Archive for the ‘News’ Category

NewSong Announces Red Jacket as its 2014 Presenting Sponsor.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

13th Annual NewSong Contest

Red Jacket Orchards


Red Jacket Announced as 2014 NewSong Music Presenting Sponsor.


“An Independent Farm Supporting Independent Music


Asheville, NC – NewSong Music is pleased to announce Red Jacket, the independently owned and award-winning orchard and juice maker, as the presenting sponsor of its 2014 programs. Located in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York State along the rolling hills of Seneca Lake, Red Jacket Orchards is owned and operated by the second and third generations of the Nicholson family.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership,” said NewSong co-founder and director Gar Ragland. “Red Jacket’s approach to its farming and business practices really resonates with what we’re working to accomplish with NewSong. Its focus on quality, integrity, community and sustainability are principles that translate directly to the music and artists we strive to showcase and celebrate across our programs.”

Red Jacket’s fresh cold pressed, unfiltered juices can be found at Whole Foods, Fairway, Wegmans and other fine grocers across the country.

Red Jacket Orchards operates year-round and has been growing and selling fresh fruit since 1958. Their widely popular cold pressed all-natural juices, which genuinely taste just like the fruit they’re pressed from, are available at retail stores across the country. New Yorkers can find their fresh produce and friendly staff perennial staples at NYC Greenmarkets across the five boroughs. Red Jacket’s juices are unfiltered and cloudy in appearance because they contain a nutrient punch of soluble fibers, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

“Sponsoring NewSong is an opportunity for Red Jacket Orchards to work with an organization that is founded upon the very same values our brand stands for,” said Brian Nicholson, a third-generation owner of Red Jacket.  “Just as NewSong is committed to the quality, sustainability and community of its music programs, Red Jacket Orchards hopes to provide the same for its customers.”

As NewSong’s partner, Red Jacket is the presenting sponsor of this year’s 13th annual NewSong Contest, its international performance and songwriting competition and showcase, as well as this July’s six date NewSong Music concert series in New York City. Produced in collaboration with New York’s Arts Brookfield, the free lunchtime concert series will take place at the Grace Building Plaza in midtown and at lower Manhattan’s One New York Plaza. At each event, Red Jacket Orchards will be offering free samples of its fresh juices to thirsty concertgoers.

About NewSong Music
NewSong is an independent music and artist development organization founded in 2001 and now based in Asheville, NC.

NewSong’s mission is to build and support a community of performers & songwriters across all genres and skill levels, introducing their music to a broader international audience. Its programs include a record label (NewSong Recordings), management services, concert curation and promotion, and the annual NewSong Contest, its international performance and songwriting competition and showcase now in its thirteenth year. NewSong’s partners include New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, NPR’s Mountain Stage, Moog Music and the ASCAP Music Café at Sundance.

About Red Jacket Orchards
Operated by the Nicholson family since 1958, Red Jacket has grown from a roadside retailer to a producer of delicious fine fresh fruits and juices. Today the Nicholson family grows on over 600 acres and makes award winning juices using environmentally sensitive methods.

To obtain additional Red Jacket Orchards press materials please contact Nancy Trent or Pamela Wadler at 212-966-0024 or

To obtain additional information on NewSong Music and any of its programs, please contact Ryan Cook at (904) 343-9775 or

LEAF Festival And NewSong Music Partner to Produce the First Annual LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition

Monday, March 3rd, 2014


Wednesday, March 4. Asheville, NC. LEAF Festival and NewSong Music are proud to announce the first annual NewSong Presents: LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition!  With a mission to empower singer-songwriters locally, regionally and nationally, LEAF and NewSong have joined forces to find the very best talent. 

The contest begins accepting online mp3 submissions today (March 4), and the final deadline to enter is Monday, April 7. Judges will select 7 finalists from the online submissions, who will then be invited to perform in the live performance finals that the Spring LEAF Festival on Saturday, May 10, 2014. 







Additionally, Asheville Music Hall’s local Brown Bag Singer-Songwriter competition winner will join LEAF as the eighth finalist! The overall winner of the competition will be selected by a panel of judges at the finals, and awarded a performing artist position in Fall LEAF Festival Oct 16-19! 

All eight finalists will each receive two complimentary LEAF Festival day passes for Saturday, May 10 to perform in the live performance finals.

The LEAF Singer-Songwriter contest was created as a platform for Artists who have a wealth of talent, but limited access to the big stage.  The goal is to provide a springboard for Singer-Songwriters everywhere – to share art, shine on stage, and become household names within the LEAF, NewSong, and greater music community.

The cost to enter is $20 for one song, $35 for two songs, and $45 for three songs. Enter safely and securely online at A portion of the contest proceeds will support the LEAF Schools and Streets program. 

“One of the greatest gifts we have to offer is our music and our story.  The NewSong Presents: LEAF Singer Songwriter Competition gives musicians everywhere an opportunity to share their journey within an amazing setting, surrounded by an incredibly supportive community, for an opportunity to elevate their craft to the Big Stage!” ~ Ehren Cruz, LEAF Performing Arts Director

“It’s a great honor to partner with LEAF to co-produce their first singer-songwriter competition. The LEAF experience is so special and unique among music and arts festivals, and an ideal environment to introduce deserving emerging artists to an appreciative and supportive audience.” ~ Gar Ragland, NewSong Director & Co-founder


About LEAF

LEAF Community Arts is a non-profit organization in which all donations and festival profit goes towards music and arts education programming locally and globally.  Since 2004 we have served over 41,000 youth with programs in over 15 community locations and in 10 countries worldwide. Attendance at LEAF Festival not only provides an amazing weekend experience for your friends and family, but supports those without opportunity to live their dreams through music and arts.


About NewSong Music

 NewSong Music is an independent artist development company headquartered at Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain Recording Studios. 

NewSong’s mission is to build and support a community of performers and songwriters across all genres and levels of skill, and to identify the truly exceptional artists to introduce their music to a broader, international audience. 

Its programs include a record label (NewSong Recordings), management services, concert curation and the annual NewSong performance and songwriting competition. Its presenting partners include Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, NPR’s Mountain Stage and the ASCAP Music Café at the Sundance Film Festival.


Important Contest Dates

 Tuesday, March 4 – Contest opens for entries online at 

Monday, April 7 – Final deadline to submit online 

Monday, April 21 – Finalists announced 

Saturday, May 10 – Live performance finals at the LEAF Festival (May 8-11)* 

  • All finalists will receive two LEAF Festival day passes to perform in the finals on Saturday, May 10.




Cardinal Sons & Charlie Sexton arrive at Echo Mountain Recording to record Grand Prize EP

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014


Grand prize NewSong Contest winners Cardinal Sons and producer, musician Charlie Sexton arrive in Asheville to record EP at Echo Mountain Recording.


Tune in this afternoon (Sunday, March 2) at 4:00 PM Eastern for a free live stream of the Echo Sessions: Cardinal Sons.

Sunday, March 2. Asheville, NC. New Orleans trio of three brothers the Cardinal Sons are the 2013 grand prize winners of the NewSong Contest. Today, they begin recording their grand prize EP here at Echo Mountain Recording with producer and musician Charlie Sexton.

To celebrate the launch of the recording, NewSong has partnered with IAMAVL to offer a free live stream concert this afternoon at 4 PM Eastern from the studio. To tune in, visit

Cardinal Sons
NewSong Music Echo Mtn Recording
IAMAVL charlie sexton





NewSong Partners

The 2014 NewSong Contest Opens March 1!

Friday, February 7th, 2014



Friday, February 7. Asheville, NC. NewSong Music, producers of the annual, international NewSong performance and songwriting competition, announced today that the 2014 NewSong Contest will  open for entries on Saturday, March 1. Details to follow.

2013 NewSong Contest Winners the Cardinal Sons to play New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Congratulations to last year’s NewSong Contest grand prize winner the Cardinal Sons! It was recently announced that they’re on the bill of the 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. They’ll be performing on May 2nd.  

CardinalSonsAbout the Cardinal Sons: 

Balancing crunchy organ and guitar with steady-cadenced drums, the three brothers of Cardinal Sons cultivate a sound steeped in the musical identity of their upbringing. Made in Mississippi, later moving deeper south — John, Joe, and Dave play loud, folky pop leavened with three-part harmonies and a left hand for a bass player.

In the summer of 2012, Joe and Dave’s shared musical effort went into hibernation. Older brother John, hell-bent on seeing his brothers’ progression, decided to begin writing songs himself, forming a new band of brothers that laid latent all along. Their debut recording Cardinal Sons Make an EP honors the straightforward, whole-souled creative process that took root among them early on. 

With the release of the EP came endearing videos, including  ”October Rolls,” Young Guns and Underdressed, an unmistakable dynamic and a quirky, but candid preview of themselves. Content reigns king with Cardinal Sons, as 2013 brings new videos, new recordings, and some memorable performances – inviting audiences into the family.

 For more information about the Cardinal Sons, click here.  

Chris Velan’s The Long Goodbye Makes the Dirty Impound 25 Favorite Album list of 2013

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Congrats to NewSong Recordings artist, Chris Velan, whose most recent album The Long Goodbye was selected by as one of Dirty Impound‘s 25 Favorite Albums of 2013The album was produced and mixed by Iestyn Polson at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording Studios.

Here’s what they had to say about it: 

Chris VelanThe Long Goodbye


As exposed and brave as Joni Mitchell’s Blue or Elliott Smith’s Either/Or, the latest offering from Canadian songsmith Chris Velan tackles the tough but all too common experience of really, really loving someone and realizing you’re not the one for them. Where most of us crawl away to hide in the shadows, Velan took his guitar and notebook to scribble down some wisdom and helpful reflection from within the worst of times. To love and not be loved in return – at least not on the same level – is a pain worse than most blades or bullets can produce. But there is a balm in music that directly addresses the confusion, the lingering I-want-the-best-for-you ache, and undeniable hurt and sadness at knowing that despite one’s best efforts there’s no way to chisel one’s self into something other than what they are. The Long Goodbye is a succinct, beautifully drawn work that may well help folks move on from such hurts and hampering history. (DI Interview with Truth & Salvage Co.)

 The album is in good company here; other albums on the list include releases by Akron/Family, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Jason Isbell and Hiss Golden Messenger. “I’m punching above my weight on this list of truly amazing releases,” said Velan. “If you enjoy top-notch music writing and want to hear what gems you might have missed this past year (as I’m realizing, going through this list), you’ll want to check out this curatorial gift from Dennis Cook.”

See the full list of 25 albums here

2013 NewSong Contest Winner The Cardinal Sons Perform at Sundance Film Festival’s ASCAP Music Café

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

CardinalSonsNew Orleans based Cardinal Sons will perform at Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 as a part of their Grand Prize Winning package from the 2013 NewSong Contest.  

As winners, they will also receive recording time at Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain Recording Studios with producer, musician, and songwriter Charlie Sexton, and will perform on NPR’s Mountain Stage Show.  

Other prizes include a Little Phatty analog synthesizer from Moog Music, and a handcrafted, made-to-fit Sonus Musician’s Chair from Brian Boggs Chairmakers in Asheville, NC.

Sundance ASCAP Music Café

The Sundance Film Festival presents the Sundance ASCAP Music Café, a dynamic showcase dedicated to exceptional live performances of new, emerging and established talent. Stop in during the day to hear a range of exciting songwriters and artists from across the musical spectrum in a program produced by ASCAP.

Back for a second year, check out select evenings of official Festival music programming as the Music Café presents Night Sessions. These special evenings feature a broad range of unique live performances that will provide the chance for music fans to experience their favorite Festival artists in a more intimate and personal setting. 

For more information about Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe, Click Here.

For music, videos, and more info about the Cardinal Sons, Click Here. 



PASTE Premieres David Berkeley’s New EP “Lincoln Center Live” – out 12.20 via NewSong Music

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

For Immediate Release:

“Berkeley sings in a lustrous melancholy voice with shades of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake … as his melodies ascend to become benedictions and consolations, the music shimmers and peals.” – The New York Times

“Berkeley crafts his songs like watercolor paintings. Intimate and introspective, his gentle yet colorful melodies are graceful and resonate long after the last note fades.”  – Creative Loafing, Atlanta


 New York, NY – December 19, 2013

NewSong Music is proud to announce the December 20th release of a digital EP from David Berkeley’s concert at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium. The fine folks at Paste have an exclusive premier of the record in its entirety, which can be heard right here:

DB-LC-LIVE-POSTER v10Lincoln Center Live, performed at the close of 2012 to a full house, features songs drawn from Berkeley’s five critically acclaimed studio albums. Known for his emotional, intimate and inspiring performances, Berkeley was also at his comic best that night, and several moments of his unique repartee are showcased on Lincoln Center Live.


This is only the second official live release from the veteran songwriter, and for those familiar with the magic of Berkeley’s performances it comes none too soon. NewSong’s executive director Gar Ragland produced and mixed this collection, highlighting Berkeley’s vocals and finger picking guitar style and the ethereal guitar work of Berkeley’s longtime sideman Bill Titus.

As with all of his recordings, Berkeley’s elegiac, insightful lyrics take center stage. His gift as a songwriter and storyteller is that he manages to both reveal the sorrow at the heart of the human condition and the blazing joy and beauty in the same. It’s a duality that audiences experience at all of Berkeley’s shows as he tells uproarious stories between heartbreaking songs. His deft way with words prompted the San Francisco Chronicle to dub him a “musical poet.” 

 Lincoln Center Live is available through the NewSong Recordings site, allowing listeners to pay what they wish for a download. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation and its efforts to combat the effects of poverty in New York City. Included in the download of the EP is a beautiful, seven page digital pdf booklet, complete with song lyrics, photographs of that night’s performance and liner notes by music writer and critic Lee Zimmerman.

 “Nearly one year ago to the day, David performed in the series we curate at Lincoln Center,” said Ragland. “This was not too long after the back-to-back tragedies of Newtown and Sandy. David’s performance that night struck me as a salve of sorts, offering equal doses of comfort, gravity and levity. Our aim with this release is to share that experience with a larger audience, and to help support and promote the inspiring work this holiday season of the Robin Hood Foundation, which provides support to those most in need in the New York City area.”


About David Berkeley:

Recently featured on Public Radio International’s This American Life, The Huffington Post, Mountain Stage, Acoustic Cafe, and Art of the Song, David Berkeley has opened/toured with Adele, Mumford & Sons, Ben Folds, Don McLean, Ray LaMontagne, Nickel Creek, Michelle Shocked, Ollabelle, Dido, Rufus Wainwright and many more. Berkeley is the recipient of ASCAP’s Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award.

In addition to Berkeley’s studio releases, he penned a memoir titled 140 Goats and a Guitar, which accompanied his 2011 album Some Kind of Cure. Both written during the year Berkeley lived in a remote village of only 35 people on the island of Corsica, Goats tells thirteen stories, which led to the writing of the album’s thirteen songs. Within months of arriving in new home Santa Fe – his sixth in as many years – and still overwhelmed by the palette of reds and browns and the endless open sky, Berkeley wrote and recorded The Fire in My Head, his most haunting and personal songs to date. He is currently finishing his second book, and as with Goats, Berkeley is writing a song to accompany each story.


About NewSong Music:

NewSong is an independent music and artist development company founded in 2001 and now based in Asheville, NC. NewSong’s mission is to build and support a community of performers and songwriters across all genres and skill levels, introducing their music to a broader international audience.


For further information, interviews, photos etc., contact Ever Kipp


New Orleans’ Cardinal Sons win grand prize of the 12th Annual Mountain Stage NewSong Contest

Monday, October 21st, 2013


Mountain Stage NewSong Contest


New Orleans’ the Cardinal Sons win grand prize of the 12th Annual Mountain Stage NewSong Contest.

Monday, October 21. New York, NY. New Orleans-based band of brothers the Cardinal Sons were awarded the top honor in the 2013 Mountain Stage NewSong Contest Finals, held this past Saturday at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium in New York City.

Despite very strong performances and compelling original material presented by all ten finalists, the Cardinal Sons – led by frontman and oldest brother John Shirley – were announced this year’s grand prize winner.

Cardinal Sons

The Cardinal Sons. From left to right, brothers Joe, John and Dave Shirley performing an encore at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium on Saturday night, after being announced this year’s grand prize winner of the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest.


As winners, they’ll soon head into the studio at Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain Recording with producer, musician and songwriter Charlie Sexton to make a new record, which will be released by NewSong Recordings.

They’ll also return to New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to play their own show, as well as perform at the Sundance Film Festival’s ASCAP Music Café and appear on NPR’s Mountain Stage show.

Other prizes include a Little Phatty analog synthesizer from Moog Music, and a handcrafted, made-to-fit Sonus Musician’s Chair from Brian Boggs Chairmakers in Asheville, NC.

“It was a complete shock when our name was called. There were so many talented artists in this competition and it’s quite surreal that we were chosen,” said Shirley. “We’re really excited about working at Echo Mountain with Charlie Sexton and making some killer music. We’re just really lucky to be a part of this and to win is unbelievable.”

Charlie Sexton video to

Charlie Sexton was unable to judge the finals due to a touring conflict in Europe with Bob Dylan. Here’s the video message he sent to the audience and finalists at this past Saturday’s NewSong Contest finals at Lincoln Center.

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, the Cardinal Sons are brothers John (guitar, vocals), Joe (piano, vocals) and Dave Shirley (drums, vocals). As contest rules allow no more than two performers per act in the finals, the youngest brother Dave had to watch his brothers from the crowd. When the announcement of the winner was made, he was then invited by NewSong Director Gar Ragland to join his brothers on stage for a two-song, full band encore.

The Cardinal Sons were one of five finalists selected by the judges in the afternoon semifinal round to advance to the evening award round set, where they were joined by artists Eliot Bronson (Atlanta, GA), Breagh Mackinnon (Sydney, Nova Scotia), Clarence Bucaro (Brooklyn, NY) and Boris McCutcheon (Albuquerque, NM).

This year’s judges were NewSong Director Gar Ragland, ASCAP’s Marc Emert-Hutner, Lincoln Center’s Jill Sternheimer and Jerimaya Grabher and JW Johnson, the managers of Charlie Sexton, who is currently in Europe on tour with Bob Dylan and was unable to attend.




NewSong Partners


NewSong Contest Finalist Q&A: Boris McCutcheon

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
boris-mccutcheon1This is a truly inspiring and insightful interview from NewSong Contest finalist Boris McCutcheon.  We are honored to have Boris as a part of the contest and look forward to all of the finalists performing on October 19th at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in NYC.  
1. From reading your bio, it is clear that you draw a significant amount of your songwriting inspiration from the landscape that surrounds your home in New Mexico, and from your experiences throughout the US.  What is it about natural beauty that drives you to write music? 
Deep connection to the woods is something that has always saved me when I was angry or felt like an outcast, which was a lot in my childhood. Sometimes I am more sensitive to the changes of the seasons and to the voice of the land. This latest album was inspired by a very intense fall in New Mexico from a rush of impending upheaval in my off-the-grid existence.  There were underpinnings happening in my life and maybe I was also reacting to a force that was coming to me directly from the earth itself. It always runs the risk of sounding cheesy, but it is true and my music is written by it sometimes. It writes itself. I just try to capture it.
2. How would you describe your experience as a NewSong Contest Regional Finalist? What similarities and connections, if any, did you find between your music and the music of other artists in your region? To other finalists who will join you at the finals in New York in October?
I am touched and honored to have been selected. In New Mexico, I have been praised and shown support for this accomplishment. Folks have expressed their excitement and relief that my songs might possibly reach a greater audience in the States. Someone even went as far as to write a magazine article about my music going to New York as a mystical earth prophecy. To be honest I have been too busy to even check the other finalists out. I will try and make sure that I do.
3. You started out as a poet but then switched to songwriting – what was that transition like? It seem they would be very connected.  What are the similarities you see? Differences?

I discovered in high school that I could express myself well with poetry. A woman came to the school and did a workshop and I was blown away by her. I wrote endlessly for that entire year and then became the poetry editor for our high school literary magazine. I was pretty cocky and thought myself a lot better than I actually was. However, this false sense of confidence got me into College in Vermont and then later into University of California at Santa Cruz. I could not keep up with the workload and found myself more and more creating songs from my poetry. It took me a long time to understand how to write a good song and how more disciplined the process can be than a stream of consciousness outpouring. I also discovered I could reach more people with song.

4. Lincoln Center is widely renowned as one of the world’s greatest venues for the performing arts.  With the NewSong Contest live performance finals taking place on Oct 19th, what does the opportunity to perform at Lincoln Center mean to you?
Thank God I had the sense this time to invite Salt Lick member Susan Holmes on upright bass. I wanted to take her last time but I was too broke and was having a second baby with my wife Laura. (Hectic wonderful times.) Looking back I was so damn nervous to be playing first I did not play as well as I should have. Once again, I am pleased as can be and proud to perform some good songs with the bonus of bringing one of the finest bass players in the Southwest. What can I say? It’s about damn time we played there. I will enjoy it and tell my children about it. I am lucky and honored and feel like I have a mission of some kind not yet revealed altogether.