores that are pretty amazing. See song list below:

Song one:     Moving In - Tig soundtrack
Song two:     One Man Wrecking Machine - Guster
Song three:   Road Trip - The Fundamentals of Caring soundtrack
Song four:    Goodbyes - Tig soundtrack
Song five:     This Is The Only Time We Have - The Fundamentals of Caring soundtrack

Oct 4, 2017

While touring as a rock drummer for Vermont's own Waylon Speed, Justin had a crazy idea: to manufacture vinyl records.

In three years he has produced thousands of unique records riding the vinyl wave in Burlington, VT.

The Burlington Record Plant is a labor of love and without any initial experience in production, Justin has become an innovator in the vinyl world, building on a foundation of hard work and determination.

Song One: What goes Up (Blowtorch)
Song Two: Unwound (Blowtorch)
Song Three: Running Colours (Sliding Spring)

Sep 27, 2017

In 2001, twenty-two year old Roberto Plano won first prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition​.

Sixteen years later he emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts with his family to continue his pursuit of music academia at Boston University College of Fine Arts.

Mr. Plano has traveled the world and has won countless awards for his poetic musicianship and performances.

We sat with Roberto at Boston University to discuss food, family and his musical roots.


Musica Ricercata: No 7, Cantabile, molto legato - Inspiration - Paolo Paliaga and Roberto Plano

Hymne de L'enfant a' Son Reveil - Franz Liszt Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses - Roberto Plano

Arvo's World - Inspiration - Paolo Paliaga and Roberto Plano

Sep 20, 2017

Grammy nominated Folk and Americana singer-songwriter Alastair Moock became inspired by music at a young age when he first saw Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie in concert and has passed on that inspiration in his music and his educational programs in local schools.

He is a solo artist that speaks a language we can all relate to, whether age 5 or 95, and he is a quintessential collaborator with fellow singer-songwriters in the studio and on the stage.

We sat with Alastair to talk about his career transformation from adult folk to family music, what parenting did for his music and what it's like to write songs with your 5 year old daughter at her hospital bedside.

Sep 17, 2017

Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys - Live at The Sinclair
recorded August 26, 2017 in Cambridge, MA

01 - How are all you *** doin?
02 - ViktaGRAPH
03 - Devils In The Details
04 - Whole Way Down
05 - Old Skin
06 - Animals Like Me
07 - Dull Boy
08 - Cataclysm
09 - Hollow Points
10 - Witchcraft
11 - Come Black magic
12 - I Put A Spell On You

Walter Sickert - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Mary Widow – Vocals, Mandolin, Percussion
Rachel Jayson – Viola, Vocals
Matt Zappa – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Mike Leggio – Upright Bass, Electric Bass, Vocals
jojo Lazar – Ukulele, Flute, Vocals
Tee Jay – Percussion, Bunny Head
Blake Girndt (aka Brother Bones) – Guitar, Skeleton Dance
Edrie – Accordion, Broken Toys, Vocals

Photo by Jen Vesp

Produced and Engineered by Joel Simches

Recorded Live @ The Sinclair Cambridge on 8/26/17. Used with permission - Bowery Boston.

Additional Sonic Chocobliss™ by Joel Simches of Sonic Enchantment Specialists Ltd.

Sep 13, 2017

Indie hip-hop artist, rapper, songwriter and contemporary painter, Boston, MA native Moe Pope is a talent. His lyrics reflect his story - touching on community, fatherhood, love and the human condition.

Formerly with Bay Area-based hip-hop band Mission he returned to Boston to form Electric (aka Electric Company) and later formed Project Move.

In 2010 with Boston producer Rain he released the critically acclaimed Life After God and is currently collaborating with 2016 BMA Producer of the Year The Arcitype with his project STL GLD.

Sep 8, 2017

This is part two of our conversation with Blue Man Group. We sat with resident General Manager Jonathan Screnci, Blue Man Mike Brown, and drummers Kyle Harris and Kevin Asmus before a performance at The Charles Playhouse.

We come in just as Jonathan walked into the room to join us about an hour into our talk.

Sep 7, 2017

Blue Man Group is a dynamic mix of art, music, comedy and technology. Founded in 1991, this pop culture phenomenon has been seen by over 35 million people all over the world. 

Inspiring, brilliant and groundbreaking, the Blue Men - while not saying a word - celebrate life through connection, unique absurdity, visual art and of course, music. 

We spoke with Resident General Manager Jonathan Screnci, Blue Man Mike Brown, and drummers Kyle Harris and Kevin Asmus before a performance at The Charles Playhouse.

We talk about rehearsing, auditioning and the evergreen magic that is Blue Man Group.

Aug 30, 2017

This award winning singer-songwriter, actor and artist is a force to be reckoned with. Ruby's deep, unique voice is surprising at first, but she soon pulls you into her resonant sound with powerful lyrics and amazing vocal range.

Ruby pays homage to Leonard Cohen, Andy Warhol and Roy Orbison in our conversation about singing, acting, writing, learning and growing.

Aug 23, 2017

So this is our 50th episode and Ronnie and I decided to have a State of the Conversation.

What an amazing year! We've been downloaded in all 50 states (again, a nice round number) and in over 50 countries (we sense a trend here...).

We can't say enough how much we appreciate our listeners and the positive feedback we've received. We've been fortunate to have some unbelievable talent on the show with unique stories and wonderful performances from all walks of music - classical, jazz, hip-hop, rock,'s becoming a long list.

We strive to introduce our listeners to local artists who have made their mark on the Boston music scene and at the same time bring nationally recognized artists to the conversation who have a connection to Boston in unique ways.

The rest of 2017 is filling up with more brilliant artists, performers and Boston movers and shakers - we hope you get a chance to discover what they have to offer.

Aug 16, 2017

Charles Haynes is a drummer, producer, musical director and strong believer in the power of listening. He learned this through constant gigging at one of Boston oldest family owned jazz clubs in Boston, Wally’s Café. 

Charles has toured with Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, MIA and Queen Latifah among many others and is the owner of Herd Studios – a boutique mixing, mastering and recording studio in Boston. You can read more about it at 

In this episode we talk about importance of listening and trust and how allowing space between musicians on stage can create magic.

Aug 10, 2017

This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, local environmentalist, scientist and artist. After talking with the founder of the Walden Woods project, Don Henley, it becomes clear that Thoreau influences us all now more than ever 200 years later.

During college in the late 60s, it was Emerson's work that initially ignited Don Henley's songwriting interest. And it was Thoreau's political, environmental and social justice work that resonated with Don, influencing his life and music.

Whether he is known to you as the cofounder of The Eagles, singer, drummer or prolific songwriter, Don Henley is actively helping to carry Thoreau's messages forward to new generations through his work with the Thoreau Institute at Walden.

We spoke with him about this mission at The Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods Library.

Songs or portions thereof included: Train in the Distance, Take a Picture of This and Praying for Rain off of his 2015 solo album Cass County.

Aug 6, 2017

As we were sitting at The Thoreau Institute Library in Lincoln, Massachusetts waiting for Don Henley to arrive we were having a nice chat with Thoreau Scholar Jeffrey Cramer and decided to turn on the mics and have a quick discussion about Thoreau. 

Jeff is the Curator of Collections at the Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods Library and is the editor of annotated editions of both Walden and The Maine Woods as well as the author of several other award winning books. His essays and other writings have appeared in The Massachusetts ReviewThe Literary Review, and The Christian Science Monitor among others

There is a quote on his website at from Jim Flemming, of Wisconsin Public Radio that says "Jeffrey Cramer lives and breathes Thoreau.  He may know more about the bard at Walden Pond than anyone else alive."

After seeing that what could we do but take advantage of this opportunity and pester him with questions.

Aug 2, 2017

Seeing Walter and his band of merry musicians play live is a visceral experience not to be missed. With a mix of Dr. Teeth, Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, they bring legit musical chops, original songwriting and a magical artistry to the stage.

We thought this might be an interesting one and we were not disappointed.

We had a really fun time with these wonderful people – and we mean that – these are great people.  With lots of cursing, laughing and crazy stories – we think you are going to enjoy this one.

Jul 26, 2017

If you have never seen or heard Martin play live, you should get tickets to his current tour immediately. With prolific songwriting, unique percussive guitar and beautifully soulful singing chops, Martin's music rises to the surface from deeper themes of unity and optimism.

Jul 24, 2017

This is a quick preview of a conversation we had with Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys where they talk about scoring an amazing movie called Some Freaks – which was written and directed by Ian Macallister MacDonald.

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