Audio Specials

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Remembering JJ Cale

JJ Cale would have turned 75 today, but unfortunately he passed away in July of heart failure. In honor of the legendary composer, Joey Spehar interviewed Jesse Novak of the Roots and Rhythm show here at WYEP.“It’s understated and laconic, and laid back, and he has nothing to prove,” says Jesse of JJ Cale’s style.  “He has nothing to prove. His vocals are almost a whisper at times, but there’s such a coolness to them. I wish I could be as cool as JJ Cale’s music.”In the early 1960s, Cale moved to Los Angeles to do some studio work. There he worked with Leon Russell, but after only a few years, a discouraged Cale moved back to Tulsa. Fortunately, he got a big break in 1970 when one of his songs was covered by a popular artist. JJ Cale was the author of the song “After Midnight”, made famous by Eric Clapton. “He was talented and had his own sound and was really unique, but it took someone like Eric Clapton to tweak things ever so slightly with a song like “After Midnight” to make it a little more commercially accessible, because as great as J.J. Cale’s music was, I think it lacked accessibility.”In 1972, Cale released his first album Naturally. “I think with Naturally and the follow up albums, especially Troubadour, theres just such a great blend of music that’s so natural. It’s country and it’s rock and roll, its blues and jazz, and theres not many people that blend things so effortlessly,” says Novak. “He was a special musician.”Joey comments that Cale wasn’t ever really a household name. Jesse agreed, saying, “He really saw himself as a backup guy. He was a guitar player, and reluctantly started singing and being a frontman. He really got pushed into that realm when Clapton was covering his songs. Then he got signed and he really had to step into that role.” But JJ Cale really stuck to his style and stuck to his guns of what he did best, and that was his mellow delivery.”JJ Cale recorded a number of albums between 1972 and 1996’s Guitar Man. In '96 he teamed up with Clapton to do an album called Road to Escondido. “Eric Clapton requested JJ Cale to do a record with him, and Cale was originally brought on to be a songwriter and producer and to guide the project, but Eric Clapton really championed JJ Cale as an artist.” Cale didn’t really want to be involved as a performer, and had gone into the project thinking it was a solo Clapton record. “I don’t think he went in kicking and screaming, but it was intended to be a Clapton project.” The album later won a Grammy, which was an honor he hadn’t received before.“I think JJ Cale’s legacy is just as a fantastic songwriter. He gets passed up probably as a performer, but those songs live on. How many times growing up in Pittsburgh did you hear Eric Clapton doing “Cocaine” on the radio, and “After Midnight”, and Lynard Skinard doing “Call Me the Breeze”. Those songs live on and that’s his legacy.” He was innovative and a fantastic songwriter, and he combined so many things to make his own style. His recorded music wasn’t anything that would catch on in mainstream radio, but the covers of his songs definitely got some airtime. “He claims to have always wanted other people to cover his songs and to just be a songwriter. It wasn’t for him to be in the forefront, he wanted other people to do that. I think he was more than happy to have Clapton do all the hard work and just wrote the songs.”Listen to the Roots and Rhythm Mix with Jesse Novak each Sunday from 11-2 on WYEP.

Dweezil Zappa Guest DJ

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.” 20 years have passed since Frank Zappa passed, and his legacy lives on. Joey Spehar got to talk to one of Zappa’s legacies, his son Dweezil, for a Guest DJ set.The fist song in the set was “Sleep Dirt”, the title track to his 1979 album. “You listen to it and you think somebody just pressed record and this is two people playing, you know my dad playing a solo and the other guy playing the accompaniment. And if that’s what happens when he’s improvising, its amazing to me, his ability to spontaneously compose in that way, because it’s an amazing guitar solo in every way,” says Dweezil. It’s the only entirely acoustic piece of music in Frank Zappa’s catalogue.The second song of Dweezil’s set is “Dog Breath Variations / Uncle Meat”. “The musicians had a bit more of an ability to also add what my dad would call “the eyebrows”, meaning they were open to performance suggestions and things that were nontraditional for orchestras,” says Dweezil.“Having grown up around him making his music, the stuff that made a huge impression on me was everything from the middle 70s going forward into the 80s. As a kid, I remember him working on "St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast". As a kid, it’s a great song about pancakes, but it has all this musical interlude stuff that is really detailed. That kind of almost cartoon-esque, cinematic sounding music sparked my imagination as a kid.”The last song in Dweezil’s playlist was “Black Page #2”. Rather than introduce it, Joey had Frank Zappa introduce it as he did on Zappa In New York.“We’d have fun games at home, simple games that were fun things to do, like make up words that should be in the dictionary but aren’t. For example, there was a time I was trying to stump him with a word for the kind of individual that wears rock n’ roll tee shirts, and he said without even batting an eye “insignoramus”, which is a combination of “insignia” and “ignoramus”.” Joey asked Dweezil if there were any Zappa reissues in the works. “We’ve been looking for rare performances with bands that are mostly under released, and that would be a period from 1970 to 73. At that time there weren’t that many multitrack recordings of live things,” Dweezil said. “There’s things that we’re looking at from different eras, but the Roxy performances, and the film of the Roxy show, we’ve been working on that for a long time, and that seems to be getting ready for an imminent release date, so that’s important since that record is 40 years old this year.” Dweezil Zappa’s Guest DJ Set “Sleep Dirt”“Dog Breath Variations / Uncle Meat”“Black Page #2”

Patrick Jordan of the Motherf-er with The Hat Guest DJ

Patrick Jordan, founder of the Pittsburgh theater company Barebones Productions, who is currently presenting and starring in "The Motherfucker With The Hat" came in to share some songs about hats for his guest DJ set. His first song was “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”, by Bob Dylan.The second song of Patrick Jordan’s set was “You Can Leave Your Hat On”, by Randy Newman. “What’s funny about Randy Newman is, people forget that he could get dirty too. He’s doing all these cartoon songs now, but he’s got some down and dirty roots,” Jordan says.The third song is one that is more significant in relation to the play. It’s called “Who the Cap Fit”, by Bob Marley.The fourth and last song in Patrick Jordan’s set is by Merle Haggard. “I feel like if you listen to this song, and you’re not familiar with Patrick Jordan, you’ll know what its like to be Patrick Jordan,” says Cindy. The song is “My Own Kind of Hat”.“At its heart it’s a love story, and it’s a comedy. So don’t let the name scare you away. It’s actually very funny. I’m telling people it’s about love and other addictions,” says Patrick about his play, "The Motherfucker with The Hat".“Jackie, the character that I play, just gets out of prison and he’s coming home to his long term girlfriend. Jackie is in AA, and his girlfriend is still using. He is very excited, he just got a job, everything is looking great, he’s thinking about plans, he’s thinking about marriage, about getting his life in order, when he finds a man’s hat that is not his hat in his apartment. Then he goes on a journey to find out whose hat it is, and he learns a little more than he wants to know.”Jordan says he wanted to create a show were most people understand the humor, but some of those people are sitting next to audience members that are offended. “The majority of the people that are coming to the show get the humor, they understand that it’s actually really fun. Once you get past the language, and its not horrible language, its just, they say the f-word. It’s in the title. One of the best things about this play is that the title of this play is the disclaimer. You know what you’re going to get.”Patrick Jordan’s Guest DJ Set List:Bob Dylan – “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”Randy Newman – “You Can Leave Your Hat On”Bob Marley – “Who the Cap Fit”Merle Haggard – “My Own Kind of Hat”More about Patrick Jordan and Barebones Productions. 

Jordan Lee of Mutual Benefit on The Morning Mix

Jordan Lee has never been one to stay in one place. This musician, who goes by the moniker Mutual Benefit, grew up outside of Columbus, Ohio, but moved as quickly as he could to Austin, Texas. There he studied how to record rock musicians. He says that since then, he hasn’t lived in one place for more than 3 months, having moved back and forth from Boston, New York, Saint Louis and back to Austin. “A lot of the time, moving is an easy way to find inspiration when you’re just surrounded by different people and imagery and things like that. At least with this record I tried to draw from a lot of different influences and also that idea of almost alienation, but maybe the positives of it where everything is new around you and you have to get your bearings,” Lee says.The do-it-yourself method is very important to Jordan Lee. He says, ““There are some times when professionalism is important, and some times it’s important to just be with your friends in your basement making sounds.” But he isn't as confident in this ideal as he might seem.  “Actually sometimes I lay awake at night afraid that maybe I’m betraying that with how I’m going right now. The idea is not waiting for anyone else to give you opportunities, and to build communities and work with peers, a lot of collaboration. I didn’t have any sort of plans of going through any sort of record label, I was actually just planning on coming out on cassette tape.”Mutual Benefit has a sweet, breezy sound to it, especially on the new album, Love’s Crushing Diamond. Lee drew inspiration from Elliot Smith. “With this record, the biggest element was incorporating field recording and maybe before we did 20 minute jams that sound ridiculous but taking five or six seconds of that and cutting it up, making that the basis of the song, looking at each sound and seeing that it has the potential to be something else.”Love's Crushing Diamond is out now. Check out Mutual Benefit's bandcamp page for more information.

Lissie Guest DJs on The Morning Mix

Lissie’s first song is “Wharf Rat” by the Grateful Dead. “That’s a song that I love the way the dynamics filled, and I’m a huge Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia fan.”The second song of Lissie’s set is Lana Del Rey’s “Ride”. “You know, Lana Del Rey was someone that when she initially came out I wasn’t quite sure what I thought, but as I got into more of her material I think she’s just absolutely brilliant. She almost reminds me of Johnny Cash in this song, “Ride”, and the video for it is amazing. If you haven’t seen the video you should definitely check it out.”The last song Lissie picked was Andy William’s version of “Moon River”. “Because that’s just a beautiful song, no matter how many times I hear it. It puts me into a nice mood, it’s kind of sentimental and mellowing. It make’s me feel kind of nostalgic.” Cindy asked Lissie what she thought of Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and it turns out that Lissie isn’t a fan.  “I saw that movie for the first time just a couple years ago, and I actually found her character quite irritating.” Lissie has a new album out called Back to Forever. She recently released a music video for her song “Further Away Romance Police”. The video was filmed in Rock Island, Illinois. “I left there when I was 18 to follow my dreams, but within the last 5 years I’ve been drawn back to Rock Island. And my dog stays there with my parents when I tour.” Cindy asked what it was like to film the video back in her hometown, saying that if she were in Lissie’s place, she wouldn’t be able to do that. By a happy coincidence, an English guy she knew in LA was friends with someone from Lissie’s highschool that had become a successful video director. “It took this British guy to reintroduce us to one another, and not a lot of people from Rock Island would be out in LA doing this kind of thing, so it was cool that we got reconnected and decided we’d love to work together to shoot something in Rock Island, since its both our hometown.” The video is very DIY, but still has some cool effects. “We got so lucky with the weather. It was like a double rainbow, I mean we couldn’t have asked for a better situation considering we were just kind of winging it. I think it’s my best video.”Cindy says the new album has a kind of shiny rock sound, which is a bit of a departure from her last album. “If I’m 100% honest, I wasn’t really trying to go for anything. I had just written these songs, and the live sound I’ve developed with my band is pretty rockin’, you know the folk stuff that I do from time to time, which is in my nature, isn’t really what I’ve been focusing on.”Lissie's song selections:1. Grateful Dead "Wharf Rat"2. Lana Del Rey "Ride"3. Andy Williams "Moon River" Lissie's latest album Back to Forever is out now on Columbia Records. 

Lord Grunge of Grand Buffet Guest DJs

Cindy Howes recently invited Lord Grunge of Grand Buffet to play Guest DJ on The Morning Mix. Cindy tasked him with bringing Hip Hop to people that might not otherwise like the genre.Grunge’s first song was Run DMC's “It’s Like That”. “Run DMC is overall probably the most influential group for me, personally,” Grunge said.The second song in Lord Grunge’s set list was Ice-T’s “Reckless”. “That track in particular is awesome, some older Ice-T stuff of the soundtrack to the movie Break In,” Grunge said. He highly recommended Cindy add the film to her queue. The last song Lord Grunge played is “50 Ways” by Kool Moe Dee, a song that samples “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon, someone people that might not be as familiar with rap will likely appreciate. “I’m always going to side with [Kool Moe Dee] between him and LL Cool J, I think he won that battle with Deathblow, but I wanted to play something a little more mellow." Both members of Grand Buffet, Lord Grunge and Grape-A-Don, have new solo albums out and they’ll be showing off their new material at sold out shows at Brillobox. Grand Buffet has been around for a really long time in Pittsburgh, and they’ve been touring a ton. “We traveled quite a bit and established little pockets of fans all over the western world. We’ve kind of been on hiatus for a few years now, and I’m just excited now that we’re both middle-aged losers, we’re back with solo albums. It’s like the perfect time in someone’s life to come out with a solo album, when you’re old and no one cares about you,” Grunge joked.Cindy asked about the new solo records from the Grand Buffet members. “Well, mine is great, the other guy’s is good. Definitely worth buying if you’re a Grand Buffet fan, but mine’s worth buying if you’re alive.” Additionally, Cindy asked about new Grand Buffet music, and Grunge revealed that there will be a new Grand Buffet record next year.Lord Grunge’s Guest DJ setlist:Run DMC – “It’s Like That”Ice-T – “Reckless”Kool Moe Dee – “50 Ways”

Broken Fences Release New EP

Morgan Erina, of Broken Fences, joined Cindy Howes in studio to talk about Broken Fences’ upcoming EP, Stormy Clouds.Morgan and Guy Russo, the other half of Broken Fences, were joined by Nathan Zoob and Jason Rafelak to record this album, each playing in the same room together at Jaybird Studios in Cranberry. “It’s surrounded by the forest. It was very organic and very Earthy. It didn’t feel like we were recording, we were just playing as a band,” Morgan said. “And that’s different from the first ablum, where everything was separate.” The whole EP was recorded in 4 days, and in matching the mood of the album, the recording process was relaxing.Morgan told Cindy that the title track, “Stormy Clouds”, “is about being at home and waiting for your other half to come back, but you guys had a fight and you’re not sure he’ll come back. It’s just kind of about that lonely place where you’re not sure what’s happening in your relationship.”Every week, Morgan goes to AcoustiCafe, the open mic at Club Café. She loves the people, calling them family. “It’s cool to see new people play, but really cool to see the new songs that the fixtures have written or want to perform. They’ve really become a second family, and it’s comforting.”Cindy wanted to talk to Morgan about the Broken Fences Wine from the Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District. The Winery is run by Tim Mulhern, and he gave the band a bottle of wine with their album cover as the label. The wine is a red zinfandel, although Morgan says they have a white one also. “We did a wine tasting, and we tasted all the wines they have, and this one kind of has a very smokey, woody feel to it. It’s kind of literal with the whole “Broken Fence” kind of thing, so I thought that was cool.”Broken Fences will be premiering the music video for the song “Simplicity” from their first album at the release party for the new EP. Morgan didn’t want to give away too many details, but she says the meaning is “hope”. “In the beginning, people are depressed, and then they ‘follow the light’, in a way. I want this video to give people a sense of hope.”The release party for Broken Fences’ new EP Stormy Clouds is Friday the 22nd at Club Café. Doors are at 6, and Morgan hopes everyone enjoys the show!

The Beatles' White Album Turns 45

The 45th anniversary of The Beatles' 9th studio album, the White Album, is Friday, November 22nd, and Cindy Howes interviewed Mike Sauter about the album. Originally, it was harshly criticized for not being focused enough, but we know it now as an amazing album, and Mike is here to tell us everything we didn’t know.The White Album was the first full-length album after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In May of 68, The Beatles did something that was a bit strange for them. Everyone gathered at George's house and recorded demos of the songs that would appear on the album. The demo version of the song "Revolution" was super noisy and gritty, but the album version was much more laid back. Mike played the demo for us to enjoy.The very last song on the album is "Goodnight", which Ringo sang and John wrote. John wanted it to have a very lush, Hollywood feel, but originally there was going to be a spoken word intro. It was supposed to be like Ringo was telling kids to go to sleep. Eventually, the introduction was cut from the record, but you can hear a rough take courtesy of Mike Sauter.One of George’s greatest contributions to the album was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, but it wasn’t just George that made this song awesome. George got Eric Clapton to play guitar for the song. Clapton, however, didn’t think the song was good enough, so he convinced the producers to run it through some equipment to make it sound more like a Beatles riff. Finally, Clapton was satisfied with it, but Clapton was great enough that it probably would have been fine anyway.One of the most interesting things about The Beatles is that they would sometimes leave mistakes in the tracks they made. "Helter Skelter" is a song written by Paul, and he wanted to make a really raw, gnarly song. According to reports, the recording process of the song was out of control. Mike played the song with all the instrumentation, but then compared it to the song with only the voice. It’s something that many people probably missed, but Mike is clever enough to find all these hidden parts of songs.At the time the record came out, there was a rumor that Paul was dead. After the song “I’m So Tired” and before “Blackbird”, you can hear John muttering a bit of French. When played in reverse, it sounds like he’s saying “Paul is a dead man, I miss him, I miss him, I miss him.” It’s actually pretty scary, according to Cindy. Have a listen here if you’ve never heard it before.Listen to the whole piece for more Beatles easter eggs, and check out one of the Beatles workshops Mike Sauter hosts in the springtime!

The Red Western On The Morning Mix

Joey Spehar interviewed The Red Western’s Lauren DeLorenze and Jay Leon in anticipation of their performance at WYEP’s Community Broadcast Center for November’s Third Thursday show. They shared some insight into the band, and what they love about Pittsburgh.The Red Western has been around since 2007, but most of the members of the band had known each other for a while longer. The guys asked Lauren to join the band because early on they had recognized the potential of her voice. Joey asked why she joined The Red Western when she hadn’t joined other bands that asked her before. “It was something interesting for me to do. I went to music school and after two years I decided not to do it anymore, so I quit,” Lauren said. “I was pretty interested in getting back into music.”In 2013 The Red Western teamed up with another Pittsburgh band, Grand Piano, to release a split LP. “We wanted to release vinyl really bad,” Lauren said. “Yeah, we wanted to release vinyl, but not pay for all of it,” Jay laughed. Lauren continued, adding, “I just love the idea of doing splits. I always remember buying old punk rock splits, and I just thought it was something bands in our genre don’t do as often as I’d like to see.”Joey wanted to know the story behind the song “Love For Free”, which is a favorite around the WYEP studios. “Listen, all of our songs have incredibly deep and layered meanings,” Jay joked. “It’s basically a ‘giving up on relationships’ kind of a song. I guess you might want to think ‘free love’ is kind of a hippy-ish idea, but it’s really about just not wanting to try. You want someone to care about you, but you don’t want to try for it." The Red Western’s sound originally was very much alt-country inspired, but lately they’ve drifted into more into the rock and power-pop genres. Joey asked what caused this shift, and they cited a change in musical taste as the reason. Lauren said, “My music taste definitely changes as I get older. I’m a little more sophisticated in my taste now too.” John agreed saying, “I think when the band started, it had more of a project feel. We were really into alt-country at the time, and we wanted something that fit that. But all of us grew up on punk rock, so it was only a matter of time before things got louder.”They wrapped up the interview with Joey by talking a bit about the Pittsburgh music scene. “I think Pittsburgh is the greatest city to start a band in. There’s such an incredible pool of talent, of unpretentious really sweet and special people that are great songwriters from so many walks of life, and you can get a show in a month and a half if you want to,” Jay said. “I think it’s the coolest place for people to share ideas and everybody is very supportive of each other.”Check out more about The Red Western on their website, theredwestern.net, on twitter, and bandcamp. And don’t forget to check them out at Third Thursdays!

Gathering Field Reunites!

Bill Deasy frontman for one of Pittsburgh most loved bands, The Gathering Field, dropped by WYEP and talked to Cindy Howes about the band officially reuniting. Expect a new album in Spring of 2014 from the band, who have not released new material since 2001's So Close to Home. Listen to the interview below for more information about The Gathering Field's reunion. 

Johnny Marr on The Morning Mix

Brian Siewiorek recently had a chance to talk to legendary musician Johnny Marr. Marr is a groundbreaking musician that is probably most well known for founding The Smiths, and has been a member of other bands like Modest Mouse. Also, Marr has played with many others including Talking Heads, Billy Bragg, Tom Jones, and Kirsty MacColl. But in all the time he’s been playing music, he has only just recently released a solo record. Called The Messenger, this album was both written and produced by Johnny Marr.“The song “Words Start Attack” was the first song I wrote for the album. That was me getting a little bit of a notion about technology and how we communicate through screens these days, and how friendships can be broken through an email,” said Marr. “When I was writing the record, that sort of became the concept.” Another track on the record, “I Want the Heartbeat”, is about a man that wins the lottery and trades his wife for a heart monitor, which Johnny Marr says could one day be “the ultimate technological fetish.”While the concept behind the lyrics of The Messenger is related to technology’s negative impact on communication and interpersonal relations, the album is a fast paced electric marvel. Marr said he wanted this album to have “high energy tunes that sound good in the day. That makes you want to put your iPod on in the car on your way to work or back from school, or whatever.” The album has lots of energy, and as Marr warns, “I’m not making music to pour a glass of wine or kick back with a joint after a stressful day. I’m making music that makes you excited in the day time.”Brian asked Johnny what his songwriting process is like, and Johnny says there are a few ways he comes up with songs. “The way I write for myself is I kind of tend to hear the whole tune in my head. I just sing it into my phone or a recording device. If I get a notion, if you like, about the world or about things.” Marr was able to tell us exactly how he wrote the title track. “The song “The Messenger” came out like an electro sort of 80s thing. Came about from me messing around on an old 12 string acoustic, and it was almost like a sort of folkey thing.”Marr has been producing music since all the way back in the Smiths era of his career, and he’s done it frequently since then. “On The Messenger it wasn’t something that I asked for. I got to go into the studio and everyone’s looking at me saying, ‘what microphone are we going to put on the tom toms?’ I’m like, ‘oh right.’” Marr says that he was grumpy about producing the album for about a month before he finally got in the groove of things, but he would love it if he found the right producer for his solo stuff.Marr says he already has 8 or 9 songs written already for the next Johnny Marr record, and he's working on the soundtrack to the next Spiderman movie with Hans Zimmer and Pharell Williams. 

Andy Partridge of XTC turns 60

For Andy Partridge’s 60th birthday, Cindy Howes interviewed WYEP Music Director Mike Sauter regarding the XTC singer. Founding the New Wave band XTC in the 70s, along with Collin Moulding, Partridge wrote some of the catchiest most biting songs of the New Wave era.After the Sex Pistols broke out in 1977, XTC released their first album in the middle of a musical revolution in ‘78. XTC wanted to sound different than any other music coming out of the 70s, and they started with a unique cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”Partridge suffered from a terrible stagefright, and in 1982, the band stopped touring and became a studio band. This allowed them to develop their sound more than a touring band. The lyrics were very intelligent, with a wry observational stance. Some songs had social commentary, although subdued and resigned. Really just point it out, saying “I guess that’s the way it is and nothing can be done about it.” He also wrote self deprecating love songs that said “Who am I, but I love you.” “He always had an interesting take and a great perspective that made his social commentary songs very interesting to listen to,” Mike says.Their most successful album commercially and artistically was the 1986 release Skylarking. They hired producer Todd Rundgren, but they had a very contentious relationship. He brought something new from XTC, and drew them away from their New Wave roots. This new, different sound was much more pastoral, as Mike says, and people really responded well to Skylarking.Andy Partridge wrote about 2/3 of XTC’s songs, but Collin Moulding wrote incredible songs too. He wasn’t as prolific a writer, but the ones he did write were very good. “Collin Moulding , kind of like that guy in the room where everyone is having a conversation and he doesn’t say very much, but when he does open his mouth to say something you know it’s going to be good.” Andy Partridge, however, was a lot more prolific, and that allowed him to experiment more. “You never knew what to expect from an Andy Partridge song,” says Mike.Cindy challenged Mike to introduce people to Andy Partridge via one XTC song. Mike balked at the challenge, citing the duality of Partridge’s writing persona. He has the self deprecating lover aspect, and the social commentary aspect. For the latter, Mike said he would pick “Dear God”. “He’s really singing from his heart, and he’s trying to get his point across, and it really comes across well.” For the self deprecating lover aspect, Mike picked “The Mayor of Simpleton”. “It’s a great song, it has an incredibly catchy hook, it’s very well written as a song…Personally, I can’t imagine anyone not liking that song.”“He seems like a likable guy, and when he writes his social commentary type songs, he’s never really strident in it. He’s really never yelling at you or trying to tell you what to do. He is a real genuine type of guy, seems like a lot of fun, with a real sharp wit, but not the kind of intelligence that you don’t even want to talk to him.”

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast on The Morning Mix

Cindy Howes had an opportunity to interview Bethany Cosantino of Best Coast recently about the band’s latest release, Fade Away.Bethany has said that the song “I Don’t Know How” is inspired by Country music singers. “I’ve always been a fan of 60s country music and female country singers. I’m also really into Taylor Swift and that whole Country Pop sound. I wanted to blend that idea of 60s female country singing with a typical Best Coast song. That’s why the song is kind of two parts.” Some classic country musicians that Bethany is inspired by are Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Bobbie Gentry. She even has a Bobby Gentry album hanging up in her home office.Bethany also explained her writing process on the song “Who Have I Become”: “When I write lyrics it’s very casual. I sit down and I start writing on guitar, and as I’m writing the melody I just start mumbling lyrics to myself,” Bethany said. “I remember writing this and thinking, ‘oh, there’s too many lyrics. This is like a rap song.” She says that if they speed up the song even a little bit, she’s “literally rapping”, so they have to be careful. She also mentioned that the song was inspired by the theme song to the "Clueless" TV Show. Generally, when writing for Best Coast, Cosentino and bandmate Bobb Bruno don’t write together. Bethany writes songs at home in her room, then she records it on the computer and sends it to Bobb via email. She tells him what sort of vibes she wants the song to have, he finishes it, and then they go into the studio. “We tried to write something together and it was just so awkward. It just did not work. We said ‘let’s just keep doing it the way do it’, and we’ve been doing it that way for four and a half years and it’s worked really successfully, so we don’t really plan on changing it.” The lyrics Bethany writes for her songs are pretty revealing of her personal life, and showcase her emotions as clear as day. She did admit that sometimes it can become a problem, being too literal. “I will admit that sometimes it is a little frustrating because people are constantly like, ‘who is that song about’ and ‘why did they do that to you?’ And sometimes I’m just like, ‘that’s not something I want to talk about’. So sometimes I think maybe I should hold back next time I’m writing, but that’s probably not going to happen.” She also writes a lot about her home state, California. “When people listen to our music they think of California, and it’s obviously because I’ve shoved the aesthetic in everyone’s face very heavily,” Bethany laughed. “We like to bring our music to places where there is no beach, or it’s 50 degrees and it’s snowing and it’s freezing. I know 50 degrees isn’t freezing, but to me that’s freezing.” While the songs tell of Cosentino’s love of the state, she does like to get away. “It’s really nice to go on tour and leave California for a little bit, and then when you come home you’re always so jazzed to be back.”Bethany has an impressive social media presence, and she has acquired quite a following. She even had a clothing line at Urban Outfitters. Cindy asked where she found the most surprising example of her influence, and Bethany explained about seeing it at some shows they did recently. “I’ve been really into Bart Simpson lately, and all these young girls showed up to the show in Bart Simpson shirts. It’s just bizarre to me that things I do are just becoming cool for all these young girls that look up to me to do.” As far as how she feels about it, she definitely likes it. “It’s really humbling and kind of awesome to just know that you’re making a difference in somebody’s life whether its your music that’s helping them through a breakup or helping them get through something tragic that happened to them, or your style that’s influencing them, or your haircut that’s influencing them. It’s just awesome feeling to know that what you’re doing is inspiring people in whatever way.”Best Coast's new mini album, Fade Away, is out now.

Joni Mitchell 70th Birthday On The Morning Mix

Joni Mitchell is one of the most influential musicians of all-time. Mitchell has written ‘many songs that defined a generation and has is considered one of the most covered songwriters ever. Cindy Howes and Rosemary Welsch discuss the life and music of Joni Mitchell on The Morning Mix to mark her 70th birthday.Born Roberta Joan Anderson, Joni Mitchell had an interesting childhood.  She contracted polio at 8 years old, and she was told she’d have to use an iron lung her whole life. She decided that she’d combat her polio by singing at every opportunity. A year after her diagnosis, she started smoking cigarettes. “A dedicated smoker, lets just put it that way,” Rosemary says.In high school she fell in love with rock n’ roll music. In the 60s she started busking in Toronto, and moved to Detroit, and New York with a man with the last name Mitchell. She started breaking through in the late 60s, having performed with Johnny Cash.Blue was the Joni Mitchell album that really caused her to get recognition. “Up till this point you had people like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. They were a bit more outward looking, what was happening in the world. But Joni took it in and said ‘what’s happening in my world.” Rosemary says. At this point she was having relationships with people like James Taylor and Steven Stills, and they appeared on the album with her.Her first couple albums were in the style of folk artists. But later albums moved to different styles. “By the time she’s hitting Ladies of the Canyon, there’s pop and there’s rock starting to move into it. She’s using percussion, backing vocals, there’s layered production, and its starting to change.” She was heavily influenced by jazz, and eventually she introduces elements from world music into her songs. Joni found herself pregnant in 1964. She gave up her child for adoption, and that’s when she says she really began writing lyrics. She met her daughter in 1977, and her career slowed down after that. “She walked away from music as a full time thing at this point in time,” says Rosemary. Joni Mitchell, in addition to her incredible talent as a musician, was also a talented painter. It became more important to her as she grew older and more dissatisfied with the music industry. The cover to Joni’s album Cloud is actually a painting of hers.“When people use open chords or alternate tunings, it really opens you up to improvisation, and I think that’s what Joni did.” Early on, Joni was very intricate with her keyboard work, but it was much more like rhythmic strumming at the end of her career.

Eric Pulido of Midlake on The Morning Mix

The Denton, Texas band, Midlake has been around for about ten years releasing lush folk music that is reminiscent of Fairport Convention and other British 60’s folk rock bands. This past year marked a major shift in the group. Tim Smith, Midlake’s main singer and songwriter abruptly left the band. All members of Midlake stepped up to record a new album that they had promised. What came of that experience is a sound swelling with psychedelic influence and band that has begun a new exciting chapter. Cindy Howes spoke with new Midlake frontman, Eric Pulido about their new record, Antiphon.When it was announced back in August that Eric would be taking over for Tim Smith, there was much excitement for the band’s future, but there was some worry also. “At the time, it was in some ways a daunting task. When your lead singer and songwriter leaves the band, it kind of shakes things up a bit,” Eric says. This, they though, was just another “chapter of opportunity”, and it seems to have paid off with Antiphon. “It’s the most communal record we’ve ever done together.”Cindy asked Eric about the difficulties of recovering from losing the frontman of the band. “There was never any talk of breaking up. We still wanted to continue on. But was it difficult? Yeah, there were definitely some fears and insecurities.”Midlake had recorded album and a half worth of material before Tim left the band, and all of it was scrapped with Tim left the group. New material for Antiphon was written and recorded in 6 months. “I wouldn’t say it was easy, there were definitely a lot of growing pains, especially early on. But it was kind of like running a marathon. Even though these were new songs, it was still the same objective. We were still trying to create a record.  Even though there wasn’t necessarily a deadline, we wanted to finish that race.”It is safe to say that Midlake seems to have won the race, and the new album Antiphon is out now. Pick it up and enjoy this new psychedelic sound.

Marshall Crenshaw on The Morning Mix

Marshall Crenshaw has recently released a new EP called I Don’t See You Laughing Now, and has a new one planned for release on Record Store Day. His latest project is a subscription project that will have him producing a series of three song 10” vinyl EPs. Cindy wondered what his inspiration was for this idea. “It was a combination of other people’s ideas, actually. I remembered something I read about Sam Phillips, you know, the singer/songwriter, that said she had some sort of subscription thing she was doing. And I read another interview that I read with Jack White where he was talking about the beauty of vinyl records and the value of having a  tangible object of art in your hand, and I thought ‘Jack’s right, I like vinyl records too.’ So I took Sam’s idea and Jack’s idea and made it my idea.” Each record has an original A side, and each B side has two tracks. One is always a cover song, and the second track is a remake or a new interesting version of an older Marshall Crenshaw song.Additionally, Marshall Crenshaw does a radio show on WFUV in New York. Cindy asked if he had done a radio show before, but Crenshaw said he hadn’t, other than being a guest on other people’s shows. One show he was a guest on was on the Steve Earl Show on Air America. He would have musicians or authors on the show, and guests would bring records they liked, and they would talk about them. “I did his show and I just realized that I always loved doing that. So the show that I do is a weekly roundup of records from my personal record collection.”The new song, “Driving and Dreaming” was part of an album that Crenshaw mixed himself. “This time around I did everything myself because I spent too much money on the second one, so I had to do it all myself on the third.” He wrote this autobiographical song with Dan Byrne, and Marshall thinks it’s a good road song.The new EP comes out on November 29. Be sure to pick it up and burn a mix for your car’s stereo!

WYEP's Artists Tribute to Lou Reed

When Lou Reed died on October 27th, he left behind a legacy of great songs. In tribute, we offer an hour of Reed's songs as covered by other artists, plus a few originals.  Featuring: R.E.M., David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, U2, Cat Power, Nirvana and many more. Hosted by Brian Siewiorek.

Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog Guest DJ Set

Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog was gracious enough to do a Guest DJ set with Cindy before Dr. Dog’s show in Pittsburgh, and he picked some seriously cool tunes.The first song on Scott’s set list is the Oblivians’ “Live the Life”.  “I feel like it’s better than a cup of coffee. I love the overall soul and spirit of the thing, as well as the lyric. I feel like the lyric is the best possible mantra a musician can hold on to.”The second song Scott chose for his set was Cotton Jones’ “Somehow Keep it Going”.  “I love every single Cotton Jones song I’ve heard in equal measure to that one, but I figured that one’s kind of the hit. I cant imagine anyone wouldn’t like that song.” Dr. Dog did a tour with Cotton Jones, and Scott feels that Cotton Jones is one of the most underrated bands around these days.The last song of McMicken’s playlist is Karen Dalton’s “Something’s On Your Mind”. Cindy is a fan of Karen Dalton’s, but somehow this song had escaped her. She was curious about how Scott discovered it, and he heard about her through the band. “Theres this weird little anomaly of an album called In My Time produced by Fred Neil…If the stories that I’ve heard are true, it’s pretty remarkable because apparently they kind of snuck this one her.” Scott told us that Neil asked her to come into the studio and had a band ready for her. She wasn’t aware of it, and was allegedly pretty annoyed, but still they cut the record in a day. He says he’s never heard someone with as sultry a voice as Karen Jones. “Her voice is smoked out like a jazz sax! I can’t get enough of it.” Scott McMicken’s Guest DJ setlist: Oblivians – “Live the Life”Cotton Jones – “Somehow Keep it Going”Karen Dalton – “Something’s On Your Mind”

Scott Simmons of Scarehouse Halloween Guest DJ

Sound is a huge part of what makes the Scarehouse as terrifying as it is, and Scott Simmons, as creative director, is one of the people in charge of making the soundscape as creepy as possible. “We’re big theme park nerds, audio nerds, and so we put a lot of effort into the sound design of the place. We’ll have multiple audio tracks, and in fact one of the songs I’m going to play today is a big influence on everything we’ve done at Scarehouse, being a kind of cinematic experience.”The first song on Scott’s playlist is inspired by the old horror movies he watched when he was younger. Dead Man’s Bones’ song by the same name was the pick. “Turns out somebody who was much cooler and hipper than me, Ryan Gosling, has the same kind of passion for that kind of stuff, the old school monster movies and ghosts and things…and he actually formed this band called Dead Man’s Bones, which does a lot of creepy, fun Halloween music.”The second song Simmon’s picked is “The Mummy” by Bob McFadden. The song was very influenced by old scary movies. “When I grew up in the 70s it used to be great to go to stores and get these long playing records that would be like combinations of spooky stories and Vincent Price stuff and spooky sound effects. I don’t know if they do that kind of stuff anymore…But both of those songs sound like stuff from that era.” These songs all make you feel like it’s Halloween without being the Monster Mash or Ghostbusters.Third on the list is Alice Cooper’s “Years Ago”. Scott makes the point that not all of Alice Cooper’s music, which had been considered pretty nasty and aggressive in the 70s, was as bad as people thought it was. Looking back, it’s fun. “It’s that thin line between humor and horror, and Alice Cooper was right there. I mean, he was on the Muppet Show!” That said, “Years Ago” is still a very creepy song, and fits the theme quite well.The final song on Scott Simmon’s playlist is “Grim Grinning Ghosts” from Disney’s Haunted Mansion. “That is the anthem of haunted house and Halloween people everywhere. That’s the song that was designed for the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland…I’m a major Haunted Mansion nerd.” Scott is such a nerd, he has Haunted Mansion bootlegs. His love for creating a cinematic experience is heavily influenced by this song.The Scarehouse is open Halloween night, and Scott says it’s a great idea to come. “A lot people think that Halloween will be a really busy night at the Scarehouse, and actually it’s a great night to come out. We still have the full cast, we still have the haunt running at full strength, but because of trick or treating, because of other stuff going on, and it being a Thursday night, lines wont actually be that bad.” They’re open the weekend after Halloween also, in case you missed it before the holiday.Scott says the Scarehouse’s scariest event ever is open this year. The Basement is now open, and unlike the upper floor which is PG-13 rated, the basement is very R rated. “The basement is about as hardcore as we can get.” You have to sign a waiver to get in, and you have to be older than 18, so you know it must be horrifying. Scott's selections:1. "Dead Mans Bones" - Dead Man's Bones
2. "The Mummy" - Bob McFadden
3. "Years Ago" -- Alice Cooper
4. “Grim Grinning Ghosts " - Disney's Haunted Mansion

War of the Worlds 75th Anniversary Guest DJ Set

This year is the 75th anniversary of the legendary radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds. To celebrate this landmark in radio broadcasting, Cindy Howes welcomed Tami Dixon of Bricolage Productions to the Morning Mix.Bricolage is performing a Midnight Radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds on the eve of the anniversary. “It’s like Prairie Home Companion on Redbull. If you don’t know what Prairie Home Companion is, its like Saturday Night Live meets the Daily Show meets Pee-wees Playhouse,” Tami says. This means that it’s a bit of a variety act in the style of 1940’s radio. Vintage stories, original stories, game shows, guests, musicians, and live foley sound effects are all part of the Bricolage experience.The first song on Tami Dixon’s playlist is The Byrds’ "Mr. Spaceman" from the 70s. “It’s a very happy style, and a lot of us look at aliens as “the other”, as something that are coming to get us. I want to think that maybe they’re going to come and visit and do something wonderful for us, teach us how to survive better.”Next up on the set list is Sufan Stevens’ song “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois”. “I love him, I love his voice. I think his harmonies are incredible, and there’s something so lonely about his work about his sound. I think there’s also something very lonely about space, about this idea of “what is out there, what is beyond us.” I think that’s what the War of the Worlds, the original broadcast, of played on, this fear of all that.”Tami Dixon’s last song is "2 Little Men in a Flying Saucer by Ella Fitzgerald". This tune is from the 50s, so about 15 years after the original broadcast of the War of the Worlds, but the aliens featured in this tune have a very different reaction to Earth than others in media. “It talks about these aliens coming to visit and saying, “No thanks, I don’t want to visit.” It’s a great song, and it might even have been some inspiration for the Calvin and Hobbes strip years later, where Calvin says to Hobbes, “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” This episode of Midnight Radio is Pittsburgh centric, where the happening occurs in and around Pittsburgh, whereas the original happened in upstate New York. “Our attack begins near Pittsburgh in McConnell’s Mills.” The show should be a fun mixing of our past and some inspiration from today. When Cindy asked if Tami thought anyone would believe we are actually being invaded, Tami says, “A part of me hopes so!” Tami Dixon's Guest DJ Set:The Byrds: "Mr. Spaceman"Sufjan Steven: "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinios"Ella Fitzgerald: "Two Little Spacemen in a Flying Saucer"

Juliana Hatfield on Minor Alps, new band with Matthew Caws

Cindy Howes talks to Juliana Hatfield about Minor Alps, her band with Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, and their debut album Get There. Cindy asked what kind of symbiotic relationship the two have, and Juliana gave an answer that pretty much sums up the collaboration. “I think we write about some of the same themes, of existential longing and yearning, I really relate to his song that way, and I think he relates to mine that way. And our voices sound really good together. They blend so well sometimes I cant tell whose voice is whose when we’re in a certain range.”  Their voices do sound really amazing together, and hopefully it leads to more albums by Minor Alps. “It’s so easy to sing with him, which is so great. It’s just fun to be able to harmonize with someone and not have to worry about pitch or anything.”Both artists really reached their stride in the 90s, having both appeared on MTV and getting radio play. They had some interaction due to these periods of high media exposure. “We would bump into each other here and there…The world of music is really a small world, and everyone kind of knows everyone.” Juliana Hatfield says she was a big fan of Nada Surf when she heard their album Let Go.Juliana then asked Matthew Caws to do vocals on her 2007 album How to Walk Away, and later, Caws asked her to do some vocals on a Nada Surf b-side.  “It worked out so well both times we decided to make an album together.” The songs on the album are generally written by either Juliana or Matthew, but then the arrangements are collaborated on. The lyrics aren’t exactly collaborative, but Juliana says that they feel like they each speak for each other in their lyrics. “We’re so similar that even if he’s written something, it feels like it could have been written by me. That’s why it feels so natural to consider them all co-writes.”Get There is in record stores now, so check it out!

Tribute To Lou Reed on The Morning Mix

The legendary poet, singer and musician Lou Reed died Sunday at the age of 71. Lou Reed's contributions to the musical landscape are enormous starting from his time with The Velvet Underground, throughout his exceptional solo career and up until his death. He had not been in good heath recently, he had liver disease and had gone through a transplant earlier this year. He was being treated up until a few days ago when it was decided that doctors could no longer do anything for him. He died at his home in Amagansett, N.Y., on Long Island. Lou Reed is survived by his mother, his sister and his wife: composer and musician Laurie Anderson.Matt Wrbican, chief archivist at The Andy Warhol  museum in Pittsburgh shares his thoughts on Lou Reed, starting with his time in The Velvet Underground, when he first met Andy Warhol.

Mason Jennings on The Morning Mix

Mason Jennings is releasing his latest studio album - Always Been - this November.  Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix spoke with Jennings about his new album and the fact that Pittsburgh will always claim him as a Native Son.

Hawksley Workman Guest DJs on the Morning Mix

Cindy Howes brought Hawksley Workman in for a Guest DJ set, and to talk a bit about his one man production "The God that Comes", which debuted for the first time in the US right here in Pittsburgh! Cindy asked Hawksley to pick his favorite glam rock, pop, and rock opera songs in honor of his new one man show, which is a hybrid of cabaret pop and glam rock.Hawksley’s first pick for his set list is David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”, fulfilling the glam rock requirement of Cindy’s request. Hawksley picked David Bowie, but he admits that he’s not actually a huge fan of the grandfather of glam rock. He likes the hits though, and regarding this song, “There’s something in the production that’s very watery, it’s very dreamy, there’s a tinge of evil around the whole thing, and it just feels kind of magical,” Workman says.The second song Hawksley picked was “In the Meantime”, by Spacehog. Hawksley is a self-proclaimed pop music fanatic. He wasn’t as into grunge music while he was growing up in the 90s’. “"In the Meantime" by Spacehog to this day feels like one of the greatest pieces of pop excitement I’ve ever heard.” Hawksley also talks about how incredible the bass part in the song is.The final song that Cindy asked Hawksley to pick is the rock opera song. “I was lucky. I grew up in this fun little church in my little town, and the minister there was obsessed with theater. We didn’t always do Christian oriented theatre, we did lots of British comedy and what have you, but I was able to do a few different productions of "Godspell", and the music has always stuck with me. I think it’s one of the best musicals ever written.”The interview concludes with Hawksley giving a synopsis of what his one man play, “The God that Comes”, is all about. Listen to the interview to get all the details, but suffice to say it’s about gods, wine, sex, and an angry king. Hawksley Workman’s Guest DJ Set: David Bowie – "Ashes to Ashes"Space Hog – "In the Meantime"Godspell – "Day by Day"

Patty Griffin's Lost Album Silver Bell

Back in 2000, Patty Griffin made one of the greatest albums that was never heard... until now. On October 8, 2013, Patty Griffin's Silver Bell was officially released by A&M. Cindy Howes recently got a chance to talk to Silver Bell's percussionist, Billy Beard about his experience recording the album, aftermath and his feelings on the now released version of Silver Bell.Silver Bell was meant to be Patty Griffin’s third album, not the 8th as it ended up being. The band was put together just months after Patty’s second album, Flaming Red. “We toured well over a year behind [Flaming Red], and then all went into King’s Way in New Orleans to make Silver Bell. We were there for almost 3 months. The band was firing on all cylinders and we had free reign to do what we wanted to do and we finished that record. We thought that record would come out and we would be together for quite a while, and it was pretty devastating what happened next.”The album wasn’t released. A merger at A&M and Interscope during recording resulted in an unfortunate and unexpected out lash against Patty. “At the head of that was Jimmy Iovine. That all happened as we were recording, so when we turned the record in, Jimmy basically said he’d never been a fan of hers, didn’t like anything she’d ever done, and he wasn’t going to put this record out.” The band was devastated, and didn’t know for months what the fate of the album would be. Eventually, Patty moved to ATO Records, the label founded by Dave Matthews.Two bootleg versions of Silver Bell surfaced after Silver Bell wasn’t released. One was a rough mix from early in the process, and the other was a mix closer to the final version that Billy Beard didn’t care for. The mix on the album released this year was done by Glyn Johns, as encouraged by Robert Plant, and Beard thinks this version is much better.Silver Bell is out now (finally!) on A&M Records. 

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