Category Archives: Artist Interviews

Interviews with KC Cafe Radio Performing Artists

Elaine Mahon Keeps Reaching For The Stars

Photo by Randy Batista

Elaine Mahon’s songs, as her new album is titled, may Reach for the Stars but they are also deeply rooted in the natural world we all live in. Elaine’s sensibilities as a songwriter developed from a childhood spent roaming the woods and the beaches of North Florida. But it was her work in extragalactic astronomy, which earned Mahon a Ph.D., that broadened her perspective and strengthened her appreciation for nature. Elaine left her career in order to remain near family, and to begin to explore her creativity through music. A masterful storyteller and tunesmith, Mahon has made her mark. Elaine forms an immediate and intimate emotional connection with her audience by drawing them into lyrical songscapes that shimmer with imagery gleaned from the natural world.

Elaine’s newest release, Reach for the Stars, builds on themes of life and love that Mahon explored, through story and myth, in her 2013 release, RISE. However, in this new, cohesive collection of songs, Mahon subtly introduces her astronomical perspective in order to evoke wonder and offer hope and empowerment. A deft finger-style guitarist, Mahon employs alternate tunings to create a rich harmonic palette for the melodies of her songs which often take unexpected, yet pleasing turns. Add to that a sweet, resonant voice capable of expressing a wide range of emotion and you have a winning combination.

Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste visited with Elaine via Skype. They talk about growing up musically, including a very pivitol moment in her life when she discovered her skill as a songwriter. They also talk about the interesting diffences and similiarities between musicianship and songwriting, her decision to pursue music full-time, and her plans beyond Reach for the Stars.

Listen to the interview here:

Download the interview here: Interview: Elaine Mahon 4/20/2017

Allan Frank: A Songwriter’s Songwriter

Singer/Songwriter and KC Cafe Radio Performing Artist Allan Frank has been surrounded by music practically all his life. Growing up in the American Midwestern town of Peoria, Illinois, Frank was caught playing on his grandfather’s piano, making up stories as he played along, at the ripe young age of 3. It wasn’t until age 16, however, when Allan picked up his first musical instrument, a guitar his parents had given him.

As he got older, he became involved in musical theater, and eventually graduated from college with a theater degree. He also discovered his guitar playing skills were in high demand in theater, and he began toying with putting lyrics with song. It wasn’t long that Allan found himself writing for events and issues outside of the theater, and a new songwriter was born.

He later traveled to Europe, and eventually relocated to California, where he continued to hone his craft as a songwriter. His skill as a talented songwriter continued to develop, both in Los Angeles and in Nashville. He became involved in collaborative efforts with some of the most influential songwriters around, including Gary Burr and Chris Tompkins.

Allan’s first full-length album is called The Road So Far, and represents his journey as a genuine singer/songwriter. A blend of Americana, Country and Roots tunes, The Road So Far takes you on a heartfelt journey down the by-ways and back-roads of Middle America. Allan’s gentle down home manner is evident in his songs, reminiscent of the classic stylings of Burl Ives, Pete Seeger and Doc Watson.

Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste spoke with Allan. He tells the story of growing into the art of songwriting, and how he has approached the craft over the years. They talk about the benefits of writing alone versus collaborating with other songwriters, and Allan discusses at length about songwriting as a craft, and the importance of connecting with the listener.

Listen to the interview here:

Music by Allan Frank on KC Cafe Radio:

Bill Abernathy still Finds a Way

Just 10 minutes. That’s all the time singer/songwriter Bill Abernathy needed to complete the task he was working on at the office. He had just received the call from the hospital informing him that his dad had taken a turn for the worse, and is not expected to live much longer. He figured it would take another 10 minutes to compete what he was working on, then he would be off to be by his dad’s side. When he arrived at the hospital, he found that he missed his dad’s passing by just 5 minutes.

“I think that everybody has this vision of how they would like to spend their last moments with people they love,” Bill said. “Mine was clearly being able to sit with my dad, hold his hand and tell him I loved him one more time and just watch as the lights of this world go away and the lights of the next come on. I didn’t get that chance, and it was because I had prioritized my time poorly. I had lost that balance.”

Bill Abernathy: Find A WayThat defining moment in Bill’s life would become the theme for his latest album, Find A Way. “The real theme of the album is based on something that my dad taught me,” he said. “His comment was always that if you want something bad enough in life and you’re willing to put in the blood, sweat, tears and toil, you could always find a way to make that happen.” The album cover artwork he commissioned with artist Damijan Fric, depicts the great chasm that exists for many of us in life, between the demands of work life and the things we cherish in life. Yet the message of hope inspired by his dad resounds clearly in the title song – that it is indeed possible to find a way.

Bill grew up in a musical family, so putting thoughts and feelings into song isn’t too difficult for him. He grew up hanging out with his older brother and associated musician friends, listening to the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary and others. It would be Dan Fogelberg‘s 1972 album Home Free that would inspire him to pick up the guitar and learn how to play. “I learned how to play that album from start to finish,” Bill recently told KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste in an interview.

Bill also loves guitars, and has amassed quite the collection over the years, including a rather unique 9 string guitar. Recently, Bill talked with Forste via Skype. They discussed his unique guitar collection, as well as Find A Way and the story behind it’s songs. They talked at length about the struggle most musicians deal with between their musical passion and work life demands, and how he has managed to find his own way.

Listen to the interview here:

Download the interview here: Interview: Bill Abernathy 11/18/2016

Music by Bill Abernathy on KC Cafe Radio:

Kerry Patrick Clark: A Christmas Album 30 Years in the Making

Kerry Patrick ClarkWhile it may seem inevitable that every musician eventually puts out a Christmas album, it took Kerry Patrick Clark more than 30 years to finally get to his. In part, it’s because he didn’t want to merely record variations of the same traditional songs. Instead, he had to let time do what time does best—cultivate life experiences, deepen relationships, hone talent and develop courage.

These are just some of the things Kerry needed in order to create an album that reflects his own experience of Christmas, which is far more than merely exulting the joy and glory of the season. “I believe in Christmas and what it stands for—peace, grace, an experience of the sacred—but that doesn’t mean I’m not also cynical, sad, frustrated, angry and intolerant. Every time I heard a new Christmas album I thought, ‘why isn’t there one that addresses the challenges of the season or tells the birth story in maybe a more profound way?’ So I decided to do that. Combine the Christian and the secular, the cynical and the sacred.”

Kerry Patrick Clark: The Heart of Christmas album coverThe result is Kerry’s latest album, The Heart of Christmas, which is available now here. Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste talked with Kerry via Skype. They reminisce about the traditions of Christmas music, the way in which this album embraces, yet differs from those traditions, and the challenging process of producing an album that was 30 years in the making.

Listen to the interview here:

Download the interview here: Interview: Kerry Patrick Clark, 11/22/16

Music by Kerry Patrick Clark on KC Cafe Radio:

Lauren Adams : From Troubadour to Somewhere Else

Lauren AdamsHow many ways are there for a performing songwriter to “make it?”

You could hit the Top 40, as Ed Sheeran did.

A big-name recording artist could cover one of your songs, like when country superstar Dierks Bentley made Travis Meadows‘ song “Riser” the title track of his last album.

For Americana singer-songwriter Lauren Adams, it was when she met a fan who had tattoo’ed a line from one of her songs onto her foot. “I’ve shared the stage with some pretty big names and even had my song in a major motion picture but this girl’s foot is easily the most satisfying milestone of my career,” she said with a chuckle.

That kind of audience appreciation is what keeps an artist going in the absence of big-time success. From her first guitar lesson as a Florida teenager to her arrival in Los Angeles to her new album, Somewhere Else, Adam’s has always kept going.

Adams’ musical journey began on the stage of the world-famous Troubadour in West Los Angeles with a performance that was so tentative, she was completely caught off guard by the waves of applause. “The response was so positive,” she said, “that I realized, ‘Hey, I could actually do this.’” That was summer of 1978, when the club still hosted its open-mic “Hoot Night,” where songwriters could get up and play a few.

Since that time, Adams has opened shows for Leon Russell in Fort Lauderdale and for Rita Coolidge in Southern California; Gigged regularly (some would say “relentlessly”) at clubs and festivals across California, Texas, Colorado, and in Nashville, Tennessee; Released three albums of her own songs; Had her song “Thirsty” featured in the Lion’s Gate film Peaceful Warrior (starring Nick Nolte); And she has hosted LA’s longest-running Americana music event, the Americana Song Circle for 10 years.

On her newest album, Somewhere Else, Adams delivers quality songwriting in the Carol King/Eagles/Lucinda Williams vein: deep Americana roots and vivid storytelling delivered by a group of tasteful, compassionate players including her producer and friend Nick Kirgo (Nels Kilne of Wilco, JD Souther, Vonda Shepard, Pocket Goldberg and Dave Fraser).

Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste talked with Adams via Skype. They talked about growing up with music in her life, brushing with greatness at the Trroubadour, and the uniquely rewarding connection she has been afforded between her life and her songs.

Listen to the interview here:

Download the interview here: Interview: Lauren Adams

Music by Lauren Adams on KC Cafe Radio: