Various Artists "WYEP Live & Direct: Volume 17

20 songs from some of WYEP's best Live & Direct Session on one disc.

Live studio sessions have long been an integral part of WYEP’s programming. In 1974the station welcomed its first guest, Jesse Colin Young. Since then hundreds of artists have performed live on-air. For the past seventeen years WYEP celebrates our birthday month with a CD of some of the best recordings of the preceding year.

This week we unveil WYEP Live & Direct: Volume 17. The disc includes twenty performances, including two by Pittsburgh artists – The Clarks, and Bastard Bearded Irishmen.

Several of the guests are repeat visitors to the stations airwaves, including the band that opens the disc. Nickel Creek reunited for a twentieth anniversary tour that turned into a new album. “Destination” features Sarah Watkins on the lead backed by her bandmates Sean Watkins, and Chris Thile. Nicole Atkins has become a favorite WYEP guest who continues to amaze us with her big and brilliant vocals. The Hold Steady hold court with mesmerizing tales of misfit souls. Here they offer “Spinners.” Black Joe Lewis brought along his horn section for his return visit.

New to our studios were both new and seasoned performers. David Gray’s intensity is palpable on “Birds of the High Artic.” It was a thrill to have him perform for a small studio audience. The band Lucius, led by vocalist Jess Wolf and Holly Laessig, charmed the audience with their close harmonies and witty repartee. Sharon Van Etten’s intimate rendering of “Taking Chances” revealed why she made so many year-end “best of lists.”  Another surprise was the amazing performance of “Alexandra” by former Walkman singer Hamilton Leithauser.

Some artists are softer spoken but their performances expose the vulnerable nature of their songs. Matthew Houck, who records as Phosphorescent certainly made his point with his poignant performance of “Song for Zula.” Likewise Damien Jurado’s “Silver Timothy.” 2014 marked the first time a band brought a harp into the studios. Sara Page played the magnificent looking instrument as her band tore into the densely arranged rendition of “Half Crazy.”

WYEP Live & Direct: Volume 17 is available as a thank-you gift at WYEP’s $75 membership level. For more details, including track listing, go to WYEP.ORG.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)