The Working Songwriter

The Working Songwriter
TWS with Joe Pug

Lera Lynn
Oct 16 • 46 min
The Georgia native talks about getting her start in the Athens music scene, collaborating with Roseanne Cash, and running her business independently.
Kevin Morby
Oct 9 • 63 min
The Kansas City bred songwriter tells the story of his journey toward his distinctive brand of indie rock.
Strand of Oaks returns
Oct 2 • 66 min
The Austin by way of Philadelphia rocker returns to the show to talk touring, writing, and recording.
Jerry David Decicca
Sep 25 • 75 min
The former creative force behind The Black Swans talks about making his own critically acclaimed records, producing albums for songwriters who deserve more appreciation, and the musical effects of his move to Texas. This week’s episode is brought to…
Joan Osborne
Sep 18 • 58 min
The celebrated singer and songwriter describes her initial ascent to the top of the charts with her debut album and how she has been able to string together many interesting chapters of her career. This week’s episode is brought to you by…
Spotify 101 for Artists
Sep 11 • 39 min
Michael Sloane, CEO of Streaming Promotions based in Nashville, comes on to talk about best practices for artists using streaming services to distribute their music. This week’s episode is brought to you by Bandzoogle (…
Joe Henry
Sep 4 • 76 min
The acclaimed songwriter and Grammy winning producer joins us to talk about his journey and his creative process. This week’s episode is brought to you by Bandzoogle ( and Coresound ()
Jonny Fritz
Aug 28 • 61 min
After a remembrance of the late Justin Townes Earle, we hear from this multi-talented songwriter from Los Angeles by way of Virginia.
Robert Ellis returns
Aug 21 • 44 min
The Texas Piano Man returns to our show to share his unique insight, humor, and good cheer.
John Craigie
Aug 14 • 57 min
This troubadour based in Portland OR has carved out a national audience for his heartfelt, wry folk songs. He speaks about crafting his shows, keeping them fresh night to night, and recording albums in an unconventional way.
Lucinda Williams
Aug 7 • 60 min
One of America’s greatest songwriters graces the airwaves of our show to talk about her prolific catalog and her legendary career.
Save our Stages Act - Emergency Episode
Aug 5 • 22 min
Dayna Frank, the head of the National Independent Venue Association and CEO of First Avenue in Minneapolis, discusses the impact that Coronavirus has had on the live music industry and about a bill co-sponsored by senators Amy Klobuchar (D- MN) and…
Samantha Crain
Jul 31 • 61 min
This native troubadour of Oklahoma discusses her DIY beginnings, tour burnout, and drawing inspiration from working in different mediums.
Will Hoge
Jul 24 • 63 min
The troubadour from Tennessee discusses his career, from his early years with Atlantic Records to his later career renaissance as an in demand songwriter in Nashville.
David Ramirez
Jul 17 • 53 min
This Austin Texas based troubadour stops by to reminisce about a tour that we did together in a blizzard, booking his in tours in the early days, and rediscovering a freer mindset for writing.
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Jul 10 • 60 min
The Texas music icon talks his early days in the outlaw Austin folk scene and his latest star-studded release on Big Machine Records.
Kathleen Edwards
Jul 3 • 59 min
The Ottawa native makes a triumphant return to music after a 6 year hiatus and stops by our show to talk about her journey so far.
The Lone Bellow
Jun 26 • 54 min
Zach Williams of this critically acclaimed indie-folk outfit talks getting started in NYC in the early aughts, what it felt like to break out onto the national stage, and writing on the road.
The Devil Makes Three
Jun 19 • 56 min
Pete Bernhard of The Devil Makes Three, a folk and bluegrass powerhouse going on two decades, stops by to talk touring, keeping a creative group together, and the making of his new solo album “Harmony Ascension Division”.
Sarah Jarosz
Jun 12 • 61 min
The multiple-time Grammy winner and bluegrass virtuoso from Wimberely TX stops by to talk songwriting and musicianship.
The Band of Heathens
Jun 5 • 64 min
Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist, the creative forces behind this Austin TX Rock and Roll institution, talk about learning how to record albums with a feeling, co-writing with Kid Rock and Bob Seger, and keeping a creative partnership going for over a decade.
Daniel Donato
May 29 • 55 min
One of Nashville’s most promising young guitarists steps centerstage with songs and a band of his own, Daniel stops by our program to talk about the decision to strike out on his own, touring, managing a band, and learning his craft on lower Broadway.
The Mastersons
May 22 • 50 min
After having both spent years as sought-after musicians playing for Steve Earle, Regina Spektor, and Son Volt, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore have stepped into the spotlight as a duo that is at the vanguard of Americana music.
Field Report
May 15 • 61 min
Chris Porterfield discusses the process behind his modern folk songwriting, releasing a record with a major label, and the nuances of being a band leader
Shane McAnally
May 8 • 58 min
The writer of 40 Number One hits, three time Grammy winner, and star of NBC’s “Songland” joins us to talk about his circuitous route to the top of Nashville.
American Aquarium returns
May 1 • 55 min
BJ Barham, the creative force behind American Aquarium, stops by to talk about putting an entirely new band together, learning to balance the demands of music and fatherhood, and making his new album with Shooter Jennings in Los Angeles.
Josh Ritter plus Jay Sweet of NFF
Apr 24 • 49 min
Josh talks about his time opening for the late, great John Prine. And Jay Sweet, the executive producer of the Newport Folk Festival, talks about how the festival is helping its alumni in the unprecedented time of coronavirus.
Michaela Anne
Apr 17 • 55 min
The critically acclaimed country songwriter stops by to talk about growing up in a military family, studying jazz performance at the New School, and learning the business at Nonesuch Records before striking out on her own.
Hiss Golden Messenger returns
Apr 10 • 54 min
We begin with a remembrance of John Prine and then continue with our second interview with HGM’s creative force, MC Taylor.
John Paul White returns
Apr 3 • 51 min
The insightful Alabamian returns to discuss leaving the road for the COVID crisis, starting another project in the age of white-noise, and making music for different reasons as he’s gotten older.
Todd Snider
Mar 27 • 64 min
The quintessential 21st century working songwriter joins our show. Todd has made his home in East Nashville for the last 25 years, he tours the nation relentlessly, and has become a folk music institution.
Erin Rae
Feb 28 • 57 min
This Nashville by way of Jackson, TN songwriter discusses honing her craft, finding inspiration, and meshing with creative partners.
Fruit Bats
Jan 31 • 69 min
Eric D. Johnson discusses early days touring with the Shins and Modest Mouse, keeping the faith with a project through high times and low, and learning to write outside of the studio.
Chastity Brown
Jan 3 • 66 min
The renowned folk singer from Minneapolis, by way of Tennessee, discusses finding her voice, becoming a part of the cultural zeitgeist, and taking care of herself in order to create.
Elizabeth Cook
Nov 29, 2019 • 57 min
This native of Wildwood Florida is known for her critically acclaimed albums, her XM radio show, and her frequent appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. She breaks down the early years of her career and persevering through difficult times to make art.
Drew Holcomb
Oct 30, 2019 • 54 min
The troubadour from Nashville by way of Memphis talks touring regionally to build a following, branching out and starting a vinyl subscription service, and how personal tragedy can inform one’s lifelong creative aim.
Nicole Atkins
Sep 27, 2019 • 61 min
The Nashville via New Jersey vocalist and songwriter discusses the turn of the century anti-folk scene in NYC, her major label debut being derailed by legendary producer Rick Rubin, and sobriety.
The Milk Carton Kids
Aug 30, 2019 • 70 min
The harmony duo from California, Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, discuss writing songs for commercials to stay afloat in their early years, touring economically, and the secret that has allowed their intimate creative partnership to flourish for so…
Joe Pug
Jul 18, 2019 • 85 min
Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks flips the tables on Joe Pug and interviews him about his new album “The Flood In Color”. Interspersed are songs from that album.
Langhorne Slim
Jul 12, 2019 • 90 min
The beloved troubadour from PA speaks his mind on managing personal expectations, embracing the fact that people might love older albums, and the profound sense of gratitude he has for music in his life.
Citizen Cope
May 31, 2019 • 61 min
The DC native talks about his early musical influences, struggles with major labels, and his intuitive creative process.
Amanda Palmer
Apr 26, 2019 • 60 min
The former Dresden Dolls front-woman turned solo artist talks about her early years street performing, listening to her audience rather than third party critics, and her role as a pioneer in artistic crowdfunding.
Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket
Mar 29, 2019 • 65 min
The lead guitarist of MMJ is also a singer-songwriter in his own right, with three solo records to his name. He talks about signing to a major with his first band, auditioning for MMJ and then touring just as the band was breaking, and…
Sean McConnell
Feb 22, 2019 • 63 min
The former staff writer for Warner Chappell has stepped centerstage with a solo career, discusses what the feeling of charting a #1 hit, home recording, and the pros/cons of co-writing.
Craig Finn
Jan 29, 2019 • 66 min
The Hold Steady frontman talks about making a life-changing move in his late 20s, the legendary Minneapolis music scene, and his daily writing process.
Jesse Dayton
Dec 28, 2018 • 76 min
The Beaumont native discusses playing studio sessions for Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, the balance of having his own band and playing for other people, and the simplicity that he’s always chasing as a songwriter.
Courtney Marie Andrews
Nov 30, 2018 • 61 min
The acclaimed songwriter from Phoenix talks about touring as a backup musician, producing her own breakout album, and her love of the road.
Birds of Chicago
Oct 26, 2018 • 64 min
The husband and wife folk/soul duo now residing in Nashville talk vocal maintenance, plumbing subconscious depths for material, and learning to tour smart.
Ian Mackaye
Sep 28, 2018 • 77 min
The founding member of Minor Threat, Fugazi, and Dischord records sits down to talk about the mild “writer’s block” that parenthood can usher in, the reality of not being able to control people’s interpretation of songs once they’re released, and the…
John Moreland
Aug 31, 2018 • 63 min
The Tulsa troubadour describes his transition from hardcore music to folk, how to put on a compelling live show solo, and staying inspired even when the creative process is painful.
“Music Modernization Act” Emergency Episode
Aug 1, 2018 • 31 min
The “Music Modernization Act”, which has enormous consequences for how songwriters and copyright holders will be compensated for streaming music, passed the US House of Reps unanimously but is now hamstrung in the Senate due to an eleventh hour change…
Hiss Golden Messenger
Jul 27, 2018 • 58 min
MC Taylor is the songwriter behind this Durham-based outfit. He talks about finding his writing voice over the course of several different projects, working with a long-time collaborator, and developing less encumbered music listening…
Lee Ann Womack
Jun 29, 2018 • 38 min
One of Nashville’s favorite daughters, by way of Jacksonville Texas, discusses arriving for writing appointments with children in tow, finding song inspiration in everyday conversation, and dealing with the success of an international…
Trampled By Turtles
May 25, 2018 • 61 min
Dave Simonett, songwriter and founding member of the Minnesota bluegrass powerhouse TBT, talks about the mania of touring in your 20s, keeping a band together through the power of respect, and techniques he uses to keep himself inspired.
Brian Koppelman
Apr 27, 2018 • 58 min
The screenwriter, essayist, and former A&R man speaks about changing careers with a young family, the need to protect a fledgling project from outside influence, and the discipline of creating.
Gregory Alan Isakov
Apr 4, 2018 • 52 min
The Colorado wordsmith remembers stuffing the cardboard sleeves of his first demo himself, putting off school on a lark to tour with Kelly Joe Phelps, and the joy of sharing the journey with his longtime band.
John Paul White
Feb 23, 2018 • 76 min
As a staff writer for EMI, a member of The Civil Wars, and now the owner of his own independent label, he’s seen a lot. John Paul White stops by to share his wisdom on creativity and performance. Plus, Brendan Anthony- the head of the…
The Killers
Jan 26, 2018 • 36 min
The Killers frontman discusses a meteoric rise to prominence in his early 20s, the feeling of responsibility that he’s developed toward music, and writing songs on the dodgy upright piano in his house instead of the baby grand in his studio.
Lydia Loveless
Dec 29, 2017 • 59 min
The Ohio native discusses her passion for classic country, capturing the vitality of live performance on a record, and her habit of constantly collecting material for writing.
Mandolin Orange
Nov 24, 2017 • 58 min
This lyric-driven Bluegrass outfit discusses the perils of booking their own shows, signing with Yep Roc, and the art of arranging a band around great songs.
Steve Earle
Oct 27, 2017 • 58 min
The hardcore troubadour talks about his early days in Nashville as a staff writer, empathy as the essential goal of the songwriter, and gratitude for the job he loves.
Josh Ritter
Sep 29, 2017 • 60 min
The troubadour from Idaho discusses getting his break in Ireland, early years of van touring in the States, and writing on an empty stomach.
Pat Sansone
Aug 25, 2017 • 40 min
The creative force behind The Autumn Defense and a longtime member of Wilco discusses growing up in a musical household, playing punk bars in the American south, and locking himself in the studio to get a song finished.
Shakey Graves
Aug 4, 2017 • 55 min
Born and raised in Austin Texas, Alejandro Rose-Garcia is an internationally celebrated songwriter and performer. He sits down to discuss his upbringing in a theatrical household, learning to record on a shoestring, and walking away from a budding film…
Matthew Logan Vasquez
Jun 30, 2017 • 58 min
The frontman for Delta Spirit and now a formidable solo artist talks about playing music in the church, pulling a full “Tony Clifton” at the Casbah in San Diego, and how fatherhood has informed his latest album.
Robert Ellis
May 23, 2017 • 63 min
The Texas songwriter and bandleader discusses dropping out of high school to play music, his passion for idiosyncrasy when it comes to band members, and his regimented writing process.
Heartless Bastards
Apr 28, 2017 • 61 min
Erika Wennerstrom, the creative force behind Heartless Bastards, discusses growing up in Dayton Ohio, signing to Fat Possum Records, and her techniques for bringing a song to life.
Noah Gundersen
Mar 31, 2017 • 63 min
The Seattle-based songwriter talks about holding down dead-end jobs to continue playing music, the myth of the flighty artist, and the process for composing his upcoming album.
Strand of Oaks
Feb 24, 2017 • 62 min
Timothy Showalter, the leader of this Philadelphia psych-rock-folk project, sits down to talk about growing up in small-town Indiana, how the radio shaped his sound, and learning how to maintain a private and public persona.
Sara Watkins
Jan 27, 2017 • 59 min
The southern California native reflects on her prolific career in bluegrass and beyond, with groups such as Nickel Creek, I’m With Her, and The Watkins Family Hour.
Horse Feathers
Dec 30, 2016 • 58 min
The leader of this chamber folk group, Justin Ringle, talks about learning to love Spotify, touring for the first time, and how he uses the studio to augment his writing process.
American Aquarium
Nov 25, 2016 • 51 min
The force behind American Aquarium, BJ Barham, discusses growing up in Lucky Strike’s company town, being accepted by the Texas Red Dirt community, and how to keep a band on the road for a decade.
Kasey Chambers
Oct 28, 2016 • 59 min
The Queen of Australian Country Music discusses her childhood in the outback, a Lucinda Williams concert that changed her life, and the tipping point of composing a song.
Hayes Carll
Sep 30, 2016 • 60 min
The laid-back writer of modern country gems such “Beaumont”, “Chances Are” and, of course, “She Left Me For Jesus” joins the show to talk about sitting at the feet of Guy Clark, picking up merch from Beyonce’s dad, and steering the direction of his…
Bruce Robison
Aug 26, 2016 • 61 min
This native Texan is the writer of #1 country music hits for Tim McGraw, The Dixie Chicks, and George Strait. He sat down to talk about the art of writing without an agenda, the Texas-Nashville connection, and his love for analog recording.
Robbie Fulks
Jul 29, 2016 • 63 min
A linchpin in Chicago’s vibrant folk and country for decades, Robbie reflects on the major label blues, recording techniques, and falling in love with music for the first time.
Tift Merritt
Jun 24, 2016 • 66 min
The Grammy-nominated songwriter from Raleigh, North Carolina reflects on her time in the studio and out on the road.
Slaid Cleaves
May 27, 2016 • 56 min
Originally from South Berwick Maine, the legendary songwriter has lived in Texas for the last couple decades. He reflects on getting his start engineering sound at The Cactus Cafe and learning from music producer Gurf Morlix.
Anais Mitchell
Apr 29, 2016 • 67 min
The Vermont-born songsmith reflects on signing to Righteous Babe, writing her celebrated folk opera “Hadestown”, and parenthood as a working artist.
James McMurtry
Mar 25, 2016 • 56 min
An hourlong conversation with celebrated songwriter, James McMurtry.
Joe Ely
Dec 28, 2015 • 61 min
The Texas icon inaugurates our show with a few stories from his many years on the road.