Audio Specials


Interview with Todd Snider of Hard Working Americans

Todd Snider of the recently formed Hard Working Americans joined Morning Mix host, Joey Spehar to talk about the band's new album and his transition from folk music to jam band music. Originally an American singer-songwriter, Snider has put together what he sees to be his very own jam band. Although the folk scene has treated him well, Snider tells Joey he has to try something new, go out and live some stories so that he can tell them again.The band has a slightly different view on the definition of what a true hardworking American is. As the general population sees the term as a classification of one who gets up and goes to work everyday, Snider sees it as a person who explore the bounds of the freedom which this country was founded upon. Like when you go to an art show and none of the art makes any sense, or the kids on the street who jump trains and have tattoos on their faces.“Not tea party people, to me. Not the normal person that waves a flag and thinks of themselves as hard-working American because they go to work everyday. We all do that. Even the hobos do that. Some people work all day to get out of the cold.”Todd spoke on behalf of his recording experience at TRI Studios, a recording facility formed by Grateful Dead founding member, Bob Weir, and had nothing but great things to say. “The coolest studio I’ve ever been to,” says Snider as he transitions to the type of music we can expect to hear on the first self-titled album. Technically it is an album full of covers, but Snider feels differently on the topic.“Every song on the record, except for maybe one, is on an album that really only sold five thousand of them...There are so many guys in Nashville that write great rock songs, like Will Kimbrough, if The Band or The Dead or somebody was looking for a song they’d have it… There’s all these songs that are never gonna get out of the 200 seat venue”Snider has big goals for Hard Working Americans, as he plans for them to release at least three albums within the next year, the second one to be expectedly denser and less catchy, as Snider puts it. For more information on the new supergroup and what they’re up to, check out their website. 

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra pays Tribute to John Williams

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conductor, Lawrence Loh, recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to talk about the music of John Williams. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is paying tribute to John Williams until the end of the week, structuring the show into three parts, starting with music of the Olympics, transitioning to scores made for Spielberg movies, and finishing strong with the scores from Harry Potter and Star Wars.With word of a potential costumed character debut at the show, Loh gets on the topic of how John Williams often writes his music specifically with his characters in mind. He does this so that the audience can connect to each character emotionally, and whenever the music for the specific character starts playing, the audience can feel this sense of familiarity and connection.“…So we can take Luke’s theme, and you can hear it as he is staring at the Twin Moons, sitting on Tatooine.  We have this ‘off-in-the-distance’ kind of theme, and then you hear it at the same time when Luke is going in at the Death Star in the trenches, it’s the same theme in a totally different way, so the audience can connect with that theme… and that’s one of the reasons that people have such a strong emotional connection to this music.”John Williams and Stephen Spielberg have a special relationship when it comes to music and film collaboration. In the earlier days when Sugarland Express and Jaws were just being released, their huge success can be partly attributed to the way John Williams can write music to tell a story. From then on, Spielberg knew he could rely on Williams whenever a special storyline needed special enrichment. It got to a point where Williams’ music completely affected the way Spielberg wrote his films.Loh finds some of John William’s most quintessential scores to be the introduction to Superman, the introduction to Star Wars, and the flying scene at the end of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. He claims he is going to have to fight off the urge to quote lines from the movies during the speeches between each song. For more information on the show and what Lawrence Loh is up to you can check out his information here.  

Greensky Bluegrass Interview

Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix recently spoke with Mike Devol - bassist for Greensky Bluegrass - about the band's new album, cool covers, and what it's like to be in a band without a drummer.

Tamiah Bridgett Zumba Guest DJ

Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix was recently joined by Zumba Fitness instructor, Tamiah Bridgett, to talk about the perfect Zumba playlist. Tamiah instructs a class every Wednesday night at 6 o’clock at the Union Project and has a lot of great music to offer the dancers which pair well with the dance moves. Zumba is a type of fitness workout that combines elements of aerobics and dance into an environment that can be summarized by it’s tagline- Ditch the workout and join the party!Tamiah might warm up her class with the first song she showed us, “Senorita”, by Justin Timberlake. The song isn’t too fast but it definitely puts you in the mood to get your heart pumping and your adrenaline rushing. After J.T.’s song, we heard Celia Cruz’s song “La Vida es un Carnaval” off of her 1998 album Mi Vida es Cantar. In class, Tamiah likes to do a bit of Salsa to this classic tune to honor Celia Cruz and the influence she has made in the world of music and dance. We then heard a song that is a little bit less traditional, pulling in the hip-hop facet to the Zumba studio with some Salt N Peppa and their song “Push It.”  Tamiah was sent the remixed version of this song by the Zumba Instructors Network but decided to use the original version in class to really do the song justice. Switching paces again, we turn to Gloria Estefan and the classic song, “Conga” which makes a lot of Zumba students happy to hear. “There are different cross sections of age groups that come to the class. If you remember the 80’s and remember where you were when these songs were popular…even when I hear them it reminds me of being a young girl and loving to dance to these songs. “ This playlist placement of this song really depends on the mix that she is playing that day. Tamiah tries “…to choose song selection very strategically because the way you play songs are also a part of a Zumba formula” creating the ultimate workout experience.Tamiah finished off her Zumba Fitness set with the song “Techno Cumbia” by Selena and says that she will usually play this song within the first 30 minutes of class. In an hour long class the dancers will experience several points of high and low heart rates and this song is to help bring the heart rate down a bit before raising it more. Tamiah wants all of her students, present and future, to know that Zumba is really for everyone as long as you take it at your own pace.“You have to listen to your body and know what feels good to you. I don’t encourage you to do everything like me, I encourage you to things the way you feel them in your body, organically. “Tamiah Bridgett hosts a Zumba Fitness class every Wednesday night at the Union Project and you can check out their website for more information. Check out Tamiah's Latin/Dance Fitness Playlist on Spotify: Listen to Tamiah's Guest DJ spot on WYEP below.

Rhett Miller Interview

Rhett Miller of The Old 97s has been working on plenty of new music.  He caught up with Joey Spehar recently on The Morning Mix. Rhett recently paired up with the band Black Prairie, a five piece bluegrass band from Portland, Oregon for the release of his new solo album, which started when the two played a show together at Club Cafe. Rhett is also preparing for the release of an Old 97’s album, which is supposed to be more raw than usual.“It’s pretty great if I do say so myself. It is a raw record, there’s a lot of electric guitar, a lot of big fast rock songs, a lot of cursing, a lot of adult themes… it’s pretty fun.”Handling both a solo career and a full sized band can be tricky especially if you’re the main songwriter for both. In Rhett’s circumstance, he gives first pick to his band after all of the songs have been written. Whichever they decide not to choose for their own, Rhett adds to his own repertoire. Often times when working on a solo album, though, Miller will have a song that the band has never heard just because it is specifically intended for his own project.Miller finds himself writing both songs and prose (with the occasional awful movie live-tweet), but shared with us that he has found himself more focused on songwriting with the two upcoming record releases. In the upcoming year he expects to have a big year of fiction writing, and maybe he’ll live tweet more Pauly Shore movies.With the addition of his new show, Wheels Off: The Rhett Miller Show, which is a comedy program that has previously hosted acts like Rob Delaney and Zach Galifianakis, Miller still finds time to frequent Pittsburgh on tour playing acts like Club Cafe.For more information on what Rhett Miller is up to you can check out his website.

20th Anniversary of Harry Nilsson's Death

 Everybody’s talkin’ about Harry Nilsson. Especially today. Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix was joined by Grammy winning record producer and musician Aaron Luis Levinson to speak on behalf of Harry Nilsson and the 20th anniversary of his death.Nilsson was born in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 1941 under striking poverty after his father left the family when Harry was just three years old. It is clear that his experiences living under these harsh conditions truly shaped his career and songwriting style. This can be seen in pieces such as “Daddy’s Song” or “1941”, Nilsson’s autobiographical song.In 1962, Nilsson reached his first big break, singing demos for Scott Turner, who paid Nilsson five dollars per song. Once the demo album was released, Nilsson was offered royalties to Scott Turner’s songs, but refused to accept them, as he felt he was already thoroughly compensated. This sets the tone for what to expect in Nilsson’s upcoming musical career. As his popularity rises, his humbleness remains just as high, no matter how commercial he becomes, or how high his music reaches in the charts.“I think for himself, he was so interested in making something that was true to his own muse that whether it was commercially successful or not, I don’t think it really mattered to Harry,” says LevinsonOne of Nilsson’s most famous love songs, “Coconut” off of the 1972 album, Nilsson Schmilsson is an excellent example of how intricate his songwriting was. The entire song has the same chord progression throughout, yet one might not notice this because the music over the chords is so dynamic.“He’s such a masterful singer, that the relative musical stasis of it, it’s not moving. It’s moving on many other levels: lyrically, vocally, and even in the way he adapts his voice to these different characters.”On Valentine’s Day of 1993, Harry Nilsson suffered from a severe heart attack while working on his final album Papa’s Got a Brand New Robe. This album was unfortunately never released, as he passed away about 11 months after, but can often be found circulating the internet today.  

Jesse Novak's Training Playlist

Jesse Novak - host of The Roots & Rhythm Mix at WYEP - joined Joey Spehar of the Morning Mix to give a run-down of his typical training playlist. Jesse is currently training for two upcoming races including the Pittsburgh Marathon, which takes place in May, and the Merge Records 25k, this March. Novak trains almost the entire year, only taking a break from November to mid-January where he still swims and does yoga- if one can truly call that a break.As both a music and fitness enthusiast, who’s better input than Jesse’s to hear an awesome training playlist? He starts off with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” claiming that the song is "fast enough but not too fast, and great for when you’re really ready to go. If I can stop myself from dancing to it, it makes very good running material.”Immediately after, we heared "Ezy Ryder" from Jimi Hendrix's 1971 album The Cry of Love.  Jesse will listen to this tune at the midpoint of his run once he has “caught the wave” and his “emotion is centered.”By mile 21 of the marathon, most athletes need something to keep them going to finish the race at 26.2 miles. For this point in time, Jesse chose to play us a little Iggy and the Stooges, the late-60’s formed American punk band, with their song “Search and Destroy.”  “I think he sums it up in the first line when Iggy says, “I’m a street-walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm,” I mean that’s sort of the approach you have to take in running at that point because it’s probably not natural for your body to be running 26 miles. You just have to let go of your body and just do it.”All of these picks help Jesse get through marathons and their training processes and if you want to hear more from Jesse, be sure to tune into his program, the Roots & Rhythm Mix here at WYEP.

"The Times They Are A-Changin'" Turns 50

On this day 50 years ago, Bob Dylan's third album, The Times They Are a-Changin’ was released on Columbia Records. This album is the first of Dylan’s that is all original compositions. Pittsburgh singer-songwriter, Mark Dignam, joined Morning Mix host Joey Spehar to speak on behalf of The Times They Are a-Changin’ and its lasting relevance.Written when he was just 23 , Bob Dylan’s album focused on racism, poverty and social change, all topics prevalent to the sixties era of civil justice. Typically, successful protest songs are those that can be recycled through the times and still make sense generations later. There are critics who have said that Dylan’s album and title track were immediately outdated, and others who argue that the songs are timeless. Mark Dignam believes the latter.“The whole entire album you could almost swap out some of the names for some of the things that are going on right now… I think you could get up and sing that song today. And possibly could you have done it five or ten years ago, maybe not. But today it’s become relevant again.”The structure of The Times They Are a-Changin’  was loosely based off of old Irish and Scottish ballads, but Dignam, as a Dublin native, says he hears less of the influence in this album than Dylan’s former albums: Free Wheelin’ and Bob Dylan, both of which were not all original content.“The Times They Are a-Changin’, I think he started moving towards his own style. There may have been hints- there are always hints of it in everything he does, but I think less so than on the Free Wheelin’  Bob Dylan.”The Times They Are a-Changin, released 50 years ago today, continues to inspire other singer-songwriters, like Mark Dignam, concerned with social justice and its influence on society and the musical world. For more information on what Dignam is up to you can check out his website.

Chet Vincent & The Big Bend Release New Album

Chet Vincent and Abe Anderson of the local band Chet Vincent and The Big Bend recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to discuss their newest album, Unconventional Dog in anticipation for its release party Jan 10th at Belvedere's.  Originally a folk-rock 5 piece group, Chet Vincent and the Big Bend recently moved away from folk, and more towards rock for their newest album. Before The Big Bend came along, Chet Vincent had been playing music since he was a young boy, growing up on the Shadyside Academy campus where his father worked.  By the end of high school he started writing his own songs and thought of it as a natural progression.  Never truly confident about his own singing voice, Chet Vincent drew influence and gained confidence from artists like Neil Young and Bob Dylan and from there he took off.“Another one is the band The Silver Jews. He has a really unusual voice and he has a line in one of his songs “All my favorite singers couldn’t sing” and that really stuck with me.”Vincent says that it was not hard for him to break from his original creativity and influence to make a gritty blues-rock album because it felt natural. Unconventional Dog was not produced in a normal recording studio, but instead inside the family home of the bands’ drummer, Abe Anderson, while his parents were away for a few months. With all of this time and familiarity of the “recording studio” they tried almost everything from recording drums in the largest room in the home, to recording vocals in an elevator shaft, which didn’t end up working out too well.Chet Vincent and the Big Bend are now signed with Wild Kindness Records, a label that contains other local acts like Andre Costello and Host Skull, for the release of their newest record Unconventional Dog. For more information on what the band is up to, you can check out their website. 

Jimmy Page Turns 70

Legendary guitarist Jimmy Page recently celebrated his 70th birthday.  Scott Tady from The Beaver County Times joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix for an all Jimmy Page Guest DJ set.Scott Tady's Jimmy Page Playlist:Led Zeppelin - Communication BreakdownThe Yardbirds - Over Under Sideways DownLed Zeppelin - Heartbreaker

WYEP's 2013 Year in Review Show

WYEP’s Year in Review show is a four-hour countdown of the station’s top 50 albums of 2013, including songs from each album and commentary from many of the artists. Hosted by Rosemary Welsch.

2013's Departures

2013's Departures is WYEP's annual show of tributes and rememberances to many from the music world who passed away in 2013.  Hosted by Brian Siewiorek.

WYEP's 2013 Local Year in Review Show

The Local Year In Review is a brief overview of Pittsburgh's best music. From Blues, to soul, to hip-hop and rock, Cindy Howes hosts two hours featuring some of our city’s finest bands including WYEP’s top 5 local releases for 2013. 

WYEP's 2013 Live and Direct Show

A look back at the year in Live & Direct sessions in this 2 hour program.  Listen for WYEP favorites and cool covers performed in our intimate performance space. Featuring performances by They Might Be Giants, The Mavericks, Stars, Suzanne Vega, Geln Hansard,  and more! Hosted by Joey Spehar. 

Hayley Worthman's Yoga Guest DJ set

With the arrival of the new year, many people have made it a priority to change their health habits and a great motivator in doing so is having the perfect fitness soundtrack. Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix was recently joined by yoga instructor, Hayley Worthman, of Breathe Yoga Studio where she gave us a rundown of a typical yoga class playlist.There is a common misconception that only a certain type of person can do yoga, but Worthman says that yoga is something that can be done at all hours of the day, for every single kind of person.“Yoga is off your mat. Not sitting there, screaming in your car because the person in front of you isn’t going through your green light yet. It is sitting there breathing. It’s all gonna be okay.”Hayley starts her classes with a relaxing tune which allows her students to forget how they may have felt earlier in the day, and focus on how they feel right now. Her selection for this unwinding moment is “Mountain Hare Krishna” by Krishna Das, who is a vocalist from the United States, known for his devotional Hindu performances.In the middle of class, Worthman might keep things going with some Michael Franti & Spearhead, a multi-genre vocalist and fellow yogi from Oakland, California. Franti has influenced Hayley’s yoga classes ever since she attended a concert of his, which inspired a playlist called “True Love Radiates” and is displayed below. The particular song she chose to play was “Life is Better With You,” off of his most recent album All People. It’s upbeat spirit transitioned perfectly to the next song on the list, a dub/reggae cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police” by Easy All-Stars featuring Citizen Cope. This song is supposed to calm the students down after they’ve reached their peak pose during the Michael Franti & Spearhead tune.“I’m starting to slow down, maybe I’m taking a child’s pose after that peak pose. It’s almost like a fetal position on your knees with your face down. I am definitely a big advocate of doing that whenever you need to.”Before making our way to Savasana and while still calming down, we hear another cover song, this time by Yael Naim of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Yael Naim is a French-Israeli singer-songwriter who makes Spears’ cute song a lot more intense and gives it a bit more depth, perfect for yoga.We have finally reached Savasana, also known as corpse pose, or naptime, where Hayley has chosen one of her favorites “Indian Summer” by Rice Boy Sleeps.“This is the ending of our practice. The yang of the practice was the moving around, the energy, the active, the controlled breath. Now Savasana comes around, it’s more of the yin, more relaxed, we let everything go.”If you’re interested in more of the music that Hayley has to offer, check out her spotify playlist below.(photo credit: Evan Sanders)

George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" Turns 90

In honor of "Rhapsody In Blue, George Gershwin's monumental 1924 orchestral piece, turning 90, we talk to local engineer and classial radio host, Don Maue.Ninety years ago, on January 7th, 1924, George Gershwin began writing Rhapsody in Blue, a musical composition often revered as the piece which formed American music. We asked Don Maue to speak with Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix in WYEP studios on behalf Gershwin’s musical influence. Maue is a Pittsburgh producer, engineer, professor at Duquesne University and a classical radio host.In 1924, music was popularized through live performances instead of through radio broadcasts. “The kind of music that people liked and the kind of music that George Gershwin was involved in making was popular show music. Kind of what we think of as Broadway musical,” says Maue.Gershwin originated as mostly a professional pianist who played sheet music to pitch popular tunes, but was also a self-taught composer. At this time, jazz had yet to be an existent music genre in New York, and hadn’t sprung up until 1915.Paul Whiteman, who can be characterized as the Elvis Presley, or the Kanye West, of the early 20th century, had the goal of creating a concert which introduced New York audiences to jazz music, and nearly forced Gershwin to write this rhapsody for him in just a few short weeks.  An Experiment in Modern Music, skillfully named, was expected to yield audience members of the most prominent musicians of the time like John Phillip Sousa.Rhapsody in Blue’s clarinet glissando introduction is arguably one of the most memorable pieces in music, comparable to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. It was influenced by life in New Orleans and Chicago; completely American, shedding light on the life of Americans in the city.We welcome you to join us in celebrating the 90th anniversary of this groundbreaking piece, Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. 

Chef Kevin Sousa Guest DJ

Chef Kevin Sousa plays Guest DJ and talks about his Superior Motors project in Braddock. Award winning Pittsburgh chef, Kevin Sousa, recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix in WYEP Studios to give listeners a taste of what he enjoys listening to while working in the kitchen. Sousa is the owner of local restaurants including Salt of the Earth, Union Pig and Chicken, Harvard & Highland, and Station Street. His most recent endeavor is a huge project, funded by Kickstarter, called Superior Motors.  Superior Motors will be a Community Restaurant and Farm Ecosystem located in Braddock, an area otherwise lacking in fresh and local food.Sousa decided to play songs that he either loves, or what has been frequently played in previous kitchens from which he has worked.  His first choice this morning was “Almost Was Good Enough” by Songs: Ohia, front by the late Jason Molina, who also lead Magnolia Electric Company. This song is usually played early in his shift, while doing prep work and getting ready for the day.Directly after, we heard Devo’s “Gates of Steel” which Kevin claims is widely accepted by everyone in the kitchen and is usually played during pre-service.“New guys in the kitchen- they don’t touch the chefs' knifes and they don’t touch the radio…that’s a rule. From that mentality, there are only a certain amount of acceptable albums that everybody listens to.”We continued into a song by Japandroids, a Canadian band, with the song “The Boys are Leaving Town” from of their first album Post Nothing. Sousa was introduced to this band by the younger cooks in the kitchen and describes them as a power pop/punk band whose music has become an anthem for Salt of the Earth.The set with Kevin Sousa was finished with an old school hip-hop group, Gang Starr, whose appropriate music competes with Wu Tang Clan in the kitchen.“I’ve won over a lot of young cooks that say they don’t like hip-hop with Gang Starr… If I had to describe kitchen music it’s heavy metal and hip-hop, and everything in between. “To see what else Kevin Sousa is up to, you can check out his website or follow him on twitter @SousaPGHMore on Superior Motors.Chef Kevin's selections1. Songs: Ohia "Almost Was Good Enough"2. Devo "Gates of Steel"3. Japandroids "The Boys are Leaving Town"4. Gang Starr "Take It Personal"

Interview With Rich Engler

If you've gone to a concert in Pittsburgh in the last 40 years, chances are the name Rich Engler rings a bell. The former co-owner of DiCesare-Engler Productions recently released "Behind The Stage Door" - a book about his experiences. He joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix to talk.

Johnny Angel's Holiday Doo Wop Guest DJ Set

Johnny Angel from Pittsburgh's Johnny Angel & The Halos played a set of Holiday Doo Wop songs for The Morning Mix.

Keith Richards 70th Birthday Tribute

Keith Richards – the iconic guitarist for The Rolling Stones – recently celebrated his 70th birthday.  It’s a major accomplishment for any human to live for 7 decades, but it’s an extra-special milestone for Keith, because, really, who’da thought he would have made it this far?This morning Joey Spehar welcomed WYEP’s Midday Mix host and Music Director Mike Sauter to discuss the life and work of this truly legendary axeman.

Devon Allman On The Morning Mix

Devon Allman recently spoke with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about his forthcoming albums, his plans for Christmas, and his charity work.

Holiday Hootenanny Guest DJ set from Andy Mulkerin

Andy Mulkerin, Music Director for the 2013 Holiday Hootenanny, lined up some excellent local musicians to perform at this years show. His own band, Neighbours, are the house band for the evening, and other musician Joy Ike, Casey Hanner, Kate Cunio, Josh Verbanets, Billy Price, Andre Costello, and others! They’ll be covering traditional songs, some more modern ones, and as Andy says, “some novel stuff.” Be sure to attend the Holiday Hootenanny if you want to see this awesome show. It’s starts at 7pm (doors at 6:30pm) at Stage AE! Andy Mulkerin’s Guest DJ Set List: The Carpenters - “Christmas Waltz”The OJs – “Christmas Ain’t Christmas”Kate Bush – “December Will Be Magic Again”

40th Anniversary of CBGBs

On December 10th in 1973 CBGB, the famed New York City music venue, opened to the public. Hilly Kristal opened CBGB with the intent to play Country Bluegrass and Blues bands, hence the name. But unfortunately for him at the time, and fortunately for everyone else, those acts were difficult to find in New York City. So other bands were booked, and CBGB essentially launched the punk and underground music scene in the United States.Randal Miller and Jody Savin are responsible for the new feature film called and about CBGB, and Joey recently interviewed them about their project and the beloved music venue. Miller and Savin had been to CBGB in its glory days. Savin was a self-proclaimed starving poet in New York City back then, and says she spent a great deal of time at CBGB since it was one of the few venues she could afford.Inconveniently for the filmmakers, the modern location of CBGB on Bowery and Bleeker is much nicer looking than it once was. “New York is tough these days because it’s so gentrified, it’s so nice. The Bowery is beautiful, so we needed to find places it looked like back in the day.” So not only did they film in New York, but also in Savannah, Georgia. “One thing that was really fantastic for us is that when they shut down the club in 2006, they tore out the bar, the bathroom urinals, everything, and that was all in a storage facility in Brooklyn. We had that shipped to us and we built the club on a soundstage using the actual bars and urinals even, which was pretty cool. That was pretty fortuitous.”Joey wanted to know how difficult it was for them to cast such iconic musicians for their film, and Savin had the answer. “It was definitely a challenge. Some were easier than others. You know, Malin [Ackerman] had always wanted to play Blondie, and her reps called and said “Malin wants to play Blondie,” and we said “fine!” She was our very first choice. In our dreams we had Malin playing Blondie,” Savin said. “Some of the characters were much harder to find.” Alan Rickman, who plays Hilly Kristal, actually has some famous musical friends including Sting, who is played in the movie by Keene McRae. McRae is from Alabama, but apparently his English accent fooled even Alan Rickman.The soundtrack to the movie is incredible. They put a wish list together of the iconic Blondie and David Byrne songs that should be in the movie, but they realized they needed to have a large amount of fairly unknown songs in the film so that they could have that sense of discovery. The film can be found on Amazon and iTunes now, and DVD and Blu-ray soon. Find out more at their website here. 

Velvet Underground Reissue White Light/White Heat

The Andy Warhol Museum is celebrating the rerelease of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat album by having a listening event. Cindy Howes of The Morning Mix interviewed Matt Wrbican, Chief Archivist, and Ben Harrison, Curator of Performing Arts at the museum about the event, and about White Light/White Heat.The listening party idea came about shortly after Lou Reed died in October. It will feature the reissue played in its entirety, as well as several of Warhol's movies starring The Velvet Underground.Lou Reed and Andy Warhol began collaborating at the Café Bizarre. The Velvet Underground played a gig there, and Andy thought they were great. The band was fired from the gig for playing the “Black Angel’s Death Song” despite the venue’s protests. Andy Warhol hired them then to be the Factory’s house band. Warhol managed the band for two years, and was very involved.At the time of its release, the Velvet Undergound’s first album was received very poorly. This caused the band’s relationship with Andy to be stressed, and the band began pushing Warhol away.Billy Name, the studio photographer for the Factory and the Silver Factory, did the album art for White Light/White Heat. Lou and Bill were very interested in magic and the occult, and at the time they were reading a book on white magic. The book talked about white light and white heat, and that’s how the name of the album came about.Universal is putting out a limited edition 7” of the song “Booker T”, a track that was never released on a studio album by the Velvet Undergound. It was performed at the Gymnasium, and the Warhol Museum will be getting a few advanced copies. The song references Booker T and the MGs, and it was the precursor to “The Gift”, a song from White Light/White Heat. “The Gift” is basically a spoken word song over the music from “Booker T”.

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.