Above The Basement - Boston Music and Conversation

Above The Basement is a Boston based podcast hosted by Chuck Clough and Ronnie Hirschberg that features casual and candid discussions with local, national and international musicians, artists, producers and others from Boston and beyond. The conversations offer experiences from those shaping our music community and for whom music is a passion. You hear their stories, hardships faced and overcome...and why they love what they do. While music is the common thread, Above The Basement has evolved into conversations that harness human interest, culture and community, bridging into discussions about health, science, education and other aspects of life.
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Above The Basement - Boston Music and Conversation




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Now displaying: 2017
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.

Jul 19, 2017

Dr. Lisa Wong is a musician and pediatrician, a violinist and educator, a wife, mom and mentor. From Hawaii she came to Harvard and has remained a New Englander and leader in music-medicine, and in a broader sense an expert thinker in the convergence of Art and Science.

As President of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, Lisa has performed in and managed the 90 piece multitalented group of healthcare worker / musicians, and during her tenure worked on countless concerts for causes that affect all of us.

Lisa has the ability to connect people through her own creativity and help make change happen through the arts.

Jul 12, 2017

A performance at the famous Club Passim recorded June 30, 2017 in Cambridge, MA. 

Fellow Berklee College of Music grads Holly McGarry, Benjamin Burns and Chris 'Gooch' Bloniarz have a sound that is difficult to describe – it definitely has bluegrass roots but leans towards what we’ll call Porch Rock.

Playing guitar, banjo and mandolin, their voices are very distinct and blend together to build an ethereal landscape of sound that surrounds you.

Track 01 - Pigeons
Track 02 - Canary
Track 03 - Dog Song
Track 04 - Large Regardless
Track 05 - Constellations
Track 06 - Beautiful Pain
Track 07 - It's Getting Late
Track 08 - Something Worth Having
Track 09 - Board That Plane
Track 10 - Green Line
Track 11 - Catacombs
Track 12 - Moonshiner

Jul 5, 2017

We have been major fans of Honeysuckle from the moment we saw them on The Sinclair stage opening for The Ballroom Thieves. Fellow Berklee College of Music grads Holly McGarry, Benjamin Burns and Chris Gooch Bloniarz have a sound that is difficult to describe – it definitely has bluegrass roots but leans towards what we’ll call Porch Rock. If no one else has coined the phrase we will take full credit.

Their harmonies, musicianship and unexpected arrangements will blow you away. Playing guitar, banjo and mandolin - while their voices are very distinct they blend together to build an ethereal landscape of sound that surrounds you.

Jun 29, 2017

Jewel is a singer-songwriter, actress, author, mother and wellness advocate. Among her numerous accolades she has earned four Grammy Award nominations and sold over 30 million albums worldwide. 

Her newest project is called Never Broken. It is a road map that helps people develop mindfulness, reduce anxiety and promote wellness. You can read all about it on her new website She also recently published the New York Times bestseller, Never Broken - songs are only half the story.

Jun 22, 2017

Jennifer Kimball was ½ of the critically acclaimed band The Story in the early 90's, which was a springboard for her career as a solo artist.

With her beautifully personal lyrics and haunting instrumentation, her latest album Avocet is something everyone should hear.

This album is wonderfully written and arranged and includes several incredible Boston musicians. It is directly because of these fine people that Jennifer began recording this album.

Jun 14, 2017

An accomplished flatpicker, singer and songwriter, Andy is one of the many knowledgable musicians at The Music Emporium in Lexington Massachusetts – an amazing guitar shop that offers some of the finest old and new acoustic instruments on the East Coast.

Andy is their bluegrass guitar and dreadnought specialist and is a part of the incredibly prodigious bluegrass music scene in Boston.

He is also a photographer and has shot numerous music videos for a number of musicians in the Boston area.

Jun 7, 2017

Josh Bhatti is with The Bowery Presents in Boston - a concert promotion and venue management organization that runs multiple venues in Boston including The Royale, Great Scott, Fete Music Hall in Providence, and the venue where we sat for our conversation - The Sinclair.

As talent booker for The Sinclair he is not only passionate about good music but also strives to provide a great listening experience.

May 31, 2017

When Keith Lockhart left Cincinnati for Boston to lead the Pops and take over John Williams tenure, he was 35 years old - the same age as Arthur Fiedler at his start.

In his 23rd year conducting the Boston Pops, Keith has made his own mark on a classic American institution. Unique collaborations with internationally acclaimed artists and communication with the city of Boston during times of celebration and times of hardship... these are Keith's strengths. 

We spoke about his years with the Pops, current plans and some ins and outs of conducting and directing this amazing ensemble. Ben Folds came to Symphony Hall during the week of our conversation and Keith spoke about this collaboration in particular.

We had a good chat and hope you enjoy listening and learning more about our city's Pops Maestro.

May 24, 2017

R&B Boston native Jesse Dee has been described as a guitar-playing soul man and a modern day trailblazer inspired by the old school.

His great singing voice is complemented by his guitar riffs and a fantastic backing band.  We offer two songs off of his studio albums: Reap What You Sow from Bittersweet Batch and On my mInd, In My Heart from the album of the same name.

Bonnie Hayes is our guest host.

May 18, 2017

Mark Ethier is a musician and entrepreneur who co-founded innovative company called iZotope. As a matter of fact this was recorded in their amazing space in Kendall Square in Cambridge Massachusetts.

 Izotope is an audio technology company that's obsessed with great sound. Their award-winning software products are used by musicians, music producers, and audio post engineers to enhance the sound of everything from today's top music tracks to major motion pictures and TV shows. iZotope's audio repair suite, RX, even won an Emmy for engineering developments so significant that they fundamentally changed the way television is produced.

May 17, 2017

We wanted to give a quick preview of a conversation Ron and I had with Keith Lockhart – conductor of the Boston Pops and share a few words he had to say about Ben Folds. Ben joins the Boston Pops for the first time since 2012 to perform his hits and the Boston premiere of his critically acclaimed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.

It’s a short one but Keith has some nice things to say about the great Ben Folds….

May 10, 2017

Singer songwriter and musician Ashley Jordan was busking in Harvard Square at the early age of 13, and has become a name to watch on the country music scene. She has opened for Trace Adkins, Sam Hunt, Chase Rice, Rusted Root, Jason Mraz, Christina Perri and Howie Day. 

A Massachusetts native, Ashley's beautiful voice paired with her original and earnest songwriting has won her numerous accolades - including a first round Grammy nomination in 2015.

May 4, 2017

Darden Smith is a veteran songwriter with 15 albums under his belt, with frequent touring, writing and performing his mix of Americana, country and rock. In addition to this he has an amazing project called SongwritingWith:Soldiers that pairs professional songwriters, in retreat settings, with active duty and veteran military members to write songs based on their experiences of combat and returning home.

Apr 27, 2017

A solo acoustic performance at the famous Club Passim recorded April 11, 2017 in Cambridge, MA. 

The talented and multifaceted Austin TX musician has the unique ability to bring out the creativity in anyone, and to harness a person's own story and meld it into their song. He is a veteran songwriter with 15 albums under his belt, with frequent touring, writing and performing his mix of Americana, country and rock.

Track 01 - Sierra Diablo
Track 02 - Love Will Win The War
Track 03 - Against The Grain
Track 04 - Soul Searching
Track 05 - Love Calling
Track 06 - I Say A Little Prayer
Track 07 - Can You See The Moon
Track 08 - Angel Flight
Track 09 - Nobody Knows
Track 10 - Everything
Track 11 - Midnight Train
Track 12 - Loving Arms

Apr 20, 2017

Poet, songwriter, author and educator Regie Gibson has performed and lectured at schools, universities and theaters nationally and internationally.

His work has appeared in the New Line Cinema film Love Jones, based largely on events in his life. Regie works with world music band Atlas Soul, he is a former National Poetry Slam Individual Champion, has been regularly featured on N. P. R. and has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.

He currently teaches and inspires through his unique project - Shakespeare to Hip-Hop.

Apr 13, 2017

A special episode from the stage of The Sinclair. Bonnie Hayes sits with John to talk about  his evolution as a guitarist, musician, songwriter, record producer and author of his new memoir Change of Seasons. 

John is half of the best selling duo of all time Hall and Oates and is a member of both the American Songwriters Hall of Fame (2008) and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

Apr 6, 2017

Guitarist, musician, songwriter, record producer and author of his new memoir Change of Seasons. 

John is half of the best selling duo of all time Hall and Oates and is a member of both the American Songwriters Hall of Fame (2008) and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

Mar 30, 2017

Gary is the talented lead guitarist for the classic band BOSTON for over 30 years and has played with Sammy Hagar and Norman Greenbaum (Spirit in the Sky) among others.

In addition to his massive technical undertaking of managing the stage equipment on a BOSTON tour, including all of the back line and audio equipment, he plays with the band December People that play familiar holiday songs in the styles of the top bands of our time like Santana, The Who, BOSTON, ZZ Top, ELP, Journey, AC/DC, and Rush just to name a few.

Mar 23, 2017

This local band should be an inspiration to all those musicians stuck in their basement.  While these guys...well...are still there, their aspirations should soon help them rise them above it.
These 11 and 12 year olds are just starting out. Finn, Graham, Peter and Aiden play all original music and are working hard on their chops and songwriting. Ron and I thought it would be interesting to see how these fine young men tick, approach their music, their influences and plans for the future.  

Check out The Loop!

Mar 16, 2017

After 9 years of successfully running Musicfest NW in Portland, OR, Trevor moved to Boston to work with Crash Line Productions to manage booking for the Boston Calling Music Festival. Now in his third year, he continues to work with Musicfest NW as well as the Eaux Claire festival in Wisconsin.

The 2017 Boston Calling lineup is amazingly impressive with the likes of Tool, Mumford and Sons, and Chance the Rapper as well as Bon Iver, Sigur Rós, The XX, Run the Jewels, Solange, Weezer, Cage the Elephant, Tegan & Sara, Wolf Parade, Car Seat Headrest and Deerhoof among many others.

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