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The Working Songwriter

86 EpisodesProduced by Joe PugWebsite

Joe Pug hosts a monthly conversation with one of today's best songwriters.

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Will Johnson

November 20th, 2020


The Texas native and creative force behind Centro-Matic talks about his early years in Denton, his collaboration with Jason Molina, and his decision …

Aoife O'Donovan

November 13th, 2020


This Grammy winning singer-songwriter has had a long, varied, and acclaimed career with Crooked Still, I'm With Her, and her own solo work.

Aaron Lee Tasjan

November 6th, 2020


The Ohio native describes his journey from guitarist in Drivin' and Cryin' and the New York Dolls to finding success writing songs under his own name.

Kendell Marvel

October 30th, 2020


After a legendary career as a professional songwriter in Nashville, notably alongside Chris Stapleton, this Illinois native is now stepping center stage as an artist with a new album produced by Dan Auerbach.


October 23rd, 2020


Afie Jurvanen, the creative force behind this beloved indie-folk outfit, discusses creative partnerships, the magic of finding the right take in the …

Lera Lynn

October 16th, 2020


The Georgia native talks about getting her start in the Athens music scene, collaborating with Roseanne Cash, and running her business independently.

Kevin Morby

October 9th, 2020


The Kansas City bred songwriter tells the story of his journey toward his distinctive brand of indie rock.

Strand of Oaks returns

October 2nd, 2020


The Austin by way of Philadelphia rocker returns to the show to talk touring, writing, and recording.

Jerry David Decicca

September 25th, 2020


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.

Joan Osborne

September 18th, 2020


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 …

Spotify 101 for Artists

September 11th, 2020


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

September 4th, 2020


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

August 29th, 2020


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

August 21st, 2020


The Texas Piano Man returns to our show to share his unique insight, humor, and good cheer.

John Craigie

August 14th, 2020


This troubadour based in Portland OR has carved out a national audience for his heartfelt, wry folk songs.  He speaks about crafting his shows, …

Lucinda Williams

August 7th, 2020


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

August 5th, 2020


Dayna Frank, the head of the National Independent Venue Association and CEO of First Avenue in Minneapolis, discusses the impact that Coronavirus has …

Samantha Crain

July 31st, 2020


This native troubadour of Oklahoma discusses her DIY beginnings, tour burnout, and drawing inspiration from working in different mediums.

Will Hoge

July 24th, 2020


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

July 17th, 2020


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

July 10th, 2020


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

July 3rd, 2020


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

June 26th, 2020


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 Devil Makes Three

June 19th, 2020


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 …

Sarah Jarosz

June 12th, 2020


The multiple-time Grammy winner and bluegrass virtuoso from Wimberely TX stops by to talk songwriting and musicianship.

The Band of Heathens

June 5th, 2020


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 …

Daniel Donato

May 29th, 2020


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 …

The Mastersons

May 22nd, 2020


After having both spent years as sought-after musicians playing for Steve Earle, Regina Spektor, and Son Volt, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore …

Field Report

May 15th, 2020


Chris Porterfield discusses the process behind his modern folk songwriting, releasing a record with a major label, and the nuances of being a band …

Shane McAnally

May 8th, 2020


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 1st, 2020


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 …

Josh Ritter plus Jay Sweet of NFF

April 24th, 2020


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 …

Michaela Anne

April 17th, 2020


The critically acclaimed country songwriter stops by to talk about growing up in a military family, studying jazz performance at the New School, and …

Hiss Golden Messenger returns

April 10th, 2020


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

April 3rd, 2020


The insightful Alabamian returns to discuss leaving the road for the COVID crisis, starting another project in the age of white-noise, and making …

Todd Snider

March 27th, 2020


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 …

Erin Rae

February 29th, 2020


This Nashville by way of Jackson, TN songwriter discusses honing her craft, finding inspiration, and meshing with creative partners.

Fruit Bats

January 31st, 2020


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

January 3rd, 2020


The renowned folk singer from Minneapolis, by way of Tennessee, discusses finding her voice, becoming a part of the cultural zeitgeist, and taking …

Elizabeth Cook

November 29th, 2019


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 …

Drew Holcomb

October 30th, 2019


The troubadour from Nashville by way of Memphis talks touring regionally to build a following, branching out and starting a vinyl subscription …

Nicole Atkins

September 27th, 2019


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 …

The Milk Carton Kids

August 30th, 2019


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 …

Joe Pug

July 19th, 2019


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 …

Langhorne Slim

July 12th, 2019


The beloved troubadour from PA speaks his mind on managing personal expectations, embracing the fact that people might love older albums, and the …

Citizen Cope

May 31st, 2019


The DC native talks about his early musical influences, struggles with major labels, and his intuitive creative process.

Amanda Palmer

April 26th, 2019


The former Dresden Dolls front-woman turned solo artist talks about her early years street performing, listening to her audience rather than third …

Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket

March 29th, 2019


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 …

Sean McConnell

February 22nd, 2019


The former staff writer for Warner Chappell has stepped centerstage with a solo career, discusses what the feeling of charting a #1 hit, home …

Craig Finn

January 29th, 2019


The Hold Steady frontman talks about making a life-changing move in his late 20s, the legendary Minneapolis music scene, and his daily writing …

Jesse Dayton

December 28th, 2018


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

November 30th, 2018


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

October 26th, 2018


The husband and wife folk/soul duo now residing in Nashville talk vocal maintenance, plumbing subconscious depths for material, and learning to tour …

Ian Mackaye

September 28th, 2018


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 …

John Moreland

August 31st, 2018


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 …

"Music Modernization Act" Emergency Episode

August 1st, 2018


The "Music Modernization Act", which has enormous consequences for how songwriters and copyright holders will be compensated for streaming music, …

Hiss Golden Messenger

July 28th, 2018


MC Taylor is the songwriter behind this Durham-based outfit.  He talks about finding his writing voice over the course of several different projects, …

Lee Ann Womack

June 29th, 2018


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 …

Trampled By Turtles

May 25th, 2018


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 …

Brian Koppelman

April 27th, 2018


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

April 4th, 2018


The Colorado wordsmith remembers stuffing the cardboard sleeves of his first demo himself, putting off school on a lark to tour with Kelly Joe …

John Paul White

February 23rd, 2018


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 …

The Killers

January 26th, 2018


Brandon Flowers 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 …

Lydia Loveless

December 29th, 2017


The Ohio native discusses her passion for classic country, capturing the vitality of live performance on a record, and her habit of constantly …

Mandolin Orange

November 24th, 2017


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

October 27th, 2017


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

September 29th, 2017


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

August 25th, 2017


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 …

Shakey Graves

August 4th, 2017


Born and raised in Austin Texas, Alejandro Rose-Garcia is an internationally celebrated songwriter and performer.  He sits down to discuss his …

Matthew Logan Vasquez

June 30th, 2017


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 …

Robert Ellis

May 23rd, 2017


The Texas songwriter and bandleader discusses dropping out of high school to play music, his passion for idiosyncrasy when it comes to band members, …

Heartless Bastards

April 28th, 2017


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

March 31st, 2017


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 …

Strand of Oaks

February 24th, 2017


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 …

Sara Watkins

January 27th, 2017


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 …

Horse Feathers

December 30th, 2016


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 …

American Aquarium

November 25th, 2016


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

October 28th, 2016


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

September 30th, 2016


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 …

Bruce Robison

August 26th, 2016


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 …

Robbie Fulks

July 29th, 2016


A linchpin in Chicago's vibrant folk and country for decades, Robbie reflects on the major label blues, recording techniques, and falling in love …

Tift Merritt

June 24th, 2016


The Grammy-nominated songwriter from Raleigh, North Carolina reflects on her time in the studio and out on the road.

Slaid Cleaves

May 27th, 2016


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 …

Anais Mitchell

April 29th, 2016


The Vermont-born songsmith reflects on signing to Righteous Babe, writing her celebrated folk opera "Hadestown", and parenthood as a working artist.

James McMurtry

March 25th, 2016


An hourlong conversation with celebrated songwriter, James McMurtry.

Joe Ely

December 28th, 2015


The Texas icon inaugurates our show with a few stories from his many years on the road.

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