Audio Specials


Blues Fest Guest DJ

Lisa Scales - CEO of The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank - plays a set of blues music on The Morning Mix to celebrate the Pittsburgh Blues Fest's 20th year.“20 years, 287 bands and over 10 million meals have resulted from the [Pittsburgh] Blues Festival,” Scales says, talking about The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s biggest annual fundraiser. Scales starts off with a song from Dr. John, one of this year’s Blues Fest headliners. Scales then talks about another one of the bands performing, Spin Doctors and calls their song “If the River Was Whiskey” a great traditional blues song.The Pittsburgh Blues Festival has ended up providing a staggering amount of funds to help people struggling and in the end, that’s what blues is about. “Blues music, at its heart, speaks of tough times and folks struggling with life’s challenges,” she says. “Not only is it about struggle but it’s about resilience; it’s about overcoming struggle, so to me it’s also a celebration.”To meet the Food Bank’s goal, they ask that people bring in a bag of non-perishable groceries as admission. Scales says they hope to bring in 20 tons of food this year. Scales ends her Guest DJ set with JJ Grey + MOFRO’s “The Sweetest Thing.” “We’re starting strong, we’re strong the whole way through and, I can’t think of a better band to end with than JJ Grey + MOFRO, Sunday night.”Lisa's Guest DJ Set:Dr. John - Iko IkoSpin Doctors - If The River Was WhiskeyJJ Grey + MOFRO - The Sweetest Thing

Lake Street Dive Guest DJ set

Bridget Kearney of Lake Street Dive plays Guest DJ with Cindy Howes on The Morning Mix. Lake Street Dive released their new album Bad Self-Portraits earlier this year.Kearney says she recently discovered The Zombies by watching the show Madmen, and the song from the show’s credits was from the Zombies album Odessey and Oracle. Kearney says she loves the album and the song from it “Friends of Mine.” Lake Street Dive has performed with The Sun Parade before, and Kearney calls their music very smart and very fun. “I think Sun Parade is a great name for them, because there’s just a kind of bounce to everything that I really love.”Kearney says a long-time inspiration for her and the rest of Lake Street Dive is Bonnie Raitt and cites her song “I Can’t Make You Love Me” as a real tear-jerker. The song, she says, was written by a national songwriting team comprised in part by a former defensive lineman for the NFL. “It’s like the most tender, heartfelt ballad, and I love to picture this big lineman writing it.”Though she plays upright bass in the band, Kearney used to write rock songs in junior high that she herself performed, but by the time college came, she started writing for other singers. “You can separate yourself from the story of the song” when you’re writing someone else’s part in the band. “That allows you to be much more creative and free with what you’re writing.Bridget's picks:1. The Zombies "Friends of Mine"2. The Sun Parade "My Heart's Out"3. Bonnie Raitt "I Can't Make You Love Me"

Animal Rescue League Guest DJ Set on The Morning Mix

Janice Barnard, program director of The Animal Rescue League, plays Guest DJ on The Morning Mix.Barnard says the summer’s been busy and hectic at the shelter this summer, but that’s typical because lots of new animals are always coming in. “We’re up to our eyeballs in both cats and dogs.” Barnard picks some animal themed songs for her Guest DJ set. Her first pick, “Golden Retriever” by Super Furry Animals, is a shout-out to her dad’s dog “Pork Chop.”As far as cats at the shelter in the summer, numbers increase exponentially. There is though a large network of fosters in the community which the shelter hopes to expand to anyone who can foster. Barnard says she does sometimes sing “Love Cats” by The Cure, her second Guest DJ song, to the cats and whether they necessarily like The Cure or not is unknown, but they do like jazz, classical and even the hits from the 70s and 80s.Barnard’s last song, “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” by Florence and the Machine, is a song for rabbits, a request from Cindy Howes. Barnard says rabbits are the third largest numbered animals to come into the shelter, and it’s even acceptable to bring a rabbit to staff meetings at the shelter which make them run more smoothly.Janice Barnard’s Guest DJ SetSuper Furry Animals “Golden Retriever”The Cure “Love Cats”Florence and the Machine “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”

Trampled By Turtles Interview

Trampled By Turtles frontman Dave Simonett joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix to discuss the band's new album Wild Animals.Simonett started the string band Trampled By Turtles as a side project over ten years ago and even though it’s 2014 the traditional roots of bluegrass haven’t strayed from the progression of Trampled By Turtles.  Simonett says he can’t exactly pinpoint inspiration behind any of the new songs until after the music was already written. Family, life at home, past struggles and the context of any given time period “get boiled down into a song.”Simonett says Alan Sparhawk, of the indie rock band Low, helped on the new album but not in his usual drone-like style. “Low specifically, being is such a minimalist approach to music, really helped us become what I think is more importantly ‘all parts of the whole of a song’ instead of everyone going in their own directions at the same time.”One of the new album’s interesting aspects is the band’s ability to create an array of sounds like wind which Simonett says was did either with strings and reverb or multiple parts put together. “Instead of huggin’ the keyboard and finding a drum sound, we tried to do it with a violin and a cello or put the banjo through and electric guitar amp or something like that.”

Deutschtown Music Festival Guest DJ set

Cody Walters of The Deutschtown Music Festival shares songs from Pittsburgh bands playing at the 2014 Festival.The Deutschtown Music Festival is in its second year and was recently held again in the NorthSide, an area Walters says he is fond of and offers much to locals. Walter says with over 90 bands, performers and food trucks; the Deutschtown Music Festival has turned into a great way of exposing the neighborhood of Deutschtown.After a small bar crawl Walters organized, people started commenting, saying  “hey, you gotta do something in the spring; you gotta do something in the summer,” and because there’s already music in Deutschtown pretty much every night of the week, it would be easy to organize a big music festival like this.Along with this festival, Howes and Walters talk about the success of the Pittsburgh Banjo Club that performs in the NorthSide every Wednesday at the Elks Club. The Pittsburgh Banjo Club has spread in popularity, but also more recently to local young people which even sprouted a new leg of the Banjo Club called the Banjo Club Youth.Cody Walters’ Guest DJ Set:Meeting Of Important People “Keep Your Eyes On Me”Shelf Life String Band “Single Barrel”Chet Vincent & The Big Bend "Don't Bring It To My Table"

Interview with Bob Nanna of Braid

Braid recently released their first album in 16 years.  Frontman Bob Nanna joined Joey Spehar to talk about grown men with lots of energy and the divisive term "Emo" on The Morning Mix.

James Hunter Guest DJs on The Morning Mix

UK soul singer James Hunter Guest DJs on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. Hunter released his latest album “Minute by Minute” last year with the James Hunter Six.When he was just a young boy, making tea while working on the railway, Hunter heard “Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis on the radio, and he made a silent vow in that moment that “if anyone came in and started talkin’ [while the song was playing], I was gonna kill them.”A lot of people can’t manage being “heartfelt and clever” at the same time, but Smokey Robison (and the Miracles) has pretty good luck making it work. “He’s got a certain sweetness as a writer that eludes me. I’m more as able to put plenty of salt, a load of vinegar on it, but I could never really match his sweetness.”Hunter ends his set with Lou Johnson’s “It Ain’t No Use,” a song he says “completely froze” him when he first heard it. Lou Johnson never really had any hits like, for example, Dusty Springfield, yet he did a load of great work. “For some reason he never really had a hit with it, just pot luck really.”Once people hit a certain musical point, it’s strange to think of yourself as a “mentor” to other musicians, but Hunter says he’s tickled by being addressed as such “Hello Stranger” – Barbara Lewis“Whatever Makes You Happy” – The Mircales“It Ain’t No Use” – Lou Johnson

Laura Veirs Guest DJ on The Morning Mix

Laura Veirs plays Guest DJ on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes.Laura Veirs has studied geology and Chinese so it is safe to say she is an intellectual, educated person and recently she has been adding to her wealth her of knowledge by learning to read music. Veris’s first pick as guest DJ “Dot” by Chilly Gonzalez is actually one of the first songs she has been learning, “it kind of reminds me of a French movie soundtrack, and it’s difficult for me…I just think it’s an important fun thing for me to do”. Veris’s second Guest DJ pick is Yesways’s “Howlin’Face” Veris personally knows Yesway from the music scene in the bay area and has actually had perform in her own home. Veirs describes the female duo as having an unusual but beautiful harmonic sound, “they’re starting out…they’re like these secret gems that I hope can find their way because the music business is so hard right now and so hard for musicians to make a living I just hope they can cut through”.For her final guest DJ pick “Borderline” by the young Brit King Krule whom she saw perform and was astonished by both his deep voice and his energetic stage presence, “I’m forty I feel like such a geezer, but when I saw him play I thought that’s youth, that’s energy, that’s music and I felt excited to play music when I saw him play”. Cindy and Veirs also discuss her newest album Warp and Weft as well her connection to Niko Case, “we struck up a friendship, I was so honored that she would sing on my record because we were new friends at that point, and she’s just a really deep artist…such a powerful singer with such a deep old soul voice like a really classic big voice and you don’t hear that very often. She is also a really sweet and really funny person”. Veirs is currently working on a lot of writing when not caring for her two young children as well as continuing to learn read music which she says has been adding to her song writing skills.Laura's song picks:1. Chilly Gonzalez "Dot"2. Yesway "Howlin' Face"3. King Krule "Borderline"

Guest DJ: Clairy Browne

Clairy Browne of Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes guest DJs and talks to Joey Spehar on the Morning Mix.Browne says one day while shopping, a worker in the store gave her an honest compliment, “you have a bangin’ rack.” So the band name, stemming from that compliment, is a strong and sexy ode to all the girl bands out there like The Shirelles and The Ikettes. She then starts off her guest DJ set with some CeeLo Green and Gnarls Barkley and their song “Crazy”Browne then chooses the St. Vincent’s song “Prince Johnny.” Browne and the rest of the band have been listening to St. Vincent a lot, calling Anne Clark clever. “She’s got a great thing going on.” Browne then ends the set with some soul, “Love and Happiness” by Al Green.Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes will release their upcoming EP August 5.

Sam Roberts on The Morning Mix

The Sam Roberts Band frontman talks to Cindy Howes on The Morning Mix about the bands latest, Lo-Fantasy.On Lo-Fantasy, the band decided to work with known electronic producer “Youth,” but Roberts says he isn’t exclusively electronic. “[Youth] has a real grasp on songs — how to make a song move, how to make a song breath.” Youth is known to be pretty brutal in the studio and as an artist facing that, Roberts says, it takes a bit of thick skin artistically to make sure the ideas get across. In the first few hours when Roberts met “Youth,” he was criticized and asked by Youth “where’s the chorus?” in his songs when Roberts was still trying to figure out the new material himself.Growing up in Montreal but having parents of South African descent, Roberts says the musical influence of South African culture is in one way or another a part of his style. “I had to almost become more Canadian as the years went by; I sort of had to learn about the country I was actually from and living in.” Roberts says his South African roots very much inspired his guitar playing, rhythmic nature and harmonies.If you’ve tried it or not, Sam Roberts, indeed, has his own beer which is, unfortunately, only available in Canada so far. It’s brewed, by teams of scientists, Roberts says jokingly, to perfectly go along with listening to the new record. “It was like Clockwork Orange, [Me and my bandmates] would sit there and have to consume mass quantities of this beer and find the exact right combination— emotional combination — with the music before we would go ahead to the next step of the beer’s development.”

June Carter Cash 85th Birthday Anniversary

Pittsburgh musician Chet Vincent talks to Cindy Howes about June Carter Cash on what would have been her 85th birthday.The Carter family was very big in the role of popularizing country music, and June’s big personality made her the star of the show when the family performed. “She didn’t initially sing lead, but she was kind of the star of it. She always saw herself as a comedian or an actress,” Vincent said.Johnny Cash fell in love with June long before they married. Cash asked June to marry him at least three times before it actually happened so long as Johnny agreed to get clean. “John Cash had a pretty big personality, and it would take someone that would be his equal to get him to get it all together,” Vincent said. June knew Cash’s life even better than he did, Vincent says, from growing up in a musical lifestyle.June’s voice wasn’t typical of normal country, but as far as performing with Johnny, the two were famously in love, so the performance seemed so much more real. “It’s impossible to separate their back-story from the music that they sang,” Vincent said.“Jackson,” the best known Johnny and June duet, however, wasn’t written by them, but it’s a perfect song for their whimsical relationship. “John is being pretty childish in it and wants to kind of rebel and go and throw his weight around, and June’s not gonna just wait at home and take it. If he’s gonna do that she’s just gonna be there too laughing at him and callin’ him out.”Aside from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Johnny and June remain one of the best love stories in music to date.

White Hinterland on The Morning Mix

Casey Dienel (White Hinterland) talks to Cindy Howes on The Morning Mix. Dienel recently released her album Baby which has been in the works for four years now.Dienel’s choice to move from Portland, Oregon back to her hometown with her family was a good choice that made her happier as an artist. “Where I grew up was a really, really small town.” “There’s like a misnomer that artists need unhappiness or a lack of joy or hardships to make art. I think I actually work better the opposite, when I’m happy. Moving back [home] definitely made me very happy.”Though Portland is a great city, Dienel said she felt too much like the rest of the other people there. “If there was one thing about Portland that I struggled with, it was being surrounded by so many ppl that look, sound, think like me.” “I kind of like to live somewhere where things aren’t as perfect, but you’re pitching in as best you can.”On the new record Dienel strays away from her usual, gentle self, and shows more edgy creativity in lyrics like “I’m the razor blade in your bar soap.” While watching a few Japanese horror flicks, she said she started to understand violence without condoning it. In songs it’s okay to say these unspeakable things, she says. “Our sanity is like the thickness of paper.”After recording Baby Dienel learned some advice from her grandfather about singing that “you don’t really grow into your voice until you’re thirty.” “I think the reason I’m able to work at [singing] as much as I do is because it’s just really, really, really fun.”

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.”