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Meet Hilary Saunders, No Depression's New Editor

It's a bittersweet announcement that I've been dreading since you shared it a few weeks ago. We've traveled this road together for almost nine years and it was your encouragement and belief that I had something to add to the conversation that took me on a journey I never expected. I've enjoyed our late night exchanges and how you kept your cool throughout the years at my rants and critiques, knowing that we each had a shared passion to make this a better place. While we've never come face to face, and only spoken on the phone maybe two or three times, through our social media interactions we've discussed everything from politics to lierature, music and family, moves we each made across the country and of course your path to the intersection of Highlander and Horton. I'm sure this isn't goodbye and my dream is that we'll meet for dinner at an abandoned Howard Johnson restaurant where we shall feast on fried clams while your daughter will sample all 28 flavors of their delicious ice cream. 

To every season and all that jazz...we of course welcome Hilary as she'll take her turn at the wheel and continue the vision and work of Peter, Grant, Kyla and youself. With large shoes to fill, it sure sounds as if she has the feet to fill them. I look forward to seeing the next gen of NoDep, and wish her only the best. 

And with that Kim, I leave you with this...a traditional albeit slighlty modified Gaelic blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of Her hand.

Welcome aboard. We're all in this together.

Bon Jovi apologist huh...?   Well it could be worse...you could be a Bono apologist...

Good luck taking over the reins at ND Hilary...and thanks to you for all you did over the years Kim and for putting up with us in the peanut gallery, heaven knows I wasn't always happy with where this was going but it's a helluva lot easier to be a critic than it is to be a editor...godspeed on the future projects...

 

Kim, 

Thank you for all that you have done at ND and for your support of my own writing. I was more than flattered to be asked to be the 'UK correspondent' and whilst that role didn't work out as we envisaged (due to the way in which venues here present music) I am so pleased that I did (and will) contribute to ND. In fact, I really feel I ought to get back to reviewing more live shows. I go to plenty enough! 

Wherever your path takes you Kim, know that you have made a significant and valuable contribution to bringing the ND community together. I wish you well.

Hilary, congratulations on the appointment and I will look forward to seeing how you take ND forward. I hope to contribute more regularly to the live review features from here in the UK. 

 

I know it has been a little bit since I pitched an article since I too have been working on other projects, but I wanted to reach out and say that I really enjoyed working with you Kim. I always appreciated your edits and insights the times we worked together. And a hearty welcome aboard Hilary. I look forward to working with you in the future.

kim, many thanks for all your hard work & your informed, gentle hand steering this good ship. all the best.

Kim, you've done yeoman's work for ND since helping Kyla get up and running. Bringing the magazine back to life was a labor of love and a gutsy move in this day and age. Turning the page is often both wistful and exciting, and I wish you and your family all the best. Hopefully you will be joining us in the peanut gallery.  Good luck with your book.

Welcome Hilary. If you are a Bon Jovi apologist, you must be a busy gal. Your thoughts on Donovan?

Kim - as a long-time ND reader I'd just like to say thanks, for your excellent writing and insights, and for the passion you brought to it. Best of luck with the next chapter...

I join the chorus here wishing you the best of luck Kim and thanking you for all your hard work for No Depression. Although I've lived in Seattle since 1983 I never knew about No Depression when it was in print and only ran across this website several years ago and was delighted to find a place to share my passion with other music fanatics. I just wish a lot of those people who used to comment in the past would come back.

And welcome to you Hillary. I am curious to see what you bring to this site. Jack's Donovan comment was sort of a joke directed at me--a Donovan apologist. I even wrote a review of his concert here in Seattle on 10/15/16 with a vague notion of submitting it to No Depression but I felt it was too long and unprofessional and mostly written for myself anyway. Anyway...welcome aboard.

Kim,

    I just want to wish you the best as you take another leap, I enjoyed the first interactive site that you and Kyla started, met alot of people that way.  The new site with Freshgrass is nice, but different. It is all about the music.

     Best to you,

Jim

PS- Welcome Hilary

Dear Kim,

Like I said at Freshgrass, you're the best editor I've ever worked with, and I will miss you like crazy.  Sweet fast roads to you and Zilphia Mae, and hope to see you the next time we're in Asheville.   And dear Hilary, welcome and hail.  Let us know what you want and need us to do for you, and we're on it. xxx

 

Kim,

To use a sports analogy, you've been a great captain-coach.

As an occasional contributor I've been privy to your immense skill and hard work as editor. As a reader I've always enjoyed your passionate, stylish and knowledgable writing. 

All the best with your new/old project.

 

I heard a rumor that Bon Jovi recorded an album (unreleased)  of Donovan duets with Donovan a few years ago as "Don Jovi". 

Mr. Clown Artistforme--I know this was a joke for which you got no response. Since I have no love for Bon Jovi, and actually only know them by name and have never listened to or wanted to listen to their music, I can't even imagine how bad such a collaboration might be.

But I've noticed Hilary hasn't bothered to respond to any of this posting which does not bode well. We--who bother to makes comments on this site--have long lamented how so many once-active commentors have long bailed-out and we keep hoping for some kind of new energy and committment to re-activate this Online version of No Depression to get more participants. I get the feeling that nothing is going to change.

Kim, you will be missed by your team, contributors and readers alike. You’ve guided ND through some interesting times and leave it in good shape. Thank you for your encouraging comments and support. Welcome, Hilary, from another of your farther flung contributors who is always available for consideration as your ND UK correspondent. I look forward to working with you. All the best to you both.

Thanks Kim - No Depression has thrived under your leadership. You expanded the mission and have grown the ND community! Welcome Hillary - ND is in good hands ... I look forward to reading stories about the acoustic/unplugged/roots side of Bon Jovi. ;-)  

 

Kim,

I wish you the best as you pursue the vision you have held onto all these years. We have never spoken on the phone, but I have always felt encouraged by the interactions we have had via email. I remember feeling honored that you asked me to be a part of the ND Roots launch. Thank you for encouraging a fledgling writer. Best wishes to you. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for ND.

JMcSpadden3

Thanks for all the amazing work you have accomplished.  Hilary sounds great; just don't let No Depression become Paste.  ND is a far superior product.

Flashback-When the first incarnation of ND went belly-up I recall receiving a subscription to some music magazine as a consolation prize?

Wasn't that Paste? Yikes. 

I think you are right about that....and the early incarnations of the print Paste were actually quite promising...the music sampler included in each issue alone was worth the price..several artists that I love I discovered on Paste...however, Paste also became an online magazine and went out of print for a good period of time and now they are back in print, crowdfunded like ND, and trying to figure out what how to survive and carve out a niche in a world where print is dying...As Matthew noted, the current iteration of Paste is different...less focused on music, I don't know that I'd call it inferior or superior to ND, I think they are trying to a different thing ...a pop culture online magazine with a lot of music ( a lot of of the music is not the music you would see featured on ND)  and some politics, and an obsessive focus on making lists, rating everything, and consuming craft beer (they just had a feature where they rated 60-70 pumpkin beers, which is just stupid), and then they do a print edition now and then...the first one came with a vinyl music sampler...I don't know that I agree that ND is necessarily far superior, but I'd agree that they focus on music I am more intersted in...Paste is different than it was in the beginning as is ND...I'd not call either superior to their original iterations...and the original ND was better than the original Paste IMO...but I don't think they were trying to be the same thing ever...I didn't buy the second crowdfunded issue of Paste but I still look at the online version once in a while...so far I still subscribe to the ND print...I've thought it interesting at times, but a couple of the issues I've barely read because of the narrow focus of each issue...the new editor did write the fascinating article on the Cincinnati neighborhood Over the Rhine so that's a plus (but maybe I found that article captivating because I love the band Over the Rhine and Cincy is close to me and I've been through there and know what has taken place there over the years)...we will see what happens with each...print is a tough business these days...take a magazine like Oxford American...stellar writing...they do one music issue a year...I don't know that quarterly is doable...music is wallpaper for lots of people these days...

Regardless, I wish Hilary the best in taking ND wherever it goes from here...

Good assessment of Paste and I’ll add that they are excellent at coming up with those clickbait headlines. But the Daytrotter sessions are the best. Always thought that ND could have easily pulled off video sessions like that. Interesting that Hilary hasn’t posted anything here in the comments since so many have welcomed her. Might not be used to a site that (sometimes) has community engagement. 

Daytrotter is quite the coup for Paste I would say...there has been some great stuff there, I wish I had more time for that part of Paste...clickbait headlines is definitely an area of expretise...and the beer recommendations are fine too, but if you feature 70 pumpkin beers, so many are regional and not avaialble to most of the readership, and they will come and go in a very short period of time regardless...seems sort of a monumental waste of time to taste and rate 70 iterations of a seasonal beer...but what do I know?

 

If Hilary can raise the dead and revive the ND community I'll write the most effusive praise this old-soul can wring from the depths and breadths of his lost and forsaken soul. 

I was with Paste at the very beginning and it was a very good and thoughtful magazine for many years.  Now, to me, it seems to full of itself and interested in trying to be hip.   Style over substance.  And the lists are ridiculous.  ND is almost academic in comparison.  A journal of good music writing compared to a fluffy magazine.  And I actually like the narrower themes of each issue (some more than others) and read ND cover to cover to learn more.

I'd agree that Paste is trying to be a lot of different things, and a lot of them don't work for me...Thrillist, Medium, Mel, and now Paste, all do some of the same things...the list thing drives me crazy too, and I love beer and reading about beer...as for the narrower themes, I have liked some, and some not so much personally...I would also have used the term "academic" when describing ND, and others have as well, and didn't mean it as a compliment...we will see...it's a very tough thing to do what they are trying to do these days...I hope they succeed...both of them actually...I won't be scouring Paste like I used to but I have no ill will for them either... 

From me, academic is definitely a compliment.  I love the journal, not only for it's informational content, but as an analog work of art.  And I've been with ND since it started.  I know a lot of people want to return to the wild west community days but to me it always seemed a bit cliquish; great for those on the inside but not so much for a newcomer trying to fit in.

I'm not sure I agree with your "clique" comment. It implies others were not allowed to chime in and contribute.  The active commuity members enjoyed that aspect of the site.  I guess others simply liked reading on a tablet rather than a cellulose based media. What amazes me is the number of contributors (there are exceptions-Easy Ed for example) who don't engage their readers.  I know many contribute to other sites and perhaps never really read the ND site? Maybe they believe their opinions on a disc/artist are not debatable?  The amateur contibutors (and I don't mean that as an insult) write with passion, engage in dialogue, and then often (sadly) fade away.   

Ideally, both the print and online version can survive.  I'm not betting on either one at this point.

When the community aspect was active there were probably about two hundred folks who would comment or participate in the discussion groups. From a pool of maybe 20,000 or so, that would qualify as a clique. 

Well, you got me there Ed...a clique is defined as: a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.

I'd argue with the "not readily allowing others to join them" part as I found everyone quite welcoming (I'm not easily discouraged either I might add), but that is a pretty small subset in the "community"...so perhaps it was percieved as 'cliquish"...or maybe there would have been more commentors...

I don't want to belong to any clique that will accept people like me as a member!

I don't agree with it either, though I'd admit that certain topics (fried clams as an example) were probably not immediately accessible to someone who just happened upon the site...there was a lot of history behind that part of the thread and various others...but I have found it to be easily the most accessible thread I've ever happened upon and the friendliest, with the least amount of trolling...I still have all but about 7 issues of ND's original print magazine and subscribed for years, but the online version had been up and running for at least 3 years before I stumbled upon it...there were some things that got talked about that I didn't understand initially but you figure them out eventually, or someone would explain at some point if you asked...so I don't get the clique thing either, it's was probably the most welcoming site I've ever been on...nevertheless, if that's how it was perceived by some, it may explain the current focus on print at the expense of the blog...if it was me I'd do what I could to keep both alive, but it ain't me...clearly, there's barely enough funding to do what is being done...I could argue it's not the best use of the funds, but I'd be wasting my time...it will survive or it won't...

Time passes, things change...I don't own it, I don't make the decisions...if I decide it's not worth it at some point I can take my $6 per month and go home...it's a small investment given that things are still evolving...new editor may mean some changes...

this comment was posted prior to the one that appears above it...FYI

Don’t get me wrong, I terribly miss the community of commentators and discussion groups. A couple hundred active people talking to each other is a large pool, and it was very welcoming and easy to join. I didn’t have to moderate it other than banning spammers, but maybe Kim felt it took too much of her time. I think when they transitioned from the Ning platform to the current disaster, a huge mistake was eliminating not only discussion groups but also every user...forcing people to sign in again to leave comments. Seems like we lost a lot of dedicated followers at that point. As far as the writers and columnists who don’t choose to interact when people leave comments, I don’t get it. If you care enough about something I’ve written to make a comment, I think an acknowledgement or exchange only adds to the experience. Might be that I do it because I started as a blogger rather than a traditional print writer, so some just don’t get it or see value. 

Matthew, I never got a sense there were cliques here, which doesn't make me right and you wrong, it's just not something I ever noticed. Be that as it may, I'm one of those who has argued for a return to what you called the Wild West community days.  I'd instead call them the fun days.  The interactive nature of that iteration of the site combined with what was truly good content is what made it unique, fun, and a music Facebook-like gathering spot  of sorts.  Many have lamented the crappy redesign of the site we are left with now so no need to beat that dead horse here, suffice to say this site is moribund, smoldering along going nowhere fast on the fumes and memory of what once was. I remain convinced that retooling the website to promote interaction and community contributions is probably its best hope for survival. Absent that and with weak content and no discernible purpose the site does not stand out at all. It feels like eat your peas, reduced education as compared to the past, and almost zero fun.

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies to me.  It might be nice to see a hybrid of what is now and what was then with more chance at interaction.  I might have been off on the clique comment, although people in cliques rarely recognize that they are in one, but I'm willing to say I could be wrong. I do like the present site but I wish it updated community type reviews more often on the pages.

Thanks for your reply.  I too would like to see more updates of the community reviews! Those reviews searched out the music they are writing about and often do so with the passion of a preacher spreading the word (in the evangelical agnostic sense).  Some of those have been up way past their expiration date and that Big Star review has been near the top for ages.  

And while I'm at it, nothing wrong with the pros making some change writing reviews  but they often feel like: Open mailbox, open disc, listen twice, write a short review.  Repeat.

I'm also wondering how long Raina keeps her legacy weekly column last updated in mid-2016? There has to be somebody with something to say or at least update the website.

Deleted double post.

One of my favorite things to read are the community contributions...articles, reviews, interviews...and not only did they stop featuring them on the site, but people stopped posting them in any volume. I check all of them out every week, have suggested some at least get thrown up on the Facebook page, but their lost in the wind. It’s how I started writing and actually how many of the columnists began. I hate the large graphics they use on the front page and would recommend that they focus on what made ND so interesting: more content. (And the fact that the Stories page still features articles from last March because they can’t figure out how to change them is just embarrassing. Ditto with Raina’s long-ended column.)

Ha! I’m going to respond to myself. 

Keep in mind that ND is not really ‘them’...Kim has been mostly focused on print which is a huge undertaking and Stacy Chandler has been handling much of the web side of things with very little help and no full time IT support. She deserves all of our thanks and acknowledgements or else we wouldn’t be doing this. New editor...fresh ideas...I look forward to it. 

That's a good place to leave it Ed...and I agree with you, Matthew, and Mr. Mutt...community reviews/articles were/are a highlight for me...and yes, Stacy in addition to Kim deserves our gratitude that this is still up and running at all...

Thanks for keeping No Depression going Kim.  Writing about Zilphia Horton and the Highlander Folk School sounds fascinating.  Please check back in to let us know where we can read what you've written about it. 

Interesting take from Peter Holsapple on Bon Jovi and Journey that appeared in the Nashville News Sentinel.

“It’s like a generation of songwriters that have not gotten to experience the kind of success that should’ve gone along with what they did,” he says. “I can fire you off a list of 10 great songwriters like Amy Rigby, Tommy Keene, Dave Alvin, Victoria Williams … they just didn’t get the commercial break. We all know how good they are because we did that digging, but this is why people are still listening to Bon Jovi songs or why people are still in love with ‘Don’t Stop Believin' ’ by Journey. They just had that stuff rammed down their throats. My children are wincing because they love those songs. But had they been exposed to more, I think about Peter Blegvad. It took Loudon Wainwright III covering ‘Daughter’ in that movie before people went, ‘Oh, who IS this guy? He’s really great. Where has he been?’ And we go, ‘Where have YOU been?’ ”

 

Kim, You've done so much to nourish and grow a cultural entity with many fresh, old-soul parts – as well as many seemingly lost and forsaken – which always remained grounded in the earthy depths and breadths of roots music. In swiftly changing times, that took immense courage, talent and vision. And so, with many others, I thank you deeply for your contribution to our culture, and for allowing me to add a portion to it. – Kevin

Thanks for the hard and good work, Kim. Welcome, Hilary. (I don't listen much to his stuff, but I hear Bon Jovi is a good guy.) Anyhow.

Let's face it, Journey and their ilk will always have a bigger audience than Loudon (whom I strongly prefer). But life ain't fair. Glad Judd Apatow is giving LWIII some work, a fellow can get run over in the middle of the road...

Kim - wow 9 years just blew by!!  Thanks for your steady helmsman(woman)ship!  

And welcome Hilary!  

I handled some tour press back in the 80's for Bon Jovi.....

Martha

all the best to you, Kim, and welcome, fellow Beatles fan. Appropriately, this Tom Petty tune happened to be playing when I opened Kim's article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5o582N3wOQ