Audio Specials

Date

Grand Piano Interview

The quirky rock band from Pittsburgh Grand Piano releases its new debut album Leap Year today on Wild Kindness Records. Thomas Cipollone, Zak Kane and Nick DeAngelo joined Joey Spehar on the Morning Mix to talk about the new album.Kane said one of the main reasons for the album title, as big or small as it seems, was that all the songs were written on a leap year. “When we picked out the songs, we started to see that there was a concept that was emerging, so we decided to run with it.”The brass section of Grand Piano ultimately defines the band’s sound and brings what DeAngelo says isn’t heard much in rock and roll anymore. “It just gives our sound that fat, classic rock and roll tone.” Cipollone says a plus of having more horns means it’s okay to do instrumentals on the album, and there are three, without feeling like there’s something missing in the song.One of the band’s songs that sticks out on the album, Spehar says, is “Punk Rocker,” and Kane describes it as “having an idea of what you want to do and kind of moving away from it and being unaware that you’re moving away from it and then looking back in retrospect and realizing you still kind of achieved what you initially wanted to, but it happened in a roundabout sort of way.”With the band’s current success, things have remained cohesive, the band says, as many of the members knew each other’s personalities either from school, work, or earlier times before Grand Piano.Grand Piano is known for having an explosive live show and those who wanted to see it firsthand can see the band perform July 15 in Schenley Plaza for Final Fridays.

Guest DJ: Dan Savage

Dan Savage is the author of the syndicated sex advice column Savage Love.  Dan Savage joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix to play Guest DJ and talk about The HUMP Tour.Savage starts off his guest DJ set with “Sigourney Weaver” by John Grant, an artist who, though well known in the UK, usually only plays small venues in the US. Most of Grant’s work, Savage says, is very beautiful, “stream of consciousness” pieces. “There’s a lot you can’t play on the radio, because he uses the language that people actually use when they talk about their feelings and their love lives and their heartbreak which involves a lot of cursing.”Savage being a big fan of Garfunkel & Oates then picks the duo’s song “As You Are” and says the song shows a lot of range and “breaks his heart.” “A lot of their songs are very, really extremely funny about romance and about love and about dating,” but this song, Savage says, shows that underneath all the comedy, there’s a soul in this duo.Savage ends his set with a powerful and funny song “Thank You God” from Tim Minchin, an atheist changed into a believer, and this song details Minchin’s epiphany, apologizing to God. “If you don’t have a sense of humor about faith, you might wanna turn off the radio now, but if you do this is a terrific song for you.”Savage is in town for the HUMP film festival tour which he says started as a joke in the paper, announcing an amateur porn film festival, but surely enough people voiced their approval. None of the films would be put online or on DVDs, so the performers “could be porn stars for the weekend in this movie theater and not porn stars for the rest of their lives on the internet.” After getting approval from the performers though, Savage was able to bring the festival across the country.Dan Savage's Guest DJ Set:John Grant - Sigourney WeaverGarfunkel & Oates - As You AreTim Minchin - Thank You God

Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens Guest DJ Set

The Smithereens will be playing at this year’s Three Rivers Arts fest and before the show member Pat DiNizio Guest DJs on The Morning Mix with Joey Spehar, sharing contemporary music that inspires him.One of DiNizio’s picks “Talk About the Passion” by R.E.M. has some difficult lyrics to make out by ear, but despite that, everyone has a passion, so the song doesn’t need to be fully understood to be fully enjoyed. “You really can’t understand the words at all to what Michael Stipe is singing in the song. It’s almost like gibberish, but that’s one of the appeals of the song.”The Beatles have a universal appeal nowadays, but for 9-year old DiNizio the album Beatles ’65 had a big influence on his musicianship that would stay with him for the rest of his career, even though DiNizio claims his band came before the Beatles. “You’re the sum total of everything that you’ve ever listened to and enjoyed that influenced you as a human being and consequently a musician, so “I’ll Be Back” is right up there with the great Beatles songs.”Pat ends his Guest DJ set with one his favorite compositions “Blues Is King” by Marshall Crenshaw. “It’s another tune that I wish I had written.” Dinizio says Crenshaw is still coming up with great material he will be touring with him throughout the summer and fall.Pat DiNizio’s Guest DJ set:R.E.M. - “Talk About the Passion”The Beatles - “I’ll Be Back”Marshall Crenshaw - “Blues Is King”

Elizabeth & The Catapult on The Morning Mix

Elizabeth Ziman of Elizabath & The Catapult talks to Cindy Howes about the new album Like It Never Happened on The Morning Mix.Like It Never Happened, released in January, was a jump for Elizabeth Ziman. Unlike most of her albums that were written for piano, this one was centered around the guitar. “I was kind of searching for a new approach — something to get me excited about music again.” “I started busking a lot. I think I only used three chords when I first started, but after about a year of doing it I was writing all my songs on the ground.” A majority of her songs would be written before she even got home, she said.Ziman studied classical music when she was very young and while studying piano she also learned a different approach to the guitar. As a music teacher, when Ziman picked up a guitar, she said it all came back to the piano, and it became easier to improvise. “I think maybe that’s because I was approaching [guitar] in a different way and there was a much more percussive element.”One of Ziman’s piano students also happened to be American R&B singer and musician Aaron Neville, and Ziman described her student as a “gentle giant” who just wanted to play the hits and sing along at practice. Even someone as musically talented as Neville can want to go back to square one and take lessons again, Ziman says.Ziman’s artistic mind, sprouted partially from her father, once a mime and actor, and she says most of her music, including her song “Happy Pop Song” is written for him. “When I wrote a song that he liked, he’s cooking in the kitchen, and I’ll start dancing, doing a little jig, and that’s how I know I’d gotten somewhere.Elizabeth & The Catapult will be performing June 28 at WYEP’s summer music festival in Schenley Plaza.

David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven on The Morning Mix

David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven (and also Cracker!) talks to Cindy Howes about CVB's new album El Camino Real on The Morning Mix. El Camino Real is a “companion” to the bands 2013 album La Costa Perdida. Lowerly says, by that, he means both albums were from the same era of songwriting which would give a structure to the albums. “The last album we just kinda grouped everything together largely by the stuff that was set in Northern California. This album is all the stuff that we grouped for Southern California.“Camper Van Beethoven was formed 1983 in California, and the band’s love for their home can be heard through the lyrics. “Lyrically I’m definitely sort of on a little mission right now to do something I haven’t done before which is sort of a documentary sort of exploration of my home-state in a way.” Lowerly’s interest in essays and books such as Imperial fueled the inspiration for the band’s cultural roots in its music.Lowery isn’t finished though with keeping on the subject of California, as his other band Cracker is working on two more disks for the saga that will hopefully be released as a double album next year. The first disk has an “East bay, punk-rock” feel — very political, he says, and disk two is more about the Bakers field country exploration.One of the song titles “Classy Dames and Able Gents” on El Camino Real, Lowerly says, is about a secretive subject he came across browsing the subject of The Greenbrier bunkers in West Virginia. After finding a peculiar website, he got the song name from the oblique video channels tuned only to static — and no, he wasn’t searching Radiohead’s website.Being part of two successful bands for many years, Lowerly says, has given him necessary experience, and some words of advice to those still young would be “don’t make long term decisions. 25-year old men tend to make long term decisions about the rest of their life at like 2 a.m. after they’ve had six beers. If you can kind of stay away from making decision at times like that, you’ll be successful as a band.”

Rhett Miller Guest DJs on The Morning mix

Rhett Miller of The Old 97's Guest DJs on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes.The Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller joined Cindy Howes over the phone and said a lot of the band’s new album, Most Messed Up, is about a life in rock and roll. One song that seems to grasp this idea, he said, is the David Wax Museum song “Harder Before It Gets Easier.” “I know them well enough to know that they’re really hard workers which is something that I admire.”For his next selection, Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, Miller said he became friends with singer Richard Edwards after he became obsessed with his songwriting. “His songwriting to me is so weird and delicate and so detail-oriented which is something I really love when people write lyrics — they have little things to grab onto.” “I think their new record is one of the best things they’ve ever done.”Miller’s last pick was a track from Nicole Atkins newest “atmospheric” record Slow Phaser. Her new record was “a bit of a departure” and “a bit more dancy” than past records that were more straight up rock and roll. “I’ve always sort of looked for who’s the next Chrissie Hynde, like who’s gonna come along with that big of a voice that writes great songs and, you know, rocks, and the number one contender for me is Nicole Atkins.”Miller has positive thoughts of Pittsburgh saying it’s such a beautiful place with a great crowd and a fun time that not everyone else around the country realizes.Rhett Miller Guest DJ Set:The David Wax Museum – Harder Before It Gets EasierMargot and the Nuclear So and So's – LazyNicole Atkins – Who Killed the Moonlight?

Ira Flatow Guest DJ Set

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science Friday – a wildly popular science news show on NPR.  Mr. Flatow joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix for a set of "science songs". You can hear Science Friday on our sister station WESA Fridays at 2:00pm (EST).When it comes to choosing songs about science, “there are a lot to choose from,” Flatow says. One of his picks from a show he loves and has been on was “The Big Bang Theory Theme” by Barenaked Ladies.Flatow also chose the song “Science is Real” by They Might Be Giants saying it’s a song he really believes in. There are many around the country who question science, he says, and it’s interesting to see this song as an “intersection between science and the arts.”  “This is their way of telling the public “yeah, science is real. You should believe in it,” and that’s why it’s one of my favorite songs.”They Might Be Giants are fond of science as they have written about in other songs too, he says. It’s not every day a band has to rewrite a song on account of new scientific evidence, but this band did so on its song “Why Does the Sun Shine?” when they found out they got the physics wrong. Flatow ends with the song “She Blinded Me With Science” by Thomas Dolby which Spehar says “you can’t talk science music without mentioning this song.”Meanwhile in terms of science news, Flatow has no news to break, but a big topic at hand is Flight 370 and how we could lose something like that in the modern age. “It’s a very interesting combination of science, technology, and how humans can deal with it, and we’re gonna talk about [on the show] whether we can fix that system so we never lose a plane again.”Ira Flatow's Guest DJ Set:Barenaked Ladies - The Big Bang Theory ThemeThey Might Be Giants - Science Is RealThomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science

Sharon Van Etten on The Morning Mix

Sharon Van Etten talks to Cindy Howes about her new album Are We There on The Morning Mix.Van Etten’s new album, her fourth release, was a chance for her to take charge other than having people holding her hand through the recording process. “I hate being the boss,” she said, but the rest of the band is keen to her way of producing. “Even though I don’t know technological terms, they understand what I mean when I talk about vibe and feel and just play chords and show rhythm — they’re really responsive to my weird language.”Van Etten’s songs get pretty personal on this album, Howes says, and Van Etten responds by saying playing them live on tour will be like “going to therapy every day.” The material reflects very new and current feelings of Van Etten, she says. “Even though most of the content is pretty heavy, it’s still something I find cathartic when I perform even though it might be hard to do.”Just to write about herself, Van Etten says, would have been “self-indulgent,” so she can help others through these songs. “One of my fears is that my songs are way too personal for other people to be able to relate their own lives to. So it means a lot that even though they’re personal and heavy that they can walk away feeling that it was still for them too.”Van Etten goes into detail about how the song “Your Love is Killing Me,” from Are We There was written out of a time when balancing family and work was getting to her. While at the airport waiting to go to Europe for a tour, she was offered a new tour she couldn’t turn down. “I had to choose touring with Nick Cave over being home.”Van Etten said she started writing the song after a late show in Europe at one or two in the morning back at the hotel.  “I was feeling so much angst and confusion and hurt that I just had to get it out.”Van Etten will perform June 19th at Mr Smalls.

Mayor Bill Peduto Guest DJs on The Morning Mix

Mayor Bill Peduto plays Guest DJ on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. Mayor Bill Peduto joined WYEP as a guest DJ in which he picked three songs and talked about how he is not only a big supporter of local music but has been one for decades. “As a kid I would go down to The Decade and use fake ID to get in to be able to see [artists like Donnie Iris and Joe Grushecky].” Peduto said what he loves about the local music scene is the “really good people, really great music and great accessibility for the fans.”One of Peduto’s favorite local bands Lohio played at the mayor’s inauguration as well as invited him onstage to play the band’s song ‘Atlas and a Girl’ on tambourine with the band at Billobox, he says. “The first time I got onstage and did it, there was beer involved of course, and the thunderous bass drum, and the bass guitar shakes the stage, and it felt great. There’s no time that you’re onstage giving a speech where the stage is shaking, unless people are trying to get to you to kill you because you haven’t fixed potholes.”Peduto cites his three older brothers as initially introducing him to music, and though he couldn’t even read at the time, Peduto said he would highlight records with markers to remember what songs he liked. Peduto’s brother bought him his first albums, which were the first three albums of The Monkeys, when Peduto got his tonsils out at the age of seven. “By seventh grade, I remember my brother Guy brought home an album, and I heard it, and I went back, and I had to play it again, and I called up my buddy Rick Chadwick, and I said “oh my god I found the greatest band,” and that band was Cheap Trick.”Decade after decade, Peduto’s musical taste changed, but after experimenting with many different styles and genres, new wave, a genre that was hard to avoid in the 80s, stuck with him for many years. His interests drifted along the ska and punk scene, but Peduto says his favorite band would have to be The Clash. “When I had an influence and an interest in government and politics — certainly The Clash was speaking about that and the conditions within England at the time that were also very much felt by cities like Pittsburgh.”Peduto says nowadays his girlfriend, as well as WYEP, is his way of hearing about new music. Peduto and his girlfriend would go to shows and that’s ultimately what brought them together, he said. “I guess there’s a lot of different ways that [new music] comes in, but it’s really through the same ways — traditional radio, friends and a bit of new media.”Bill Peduto's picks:1. Lohio "Atlas and a Girl"2. Grateful Dead "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad"3. The Clash "Guns of Brixton"

Conor Oberst on The Morning Mix

Conor Oberst talks to Cindy Howes about his new solo album Upside Down Mountain.Aside from his work in the indie-rock band Bright Eyes since 1995, musician Conor Oberst has released a few solo albums in the past, but his newest work ‘Upside Down Mountains’ marks the first album to be released by the major label Nonesuch Records owned by Warner Brothers.Since he was 13 years old, Oberst has been writing songs, but being a musician involves progressing through trial and error, and he did so by through many performances. “A lot of my earlier songs — a lot of that was based off of not being able to hear yourself on like a terrible PA in a weird punk-rock performance space.” “You just learn to kinda scream over top of the band.” As time went on, and the sound equipment improved, Oberst learned how to “best use the limited resources” available to him, and his 15-year old “jump an octave” style singing turned into the now unique style he is recognized for.Oberst was ready to switch labels when his old one “Saddle Creek Records” which released all of Bright Eyes’ albums was changing.  “As time goes on, the real world kind of intervenes, and it’s not like I had a falling out with anyone, but I was ready for a change, and [Saddle Creek] turned into more of a traditional record label model in the sense that “there was one guy that ran the label, and we were all just kind of bands” so that collective spirit, in a very gradual way, dissipated as we got older.”When asked what the name ‘Upside Down Mountain’ means, Oberst said, in a non-morbid sense, it’s about being content with the reality that at the end of the day “you’re born alone, and you die alone.” “So much of life is to try to find connections to other people and figure out a way to get down, or up, the side of that mountain.”“We all have our own sense of self,” says Oberst, and this is expressed in a line “I hope I am forgotten when I die” from one of his songs “Hundreds of Ways.” The lyric is Oberst’s way of saying “once I’m gone, the real material me that can explain myself— I hope that people just don’t talk about me because they’ll have it all wrong.”As well as his musical capabilities, Oberst has an interest in film as he auditioned for a lead role in the 2013 film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and though the role went to Oscar Issac, the acting experience got Oberst thinking about “how incredibly difficult it is to be a good actor.” “Film is really interesting to me because it’s so collaborative. You can go into a studio or even your bedroom and make a record on your own fairly easily, but to make a film — to make a good film — involves hundreds and hundreds of people.”

Music For Econ Guest DJ Set

Dr. Brian O'Roark is an Economics professor at Robert Morris University and contributor to Music For Econ.  Dr. O'Roark joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix to play a set of songs with economic lessons included.Roark’s project Music For Econ, is designed to make understanding the subject of economics as easy as listening to music. Simply understanding what artists are talking about, Roark says, is a way of understanding subjects like economics. “The song that most exemplifies what we’re dealing with is a song by Weird Al Yankovic called “Ebay.” It’s a parody of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, and it’s Weird Al singing about how markets work in just a really entertaining Weird Al kinda way.”Another song, Day Job by Gin Blossoms, picked by Roark teaches us about the issue of unemployment and what we give up and receive as the result of the jobs we choose to have. It talks about one of the essential economic ideas of scarcity and time, he says — “The things that just sorta become unattainable once you’re working and you have to give up valuable free time.”Spehar says one of the most honest and direct musical genres out there is country. From an economical perspective, the song “One Piece At A Time” is about Cash stealing from his employer to build a car that he has earned, Roark says. “We learn a lot about production in this song and how producing a car one piece at a time isn’t necessarily going to give you the outcome that you had hoped.”The project’s site in the link above contains videos and music along with “the economic interpretation” of the songs and the lyrics currently on the website, Roark says.Dr. O'Roark's Guest DJ Set:Weird Al Yankovic - EbayGin Blossoms - Day JobJohnny Cash - One Piece At A Time

Steve Forbert Guest DJ

Steve Forbert plays Guest DJ with Cindy Howes on The Morning Mix.The singer/songwriter chose the Van Morrison song “Give Me a Kiss” not because it’s one of his favorite albums but because it’s a carefree song from one of the first few albums Forbert’s owned. “In this period Van was so happy.” “It was so great to imagine Van Morrison going home with his girlfriend Janet Planet sitting around listening to The Band on the record player.”Another song chosen by Forbert was the Jr. Walker song “What Does It Take to Win Your Love.” It was a hit in 1970, Forbert said, and a song that would always make him feel better. “Even if I’m in a good mood it makes me feel better.”Forbert chooses to end the set with the Johnny Winter song “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo,” a simple “meat-and-potatoes” type song. “Two guitars, basic drums — really good guitars — and I prefer it to the Rick [Derringer]’s hit that came out a little later on AM radio.”Last year was the 35th anniversary of Forbert’s debut album Alive on Arrival and this year, his album Jackrabbit Slim will also turn 35. Forbert said last year, he and The Band played Alive on Arrival in its entirety for select dates around New England, and they planned to do the same thing with Jackrabbit Slim later this year for about two weeks. “I’m looking forward to getting back with that group. They’re friends of mine now, and we have a good time.”Steve's song picks:1. Van Morrison - "Give Me a Kiss"2. Jr. Walker & Allstars - "What Does It Take To Win Your Love"3. Johnny Winter - "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo"

Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek on The Morning Mix

Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek talks to Cindy Howes about A Dotted Line, the bands' first album since 2007.Recently the string band Nickel Creek, who has been on hiatus for the past seven years, released a brand new album A Dotted Line and will be performing July 22 at Stage AE. Watkins talks about the band’s decision to go hiatus years ago saying after 18 and a half years, the band was exhausted creatively and from touring. The time off also gave the band members time to focus on projects they wouldn’t have otherwise had time to and become stronger musicians in the process.Coming back to the project after that time, Watkins said, felt as if no time had passed.  “We’ve maintained relationships over the years and every time we’re in the same town, we’ll hang out.” When the band came back, Watkins didn’t want it to just be “a depressing memory” of songs the band used to play, so the band started the writing process for new material.Sara Watkin’s song, Destination was one of the first from the new album to be released, she said, but it was one that was improved with the help of the rest of the band. “What I brought was the verse and the chorus melody and chords, and then Sean [Watkins] had this great groove, and Chris added to it.”The first track “Rest of my Life” off the new album was the start of the songwriting that soon “tumbled forward” she said. “[Sean] had this great groove and this story behind what he was feeling when he started writing it.” “Things fell together very naturally.”Watkins has been a bluegrass musician for years, bringing in new styles to cover songs while keeping the string aspect that the band has solidified in their sound. “Not seeing the instrumentation as being limited to a certain kind of song structure” is a key aspect to the band, Watkins says. “I think we were really lucky to have bluegrass etc. as primary influence when we were just little kids.”

Tribute to Cheo Feliciano

Cheo Feliciano died tragically last week in a car crash, but his legacy lives on in his music and influence.  Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix spoke with Grammy Award winning producer and musician Aaron Luis Levinson about this very important artist.Salsa music came around in 1950s and 60s New York with a jazz and soul aspect to it, Levinson said. Feliciano, a pioneer to the genre, started out as percussionist when he settled in Spanish Harlem, New York with his family, Spehar says. Having felt the culture shock of being there at this time, Feliciano experienced a vibrant community “filled with music culture and cuisine,” Levinson said.Unfortunately in the mid-60s, Feliciano began to struggle with drugs which were a big problem at the time. “Unfortunately Cheo succumb to that temptation, and he got really, really strung out.”The release of Feliciano’s first solo album In 1971 Cheo is a mark of excellence for the musician, and this album proves how a contender turned into a champion, Levinson says. “It is like he has leaped over the expectations of “well how good is he still.” He’s better than he’s ever been.”Though Feliciano was diagnosed with liver cancer last year, his death in a car crash made things all the more tragic, Spehar says. Levinson then talks about a recent trip to New York where Felicano’s death and the irony of beating cancer but dying in a car crash, was the sole topic of conversation by the locals.One song by Feliciano Levinson points out is called “Ana Caona.” “If you want to hear in four minutes why Cheo Feliciano is recognized as one of the Mount Rushmore salsa singers, listen to Ana Caona. You won’t need anything more than that.”“If you’re just learning about salsa music, you wanna learn about Latin music, if you wanna hear what singing is all about, don’t waste your time — go listen to Cheo Feliciano.”

Robert Smith turns 55

Robert Smith, iconic frontman for The Cure, turns 55. Brian Siewiorek talks to Cindy Howes about Smith's music and influence.The Cure is such an original band, Siewiorek says. “If you played your mother a Cure song, she’d say “oh that’s that Cure band,” because everybody knows what The Cure sounds like — that original unique sound, and no one sounds just like them,” he says.  Smith’s place in the band wasn’t planned out as he just sort of ended up being the singer, Howes says. “To me he’s always on the edge of tears,” she says.Siewiorek says that to the goth culture, which we were all likely part of at some point in our lives, Smith is an icon. “With the teased black hair and the white face and that lipstick and the messy eye makeup,” people still dress like him or have evolved from the look of Smith. “You can go to a bar in Lawrenceville and see a guy that looks like Robert Smith.”Howes cites The Cure for having many different eras of sound such as post-punk, goth, pop and epic, but Siewiorek says he thinks the early 80s period when The Cure was majorly post-punk sounding, was his favorite. “It was before they got like super, super dramatic with a lot of things, and it’s really great post-punk, almost a little bit of pop music right there,” he says.However, the more gothy albums like Pornography and Disintegration are not too be overlooked, Siewiorek says. “They are layered, and they are dark, and they are moody, and they are sad, but they are great.” As a front-man, Smith has an interesting mix of songs both goth and pop, Howes says. “There are many faces of Robert Smith,” she says.Smith’s influence on music shows up certainly in bands like My Chemical Romance, but also bands like The Sugarcubes, Interpol and Björk, Siewiorek says. “I think sometimes his dark, black-wearing, teased-hair image just kinda brings him down as a happy figure,” which Siewiorek says is heard in songs like “Friday I’m in love.”

Ingrid Michaelson on The Morning Mix

Singer songwriter Ingrid Michaelson’s newest album ‘Lights Out’ was released April  15, and it was the result of a dark time in her life that she made brighter. In the last year, both Michaelson and her parents fell ill. “When you’re sick, and people that you love are sick, nothing else really matters but trying to feel better again.” “To me there are a lot of light and dark beams — literally saying the word light in the record — to me it’s a reminder that we are here for but a moment and we should strive to the best that we can be while we’re here.”Michaelson’s open attitude can be heard in her music when she decided to change up the lyrics of her song “Girls Chase Boys” to make it less “hetero-normative.” The early demo, she said, felt “exclusive to hetero-sexuals.” “I felt like it was like a closed circuit, and I didn’t like that feeling, so I added this little tagline ‘girls chase girls and boys chase boys’ which I thought was a nod to the community, and it really opened up the song in a really nice way.” Michaelson said some don’t even catch the line before making comments, but the inclusion is there.The accompanying music video, which too involves gender bending subjects, received reaction from both supporters and critics. Michaelson says the negative comments, sometimes hurtful, can spring interesting dialogue among fans, both accepting of homosexuality and not.As for keeping the appeal to young listeners which she has had for over a decade, Michaelson said how she does it is a mystery. “I’m not trying to stay 18 in my writing,” but people these days, she says, are listening to a wider variety of music.Michaelson then references a tweet saying “I don’t know who is more excited to see [Michaelson], me or my 53 year old mom.” Kids will come to the shows with their parents, Michaelson says, and while most of the audience is aged 18 to 30, she’s enjoys seeing both ends of the spectrum at her shows.Ingrid Michaelson will be performing May 25 at Stage AE in Pittsburgh.

Dusty Springfield 75th Birthday Anniversary

April 16th marks what would be Dusty Springfield’s 75th birthday if she hadn’t died  in 1999 at the age of 59. Cindy Howes, host of The Morning Mix was joined by Afternoon Mix host, Rosemary Welsch to speak about Dusty’s life and career.Dusty Springfield began her career as a more traditional pop artist but eventually gravitated toward music with a roots base of blues and soul, making her a big success in the British Invasion. “She started incorporating more serious elements in her music. Emotional, still, but digging a little deeper into what drives people in love." She started forcing that kind of attitude that you could sing about love but it could be a little more serious than just the fluffy stuff,” says Rosemary.This kind of style and attitude left Dusty to clearly influence modern women in music who follow this theme like Adele or Amy Winehouse. “She captured emotion in sort of a way that Patsy Cline did where she could take an obvious love song but pull something out of it. The loneliness of falling in love, the validation that you get from it.” Dusty pulled a great amount of influence from African-American women like Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday. In the 1960s, during the Civil Rights era, Springfield was one of the most popular, top-charting artists. She was particularly influential in bringing black Motown music to the UK, pushing for artists like The Supremes, The Miracles and The Temptations to play at her shows. “In 1964 she went to South Africa to sing and in her contract she had an anti-apartheid stipulation saying that “I have to play to mixed audiences” and she did that, so they kicked her out of the country. I think that says a whole lot about where she would be today.” Rosemary tells us that she believes if Dusty Springfield hadn’t passed away in 1999 she would move on to producing music for others. Springfield’s fascination with other artists led her to work with them as well as discover them. Dusty had a keen ear for new music that was going to be successful and she often recorded her own tracks when she wasn’t pleased with the producers take her albums. We’re celebrating Dusty Springfield’s 75th anniversary and the influence she made on society and the music industry. You can hear the full interview below.

Sharon Jones on The Morning Mix

Sharon Jones recently joined Morning Mix host Joey Spehar in anticipation for the WYEP 40th anniversary Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings concert this Sunday at the Byham Theater. Her new album, Give The People What They Want was released in the beginning of 2014 in the midst of her struggle with cancer.Sharon was diagnosed after she had recorded the album and because of this, many of the songs took on a whole new meaning. “ ”Retreat!” changed right there in front of me while I was laying in the hospital. They talked about doing an animated video and once I saw the animated video, it was no longer me telling some guy to retreat, it was like me telling the cancer to retreat,” says Sharon.Jones has faced a great amount of hardships and challenges since getting to her current level of success and attributes her perseverance to her faith in God. Sharon tells us she believes that God gave her a gift of a voice and she has a duty to “...stay true to the gift.”Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have been making music together since 1996 so they’re experts when it comes to writing music together and playing off of one another. “They’d write new stuff and it was great, and the music was great. They’d write it down and give me the lyrics… and I’d make it my own.”Jones explains that The Dap Kings have been supportive through each step of her cancer and therapy. “I thought I was going to die,” says Sharon when the cancer kept spreading and she was sent to chemotherapy. Four short months after chemotherapy, Jones was back on stage performing.“All of the people that wrote me and said “Don’t you let that band push you” or “Don’t you go back out there” and I said “Do me a favor and don’t come to me with any negative… No one is pushing me.” The band watched me and, you know, I just love those guys to death, I’ve got one of the best bands in the world, I think.”Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings recently added a few Dappettes, Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan, who are long time friends of Sharon. The three women performed together as an Italian wedding band around 20 years ago and now Saundra and Starr sing backup vocals on Give The People What They Want and open for the band on tour. You can see Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings with the Dappettes on Sunday, April 13th at WYEP’s 40th anniversary special event at the Byham Theater and listen to the entire interview below.

Heather Arnet on Brazilian Music

Heather Arnet, writer and producer of "Madame Presidenta: Why Not U.S.?, joined Morning Mix host, Cindy Howes to talk about modern pop music in Brazil. Arnet tells us about the time she spent in Brazil and how music is such a crucial part of their culture and everyday life. She compares the place to New Orleans; when she would be filming and turn the corner, there would be a samba parade or people dancing and practicing music in the street and in cafes.Arnet aimed to share modern pop music in Brazil with us, when many people imagine Samba music or “Girl from Ipanema” as regular Brazilian music. The first tune we hear is from Ivete Sangalo with “Dançando” featuring Shakira. Heather tells us that Sangalo is a dynamic pop star in Brazil and she has a hard time comparing Ivete to any American artist. Heather then introduces us to the “Beyonce of Brazil,” Anitta, and her song “Show das Poderosas” which was also released in 2013.Heather was born and raised in Miami, Florida and her best friend was Brazilian. Her friend constantly had Roberto Carlos playing in the kitchen and this was the first Brazilian artist that Heather was introduced to. When Heather was in Brazil for her film, Roberto Carlos released another song, “Esse Cara Sou Eu” so she played it for us.“Everybody in the world is dealing with these same kinds of issues,” says Heather in relation to the lyrical content of music from different countries. “They might be coming about the answers in a different way. So if we want to think about how to advance women economically or politically in this country we should look to see how other countries have done it, too.”The CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation and writer/director of “Madame Presidentia, Why Not U.S.?” spoke at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday night to talk about her film which is out now. 

Jocie Adams of Arc Iris

Jocie Adams of Arc Iris recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to talk about Arc Iris’ new self-titled album. Adams is a former member of the folk band, Low Anthem, in which she was a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for the group. Since leaving Low Anthem and starting Arc Iris, Jocie has received more musical freedom and she can find new portions of herself.Critics and fans describe Arc Iris’ style and musical performance as a kind of modern Cabaret act, but Jocie thinks it’s more influenced by classical music. “Classical music is very dramatic. I studied classical music, therefore, some element of dramaticism is translated onto our music,” says Adams as she tells us about her classical composition training at Brown and her focus on clarinet in high school.Although Adams is particular to clarinet, her favorite instrument on Arc Iris is definitely the cat purring that appears in “Singing So Sweetly.” “Those are my cats!” Jocie brags, as says that the idea to add purring began as a joke that became very real. Luckily, the sound of her cats biting the microphone due to overstimulation didn’t translate to the album.Jocie Adams spent some time dabbling in rocket science for NASA but she doesn’t like to talk about it, but admits it probably affected how she sees music now. “Most people that worked at NASA also did music. I think the two are very interrelated in terms of building your brain. You do math and you do science, you’re working on some portion of your mind that is related to music in some way that is intangible.”When asked to explain a live performance by Arc Iris, Jocie tells Cindy that fans can expect to be challenged, but the whole experience will be exciting. Pittsburgh fans are able to see Jocie Adams in her gold leotard with the rest of Arc Iris at the Pittsburgh Winery on April 11th.

Robert Cray Interview

Robert Cray of The Robert Cray Band recently joined Morning Mix host Joey Spehar to talk about the band’s new album In My Soul which released April 1st. Cray is an American blues musician and this most recent record definitely shows it off. Robert tells us that the band didn’t set out with the intention to sound like their final product does, but after each member added their own ideas and material to the table, In My Soul became a “rockin’ soul record.”Producer, Steve Jordan worked with The Robert Cray Band for the third time and had a great deal of influence on the sound of In My Soul. “The way he likes to record would be like if you’re using tape, which isn’t so affordable these days but we can almost approximate that sound,” says Cray. He also adds that Jordan’s vintage amps and microphones allow the music to have a warm sound.Bassist of The Robert Cray Band, Richard Cousins wrote both “Hold On,” a tune that Joey says sounds exactly like something that would come out of 1970’s Philadelphia, and “Hip Tight Onions,” a tribute to Booker T. & the M.G.’s. “Hip Tight Onions” is the band’s first instrumental track and Cray exclaims what joy that band has performing the song.“Richard didn’t think we would jump on the song, but it was one of the first ones that we did jump on. We’re all in the studio at the same time recording and Steve Jordan is producing, he’s in the room with us and he’s dancing to the groove we’re playing.”Cray admits that he doesn’t practice his guitar for 12 hours a day, but Joey isn’t convinced because his guitar sounds amazing. In My Soul is out right now and you can check out the full interview below.

Carolina Chocolate Drops Guest DJ

Hubby Jenkins of Carolina Chocolate Drops plays Guest DJ on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. Generally identified as an old-time American roots band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops pride themselves on aligning their musical style to what was played before music began to separate itself into genres. “Before record industries came along and developed race records that said, “black people play this, black people play that” it was just this one music...American music,” says Hubby as he explains the group performs songs dating back to before World War II. Since each member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops are historians in their own sense, Jenkins took an historical approach to playing guest DJ. The first song we hear is from Talking Heads live concert Stop Making Sense with “Found A Job.” The first old-fashioned kind of music Hubby became interested in as a kid was country-blues, like Bob Dylan, so when Jenkins’ friend showed him Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads quickly became Hubby’s favorite band.  We immediately transition into “Billy Jack,” a song by Curtis Mayfield from the 1975 album There’s No Place Like America. “I really appreciate Curtis Mayfield for leaving the impressions, focusing on social issues and feeling the responsibility that a lot of artists feel to talk about what’s going on in the day and talk about the struggles that people are dealing with,” says Hubby also noting that in 1975, when the record was released, the world looked a lot like it does now for African Americans.  The final song that Hubby Jenkins plays for us is by A Tribe Called Quest with the classic “Can I Kick It” from People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. A Tribe Called Quest was one of the most influential hip-hop groups in Hubby’s life growing up. He traces hip-hop roots to Jamaican dancehall music in the 1970’s when artists would rap over their favorite tracks to get people to dance more.  Carolina Chocolate Drops most recent record Leaving Eden is available now.

Over The Rhine Guest DJ on The Morning Mix

Over the Rhine is a husband/wife American folk band from Ohio and recently played at The Rex Theater in Pittsburgh. Linford Detweiller of Over the Rhine joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to play guest DJ for WYEP listeners.Detweiller began his set with “Bird on a Wire” by Leonard Cohen from his 1969 release Songs From a Room. “I think lyrically it’s just one of those perfect songs with relatively simple language, but it’s incredibly fresh and timeless,” says Linford.Linford transitions from Leonard Cohen to Ron Sexmith with the song “Secret Heart” from Sexsmith’s 1995 self-titled album. Detweiller tells us that Sexsmith is another artist he admires who masters the art of writing music with very simple language. “His lyrics feel like something that was uncovered that always existed. I love the simplicity of his writing but, again, there’s also a timelessness that all of us songwriters hope to find along the way somewhere”Detweiller finishes his Morning Mix guest DJ set with Bonnie Raits’ “You Can’t Fail Me Now” from her 2012 album Slipstream. This song is a cover from Detweiller’s friend and producer Joe Henry. “This song has been around for a little while,” says Linford, “It’s been one of those beautiful little mysterious transmissions and I just love Bonnie Raits’ take on this song.”The latest Over the Rhine record is Meet Me At The Edge of the World, released this past September but they have a project in the works with aforementioned Joe Henry. Hear the full Guest DJ set with Linford Detweiller of Over the Rhine below.

John Carter Cash on The Morning Mix

Midday Mix host Mike Sauter was recently joined by John Carter Cash to speak about Johnny Cash’s rediscovered, previously unreleased album. Out Among the Stars was produced in 1984 when Cash was signed with Columbia Records but the record was stored in Cash’s archived collection. It wasn’t until recently that his son, John Carter Cash, stumbled upon this album and decided to release it on Legacy Recordings.John tells us that in 1984, country music was headed in a different direction than where it previously was and Columbia records did not foresee the popularity and success of Johnny Cash. For this reason Out Among the Stars was never released despite the quality of production that producer Billy Sherrill put into it.Cash expresses that at the time in his father’s life that Out Among the Stars was being recorded, Johnny was in the prime of his life both physically and spiritually. Prior to this album, Cash went through some struggles in rehab where he wrote the final song on Out Among the Stars, “I Came To Believe.”“It begs the listener to open up to my father’s spiritual view at the time. No matter what was going on business-wise or in his career, he was in a spiritual prime. He was working and playing and singing on the road all the time so when we listen to this record we’re hearing Johnny Cash sounding as good as he ever sounded and as good as he ever would for the rest of his life.”John Carter Cash admits that the process of discovering and releasing this record was a positive emotional experience, for he had more time to spend with his father. It brought John back to the time in 1984 when he and his father were particularly close. As a boy he remembers when the duet with Waylon Jennings, “I’m Moving On” was recorded and when his mother was featured on “Baby Ride Easy.”There are plenty of other unreleased Johnny Cash material that John Carter explains he won’t release for the sake of releasing another Johnny Cash record. “It’s got to make sense. It’s got to say something that hasn’t been said or if it has been said before, perhaps in a different way. For instance, there are other live recordings but it’s hard to beat those two prison records.”Out Among the Stars was released March 25th and the full interview with John Carter Cash can be heard below.

Simone Felice Interview

Folk musician Simone Felice recently joined Morning Mix host Joey Spehar to talk about his most recent album Strangers which releases March 25th via Dualtone Records. Strangers is Felice’s second studio album after his self-titled came out in 2012, not too long after The Felice Brothers disbanded.Simone recorded the entirety of Strangers in the Catskill Mountains with help from a number of his friends and family members, all fellow musicians. The Lumineers, Leah Siegel, and James Felice, Simone’s brother, are all featured on the album with help from Simone’s backing band.“There’s a certain magic that happens when you’re on the road, especially with your brothers. I do miss that. Over the past two years I’ve been developing a special little trio: me and Matty (Green) and Gabe (Dresdale). It’s become like a real little band and not just players that I bring out. And I feel for the first time since I’ve been a solo artist that I’ve got a special group that are like my brothers in arms.”Felice wrote and recorded Strangers with producer David Baron who helped to bring a component of stringed instruments and organ arrangements to the album. Baron comes from a family of sound engineers in the Woodstock region of New York, so he has an extensive past of studio experience.In the interview Joey notices that the songs on Strangers are like old notes and postcards from past lovers or from ourselves that are saved in drawers. Simone Felice agreed and adds,”...our bodies, our hearts, our minds are kind of like a closet. We store all of this stuff, some of it we don’t want to share, some of it we do, sometimes to share it is a medicinal or healing thing. Music has always been that way for me.”Simone Felice’s album Strangers comes out March 25th and for more on what Felice and Joey spoke about, including Simone’s daughter and the story behind Strangers album artwork check out the full interview below.

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