Laura Cantrell

Full Discography

  • Humming By The Flowered Vine - - 2005-06-21


  Humming By The Flowered Vine
June 21, 2005

'Humming by the Flowered Vine' is the much-anticipated third album (and Matador debut) by Nashville-born, New York-based performer Laura Cantrell.

Produced by JD Foster (Richard Buckner, Marc Ribot), 'Humming by the Flowered Vine' features ten extraordinary songs both crafted and caught. As on her two previous albums, 'When the Roses Bloom Again' and 'Not the Tremblin' Kind,' Laura's own compositions are some of the highlights. "Khaki & Corduroy" is a meditation on being a transplanted Southerner in New York City, "California Rose" was inspired by the West Coast country music pioneer Rose Maddox, and "Old Downtown" draws on the story of World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York.

New York figures prominently in both Emily Spray's infectious "14th Street" and "Letters", a previously unreleased Lucinda Williams song dating back to her days as a struggling folk singer living in the city. The album also includes a version of the Appalachian murder ballad "Poor Ellen Smith," which was collected and published in the 1927 book American Mountain Songs by Laura's great, great aunt Ethel Park Richardson, a "songcatcher" from Chattanooga, TN, who went on to produce the NBC radio drama "Heart-throbs of the Hills" throughout the 1930s. The parallels between her and Laura's own life were a recent discovery for Laura.

Born and raised in Nashville, Laura moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, where she soon found herself hosting a weekly country music program on college station WKCR ("Tennessee Border") and singing in dorms and coffeehouses. After graduation, she recorded a CD and several singles with the band Bricks, featuring her college friend Mac McCaughan (who would later form Superchunk and Merge Records). A move to Brooklyn led to a friendship with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, who recruited her to sing on "The Guitar" on the band's 1992 album Apollo 18. He also offered to produce an EP of Laura's original songs for the Giants' "Hello CD of the Month Club" subscription service, which was originally released in June 1996 and reissued last year as The Hello Recordings. 

In 2000. Laura's debut album, 'Not the Tremblin' Kind,' reached an international audience and was championed by legendary BBC DJ John Peel, who called it "my favourite record of the last ten years and possibly my life." She recorded five Peel Sessions and had three songs on his annual "Festive Fifty" for 2000. With the release of When the Roses Bloom Again in 2002, she was hand-picked by Elvis Costello to open 17 dates on his U.S. tour. Both albums also garnered four-star reviews in Rolling Stone, and led to appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the Newport Folk Festival, World Café, and Mountain Stage, as well as tours with folk legends Joan Baez and Ralph Stanley in the U.S. and U.K.

Laura is also the "proprietress" of the long-running Radio Thrift Shop on freeform WFMU, which airs every Saturday from noon-3:00 EST and is archived at 

"As Laura Cantrell performed 'Khaki and Corduroy,' her sleepy-sad reflection on being a Southerner transplanted to New York City . . . the auditorium [Jazz at Lincoln Center] was awash with the kind of cosmic wistfulness that the best country and folk music can conjure when it dreams of the past." 
                                       — Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"It’s Cantrell's voice. . . vulnerable and at times downright fragile . . . that evokes inner strengths as old as the hills and as tough as the tenements, a voice that begs to be heard."

                                         — Richard Harrington, The Washington Post

'Humming By The Flowered Vine'
song-by-song by Laura Cantrell

14th Street (Emily Spray) 
To a lot of New Yorkers, 14th Street is the unofficial divide between uptown and downtown. I personally love 14th street – the Salvation Army, Union Square, the L train running just below. I think this song also perfectly sums up the moment when you see someone you’re obsessed with on the street and decide whether it’s worth it to say hello or stay safely in the background. I’ve known Emily, a Portland, Oregon native, for many years and really appreciate the New York moment she captured in this song.

What You Said (Jenifer Jackson)
Jenifer is another great New York-based writer that I’ve been fortunate to get to know, and this song is from her wonderful 2001 album Birds. It has a breezy joy that to me is perfect for summer, and Kenny Kosek contributes some lovely fiddle work along with Rob Burger on accordion.

And Still (Dave Schramm)
Dave played guitar with me when I toured with Elvis Costello in 2002, and his band The Schramms backed me on some dates the following year. I’ve always admired Dave’s writing (his “Conqueror’s Song” was on my last album), and this was one of a couple of songs-in-progress that he shared with me last summer. When it came time to record, JD suggested we try the song with Dave and Calexico, and later Amy Helm and Fiona McBain of Ollabelle added some harmony. The song has a lot of depth and can be very personal or applied universally. 

Khaki & Corduroy (Laura Cantrell)
This one draws from a specific time and place for me personally: New York in the mid-eighties when I first moved here to attend college. It’s really not about anything more than remembering people that you knew in school, little details that stay in your mind about old friends that you don’t see anymore. It’s also about the relationships from that time of your life that are so powerful; and, even though they usually don’t last, their memories are still very strong and will sometimes take you by surprise. 

Letters (Lucinda Williams)
A friend played me a rough demo of this unreleased Lucinda song from her late seventies New York period and it really struck a chord with me. Some of us remember what it felt like in the pre-email era to come home from a crummy job to find a beautiful letter in the mailbox. It was as if every detail said something — the paper and the envelope, the postmark, the handwriting. The lyrics reminded me of all those things and stuck in my head for days. Then I knew I had to give it a go. 

California Rose (Laura Cantrell)
Rose Maddox of the Maddox Brothers and Rose was one of the great female artists of the honky-tonk era. Her family left Alabama in the Great Depression under the guidance of their mother Lula, convinced they’d find their fortune in California. When this proved as elusive in California as it had been in the South, the family turned its love for music into a livelihood, and was soon dubbed “America’s Most Colorful Hillbilly Band.” Rose’s eventual struggle to leave the family band behind to find success as a solo artist came at a huge cost. She is one of country music’s female pioneers not recognized by the Country Music Hall of Fame, so I thought she was due a tribute in song. 

Wishful Thinking (Wynn Stewart)
I have a great fondness for the country music that came out of California in the late fifties and early sixties. This shuffle was written and recorded by the Bakersfield honky-tonk legend Wynn Stewart, and was also covered by one of my favorite “girl singers,” Skeeter Davis, who died last year. I wanted to include this as my own private tip of the hat to both her and Wynn Stewart. 

Poor Ellen Smith (Traditional, arranged by Laura Cantrell)
My mother’s family is from Chattanooga, Tennessee and was doing some genealogical research last year when we discovered that the famous “song catcher” Ethel Park Richardson was my great, great grandfather’s sister. Ethel collected songs in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and published the book “American Mountain Songs” in 1927. She later moved to New York and produced the radio drama “Heart-Throbs Of The Hills” for the NBC network throughout the 1930s. This song from her book is a truly American murder ballad based on real events in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As part of the ongoing “folk process,” the melody is slightly changed and I left out one out of ten verses in the book.

Bees (Laura Cantrell/Jay Sherman-Godfrey)
This song pays tribute to an old friend who had ill health at the end of this life and was growing to accept that he wouldn’t be around forever. He had lived a full life and had great stories to tell, but he was also sadly aware that the people that he ran around with for years were all gone. My friend Jay, who produced and contributed songs to my last two albums, helped me finish the song.

Old Downtown (Laura Cantrell)
I wrote this meditation after a real walk in my old downtown of Nashville, Tennessee. I was in one of those moments when you try to match the past up with the present to see if it makes sense. I was taking in a lot of local landmarks around the state Capitol building, like the tomb of William Polk, the statue of WWI hero Alvin C. York, and the Life & Casualty tower. I was struck by the idea that all the things that happen in a place can shape it and the people who live there. No matter what town you’re walking in, the monuments show the triumphs and the scars.

Pre-blog News

11/30/06 — Dec 8th gig at Mo Pitkins
Things are pretty quiet on the Laura Cantrell front lately, but she does have a show coming up next week at Mo Pitkins in New York. We'd reccommend you take this opportunity to catch what is sure to be a rare and awesome experience, but we'll leave that to our new celebrity Laura Cantrell endorsers: Bob Dylan, and Stephen King.

8/14/06 — Discography updated
Laura's discography updated here. We're trying to be comprehensive, so let us know if anything is missing.

7/26/06 — The "Radio Thrift Shop" returns to the BBC!
Laura's "Radio Thrift Shop" is back on the BBC this Summer, with six two-hour episodes created especially for Radio Scotland. Recorded in Nashville, the shows will air each Monday from July 3 through August 7 at 8:00 p.m. GMT, and repeat the following Sunday at the same time. Each show will stream live and be archived for one week. Among Laura's guests in interviews and sessions will be Merle Haggard, Bobby Bare, Charlie Louvin, Cowboy Jack Clement, Jim Lauderdale, Shawn Camp, Phill Lee and Joy Lynn White"

6/01/06 — Laura on WNYC and WFMU 
"I'm hosting a one-hour radio show for WNYC's American Music Festival this weekend, "Laura Cantrell's American Voices", Sunday May 28, 4-5 PM. I'll also be a guest on Soundcheck with John Shaefer on June 2 to talk again about the special, which will air again July 4 weekend.

"I'll also be posting a couple of special web only archives at WFMU for their summer schedule, a Bonnie Owens tribute show etc. People can check or to see when those are posted, mid June."

3/15/06 — Exclusive EP on iTunes
Laura's acoustic EP 'Humming Songs: Acoustic Performances from the Flowered Vine' is now available on iTunes and that's the only place you will find it because it is an exclusive. You can hear a song by visiting her music page or go directly to the EP's iTunes by clicking here.

12/01/05 — Laura on Prairie Home Companion this weekend!

Laura Cantrell will be appearing on Garrison Keillor's 'Prairie Home Companion' this Friday, December 2 at 8:00 PM (non-broadcast), and Saturday, December 3, at 5:45 EST.

Saturday's 'Prairie Home Companion' is broadcast from Town Hall Theater in New York on your local public radio affiliate.

Tickets are sold out for both shows.

For more information, visit the Prairie Home Companion site at

11/18/05 — Sony Connect Set, Mo' Mo Pitkin's; Springsteen 'Nebraska' event
On November 29, SonyConnect will be releasing an exclusive 'SonyConnect Set' of Laura performing 5 songs. Don't miss it!

Furthermore, Laura will be returning to her residency at the excellent Mo Pitkin's in New York's East Village for two nights of two sets each in January and February, and in between she'll be joining other artists in a tribute to Bruce Springsteen's 'Nebraska' album at the World Financial Center Winter Garden.

Fri, Jan 13 - New York NY - Mo Pitkin's, 9:30 and 11:30 sets
Sat, Jan 14 - New York, NY - World Financial Ctr Winter Garden - Bruce Springsteen 'Nebraska' Tribute

Mon, Feb 20 - New York, NY - Mo Pitkin's, 9:30 and 11:30 sets

11/12/05 — Mo Pitkin's shows; CMA coverage; WXPN session
after a pair of well received Austin shows, along with a terrific instore at Waterloo Records, Laura Cantrell returns to NYC this week for a pair of shows at Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction (34 Avenue A (between E. 2nd and E. 3rd Streets) last night and this evening.

Next week, Laura will be serving as BBC Radio 2's correspondent for their coverage of the Country Music Association Awards aka the CMA's, taking place at Madison Square Garden on November 15.

Laura's recent session for Philadelphia's WXPN can be heard here.

'Humming By The Flowered Vine' has been tapped as's #6 Folk Album of 2005. Which says to us that numbers 1-5 must be very good albums, indeed.

11/02/05 — Philadelphia Friday, Austin Tuesday and Wednesday
November 4 in Philly (THIS FRIDAY) at 12 noon: 

Catch Laura Cantrell play WXPN's "XPN Free At Noon" concert (doors at 11:30 AM), broadcast from Downstairs at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. Mixed seats and standing.

Then next week Laura blows up Austin:

Tues 11/8 - Austin TX - KGSR-FM - Live on air, 3 PM
Tues 11/8 - Austin TX - Cactus Cafe - with Hayes Carll
Weds 11/9 - Austin TX - KUT-FM - Taped performance, airdate tba 
Weds 11/9 - Austin TX - Waterloo Records - in-store performance, 5 PM
Weds 11/9 - Austin TX - Cactus Cafe - with Hayes Carll

photograph by Roger Kisby

and don't forget to catch Laura when she returns to Mo Pitkins in NYC:

Fri 11/11 - New York, NY - Mo Pitkins
Sat 11/12 - New York, NY - Mo Pitkins

10/06/05 — Unreleased MP3
Check the music page for an unreleased MP3. The song is called "Hammer and Nails" and is a studio outtake from the album -- incredibly gorgeous.

09/06/05 — Autumn dates in US
after some incredibly well received UK dates --- including a major appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival, Laura Cantrell is back on the road stateside

September 8 - Grimey's, instore, 8pm Nashville TN (1604 8th Ave. South, 615-254-4801)
October 2 - San Francisco, CA - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (located at Speedway Meadows)
October 3 - Santa Cruz, CA - The Attic
October 4 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre
October 5 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
October 6 - Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
October 7 - Tucson, AZ - Plush
October 28 - New York, NY - Mo Pitkins
October 29 - New York, NY - Mo Pitkins
November 11 - New York, NY - Mo Pitkins
November 12 - New York, NY - Mo Pitkins

On the now-for-something-completely different tip, Laura's collaborationwith fellow WFMU dj Jason Forest (aka Donna Summer), "Nightclothes & Headphones" can be heard on the latter's new CD, 'Shamlessly Exciting' (Sonic).

07/27/05 — All kinds of news
Laura's 3rd album 'Humming By The Flowered Vine' came out last month to wild acclaim, followed by some terrific shows on both coasts. There have been a succession of radio sessions (World Cafe, Morning Becomes Eclectic, Bob Harris' BBC 2 program, live on Charlottesville, VA's WTJU), all of which are accessible from the links below.

Lovers of social networking / Newscorp can examine the new Laura Cantrellpage at mySpace.

Though UK dates supporting Lucinda Williams were postponed following Ms. Williams' ear infection, Laura has just been added to the Cambridge Folk Festival this Saturday night (July 30, 9pm, Stage 1).

Somewhat closer to home, Laura will be appearing at San Francisco'sStrictly Bluegrass Festival on October 2.

07/15/05 — Laura on NPR's 'Weekend Edition' this Sunday!
This Sunday, June 17, Laura is featured on National Public Radio's 'Weekend Edition' show. There will be an extensive interview along with music from the album and discussion about Laura's music.

'Weekend Edition' airs at different times of day on Sunday depending on what city you live in. Click on the link and enter your zip code in the box at upper left for a schedule. The show is not simulcast online, but will eventually be available in the NPR archives.

07/07/05 — Laura live on the radio various times
Aug 9 -- World Cafe, performance and interview
July 8 -- KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic, performance
July 7 -- BBC Radio 2, Bob Harris Country, 7-8 PM GMT performance
June 29 -- WTJU Charlottesville VA, performance

Throughout June, a one-hour special devoted to hillbilly legend Charlie Poole was hosted by Laura and aired on 83 stations nationwide. The special was produced by Sony.

06/20/05 — Release date! plus an interactive Laura subway map
Today is release date in Europe, and tomorrow (June 21st) is release date in the US, which will be marked by an in-store performance at Virgin Union Square, which sits -- you guessed it -- on 14th Street.

In other news, we have a new Laura Cantrell interactive NYC subway map, which delineates Laura's musical influences in place of the stations, streams the album and much more.

06/08/05 — More dates announced

photo by Ted Barron

As we're bracing ourselves for the worldwide release of 'Humming By The Flowered Vine', the 3rd exceptional album from Laura Cantrell, a new instore has been scheduled at Seattle's Easy Street Records on July 11 at 6pm (20 Mercer Street). Laura's tour dates are as follows:

Jun 22 - Boston, MA - Museum of Fine Arts (Calder Courtyard)
Jun 23 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
June 24 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse
June 25 - Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell's
June 27 - Philadelphia, PA - Tin Angel
June 28 - Arlington, VA - Iota
June 29 - Charlottesville, VA - Gravity Lounge
June 30 - Raleigh, NC - The Pour House
July 1 - Atlanta, GA - Red Light CafÈ
July 4 - New York, NY - Battery Park
July 9 - Santa Monica, CA - McCabe's Guitar Shop*
July 12 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door*

July TUE 19 AMSTERDAM Paradiso
FRI 22 LONDON Shepherds Bush Empire (with Lucinda Williams)
TUE 26 MANCHESTER Bridgewater Hall (with Lucinda Williams)
WED 27 GLASGOW Academy

04/28/05 — First MP3, tours in US and Europe, radio appearances
The first MP3 from the new Laura Cantrell album 'Humming By The Flowered Vine', "14th Street" is now available for your consideration. We'd rather have your money, but in this case, we'll settle for your consideration.

Laura will be performing at NYC's Virgin Megastore (Union Square, 52 East 14th St.) on June 21 at 7pm. Said event will be followed by shows in the following non-retail environments:

Jun 22 - Boston, MA - Museum of Fine Arts (Calder Courtyard)
Jun 23 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
June 24 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse
June 28 - Arlington, VA - Iota
June 30 - Raleigh, NC - The Pour House

July 1 - Atlanta, GA - Red Light Cafe
July 4 - New York, NY - Battery Park, The Lawn (with Yo La Tengo, Stephen Malkmus)

July 19 - Amsterdam - Paradiso**
July 20 - Amsterdam - Paradiso**
July 22 - London - Shepherds Bush Empire**
July 26 - Manchester - Bridgewater Hall**
July 27 - Glasgow - Academy**
July 29 - Gateshead - Sage Arena**

** supporting Lucinda Williams

Laura is being profiled on (not hosting, as wrongly reported here yesterday) a segment on the American Routes radio show, for broadcast between May 18-24. 

And, our apologies, we wrongly reprted here that there was a confirmed booking on World Cafe (WFUV and WXPN) on May 25; this is not true. Instead, you can hear Laura perform and be interviewed on WFUV and WXPN on those dates. Later this summer, you'll see Laura as one of the many guest commentators on CMT's "100 Greatest Duets".

04/14/05 — Photo
The new promo photo, by Ted Barron, has been posted in small and large sizes for appropriate promotional uses (please remember to credit the photographer).

04/11/05 — Biography, Laura's song-by-song posted
The new bio and a song-by-song analysis by Laura have been posted.

03/24/05 — Album completed
Laura Cantrell's absolutely gorgeous debut album for Matador (and third album proper) is entitled 'Humming By The Flowered Vine' and is scheduled for June 21 release worldwide. Featuring a mixture of original songs, the traditional "Poor Ellen Smith" (a classic murdered-woman ballad), and interpretations of songs by Lucinda Williams, Emily Spray, Dave Schramm, and others. With star guest musicians to boot. We'll have more information on this release shortly; in the meantime, feast your eyes on the cover art, based on a painting by Fred Tomaselli.

"A voice that begs to be heard"

Matador Records is pleased to announce the signing of acclaimed artist and radio personality Laura Cantrell to a worldwide recording agreement.

The Nashville-born, New York-based "proprietress" of WFMU's long-running Radio Thrift Shop is currently working on the follow-up to her 2002 release "When the Roses Bloom Again," about which the Washington Post said, "It's Cantrell's voice that elevates these disparate songs to high lonesome art. Vulnerable, and at times downright fragile, it's a voice that evokes inner strengths as old as the hills and as tough as the tenements, a voice that begs to be heard." Longtime supporter John Peel called her first CD "my favourite album of the last 10 years and possibly my life."

Cantrell's two previous albums were released by Diesel Only Records in the U.S. and Shoeshine/Spit & Polish in the U.K. Over the past four years, she has opened U.S. tours for Elvis Costello and Joan Baez, appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, the Newport Folk Festival, and the Late Show with Conan O'Brien, recorded five Peel Sessions, and been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among her many accolades.

"I am thrilled to release my next album on Matador, a label I've followed since its beginning 15 years ago, that has released the music of great artists like Yo La Tengo, Cat Power and Guided By Voices," said Cantrell. "Matador's interest in my music is very exciting to me."

"Laura Cantrell is one of the unique voices and minds in American music," said Matador co-President Gerard Cosloy. "We've been fans of her recordings and performances for some time and we're genuinely thrilled to be working with such a talent."

The as-yet-untitled album is being scheduled for a late spring release and will include such new Cantrell originals as "Khaki and Corduroy," a meditation on her experience as a transplanted southerner attending university in New York City, and "California Rose," inspired by the life of California country music pioneer Rose Maddox. The album will also feature a version of the Appalachian murder ballad "Poor Ellen Smith," which was collected and published in the 1927 book American Mountain Songs by Cantrell's great, great aunt Ethel Park Richardson, a "songcatcher" from Chattanooga, TN who, like Cantrell, later moved to New York and produced the NBC radio drama "Heart-throbs of the Hills" throughout the 1930s.

The new sessions are being produced by JD Foster, whose production credits include Richard Buckner and Mark Ribot, and has recorded and toured with artists including Patty Griffin and Dwight Yoakam. Other musicians appearing on the new recordings include Mark Spencer (Jay Farrar, Kelly Willis), Jon Graboff (Amy Rigby, Beat Rodeo), Jeremy Chatzky (They Might Be Giants, People Are Wrong!), Dave Schramm (Yo La Tengo, The Schramms) and Joey Burns, John Convertino and Paul Niehaus of Calexico. 

Music & Video

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