Eric San, who goes by the name Kid Koala, plays the blues. But just as Kid Koala isn't a traditional blues name like Blind Lemon Jefferson or Doctor Ross the Harmonica Boss, he isn't a standard blues man.
Kid Koala is a DJ. Big turntables, fast hands, scratching old-fashioned vinyl records — the whole deal. Now, he's taken that DJ equipment and produced a "turntable blues" album titled 12 Bit Blues.
So how did a Canadian DJ discover the blues, exactly? San says it all happened in high school.
Sidi Touré is a Songhai singer-songwriter from the city of Gao in northern Mali. Though he grew up in a royal family, he sings the blues elegantly and in his own native language; interestingly, Touré has said he'd never heard American blues music until after his first album was released.
Weekend Edition continues its series on the sounds of music al fresco with a musical act founded on a very inconvenient choice. You'd think a street musician would want to travel light when selecting an instrument — say, a ukulele, a violin, maybe a guitar. But a piano?
"It's about 300 pounds," says Kirby Lee Hammel. "Only one pulled muscle in the last year and a half, I think."
Curtis Salgado is a blues icon in Oregon. During his 40-year career in music, he's held long stints with The Robert Cray Band, fronted Roomful of Blues and done his own thing with The Nighthawks and Curtis Salgado & The Stilettos. Growing up in Eugene, Salgado began playing music on the guitar, but fell in love with the sound of blues harmonica and changed course. When he inherited a small amount of money for education, his parents used it to pay for vocal lessons, which helped Salgado nurture his huge voice.
A simple approach is often the most affecting. In "To The Bone," the latest video from folk and blues artist Mirel Wagner, the singer slowly rises and sinks in a black pool of water, illuminated only by the faintest light. Wagner slowly turns, falls back, and rises again before something pulls her back under. It's both a seductive and unsettling metaphor for love's darker side.
In an email, Wagner described how the video came together.
Louisiana music has such a hold on music lovers around the world that nearly every popular artist borrows from it. Or replicates it. Or, some might say, steals from it.
There's plenty to go around. From classical to Cajun and blues to bounce, Louisiana has expanded the American songbook while teaching the rest of the planet to "shake dat thing." And we haven't even mentioned Louis Armstrong yet.
Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 11:33 am
The guitar-slinging duo of Pat Donohue and Mary Flower kicked off this Mountain Stage road show, recorded on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minn. As the house guitarist for A Prairie Home Companion, Pat Donohue is one of America's most gifted players, and one of a select few to have a Martin signature model that bears his name. His song "Would You Like to Play the Guitar" is one of the most insightful and funny songs ever written about the life of a working musician.