Audio Specials


Fitz of Fitz & The Tantrums on The Morning Mix

Michael Fitzpatrick, aka Fitz of Fitz & The Tantrums, talks to Cindy Howes about the band's new energy-infused sophmore release, More Than Just a Dream.The new album, More Than Just a Dream, incorporates the live shows and audience particpation into the writing and recording process.  Fitzpatrick explains how they kept the audience in mind while writing the album More Than Just a Dream,"When we were writing we kind of had the audience in mind.  It just became kind of natural way of looking at our song writing knowing we have this audience that participates and sing along and answer call with us."Since their start in 2008, Fitz & The Tantrums have become known for their vivacious live performances.  Fitzpatrick explains the origin and development of their live shows,  "The music itself was very danceable and uplifting, although the lyrics were very biting.  So there was this kind of push and pull between the lyrics and music. that automatically made there be this [musical] tension. Honestly Noel was such an amazing performer, we just kept pushing each other further at every moment.  The more we saw that we engaged the audience, the more we saw they got into to and it became this energy loop between us the the audience."Fitz & The Tatrums worked with producer Tony Hoffer on More Than Just a Dream.  However, the band did a lot of preproduction at home.  Fitzpatrick comments on the writing and recording process of More Than Just a Dream, "We had made our first record in my house, in my living room.  Going into record two and actually having budget to go and work with a producer and work in the studio we didn't also wanna turn our backs on the place that created the original magic.  Just being in your home environment in a more relaxed atmosphere to be creative. I love to create a mood and an atmosphere, I like to feel where I'm at."  Fitz & The Tatrums have accumulated quite the diverse fan base over the years.  The age range of the fan base varies from teenagers those around during the original years of soul and Motown.  Fitzpatrick comments on the fan base of Fitz & The Tantrums, " It's one of the most diverse crowds you'll see from the older couple to the young hiptser dude.  They're all at the concert and they don't care if they're in this very eclectic mix of crowd of people.  I think it just lets everybody enjoy the music even more." Fitz & The Tatrums have become known for their hard work ethis and do it yourself attitude.  Although they are now signed to a major record label, Fitz & The Tantrums stays true to their DIY roots.  Fitzpatrick comments on the work ethic of the band, "It's a credit to everybody in the band.  When we started we didn't have two pennies to rub against each other, we didn't have any support from anybody.  It was really on our shoulders and we started with that sort of do it yourself work ethic.  And then we just saw that the harder we worked, the more we gained fans."Fitzpatrick explained the epiphany in college that made him decide to pursue his love first love, music.  Although Fitzpatrick has recently found success with Fitz & The Tantrums, the road was filled with many obstacles and heartbreaks.  Fitzpatrick comments on his journey to the road of success, "Back then I wanted the world.  I grew up in Los Angeles, which is such an industry driven town, unfortunately.  It was having my heart broken and being rejected one too many times and that caused me to pick up and put down the strings which got me to a place where I was at peace with the fact that maybe this wasn't going to happen.  And that's when things started happening for the band."  With that being said, Cindy asked Fitzpatrick what the one piece of advice he would offer to anyone trying get a start in the music industry.  "Don't wait for anybody.  Go create your own future and make sure that you're true to yourself and doing something authentic to yourself."Fitz & The Tantrums' More Than Just a Dream is out now on Elektra Records.

Anders Osborne on the Morning Mix

Anders Osborne's latest album, Three Free Amigos, contains a large variety of musical styles with everything from rock to reggae.  The first single off the album, "Marmalade," is a perfect example of the musical variety on Three Free Amigos.  "Marmalade" is the only reggae track on the album.  Osborne discusses were his island influence comes from.  "I think it's a lot of the Toots and the Maytals and the Bob Marley influences that I had.  I think they've inspired me through the years. I listen to a lot of that stuff."Osborne discusses the order of the album, which opens with the title track "Three Free Amigos."  "It ended up being the title track, we threw it up front and it had a nice flow.  Once you start pairing up songs, usually you shuffle them around a little bit and you feel what's most natural" says Osborne.Osborne comments on how he wrote the record Three Free Amigos and the recording process.  "I wanted to create a record that sounded like my song demos. I play acoustic guitar first and sing, record that and add a couple of intstuments.  It's like sketching before you paint an oil painting.  You just kinda sketch it you don't go in with a full band and rock it out.  That's what I did for the whole record."Although he was born in Sweden, Osborne has adopted New Orleans on his hometown.  After living the city for almost thirty years Osborne discusses the influence of the city on his music.  "It's inspiring, there's a lot of amazing players and creativity.  There's a rich culture, it not about playing a show, it's a way of life.  It's apart of the culture as an everyday thing.  So I think most people in New Orleans are a part of it, whether you're a musician or not." 

St. Vincent Guest DJ

Before her show at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg with David Byrne, Annie Clark stopped by to play Guest DJ with Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix.  Annie Clark starts off her Guest DJ set with David Bowie's "It's No Game (Part 1). "I just love it.  Robert Fripp is playing guitar on it and I'm such a fan of his guitar playing.  It's from the record Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).  I think a lot of people wouldn't say is their favorite Bowie record, but it's mine for whatever reason."  The second song for Annie Clark's Guest DJ set is Stevie Wonder's "Maybe Your Baby."  "That track is just one of my go to songs.  I probably listen to that once or more a week."  Clark goes on to comment on what Stevie Wonder meant to both her and groove music, " Stevie Wonder is kind of the king of groove.  What I think a lot of people don't realize is he wasn't just playing keyboard and singing.  He was really ahead of his time and tracking most of the instruments himself. He's actually one of the best drummers I've heard."  For the final song of her Guest DJ set, Annie Clark has chosen Big Black's "Passing Complexion."  "I'm a big Steve Albini fan. It's from his first band, Big Black. The song is just Steve Albini and a drum machine and it still manages to be very powerful."Annie Clark's song selections:1. David Bowie "It's No Game (Part 1)"2. Stevie Wonder "Maybe Your Baby"3. Big Black "Passing Complexion" 

Bobby "Blue" Bland Remembered

Blues circles everywhere are morning the recent passing of blues legend Bobby "Blue" Bland.  Although Bland was not a household name, he was associated with blues guitarists like B.B. King and Junior Parker.  Bland, who passed at age 83 had been a part of the blues music scene for nearly fifty years.  In honor of Bland's recent passing, host of Big Town Blues, Wrett Weatherspoon stopped by to talk with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about his legacy as a musician.Bobby "Blue" Bland helped to modernize the blues sound in America.  Weatherspoon describes Bland's unique style of the blues, "[it is a] blues sound that's no neccessarily that hard driving guitar, but you have that smooth urban feel to it, a smooth emotional impact of the blues."Bland became associated with the likes of B.B. King, Junior Parker, and many others through his work with the band, the Beale Streeters.  Joey and Wrett discuss how Bobby "Blue" Bland joined the Beale Streeters, "This goes back to the days that Bobby was working in the garage in Rosemark, Tennessee not too far from Memphis."  He was doing some local talent shows hosted by Rufus Thomas who was a DJ for WDIA.  Apparently the general manager of the station liked what he heard and he approached Bobby to sing with this band called the Beale Streeters, who B.B. King was in at the time."  Unfortunately Bobby "Blue" Bland was drafted by the Army shortly after getting involved with the Beale Streeters.Although he was surrounded by the likes of B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland never became a household name.  Wrett comments on why Bland never reached the iconic status of some of his contemporaries, "He was overshadowed.  He was on a smaller label in Houston, Texas and his music never transgressed up into the northern cities."  Bland actually played the Pittsburgh Blues Festival last year.  After his performance a lot of festival goers were trying to figure out who had just played, most of them never heard of Bobby "Blue" Bland.  However Bland did have a few hits like "That's the Way Love Is," "Turn on Your Love Light," and "It's My Life Baby".Joey and Wrett also discuss Bland's unique singing style.  "Early in his career Bobby had a tonsillectomy, after that he could not use his falsetto.  So what he did was he listened to the preaching of Rev. C.L. Franklin, Aretha's father.  And he learned how to do what they call a snarl.  Nobody could do it like Bobby Bland did it, he stands out among blues artists."  Wrett comments on Bland's legacy and passing, "Bobby is definitely going to be missed in blues circles. I don't think he'll ever be replaced."

Interview with Yeasayer

In light of their upcoming performance tonight at Mr. Smalls Theatre, Yeasayer bassist Ira Wolf Tuton spoke to Joey of the Morning Mix.  Yeasayer is a psychadelic pop band from Brooklyn, New York and have been making music since 2007.  Yeasayer really took the music scene by storm with their 2007 performance at SXSW and have not looked back since.Since their 2010 release, Odd Blood, Yeasayer has pretty much been on tour non stop.  Joey and Ira discuss what the band does in the little down time they do have inbetween their packed tour schedule.  "[during our downtime] we usually try and work on music.  We've all been home for a little bit recently and haven't had large blocks of tours.  We have all been pretty productive in our own little studios."Yeasayer has a unique sound, their music contains many layers.  With that being said, there is a pretty extensive writing and recording process needed for Yeasayer achieve said sound.  Tuton comments on recording with Yeasayer, "It's pretty much the three of us working on demos alone.  Through that process over a period of months we send it back and forth to one other.  People get their interests peaked by different demos.  At a certain point we all kind of slam together into a singular studio space and start retracking and go about producing the project.  It's nice to share back and forth through the inventions of technology but every once in awhile it's nice to get in the same room as people."Yeasayer's latest record, Fragarant World, has gained a lot of recognition since it's release.  Joey and Ira discuss the track "Reagan's Skeleton."  "It's an ode to Eastern European dance crazed off world.  That song was actually recorded at the end of the whole process and it had laid aroud for awhile.  That was one of Chris's demos.  It kind of came together at the end."Yesayer's latest album Fragarant World is in stores now and you can look for them on tour this summer.

Booker T. Jones Interview

Booker T. Jones spoke with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about his new record Sound The Alarm.  Sound The Alarm is Jones' first album released on Stacks Records in over forty years.  Booker T. Jones left Stacks Records in 1969 but has chosen to return to release Sound The Alarm.  Jones commented on why he left the label and chose to return after nearly forty years.  "I wouldn't say I walked out.  I went to California from Tennessee and started meeting new and different musicians out there."  During his stay in California, Jones diversified his musical ventures recording everything from jazz to rock to R&B.  "[I recorded] a little more rock with Stephen Stills and continued to play R&B with Bill Withers.  But the reason for leaving was two-fold.  The company had become pretty corporate and they kind of abandoned our old colloquial style of just walking into the studio and writing a song.  The other thing was I just wanted to branch out more.  Forty years later the company is back and it's got its old muscle.  There's new people but they're great people and the spirit's revived."Booker T. Jones has become an icon in the soul music scene.  It wasn't just Jones' solo work that brought him to fame, his band, Booker T. & The M.G.'s got the ball rolling in the 1960's.  When Booker T. & The M.G.'s started to make music, the soul music scene in Memphis was considered a preserve of black culture.  Booker T. & The M.G.'s, which contained two white members, was one of the first racially intergrated rock groups of the time.  Booker T. Jones' comments on recording in the then racially intolerant south.  "The music was so much more powerful [than the racist voices].  The only real problems we had were just legistical problems like getting food, checking into hotels and things like that.  We really didn't have a big problem with that."Jones' latest record, Sound The Alarm features a large variety of special guests such as Mayer Hawthorne and Gary Clark Jr.  Jones' talks about how he brought in guests to record on Sound The Alarm, specifically the track "Austin City Blues" which features Gary Clark Jr.  "It was wonderful, there were a lot of different experiences.  Some of them were very similiar to the old way we made records.  But we used technology, we used the internet to connect to singers in Britain.  People flew in from all over to play on the album and we were able to sample sounds.  It was exciting actually, I'm really happy actually [with the album].  I reach out to most of the people [brought in to record].  For instance, with Gary, I heard him playing up at iTunes in Cupertino and I really loved his sound.  I wrote that song for Gary, but I knew Gary's roots and the type of thing he'd be comfortable playing."When asked what his favorite track on the new album was, Jones answered the title track "Sound The Alarm."  "Sound the alarm expresses the centiment I'm hot at this point and I'm not questioning it I'm just enjoying it and that's the order of the day.  I'm here, I'm back, I'm enjoying, and it's happening."  Jones' comments are fitting and reflect his recent return to Stack Records to release Sound The Alarm.Booker T. Jones has been making records for over fifty years now.  With the music industry constantly changing decade after decade, for an artist to withstand the test of time adjustments have to be made.  Jones' comments on the changes he has made over the years to remain a viable and important artist.  "The one thing I did that I think did help me turn the corner was I went back to school.  Around 2004-2005 I realized I was an old school guy, I was recording the old school way with analog.  I needed to learn digital audio.  So that was turning point for me."When asked about what music he finds himself listening to now Jones' stated "You know I have so many different tastes.  Jason Isbell was a guy who introduced me to the Drive-By Truckers and then he left the band.  But he's one of the people I enjoy."  After recording for over fifty years, Booker T. Jones still continues to branch out in the music industry.  When asked what the next  step time for him, Booker T. Jones replied "I'm following my path and it's led me into some directions that I hadn't expected.  Right now I'm doing arrangments for this album [Sound The Alarm].  I'm writing and working with so many people and producers down in Los Angeles.  I'm also working with the symphony. I've always loved the orchestra so that's one other thing I might be doing."  Booker T. Jones' new record, Sound The Alarm is out now.

Interview with Billy Price

In light of tonight's performance and latest release Strong, Billy Price stoppped by to talk about the new album with Cindy Howes of The Morning Mix.  The title of the album derives from the track "Gotta Be Strong."  Price describes the process of naming the album and its meaning. "I just suggested a number of titles to our record company guy and he liked Strong just by itself.  Of all the songs on the album, [Gotta Be Strong] it's the only one that's thematic, so I think it kind of reflects were I am in life and I think there's an element of that in it."  Billy Price's album Strong has an array of special guests on it including with Jimmy Britton and Fred Chapellier who have worked with him over that last few years.  "Jimmy is just so great and so prolific.  Jimmy at home works some musical tracks and I just try to figure something out for lyrics."Billy Price comments on his connection with James Brown and the cover of "Never Get Enough" that's a track on Strong. "I saw James Brown three or four times live.  I saw the famous concert in 1967 at Madison Square Garden.  There's a sax player that used to play with me for five years named Eric Leeds.  Eric's brother Allen was James Brown's road manager.  Eric and Allen together are what I think are the world's great experts on the music of James Brown. The song on this album "Never Get Enough" is actually under Bobby Byrd who was one of James' background singers."Billy Price had been in show business for many years. Price has become known for his dynamic yet restrained frontman style.  Price comments how his style of being a frontman has evolved over the years.  "One of the things I learned maybe four albums ago was that I didn't have to sing a maximum intensity all the time."  Price recalls a past conversation with Jon Tiven in which he learned to find his softer voice.  "You know it's much different singing in front of an audience than it is singing in a studio.  It took me many years to learn to sing in the studio, to be more sutle.".

Interview with Jason Isbell

            Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell just released his fourth solo album, Southeastern, to critical acclaim, influenced by his recent sobriety and personal relationships. The Greenhill, Alabama native was part of the Southern rock band The Drive-By Truckers until he broke away in 2007, forming his own band The 400 Unit, named after the psychiatric ward of Florence, Alabama's Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. He recently played the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and he will be appearing at WYEP’s Summer Music Festival at Schenley Plaza on June 28, 2013. WYEP’s Joey Spehar spoke to Isbell about his new album, his writing process, and the personal experiences that inspired both.            In addition to being influenced by both Ryan Adams, with whom he toured last year, and Amanda Shires, his wife and fellow musician, Isbell said that the album’s producer played a part in shaping the sound of the record. As opposed to his previous solo releases, which Isbell himself produced or co-produced, Southeastern brought in as a producer Dave Cobb, who’s worked with artists such as Shooter Jennings and Jamie Johnson. “It’s hard to turn over the reins,” Isbell told Spehar, “but Dave has a lot of ideas of how records should sound, and rather than introducing his own signature, he really tries to serve the song as much as possible and tries to make records that sound interesting but at the same time are just a good sonic representation of the song that’s been written.” Instead of having the members of the 400 Unit work out their parts in songs separately, the music for Southeastern was arranged as a joint effort by Cobb and Isbell. “The best way to make my kind of record is try to create a palette for the songs to operate in.”            Spehar asked Isbell if he had any fears about losing songwriting inspiration when he decided to become sober in February 2012, but Isbell said that was never something he worried about. “There’s always plenty of inspiration,” Isbell said. “Anyone that tells you they don’t have anything to write about isn’t paying enough attention to the world around them.” He said, however, that the song “Live Oak” dealt with the difference between the person he was in his past and the person he is now, stemming from that fear of losing part of himself.             When asked if he feels uncomfortable being honest in his music, Isbell said, “I use songwriting as a cheap therapy for myself, and everyone knows you’re not going to get a lot out of therapy if you don’t open up.” He discussed the process of writing the song “Super 8,” one of the less heavy songs on the album, and how the song “Stockholm,” featuring singer-songwriter Kim Richey as a guest vocalist, was an allegory of how forced connections like kidnapping paralleled romantic relationships

Warren Haynes Guest DJ

Warren Haynes was in town performing the songs of Jerry Garcia with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  He spoke with Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix about 3 of his favorite Garcia-penned tunes: Terrapin Station, China Doll, and Stella Blue.The first song Warren Haynes chose was one of his favorite Greatful Dead songs - Terrapin Station.  Haynes described Terrapin Station as a "marvelously arranged and composed piece of music.  It defies categorization in Garcia's catalogue and his influences come from many different directions."  Terrapin Station was released in 1977 and is "one of the most unique pieces of music I've heard by anyone," according to Haynes.Haynes explained that one of his favorite characteristics of Jerry Garcia's writing was not only the rock, pop, and obvious influences that make up the Greatful Dead; but also the folk and classical influences as well.  "If you don't have those influences you would have a lack of depth," explained Haynes.  He stated that he was drawn to "extremely well written ballads, especially with depth that goes beyond immediate influences" like in China Doll.  A "big song in Jerry Garcia's world," according to Haynes was Stella Blue.  This song was open to interpretation for Jerry Garcia and was never performed the same way, as it was given a different feel or swing each night.  Haynes explained to Joey that although it changed, "the chord progression and melody always stuck with me."  Estella Blue has a "timelessness" stated Haynes, "its melodic sensability goes back decades."

Jesse Dee on the Morning Mix

Jesse Dee talks to Cindy Howes on The Morning Mix before his appearance at WYEP's Summer Music Festival: June 28, 2013. The R&B/soul singer and Boston native, Jesse Dee's latest album is On My Mind / In My Heart and will be here on June 28th at WYEP’s Summer Music Festival. He spoke about listening to the local oldies station when he was younger, "I grew up in a religious household, so I was kind of steered away by my parents from listening to popular, secular radio. I was, for whatever reason allowed to listen to the oldies station. I remember hearing The Shirelles, Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, The Coasters. They played a lot of different stuff back then". There is a fine line one walks when creating retro soul and R&B where listeners could be wowed  or it misses the mark. Jesse Dee is definitely on the WOW side of things. When asked about this, he explains, "As a music fan and fan of classic Soul and R&B music, I listen to a lot of it and continue to do my homework, so to speak. Not of of necessity, but because I enjoy it. I'm just trying to write good songs, let the songs be themselves and incorperate elements of soul music that I like. I guess I'm trying to write a good song first and foremost as opposed to writing a song of a specific genre". When listening to Jesse Dee's new album, you really get a sense of his personality and his humor. Specifically on the song, “I won’t Forget About You”, Dee throws in some quick comedy asides and pretends to forget the words at one point, but it's all pulled off very smoothly. He comments, "I think in creating art and music, to be perceived as genuine, you have to be yourself. It's certainly a challenge for me and for a lot of people, but it's something to strive for: to have your music ring true to who you are. That's the ulitmate goal for me."One of Jesse Dee's other passions is painting. He went to the Boston art school, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Mass Art) and painted the cover of his last album, 2008's Bittersweet Batch. Because his music takes up most of his time, he doesn't get to keep up with painting as much as he'd like, "Every now and then, I'll get to do some artwork. I figure if I live to ripe old age of 80, I can sit in a chair and paint then". Jesse Dee's latest album On My Mind / In My Heart is out now on Alligator Records. 

Texas Flood Turns 30

On the 30th anniversary of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble's Texas Flood being released, Joey Spehar from the Morning Mix and Wrett Weatherspoon of Big Town Blues discuss the importance of the album that "brought the blues kicking and screaming into the 1980s".  

Interview with Joseph Arthur

Singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur talks with Cindy about this new fan-funded album The Ballad of Boogie Christ, its concept and guest appearances, as well as skateboarding with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison.Joseph Arthur's latest record, The Ballad of Boogie Christ, is not a typical release.  Arthur took DIY route with his latest album and released it with a fan-funded budget.  Arthur comments on the process of getting the funds together.  Arthur specifies that it was not just asking his fans for money to put the record out, "I think I kind of just realized it was more than just help.  It was a way of galvanizing your base and sort of being involved in the promotion and awareness of your record. It's essentially kind of a fire sale. You're not just asking for straight up donations, you're basically selling stuff. It's a cosmic yard sale basically."  Arthur had eluded to his idea of having a fan-funded record in the past.  Arthur comments on following through with the idea, "The minute it went live, I knew it was the right decision.  It felt good and people responded positively with it."  When asked by Cindy if he would do it again, Arthur said, "Yeah I would. I don't see why not. It's like the modern music business now." Arthur keeps true to the independent roots of the music industry, "It's the new way of selling music."The Ballad of Boogie Christ has a psychadelic/soul feel to it and it's different from the typical solo acoustic record.  Arthur comments on his influences and the evolution of music that became The Ballad of Boogie Christ, "It just evolved. At first it was going to be a solo acoustic record.  This one was going to be a simple guitar and voice one.  As you put it down the production sort of show what it needs.  This one led to back up vocals and further production. It sort of had an organic feel to it."  The Ballad of Boogie Christ features a magnitude of guest singers and musicians including former bandmate Ben Harper, and others including Joan Wasser, Paul Campellone, and Jim Keltner.The Ballad of Boogie Christ is a concept album.  Arthur explains to Cindy the idea behind his latest release, "I felt like it was about a guy who's either englightened or insane and it was kind of blurry as to which. That gave it a nice playing ground to what song's could be about and what they could say. It gave a freedom to express somewhat megalomaniacal ideas but also sort of spiritual tidbits."  Arthur also comments on the role of faith and religion in his writing.  "I don't usually have a problem talking about that stuff.  I feel like music is a place where that stuff lives comfortably. To me, music is almost like a spiritual practice. To me, spirituality and that aspect of life should be fun and funny and that's kind of ultimately what I'm trying to achieve with this album."  Cindy and Joseph Arthur also remember his days with Ben Harper in the band Fistful of Mercy and how they started up.  "We [Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur] had always talked about writing together and maybe going on tour.  He asked me if I knew Dhani Harrison.  So it was actually Ben that brought us all together."  Typically, the three would get together and skateboard.  Arthur comments on his entry to the world of skateboarding, "I do skateboard but I'm not way into it. I seem to get into bands that are way into it. I don't know what it is about me and people who love skateboarding." 

Interview with Gwil Sainsbury of Alt-J

In light of their recent sold out performance at Mr. Smalls Theatre, bassist/guitarist Gwil Sainsbury, of the band Alt-J called into the station.  Cindy and Gwil chat about the unique name of the band, the band's sound, winning the British Mercury Prize and what doors that has opened for the band.Alt-J is the keyboard shortcut for the delta symbol.  Originally named Films, Alt-J had to change their name due to the fact that there was already an American band with the same name.  Sainsbury comments on the situation and how it affected the band.  "At the beginning we got some blogs and indie press talking about it.  I think there was also some reaction against it.  It kind of worked both ways.  In the beginning I was a bit concerned but it seems to have worked out for the better."Sainsbury talks about the band's critically acclaimed debut albut - An Awesome Wave - and its unique "layered" sound. "People tend to form their own relationships with music.  A lot of people get attached to lyrics and the movement of music.  When we were making the album we were quite aware that we would end up playing and listening to it quite a lot.  So I think we tried to a lot to put layers in there."Alt-J recently won the prestigious British Mercury Prize, the annual music prize awarded for the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Past winners of the British Mercury Prize include Franz Ferdinand, The xx, and Arctic Monkeys.  Sainsbury comments on winning the award, "When we found out [we had won the British Mercury Prize] we were in Manhattan in a Starbucks we were really, really pleased.  The nomination I think is what it's all about.  The night they read our name it was personally surreal and all of it is kind of a big blur.  Now looking back on it, it's not something I really think about unless someone mentions it to me.  It's quite nice, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I remeber we did win it."  Sainsbury explains that the band had to jump right back on tour after winning the award, so the feeling of "winning" didn't really get to sink in.  However, winning the British Mercury Award has yielding a lot of commercial success for Alt-J.  Alt-J's music has been featured for the Nokia Lumia 928 commericaland in the movie Silver Linnings Playbook.  You can find Alt-J on tour this summer with Lord Huron and playing notable festivals across the globe such as Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Lollpalooza, and The Reading Music Festival. 

Local Natives Interview

Local Natives recently performed at Stage AE.  Guitarist/keyboardist/singer Ryan Hahn spoke with Cindy about what it's like living in LA, the Hummingbird record, keeping friendship going while making music, and their recent performance on the David Letterman Show.Local Natives are a band based out of Silver Lake, Californnia, a neighborhood in Los Angeles.  Hahn comments on how being from LA has effected the growth and development of the band, pratice, and touring.  "Well before we even moved there, we kind of viewed Silverlake as this mecca for bands.  We just knew as a band that we needed to move up there.  We tried to play every venue possible and kind of work our way up.  Hahn also comments on the sense of community within the LA/Silverlake music scene, "We just felt a lot of support living there. We would write there, it was a really good vibe to work in."Local Natives had to relocate to New York to record the album Hummingbirds.  Hahn comments on the new album and how it reflects the "trying times" he and his bandmates were going through during the recording process.  "Yeah while they are [the tracks on Hummingbird] are about heavier subjects and some of them can be pretty sad at times. For us, I think they feel more joyful, in having worked through all of this we've kind of come out the other side so much better for it."The members of Local Natives are a part of a close knit group of friends, some of which went to high school and lived together.  Hahn comments on maintaining the friendship part of their relationship.  "It's not natural to spend this much time with your friends. We just know each other so well, we know what buttons to press and not to press and we kind of navigate it in this weird democratic way.  But at the same time we all are still best friends and love being able to hang out with each other."To promote their latest album, Hummingbird, Local Natives recently peformed on the David Letterman show.  Hahn described the experience.  "It was really cool, actually.Wwe've gotten to do a few late night shows now.  For some reason this one was just really smooth and we had no problems and the crew was helpful."  Hahn also highlighted how David Letterman was into the fact that Local Natives was from LA.  ""We said we were from Silverlake instead of Los Angeles for some reason and he was like "Oh yeah, right by the stadium," so yeah he knew what was up."" 

Prince Turns 55

Prince Rogers Nelson – better known simply as Prince – turns 55 years old today.  The legendary singer and guitar player from Minneapolis is a major player in the music industry.  Prince has released 10 platinum albums, 30 Top 40 singles, and has literally hundreds of songs stashed away in his musical vault.Prince has been very musical since he was just a young lad.  He started writing songs when he was 7 years old and got his first recording contract at 17.  Prince is known for his voice and his guitar chops, but it should be noted that he can play almost any instrument that’s put in front of him.  His debut album “For You” came out in 1978 when Prince was 21 years old.  He produced, arranged, and composed every song on the record AND played all 27 instruments.His 1982 double album “1999” saw Prince finding acclaim outside of the US for the first time.  The album’s title track was a Top 10 hit in a few countries.  With music that good, it’s easy to see why his appeal is so universal.In 1987, Prince released “Purple Rain”.  This classic album is technically a soundtrack to the film Purple Rain, but it stands very strongly on its own.  Songs like “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Purple Rain”, and “When Doves Cry” are outstanding examples of Prince’s songwriting ability.“Purple Rain” was a major commercial success.  It sold over over 13 million copies and spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1.  Prince also accomplished a first with “Purple Rain”.  He was the very first artist to have the #1 album, song, and film at the SAME TIME in the US.  

Michael Cunningham of Neighbours

Neighbours is one of the many bands playing at the 14th annual WYEP Summer Music Festival at Schenley Plaza on June 28.  In light of their upcoming performance, Michael Cunningham stopped by the studio to discuss what it's like being a band in the Pittsburgh music scene, the start of Neighbours, the theatre roots of his singing and his eccentric live performances and much more with Cindy Howes.Neighbours are a soul rock band from Pittsburgh.  Singer/keyboardist Michael Cunningham and guitarist/vocalist Ross Reilly are both University of Pittsburgh graduates.  The two first met taking music classes together.  After finishing up school both Cunningham and Reilly moved out of Pittsburgh and went their seperate ways.  The two started to pass out demos and writing music while living in their respected cities.  The similar soulful styles of music Cunningham and Reilly were writing at the time ended up being a stepping stone to the soul rock sound that is Neighbours.  "We really just kind of on the same wave length on the stuff we were writing.  So eventually we both moved back up here [Pittsburgh] and started the project together."  Michael has become known for excentric performance and stage presence during Neighbours' live performances.  Michael's outgoing persona on stage is rooted in his experience with the theatre.  "I did theatre for a lot of my life from when I was a kid up until my early twenties.  So I've always been pretty comfortable on a stage in front of a group of people. So that probably translates subconciously to music as well. But I just enjoy it."  Michael also explains that as Neighbours gets more performances underneath their belt they become more comfortable and loose playing live.Michael Cunningham is not one trick pony.  Michael has a great voice to pair with his eccentric live performance.  Again rooting back to this days in theatre, Michael modestly explains how singing in choir has aided him and helped him find his voice.  "When I was growing up singing and doing choral stuff I was never the person that had the strong solo voice.  And to a large degree I still don't think I do.  But I always held down the baratone part and was good at blending."Neighbours roots run deep with the city of Pittsburgh. Although both Michael and Ross left after graduating college, they both ended up returning because of their love for the city of Pittsburgh.  Both Michael Cunningham and drummer Andy Mulkerin are natives.  Michael explains why he chose to leave his home away from home in Augusta, Georgia, "It's just a great city.  Part of the reason Ross and I specifically chose to move back here was because there's such a supportive community and it's very merit based.  If you've got something good to offer people are willing to give you an opportunity.  Aside from it being relatively inexpensive to live and there not being "poltics" within the music scene, Michael highlights the sense of community within the city of Pittsburgh. "It's hard to leave here because the people here are so great."You can purchase the 7-inch Neighbours single via Get Hip Recordings.  And look out for Neighbours debut full length within the next couple of weeks which will also be released on Get Hip Recordings.

Emily Haines Guest DJ

On the occasion of the band Metric playing in Pittsburgh, Emily Haines plays Guest DJ on the Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. Haines is the frontwomen for the Brooklyn-based indie pop band and also a member of the Canadian collective, Broken Social Scene. In light of a recent wedding attended by Emily, her first song is "Home" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, who actually performed at the wedding.  Emily spoke very highly of the show put on by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, "If you get chance to go see them you'll really enjoy their show." Emily's second song for her Guest DJ set is Lou Reed's "Perfect Day." Reed was actually featured on the track "The Wanderlust," off of Metric's album Synthetica.  In the past, Reed has performed "The Wanderlust" as well as  medley of his own music live with Metric at the iconic New York City venue Radio City Music Hall. "His [Lou Reed's] role in New York City is huge."  However, the reasoning for Emily Haines' second song in her Guest DJ set was due to Lou Reed's recent illness which he is currently fighting.  Haines' comments on Reed's recent health and how she believes that he will prevail and get back out on the stage by saying, "Lou will prevail, what an amazing and legendary human being and artist. We need to put our love and support behind him." The final song of Emily Haines' Guest DJ set is "Tender" by Blur.  Haines expresses her desire to fufill her dream collaboration with Damon Albarn. "I think he's such an interesting artist who's really managed to keep going beyound Blur. The stuff he's done solo I find really inspiring and just the way he represents the concious human." Before wrapping up her Guest DJ set, Emily Haines discusses how mixtapes made by her father both inspired her and helped her discover new music. "I remember The White Stripes the first time I heard "Hello Operator" was from a mix tape from my dad. It was an amazing gift to discover music that way." Emily's Guest DJ set:1. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes - "Home"2. Lou Reed - "Perfect Day"3. Blur - "Tender"

WYEP Presents Bricolage Production Company's "Midnight Radio"

WYEP presents an episode of Brocolage Production Company's "Midnight Radio", featuring the original play, "The Haunted". Based on first-hand research, "The Haunted" is an especially spooky installment of Midnight Radio written by Bricolage’s own artistic director Jeffrey Carpenter and writer Matthew Adams. The story follows a young research analyst who unwittingly discovers a chilling account of local history and is compelled to follow his newly awakened intuition. What does it mean to be truly haunted? Are ghosts real? Can someone be possessed by a spirit? Conjuring local legends and nearby landmarks that are rumored to be haunted, Midnight Radio unearths the past in the most terrifying way. Disclaimer: This episode is NOT appropriate for children. Midnight Radio is the company’s hit live variety show performed in the style of a classic old-time radio broadcast. This episode was recorded live at Bricolage's Theater space in Downtown Pittsburgh. More information on Bricolage Production Company can be found on their website.

Wings' Jimmy McCulloch Birthday Tribute with Mike Sauter

June 4, 2013 would have been Jimmy McCulloch’s 60th birthday. The Scottish musician and songwriter was best known for playing lead guitar in Paul McCartney's Wings from 1974 to 1977. He died of a heroin overdose in 1979 at the age of 26, but leaves a lasting legacy on the music of Wings and Paul McCartney’s solo career. In fact, one of McCulloch’s biggest contributions to Wings, Wings Over America, was just recently re-issued in deluxe format. Midday Mix host and The guy we talk to about anything Paul McCartney-related, Mike Sauter is in this morning to talk about the brief, but important career of Jimmy McCulloch.McCulloch made his first splash onto the music scene at the young age of 15 with the band Thunderclap Newman.  McCulloch was one of the youngest people to perform on a number one hit single in England.  McCulloch went through a couple other bands before being asked to join Wings by Paul McCartney.  The Wings album Band on the Run was recorded before McCulloch joined the band by only Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine.  It was not until Wings released their famous live album Wings over America, that McCulloch's guitar play and skills were put on display.  McCulloch's "fiery" guitar playing and soloing allowed Wings to take the next step towards becoming a great rock band, as well as helping Paul McCartney shed his image as the "poppy" Beatle.  Although McCulloch's time in the spotlight was brief, his impact on music can still be recognized.  As long as "Live and Let Die" or "Hi Hi Hi," are playing on the airwaves, Jimmy McCulloch's legacy will live on.

Zach Carothers of Portugal. The Man

Zach Carothers, founding member of the band Portugal. The Man, recently spoke with Morning Mix host Cindy Howes about the band's newest record Evil Friends.  They discussed what it was like working with Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), how the band changes from record to record, and the benefits of being ambiguous.Portugal. The Man is currently based out of Portland, Oregon. However, the band formed in Wasilla, Alaska.  Singer/guitar player John Gourley and bassist/back up vocalist Zach Carothers both left Alaska in 2004.  Although it was been almost a decade since their departure, Portugal. The Man is still influenced by their homestate.  According to Carothers, "Where you're from shapes you as a human being in general. Alaska is a very particular place.  We've always had a lot of the imagery (from Alaska) in our artwork and our lyrics and in our songs in general. It was really a mix of growing up in Alaska and leaving Alaska."Since 2004, Portugal. The Man has released 5 EPs and 8 full length records.  For their latest release, Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man were able to have Danger Mouse, who has worked with The Black Keys, Gorillaz, and many other well known artists in the past collaborate and produce their new record.  Danger Mouse is renowned in the music industry for his work. "It's just a taste thing with him, he's got an absolutly amazing style and amazing taste," Carothers comments on the unique experience of working with Burton in the studio.  "It was pretty much like Danger Mouse just joined our band for eight or nine months while we were recording. He's a very smart producer in a lot of ways. He's got a really unique perspective as far is being an artist himself. He really knows the dynamic of being in a band. He gave us so much insight into everything, it was really an amazing experience. He doesn't change bands, he gets something special and unqiue out of them."  What's unqiue about Portugal. The Man is with each record the listener is getting something different.  "We've been different ever since the beginning. We've had a lot of different members and lineup changes.  We really set out to change our sound with each record. We never want to make the same record twice."  Aside from working with The Black Keys, Burton does not venture outside the artist realm to work with bands often.  "The whole working with a full band was definitely new for him. We hit it off pretty quick on this one." The title track "Evil Friends," was a particulary important step in the recording process for Burton and Portugal. The Man. "We were stuck on that song, we were trying to figure out a hook or a melody."  Carothers highlights how Burton attacked the situation during this episode. "He wanted to clear the room and work with just John.  He told us all to take out instruments into seperate rooms and told us each individually "It's your instrument right when the song opens, what would you do?" and I've never been told that."  Carothers explains how moments like this gave him and other members a new insight while writing music and how it helped them grow as musicians.Aside from their varying musical style from album to album, Portugal. The Man has become known for having an aura of mystique with their lyrics.  Carothers explains that although he and the other members of Portugal. The Man are very open as people, but lyrically they are vague and ambigous.  "The point of it is it establishes a very personal connection. When I hear a song that has lyrics that are beautiful and amazing but a little bit vague it makes makes attach them to something very personal in my life."  Portugal. The Man aim to do the same with each song of theirs. 

Peter Yarrow's 75th Birthday

Peter Yarrow turned 75 on May 31, 2013. Yarrow is best known as a member of Peter, Paul and Mary, the act that took folk music to new heights in the 1960s. Their debut album spent nearly a month as #1 on the Billboard Charts. They were known for their great interpretations, however Yarrow's songwriting helped to create some of Peter, Paul & Mary's most famous songs, including "Puff, the Magic Dragon". Today we speak to Ken Batista, host of An American Sampler about one of the most important folk singers alive today – Peter Yarrow.

Brian from Guster Guest DJ Set

Brian Rosenworcel, drummer for Guster, plays Guest DJ on the Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. In light of their stop in Pittsburgh on their latest tour we have brought in Brian to create a mix of songs featuring great drum parts.  Brian begins with the song “Patricia” by Perez Prado, he states “What I love about it is the way it’s mixed. The bold tambourine or a trumpet, everything has maximum impact and it’s really fun.” Brian goes with “Look Out Cleveland” by The Band for his second song which features the iconic drummer Levon Helm who is one of Brian’s biggest influences. “Every time I hear him play he’s probably one of my greatest inspirations. He had a lot of chops, he could play really great parts but chose to play simply. So when I play drums I do my best to channel Levon. The song “Look Out Cleveland” has a drum fill that’s almost melodic in the way it’s a hook, it’s a signature Levon moment.”  Brian’s next selection is Nick Drake’s “Cello Song.”  This song influenced the hand drumming that Brian became famous for.  “When I first heard this song it really had an impact on me because I just started to play conga and there’s this very pronounced “pop.” And I just decided I wanted to learn how to make that sound.” Brian’s forth selection is “Walk a Thin Line” by Fleetwood Mac. “This song in particular is pretty much what music and drugs were meant to do when they came together.  I find the drumming sparse and tripping over itself. It just works so well with the album and the music.”  For the final selection of his guest DJ set, Brian chose “No Matter What Sign You Are” by Diana Ross & The Supremes.  “The groove is so deep. The drum’s and percussion on the song make my five-year-old daughter want to dance.”  Check out the audio below.Perez Prado “Patricia”The Band “Look Out Cleveland”Nick Drake “Cello Song”Fleetwood Mac “Walk a Thin Line”Diana Ross & The Supremes “No Matter What Sign You Are” 

Interview with Brent DeBoer of The Dandy Warhols

Before they kicked off the tour celebrating their landmark album Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, The Dandy Warhols' drummer Brent DeBoer chatted with Cindy Howes of The Morning Mix. The album was released 13 years ago, DeBoer talks about the expectations of the band and also what was going on in popular music at the time, "You wouldn't really hear anything except for boy bands. There were no bands with the word "the" in front of them on the radio". After the release of record, which is being reissued in a deluxe format, The Dandy Warhols made their mark on music, were getting played on the radio and got asked to play the big music festivals. Thirteen Tales was not their debut album, but it marked an arrival for the Portland band. 

Bob Dylan's 72nd birthday: Scott Mervis Guest DJ

The music of Bob Dylan stirs immeasurable emotions among millions of people across the world. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without the many contributions of Dylan over the last 50+ years. Today, we celebrate Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday in conversation and music with help from a big Dylan fan, Scott Mervis of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. We talk about some of Dylan's pivot albums, his live shows and how he stands out from other songwriters while Scott selects three great Dylan tracks.Scott's Dylan selections1. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)2. We Better Talk This Through3. Tonight, I'll Be Staying Here With You (Live)

WYEP Remembers Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for The Doors, died due to cancer on May 20, 2013. Manzarek not only co-founded the pioneering band with singer Jim Morrison, but he influenced and inspired countless younger bands and musicians. WYEP's Mike Sauter revisited Manzarek's history and legacy (including some audio clips of The Doors' 1970 performance at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena) in an hour-long tribute.