February 16, 2011 by [email protected]
Tuesday was another warm, humid and breezy day at sea on our journey through song. The music got underway at 1pm with Sam and Ruby on the pool deck. They have wonderful harmonies. In the atrium we got our 4-timer alumni group photo taken. There are 184 of us on-board and we make up 9% of the cruisers this year. Glen Phillips, on a borrowed acoustic guitar from Luke Bulla, did a set in the Bliss Lounge (aka, the bowling alley). Mr. Phillips went on his usual tangents for an hour (it is quiet endearing), in between songs from his solo work and with Toad the Wet Sprocket (including the very the appropriate “Walk on the Ocean”) He also did a song he co-wrote with Dan Wilson and had us singing harmonies and backing vocals without much rehearsal on a few others. Mr. Phillips ended with a Paul Simon song “It’s Allright”. We may get to see a new CD of unreleased songs from Mr. Phillips, if the airline ever gets their luggage to this ship. There’s an added “All Request” show with Mr. Phillips in the atrium later this week. I joined Mr. Barb on the pool deck as he was watching Larkin Poe perform. They ended their show again with a Jimi Hendrix song. They have a boxed set of 4-EP’s based on each season (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) which they have been playing songs from. I went to see Will Hoge on the pool deck. He promises that all his shows on board will be different. He works very hard at his craft and like many of the other songwriters on-board seemed humbled to be in the presence of so many talented singer-songwriters. Mr. Hoge is in the process of working on a new album and even brought the hard drive on board to work on the album. He also shared a couple of brand new songs with us. Our headliner show tonight was Brandi Carlile. One of her special guests was Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls) and a couple of other session musicians on board. Ms. Carlile road tested a couple of brand new songs (she’s going into the studio February 28th), including a performance debut of a song called “Bird on a Wire”. We liked the new material very much. The floating music festival atmosphere on this cruise lends itself to artists trying out new material. She’s really gained alot of confidence since the 1st cruise with her stage presence and material. She performed “The Story” and a wonderful version of “Caroline”. We went early to get a seat to see Shawn Mullin’s and so got to see his sound check. Mr. Mullins looked out at all of us sitting there and said “Y’all aren’t supposed to be here. (pause). But I’m kind of glad you’re here”. He added we’re not supposed to see all their mistakes and that it was like a magician practicing all his tricks. Another great performance by Shawn Mullins, which included Chuck Cannon as a guest. They co-wrote a song that will be on a new gospel album that will include Emmylou Harris and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. It’s about giving God the blues. This is probably my favorite show so far this week as it had a lot of energy, with an appreciative audience. We all sang along again on “Light You Up”. They moved the Loudon Wainwright show to a larger venue, due to demand. We opted to see Dan Wilson’s solo set in the bar lounge. Mr. Wilson recorded his first solo album “Free Life” with about 30 friends; 2 of who joined him on stage, Ruby (Sam and Ruby) and Sean Watkins (WPA, Nickel Creek). He performed some new music from a CD that he just finished, as well as tracks from “Free Life”, ending the show with the title track. We ended the evening in the atrium bopping along to the music of Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars. I had the chance to talk with Glen Phillips prior to his solo set, as he was walking by on the pool deck eating an orange. He said he was just trying to wake up. We also chatted with Ellis Paul, who told us that if we have the chance to vote, he’d definitely like to come back next year (yes, we can certainly can oblige!). Mr. Barb requested one of Mr. Paul’s older songs (“She Loves a Girl”) and Mr. Paul commented that it was from 13 years ago and he’d have to work that up (maybe we will see it in a future set?). We also keep meeting people from Pittsburgh. PA has 109 people on this cruise, with only states like CA, TX and FL having more cruisers. Wednesday is a warm day (low 80’s, 80% humidity) It’s our first port stop Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin islands, with another full night of music on tap and even more musical choices to make. Barb S - Sunday Mix host
February 16, 2011 by [email protected]
Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine and Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played (plus two bonus songs): Guards, "Resolution of One" - This mysterious band has no website or MySpace (which means, in 2011, you may as well have extremely low ambitions for your music being heard), but makes up for it by making great music — lo-fi, stomping garage rock with monstrous choruses. Guards is made of the singer of The Willowz along with some friends from MGMT and Chairlift. Mix them together and send 'em back to 1965, and you've got "Resolution of One." Lykke Li, "I Follow Rivers" - Her parents know her as Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson, but we know this Swedish temptress by her coy, sexual lyrics (remember "For you I keep my legs apart" from her 2008 song "Little Bit"? Of course you do) and darkly romantic pop music. I think this new tune, from her upcoming second album "Wounded Rhymes," is easily her best ever. Can't wait for this record. U.S. Royalty, "Equestrian" - This band does their schtick logically, taking three bands that everyone loves and combining them in equal portions. Fleet Foxes, the Black Keys and Local Natives all show up in "Equestrian." Thought that might sound contrived, it's a great, lofty and harmonized tune. Jonquil, "It Never Rains" - Tropical pop to dance your butt off. Totally cheesy, but totally fun. Look this band up for your next party.
February 15, 2011 by [email protected]
Red and white streamers with heart shaped decorations and signs reminded us it was Valentine’s Day even though we’re on a cruise ship at sea. The music got underway at 1pm with Steep Canyon Rangers on a sunny warm (mid 70’s) and very windy pool deck. Dressed in neatly tailored suits, they played the old time bluegrass, new compositions; while at times gathering around one microphone to sing in the old style. Kevn Kinney told very interesting stories in a conversationalist style. He commented that he wasn’t used to playing a show so early (2:30 p.m.) to an audience that was so intently listening. Enter the Haggis provided Celtic music that included bag pipes and a multi-instrumentalist who could play the keyboards and violin and really kept things moving on the pool deck. I attended a taping of a World Cafe episode that will feature Will Hoge and Scott Miller. (no spoilers, but the show was being taped on Valentine’s Day, so that was a theme) Host David Dye asked the songwriters to play four songs: their favorite song that they wrote early on, a current favorite they wrote, a cover song and a song that they can’t leave out of their shows. At the end, Mr. Hoge & Mr. Miller collaborated on a song. Mr. Dye said the episodes taped on board will probably air on World Cafe in April. We also heard a couple more songs by Tyrone Wells on the pool deck. Tonight was our first headliner, Steve Earle. He brought his new band, which also included his wife Allison Moorer on keyboards, guitar and backing vocals. Ms. Moorer will also play solo shows and tape an episode of World Cafe with Dar Williams. Mr. Earle welcomed us to his vacation and started the show with “Copperhead Road”, adding in a song about Valentine’s Day. He did an extended version of “City of Immigrants” and included a song that he wrote with his wife Ms. Moorer, adding, so they could sing it together on stage. The set really rocked. Mr. Earle has a CD coming out in April (produced by T. Bone Burnett) and will be touring to support it. We had to wait in line to attend the SRO performance of Dar Williams (we had heard it was packed earlier in this venue for Loudon Wainwright and a future show has been moved to a larger venue). Ms. Williams enjoyed sharing her songs with an appreciative audience and ended her set with “Pagans and Christians”. Mr. Barb caught a couple of songs by Jim Bianco. Ellis Paul performed his first set on-board with a band that included a guitar, keyboard and accordion. Mr. Paul seemed to enjoy his first journey through song. Had us singing “nah nah’s”. He began with “Rose Tattoo” and even did a Christmas song about armadillos in TX. We went to catch the ending of Chuck Cannon’s show, thinking we would be able to call it an early night. Little did we know that Mr. Cannon did not want to turn in early. Mr. Cannon unplugged his guitar and like a piped piper invited all of us to follow him upstairs to the atrium to crash the jam session. We dutifully followed and we were all treated to impromptu performances from Shawn Mullins with his band. Imagine an atrium full of people and more people up above on the next deck looking over and singing along on an extended jam of “Light You Up” (we all knew the words). “Will It Go Round in Circles” was the next jam. Brother and sister duo from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Sarah and Christian Dugas (The Duhks) came up to sing “Superstition”, along with Roddie Romero. And the music continued long after that. We got to chat briefly with Kevn Kinney and Luke Bulla (WPA) to tell them we enjoyed their performances and music. We also had the opportunity to talk to a couple of WYEP listener members who are on-board. Tuesday is bringing us another warm, humid and breezy day of music at sea. Barb S. Sunday Mix Host
February 14, 2011 by [email protected]
February 14, 2011 by [email protected]
Our 4th journey though song began as we sailed away from the port of Miami. Appropriately w/ 4-time cruise veteran Shawn Mullins kicking things off this week of music on the pool deck. He brought a band, including veteran Davis Causey (Sea Level). Brandi Carlile joined Mr. Mullins on “Beautiful Wreck”. This was followed by a group photo. The Grammy nominated Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars performed on the Pool Deck next providing their danceable New Orleans tinged Cajun roots and rhythm mix of music. We spent the rest of the evening going between venues to catch a little bit of a few acts. Our first discovery of the cruise was Tyrone Wells. Amazing voice, songwriting and engaging personality; someone we were not familiar with and he can now count us as fans. He’s based in CA. I went afterwards to the merch store to buy his CD’s, have them signed and snap a photo with him (he plans to be in Pittsburgh in the fall). We listened to part of Chuck Cannon’s show while standing in a bowling alley. We could not see him, but very much enjoyed his storytelling and listening to his music. Mr. Cannon’s songs have been covered by many other artists, and he’s very modest about his accomplishments. Next we enjoyed the last few songs by David Ryan Harris (he’s in John Mayer’s band). Another great voice and talent. Larkin Poe are sisters who took their name after a family member. Call it contemporary bluegrass with the sisters on mandolin and dobro and lap steel. Not too many young performers can cover Don Williams and Jimi Hendrix in one set. We wrapped up our first evening with the latest incarnation of WPA. The Glen Phillips fronted “supergroup” whose members seem to be interchangeable. Very happy to see Luke Bulla (Lyle Lovett) back on board along with Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek). Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing) was on bass with Jerry Poe on drums. Each member took their turn singing their songs, including “Always Have My Love” to end their set. There was even some new WPA music played. They have a 4 song EP available. This 4X4 WPA includes Phillips, Steinberg, Poe & Watkins. Mr. Phillips was his usual irreverent self, going from topics such as Jewish Pirates, Brandi Carlile, Seattle, alumni cruisers and some tips on how to celebrate Valentine’s Day (you had to be there). Mid-set they were joined on stage by Dan Wilson (Semisonic) who performed “Free Love” and another song about love. Mr. Wilson will also do a solo set this week. We celebrated Valentine’s Day early with a late night/early morning snack outside, on the back deck of the restaurant. They were putting up Valentine’s Day decorations. We’re sailing into Atlantic Time and really do miss that hour of sleep. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
February 12, 2011 by [email protected]
In mid-February, Mr. Barb and I embark on our 4th journey through song. This year, we are on a larger ship, The Pearl. Sold-out. Almost 2,400 passengers on a 7-night cruise visiting ports-of-call in the US & British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Three days at sea, including Valentine’s Day. It’s yet another stellar line-up of over 30 acts. There is one new headliner, John Prine, who is joining past headliners such as: Patty Griffin, Indigo Girls, Steve Earle and The Dukes, Brandi Carlile (who has been on all 4 cruises), and Buddy Miller. Other returning singer-songwriters on-board will be: Shawn Mullins (another 4-time cruiser) , Jim Bianco, Chuck Cannon, David Ryan Harris, Larkin Poe, Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars, and Works Progress Administration (WPA). New on the journey through song will be: Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III (there will be a Loud and Rich show one night), Allison Moorer (Steve Earle’s wife was scheduled to be on board last year, but she was due to deliver their son then), Colin Hay Dar Williams, Scott Miller, Ellis Paul, Steep Canyon Rangers, Will Hoge, Sam & Ruby, Kevn Kinney, Toby Lightman, Enter the Haggis, Tyrone Wells, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Shannon Whitworth and Sarah & Christian Dugas. This year, in a green initiative, instead of sending us a CD in advance, we were able to download 29 songs from the artists scheduled to be on the 2011 cruise. It’s a treat to see the returning performers; and we know, especially looking at this line-up, we are definitely going to discover some new artists too. In addition, there’s some events I’m really looking forward to: This year’s version of Songwriters in the Round will be with Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Dar Williams and Scott Miller; Shawn Mullins will be headlining a concert in the main theater (for which we have front row seats!); and the non-music onboard activity of Beer Tasting with Glen Phillips (WPA) – I don’t even drink beer, but with Mr. Phillips as host, it’s bound to be a hoot. The cruise begins with Shawn Mullins on the pool deck as we sail away from Miami and ends with Brandi Carlile teaming up with the Indigo Girls. We again chose the earliest headliner show time of 6:00 PM. The schedule remains friendly to those of us who are “morning people” and don’t necessarily want to try to stay awake until Midnight to see a performer every night. We expect plenty of sunshine, permanent smiles on our faces, unexpected impromptu collaborations (which is what this journey though song is really all about), and to add to our CD collection. I’ll have lots of stories to share via the WYEP Music blog. We’re packing sun block and hopefully I won’t bring back a cold this year. Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host
February 9, 2011 by [email protected]
Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Mervis of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott: Wanda Jackson, "Shakin' All Over" - Jack White, the one-man Page-Plant from the White Stripes, worked wonders with Loretta Lynn on "Van Lear Rose." Now, he adds his manic production touch to the Queen of Rockabilly on this 1960 hit from Johnny Kid and the Pirates that most of us know from The Who's "Live at Leeds." The result is thrilling and bombastic, and that carries through to the rest of "The Party Ain't Over." Wire, "Bad Worn Thing" - This British post-punk band inspired the likes of R.E.M., Pere Ubu and the Pixies. Thirty-five years later, Wire is making music better than any of them. This is one of the more accessible, radio-friendly songs from the band's acclaimed 12th album, "Red Barked Tree."
February 4, 2011 by Mike Sauter
Erin McKeown will be spending Sunday afternoon performing songs about sports live over the internet from her snowy cottage in rural Western Massachusetts. As part of her webcasting series "Cabin Fever," she's going to be chatting with fans and maybe even welcome a special guest or two. Erin is encouraging fans suggest songs for her to play via Twitter or her Facebook fan page. She has more info here. And it perfectly bridges the gap between WYEP's Alternative Souper Bowl and heading over to your big game party! Check out her short promo video for the event:
February 2, 2011 by [email protected]
Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus some bonus songs): Big Hurry, "Gets Me Low" - This is the title track from this Pittsburgh band's new EP, released this past week -- this band plays kinda dancey, kinda '80s-ish, kinda contemporary pop. The songs are tight and the production is impeccable; make room on your best-of-2011 list. Justin Andrew, "Early Bird" - This song is an advance look at Justin's forthcoming album. Everything about it, from the songwriting to the production, takes it up a notch from his previous release. Especially impressive when you know that he played all the instruments on this recording himself! I posted it as a free download on CP's music blog here: Free "Early Bird" download. New Shouts, "Save Me" - This is the b-side to the Shouts' new single, "Kiss for Fun." It's absolutely infectious and has a timeless quality to it; Derek's falsetto is killer here. It's also available as a free download, on the New Shouts Bandcamp page.
January 29, 2011 by [email protected]
Joshua Radin started off his latest tour Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd in Millvale. Over the course of one-hour and ten-minutes, Mr. Radin performed songs with his three-piece band from his three-releases. There was the poignant song that was one of the first he ever wrote around the time of Hurricane Katrina "Everything'll Be Alright (Will's Lullaby)". The title track from his most recent (2010) release "The Rock and The Tide". Showing his rock side on "Nowhere to Go". A more pop side on "Brand New Day". Mr. Radin, talked between songs, about being from Cleveland and how his songwriting has been influenced by two failed relationships. Brandon Walters proved he was a talented sideman by playing the guitar, keyboards and zylophone it seemed all at one time. Audience participation was also encouraged from clapping to screaming out lyrics. "Today" was the song Mr. Radin sang at the wedding of Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi. Mr. Radin also included a song he wrote in one of his darkest times "You Got Growin' Up To Do". "Closer" was the final song before the encore of "Winter". Opening the show was Anya Marina. There was the first night on tour glitch when Ms. Marina's microphone was not working during her initial song. Once that was fixed, her 35-minute set continued on with the next 6 songs, including the title track of her latest EP "Spirit School". A combination of Cyndi Lauper and Jill Sobule crossed my mind. She also got the crowd to sing and clap along with her songs. Barb. S - Sunday Mix Host
January 27, 2011 by [email protected]
January 26, 2011 by [email protected]
Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Tady of The Beaver County Times. In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott: The Decemberists, "Rox in the Box" - The first truly great album of 2011, "The King is Dead" from The Decemberists, is more jangly and twangy than 2008's "The Hazards of Love," with notable contributions from R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Americana artist Gillian Welch. Let's face it: The Decemberists' Colin Meloy would sound great singing the instructions on a 1040EZ form. But he really shines on this solid material, including my favorite track, "Rox in the Box," the folkiest one on the album. Yuck, "Holing Out" - Just when you thought rock had exhausted its supply of creative band names, along comes Yuck. Luckily, Yuck doesn't literally live up to its name, offering an engaging brand of Sonic Youth-ish, fuzzy guitar, lo-fi garage rock. Band members hail from New Jersey, London and Hiroshima... that pretty much covers it! Their self-titled, self-produced debut will be released by the Fat Possum label on Feb. 15. Get hip to Yuck now.
January 20, 2011 by [email protected]
Lubriphonic plays on Friday January 28th @ The Thunderbird in Lawrenceville
January 19, 2011 by [email protected]
Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine, Relix Magazine and Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played (plus two bonus songs): The Low Anthem, "Hey All You Hippies!" - These folks are WYEP (and Cindy Howes) favorites, so I'd expect to hear some more of them once their fourth album drops. It's called Smart Flesh, and it's full of ragged rockers like this one, as well as beautiful, hushed folk tunes. If you like folk, gospel, country or, really, any music at all, I think you'll dig The Low Anthem. Jay Reatard, "My Shadow" - Last week marked the one-year anniversary of Jay's death. He was found in his home in Memphis last year, dead of an overdose at 29. Jay was, hands down, one of the most important voices in punk rock in the last 20 years - he released dozens of albums, 7"s and EPs in his short time here, and it was all raging, 77-era, speedy punk that fit right alongside The Buzzcocks and Sex Pistols. Here's to you, dude. Callers, "Life of Love" - Picture a slower, more sultry Florence and the Machine. This new band creates some sexy chamber-pop just in time for Valentine's Day. Even the record is called Life of Love. Lead one yourself and check out this band. Mister Heavenly, "Mister Heavenly" - This sorta-supergroup features band members from Islands, Man Man and Modest Mouse. The band calls their music 'doom-wop,' but I call it awesome. No record out yet, but this track just dropped and is 3-minute party perfect for weird-ing-out by yourself or with friends.
January 16, 2011 by [email protected]
Even though it’s only January, I have a CD already on my Best of 2011 list. “The Next Right Thing” is the sophomore release on MPress for singer-songwriter Seth Glier. This musician from Massachusetts has assurance well beyond his 22-years.