Audio Specials


Roger Waters' 70th Birthday Tribute

Pink Floyd was one of the most massively successful bands in modern history. The band’s landmark progressive lyrics and unique psychedelic sound captivated audiences worldwide. On the occasion of Roger Waters' 70th birthday, Cindy Howes and Mike Sauter discuss the mastermind behind most of Pink Floyd’s most celebrated albums. Rogers met his band mates while attending the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, where Syd Barrett attended. By the early 60s, Waters and Barrett had lost interest in school and moved more towards creating music. Barrett’s time with Pink Floyd was destined to be short, however, as his deteriorating mental health prevented cooperation with the rest of the band. Waters took over as principle songwriter as of 1968, and in 1973 released The Dark Side of the Moon. As Mike Sauter says, The Dark Side of the Moon is the first album that displays Pink Floyd’s grasp of the concept album. It’s more concise than earlier Floyd works, and contains “syncopated sound effects”, especially notable in the introduction to the song Money. “The album is really a Rorschach test for the listener”, Sauter says, as the lyrics are “not too specific and not too oblique”, and the ability to insert the lyrics into one’s own life is a major part of what makes them so memorable. Roger Waters struck gold twice, first with Dark Side of the Moon, and finally with The Wall. Roger Waters’ influences for The Wall include Syd Barret’s mental illness from the band, LSD, and his late father’s death during World War Two. Mike Sauter discusses the feelings of loneliness, alienation, and anti-school sentiments that permeate the album, and larger themes including government and politics. All these concepts are what make the album incredibly relatable, especially for disaffected high school students. Sauter admits that one of appeals of Roger Waters’ vocals is that he isn’t exactly an amazing singer.  “He always has a sense of striving, always pushing his voice, not quite hitting that high note, trying to hit that crescendo. The feeling like you’re not quite there, not quite going to measure up, but you’re going to do it anyway and you’re going to do your best,” is what makes it easy to empathize with Waters.

Linda Ronstadt: Tribute to a Voice of a Generation

Linda Ronstadt had one of the most vibrant and diverse music careers of the 20th century. Her crystal clear voice and masterful song interpretations made her a superstar in many different genres. It has been said that Ronstadt was "blessed with arguably the most sterling set of pipes of her generation ... rarest of rarities—a chameleon who can blend into any background yet remain boldly distinctive ... It's an exceptional gift; one shared by few others”. It was just learned recently, that Ronstadt, who is 67, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease leaving her unable to ever sing again. Afternoon Mix host, Rosemary Welsch and Cindy Howes pay tribute to one of the finest voices music has ever known.Rosemary discussed her experience when she first discovered the voice of Linda Ronstadt, “I think most people discovered it when she did “Different Drum” when she was still with the Stone Poneys, which was a song that came out in the late 1960s.  It wasn’t really until 1974 that I became super aware of her because that was a huge break out year for her.  After that, she basically ruled the airwaves.  I don’t care if you were listening to AM or FM radio in the 70s, it was ubiquitous.  Linda Ronstadt was everywhere,” explained Welsh.Linda Ronstadt’s voice allowed her to cross over almost every genre.  Rosemary discussed Ronstadt’s unique ability to cross and combine genres with her voice, “She was able to leap genres, but not just that but she was able to pull them together.  At a time when country was seen as something totally different from rock, she started to pull those things together and I think that’s what her great ability is.  It was the voice, she could do anything with that voice.”On top of being able to cross genres, Ronstadt’s voice opened to the doors to many great musical collaborations.  “When you look at her career and how many albums she’s been on, if you could get Linda Ronstadt on your album it was just that little extra something that could push your album to the forefront,” adds Rosemary.When looking back at the illustrious of Linda Ronstadt, it is hard to find any modern artist that can compare.  Cindy and Rosemary were able to come up Taylor Swift because of her leap from country to pop music.  With all respect to Miss Swift she still has a way to go before she can be in the same conversation as Linda Ronstadt.Another thing that Linda Ronstadt was able to accomplish with her musical career was giving notice to many great songwriters.  “She always had a great group of musicians around her.  Almost every member of the Eagles played on her albums.  You can’t go through the 70s without looking at all of these albums and they all interconnect and she’s sort of at the epicenter of all of that.”Although she can no longer sing, Linda Ronstadt is releasing a memoir, “Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir.”  The book is due out September 17.  

Rob Sheffield on The Morning Mix

Rob Sheffield, contributing editor at Rolling Stone, talks to Joey Spehar about his latest book: 'Turn Around Bright Eyes', "the rituals of love and karaoke" – a tale of how karaoke helped a widowed pop-culture addict find true love again. They also talk about some of the most essential karaoke songs of all time.Karaoke is more than a happy at a bar Rob Sheffield.  After the unexpected loss of his wife over 6 years ago, Sheffield was able to found comfort and happiness through karaoke.  “It’s something that has really changed my life.  Karaoke is something that lets anybody participate in music even though most of us have no talent whatsoever.  Once I figured out that karaoke was something that even with a terrible voice like mine you could actually get up there and sing in front of people and experience that sort of that pop star fantasy, that musician fantasy.  I began doing every chance I got.  I felt like it really transformed my entire world-view.Sheffield points out’s the universal bond that karaoke can provide.  You don’t need to have a particular song you always sing, you just get up there and go with the flow. “The beautiful thing is karaoke is a forgiving environment where everything is permitted,” adds Sheffield.Joey asked Robert Sheffield to chose three essential karaoke songs for his Guest DJ set.  Sheffield chose “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler for his first song.  “It’s one of those songs that tells you that we are here to sing karaoke, and this is what were for.  It’s got that big, epic atmosphere to it and it’s kind of a can’t miss karaoke jam,” adds Sheffield.Robert Sheffield chose the Neil Diamond song, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” “It’s one of the Neil songs that really lets you belt.  It really makes you feel like you are Neil Diamond and you have all that Neil Diamond bravado in you for a few minutes,” explains Sheffield.For the final song on his Guest DJ set Robert Sheffield chose, “Little Red Corvette” by Prince.“It really lets you transform into a total star for a few minutes and that’s really all you can ask from karaoke.  There are moments in his life where a man realizes he’s not Prince and this song is one of them,” Sheffield jokingly adds.  You can check out Robert Sheffield’s Guest DJ set list below and look for his book Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke in stores and online now.Bill Deasy's Guest DJ set:
1. Bonnie Tyler "Total Eclipse of the Heart"
2. Neil Diamond “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.”
3. Prince "Little Red Corvette"

Bob Dylan's Another Self Portrait

Released in 1970, the Bob Dylan album Self Portrait has seen its fair share of criticism and is seen by some as intentionally surreal and even satirical at times. The record features mostly covers of popular songs, renditions of traditional folk songs and a few live versions of Dylan cuts. Self Portrait was recently reissued as part of Dylan’s Bootleg series as Another Self Portrait. NPR Contributor and author of One Thousand Recordings to Hear Before You Die, Tom Moon talks to Cindy Howes about this unusual Dylan album and the newly released material on Another Self Portrait.Bob Dylan’s Self-Portrait tracks along with studio outtakes and a live concert with The Band.  Tom Moon discusses the significance of the release of Another Self-Portrait, “It’s really a bootleg thing that’s completely different from the original record.  Like the other bootleg titles, it gives us a window into Dylan’s process a little bit and it shows him thinking about his voice as an interpreter of a song rather than both a songwriter and singer.  This is a period where he’s really thinking about himself as a singer and trying to frame traditional folk songs in unusual ways.  Partly this is [an] important [album] is just he’s an  just an amazing singer and some of the very down demo type of stuff on this collection makes that case very well and better than the original album did."In 1970, when Dylan originally released Self-Portrait he was already a well-established and successful musician at that point.  However, when Dylan released Self-Portrait, people were unsure of what he was driving at.  Dylan had become known for his music writing.  For him to put out an album of strictly covers was almost perceived as him “lowballing” his audience.  However, Self-Portrait does just the opposite it shows Dylan as a scholar of folk music and sort of serves as his ode to the music that inspired him.Another Self-Portrait is different from the other Dylan bootleg releases, it gives a new incite on Self-Portrait and responds to the public’s reaction to the original record.   “To hear the collected stuff that was left on the floor and the things that teeter out in the middle of the tune and don’t even finish.  Some of those sparks are really interesting and more revealing about him as a student of folk and country,” adds Moon.Self-Portrait was seen as a disappointment to some.  People thought that there was a lack of effort put into the album.  Tom Moon discusses overall reaction to Self-Portrait and how Another Self-Portrait’s live cuts disprove the general public’s opinion, “When you hear the live performances from him and The Band at the Isle of Wright festival, they are fully engaged, they’re ripping and roaring and I sense that on some of the material that was found from studio outtakes and stuff.  I don’t think it is fair to say he was not trying.  The great thing about an artist whose work is so varied as Bob Dylan is he was capable of entirely surprising people and confounding his audience.  He was willing to do that and has been willing to do that.  This was a fork in the road for him.  He had to sing his hits night after night and I think he was a little concerned about not sounding the same every night and reinventing himself as a vocalist.  And what better way to do that than to kind of come back to some stuff that he knew well as a younger man and some tunes that were pop tunes and he sounds great.”You can find Another Self-Portrait in stores and online now.  And look for more releases by Bob Dylan as he continues his bootleg recording series.  

Interview with Bobby Long

Bobby Long just released his latest album - Wishbone - and will be performing at WYEP's Final Fridays at Schenley Plaza on September 30, 2013.  Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix talked with Bobby Long about the progression of his sound and the inspiration for the title Wishbone.Bobby Long is a singer-songwriter from the UK.  Long was born just outside of Manchester in Wigan.  Long currently resides in New York but holds to his Wigan roots.  Long started off as a solo act but has recently recorded with a live band.Although he now works with a full band, Bobby Long got his start performing solo.  Long discusses the difference between playing with a band and solo, “You’ve got freedom, you can do whatever you want and move things around.  You don’t have to look to your left and your right to make sure that everyone is on the same page.  I’m just lucky I get to do both.”Each Bobby Long album is different from the previous.  Long’s latest record, Wishbone, carries a heavier, almost classic rock style.  Bobby Long discusses his natural progression musically from album to album, “I love progressing in terms of myself and feeling good enough in myself to follow my convictions. If that’s the kind of music I’m writing, I should really put it out.  I don’t want to make the same album twice.”Bobby Long uses a variety of influences when writing music.  Long talked with Joey about the inspiration behind the track off of Wishbone “Devil Moon,” “I played on my own for three years and I was desperate to play electric and play really loud.  That was really the first song I wrote in that whole collection of songs.  I wrote this on a weird night, [there was] a full moon or something.  I was having a conversation with a friend about this kind of weird idea that the moon affects everything.  When the moon is full it’s weird and wonderful and it freaks everyone out.”

Black Joe Lewis on the Morning Mix

The album title, Electric Slave, stems from Joe Lewis’ realization that America is dependent electronics and how it’s de-socialized us. “I just thought it was an interesting topic.  I just thought about how people go to concerts and they don’t watch the concert.  They just sit there on their phone the whole time filming it to watch it later even though it happening right now in front of you,” explains Joe Lewis.Joe Lewis’ appreciation for sci-fi literature also influenced the album Electric Slave.  Lewis mixes his sci-fi roots with the overall theme of “people being bound by their electronics” theme of the album.  “I’ve always been a sci-fi fan.  I read a lot of Orwell and Buckley and stuff like that, so I thought it’d be cool to write my own sci-fi story.  The Electric Slave, the future of it, slaves to the robots, it’s a sci-fi story,” states Lewis.Although a primary theme of Electric Slave is how we are bound to our electronics, Joe Lewis sees an upside to technology.  “If it’s used for the right reason I think technology is good.  But I don’t think people will use it for the right reasons,” added Lewis.Electric Slave is a different sound than the two previous Black Joe Lewis records.  In fact, Joe Lewis actually considers Electric Slave to be their debut album.  “It’s the first one [album] that I feel like we got to go in and do completely what we wanted to do.  We had a different line up and kind of a new sound.  I just felt like the first two records didn’t represent what we sounded like when we were live.  We wanted to make this one to true to our sound,” explains Lewis.Through the years, Black Joe Lewis has endured some lineup changes.  Joe Lewis discusses the current lineup and how it allows the band to achieve its sound, “It’s just a good lineup and I think it works pretty well for us.  It’s pretty minimal, I enjoy it [singing and guitar playing].  It’s straight up blues progressions and some of them are one chord forever.  We just try to do what we do so we can sound like the way we do.”You can find Black Joe Lewis’ “debut” album Electric Slave out in stores and online now.

Dan Zanes Guest DJ

Dan Zanes used to be in a band called Del Fuegos, but for the past decade, he's been making great music for families.  He teamed up with Elizabeth Mitchell for his latest album Turn Turn Turn and joined Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix for a set of Kid-Approved songs.Joey and Dan Zanes start out with a discussion about how the birth of his daughter was his introduction into “kid approved” music.  For the first song of his Guest DJ set Dan Zanes chose “Little Nut Tree” by The Melodians.  “It’s a rock steady song from the 1960s and this is the first recording my daughter heard in her life when we she came back from the hospital.  I played her Little Nut Tree and I ended up putting it on one of my CDs,” explains Zanes.Dan Zanes chose “Melody In Me” by Shine & The Moonbeams for the second song on his Guest DJ set.  Zanes talks about how Shine & The Moonbeams have filled a void of soulful kid friendly music with their recent album, “They’re doing something that sounds like soul music to me, but it’s all ages.  There hasn’t been music for an all ages crowd that I’m aware of, I love them.”For his final selection Dan Zanes chose “Under The Boardwalk” from The Deighton Family.  “This is one of the most inspiring family bands I have ever heard.  They did a lot of traditional songs but they also a lot of 50s and 60s rock and roll and soul music but in a very unique acoustic handmade style.  I just love their version of Under The Boardwalk.”Dan Zanes' Guest DJ Set:The Melodians - Little Nut TreeShine & The Moonbeams - Melody In MeThe Deighton Family - Under The Boardwalk

Kevin Nealon Guest DJs on The Morning Mix

While he was in town performing, Comedian and actor Kevin Nealon plays Guest DJ on the Morning Mix with Cindy Howes.  Kevin Nealon is best known for anchoring Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live and his character Doug Wilson on the show Weeds.  Nealon also recently released the comedy album, Whelmed, But Not Overly.For his first song, Nealon chose “And It Stoned Me” by Van Morrison.  “The thing with Van Morrison is that you see the song titles and you immediately think it’s something [other than] what it really is.  This is one of those particular titles because you’re thinking, Wow, it’s about really good grass or something.  But it’s kind of a recollection of his childhood, like a day in the summer growing up and how he gets rained on.  You can’t get really get stoned from rain,” states Nealon.On his second track, “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons, Nealon says,  “Mumford & Sons is a band that I know just came on the scene very recently.  I kind of like the melody of their songs.  I not really sure what this song’s about, but I like the feel of it.  I think it’s definitely a fun song to listen to and you have to be in the mood for it and I’m in the mood for this song right now,” adds Nealon.The final selection of his Guest DJ set, Nealon picked “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye. “I’m a big Marvin Gaye fan, I love all that Motown stuff and this is a song I must have listened to a million times growing up.  It kind of starts off with a party atmosphere and I think it’s appropriate for the last song here.” You can check out Kevin Nealon on his new album Whelmed, But Not Overly in stores now.Kevin Nealon's Guest DJ set:1. Van Morrison "And It Stoned Me"2. Mumford & Sons "Little Lion Man"3. Marvin Gaye "What's Going On?"

Cody Dove of Second City Guest DJ on The Morning Mix

While they were in Pittsburgh performing, Second City member, Cody Dove played Guest DJ on The Morning Mix. Second City is the Chicago comedy group that is considered THE launching pad for many well-known comedians such as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell. Dove was kind enough to select and talk about some unintentionally funny songs.Dove’s Guest DJ set runs with the theme “Songs That Are Unintentionally Funny".  When first asked to put together a three song set, Dove - ever the comedian - crafted a joke set including Def Leppard, One Direction and Pittsburgh’s own Christina Aguilera.All joking aside, Dove’s first selection is “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak.  Dove points out the unrealistic relationship expectations that were set by the video for the song.  “Plus it sounds like he’s yawning through the whole song.  It sounds like he’s on the cusp of a yawn or he’s about to yawn or he’s yawning while he sings,” adds Dove.For the second track of his Guest DJ set Cody Dove selected “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes.  Dove sarcastically joked about the excitement he had when he first became aware of Bright Eyes.  “When these guys first…I say these guys, it’s pretty much just Conor Oberst from Omaha, Nebraska which there’s a lot to things to explore right there.  When these guys first came to my attention seven years ago or something with that I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning album.  I was real excited at the time.  I was like oh this is the new Guthrie, here’s our new Dylan, he’s a troubadour, he’s a little satirical and here we got this is great!  But when I look back it’s also the same time when I got excited, when I walked into Starbucks and was like oh they sell music now! It’s the same thing.”For the final song of his Guest DJ set, Cody Dove selected Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9.”  “This thing is a riot.  I don’t know if people have given it a listen lately but I don’t know what he [Beethoven] was doing, I don’t know what was happening here. [It was] the last long of his career, it’s 1824, people are excited about stuff.  It’s 65 minutes long first, I mean you talk about an extra rock block lunch hour.  He just kind of put it out there and said I hope it works,” adds Dove. Cody Dove's Guest DJ set:1. Chris Isaak "Wicked Game"2. Bright Eyes "First Day of My Life"3. Beethoven "Symphony No. 9."

Laura Veirs on The Morning Mix

Cindy and Laura Veirs started their conversation out with the meaning behind the title of her latest record, Warp and Weft.  “It’s the two strands of weaving, so the horizontal and vertical threads that make up weaving.  My mom is weaver so I learned that term a long time ago and I was always thinking it could be a cool record title.  It does fit the record for a variety of reasons.  I bring in some references to other artists like leaving in traditional folk songs and old lyrics.  Also it weaves in kind of a contrasting lyrical feeling, like very bright, grateful, upbeat lyrics and then also looking at the darker side of life and the scary kind of haunting, wintery side of life.  I think of it as the white threads one way and the black threads going the other, adding a contrast like you get in weaving,” explains Veirs.Warp and Weft is Laura Veirs first record since she has became a mother.  In fact, it was recorded while Veirs was pregnant with her second child.  Laura explained how becoming a mother has influenced her writing for the album, “It’s a little more topical.  I feel that maybe my last record was a little more inward, this one is looking out further, like looking more across society.”Warp and Weft was produced by Tucker Martine.  However Martine isn’t only Laura’s producer, he is also her husband, the father of her two children, and long-time musical collaborator.  Veirs discusses Martine’s ability to “pull everything” out of her music, “He knows what I’m capable of more than anyone else does in the studio.  He’s the only producer I’ve ever worked with, so I think he has an intuitive sense of what my best work is, my best take, vocally especially.  That’s a fine skill, to sort intuit an artist and what their best performance is.  One of the great things he can do as a producer, with all artists, [that he works with too is] find what they’re capable of and get them to do it.  There is a lot psychological play because people can get weird in the studio.  He has a way of keeping it light and relaxed and helping people find their best work and their record sounds really good,” explains Veirs.Laura talks about new sound on Warp and Weft brings.  “I’m really proud of it.  It’s a more wide pallet, it’s a wider more colorful than I’ve used before and it goes into some new territory,” explains Veirs.  Laura Veirs’ new record Warp and Weft is out now and available in stores and online. 

Joe Strummer Birthday Tribute

Today Joe Strummer would have turned 61 and in honor of his birthday Cindy Howes talks with Mike Sauter.Joe Strummer was a founding member of the prominent UK punk band The Clash.  Joe Strummer was born in Turkey and his father was a British diplomat, so he moved around a lot in his younger days.  Strummer’s first band was an English pub rock band, The 101ers.  The music of The Sex Pistols inspired Strummer to leave the 101ers and start up The Clash.  “They [The Clash] took that manic energy that The Sex Pistols had and dropped the nihilistic world-view and instead had a much more politically aware sort of approach to their lyrics out of social commentary,” adds Sauter.Mike Sauter was fortunate enough to sit down and interview Joe Strummer back in 2002 while he was in Manhattan, which happened to be eight months before he passed away.  After Joe ordered Mike a beer, the two discussed his role in Johnny Cash’s 1994 American Recordings album, the state of music (back from 2002), and the role of comics in his writing. Joe Strummer wrote Cash a song titled “The Road to Rock and Roll.”  Joe explained to Mike about how he considered Johnny Cash’s long history with music, especially the darker times, when writing “The Road to Rock and Roll.”  However the track ended up not being on the record.  Strummer also commented on the then state of punk rock music.  Strummer explained to Mike Sauter that although bands like Blink-182 aren’t overtly political, if you dig deep enough, you can always find some sort of social commentary.In his interview with Joe Strummer, Mike Sauter pointed out something that Joe himself wasn’t ever made aware of about this music; Joe Strummer’s later writing keeps the theme “the invisible rays that permeate our lives.”  Strummer would go on to note the American superhero comics like X-Men had a large on influence on said writing.  On a more serious note, Joe Strummer commented on the importance of writing a quality record, “It is nice to get around and see interesting parts of the world. [But,] mainly you’ve got to make a superb record and worry about all that later,” explained Strummer.When asked by Cindy to pick a quintessential song to play in honor of Joe Strummer’s birthday, Mike Sauter chose The Clash classic, “London Calling,” “It’s hard not to go back to The Clash and one of their iconic songs that Strummer co-wrote with Mick Jones and takes lead vocals on, the great song “London Calling” which is one of those songs people love…It encompasses so much that you can interpret it in may ways,” adds Sauter. Joe Strummer passed away in 2002 unexpectedly from an undiagnosed heart defect. Happy Birthday Joe, we miss you and your music.  

Robert Plant Turns 65

WYEP celebrates one of rock’s most illustrious front-men, Robert Plant, on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Plant is best known for fronting Led Zeppelin, but he’s had a fairly successful solo career and recently has been inspired by an Americana sound that has been the core of his group, Band of Joy. We asked Beaver County Times Entertainment Editor and 9:13 Buzz contributor, Scott Tady, to construct a career-spanning set of music from Robert Plant.We gave Scott Tady quite the task, trying to encapsulate the multi-decade spanning musical career of Robert Plant in three tracks.   Since the spawn of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant has become quite the Renaissance man for music.   Plant has found much success outside of this iconic role as lead singer of Led Zeppelin with this work with Alison Krauss and The Band of Joy.For his first selection, Scott Tady selected “Gone, Gone, Gone” from Plant and Alison Krauss’ 2007 collaboration Raising Sand.  “It seemed like an odd mix at first, Alison Krauss [who’s known for] bluegrass, country [and] Robert Plant.  There were a lot of eye brows raised but, boy they knocked it out of the park, this is just a fun song,” adds Tady.For his second track, Scott Tady selected “Tall Cool One” from 1988’s Now and Zen.  “Tall Cool One” was Robert Plant’s most successful U.S. solo single and features a medley of Led Zeppelin tracks at the end of the track.  “It’s representative of that '82-'90 era for him.  It had a video, at the end he samples five Led Zeppelin songs.  That was like one of the first time solo that he acknowledged the whole Zeppelin thing,” explained Tady.Scott Tady chose to highlight the Led Zeppelin era of Robert Plant’s career for his final selection.  “That was the hardest choice,” noted Tady.  Without further adieu, for his final selection, Scott Tady chose the track “Ramble On.”  “Ramble On" kind of captures him and many of this themes.  There’s the whole Robert Plant the drifter, got no time for spreading roots.  There’s Robert Plant the party, the rebel guy, to our health we drank a thousand times.  There’s Robert Plant the Tolkien fan with references to Tolkien and Mortar and Golam.  It just kind of encapsulates what he’s all about,” adds Tady.  So there you have it, three Robert Plant songs that span across his illustrious music career. Happy Birthday!Scott Tady’s set:1. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss “Gone, Gone, Gone.”2. Robert Plant “Tall Cool One"3. Led Zeppelin “Ramble On”

75th Anniversary of Robert Johnson's Death

Legendary bluesman Robert Johnson died on August 16, 1938.  Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix and Wrett Weatherspoon of Big Town Blues discuss the life, work, legacy of this influential - and very mysterious - blues musician.

Hip Hop Turns 40

The cultural force known as Hip-Hop turned 40 years old this week.  Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix was joined by local Hip-Hop artists Marcus Vaughn and Warren Parker of Lucid Music to discuss some of the most important moments in Hip-Hop history.The origin of hip-hop can be traced back to a birthday party in the Bronx August 11, 1973.  DJ Kool Herc invented what’s known as “the break,” which would become an instrumental tool for the genre.  “The break is any part of a record where all the instruments drop out except for the drums.  What he [DJ Kool Herc] would do is get two records of the same and play them.  But he would play one part it would play the break and he’d spin the other record and it would transfer it over and play the other break and it would keep going back and forth.  So the break would play without stopping.  That was basically the sweet spot for all the B-Boys to get down in the circle.  That really got things going with break dancing,” explains Parker. Over forty years later the breaks are still a large part of hip-hop music.  “I think as far as hip-hop production that really [breaks] set the tone for the way hip-hop was made as far as the continuous drums.  Just the ongoing sound where people could rhyme over it, I think that really shaped the sound of hip-hop,” adds Parker.Another monumental moment in hip-hip history can be traced back to the release of the SP-1200, a classic drum machine and sampler.  The SP-1200 made it possible to create breaks without using two turntables.  “Some of the most significant songs was made with that, like “T.R.O.Y (They Reminisce Over You)” from Pete Rock.  People don’t use it too much anymore but I think that was a important thing.  From ‘86 like up to the 90s it shaped the golden era of hip hop we all know,’” explains Vaughn.  “A lot of classic albums have been made with that piece of equipment.   That’s another thing that kind of revolutionized the way hip-hop sounds as far as what you could do with it and the samples.  It’s a classic piece of machinery, hip-hop wouldn’t be here without the SP,” adds Parker.After getting both of Marcus Vaughn and Warren Parker’s most important moments in hip-hop history, Joey gave a moment of his own, the collaboration between Aerosmith and Run DMC on “Walk This Way.”  “I was still fairly young at the time, but I remember hearing it.  I’m pretty sure it was the first time that genres crossed over like that, so it made so people could do it to this day,” adds Parker.The growth of hip-hop was not limited to just the music, movies did their share as well. “Some of the original really hip-hop movies like Wild Style and Breakin’ and Beat Street, when those came out that really said something.  That really said woah hip-hop is here to stay.  I think people thought that hip-hop was going to be like disco or something like that, it’s going to be here for a for a few years and then disappear.  But when those movies came out I think it really introduced it to the mainstream.  I learned a lot by those, when I was young I was transfixed by them,” explains Parker.Joey, Marcus, and Warren finish up their recap of hip-hop’s history with a discussion  of the future of the genre.  When asked what the future of hip-hop is going to yield Marcus replied, “I think hip-hop is always going to be here.  I feel like that in some shape or form it always be here and it’s going to keep changing.  There will always be people making quality hip-hop. Hip-hop will always be here,” adds Vaughn and Parker.  So here’s to another 40 years of hip-hop music! 

Valerie June on The Morning Mix

Valerie June, originally from Tennesse and now living in Brooklyn, talks to Cindy Howes about her new album Pushin' Against a Stone, which was co-produced by Dan Auerbach.Valerie June is a singer-songwriter from Memphis, Tennessee.  June’s music encompasses of a variety of music including folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, Appalachian and bluegrass.Valerie June discussed singing in church when she was younger.  June explains the influence of singing with her church on her singing, “Everyone has a voice, no voice is judged.  You’re commanded by God with your voice.  People want to judge voices all the time.  The church I went was a church where the whole belief around it, is that it’s not about if you can or can’t, everybody can and you need to.  And that’s what I was around for eighteen years of my life.”Valerie June has developed her own sound, “Moonshine Roots Music.”  June attests her created style of music to growing up in the “genre conscious” Tennessee.  “I think that music is just something that is in the subconscious and it’s there and it’s present even when we’re at the grocery shopping or we’re at the gas station.  I’m just in tune to what’s playing around me all the time,” adds June.Valerie June no longer primarily resides in Tennessee, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York.  June commented on how surprised she was to see the folk and blue grass music come out of the Brooklyn music scene.  “It’s kind of neat that it doesn’t matter where you live like I was saying.  It doesn’t matter if you can sing or you can’t sing, it’s what you feel connected to and what kind of music you feel moves you.  I don’t really think it matters where you live.  It matters where your passion is and where your heart is,” explains June.Valerie June’s latest album, Pushin' Against a Stone, was co-produced by Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys).  “This is more of a time to be open and more of a time to have mentors come into my life because I needed guidance in the sense of I needed to learn more about what it’s like to use old mics and old analog equipment and what it’s like to work with someone like Booker T [Jones].  [He’s] played with so many different musicians from all over the world and has just grown so much from the days of working on of Stax to being prolific and amazing and legendary.  I needed those kind of people in my life to help me and give my lessons and just guidance.  I feel so lucky to have that,” explains June.  The new album Pushin’ Against a Stone is out now and available in stores and online. 

American Graffiti Turns 40

American Graffiti was released on August 11, 1973 and in honor of its 40th anniversary, Cindy Howes pays tribute with WESA's Bob Studebaker. Set in 1962, the coming of age film directed by George Lucas featured one memorable night of California teenagers cruising in their classic cars while the backdrop of some of the best hits of the 50’s and 60’s played on their radios, courtesy of the legendary disc jockey, Wolfman Jack. The legacy of the film and its stellar soundtrack have made a lasting impression on audiences for decades. American Graffiti was a nostalgic portrait of the teenage life in the post—World War II baby boom generation.  The film features groups of teenagers and their adventures within a single night.  Aside from the cultural recognition and success, American Graffiti, is also one of the highest profiting films of all time.  In 1995, the Library of Congress selected American Graffiti for preservation in the National Film Registry, who deemed the film “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”The question that’s become affiliated with American Graffiti is “where were you in 62?”  The said question was actually used on a majority of the posters for American Graffiti.  With that being said, Cindy asked Bob where he was in 1962.  Bob explains the dog days of his adolescence and how his sister’s transistor radio gave him access to top 40 music that he grew to love.  “The songs [of American GraffitiI] were familiar to me,” adds Studebaker.American Graffiti includes a magnitude past and current stars with names including Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, and Cindy Williams.  The film’s DJ, Wolfman Jack, too became a star after the release of American Graffiti, earning himself a show in the 70s.  Bob Studebaker recalls a day in which local personality, Porky Chedwick, who was similar DJ to Wolfman Jack, did a live broadcast at the now Benedum Theatre in Pittsburgh.  “About 3 in the afternoon he said he kids come on down.  They had to shut down Downtown Pittsburgh in 1961 cause there were like ten thousand kids.”Although it has been forty years since the release of American Graffiti, the coming of age film is still remembered today.  Everyone from the director to the actors and actresses involved have moved on to become stars at their respected position.  The music of American Graffiti, like the film will continue to influence and be a part of American popular music and culture.

Interview with David Gans on Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia – leader of the Grateful Dead – passed away on August 9, 1995.  The legacy of the Grateful Dead lives on to this day in a very strong way.  David Gans – host of the syndicated show The Grateful Dead Hour – called in to speak with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about the life and legacy of the late Jerry Garcia.  Pretty much everyone knows that Jerry Garcia was in the Grateful Dead.  However, Garcia made a name for himself before his days with the Dead.  “He was involved in what was affectionately referred to as the Folk Scare of the 1960s and became a very well known folk musician and then a bluegrass musician in a circle of players that included David Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen, and Janis Joplin.  Jerry [was also] very very well regarded in the San Francisco Bay Area before starting the Jug Band, which was a craze around 1964 all across the country.  And the Jug Band is what morphed into the Grateful Dead.  He was an incredible musician on both guitar and banjo and he was charismatic person who attracted a lot of people around him and sort of became the focus of that scene,” states Gans. Jerry Garcia’s impact, both musically and within the counter culture movement, is one that cannot be ignored.  However, not a lot of people are aware of the influence Garcia’s long time collaborator Robert Hunter had on Jerry.  “Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia were the primary songwriting team of the Grateful Dead.  The collaboration of Hunter and Garcia has yielded several dozen incredibly powerful and enduring songs.  Right now, in 2013, lots of young musicians are adopting those [Grateful Dead] songs.  If you’re an open minded musician and you listen to this stuff you hear songs that have incredible depth and power to them,” explains Gans.  Aside from his work with the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia had a slew of side projects including some solo work.  Jerry’s solo work was so impactful that it became part of the Grateful Dead’s live show repertoire.  The influence of Jerry Garcia can still be recognized nearly 20 years after this death.  The music of the Dead expands beyond so many boundaries and a lot of that is because of Garcia.  Garcia had such a wide range of musical appreciation and lot of that reflected in his work (both solo and with the Grateful Dead).  Although Jerry is no longer with us, his work continues to influence generation after generation.  We miss you Jerry.

Ben Sollee Guest DJ Set

Genre-bending cellist Ben Sollee recently played Guest DJ on The Morning Mix.  Sollee talked with Joey Spehar about some of his current favorite songs and some projects he's been working on as well.Ben Sollee's Guest DJ Set:1.  Sam Amidon - My Old Friend2.  Abigail Washburn - Chains3.  Jim James - State Of The Art4.  Ben Sollee - Letting Go

Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks Band on The Morning Mix

Derek Trucks, band leader and main guitarist for Tedeschi Trucks Band talks to Cindy Howes on The Morning Mix.Tedeschi Trucks Band is known for their signature take on blues-rock music.  However, the upcoming release Made Up Mind includes a couple of songs outside the normal music spectrum Tedeschi Trucks Band fans are used to.  The track “Idle Wind” is acoustic heavy and “Part of Me” has more of a Motown type of feel to it. Derek Trucks explains what the writing process is like and how songs outside his normal musical realm come about,  “We really try when we’re writing tunes to just kind of let the song be what it’s going to be.  We write a lot of songs acoustically first but a lot of times while you’re writing it you hear the instrumentation.  You can kind of imagine what the band is going to do with it.  Sometimes you write a song with acoustic guitar and it kind of hits you that it really needs recorded this way.  I think as we get more and more comfortable in the studio, as a band, and I guess just individually you kind of let songs be what they’re going to be. Often as a band we’ll kind of tip our hats to the music we love and kind of wish there was more of, you hope you can push the musical conversation in those directions.Derek Trucks installed a recording studio in his home in Jacksonville, Florida back in 2012.  Cindy and Derek Trucks discuss the convenience of having a home studio and how it aids the recording process, “It’s been amazing having a studio there.  Every record we do it just gets better and better.  Everything was just easy to record.  Almost everything was recorded at the same time.  There’s a lot of experimenting.”Tedeschi Trucks Band is no normal blues rock band, there are a total of 11 members in the band.  With that being said, there is a large variety of musical input going on during the writing and recording process.  Derek Trucks comments on what it is like to be an 11-piece blues-rock ensemble, “I think that’s the hardest part of having a band this big with players that good.  You wanna bring as much out of everybody as you can.  It’s kind of a constant shifting of who gets solo time or who gets featured.  But the beauty of the band grows.  Everybody cares less about those things.  It becomes much more about the band’s sound.  On the record I was really happy with the way everybody contributed.  It was never adding parts just so you’re on a song it was adding parts to make things better.”As most fans know, Derek and Susan are husband and wife.  Susan Tedeschi attended the Berklee College of Music and Derek Trucks was on the road with the likes of the Allman Brothers when he was younger.  Needless to say the music the variety of influences between the two has yielded the great music we’ve come to expect from Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.  “We have so many of the same influences and same musical philosophies.  I think that’s where we connected the quickest, on stage and playing music together.”  The new album by Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind, is due to be out on August 20. 

Interview with Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion have a new album out called Wassaic Way.  They recently talked with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about the new record, their connection with Wilco, and growing up in a family business.Wassaic Way is different than previous works by the duo.  Songs such as “Chairman Meow” have a sunnier and more upbeat feel to them.  Irion points out the irony in the fact that the sunny sound for “Chairman Meow” comes from the fact that it was literally written on a sunny day in Los Angeles.  Irion also explains the writing process that he and Sarah Lee Guthrie go through when writing an album.  “We tend to go [write] individually.  Sarah Lee and I have been married fourteen years so the last thing we want to do is go write a song together,” states Irion.  “We’ve definitely learned to work it out over the years and figure out who’s best at what. I think we’ve learned the process of doing it individually and coming together,” adds Guthrie.The Wilco-Guthrie-Irion connection continues to live with Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion’s upcoming release, Wassaic Way, which was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Patrick Sansone.  Irion and Guthrie explain how their connection with Wilco started, “We did a tour with the Autumn Defense a few years back, which is John Stirratt and Pat’s side project.  And they put out a record called Once Around.  We just made a connection with those guys and we love that record so much that we just all decided to get in our Sprinter van and go to a tour together.  That turned into us playing Solid Sound, which is a Wilco curated festival near our hometown in western Mass and that’s where we met Jeff.”Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion also discuss what it’s like to be married while being in a band together, "We’re totally human, of course there’s ups and down to this and that’s just the thing.  The ups are really good and it’s so great we have our two little girls with us.  Of course it’s not always great, it’s hard.”  The duo discuss the parallels of growing up in a family business and playing in a real "family band" and the challenges the situation presents. “It’s good, but it's definitely a challenge.  But it also shows up in art.  I think that’s part of what keeps up writing songs that are meaningful and that everybody can relate to actually,” adds Guthrie.Wassiac Way is the third release by the Guthrie and Irion, who actually released the record theselves.  “We kind of went into this like this is a big deal for us.  It’s taken a long journey for us to come to a point where we can make a record with a guy like Jeff Tweedy.  This has been quite a journey, it’s so exciting for us and we’re going really strong on this.  It’s very rewarding being able to be in control of it [Wassaic Way] even at this point.  We’ve always made the records ourselves and handed them off to labels here and there to put them out and see them through.  This time we get to see it through ourselves and been actually really great,” adds Guthrie. You can find Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion’s new record, Wassaic Way, is out in stores now and on iTunes

KT Tunstall on The Morning Mix

KT Tunstall talks to Cindy Howes about her new album, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon.On her latest album, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon, KT Tunstall changed up her vocal approach.  On tracks like “No Better Shoulder,” Tunstall expands her vocal range to the lowest it’s ever been.  When asked about how she attacked the vocals on Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon she explained, “This is my vocal album.  It’s really the first time I’ve approached a record deciding that the vocals are going to be the main star of the show.  There were a few factors that really led me to have faith in my voice.  Support from good friends and letting me know I should really showcase my voice.”  Tunstall also modestly explained how she cannot listen to her own voice on record and appreciate it the same way a fan would, “When I listen to other female singers I really enjoy, Patti Smith, Leslie Feist, Cat Power's voice I love, and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I listen to these women and I can hear their voice.  It’s weird listening to your own voice cause somehow you can’t really hear it.  I can’t hear my voice the way you would hear it or my friends would hear it.  It’s a little bit like that thing where you don’t like the sound of your own voice on a tape recording or something.  With this record it was really looking at the possibilities and the options I had.”KT Tunstall has had some recent tragedy in her life including the passing of her father and divorcing her husband.  A lot of the emotion and feelings Tunstall felt during these rough times in her life have been translated into the album Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon.  Tunstall noted how her most recent album was actually one of the easiest albums for her to write, “It was really easy, the songs just fell out,” she adds.Cindy and Tunstall discuss the “voodoo” that accompanies her song-writing process.  “Song-writing can be quite an alchemical thing, where often you’ll write a song with no idea what it’s about and you find out a few weeks later.  It’s almost like your subconscious is way ahead of your conscious mind and more aware of the things happening in your life and what they may have than your waking conscious brain is never aware of,” explains Tunstall.  Tunstall notes the track “Invisible Empire” as an example, a track that originally was about a small life fixation turned into a microcosm of her life at that point.  Her new album Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon is out now on Virgin/EMI Records. 

Interview with Robert Randolph

Robert Randolph - the charismatic leader of Robert Randolph & The Family Band - talks with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about the band's new album Lickety Split and about what fans can expect at their performance at the Flood City Music Festival.Joey and Robert discuss the creation of the latest Robert Randolph and the Family Band album, Lickety Split.  “It starts off us just getting in a room and making music.  I think the music brings about the lyrics or chorus for me.  But it’s just about us getting in a room, spending days, weeks in the studio and coming up with all of these musical pieces,” explains Randolph.  Robert Randolph also pointed out that most of the great songs of the past and present are created similar to how he and the Family Band recorded music, everyone in a room playing together.  “Look at band’s like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I’ve seen those guys in studio and they just go in and jam.   As the jams start to come together they start to develop a chorus, then a verse, then a title.  That’s really how we [Robert Randolph and the Family Band] like to feed off each other in the studio, that’s really how it’s done.  Robert Randolph also highlighted how working with producer Eddie Kramer (Led Zeppelin, Santana, Jimi Hendrix) has helped him come to the realization that the best music comes from the members collaborating all at once while writing.  “He would tell us the same stories that Jimi Hendrix and Zeppelin and those guys.  The reason those recordings came out like that is because those guys were hearing it back as we almost here it today,” adds Randolph.The latest Robert Randolph and the Family Band record includes collaborations with Trombone Shorty and Carlos Santana.  Over the years Robert Randolph worked with a magnitude of musical talent.  Joey and Robert discuss the influence of one artist in particular, Calvin Cooke.  “Calvin his really sat down with me and taught me and helped me develop as a pedal player.  It would sort of be like Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn you know, it’s sort of that kind of relationship.”

Allman Brothers Band Brothers and Sisters Turns 40

Jesse Novak of the Roots and Rhythm stopped by to chat with Cindy Howes of The Morning Mix about the Allman Brothers Band. Jesse and Cindy discuss the 40th anniversary of the album Brothers and Sisters, Dickey Betts and his role on the album, and the impact of the Allman Brothers Band.Brothers and Sisters put the Allman Brothers Band at the top of their commercial success.  The 1973 release held the number one spot for five weeks in the US and had, arguably, their biggest single - “Ramblin’ Man.”   Cindy and Jesse talked about the appeal of Brothers and Sisters to the public and how the shift towards more of a country sound drew people to the album and band.  “I think a lot of it [the album's commercial success] had to do with the fact that it was a little more country tinged.  It was a little less of the heavy blues,” adds Novak.On Brothers and Sisters, Dickey Betts was more involved in the song writing process than in prior albums.  The passing of Duane Allman forced Betts to be more of a force musically as well become slide guitarist overnight almost.  “He [Betts] also stepped up as a songwriter on the album.  Previously he contributed maybe five songs total to the Allman Brothers and three or four of them had been instrumental.  With Duane gone he stepped up to the plate.  He came up as a guitar player as well as a song writer,” explains Novak.The impact from the Brothers and Sisters album cannot be ignored.“I think what separated the Allman Brothers from so many other southern rock bands was they had such a strong sense of rhythm.   They were incredible musicians who were combining so many different things to create at times a phonetic and very intense sound,” adds Novak.  Although the country can be a diluted field of music at times, current day bands like Gov’t Mule and Tedeschi Trucks Band have taken the sound of Brothers and Sisters and kept the spirit of the Allman Brothers music alive. Brothers and Sisters impact and importance is still recognized today.  The album was recently reissued to honor its 40th anniversary.  The reissue includes studio outtakes, the audio from their landmark Winterland performance, and many other extras. 

WYEP's Tribute to JJ Cale

WYEP's Mike Sauter hosts a musical tribute to songwriter and musician JJ Cale who died on July 27th, 2013.  Featuring music from Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Neil Young, Paul Simon and more.

WYEP Celebrates Mick Jagger's 70th!

In honor of Mick Jagger's 70th birthday on July 26, 2013, WYEP's Mike Sauter took a stroll down Jagger's musical history with songs by The Rolling Stones, solo tracks, and some rare cuts as well