Glen Phillips (GP): My pleasure
WYEP: You're doing some solo gigs before joining Toad the Wet Sprocket in Pittsburgh. How do you make the transition, literally overnight in this case, from a solo act to a group?
GP: I like the shift. It keeps me on my toes, and reminds me of what I enjoy about each style.
WYEP: You were on the Cayamo cruise in March with about 30 other singer-songwriters. As a performer on the cruise tell us about some of your experiences:
GP: Uhhh...There was a lot. My favorite moment was eating conch salad at Potter's Cay in Nassau. The next was watching Shawn Colvin play. Or maybe Lyle Lovett.
WYEP: How did you stay awake during your 12:30 am show?
GP: I didn't, really. I think I just managed to channel some kind of dreamstate into a weird extended narrative about zombies. There were supposedly a few songs in there, too.
WYEP: Vienna Teng joined you on stage one night, did you have the opportunity to sit in with any performers?
GP: Sadly, no. Saw some great music, though.
WYEP: During your final show, you did a song you wrote about being present when your father passed away. Can you tell us more about it?
GP: Not right now...It's all in the song, though (Darkest Hour).
WYEP: Who was your favorite performer and/or favorite performance on the cruise?
GP: Hard to say. It was a pretty amazing collection.
Glen Phillips with Barb S. - Cayamo cruise, March 2009WYEP: Luke Bulla joined you on the Cayamo cruise and is also a member of Works Progress Administration. As part of W.P.A. is this your first opportunity to perform at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival? It seems like it will be quite an experience with a "festivarian audience".
GP: It'll be great. I love playing with Luke and the rest of WPA. It's the most fun I've had in ages, if not ever.
WYEP: What was the biggest crowd you ever played for with Toad the Wet Sprocket?
GP: Half a million or so, at the Capitol Mall in DC.
WYEP: Who were some of the memorable acts that Toad the Wet Sprocket played / co-billed with?
GP: My favorite opening act was Geggy Tah. The audience didn't always get it, but I thought they were brilliant. Greg Kurstin (Geggy) recently produced the Lily Allen record and is also half of The Bird and The Bee.
WYEP: As a teenager, you achieved a lot of success with Toad the Wet Sprocket. What was that like, at that young age, to attain that level of fame?
GP: Probably not a good thing. It helps to foster unrealistic expectations and feelings of entitlement. It was also a lot of fun.
WYEP: Boxers or briefs? Another way of asking do you like performing as a solo act or with a group?
GP: Boxer briefs, of course. I like being in a band when it's alive and passionate and full of mutual purpose. I like being solo when I'm alive and passionate and full of purpose.
WYEP: One thing people would be surprised to know about Toad the Wet Sprocket is????
GP: We are all aliens.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
91.3fm WYEP will air two special programs to help celebrate the 90th birthday of legendary folk artist Pete Seeger. Both programs air on 91.3fm WYEP on Sunday, May 3.
Pete Seeger Tribute on “An American Sampler”
Sunday, May 3 from 8 to 10am Ken Batista hosts a two-hour special tribute in song to Pete Seeger, with Seeger’s music, music from his siblings and family, the Clearwater project, and numerous covers. “An American Sampler” is a WYEP program dedicated to traditional and contemporary folk music, airing on Sundays from 7 to 11 am.
“The Protest Singer: An Intimate Conversation with Pete Seeger”
Sunday, May 3: 6 to 7am, rebroadcast from 6 to7pm
WYEP will broadcast a national hour-long special featuring music and an interview with Seeger in honor of his birthday. Seeger discusses his career, being blacklisted, the view from 90, how music can still change the world, and his new book The Protest Singer.
Sophisticated. Elegant. Grace under pressure even when she makes a mistake. Vienna Teng is not just another singer-songwriter. Club Café hosted the Vienna Teng Trio: Vienna Teng, vocals and keyboards. Ward Williams plays the cello and electric guitar. Alex Wong is a multi-instrumentalist, who co-produced Teng’s new release “Inland Territory”. Teng talked about spending Easter in Pittsburgh and taking a ride on the Mon Incline before segueing into “In Another Life”. She highlighted many songs from “Inland Territory”, which I’ve already added to my personal list of the best of 2009. “The Last Snowfall”, “White Light”, “Antebellum”, “Kansas”, “Grandmother Song” and “St. Stephen’s Cross” were among the songs she performed from “Inland Territory”. From “Dreaming Through The Noise” Teng did “Whatever You Want” and the fun “1BR/1BA”. Teng’s expressions and delicate movements with her hands, shows that she’s really feeling the music. Teng’s set was over 90-minutes, including a 2-song encore.
When Ari Hest was at Club Café last month, we discussed the Cayamo cruise. He asked me if we saw Vienna Teng. I had to confess that we did not see enough of her performances. The venues were overflowing with people and we only caught Teng’s shows in passing. When Teng returns to Cayamo-2010, she will be on our must-see list.
He’s from Lexington, KY. He sings. He writes songs. He plays the cello exquisitely. Ben Sollee did a too short 35-minute set. Club Café was briefly transformed into a symphonic concert hall when the classically trained Sollee played his cello. You could see the audience trying to be quiet and leaning forward to hear all the notes. Sollee was joined by Alex Wong on “It’s Not Impossible”, a song he got to perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”. Also, from his debut full length release, “Learning To Bend”, he did the amusing “Bury Me With My Car”. I’d like to hear Sollee with a backing band, perhaps, in the future when Sollee headlines his own tour. Sollee may return to the area in August.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
k.d. lang brought her dancing shoes and a brand new five-piece band to the Benedum Center for the WYEP 35th Anniversary concert. Sometimes lang played the guitar and even attempted playing the banjo, but it was her voice that was her most used instrument throughout the almost 90-minute set, which featured several encores. The large stage was set up with lighting and a projection screen in the back, with the band near the middle; allowing lang plenty of space to dance and interact with her band and audience. Some of the band members were multi-instrumentalists. Despite pleas from the audience, lang did not remove her shoes (she apparently usually performs without them) and she proved she’s very light on her feet. An early highlight was lang’s version of Neil Young’s “Helpless”. The first standing ovation came after she did a song from “Hymns of the 49th Parallel”, the Leonard Cohen penned “Hallelujah” in which lang showcased her extraordinary voice. lang did vintage tracks like “Miss Chatelaine” as well as “I Dream of Spring” from her most recent release “Watershed”. Of course lang sang “Constant Craving”, perhaps her most well known song. During one of the encores, lang referred to Tony Bennett as her mentor. The final song was “Lock, Stock and Teardrops” from “Shadowland”.
Fellow Canadian Meaghan Smith opened the show and this leg of the k.d. lang tour. Smith was joined center stage by her husband Jason Mingo on guitar and harp pedal and their friend Austin Nicholsen on upright bass. She was on stage for about 30-minutes, played seven songs and danced a little. Smith plays guitar and also played the omnichord. She engaged the audience using the harp pedal to accentuate what people did that day (working and laundry). The singer song-writer reminded me of a young Linda Ronstadt. Smith told the stories behind such songs as “Poor”, “You Got Out” and her final song about her parents sending her to bed in the summer when it was still daylight, called “Five More Minutes”. She shared with us that she does answer her own e-mail. Smith asked for a photo of herself from the stage with the audience in the background. I’m sure everyone was smiling.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host