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Patrick Fore - Unsplash / Illustration by Chion Wolf

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Joni Mitchell's album ">turns fifty this year. It may not have the artistic sophistication of her later albums, but Mitchell's vulnerability endeared her to fans, if not early critics unused to such intimate storytelling. That was okay with Mitchell. She said her "music is not designed to grab instantly. It's designed to wear for a lifetime, to hold up like a fine cloth."

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

Elvis left two legacies. Musically, he pulled several American musical traditions out of the shadows, braided them together, and made them mainstream. Personally, he created a far darker template for the way a musical celebrity could be devoured by the very fame he avidly sought.

Recorded live in front of an audience -- long before the pandemic hit -- as part of Colin's Freshly Squeezed series at Watkinson School, an hour about the artist who defined the birth of rock and roll and was the genre's first superstar.

Guy Walker Wolf III died on February 13th, 2021. He was 77 years old.

There are many ways to describe Guy, but I’d say we who knew him would all agree that he could be described as the captain of his own ship. And he was my stepfather. I’ve known him since I was 11.

Throughout the process of his death at home, I was compelled by the people who were a part of guiding us through it.

So today, I’m gonna introduce you to the people who helped Guy die, and who helped us celebrate him. From the hospice workers who came to the house, to the funeral home director, to the cantor who sang at his mass.

You’ll meet his wife, my mom, and hear about how she made the choices she did, and how it feels to be a new widow. And at the end of the show, you’ll hear a little something from Guy.

Leeber / flickr creative commons

On March 6, Lou Ottens died in Duizel in the Netherlands. He was 94. I don't think I had ever heard of Ottens before, but the news of his death quickly filled my social media feeds. Ottens, you see, invented the compact cassette in the 1960s.

There's a certain romance to the cassette tape, right? They're more fun than mp3s, for sure. And it turns out they're having a little mini resurgence right now.

HanWay Films

When the preview for musical artist Sia’s debut film Music was released---- it received backlash from individuals on the autism spectrum. But it also sparked a conversation about neurodiversity.

Miseal Martinez

When singer Niu Raza wrote the song “Madagascar,” she wanted to capture the feeling of home through her lyrics and sound.

In an interview with NEXT, Raza said she brought in traditional Malagasy singing from her home country of Madagascar and blended it with the influences of pop music and Afrobeat. “Madagascar” is featured on her first full-length album “Mm-hmm,” which was released earlier this year.

Kevin Kennedy / The Sphinx Organization

Sphinx Virtuosi is a conductor-less chamber ensemble comprising 18 Black and Latinx classical musicians. The group will present a virtual concert this weekend and then launch a mentorship program for student musicians from Bridgeport.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public

This hour, we talk about two Connecticut dance halls, each springing from the vision of two very different men who took their respective dance halls down very different paths. One's dream soared, bringing thousands of concert-goers to over 3,000 acts over an 11-year history. The other's dream stalled, his elaborate dance hall sitting idle for decades.

Brandon Carson / Creative Commons

We reair Colin's 2016 interview with Patti Smith at the Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford when she was in town for a Mark Twain House event. The church was filled to the rafters with a capacity crowd of 700 people who remained enraptured by her presence throughout the entire evening. If you don't know her, you may come to love her after hearing this very funny and endearing interview. 

Chion Wolf

As part of our Reports From Recovery series, today we’re hearing from two women whose heroin addictions shook up their lives, and put them right up close to the edge of existence.

Nana B Agyei / Creative Commons

Ghostwriting evokes an image of the writer who toils away in obscurity, secretly penning books credited to another. In reality, ghostwriters are just good at turning someone's undeveloped vision into a story that others want to read. Their services are in demand from people wanting help writing everything from celebrity memoirs to Instagram captions and online dating profiles.

Self-publishing is on the rise as our fixation on the solitary author and the stigma of ghostwriting recedes. Even rap and hip hop artists are getting on board.

This hour, we pull back the curtain on ghostwriting.

Ken Cormier

Many of us have retreated into hobbies and pastimes to deal with the stress of nearly a year of self-isolation and pandemic-related restrictions.

Quinnipiac English professor and poet Ken Cormier has taken it a step further, using his spare time to single-handedly create an indie pop album full of catchy hooks, wistful lyrics and masterful production value.

MARCO VERCH / flickr creative commons

We live in an "Everything Should Take Twenty Minutes" world. Movies are too long. SundanceTV has a show that airs in 10-minute episodes. Tierra Whack has a 15-minute album made of fifteen 60-second songs. Todd Rundgren's memoir has 183 one-page, three-paragraph chapters.

So today, we turn our hour over to five short, little shows about short, little things.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

Who's afraid of the Bix bad Beiderbecke?

Hartford has an amazing jazz history, and Colin has a lot of jazz musician friends. This hour, a little onstage jazz party recorded in front of a live audience long before the pandemic put a pause on live audiences as a thing.

Colin and the panel look to make jazz accessible to mere mortals. They talk about what makes jazz jazz, invite the audience to sing, and teach the audience to scat.

Michael Jackson

Avant-garde jazz trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith has been named a 2021 United States Artists Fellow. United States Artists is a national arts funding organization based in Chicago.

Facebook

As the original guitarist for the British Invasion group The Animals, Hilton Valentine will probably be best remembered for the now-iconic arpeggiated opening riff from their 1964 hit “The House of the Rising Sun.” But Valentine was a lot more than that one moment. As a guitar player and composer, he was comfortable playing folk, skiffle, rhythm and blues and, of course, rock ’n’ roll music over his long career.

Vevo

Olivia Rodrigo's "drivers license" is in its second week as the No. 1 song in the country, having debuted there last week. It is the first debut single by any artist to hit the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 in history.

And: Pretend It's a City is Martin Scorsese's seven-part Netflix documentary series about Fran Liebowitz that's actually also kind of about New York City.

And finally: How To with John Wilson is John Wilson's six-part HBO documentary series of advice and tutorials that's actually also kind of about New York City.

Robert Caughron

Today’s inauguration festivities in Washington, D.C., will feature a new work by a composer who studied at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School.

Previously on Pardon Me (Another Damn Impeachment Show?): House Democrats voted to impeach President Trump on two Articles of Impeachment: "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress." He was later acquitted promptly after Senate Republicans voted against calling witnesses or admitting new evidence.

Now (less than 48 weeks later), on Season Two of Pardon Me: House Democrats, along with 10 Republicans, voted to impeach President Trump Wednesday on one Article of Impeachment: "incitement of insurrection." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promptly responded that there'll be no trial while he's Senate leader.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Previously on Pardon Me (Another Damn Impeachment Show?): House Democrats voted to impeach President Trump on two Articles of Impeachment: "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress." He was later acquitted promptly after Senate Republicans voted against calling witnesses or admitting new evidence.

Now (less than 48 weeks later), on Season Two of Pardon Me: House Democrats, along with 10 Republicans, voted to impeach President Trump Wednesday on one Article of Impeachment: "incitement of insurrection." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promptly responded that there'll be no trial while he's Senate leader.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Well, less than two weeks into 2021 and the surprises just keep coming. Among the more pleasant ones so far: The popular app TikTok seems to have been taken over by sea shanties. Yes, sea shanties -- those catchy, sometimes bawdy songs of the sea. Just a few measures into one of these ditties and you can almost picture a ragtag group of sailors hoisting the jib in time with the rhythmic pounding of the shanty.

Johannes Gärtner / flickr creative commons

Nietzsche called Richard Wagner "a volcanic eruption of the total undivided artistic capacity of nature itself," and Thomas Mann said he was "probably the greatest talent in the entire history of art."

More than a thousand movies have Wagner on their soundtracks, including classic scenes from Apocalypse Now, The Blues Brothers, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and Charlie Chaplin.

But, there's a reason Woody Allen says too much of Wagner's music gives him "the urge to conquer Poland." Wagner is nothing if not a problematic figure. As the new book Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music puts it, "An artist who might have rivaled Shakespeare in universal reach is undone by an ideology of hate."

Sachitha Obeysekara / flickr creative commons

To round out the year, we round up the best jazz of the year. We've done this every year for at least the last seven years.

Roger Christiansen / Facebook

Every fall, it seems hundreds of new holiday records flood the market. It’s a lucrative move for established artists – fans love new material, and what could be better than your favorite singer performing their own version of “Silver Bells” even though there are literally thousands of versions of the holiday classic out there?

Marc Tavernier / flickr creative commons

2020 was ... not great.

But, from a pop culture point of view, it wasn't so bad either. I mean, we got the Hamilton movie, The Queen's Gambit, the final season of Schitt's Creek, David Byrne's American Utopia, the Borat sequel, "WAP," I May Destroy You, Tiger King, two new Taylor Swift albums, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom...

The list goes on.

This hour, The Nose looks back at the year in pop culture that was 2020.

Chion Wolf (file photo) / Connecticut Public Radio

Toward the end of every year since 2014, we've picked a day and put "Big Al" Anderson, Jim Chapdelaine, and Colin in a room together, sung some songs, told some stories, and wound up with some sort of a holiday special.

The "in a room together" part of that is essential… and just not going to happen in 2020.

So, in lieu of doing a new show with Al and Jim, this year we've gone through all six of the previous shows we've done and pulled out some of the best songs -- 11 of them, no less -- and some of the best guest appearances and some of the other best bits and bobs and we've added a brand-new version of an age-old Big Al song that Al and Jim sent along special. And we've wound up with this sort of best-of edition of our annual holiday spectacular.

Netflix, Inc.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is George C. Wolfe's film adaptation of the August Wilson play. It stars Viola Davis in the title role and Chadwick Boseman in his final film performance, and it's available to stream on Netflix.

Christopher Nolan's Tenet was the first tentpole movie to be released in theaters during the pandemic. It did okay business (it's currently the third-highest grossing film of 2020), but nothing like what Warner Bros. would've hoped for in a normal time. It's still in theaters, and it's now available to buy on physical disc or from digital platforms. It will be available to rent digitally in January.

An Ode To Yodeling

Dec 15, 2020
Creative Commons

What is yodeling, anyway? Some consider it singing, some say it's an ululation, and still others consider it merely a means to herd animals. Whatever yodeling is, one's thing clear: Yodeling has been around for thousands of years and shows no signs of disappearing.

John Abbott / Facebook

A new project by Yale’s Oral History of American Music chronicles how the pandemic and months of self-isolation have affected prominent musicians. Alone Together: Musicians in the Time of Covid is a collection of thoughtful and surprising interviews with performers, conductors and composers from the world of jazz and classical music.

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