Music Remembrance: Singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith (1953-2021)

There were no performers who possessed more talent than singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith in the 1980s and early ’90s, when she was at her remarkable best.

By Daniel Gewertz

Nanci Griffith, the Texan “folkabilly” singer-songwriter, died in August at the age of 68, after fighting two different cancers for 25 years. In my decades of writing about contemporary folk music, I’d venture to say there were no performers who possessed more talent than Griffith in the 1980s and early ’90s, when she was at her remarkable best. Her single Grammy win was in the Contemporary Folk category, for Other Voices, Other Rooms, a guest-star-laden 1993 project of folk gems written by others. That she never won a Grammy for any of her own compositions is an injustice. She was both a stunning songwriter and a savvy song-finder. And as a singer, she gave “precious” a good name.

Boston took to Griffith earlier and stronger than any American city outside her native Texas. I got to interview her for the Boston Herald many times, starting right before she signed with the locally based Philo/Rounder Records in 1984; I felt I knew Griffith as well as a Northern journalist could. She was a tightly wound tumble of conflicting instincts: both forthright and private, both steely and prickly, proud of her achievements and openly hurt that she was not more widely rewarded for them. I saw a lot of gigs, many of them solo. But there was a single show in the mid-’80s that best displayed Griffith’s indomitable strength. It was at the Harvard Square basement room then called Passim Coffeehouse.

Let me set the scene. The late Bob Donlin was introducing her from the tiny Passim stage in his usual charming yet wooden way. Nanci was standing still in the back of the tightly packed little club, aware that most eyes were already upon her. Continue reading

Letters to The Hobbledehoy, May 2021

Hall of Fame Letter from Terri:

Hi Mike ! I’ve just discovered your website and Yeh, I love it! Do you know what I DON’T love??? I really REALLY don’t love having that orange douche bag in my Direct peripheral vision while watching a video. There’s no such thing as a good Trump pic….. but that one! Omg! Seriously?? Please please please please….. AT LEAST move it down the page … Because THAT MOUTH. It’s like my cats assh@le. Worse!

 Thanks for your time & Happy Monday

Hi Terri!
Thanks for visiting the website. You are so right – it’s time to move that cat’s asshole from the homepage. The link for “Trump’s Covid Timeline” will no longer be accompanied by an image of Trump.


Lisa writes:

Hello, Just checking that you got my previous email regarding a broken link on your site, and just to confirm that this isn’t some weird spam message but an actual person trying to bring a broken link with a potential replacement to your attention 🙂 Here are link details: Your Page: https://thehobbledehoy.com/donald-trumps-coronavirus-timeline/ Dead link title: ’15 days’ Dead link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf Working link: https://templatearchive.com/coronavirus-guidance/
Stay safe, Lisa

Hi Lisa!
Thank you for your perseverance on this issue. Corrected – finally! You are an editor’s dream.

As for Covid and Trump’s responsibility for American deaths – “The first time we ha(d) an excuse,” said Dr. Deborah Birx. “There were about a hundred thousand deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of (the deaths), in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”


Rory writes:

Hi, I have come across the use of my name on your website in an article completely unrelated to me or the content you have quoted. Article can be found here: How did historic alehouses, taverns and inns evolve into the pubs we see today? Can I please ask you to remove this at the earliest convenience. Thank you.

Hi Rory!

So sorry about that odd mistake. Of course we will remove your name. I honestly do not know how it happened! With the curated content on The Hobbledehoy (which accounts for 99%) we don’t factcheck quotes or who the quotes are attributed to by the source. That piece (now removed from the Hobbledehoy) originally appeared in The Morning Advertiser. Cheers!


Richard writes:

Love your blog! It often creates a portal for me to go deeper, like Centralia today. I am so curious about where you live – in the UK or USA? I live where one of your links resides – Edmonds WA (Rick Steves). Great guy.
Cheers, Richard

Hi Richard!

I live in the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island, an hour south of Boston. I have had the pleasure of visiting Edmonds, Washington on several occasions. You are fortunate to live in such a warm, friendly, beautiful town with such a gorgeous view of the mountains and Puget Sound. Perhaps I will see you some evening at the Church Key Pub – which might be my favorite pub in the USA. Cheers!


Emma writes:

Hi there, I saw your page An abuse of power’: alarm grows over top Trump lieutenant’s military masquerade, and I wanted to thank you for supporting the Black community.
The events of last summer (BLM protests and COVID-19) saw many people rally to support Black-owned businesses. Sadly, since summer ended, people forgot to keep sharing and supporting these businesses.
I just found a new article with links to more than 150 Black-owned businesses. I was so happy to see that people still care about helping these companies thrive!

The link is here

I think sharing this link on your page would be a great way to help your readers keep supporting Black-owned sites and stores. I think it will be a great addition to your site and that your audience will love this new resource!


Thank you in advance for your support, Emma

Hi Emma,

The Hobbledehoy believes Black Lives Matter and we hope our readers do as well. I’m pleased to share the link of 150 Black Owned Businesses.


Chris writes:

Hello Michael,

The Hobbledehoy is a marvelous haven for folk music and is responsible for introducing me to so many artists I had not previously known, or whom I had forgotten with the passing of time. It was on The Hobbledehoy that I first heard Little Nora Brown and for that I am forever grateful. A short time ago I fired off a track from BARDE’s 1977 album ‘Barde’ called ‘Fanny Power’. You kindly posted it on the HH site, for which many thanks .
It occurred to me to send the first two albums au complet for you to kick around as you see fit [ . . . ]

Hi Chris:

Always appreciate your comments and feedback on The Hobbledehoy. With the past year of Covid, the death of a parent, and moving from my home of 20 years, I got a bit behind on our scheduled posts. Soon I’ll be adding clips from your ‘Barde’ 1977 and ‘Images’ 1978, as well as your track notes.
Thank you very much for introducing your music to me and followers of The Hobbledehoy. And happy to read you enjoy the banjo of Little Nora Brown.


Sister Marie writes (in caps):

DEAR SIR,
YOU MY “D E A R” SIR. YOU ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!! BETTER THAN ALL THE REST, BETTER THAN ANYONE, ANYONE I’VE EVER MET!!!! I LOVE YOU!!! YOUR ARTICLE WILL GO VIRAL! WE NEED TO PRAY THE DEMON OUT OF OFFICE”

Hello there, Sister Marie!

My guess is that you are not the same Sister Marie I had in my 3rd grade Catholic School, as she was more discerning with her use of capital letters, and certainly did not regard me as “better than anyone.”
Nonetheless, it appears you did “pray the demon out of office,” and for this The Hobbledehoy are eternally grateful

A Chat With DakhaBrakha – Ukraine’s Biggest Folk Band

My wife and I saw DakhaBrakha perform two years ago in Boston and we had planned to see them again last Fall (the show covid-canceled of course.) I’d describe them as a mix between The Chieftains and the The B52s – only Ukrainian. Totally love them and can’t wait for this damn Covid to end so we can see them again. Below, there’s a wonderful interview with the band’s Marko Halanevych, produced by Oskar Smith for Mouthing Off. Enjoy the read! – The Hobbledehoy

By Oskar Smith

If you haven’t yet delved into the sound of DakhaBrakha, you should. Comprised of Marko Galanevych, Olena Tsybulska, Iryna Kovalenko and Nina Garenetska, they’re a band of trained singers and ad-hoc instrumentalists who started out in 2004 as the musical accompaniment to a small theatre in Kiev and have, over the last sixteen years, toured both domestically and internationally, released five studio albums (six including their collaboration with Port Mone) and adopted styles and instruments from all over the globe, combining them with the traditional sounds and songs of Ukraine in ever more elaborate and ambiguous ways.

Not long after I joined Mouthing Off, we released an article exploring their roots and sound, with an analysis of a few choice bits from their six-album discography – if you want to get to know them a little better it’s not a terrible place to start (especially if you’re on Spotify).

Shortly after, we were contacted by DakhaBrakha’s management, who complimented us on the scope of the article and pointed out a small inaccuracy (hey in fairness, 3299 of the words were accurate). After a brief conversation, they agreed that we could send them a list of questions to be answered by Marko Halanevych. So after a flurry of excited thinking, writing and emailing, this article came about.

The translation has been edited in places for fluency, but mostly left untouched to avoid any kind of misunderstanding or muddied meaning.


What’ve you been up to since your last album?

Marko: We were engaged in quarantine. Some have already become ill with the Coronavirus, some are holding on. We managed to play a few concerts in Ukraine, but the main activity is the time we’ve spent with our families.

When the group got together in 2004, did you have any idea that they would turn into far more than a theatre accompaniment?

Marko: DakhaBrakha was founded in 2004 at the Dakh Theatre in Kyiv.
The founder can be considered the director of the theatre, Vlad Troitsky. Yes, at first we made music for theatre performances. These were musical-visual actions, where everything that sounded from the stage was our music. Later, realising that we had a lot of musical material, we started making our concerts. And this has its buzz. We liked it.

Continue reading

Levity and gravity- An interview with Elle Osborne

by Alex Gallacher | Folk Music UK

In June this year, Elle Osborne released ‘If You See a Rook on Its Own, It’s a Crow’. The album was reviewed by David Morrison who declared it a “bona fide masterpiece”. In his introduction he referenced words used by David Tibet when talking about the music of Shirley Collins, it’s these words which sum up Morrison’s feelings towards this Elle’s album…“so intimate, and true, and beautiful, because it’s realwhen people feel something that is so true…and so innocent…their hearts open, their hearts respond.” I couldn’t agree more.

This interview was planned for earlier in the year following the album release but for reasons which Elle talks about below, it required a more considered response to some of the questions I asked. I’m immensely grateful for her honesty and the time she has taken with her answers, it couldn’t have been easy but as Elle says, these personal experiences also “raise issues about universal experiences, which aren’t necessarily being talked about much.” I hope this maybe starts a dialogue that needs to be taking place.

Watch her new video for The Offing, on which she talks more on below.

While many know Elle best for her album releases, she also composes for dance, and makes sound installations. These have included LongLines for the National Fishing Heritage Museum, Brigg Fair, Dark Nights celebrating 800 years of the Lincolnshire Gypsy horse fair, and Stand Apart at Fabrica gallery, Brighton.

Continue reading

Why I lost faith in folk music

(TW/CW: Abuse of power, nudes, predatory behaviour) For a long time I have been disappointed in the folk music scene for the portions of underlying prejudices it possesses. Most female musicians I …

For a long time I have been disappointed in the folk music scene for the portions of underlying prejudices it possesses. Most female musicians I know have been introduced as a ‘pretty young thing’ or ‘bonny lass’ by MCs who go on to introduce male acts as ‘brimming with talent’ and ‘a spectacular musician’ (these are just examples that I have heard first hand). However, I feel it is time to unveil a more sinister element which I have only just been brave enough to acknowledge. Since I came out about my own experiences, I have had the privilege to hear the stories of other women who have been in similarly horrid experiences. But I want to begin with myself. Continue reading