Midnight Special logo 06 - Copy small41.jpg jpp-live42.jpg nashville146.gif photos647.jpg
Rich Warren's Past Favorites


Rich's favorite Midnight Special CDs of 2001:

Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer: Drum Hat Buddha (Signature Sounds SIG 1266)

Carter & Grammer managed to make this list two years in a row, meaning they've not only maintained their momentum of originality and musicianship, but grown as well. Carter's quirky songs with catchy melodies take flight in the vibrant arrangements on this CD.

Tom Paxton & Anne Hills: Under American Skies (Appleseed APRCD1046)

When two masters, who are longtime musical colleagues and friends, collaborate, the result is a superb CD of original songs and exceptional interpretations sung with a heart and soul and voice most artists can only dream of attaining.

Cathie Ryan: Somewhere Along the Road (Shanachie 78047)

On her third solo CD, Cathie Ryan's voice blossoms into a fullness and flexibility far surpassing her previous efforts. Her interpretive abilities deepen while she explores a wider range of music from her Irish roots.

Tom Chapin: Common Ground (Gadfly 271)

On this CD Chapin represents the quintessential singer-songwriter with a wide variety of serious and humorous songs performed in fine voice with ideal production for the material. The title song and "A Jangle In the Air" justify the whole CD.

Bill Morrissey: Something I Saw, Or Thought I Saw (Philo 11671-1227-2)

The master returns to his original style and substance. Morrissey has explored a variety of styles from simple folk to rock to blues in his long career, but he returns to a strongly folk-based sound with this CD. The brilliant, literate songs are short plays that take you into their characters lives in a matter of minutes. After listening, you might title this "Someone I Knew, Or Thought I Knew."

Matapat: Petit Fou (Borealis BCD 133)

This French-Canadian Trio combines traditional music of Quebec with original tunes, although it is difficult to tell where the old music leaves off and the new music begins. Their exceptional musicianship and infectious enthusiasm make this CD a joy.

Kitty Donohoe: This Road Tonight (Roheen R005)

After a long absence from the music scene, Donohoe comes roaring back with a passion. Her captivating melodies enhanced by deeply textured production with a hint of Celtic intoxicate you with her words. Note that her song about the September 11 tragedy, "There Are No Words," is not on this CD.

Garnet Rogers: Firefly (Snow Goose SGS-1129)

A regular among my favorites, Garnet Rogers' remarkable baritone, virtuoso musicianship and dramatic songs make his recordings stand out from the crowd. He tells several new engrossing musical stories on this recording.

Dick Gaughan: Outlaws & Dreamers (Appleseed APRCD 1058)

Dick Gaughan writes great songs, but he is the finest interpreter of other people's songs alive today. Period. He accompanies his expressive voice with guitar playing that matches the best pickers on the scene.

Tom Russell: Borderland (Hightone HCD8132)

"The Man From God Knows Where" was an impossible act to follow, so Russell made no attempt to do so. Instead he has created a solid musical journey through the land he now occupies near the Mexican border. He probes love and work from different angles than other writers, and co-writes some smokin' tunes with friends as well.

Maria Dunn: For a Song (Distant Whisper MARCD02)

Maria Dunn scores twice in a row with this second CD, and noble feat for a newcomer. Her songs explore people and places in illuminating and highly poetic detail, sung with conviction.

And two special compilations:

A Nod To Bob: the Bob Dylan Tribute (Red House RHRCD154)

This CD contains 15-tracks of Dylan songs in honor of his 60th birthday. I prefer many of the interpretations on this CD to The Man's own versions. Of special note are Eliza Gilkyson's "Love Minus Zero / No Limit," Martin Simpson's "Boots of Spanish Leather," and Rosalie Sorrels' "Tomorrow Is a Long Time."

The Philadelphia Folk Festival 40th Anniversary box set (Sliced Bread SB744440SL)

While Newport received all the glory, Philly is America's longest running and largest folk festival. Gene Shay, Philadelphia's enduring folk music DJ, has been host of this festival since Year One, and he has selected over 40 of his favorites on this four CD set, which also has video clips when played on a computer. This is an important document of American folk history featuring mostly previously unreleased performances.

And finally, not quite a reissue, not quite a compilation:

HARP: Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert, and Pete Seeger: A Time For Singing (Appleseed APRCD 1054)

Holly, Arlo, Ronnie and Pete gave a series of concerts in California in 1984 that became a single LP named from their first initials. Holly Near has gone back to the original tapes and re-edited the concerts and expanded the recording into a two-CD set featuring 15 songs missing from the original CD. It's a joyous, harmonious recording from people synonymous with folk in our time.

Rich's favorite Midnight Special CDs of 2000:

Still on the Hill: Still (Pingleblobber 001)

This quartet creates an enjoyably eclectic sound centered on bluegrass instrumentation, slightly reminiscent of the Red Clay Ramblers. They are powerful songwriters and accomplished musicians. The recording has spunk, originality and variety.

Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer: Tanglewood Tree (Signature Sounds SIG 1257)

Carter & Grammer go their own way in the crowded pack of contemporary folk musicians. Carter's unique songs performed with consistently interesting harmonies and musicianship give this recording a sound all its own. The song topics alone are far from the usual singer-songwriter subjects.

Priscilla Herdman, Anne Hills, Cindy Mangsen: At the Turning of the Year (Hand & Heart 2000)

Their sequel to "Voices of Winter" of three years ago, this one celebrates all the seasons with a fascinating potpourri of songs, from three of the finest female voices in folk-oriented music. You could spend many a season just reveling in the harmonies.

Carrie Newcomer: The Age of Possibility (Philo 116711 226-2)

Newcomer's rich alto voice carries her strong melodies with poetic lyrics straight to the ear and then to the heart. Be warned, there is some rock on this CD, but it's a powerful performance.

Pete Morton: Hunting the Heart (Harbourtown HARCD 040)

This iconoclastic British singer-songwriter scores again with his intelligently crafted songs that make great use of language and imagery. There is no escaping his penetrating performance that brings the songs to life.

Dar Williams: The Green World (Razor & Tie 7930182856-2)

Somewhat more abstract and more insistent than Dar's previous work, but redolent with her poetry and passion. She splits the CD about 50/50 between rock and folk

Liz Carroll: Lost In the Loop (Green Linnet GLCD 1199)

Terrific traditional and original Irish fiddle music performed with pure magic.

Mary Black: Speaking With the Angel (Curb D2 77958)

A particularly good crop of songs from this well established artist who is one of the outstanding interpreters of our time.

Maria Dunn: From Where I Stand (Marcdo 1)

An arrestingly powerful singer-songwriter from Canada who writes great historical and social commentary.

Small Potatoes: Waltz of the Wall Flower (Wind River WR4010CD)

This local duet has come of age with a CD of great songs delightfully performed. Some of the original songs on this CD are outstanding.

Ed Miller: Lowlander (Wellfield CD023)

A well-chosen mix of original, contemporary and traditional Scots songs by one of the finest interpreters of the genre currently singing.

Connie Dover: The Border of Heaven (Taylor Park TPMD0401)

A sumptuous bounty of mostly traditional songs in a lush, yet faithful setting, sung gorgeously.

Nickel Creek: Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill SUG-CD3999)

Some of the hottest picking around with incredible enthusiasm from a band of hyper-talented teenagers.

Sons Of the Never Wrong: One If By Hand (Gadfly 268)

Their third CD, the first with new member Deborah Lader, is their best yet. Be warned, this is not your mother's or father's folk music. They romp through a surreal landscape of ideas and wordplay laid over a montage of lively sound.

Peggy Seeger: Love Will Linger On (Appleseed APR 1039)

Peggy finally puts down her sword for a collection of gentle love songs, which finds her in the best voice of her career.

Cindy Kallet: This Way Home (Stone's Throw STM-2)

Cindy only records about once every dozen years, so this is an event. She's joined by a group of Maine friends, including Gordon Bok, for this deceptively simple yet profoundly moving recording.

Rich's favorite Midnight Special CDs of 1999:

This year two recordings rose above the crowd, and are tied for my number one picks, while the remainder are in semi-random order.

Tom Russell: The Man From God Knows Where (An Immigrant Song Cycle)Hightone 88099-2 220 4th Street, #101, Oakland, California 94607. A brilliant concept album with Iris DeMent, Delores Keane, Dave Van Ronk and others in a 150 year family journey that captures the meaning of the American Dream. Superbly written and performed.

Garnet Rogers: Sparrow's Wing Snow Goose Records SGS1127CD 416-692-4020. Rogers possesses one of the most beautiful male voices in the folk world, and he expertly uses it, along with his remarkable guitar playing to bring to life a range of heartfelt, poignant and thought-provoking songs.

Chuck Suchy: Different Line of Time Little Bluestem Records LBR 102 701-663-7682. Suchy, an unassuming farmer from North Dakota, captures life and land, in this gentle and involving recording. His rich voice invites you right into the songs. A wonderful and refreshing divergence from the trend.

Kristina Olsen: The Truth of a Woman Take-a-Break TAB-2008 P.O. Box 21, Venice, California 90294. While not all the songs on this CD are hits, Olsen bats better than 500. The song "Yellow Piper" alone is worth the cost of the CD, but there are several other great songs as well, including the title track.

Magpie: Give Light Sliced Bread CDSB7118 P.O. Box 606, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania 19422, and

Kim & Reggie Harris and Magpie: Guide My Feet Appleseed APR 1029 610-701-5755. If you thought great harmonies and insightful protest songs ended after the 1970s, Magpie and the Harrises bring them back with verve and conviction.

Eddie From Ohio: Looking Out the Fishbowl Virginia Soul VSR 006 P.O. Box 7431, McLean, Virginia 22106 This group fuses uncommonly good songs with an infectious, mostly upbeat sound that keeps your toes tapping and your mind racing from open to close. Outstanding harmonics and musicianship make their acoustic folk/rock sound effortless.

Pat Maloney: Perfect Oblivious Moon Ratrick 7487 520-632-0064. Maloney is highly original, clever, involving, and surrounds himself with just the right amount of production.

Niamh Parsons: Blackbirds & Thrushes Green Linnet GLCD 1197. An absolutely gorgeous voice in a well-produced setting of traditional Irish/Scottish music.

Guy Clark: Cold Dog Soup Sugar Hill SUGCD-1063. The old master, joined by a number of friends, just keeps rolling along with more great songs.

Annie Gallup: Steady Steady Yes 1-800-PRIMECD PCD63 800-774-6323. Gallup walks the tightrope without a net on this innovative, often eerie, unproduced recording that's spoken as much sung. There's a powerful eroticism in her fine poetry.

Eric Bibb & Needed Time: Spirit and the Blues EarthBeat! R2 75686 800-346-4445. The title says it all, Bibb delivers old and new songs with his great voice and conviction. Although this was recorded in Scandanavia in 1994, it first made it to the US in 1999.

Tanglefoot: Full Throated Abandon Borealis BCD 115 416-530-4288. A Canadian group with dynamite harmonies and energy, and songs based on historical events.

James Keelaghan: Road Hightone HCD8101 Keelaghan's writing remains first rate, delivered in great voice, but sometimes the over-production on this CD diminishes its impact.

Rich's favorite Midnight Special CDs of 1998:

Jackie Tice: Blue Coyote Saja Music 0002 (Box 333, Center Valley, PA / email) Released in 1997, we received it in 1998. My choice for best new songwriter I heard in 1998.)

Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger Featuring Tommy Sands, Jackson Browne & Bonnie Raitt, John Gorka, Richie Havens, Ani DiFranco, Bruce Cockburn, Greg Brown, Tom Paxton, Nanci Griffith, Bruce Springsteen, Dick Gaughan, Martin Simpson, Odetta, Tommy Makem, and many others. Appleseed 1024, distributed by Red House (610-701-5755). Timeless material meets great talent inspired by the greatest folk performer of our century.

Maddy Prior: Flesh & Blood Park Records PRKCD38 (PO Box 3911887, Cambridge, MA 02139). An arresting journey of traditional and contemporary songs, with some unusual accompaniment.

From the Heart of Studio A - The FolkScene Collection Red House RHRCD 109. A lovingly assembled collection of artists by Howard & Roz Larman from 20 years of live studio recordings on KPFK. Included are Bruce Cockburn, John Gorka, Maura O'Connell, and several more well-known artists. Iris DeMent performs her best version of "Our Town" on this disc.

Leahy: Leahy Narada 72438-42955 33 (414-961-8350). The hottest Celtic instrumental music in years, and essentially acoustic.

Susan Werner: Time Between Trains Bottom Line 63440-47035-2, distributed by BMG. One of the most intellectual songwriters on the scene, with a voice that knows how to deliver a lyric.

Dick Gaughan: Redwood Cathedral Appleseed 1027, distributed by Red House. Perhaps the finest living interpreter of folk, and songs written in the folk style (and even an occasional rock and roll hit), as well as a good writer and dazzling guitarist. He was a major inspiration to Steve Goodman.

Anne Hills & Cindy Mangsen: Never Grow Up Flying Fish CDFF 671. A sequel to Never Grow Old, with guest stars aplenty from Michael Cooney to Dave Van Ronk. A great choice of songs delightfully performed.

Dar Williams - Lucy Kaplansky - Richard Shindell: Cry Cry Cry Razor and Tie 7930182840-2 Dar, Lucy, and Richard get together to perform their favorite songs, with plenty of variety and insight on this CD.

Cyril MacPhee: When I Say I Do Brakin' Tradition CD 0907 (902-535-2874). My favorite new male voice of the year, from the Canadian Maritimes.

Denice Franke: You Don't Know Me De nICE gIRL DF002 (713-526-8270). My favorite new female voice of the year.

John McCutcheon & Tom Chapin: Doing Our Job Rounder CD 0411 Two friends infusing life into toe-tapping and thought provoking, mostly original, songs.

Debbie Diedrich: Ninety Miles Out West Broadway 2 (PO Box 12178, Eugene, OR 97440)

Susan Piper: New On The Planet SLICED BREAD CD SB71150 (PO Box 606, Blue Bell, PA 19422)

Richard Berman: Dreamer Aires (no #) (413-253-7570)

Geoff Bartley: One Kind Word Waterbug WGB-0046 (800-466-0234)

Aileen Vance: Sweet Life Avenida AM003CD (806-372-4203)

Kate Rusby: Hourglass Compass 74255-2

Rich's favorite Midnight Special CDs of 1997:

Number One is a tie:

Babes With Axes (Debbie Diedrich, Katie Henry, T.R.Kelley, Laura Kemp: Live Axe BWA002 P.O. Box 12178, Eugene, Oregon 97440

Grit Laskin: A Few Simple WordsBorealis BCD001 416-530-4288

The rest of my choices are in no particular order:

Connie Kaldor: Small Café Philo CDPH1205

Eric Peltoniemi: Songs O' Sad Laughter Aalto ARC CD001 1730 Dayton Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55104

Connie Dover: If Ever I Return Taylor Park TPMD0301 P.O. Box 12381, North Kansas City, Missouri 64116-0381 816-455-5524

Adie Grey: Grandpa's Advice Hey Baby! HB1005 888-4HEY-BABY

Waterson:Carthy: Common Tongue Topic TSCD-188 50 Stoud Green Rd., London N4 3EF, England

Richard Shindell: Reunion Hill Shanachie 8027

Joyce Woodson: Capistrano Girl Radish RAD972 615-383-1688

Pierce Pettis: Making Light Of It Compass 742362 117 30th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212

Kat Eggleston: Outside Eden Waterbug WBG 0028 800-466-0234

Honorable mention:

Heidi Mueller: Giving Back Cascadia CM103 206-528-2526

Suzzy Roche: Holy Smokes Red House RHR CD 104


Jay Ungar and Molly Mason: The Lover's Waltz Angel 7243-55561 2 7

Best 1997 Christmas CDs:

Priscilla Herdman, Anne Hills, Cindy Mangsen: Voices Of Winter Gadfly 235 802-865-2406

Susan McKeown and Lindsey Horner: Through The Bitter Frost And Snow 1 800 PRIME CD PCD-36

Rich's favorite "Midnight Special" CDs of 1996:

Tied for first:

Cindy Mangsen & Steve Gillette: The Light Of The Day Compass Rose CRM-7CD (PO Box 1501, Bennington, VT 05201)

Lori Lieberman: Home Of Whispers PopeMusic PMG-2005-2 (201-825-7900)

The rest of my choices are in no particular order:

Erica Wheeler: The Harvest Signature Sounds SSRC-1237 (800-694-5354)

Garnet Rogers: Night Drive Snow Goose SGS-1125 (Woodburn Rd., RR#1, Hannon, Ontario L0R 1P0 )

Robin & Linda Williams: Sugar For Sugar Sugar Hill SHCD-1052

Margo Hennebach: Michaelean 1 800 PRIME CD PCD-022

Grace Griffith: Grace (technically a reissue) Blix Street G2-10028 (818-763-9151)

Frank Tedesso: Songs From Einstein's Violin Imaginary Road 314 532 840-2

Richard Berman: Love, Work and Play Aries 002 (413-253-7570)