Sat January 31, 2015
Music News

In A Few Fateful Years, One Record Label Blew Open The Blues

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 1:20 pm

Charley Patton was the grandaddy of the Delta blues musicians, according to Jack White: "He's the one that all the other blues musicians looked up to. He's almost the beginning of the family tree."
Courtesy of the Revenant Archives

The story of Paramount Records is a story of contradictions. It was a record label founded by a furniture company, a commercial enterprise that became arguably the most comprehensive chronicler of African American music in the early 20th century. And yet, for Paramount's executives, music was an afterthought.

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Sat December 27, 2014

Preserving American Roots Music Begins With Keeping The Lights On

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 3:54 pm

For 20 years, the Music Maker Relief Foundation has been supporting indigent musicians like Boo Hanks (left), who recently released a collaborative album with fellow roots musician Dom Flemons.
Peter Breslow NPR


Thu December 11, 2014
Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness On Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness appears on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. One of blues music's most decorated vocalists, Magness drew her earliest musical inspirations from the sounds of her native Detroit and her father's record collection. After losing both her parents, Magness spent her teen years in foster homes, and eventually found her way to an Otis Rush concert in Minneapolis. Her job as a recording engineer in St. Paul led to session work as a background singer, and before long, she was leading her own band.

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Sun November 30, 2014
First Listen

First Listen: 'When I Reach That Heavenly Shore: Unearthly Black Gospel 1926-1936'

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 10:43 am

African-Americans on their way to church.
Courtesy of the artist

In the history of American popular music, gospel is the great conveyor. People could hear it everywhere as the 20th century grew from infancy to adolescence: in churches, of course, but also on street corners, sung by wanderers whose guitar work and moaning vocals arose in dialogue with the blues; in factories and mines, where harmonizing quartets provided balm to frustrated workers; on the radio, where preachers and singers performed live to thousands of listeners; and through the new medium of recordings, which turned regional styles into national trends.

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Wed November 26, 2014
All Songs Considered

Songs We Love: Lead Belly, 'I'm So Glad, I Done Got Over'

Originally published on Wed July 8, 2015 12:00 pm

Portrait in New York, in Lead Belly's final days, 1948-49
Dr Richard S. Blacher

In the new, comprehensive boxed set Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, to be released in Feb. 24, 2015, the Smithsonian archivist Jeff Place reminds readers of the huge historical chunk of American music that the legendary singer and songwriter carried forward via his 12-string Stella guitar. "Lead Belly is often spoken of as the 'discovery' of folklorists, but in many ways he was a walking and singing collector of American folk songs in his own right," Place writes.

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Fri November 21, 2014
World Cafe

Sonny Landreth On World Cafe

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 10:36 am

Sonny Landreth.
Brittany Salerno WXPN

It's fitting that World Cafe ends its Sense Of Place visit to Lafayette, La., with a performance from Sonny Landreth. The inventive and unpredictable slide-guitar player is a longtime Lafayette resident and a perfect ambassador for the city's music. Landreth's first sideman gig was with zydeco king Clifton Chenier, and several of his songs — like "Congo Square" — have become Louisiana standards.

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Wed November 19, 2014
World Cafe

The History, And Future, Of Zydeco

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 1:38 pm

Herman Fusilier.
John Vettese WXPN

World Cafe's Sense Of Place visit to Lafayette, La., has to include a long look at zydeco music. As the host of The Zydeco Stomp on KRVS — and food and culture editor of the Lafayette newspaper The Daily Advertiser -- Herman Fusilier has made zydeco his life. Here, Fusilier discusses the differences between Cajun music and zydeco, the many styles of zydeco, and why he's not worried about the genre's future.

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Wed November 19, 2014
World Cafe

CJ Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band On World Cafe

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 1:38 pm

CJ Chenier.
Noah Silvestry XPN

When the "King Of Zydeco" Clifton Chenier died in 1989, his son CJ Chenier, already part of the famous Red Hot Louisiana Band, shouldered the accordion and followed in his father's footsteps. This past July, World Cafe talked with the younger Chenier — who was performing at the XPoNential Music Festival in Philadelphia — about growing up with zydeco and what it was like to take over his father's band.

Hear the conversation and full set at the audio link.

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Wed October 29, 2014
Songs We Love

Songs We Love: Son Little, 'The River'

Originally published on Wed July 8, 2015 12:41 pm

Son Little's new song "The River" is a favorite on WFUV in New York City.
Todd Cooper Courtesy of the artist

Son Little clearly studies, respects and loves the music that came before him. What happens next, though, is what makes him so appealing. Aaron Livingston made his name as a collaborator with The Roots and RJD2, each of whom helped him develop a sound that touches on soul, blues, hip-hop and reggae. Samples, fuzzy guitar and simple drums work together to create an undeniable groove, and as a songwriter, he can really tell a story.

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Thu October 9, 2014
Mountain Stage

Jim Oblon On Mountain Stage

Jim Oblon.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Jim Oblon performs on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Oblon is one of the few young guitarists whose name merits mention alongside that of legendary picker Roy Buchanan. His furious playing has made him a sensation among Music City insiders, who flock to his regular gigs in Nashville.

A musician's musician, Oblon is hardly limited to guitar; in fact, he has a standing job as a drummer and vocalist in Paul Simon's band, and he made significant contributions to Simon's latest album, So Beautiful Or So What.

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