Streams

 

Blues

Soundcheck

Blind Boys Of Alabama; The Forgotten Life of Harry Nilsson; Mutual Benefit

Friday, June 27, 2014

In this episode: Since the Blind Boys Of Alabama was founded in the 1930s, the group has been a gospel institution. All these years later -- and especially with the recent album I'll Find A Way -- the soulful singers continue to not only honor traditional gospel music, but push the envelope and expand the definition of the genre.

Then: In the early 1970s, Harry Nilsson was one of the most famous musicians on the planet -- due in part to songs like "Coconut" and Everybody's Talkin'." Yet by the time he died in 1994 at the age of 52, most people had forgotten the reclusive singer's name -- even if they never forgot his timeless songs. Writer and radio host Alyn Shipton chronicled his enigmatic story in a new book, Nilsson: The Life Of A Singer-Songwriter.

And: Mutual Benefit is the stage name of songwriter Jordan Lee and a rotating group of collaborators. Lee is an Ohio native, who has spent time in Austin, Boston and now Brooklyn, and the light touch at the heart of Mutual Benefit derives from Lee's restless travels across the country. Hear Mutual Benefit play songs from the resulting 2013 record, Love's Crushing Diamond

Watch Mutual Benefit perform in the Soundcheck studio below:

This is an encore episode of Soundcheck. 

Soundcheck

Doc Pomus: The Unknown Story Of A Songwriting Sensation

Thursday, June 26, 2014

He called himself Doc Pomus, and he wrote some of the most iconic songs of the 1950's and '60s; songs like “Viva Las Vegas,” “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “This Magic Moment.” But a new documentary called AKA Doc Pomus aims to share the story of the man behind the hits -- a disabled Brooklyn songwriter who succeeded in the music industry against all odds.

We talk with one of the film’s directors, Peter Miller, as well as Doc Pomus's daughter and the film’s producer, Sharyn Felder.

Comments [2]

Soundcheck

The Unknown Story Of Doc Pomus; The Real Story Of The Runaways; Kristeen Young

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In this episode: He called himself “Doc Pomus,” and he wrote some of the most iconic songs of the 1950s and '60s; songs like “Viva Las Vegas,” “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “This Magic Moment.” But a recent documentary called "AKA Doc Pomus” aims to share the story of the man behind the hits -- a disabled Brooklyn songwriter who succeeded in the music industry against all odds. We talk with one of the film’s directors, Peter Miller, as well as Doc Pomus's daughter and the film’s producer, Sharyn Felder.

Then: The Runaways were an all-girl rock group that formed in L.A. in 1975, turned heads in New York at CBGBs, became stars in Japan -- and then crashed and burned after four short years. Now, the music writer Evelyn McDonnell has released a book called Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways. She joins us to discuss the lasting legacy of the short-lived but influential band.

And: For many, Kristeen Young first made a splash in a performance with Morrissey on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2007, wearing a handcrafted yet futuristic "bubble dress" that could rival anything in Lady Gaga's wardrobe. But it was her soaring voice and beguiling stage presence that actually managed to steal a little spotlight from Moz himself. Produced by frequent Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, Young's latest album, The Knife Shift, is an intense collection of bold rockers propelled by the furious drumming skills of Dave Grohl.

This is an encore episode of Soundcheck. 

Soundcheck

Mike Bloomfield: The Guitar Hero's Guitar Hero

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mike Bloomfield is rock's greatest forgotten guitar hero -- a hero even to rock guitar gods like Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.

Comments [6]

Soundcheck

'House' Star Hugh Laurie On The Blues; Who Is Mike Bloomfield?; How A Japanese Hot Pot Dish Made It To No. 1

Friday, June 20, 2014

In this episode: Hugh Laurie is best known as the star of the former Fox drama House, which wrapped in 2012. But since the release of his debut album called Let Them Talk in 2011, he’s also made a name for himself as a blues musician. He joins us to talk about his followup to that record, called Didn’t It Rain.

Then: The blues influenced a generation of rock guitarists in the 1960s, many of whom would go on to become influential themselves: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. But how many people remember the name “Mike Bloomfield?” Not nearly enough, according to Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke. He explains why Bloomfield is “rock’s greatest forgotten guitar hero.”

And: Writer Paul Ford joins us for “That Was a Hit?!?,” Soundcheck's series about improbable chart success. Ford spins the saga of a No. 1 hit song called “Sukiyaki” -- or, at least, that’s how it was known in the U.S. -- by the Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto.

This is an encore episode of Soundcheck.

Soundcheck

Hugh Laurie: 'I Wanted To Be A Sitting-Down Guitarist'

Friday, June 20, 2014

The former star of the Fox TV drama House talks the blues, American accents and karaoke.

Comment

Soundcheck

That Wasn't A Hit?!?: The Isley Brothers, 'Shout!'

Friday, June 13, 2014

In this edition of "That Was A Hit?!?" we look back at a hit...that wasn't.  Although we may now think of The Isley Brothers' "Shout!" as a classic, it was never formally considered a hit. Writer Chris Molanphy tells John Schaefer why.

Comments [2]

Fresh Air

In Big Bill Broonzy's Blues, Brothers Find A Way To Sing Together

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dave and Phil Alvin have made their first full album together in nearly 30 years, a tribute to one of their early influences. "His persona was so big to me," Phil Alvin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Comment

Keb' Mo' On Mountain Stage

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

With a lengthy list of collaborators, three Grammy Awards and an enormous amount of respect to his name, Keb' Mo' is one of the most decorated living blues artists. Here, he performs five songs.

Comment

Soundcheck

The Complicated Story Of Bluesman Gus Cannon

Friday, June 06, 2014

Dom Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, tells Soundcheck the story of 20th century blues singer Gus Cannon, whose song “Walk Right In” was a hit for the Rooftop Singers in the 1960s. We take a listen to his music, and find out who he was singing for.

Comments [1]

Soundcheck

Industrial Musicals; The Complicated Story Of Gus Cannon; That Was A Hit?!? On Will To Power

Friday, June 06, 2014

In this episode: The book Everything’s Coming Up Profits digs into the golden age of post-WWII “industrial musicals” created by big American corporations. Co-author and Late Show With David Letterman writer Steve Young shares some of the Broadway quality songs composed for the auto industry in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

Then: Dom Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, tells Soundcheck the story of 20th century blues singer Gus Cannon, whose song “Walk Right In” was a hit for the Rooftop Singers in the 1960s. We take a listen to his minstrel-inflected music, and find out who he was singing for.

Plus: Another installment of our series That Was A Hit!?!, about "Baby, I Love Your Way / Freebird Medley" by Will To Power.

Comment

Soundcheck

A New Documentary Honors The Life And Music Of B.B. King

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Director John Brewer talks about his new documentary that examines the life and legacy of B.B. King. 

Comments [1]

Soundcheck

The Legend Of Shep Gordon; Warren Haynes Plays Live; A New B.B. King Doc

Thursday, June 05, 2014

In this episode: Entertainment mogul Shep Gordon has worked with all sorts of big names. But in a decades-long career in the midst of some of the world’s most famous people, he has an aversion to fame. Gordon's life is now profiled in the new film Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, directed by Mike Myers. 

Then: Guitarist Warren Haynes has lead the hard-working improvisational blues rock band Gov’t Mule for 20 years, and has played with the Allman Brothers Band for even longer. But in his recent session in the Soundcheck studio, he plays solo -- just him and electric guitar.

And: Director Jon Brewer talks about the making of the film The Life Of Riley, a new documentary portrait of blues icon B.B. King -- which includes appearances from Eric Clapton, Bono, Carlos Santana, Ronnie Wood, and others.

Comment

Soundcheck

Studio 360's 1914 Blues Challenge: Listener Submissions

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Soundcheck host John Schaefer sits with Studio 360's Kurt Andersen and Marc Anthony Thompson (a.k.a. Chocolate Genius) to listen to listener-recorded covers of "Yellow Dog Blues" as part of the "1914 Blues Challenge."

Comment

John Hammond On Mountain Stage

Thursday, May 29, 2014

One of America's foremost blues artists makes his 16th appearance on West Virginia's famous stage, playing songs by Tom Waits and Chuck Berry.

Comment

Soundcheck

Reggie Watts Plays Live; Studio 360's Blues Challenge; Maya Angelou Remembered

Thursday, May 29, 2014

In this episode: Comedian, actor, and one-man band Reggie Watts joins us to talk about the new season of the IFC talk show Comedy Bang! Bang! Plus, hear him rigs up his loop pedals and mics for an impromptu set in the Soundcheck studio.

Then: Our friends at Studio 360 recently launched the “1914 Blues Challenge” which for the past few weeks, asked listeners to record a 100-year-old W.C. Handy classic, “Yellow Dog Blues.” Host Kurt Andersen and the contest’s judge, musician Chocolate Genius, join Soundcheck to review some of the submissions they’ve received so far.

And: Soundcheck host John Schaefer reflects on the life and legacy of poet and civil rights icon Maya Angelou, who died yesterday at age 86.

Comments [1]

Dumpstaphunk On Mountain Stage

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The New Orleans-based funk and jam band appear on West Virginia's most famous stage.

Comment

Robert Cray On Mountain Stage

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

One of America's premier blues players brings his band to West Virginia's most famous stage.

Comment

Studio 360

A Century of Blues

Friday, May 09, 2014

W.C. Handy was the first to publish a body of songs identified as blues, based on lyrics and melodies from black Southern culture, that became known throughout America. Two of his biggest hits, “St. Louis Blues” and “Yellow Dog Blues,” were published in 1914, making the year a turning point in the history of the blues.

Enter the 1914 Blues Challenge

Comment

Studio 360

Extra Credit: 1914 Blues Challenge

Thursday, May 08, 2014

W.C. Handy was the first to publish a body of songs identified as blues, based on lyrics and melodies from black Southern culture, that became known throughout America. His hit “Yellow Dog Blues,” was published in 1914, making the year a turning point in the history of the blues. Now we want to hear your version of the classic.

Enter the 1914 Blues Challenge

Read More

Comments [23]