The War and Treaty: Blowing The Roof Off and Loving Without Limits

Their biographies read like something out of a movie, and probably should be made into one. Maybe those plans are already being made. While being the subject of a film is highly unlikely for 99.9% of all other bands, including themselves less than a year ago, now it seems not only logical but also like it might be just another chapter in their story rather than the high point of their career. Who knows how far that career can go for The War and Treaty, but even without all the acclaim, Michael and Tanya Trotter would be just fine. The couple would be happy as long as they still could make music together, whether that meant being in front of small crowds or in front of full arenas.

The War and Treaty play at the Albino Skunk Music Festival in Greer, SC. Photo: John Gillespie

The War and Treaty play at the Albino Skunk Music Festival in Greer, SC. Photo: John Gillespie

Michael and Tanya, along with Buddy Miller, who produced their album Healing Tide, speak about the couple’s incredible music and improbable journey, and we have conversations with Albino Skunk audience member Sharon Meeker and music therapist Gretchen Chardos Benner as well. There is plenty of music from The War and Treaty’s set at the Albino Skunk Music Festival too, and some history of how they came to resemble something out of a fairy tale. Their story definitely did not start out that way.

Thanks for being here, and stop by any time! We hope you would spread awareness of this independent project and the artists we profile, and one of the best ways to do that is to subscribe to our podcasts, and rate and especially comment on them wherever you get your podcasts. Check out what The War and Treaty are doing on their website, and the Albino Skunk Festival on their site here.

We have been quite busy lately, and have interviews with The Ruen Brothers, Elizabeth Cook, Dangermuffin, The Deer and David Ball in hand for upcoming episodes. Stay tuned! - Joe Kendrick

The Jon Stickley Trio Podcast

In this episode we dive deep into the conversation and live music of the Jon Stickley Trio that we recorded at the Spring Skunk Music Festival earlier this year, which was excerpted in the video released earlier with Grae Skye Studio. This podcast also features former bandmates of the trio, with Robert Greer of Town Mountain, Brett Johnson, formerly of Atmosphere, Mike Ashworth, now with Steep Canyon Rangers, and Galen Kipar all reflecting on their time playing with Jon, Patrick and Lyndsay. We also highlight some of the music of all of those artists as we go.

(L to R) Lyndsay Pruett, Jon Stickley and Patrick Armitage

(L to R) Lyndsay Pruett, Jon Stickley and Patrick Armitage

This episode is sponsored by Dynamite Roasting, organic and fair trade coffee, and we’re sponsored by you when you support Southern Songs and Stories on our Patreon page, or directly on our website, with links to both in the right column on this page. We’re glad you’re with us, and hope you may support the music of the Jon Stickley Trio and other artists you enjoy hearing here, and can spread awareness of their work as well as ours at Southern Songs and Stories.

A Day On The Farm With The Jon Stickley Trio

Guitarist Jon Stickley, violin player Lindsay Pruett and drummer Patrick Armitage played two rousing sets at the SpringSkunk Music Festival, and took time to talk with Joe Kendrick and Aaron Morrell about everything from their favorite instrumental bands, the making of their latest record, Maybe Believe, how "Smells Like Teen Spirit" has found its way into their take on "Blackberry Blossom", their memories of Skunk Fests past and much more.

Set list for the afternoon performance

Set list for the afternoon performance

We hope you enjoy the video and will consider supporting the band, Skunk Fest and Southern Songs and Stories by watching, spreading awareness and supporting our endeavors. All of us involved in this project could never have done this without each other, and we hope you will join in too!

The Jon Stickley Trio at SpringSkunk Music Fest

SpringSkunk Music Fest Podcast part 1

April was a packed month. It began with the conclusion of our spring fund raiser at WNCW, went on with SpringSkunk Fest at the Albino Skunk Farm the next week, followed by a few days off to decompress, and MerleFest a couple of weeks after that. Plus, life -- a week on the air to fill in for vacationing colleagues (a somewhat rare treat these days), baseball games, yard work, and so on. It felt like there was never much time to devote to making the companion audio piece to our video work, which did see a couple of videos released soon after the festival, thanks to Aaron Morrell.

The   Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band   closes out Thursday night at SpringSkunk

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band closes out Thursday night at SpringSkunk

It was time to buckle down and take a crack at making this podcast a reality. It was daunting. Sure, I have produced a lot of audio for WNCW -- interviews, round table discussions, even a long form series on refugees in North Carolina. But this was new territory, with about a dozen interview subjects, the full compliment of music played at the festival, and a story line that remained nebulous.

Nikki Talley   and husband Jason Sharp play Thursday afternoon at SpringSkunk

Nikki Talley and husband Jason Sharp play Thursday afternoon at SpringSkunk

It wound up being a big project, with more pieces and parts than I had ever managed. But the memories were still with me, the ideas kept coming, and the technical hurdles of dealing with widely varying sets of audio were overcome. I finally began writing, and then stitched together the episode you find here.

Pretty Little Goat  , who seem to relish playing music at any hour of the day

Pretty Little Goat, who seem to relish playing music at any hour of the day

I hope you enjoy this, the beginning of a three part documentary podcast series. Please support the artists you like here, as well as the festivals in spring and fall on the Skunk Farm in Greer, SC. We would appreciate your help in continuing our endeavor, too. You can find out how on our Patreon page here. Stay tuned for more video from the Jon Stickley Trio, and a lot more. Fes-taa-vul!!

Alexa Rose and Laura Durkin Interview

It was a beautiful Saturday morning with more warmth and an absence of the stiff breeze we witnessed the first day or so of the festival when Aaron Morrell made his way from the mountains down to the rolling foothills of Upstate SC. He jumped into action right away when we saw Alexa Rose and her fiddler Laura Durkin getting ready to go back home. 

 Luckily we got to sit down and talk with them in the shelter of The Band Done Quit (more on all the colorful names of Skunk Fest later). There were lots of tractors going by, and these distractions actually worked out in our favor. Such was the nature of things that weekend.

Alexa Rose and her band opened up the SpringSkunk Music Festival Thursday

Alexa Rose and her band opened up the SpringSkunk Music Festival Thursday

You can see our conversation with Alexa and Laura below.

A Little "Skunk Therapy"

Do you have a favorite place that you return to time and again, a happy spot with friends old and new? The Skunk Farm near Greer, SC, is that and a whole lot more for the attendees ("Skunkers") and volunteers every six months when the SpringSkunk Festival and Albino Skunk Music Festival come around. Volunteer chef Matty gave me the title to this post in his interview about his experiences on the farm. He expressed a sentiment shared with almost everyone else that I spoke with there, that they love the festival for more than just the good times. Whenever they can come back, even in between festivals, it is "a little Skunk therapy".

Pictured above is Kev Russell, taken towards the end of Shinyribs' set on Saturday night. We were within feet of the band, which is another unique aspect to add to the long list of unique aspects of everything about the event. No, make that more than an event, since it goes well beyond the three days in the spring and three days in the fall that the festival takes place. It's more of a musical pilgrimage, and a perpetual homecoming.

We'll be wrapping our heads around what this all means in the days and weeks to come as we create a series of concert videos and documentaries about all things Skunk and the Jon Stickley Trio. In addition to our extended interview with the Trio, we interviewed newcomer Alexa Rose, who opened the festival Thursday afternoon. There's a lot to tell. -Joe

Getting Ready For SpringSkunk

We trekked to the Albino Skunk Farm near Greer, SC last weekend to get going on our documentary on the SpringSkunk Fest and the Jon Stickley Trio when they perform there on April 8th. I got to interview Zig and meet some of the Skunk regulars: "Hack", "Ginseng", "Sea Hunt" and others who were given their nicknames by Glynn "Zig" Zeigler in the course of their years of service. As you may be able to tell, this is no ordinary festival. We're looking forward to bringing you more updates soon. -Joe

Zig and Joe at the Skunk Bus before Zig's interview. We spotted an albino squirrel during the conversation, which was a first! This seemed to bode well for our work there.

Zig and Joe at the Skunk Bus before Zig's interview. We spotted an albino squirrel during the conversation, which was a first! This seemed to bode well for our work there.