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Nancy Rost: News

Making an EP with Eric Agner! - June 8, 2019

I'm really excited about this project. Eric's a songwriter and bassist I've been co-writing with since 2008, almost entirely online, since we live across the country from each other. We are finally making an EP of some of our music -- including some written specifically for this recording project. Currently we're refining arrangements of the songs, and in late July we will record at Tonal Park Studio. 

Songs still come first - January 15, 2015


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>What&#39;s the biggest factor determining the sound of your music: Recording, mixing or mastering? <a href=""></a> via <a href="">@CNET</a></p>&mdash; Blast House Studios (@blasthouse) <a href="">January 15, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Interesting interview with mastering engineer Dave McNair. 


"When I asked McNair what are the 'ingredients' of a great-sounding album, he said, 'Starting with the most important, it's the songs, the musicians, the production, the mixer, the recording engineer, and in last place, the mastering.' "

Songwriting Classes - July 23, 2014


I'm excited to be offering songwriting classes at Madison Music Foundry this autumn and winter.  We're keeping class sizes at 5-10 people -- small enough for everyone to participate and get feedback, while large enough to get stimulated by a variety of approaches to the craft.

On the second Sunday of each month, starting September 14 from 2:30-4:30, I'll be doing songwriting classes for individuals. Each class will be a stand-alone workshop where everyone will write a complete draft of a song. It'll be very hands-on, using inspiring exercises for each step of the process. I'll cover all the basic tools (idea generation, lyrics, melody, chords, structure) using different approaches each time. For example, in one workshop we might start with a riff; in another, lyrics; in another, melody. Sometimes the lyric writing will start with a story; another time we might develop it using rhyme columns. I'll take student input to shape each class.

On the fourth Sundays I'll have collaborative songwriting classes. Geared to people who want to co-write with another person or with a band, these classes will delve into the special issues of the co-writing process. Similar to the songwriting workshops for individuals, participants will do a lot of writing at the workshop itself. We'll do exercises for keeping the ideas flowing, and participants will try on different roles with each other to master creative negotiations. Bands can also enroll together to start or finish songs. (I recently did one of these workshops as a band coaching session. We had a blast, and came out of it with a full song and a good chunk of a second song.)

2nd Sundays, 2;30-4:30pm
Sep. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 14

Songwriting gives you all the tools you need to create your own songs. In this hands-on workshop, we take you through the songwriting process from start to finish. You’ll learn and practice techniques for generating song ideas, developing lyrics, crafting melodies and chords, finding the right structure and putting it all together.

4th Sundays, 2:30-4:30pm
Sep. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 23, Dec. 28

Think Lennon & McCartney, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Jagger & Richards. Some of the most highly regarded music of all time was written collaboratively. This class will cover the often delicate task of sharing ideas and critiques while encouraging creativity. Participants will practice different songwriting roles and experiment with "creative negotiations."

Student Stars - June 22, 2014

Rock Camps and Student Jam and Recital -- oh my! It's shaping up to be a summer of student performances, and I can't wait.

Girls Rock Camp starts tomorrow. I spent yesterday hauling drum kits, testing guitar amps and sorting keyboard parts, setting the stage for the kids to start learning their instruments and practicing with their peers. I'll be co-teaching the keyboard class with Barbara Chusid, a fantastic musician and teacher I've known since we sang in Womonsong back in the '80s! I'll be co-coaching a band with Rin Q. Ribble, a talented violinist and composer who shares my love of improvisation. I'm very excited to work with both of them. I'm also excited to meet the campers, particularly the students I'll be working with. If I can catch a moment at lunch, I'll let you know how the band bonding, songwriting and keyboard classes are going. By Sunday, the campers will perform their newly written songs at The Loft. (See my calendar for details.) 

Then, on July 20th, Madison Music Foundry students take over the Monona Farmers Market for the morning. This is the cooler, summer version of a recital. You can hear my students playing parent-child duets, Cuban dance music, and a suite of original songs -- along with a wide variety of other instruments and styles by my colleagues and their students.

Later that afternoon, head over to The Loft for the Girls Rock Camp Session II Showcase. I'll update you with more details about that performance once the week starts.

And finally, July 27 is MMF's Student Jam and Rock Workshop Showcase. We announce the songs a few weeks ahead of time and work with students to learn their parts. Then they jump up on stage with each other for the first time and play together. The jam songs are interspersed with sets by the Rock Workshop bands. This summer's student jam contains some great classic rock tunes with a sprinkling of indie and jazz.

Couch by Couchwest - March 10, 2014

Here's my first performance of one of my 22 songs written this February. I'm kicking it off at Couch by Couchwest, with "The Nasty Man".


Songwriting Workshops - November 30, 2013


Get an intensive introduction to songwriting, or learn the art of co-writing. I'm offering workshops in both next week at Madison Music Foundry.

Enroll here.

Two Johns & A Nancy Photo Shoot! - November 20, 2013

Kris Hammargren, an amazing photographer who happens to be married to one-third of Two Johns & A Nancy, told us we needed some new pictures. We agreed, and found a field in which to catch a golden autumn afternoon -- just a day before snow fell.


There are more photos over at my Facebook page. Give it a "like" to get occasional updates or just to show support. Thanks!

November Brain - November 6, 2013

One of the highlights of my summer was a long weekend in Emlenton, Pennsylvania. This little town (Pop. 615) was overtaken by songwriters from across the US, Canada, Netherlands and Norway. 


Above: Writing a four-handed piano duet with Kristian Børresen of Oslo.

Paul and Nancy Newbury of the Emlenton Mill kept us inspired with local history and vast amounts of ice cream. Music was composed on glockenspiels, dulcimers and smart-phone apps. I saw old friends, made new friends, got very little sleep and was glad for it.

Another highlight was teaching Songwriting 101 at Middle School U. We had a lively group at Jefferson Middle School. The kids wrote songs about ice cream (pattern here? Must be a summer thing), school janitors, discombobulation and dragons, among other things. Many of the students were from South Korea, and I got introduced to some new K-Pop. (I was told in no uncertain terms that they were all tired of "Gangnam Style". As with my young piano students, my songwriting students keep me current!) I'm looking forward to teaching some classes to adults this December -- see my Calendar Dates for details.

MAUI has been very active, with shows including the New Glarus Summer Festival and Reedsburg Fermentation Festival. I'll be singing, tinkling and plunking (perhaps all at the same time!) with this merry band of ukesters again in a couple of weeks at The Gardens on Madison's West side.

Now I'm getting back to doing songwriter shows, both solo and showcase, and working on some new stuff for Two Johns & A Nancy.

Finally, I have a blog now. Link is to the left. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

Real Girls and Artificial Flowers - June 30, 2013

This week I've been teaching keyboards to 45 girls ages 8-15, and coaching a band of third- and fourth-graders to write a song together and record and perform it. Most of these kids are new to their instruments and to songwriting. It's been exciting and inspiring to see what they can accomplish in such a short time. This afternoon they take the stage. I can't wait to do it again!



Last night was Jim Barnard's "Artifical Flowers" EP release, and the final product sounds fantastic! Jim's signature bluesy fingerpicked guitar style and fun and philosophical songs, which sound great alone, really pop on this production. Featured artists include Dan Kennedy on lead and bass guitars, Michael Brenneis on drums, Amy Curl and John Crossman on vocals, and me on piano. It should be up on the usual online outlets soon, or you can contact Slothtrop Records or Jim himself for a copy.

New strings, no bow - March 21, 2013

I've been rather quiet lately, but lots of good stuff has been going on.

I've been playing bass guitar and loving it. Here's a shot of the Two Johns and a Nancy show where I debuted on Ashbory bass397561_10200224693160766_1137828321_n_resized.jpg

I've also started accompanying local group of ukulele enthusiasts known as MAUI. These folks have a mind-boggling repertoire and a great attitude. Join us if you're into it, or come see us in the park in New Glarus in August (and possibly popping up in your neighborhood -- check my calendar dates for details.)

On the songwriting side, I had a fruitful February Album Writing Month, finishing 19 songs, including collaborations with Stephen Wort, John Das Binky, Phil Norman, Paul Dreifus, Scott Martin, Aaron Nathans, Tim Budziszewski, Helen Robertson and Paul Hoopshank Turrell.

I'm big in New Zealand! The aforementioned Stephen Wort, of Wellington, NZ, is including our co-write, "Trying On An Alphabet" on his forthcoming album. (And previous NZ collaborator Rose Duxfield has been including our co-write "When The Fire" in her set for five years now.)

Speaking of albums, I'm starting to plan for one of my own. If you have any suggestions for songs you'd like to hear included, I'm all ears.

Summer plans include teaching keyboard classes and being a band coach for Girls Rock Camp, teaching two sessions of Songwriting 101 for Middle School U, doing the 50 Songs in 90 days challenge, and attending Fawmstock IV in Pennsylvania, among other things. And updating this website more faithfully!





A few words I've been using in my songs - October 2, 2012

This summer, I wrote songs at a retreat in Dodgeville, with my friends the Two Johns, and with my middle-school-aged Songwriting 101 students. Lyrical highlights are here:

Wordle: Nancy 5090 2012 lyrics

Accordion Crimes - November 8, 2011

Or maybe just a misdemeanor? I'm working my squeezebox on "My Country 'Tis of Me", the opening track of Das Binky's forthcoming debut album, Divide The Storm. I also play piano on the title track. And yell my head off on the closing track. I'll probably be doing all that and more in support of Mr. Binky's album release in January. To stay in the loop, go here:


Piano lessons - August 15, 2011

Autumn is coming, and with it comes a new piano teaching schedule. I'm accepting new students now.

I work with a wide variety of ages, musical tastes and learning styles, with special attention to creativity and enjoyment in playing. Individual lesson plans include repertoire, technique, theory, ear training, reading and improvisation as appropriate.  Lessons take place at Madison Music Foundry, which also offers some great group classes and performance opportunities as part of your lesson fee.  If you or your child are interested in learning piano with me, you may contact me directly - - or via MMF to discuss scheduling a trial lesson.

Songwriting season - July 3, 2011

In four hours I'll begin my now-annual three-month songwriting marathon. Want to watch my progress, or perhaps join me in the challenge?

In Banned Wagon news, we now have a Reverb Nation page. Do stop by and check it out from time to time.


Back on the Wagon - May 31, 2011

No World Tour of Iowa this summer, but Banned Wagon is getting around in 2011, playing anything from the local VFW fish fry to the big Midwest Renewable Energy Fair up north. We'll be doing our first studio recording this July and stepping up our booking. Check the band dates on my page - come see us if you can and suggest other places we should play. If you're too far away, check my YouTube channel for some videos. Here's a photo from Tyler and Adrienne Applegate's farewell party at Talula. Wish you were there.248217_2096537417091_1355030714_2484085_3525972_n.jpg

For the sixth consecutive year ... - February 5, 2011

I'm taking part in February Album Writing Month, the annual challenge to write 14 songs in 28 days. If you're interested in songwriting and aren't already fawming, come check it out!


(Making a video with fellow fawmers in 2008 - like the hairbrush microphone?)

Anthologized - January 7, 2011

I'm honored to be included in Phil Norman's fantastic new album "Four Februarys"  with our co-written song "Changed My Name".  PhilNorman-FourFebruarys.jpg

You can download the album at  If you like, there's a handy donation link there for February Album Writing Month, our songwriting home.

New videos up - December 12, 2010

I've been adding some videos from the "Two Johns and a Nancy" show we did on December 10, 2010. You can check some of them out on my YouTube page:

Back from the Tour - August 15, 2010

Yes, the Banned Wagon tour happened, and it was great fun. For now I'm going to link you to this blog: More to come soon, I hope -- including some awesome video we shot around Iowa. We have a couple of parties coming up on the autumn calendar, and are in the process of figuring out what's next for local gigs and future tour dreams. NancyLivingHistory.JPG


I'm also rediscovering the joy of being a singer-songwriter, and after returning to solo performing, it's also time to get back to writing. Look for some new music here on this website and working its way into performances as soon as I can ....

Jumping on the Bandwagon - March 25, 2010

Thanks to the initiative of my friend Andrew Nath, I've joined a band. We've been calling ourselves Bandwagon, or, more recently, Banned Wagon. It's a six-piece, performing a variety of covers (Americana, reggae, pop and rock) and originals by several of the band members. We're playing every other Thursday at the Washington Hotel Coffee Room, and sharing the stage with a bunch of musical friends. This is in preparation for our July tour of Iowa, which we'll undertake on a flat-rack pulled by an old-fashioned tractor from Andy's dad's farm. The Washington Hotel gig itself has been fun and suitably quirky. This week mandolinist Huck Gent accompanied one of my songs on banjo while a conga line of young children danced across the room; bassist Dan Higgs led guitarist Jeremy Higgins and me in a yodeling song; and drummer Chris Marr brought some fantastic Caribbean rhythms to our rendition of "When Doves Cry". I'm looking forward to the next one already.Banned_Wagon_June_3_2010_003_resized.jpg

Mad Toast Live podcast - November 20, 2009

I had a blast at my guest appearance on Mad Toast Live on November 10. Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines were fantastic hosts, fun to talk with and to jam with! I got to try out a couple new songs and play some older ones with a new ensemble. The podcast of the show is now streaming at It will remain in the archives, and can be downloaded, at


Cerebral Surprise - November 9, 2009

You never know where you're going to find yourself online. New Music Express has posted a video of my song "I Fell Into a Giant Brain" in their very special Giant Brain edition. Context, such as it is, here:

Likely Stories reviewed on Indie Music - November 1, 2009

By Dan MacIntosh The Likely Stories trio makes intriguing chamber folk music. Surprisingly, there is a lot of variety contained within this relatively limited genre categorization. Although Dave Schindele sings lead on "A Matter of Time", this is mostly a female-led outfit. Chimes, however, make Schindele's rare vocal track a memorable one. Sonic moods range from dramatic, with "American Gothic", to gently contemplative, as on "Yellow Bike" with its acoustic piano and guitar. "My Own History" even incorporates blues elements. Obviously, chamber pop and blues are at opposite sides of the musical spectrum. Therefore, Likely Stories are brave enough to throw in a few relatively unlikely aural elements, which makes them a story well worth the telling.


"American Gothic" on WomensRadio Music Review - October 7, 2009

Likely Stories reviewed in Isthmus - August 20, 2009

Isthmus is running this review of the Likely Stories CD in tomorrow's edition:

Likely Stories: Self-Titled
(Porch String)
Rich Albertoni on Friday 08/21/2009

Tracy Jane Comer, Dave Schindele and Nancy Rost have teamed up to make the most creative concept album to come out of Madison so far this year.

Likely Stories is a collection of nine musical tales making up three rounds of sonic turn-taking by the songwriters. It's a structure that highlights the stylistic breadth of the record.

Schindele's acoustic piano is dreamy, rumbling with restlessness on "A Matter of Time." Later, he employs Comer's brooding cello on "Nicole." That track is an odd but gorgeous prayer for Nicole Kidman: "Hope there's a there for you Nicole / Without a role, it's just you and your soul cast together."

Rost's jazzy arrangements are featured in "Golden Gate," about San Francisco suicide jumpers. Comer's "Yellow Bike" is pure folk charm, looking back on a poor but happy childhood in a seaside town.

The album's execution ultimately fulfills the ambitious concept, making Stories a local release to be reckoned with.
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