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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Dec 6, 2018

Cellist, educator, innovator and pioneer, Mike Block breaks the mold and the norms. He plays, sings and creates percussion with what is normally imagined as an orchestral instrument while he moves around the stage with his strapped on Cello.

He surprises you with music usually reserved for other instruments - his takes on classical, folk and pop songs are unique and his own compositions invigorated the crowd at Indian Hill Music.

This is another episode for our ConcertCast series – Mike Block, Live at Indian Hill Music, where we had a great conversation with Mike in front of a live, sold out crowd, followed by a two set performance that we will publish as a separate episode.

Mike is a member of The Silk Road Ensemble, founded by Yo Yo Ma, who called Mike “the ideal musician of the 21st-Century”.

As you will hear from our conversation and the concert that followed, Mike is committed to inspiring musicians and connecting communities through music. Full episode of the two part performance coming soon!

Song List:

Song 1: Can't You Hear Me Calling (Bill Monroe)
Song 2: I Can Finally Breathe

Nov 28, 2018

Berklee College of Music in Boston is one of the premier music schools in the world. We have talked with many fantastic Berklee grads, including the folks from Honeysuckle, RIPE, Alison Keslow and Matt McArthur to name just as few as well as musicians and Berklee professors Bonnie Hayes and Susan Cattaneo.

We wanted to talk with the man who helped make this school the institution it is today so we jumped at the chance to speak with drummer, humanitarian, entrepreneur and Berklee president Roger Brown.

Roger has had a prolific career, including co-directing one famine relief program called Land Bridge on the Cambodia-Thailand border which was the largest emergency food distribution effort ever attempted and another called Save The Children in Sudan.

Later he co-founded Bright Horizons Family Solutions, which provided on-site child care for client-company employees and is also the founder of the Horizons Initiative, which provides services for homeless children, and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, which creates play spaces in homeless shelters.

Mr. Brown became president of Berklee College of Music in 2004.

We sat with Roger in a performance classroom at 1140 Boylston Street and talked about his humanitarian efforts, Berklee goals for its current and future students, how they prepare students for a successful career and why music is so important.

Song List:

Song one: Beautiful Ones (Roger Brown)

Nov 22, 2018

We were honored to sit with the amazing Pardis Sabeti who is doing her part to help those in need with her work at The Sabeti Lab where she is working to eradicate the Lassa and Ebola viruses.

Dr. Sabeti completed her undergraduate degree at MIT, her graduate work at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, got her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and she was named a TIME magazine ‘Person of the Year’ as one of the Ebola fighters.

But perhaps the coolest thing she does is perform as the lead singer and co-songwriter of the Boston based rock band Thousand Days.

Song List:

Song 1: Breathe In (Turkana Boy)
Song 2: One Truth (Small Joys)
Song 3: Phoenix (Single)
Song 4: Neda (Radiate)

Nov 17, 2018
Music has a way of bringing people together, and is a language we share.
Recovery has its own language, within its own culture of addiction. We are all affected by substance use disorder (SUD) - personally, through family and friends, and as a society, economically and politically.
The numbers tell part of the story, however it’s the people that who have lived this struggle and the people who fight for recovery and education everyday that bring this story to the surface - into our living rooms, boardrooms, schools and the stage.
Above The Basement met with people who care deeply about this cause: those in recovery, the doctors who treat and support our patients and families who have lost loved ones, and musicians who have had first hand experience of with addiction and understand the toll it can have on careers and families.
Our discussions began in August 2018 with Kristen Williams Haseotes, the founder of Above the Noise Foundation, Maureen Cavanagh, author of "If You Love Me - A Mother's Journey Through Her Daughters Opioid Addiction and Robin Houston-Bean who honors her son every day having started The Sun Will Rise Foundation, Inc..
We continued our discussions, learning along the way with addiction medicine experts Dr. Sarah Wakeman and Dr. Laura Kehoe from the Mass General Substance Use Disorders Initiative.
At RecoveryFest 2018 we sat with Fitz (Fitz & The Tantrums), Livingston Taylor, B-Rain, Grace Kelly and several others in recovery.
There is a sense of pride in all of these voices, and our guests are people with hopes and dreams, successes and failures, ups and downs just like the rest of us.
The synergy of music and the message of recovery was undeniably powerful and special on September 29th at Recovery Fest 2018.
There was palpable energy without substances, elation without drugs, and all around us, simply so many reasons to care.
Click below to listen and please share.

Song List:

Song 1:   Amazing Grace - Grace Kelly
Song 2:   Otherside - Macklemore 
Song 3:   America the beautiful - Livingston Taylor
Song 4:   More than just a dream - Fitz and the Tantrums 
Song 5:   Live my life - B-RAiN

Oct 31, 2018

We went to City Hall in Boston to talk with the new Chief of Arts and Culture Kara Elliott-Ortega. The Mayors Office of Arts and Cultures mission is to support artists, the cultural sector, and to promote access to the arts for all.

Kara recently worked as the Director of Planning and Policy in the Arts cabinet for three years, implementing Boston’s cultural plan called Boston Creates.

We were also happy to have Communications Director Kristina Carroll join us.

We sat in a conference room overlooking Faneuil Hall and discussed how the Boston Red Sox duckboat victory parade will crawl through these historic streets once again this week.

Other than our recent World Series Championship, we talked about the current state of the arts in Boston and the work Kara’s team is doing to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in the Boston arts scene.

Oct 18, 2018

Boston native Katie LaMark grew up in a musical family and hit the ground running after graduating from High School in Andover MA.

A musical theater grad from Syracuse University, she has appeared on stage in national tours of Mamma Mia, Rent and Rocky Horror Picture Show to name just a few and now returns to Boston as Sherrie Christian in the Broadway hit Rock Of Ages which opens next week at The Boch Centers Wang Theater from October 23rd to the 28th.

You can purchase tickets at

We met Katie across the street from the Wang at The Shubert Theater and had a great talk. We even belted out a few tunes.

Song List:

All songs courtesy of Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour

Song 1: I Wanna Rock
Song 2: The Final Countdown

Oct 11, 2018

One thing that is clear when you have a conversation with Ceci Juno, thoughtfulness is the theme to her work, whether in the studio or in the hospital treating patients.

Her songs are soothing yet at the same time catchy, and seem to draw from jazz, pop, folk with traditional Latin inspiration. Ceci is a graduate of Berklee College of Music with a degree in Music Therapy. She is an active Neurologic Music Therapist in her home country of Ecuador and serves as a true ambassador of this important field.

She is also a vocalist, pianist, guitarist and songwriter who holds the #1 hit song in Ecuador called Fantasmas.

Ronnie sat with Ceci between lectures at the annual American Congress of Rehab Medicine (ACRM), where music and the arts have come to play in the same space as treatment and science for people with neurodisabilty.

Song List:

Song 1: Ahora Se
Song 2: Libre
Song 3: Fantasmas

Oct 3, 2018

Thalia Zedek came to Boston in 1979 and started her first band White Women and from there became ingrained the Boston music scene – a mainstay through an impressive string of different bands including Dangerous Birds, Uzi, Come and Live Skull, when she moved to NY for a brief stint.

She currently has a trio called E with Gavin McCarthy and Jason Sanford, but focuses much of her energy on her solo work in the Thalia Zedek Band.

Her most recent release is called Fighting Season that is in my opinion a perfect fit for a Fall Season playlist. The album has a raw power that you hear not only through her guitar but also in her mournful and earnest voice – backed by a fantastic group of musicians that includes violist Dave Curry, bassist Winston Braman, pianist Mel Lederman, and drummer Jonathan Ulman.

Song List:

Song 1: Fighting Season (Fighting Season)
Song 2: Bend Again (Fighting Season)
Song 3: JJ85 (You're A Big Girl Now)

Live Songs:

Song 1: Of The Unknown
Song 2: Ladder

Sep 27, 2018

Most of you probably know Wyc Grousbeck as CEO, Governor and co-owner of the Boston Celtics. Some of you may know him as a member of the business community with Causeway Media Partners, or even for his philanthropy working with Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary.

But what many of you may not know is that Wyc is a lifelong drummer and plays in a Boston band called French Lick – named after Larry Bird’s home town.

We met with Wyc at their brand new gorgeous practice facility and after a tour got to talk about not only his passion for music and basketball, but the philanthropy and causes near and dear to his heart.

And while we touched on the banner raised in 2008 and the promise of another this year, he turned the tables and asked us all: “What banner are you going to raise?”

Sep 19, 2018

In our conversation with Austin’s Darden Smith​ last year, we covered some of the history of Americana. Recently Ronnie was on a call with Mr. Smith who highly recommended getting in touch with Rob Bleetstein - who we shall learn had co-coined the term Americana in the 90s.

Rob has been a connoisseur of several genres of music since he was a kid, and they all share one common thread: Culture.

Rob entered the radio world with guns blazing, becoming an archivist for New Riders of the Purple Sage / NRPS​. In recent years he became producer of Pearl Jam Radio​ while sharing his ongoing expertise as host of Grateful Dead​ Radio, both on SiriusXM​.

Ronnie mentioned to his brother-in-law Cory that Mr. Bleetstein would be a guest on ATB, and Cory, being a Pearl Jam​ super-fan, simply stated, “Wow, you’re going to talk to The Rob.” That certainly set our expectations high for this conversation.

Rob highlighted his love for the live experience, and how the common thread of music fandom culture transcends genres. He also gave us a perspective on just how important Pearl Jam fans are to the musicians and how the fans in return emulate their missions and causes.

Sep 12, 2018

Whether we realize it or not, the current opioid crisis affects us all. And while many people donate their time and resources to fight this huge problem, we met two women who imagined something unique and bigger.

In November 2017, Kristen Williams-Haseotes created the Above The Noise Foundation – an organization that promotes awareness, education and advocacy for this addiction crisis that has touched so many lives.

Maureen Cavanagh is a mom, advocate and author of the recently published book If you love me: A Mother's Journey Through Her Daughter's Opioid Addiction.

They are both determined to wipe out stigma and proudly share this mission.

They were joined by a passionate team, coming together to give rise to the first large scale sober music festival - paying tribute and raising awareness to addiction and stigma and to honor and support those who have made to the “other side” - recovery.

We were honored to sit across from these women as we learned about their personal journeys, their message of recovery, and the road that led them to their wonderful event in Pawtucket, RI on 9/29/18 - Recovery Fest 2018 with Macklemore, Fitz & the Tantrums, & PVRIS.

Aug 29, 2018

We had heard of Jimmy Connor over the past year through the grapevine – rumors of a young musician with guitar chops making a name for himself while only just graduating from High School.

We decided to find out for ourselves what all the hubbub was about.

Boston native Jimmy Connor is a talent. He now lives in Nashville and just released his first EP called It’s About Time. We talked about his roots, his ambitions, the challenge of making the grade in High School while at the same time starting a professional career in music, and his aspirations that include but are not limited to his own tour bus.

Song List:

Song 1: Party Girl
Song 2: Nowhere's Where I Wanna Be

Live Songs:

Song 1: It's About Time
Song 2: Four Door

Aug 15, 2018

In this day and age we all seem to crave the connection to others that seems to be missing in this environment of screens and social media. Will Dailey wants to break down that wall. And if you don’t want to climb over the remaining pieces, well he is OK with that.

With his latest album Golden Walker Will wants you to turn off those distractions. To drop the needle on the album and listen. We loathe to place Will into a nice box by calling him a singer-songwriter, because somehow it is not quite so simple.

What we can say about him is that he is a very thoughtful guy and we really enjoyed spending time with him to talk about that missing connection, being an indie artist and having no regrets.

Song List:

Song 1: Bad Behavior (Golden Walker)
Song 2: He Better be Alive (Golden Walker)
Song 3: Up To Your Heart (Golden Walker)
Song 4: Castle of Pretending (National Throat)

Live Song: It Already Would Have Not Worked Out By Now

Aug 8, 2018

Arnold McCuller. As his website states – you may not know the name, but you certainly know the voice.

Every summer, James Taylor and his wonderful band heads to Tanglewood for their yearly concert and we jumped at the opportunity to see if we could speak to someone we had just seen on our London trip last year when we caught Phil Collins on his Not Dead Yet tour at Royal Albert Hall.

We met up with Arnold in a town just outside of Tanglewood at his hotel over oysters and deviled eggs.

Arnold got his start in the original touring production of the iconic musical HAIR and from there he carved out an amazing collaborative and solo career – becoming the Zelig of featured vocalists, having performed with Phil Collins, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt to name just a few – while also touring on his solo work.

Arnold is a funny guy and we had a great and fairly hilarious conversation.

We think James Taylor said it best when he said “Arnold McCuller is what’s going on, that’s always been the case and it always will be.”

Song List:

Song 1: Daddy's All Gone
Song 2: Nowhere To Run
Song 3: Soul Searchin'

Jul 30, 2018

"We're not trying to tell you what to think," is what Francis Jalbert tells us about the philosophy behind every Cirque du Soleil production.

LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil, A Waking Dream of Mexico, is no different.

The creativity that is the genius of Cirque combines movement, music, color, light and the element of risk all in one show, and at the same time beautifully embeds culture. The audience can dream with these incredible performers as they navigate the story and flavor of Mexico.

Luzia is 2 1/2 years old and has been wowing audiences on its US tour. We sat with vocalist Majo Cornejo, acrobat Kelly McDonald, and football freestylers Laura Biondo and Abou Traore as they finish 2 more weeks in our neighborhood before moving on to Mexico for a 4 month tour.

And it was a special day at the Big Top / Suffolk Downs as the gang at Luzia was visited by Femi Hollinger-Janzen of the New England Revolution to share some soccer skills, learn and chat freestyle.

Song List:

Song 1: Adagio
Song 2: Juggling
Song 3: Football Dance

Jul 27, 2018

A performance by Chris Trapper - Live at City Winery - June 24, 2018 in Boston, MA.

Recorded after our second ConcertCast - a conversation and performance in front of a live audience.

To listen to the entire conversation, go here:

Song List:

Song 1: Everything Shines
Song 2: The Losing End
Song 3: Don’t Let Your Monday Own Your Sunday
Song 4: Gone Again
Song 5: Into The bright Lights
Song 6: This Time
Song 7: Skin
Song 8: Keg On My Coffin


Jul 25, 2018

Our very first ConcertCast with Brent Shuttleworth was an experiment. Have our guest play a few, sit with us for 20 minutes or so and have a Q&A in front of a live audience followed by a full performance. It was an amazing evening and Brent brought the house down.

So we decided to up our game.

Back in June we met at the beautiful City Winery in Boston in front of a sold out Haymarket Lounge for our second ConcertCast with prolific Singer-Songwriter and front man for Boston’s own The Push Stars Chris Trapper. And if we do say so ourselves it was a huge success!

It was through sitting with Chris for our conversation that we were really able to get an idea of what makes him tick – his love of the road, the importance of family and how gratitude has become a big part of who he is.

The entire live performance from this night will be available on our next In Concert Series episode by subscribing to our podcast which you can do at

Song List: (all songs are LIVE)

Song 1: Living Downtown
Song 2: Paint The Town
Song 3: The Accident

Jul 18, 2018

We met with a few of the fellas from the Boston electronic-pop band Bearstronaut - David Martineau and Nate Marsden at The Sinclair Kitchen.

We quickly went through all the annoying questions - where their name came from and what band do they sound like, and got to the important stuff - their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live a year ago, what was the name of the recent Harrison Ford movie not named Star Wars or Regarding Henry, whether "Medieval" is a time period or a level of evilness, and what makes a good bachelor party.

All in all we had a great conversation.

Song List:

Song 1: Shadow (Telecoast)
Song 2: Moniker (Moniker - Single)
Song 3: Working Nights (Working Nights - Single)
Song 4: Miracle Mile (Miracle Mile - Single)

Jul 11, 2018

We were able to catch the boys of Old Crow Medicine Show at their Master Class at Berklee College of Music – and what we learned there is that they are not only a great band, but a great bunch of guys too.

It was evident that evening as well when they played for The Umbrella Community Arts Center event and had the crowd on their feet dancing the entire show.

These former buskers now have two Grammy Awards and their classic single, "Wagon Wheel" went Platinum in 2013 for selling over 1,000,000 copies. 

They received the honor of being inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry, and they just released their latest album Volunteer.

Song List:

Song 1:   Flicker & Shine (Volunteer)
Song 2:   Child of the Mississippi (Volunteer)

Live Song - Halifax Pier (A Capella)

Jul 4, 2018

Having the title of Director Of Good Vibes would be a daunting title for any normally pessimistic human being, but James MacDonald is an optimist.

Formerly with the Life Is Good Festival, James started Festival At The Farm in Canton, MA which will take place in September and features Amos Lee, Dawes, and former ATB guests Martin Sexton, Ali McGuirk and Jesse Dee as well as one of our upcoming guests Will Dailey among many others.

The music in this episode is from some of these artists. James has worked in all areas of music including artist management, but now devotes all his time to this amazing festival.

But the weekend is more than just music. It is a celebration that offers locally-sourced and inspired food vendors, a farmers market, non-profits, backyard games, a craft vendor marketplace and even includes music for the kids.

We also discovered that James is a wonderful guy.

Song List:

Song 1: Long Time (Ali McGuirk - Slow Burn)
Song 2: On My Mind, In My Heart (Jesse Dee - On My Mind, In My Heart)
Song 3: When It Dies (Will Dailey - Golden Walker)

Jun 28, 2018

We took a trip to beautiful Symphony Hall in early June to sit with Tanglewood Festival Chorus Conductor and Boston Symphony Orchestra Choral Director James Burton. Joining us was choir member by night and Google start-up entrepreneur by day, Will Koffel.

We talked the ins and outs of working in a chorus, conducting 250 or so choral members, singing in different languages, the blending of the many different voices in a chorus and the wonders of being onstage with Pete Townsend during the epic production of Quadrephenia.

Song List:

Song 1: Thompson: Alleluia (James Burton: Schola Cantorum of Oxford)
Song 2: Kaddish, Symphony No. 3 (BSO, Guerrero, Bernstein)


Join us on Above The Basement! Go to for more information.

Jun 20, 2018

With a background in radio, Jim Olsen co-founded Signature Sounds with Mark Thayer in Northampton, MA in 1995 and works with some of the finest singer-songwriter, Americana, modern folk and rock musicians around, including Kris Delmhorst, Lake Street Dive, Twisted Pine, Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey, Erin McKeown, Josh Ritter and Lori McKenna - to name just a few.

He helped guide Signature Sounds through the internet era while fostering a community of musicians who not only have their own projects but have collaborated with other Signature artists to create 'supergroups' like Redbird, Barnstar! and The Pine Hill Project.

They run The Green River Festival which was named one of “fifty essential summer music festivals” by The New York Times and is celebrating it's 32nd year.

Song List:

Song 1: Leave The Light On - Chris Smither (Leave The Light On) Song 2: Stealing Kisses - Lori McKenna (Bittertown)
Song 3: Bad Self Portraits - Lake Street Dive (Bad Self Portraits)
Song 4: Hold On Me - Twisted Pine (Twisted Pine)


Join us at Above The Basement! Go to for more information.

Jun 15, 2018

Meet Mickey Hart: part philosopher, scientist, shaman…and passionate drummer. Mickey and The Grateful Dead have offered up the groove and the melody for some of the most iconic themes of our generation.

He is a musicologist, a student of polyrhythms and a believer in the connections we all have to rhythm. Mickey has two Grammys and has collaborated with a Nobel Prize in Physics winner, stem-cell researchers and neuroscientists including the late, great Oliver Sacks.

He is a true supporter of music therapy and the mechanisms behind the healing power of music for not only the injured or neurologically changed, but for the well-being of people from all cultures.

In 1967 he was introduced to the newly formed Grateful Dead by drummer Bill Kreutzmann, and the Big Bang of the Jam Band was formed with Mr. Jerry Garcia at the helm.

His telepathic relationship on and off the stage with band members old and new has transcended decades, leading Mickey to the latest chapter: bringing three generations of fans together for this year’s tour with Dead and Company.

This is Part Two of Two...

Song List:

Song 1: Ripple (Studio version)
Song 2: Not Fade Away (Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA Oct.22, 1978)
Song 3: The Music Never Stopped (Radio City Music Hall Oct 29, 1980)


Join us at Above The Basement! Go to for more information.

Jun 13, 2018

Meet Mickey Hart: part philosopher, scientist, shaman…and passionate drummer. Mickey and The Grateful Dead have offered up the groove and the melody for some of the most iconic themes of our generation.

He is a musicologist, a student of polyrhythms and a believer in the connections we all have to rhythm.

Mickey has two Grammys and has collaborated with a Nobel Prize in Physics winner, stem-cell researchers and neuroscientists including the late, great Oliver Sacks.

He is a true supporter of music therapy and the mechanisms behind the healing power of music for not only the injured or neurologically changed, but for the well-being of people from all cultures.

In 1967 he was introduced to the newly formed Grateful Dead by drummer Bill Kreutzmann, and the Big Bang of the Jam Band was formed with Mr. Jerry Garcia at the helm.

His telepathic relationship on and off the stage with band members old and new has transcended decades, leading Mickey to the latest chapter: bringing three generations of fans together for this year’s tour with Dead and Company.

This is Part One of a Two Part episode

Song List:

Song 1: Scarlet Begonias (Studio version)
Song 2: Truckin' (Live at Madison Square Garden, NY, Sept. 1990)
Song 3: Jerry (RAMU)


Join us at Above The Basement!

Go to for more information.

Jun 11, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen and all fans of On Your Feet!

Here is our final installment of Take 5 Tuesday where we offer you a snippet of the conversation with On Your Feet! band members Jorge Casas (bass) and Clay Ostwald (music director/keyboards), two of the original members of the Miami Sound Machine.

Above The Basement - Boston Music and Conversation podcast sat down with these fine musicians who helped bring their iconic songs to the Broadway stage.

We are pleased to share with you portions of that conversation with our Take 5 Tuesday episodes.

So, take 5 minutes and sit back and enjoy each “Take 5 Tuesday!”

Click here to listen to the entire episode:

Or go to

Song List: All songs from On Your Feet - Original Broadway Cast Recording

Song 1: Get On Your Feet
Song 2: Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

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