Audio Specials


Jillian Michaels Guest DJs on The Morning Mix

Jillian Michaels of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" plays Guest DJ on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. Jillian explains how she uses music with her own workouts as well as with contestants on the show.Jillian tells us about how she uses music in every event and for any situation to motivate others and herself. Every season of “The Biggest Loser” Jillian gives each contestant a song to relate to and use as a motivator throughout the season. Michaels starts her Guest DJ set with U2’s “Beautiful Day” from 2000 album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. “Beautiful Day” serves as a song to get everyone's’ spirits up, making them happy to be alive no matter how rough they think their days are. “Even when it’s a crap day, it’s a beautiful day because a bad day for our ego is a great day for our soul. I like to start a workout like that, especially when I’m teaching a class.”We immediately changed pace, turning to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams from his most recent album, G I R L . Jillian sees Pharrell trying to tell people to stop taking on the worries of others and just be happy, a similar theme to U2’s “Beautiful Day.”The final song we hear from Jillian Michaels is “Haunted” by Poe, the title track from Poe’s album released in 2000. Jillian recently returned from India and finds herself haunted from the trip. Michaels expresses her problem with people who look at underdeveloped nations and are thankful they aren’t in the same position of poverty.“Now that you’ve seen that the world is unfair and unbalanced and since you have an abundance, really make an effort to spread that abundance around. That song to me says, don’t forget where you were and don’t forget how that changed you and be a better person whenever and wherever possible.”Jillian Michaels will be in Pittsburgh on March 19th at the Benedum Center for her “Maximize Your Life” Tour. More information here. Jillian's song picks:1. U2 - "Beautiful Day"2. Pharrell Williams - "Happy"3. Poe - "Haunted"

Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive on The Morning Mix

Lake Street Dive lead singer, Rachael Price, recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to discuss the band’s new record, Bad Self Portraits. Bad Self Portraits is the third studio album of this Boston based indie jazz band, released on Signature Sound Recordings.The group met in jazz school at the New England Conservatory of Music, playing music with each other in practice rooms around campus and eventually expanding to random gigs in bubble tea shops and Chinese food parlors.The albums title track, “Bad Self Portraits” shows how the band members write songs of their personal experiences, each song serving as a self portrait of sorts. “The title of the album primarily came from the title of that song but we sort of realized it was an apt title because songs are a self portrait for what you’re going through at the time.” Rachael notes that their songs aren’t necessarily bad self portraits, but at least “some kind of self portrait.”Rachael Price was raised in a home full of music as her father was a choral and orchestra composer and conductor. Around 10 or 11 years old, Price began performing on stage around the country in the choir conducted by her father. “It was around 11 or 12 he would start giving me solos so I could get up and perform by myself. My love for performing sort of started then,” says Price.One of the directors of the Netflix Original Series “House of Cards” approached Rachael at a show and inquired about using her for a singing role on the show. Thinking nothing would come of it, Price shrugged it off but to her surprise, she was called to sing the National Anthem on the show. If you missed Rachael Price on “House of Cards”, you can still check out all of Lake Street Dive in Pittsburgh on March 29th at Mr. Smalls Fun House where they will be performing music from Bad Self Portraits.  

Tribute to Porky Chedwick

WYEP pays tribute to the late, great Porky Chedwick with help from Bob Studebaker (WESA), Henry Deluca (Roots of Rock and Roll concert series) and Scott Mervis (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). From WTAE:"Chedwick's family revealed that it's facing financial challenges to meet funeral and burial costs. As a result, friends and artists are rallying to lead donations.A trust fund has been created for public donations. They can be sent to: Porky Chedwick Memorial Trust Fund, Dollar Bank, 700 Towne Square Way, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15227"

Librarian Guest DJ Set

Tim Williams works in the music department at The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and stopped by The Morning Mix to share some Pittsburgh music found at the library.Tim's Librarian Guest DJ Set:Don Caballero - P, P, P, AntlessEugenie Baird - Everything But YouBob Schmertz - Braddock's Defeat

Dawn Landes on The Morning Mix

Dawn Landes recently joined Morning Mix host, Cindy Howes, to talk about her most recent album, Bluebird, released on Western Vinyl in February, 2014. Landes has spent a considerable amount of time practicing music in New York and around Europe, however, Bluebird shows clear musical roots from her home in Louisville, Kentucky.Landes used a producer for the first time on this record which really affected the sonic influence of this album compared the the rest. Thomas Bartlett, otherwise known as Doveman, characterized by Landes as having a Spartan aesthetic, insisted Landes recorded the album mostly live. “It’s not really a Thomas production if you can’t hear yourself breathing. He’s got this thing where it’s not volatile but there’s a lot of space,” says Dawn.Bluebird can be seen as her emotional response to her recent divorce of singer-songwriter, Josh Ritter. Ritter released a similar album in 2013 that tells the other side of the breakup story which Dawn has understandably avoided listening to. While continuing to be a fan of his songwriting, Dawn says that she’ll wait until Ritter releases a different album that she’ll listen to instead.“Bluebird” was the first song written off the album and was the tune that got the creative juices flowing for the rest of Bluebird. She hadn’t found that certain inspiration she was looking for when writing new songs for her all-girl trio, The Bandana Splits, but once “Bluebird” was written effortlessly, Dawn felt she was finally headed in the right direction.Norah Jones makes a Bluebird appearance on piano throughout the record and on vocals with the song “Cry No More.” “She came in and played on Love Song and then when we tracked “Cry No More” she just liked the music and we thought, “Well you’re here, you might as well sing on the song, you’d be perfect on it,” and she just did it, and it was amazing.Bluebird is out now and you can hear the full interview with Cindy Howes below.

Ketch from Old Crow Medicine Show Guest DJ Set

 Old Crow Medicine Show will be in town with the Avett Brothers at the Peterson Event Center this weekend and in anticipation for the show, Morning Mix host Joey Spehar welcomed Ketch Secor to the show to perform a guest DJ set.As Ketch was driving toward Pittsburgh from West Virginia and he was crossing the Monongahela River he wanted to hear some Bob Dylan, specifically “Jokerman” from the 1983 album Infidels, which he started his set off with.  Directly following Dylan we transitioned into “Tzena,Tzena,Tzena” a tune by American folk quartet The Weavers. Secor loves the sound of a bullwhip, especially hearing one over the Pittsburgh skyline. He hasn’t been back to Pittsburgh in a while but really enjoys the multitude of ethnic groups and breweries we have to offer.The third song that Ketch leaves us with on his guest DJ set is something listeners may not have expected to hear from Old Crow Medicine Show fiddle player, Public Enemy’s “911 is a Joke.” A song he first heard at 11 years old on the playground with a jam box. Back on the monkeybars you didn’t want to hear anything but Public Enemy, says Secor, “We listened to public enemy even though we were young, white children in overalls kicking our deflated basketballs up and down the asphalt tarmac.”A new Old Crow Medicine Show album will be released on July 1st this year and Secor assures Joey and WYEP listeners that this record will resonate with anyone from Pittsburgh, no matter which town or area around the Greater Pittsburgh area you reside. “These songs are guaranteed to cut to the heart of a cool town, and to your dark steel town soul.”  Ketch Secor's Guest DJ Set:Bob Dylan - JokermanThe Weavers - Tzena TzenaPublic Enemy - 911 Is A Joke

Interview with St. Vincent

Annie Clark, otherwise known as St. Vincent, recently spoke with Rosemary Welsch, host of WYEP's Afternoon Mix, about her new self-titled album. St. Vincent released on February 24th and has already received rave reviews. Inspired by a line in the Miles Davis autobiography which read, “the hardest thing for a musician to do is play like yourself,” St. Vincent approached a self-titled with confidence and abandon in order to create a sound which makes her sound like herself.Clark remembers watching Pearl Jam and Nirvana on MTV around the age of 10 years old and realizing that she wanted to do what they were doing. “I don’t sound anything like Nirvana or Pearl Jam, but seeing that it was possible, you know, suburban kids with something to say that could find an audience was an inspiration.” Annie also spent a considerable amount of time on the road touring with her uncle, Tuck Andress, of Tuck & Patti, learning the technicalities and all of the work that really went into making a show. This experience might deter anyone, whether 16 or not, from pursuing their musical dream due to the amount of work put in, but it instead worked as an inspiration to St. Vincent.“I got to see behind the curtain in a good way. I was learning about the technical side of things, what people really did on the road, but I got to see them play every night and move people to tears. I got to experience watching people with such a dedication to their craft and music with a capital ‘M’. Devotion. I just learned that that’s what it takes. There’s not some magic button that you press and become famous. It’s getting out there, it’s bringing the music to the people, and it’s about the work its about the craft and really honoring this really mystery, awesome thing that is music.”Annie describes her songwriting process for St. Vincent as trying to make "dance music for a funeral," wanting to create music that was really groove heavy but had heart and empathy. “It was an interesting task. I’m always interested in the little juxtapositions and seeming contradictions in human nature, and the squalor in the grandeur that exists in the same moment, so I was trying to bring in that macro/micro perspective.”While adding enough detail to her songs in order to make stories seem palpable but leaving enough ambiguity for listeners to fit themselves into the story, St. Vincent did a lot of reporting on her own life in this album, like in the song “Rattlesnake” which required no embellishments or exaggeration to the story. “Digital Witness,” the first single released off St. Vincent is a view into the way people react to the digital world, not necessarily serving as a statement of judgement but instead as a topic of curiosity.“I don’t know where we’re all heading, I just simply want to tap the phenomenon. I think we have this whole other realm, this whole other vehicle in which to express the selfhood that we used to express with our outer and inner physical being. Now we have this theoretical 0’s and 1’s world where we can create our ideal selves. I think that in some ways that is incredibly powerful and exciting.”Annie Clark looks at music with a sense of synesthesia, noting that St. Vincent portrays more primary colors which can explain why it seems to be more accessible than her past records. St. Vincent will be performing at Stage AE in April and you can check out the full interview with Rosemary Welsch below. 

Ari Picker from Lost In The Trees on The Morning Mix

Ari Picker, lead man of Chapel Hill orchestral band Lost in the Trees recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to discuss the band’s new album, Past Life. Lost In The Trees is Picker’s project that was started following his time at Berklee College of Music. The group is comprised of orchestrally trained musicians who explore dynamic folk sounds throughout their albums. The most recent album, Past Life, has changed pace, steering away from emotional sentiments, towards something a lot more vibrant.Lost in the Trees’ 2012 album A Church That Fits Our Needs was a celebration and remembrance of Ari Picker’s mother, who had passed a few years prior, and served as closure for the tragic event. This time around Picker knew that he couldn’t follow the same trend as he had with his previous albums, but felt he had more freedom to have fun with his work.“I think the main purpose of the album was to have fun making music again. Before it was very personal and it was dramatic. Also very healing and I’m proud of it, but it was heavy, so it felt good to just have fun writing a record.”“I had done something very specific in the past and it’s probably good to open my eyes to other things. It’s really freeing and allowed me to write another record, which I guess I knew I couldn’t do the same thing again so it’s either do something different or not do anything at all.”Picker drew his influence on Past Life from museum visits where instead of simply sitting in front of a blank page writing music he would pull from his emotions in galleries and perhaps take literal themes from pieces of art. This album was more minimalistic compared to previous records, as Cindy notices that Picker took a “less is more approach.”“Sonically, I think the less you have in the picture, the bigger those elements can be. You can hear more of the texture of the elements, you can hear the kick drum and the atmosphere around it versus if you’re packing a song with a ton of stuff.”Picker also comments that his minimalistic approach to this album is what makes the songs more focused and sisynced. Lost in the Trees’ Past Life is out now and we suggest you give it a listen. More information can be found on their website.

Nick Waterhouse on The Morning Mix

American singer, songwriter and producer, Nick Waterhouse, recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to talk about his upcoming record Holly. Holly, which Waterhouse describes as “a novella or poem about a fictional protagonist,” is scheduled to be released March 4th.Waterhouse grew up in Southern California and was heavily influenced by the R&B, soul and jazz musicians that his parents would occasionally play. They were musicians that would sometimes show up on an oldy formatted station, mixed in with classic rock records. “They were hiding in plain site. I was always sort of mystified by those things... My natural inclination was to follow my curious childlike mind and figure those out. I guess I’m still doing that,” says Waterhouse in response to his style of music.Nick Waterhouse spent a lot of time DJing and continues to follow that passion, seeking out people who share a similar love for records. He told us that DJing has a similar feel to what performance is like as a live musician.“...whether it’s the way you present yourself or the way you format a night, it’s all like creating a set list or making a band or flyers. It also makes you focus on songs in a different way. I think it makes me really prize songs as singles, as things to be focused on at high volumes in a club versus very esoteric close listening.”The Tarots are an assemblage of musicians who serve as Nick Waterhouse’s backing band. Not only does Waterhouse pull influence from Ray Charles’ and Bobby Bland’s bands but he is also impacted by how jazz band combinations work together and how players interact with one another. “I believe in a slightly open ended interpretation of things, especially live, letting people blow 16 or 32 bars.”Holly, the album to be released in the coming weeks tells the story of a dead girl and not about who killed her, but what did. Waterhouse wanted to evoke an atmosphere familiar to his own lifestyle in the east side of Los Angeles. For more information on the album and Nick Waterhouse check out his website.

Interview with Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins

Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix was recently joined by Jessi Zazu, frontwoman of Those Darlins, a rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. Those Darlins just released their third studio album, Blur the Line an album that differs a bit from their previous work.The original three band members of Those Darlins met at the Southern Girls Rock and Roll camp in Tennessee about seven and a half years ago. This was the place that Zazu performed for the first time and felt a real sense of belonging. Jessi grew up as somewhat of an outcast for enjoying rock music while everyone else’s interests resided solely in country music. The people at the Girls Rock and Roll camp encouraged Jessi to do whatever she wanted to do, going for whatever she felt was right and has since kept these values with her throughout her music career.The band members of Those Darlins felt a lot more vulnerable with the newest album Blur the Lines. Many of the themes in the record reminisce back to some of the subjects of Jessi’s childhood and how she grew up. The record’s tone also shadows their experience on the road over the last eight years. These themes have been explored in previous albums by Those Darlins but have never appeared this dark.To portray the bands’ vulnerability and strength with Blur the Lines the album cover is a tasteful, naked photograph of the bottom half of the member’s bodies. “The album cover is just to represent laying it there. Being naked is your most vulnerable state but also there’s something really powerful about it.”This album cover got quite a bit of national attention after a blown up promotional poster was hung up in Nashville. Many people were upset and claimed it was pornographic, risque, and something that should not be hung for everyone and their children to see. Jessi claims that although this time was relatively stressful, it got the point across that they were aiming for.“The whole purpose of it was to create some curiosity about what the image is. It served its purpose just by creating a conversation about it and the question, what is the difference between pornography and art? But it was definitely blown out of proportion in some ways.”Those Darlins played at the Brillobox in Pittsburgh the next night. For more information on Those Darlins and their newest album Blur the Line check out their website.  

San Fermin Interview

 San Fermin is the latest musical project of composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone who recently spoke with Morning Mix co-host Joey Spehar about San Fermin's self-titled album. Right out of school at Yale, Ellis Ludwig-Leone has writen and assisted in operas, ballets, feature films and orchestral works with acclaimed Nico Muhly. Ludwig-Leone started a solo project in school and retreated to Canada after graduation to write what would eventually become San Fermin. The record features 22 musicians including a string player and an entire brass section. Allen Tate, a close friend of Ludwig-Leone, acts as the primary male vocalist on San Fermin while Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius perform the female parts. Since the two girls have recently released their own album and are also on tour, Rae Cassidy fills the spot excellently when San Fermin performs live with eight members. In the interview with Ellis, Joey brings up how the album reads like a book with the lowest of lows and highest of highs. While each individual song is great on its own, to get the full effect of San Fermin, the album should be listened to in full."One of the reasons that I wanted to write it was because I was getting a little numb to new experience and I wanted a call to wake up a little bit. I think that's one of the reasons there's such extreme diversity on the record," says Ludwig-Leone, while claiming he wanted to "...make something as intense as your experience of life in the universe."While many people are just hearing San Fermin right now, Ellis wrote the album almost two years ago and at this point has the next album almost fully written. The band plays of few of these songs each show to change it up and keep moving forward. San Fermin will be performing at The Warhol Museum this week with special guests Son Lux. More information on San Fermin can be found on their website.  

WYEP's Celebration of The Beatles' First Appearance in America

On the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' historic first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, WYEP's Mike Sauter presents a special hour-long program celebrating the occasion with interviews, music, and archival sound clips.

Guest DJ Ironman Bill Palermo

Ironman triathlete and softball coach, Bill Palermo, recently joined Morning Mix host, Joey Spehar, to talk about the kind of music that keeps him motivated during training. At age 65, Palermo has qualified for the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. Bill is the winningest coach in WPIAL history and was the softball coach at Sto-Rox High School for years.  He's now influencing the athletic experiences of his grandchildren by running and swimming with them.Bill started his guest DJ set off with Bob Dylan’s, “Summer Days” off of his 31st studio album Love and Theft which was released in 2011. During the summer months Bill heads to the water and runs up and down the beach and really likes to listen to summer themed tunes. Despite the fact that his family likes to poke fun at his summertime soundtrack, Bill is happy to share with us a song off of this specific playlist.Afterwards, we heard “Living Loving Maid” off of Led Zeppelin’s second self titled album released in October of 1969. This song gets Bill pumped up and keeps him going throughout the race, similar to the other music by Led Zeppelin which he reserves for those 60 mile bike rides.“The tempo, the cadence, the motivation, the energy that they [Led Zeppelin] give you, I put them into my legs and try to make those hills”The last song Bill played for us was one inspired by his time coaching softball, and what enthused his kids to work their hardest. Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” came to mind.“I used music in preparing my kids. We had a playlist every year with a theme, it might be a theme of fight songs, it might be a theme for having heart, being strong, being tough,” says Bill right before he tells the story of a young man who made a speech about Bill at a banquet. The young man claimed that Palermo had their back and if they had a game in hell, he would be right behind them and their team would be the victor. Tom Petty’s song serves as a memento from this speech.Bill ends his guest DJ set and leaves WYEP listeners with a word of advice on staying active, which was to simply get out and do anything at your own pace.Bill's Ironman Playlist:Bob Dylan - Summer DaysLed Zeppelin - Living Loving Mad (She's Just A Woman)Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down

GRAMMY Review with Scott Tady

Scott Tady - Entertainment Editor from The Beaver County Times - joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix to make sense of the 2014 GRAMMY Awards.

Alex Dezen of The Damnwells: New Solo EPs and Future Damnwells LP

Alex Dezen of The Damnwells recently joined Morning Mix host Cindy Howes to talk about the new Damnwells album and Dezen’s four upcoming solo EPs. No One Listens To The Band Anymore, released in 2011, was the last record that The Damnwells released which didn’t feature two out of the four original members, David Chernis and Steven Terry, but fans can rest assured that the original lineup is back together for the new album.No One Listens To The Band Anymore was funded by Pledge Music through fan support, and although the band’s original intent was to not use the site again, you can find yet another Damnwells Pledge page for this upcoming record.“We swore we would never do it again, not because it wasn’t a great experience, just because, how many times can you really go back to the watering hole and ask your fans for money to make records? But then I realized you can kind of keep going back as long as the fans are interested and they want to help out.”Dezen wrote a number of songs that were originally intended for the new Damnwells album, but once the original members decided to reunite, there was an inspiration to write all new music. The former songs are going to be released as The Bedhead Series under Alex Dezen’s solo career, to give fans something to listen to in anticipation for the Damnwell’s album. The first of these EP’s was released January 21st and features a common theme of breakups.“That’s kinda the theme for the course of my career. They’re all kind of breakup or love songs, but these are definitely more personal than other songs I’ve released on Damnwells records. Because they’re a solo effort, it allows me to say things that maybe I wouldn’t say if I was with the Damnwells, or at least say things without having to really be that clever.”Alex also works at Warner/Chappell Music as a songwriter for pop musicians and actually has a co-writing credit on Justin Biebers hit “Take You” off of his 2012 album Believe which was performed at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards. Luckily, Dezen gets Justin Bieber text updates from his mother, letting him know exactly what Bieber is up to.The first EP from the Bedhead Series is available, and to see what else Alex Dezen or The Damnwell’s are up to you can check out their website.

Dark Sisters Composer Nico Muhly Guest DJ Set

Composer Nico Muhly is making his Pittsburgh Opera debut with Dark Sisters. Muhly doesn't work in opera exclusively, though.  His orchestrations can be heard in songs by Grizzly Bear, Jonsi, and Usher to name a few.  Muhly shared some of his work with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix.Nico Muhly's Guest DJ Set:Grizzly Bear - CheerleaderJonsi - TornadoAntony & The Johnsons - Cripple & The Starfish

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.