Podcast

Soundcheck

Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

Episodes

  • Mandolin Orange's Bittersweet Pickin' Tunes

    Feb 18 2019

    Mandolin Orange is the folk duo of North Carolinians Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, who blend traditional Americana roots music – folk, country, bluegrass – in their warm and intimate, bittersweet acoustic songs. They met at a bluegrass jam, and have been known to wield mandolin, guitar, banjo and violin between them, with Marlin mostly doing lead vocals and Frantz, who thinks of herself as a harmony singer. Mandolin Orange sometimes expands to five instrumentalists for the live shows, but stil...more

  • Hypnotic Brass Leads The Way

    Feb 14 2019

    The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is a musically free-ranging band of seven brothers from the south side of Chicago. Their music draws from funk, funky jazz, Afrobeat, hip hop, rock, reggae, and R&B, and they’ve performed with Tony Allen, Wu Tang Clan, De La Soul, Prince, Femi Kuti, Gorillaz, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), and the B52's, to name a few. Growing up, the members of HBE were raised with music as a constant, as they are the sons of the late jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran (Earth, Wind, and Fire,...more

  • The Custom-Built Pop Experiments of Buke and Gase

    Feb 11 2019

    Buke and Gase is an experimental pop duo that’s collaborated with everyone from The National to the Blue Man Group. The band is named after two of the instruments they’ve invented, a baritone ukulele and hybrid guitar-bass. Their songs are tasty slices of angular melodies and problem-solving off-kilter percussion that are creatively stacked like a magical, warped, and playful sandwich of aural goodness. And on their new album, Scholars, Buke and Gase offers a sound more rooted in electronics – e...more

  • Rubblebucket Parties Like Their Hearts Hurt

    Feb 07 2019

    Dancey and dreamy, Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket makes psychedelic and jazz-conscious pop swimming in a strange and lovely mix of celebration and melancholy. Their latest record, Sun Machine, is a celebration of the connection between trumpeter Alex Toth, and saxophone player Kalmia Traver, The two have survived momentous life-challenges like cancer and alcoholism, and their romantic uncoupling, and still managed to transform their musical partnership in a positive way. The expanded version of Rub...more

  • India.Arie Spreads Love and Music

    Feb 04 2019

    Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer India.Arie has returned to spread love and joy through music and words. Her latest album, due out in February, is a collection of enchanting and soulful electro-acoustic pop songs, full of smart observations, sensuality, spirituality, and yes, empowerment. On one tune, “That Magic,” she lovingly describes the connection between two people that we can all hope for. Her latest single, “What If,” begins with the memorable lines, “what if Martin didn’t stand...more

  • RaaDie's Trumpet and E-Zither Make Loops and Waves

    Jan 31 2019

    Meet RaaDie, which is the latest musical project of Vienna-based trumpeter Lorenz Raab (Volksoper Vienna, XY-Band, Bleu) and the composer, bassoonist, and zither player Christof Dienz (Die Knoedel, Quadrat:sch, XY-Band). With a balance of composition and improvisation, the duo crafts music using trumpet and e-zither with electronic effects and looping station, at times spacey, funky, contemplative, and eerie.   Besides Prokofiev, Ravel and Schubert, Dienz also names Prince, AC/DC, Björk and Xena...more

  • Alejandro Escovedo Searches for the American Dream

    Jan 28 2019

    Mexican-American rock musician, songwriter, and singer Alejandro Escovedo draws from DIY punk, Tex-Mex country, and Americana rock for his latest record, The Crossing, a growly and crunchy guitar-filled, instrumentally cinematic, and in-your-face loud search for the American dream. In a cool twist, Escovedo has co-written the album with an Italian instrumental band, Don Antonio, and uses avatars, a young boy from southern Italy named Salvo, and a young boy from Mexico named Diego, who meet in So...more

  • London's Groove-Based Ezra Collective

    Jan 24 2019

    London-based quintet Ezra Collective makes music with an irresistible blend of groove that includes Afrobeat, hip-hop, grime, reggae, and jazz. Led by drummer Femi Koleoso, and anchored by his brother TJ Koleoso on bass with keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones, and featuring what looks like a hard bop frontline of Dylan Jones on trumpet and James Mollison on tenor sax, the group’s members are all skilled improvisers who can easily incite packed crowds into a sweaty dance party with their infectious rhyt...more

  • Guster, More Alive Than Live

    Jan 21 2019

    Coming from jangle-pop garage rock origins in the 1990’s in the Boston area, the band Guster is a group of talented songwriters, down to the last harmony. With electronic augmentation beyond just guitar amps, Guster long ago dropped its acoustic guitars and bongos in favor of arena rock with electrified-pysch-pop leanings. Their live shows are known for their quirky humor and legions of devoted fans singing along, and their latest batch of sing-along anthems from their record, Look Alive, is an ...more

  • Leyla McCalla Plays the 'Capitalist Blues'

    Jan 14 2019

    A New York–born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, the multi-instrumentalist Leyla McCalla draws from traditional Creole, Cajun, and Haitian music, as well as American jazz and folk. McCalla is a former member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but her latest record, Capitalist Blues, contains very little of her signature instrument, the cello. While the tunes range from blues to calypso, and folk with some Haitian Creole, she explores connections between New Orleans and Haiti and tries to ma...more

  • Dollshot's Experimental Dream-Pop

    Jan 09 2019

    Brooklyn band Dollshot crafts experimental dream pop that is a crazy-quilt of electro-art-rock, cabaret music of Schoenberg, chamber music by Poulenc, and futuristic noir soundscapes. They offer an unusual and often unsettling combination of sounds, with breathy, featherlight vocals floating over wailing saxes and pounding drums. Their new album called Lalande comes out on January 25 and today they’ll play a few songs from it, in-studio.  Watch the session here:   

  • My Brightest Diamond Hits the Dance Floor

    Jan 06 2019

    Not many people can front a rock band, sing Górecki’s Third Symphony, deliver heavy works on themes of social justice for youth chorus, and compose pop songs for marching band, back-to-back. But Shara Nova of My Brightest Diamond can. The classically-trained vocalist, composer, and self-taught multi-instrumentalist has continued to reinvent herself on her journey through the worlds of chamber music, art-pop, rock, and new music. Her latest record, A Million And One, marries symphonic-leaning pop...more

  • Twangy-Gothic-Folk by Vera Sola, In-Studio

    Jan 03 2019

    New York/Canada-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and poet Vera Sola, aka Danielle Aykroyd, crafts twangy-gothic-folk that might stem from horror punk as much as Patsy Cline and Brenda Lee. With a little wry and dark humor, a streak of seriousness, a few eloquent barbs, and a whole lot of vulnerability, Vera Sola channels the sounds in her head ("something like a demon’s orchestra", as she puts it) on her debut album, Shades. She and her band join us in-studio to play some of th...more

  • Best of The Soundcheck Podcast 2018, Part 2

    Dec 31 2018

    From the live in-studio performance series, here's part two of our favorite sessions from 2018. Hear everything from a Cuban orchestra to a famous South African choir, along with music from My Brightest Diamond that came from our live performance series, The Soundcheck Podcast. The big band collective Orquesta Akokán channels the spirit of dance orchestras of the 1940’s and 1950’s of Havana and plays original Cuban Mambo music. Then, tenor sax superstar Joshua Redman and string quartet Brooklyn ...more

  • Matisyahu and Band Spiritually Summit the Jams

    Dec 27 2018

    The once-bearded Jewish-American roots-reggae vocalist and beatboxer Matisyahu found success in both the Hasidic spiritual community and beyond, back in the mid-2000’s. He has continued to reflect on seeking the divine, despite the surprise of shaving off his trademark beard, and started bringing a little more stretch and even more groove into his newer music. Matisyahu and his top-notch band - original Stubbs guitarist and longtime staple of the downtown New York improv scene Aaron Dugan, Dub T...more

  • Best of The Soundcheck Podcast 2018, Part 1

    Dec 24 2018

    From the live in-studio performance series, we’ll be recapping our favorite sessions from 2018. Part 1 features the Norwegian band Wardruna, Chicago-based duo OHMME, the dance-jazz band Sons of Kemet, porch and mountain music duo Anna & Elizabeth, and the qawwali devotional collaborative music by Junun.   Hear the ancient Norse ritual music of Norwegian band Wardruna, and their captivating combination of old and recreated Norse historical instruments. Their music has also scored episodes of ...more

  • John Grant's Electro-Brooding Dreamy Songs

    Dec 20 2018

    Michigan-born, Colorado-raised, but now Icelandic-based singer/songwriter John Grant crafts anguished, lush ballads and spacey electro-pop. He speaks five languages and is also a former member of The Czars, a Colorado-based band that split in the early 2000’s. After battling personal demons in New York, Grant returned to music and recorded with Texan folk rock group Midlake. He just got a publishing deal for his autobiography, and released his latest record, Love is Magic. It brings John Grant t...more

  • The Badass Blues-Rock of Larkin Poe

    Dec 17 2018

    Larkin Poe is Rebecca & Megan Lovell -two singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalist sisters who are originally from Atlanta, but are now Nashville-based. Combining guitar, lap steel, minimal percussion, and sibling harmonies, they make roots-infused southern heritage-steeped rockenroll, with a helping of both gut bucket and Delta blues. Larkin Poe are acutely aware of the historicity of blues legends, touching on the imagery of the crossroads (Robert Johnson) and including a version of Sk...more

  • Quiet and Sharp Story-Songs by Laura Gibson

    Dec 13 2018

    Singer-songwriter and producer Laura Gibson was born and raised in the small Oregon logging town of Coquille but now splits her time between Oregon & NYC. She recently completed an MFA in fiction writing (Hunter College) and her sharp story-songs quietly and gracefully explore darkness on her latest, Goners. Gibson’s storytelling is both raw and bold in its exploration of the depths of grief and other hidden feelings; the music hearkens toward folk traditions with unexpected arrangements, wi...more

  • Algiers' Postpunk Soul Music for Disrupting

    Dec 10 2018

    Algiers is a mesmerizing band of musicians born in Atlanta, Georgia and now splitting time between London and New York. Their urgent, genre-resistant, chill-inducing, and fist-shaking music taps into and channels the frustration of locally-informed global citizens in these dark times - with a soulful and compelling roar. Their live sets feel spiritual and cathartic, but also might be for dancing. Then again - they also put out a music/zine series of somewhat more experimental sounds. 1st Novembe...more

  • Piano Manipulator and Producer Kelly Moran

    Dec 07 2018

    Pianist, composer, engineer, and producer, Kelly Moran takes pride in trying to “obfuscate exactly what the piano sounds like. The whole point is to make it sound different.” (Tiny Mix Tapes) Moran, on her latest record, Ultraviolet (Warp Records), has also found a delicate balance of improvisation and structure in her expansive compositions. It'd be a reductionist approach to label her work merely minimalist or ambient music because it's also melodic cascades of these studiously prepared acoust...more

  • The Welcoming Intensity of Incoming Met Opera Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin

    Dec 03 2018

    Canadian conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the incoming Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, is taking over two years earlier than initially planned. In this interview with John Schaefer for the Soundcheck Podcast, he outlines his plans to welcome more folks to the opera and to make sure that routine does not become the norm. Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s intensity is fueled by his boundless energy and his understanding of the legacy and the history of the Metropolitan Opera. He's the f...more

  • Emily King Supplies Warmth Via Retro Disco-Soul

    Nov 29 2018

    Grammy-nominated chanteuse Emily King went into the family business via a different route, that of an R&B-influenced singer-songwriter. (She’s the daughter of New York jazz vocalists who has moved to the Catskills.) Her latest record, Scenery, due in February of 2019 (on ATO Records), promises to be a clever mix of R&B, pop, and perhaps a little retro disco. A bicoastal preview tour brings Emily King and her band to our studio to perform some of her brand-new “retro-cinematic” tunes (NPR...more

  • Noise-Fuzz-Pop from Upper Wilds

    Nov 26 2018

    With screaming and blistering guitars, power-chord-like vocal harmonies (both clean and processed through an array of guitar pedals), and a rock-solid pummeling of drums, Brooklyn trio Upper Wilds, [Dan Friel (Parts & Labor), Zach Lehroff (Ex Models) and Jeff Ottenbacher], exploits all kinds of sonic textures for a cathartic, electric explosion of melodic and riff-driven noise-fuzz-pop. Expect distortion-filled, high-intensity songs with the “raw hopeful energy of DIY spaces” (Thrill Jockey)...more

  • Exuberant Psych-Pop From Australia's Pond

    Nov 19 2018

    The band Pond hails from Perth, the Western Australian city referred to “as the most remote city on earth.” They blend blissful and mind-bending psychedelic rock, with subversive strains of funk, synth-pop, falsetto, somehow both of the moment, and informed by the past. To illustrate, in a recent video, the band went shopping at Amoeba Music in Los Angeles, and showed off their haul: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Young Thug, Tokyo Psychedelic music of the 1990’s, Tom Waits, Neil Young, 1980’s dub from ...more

  • Art-Indie-Rock Band Cloud Cult, In-Studio

    Nov 15 2018

    The cinematic Minnesota band Cloud Cult is a creative collective who continually celebrates life and love, and catharsis through music and multimedia performances, usually involving painting from stage, and lately, film. Cloud Cult’s emotive, melodic, orchestral indie rock is perfectly suited to the movies. Singer/instrumentalist Craig Minowa and his crew have scored shorts and documentary films, The Seeker, The Great Alone, and lately, Minowa has been working on a score for a National Geographi...more

  • Zen Ritual Groove Music by Nik Bärtsch's Ronin

    Nov 12 2018

    Swiss pianist and composer Nik Bärtsch creates playful and carefully balanced works containing both space and riffs. There might be as much listening going on as there is playing, which points to a spiritual focus, trust, and discipline that comes from Bärtsch's avid practice of the Japanese martial art Aikido. In his electric group, Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin (after the freelance Japanese warriors who served no master), there is slow-building, ever-shifting, sensual groove reductionism. With newfound ...more

  • Glimmery Electro Art-Pop by Arthur Moon

    Nov 08 2018

    Arthur Moon is the moniker of composer/singer/multi-instrumentalist Lora-Faye Åshuvud. As Arthur Moon, she is the anchor who has gathered collaborators- including Cale Hawkins (Quincy Jones, Bilal, Wyclef Jean) and Martin D. Fowler (a composer for This American Life) and other folks. They trade demos and build on musical perspectives, which she then arranges and composes by way of experimentation and improvisation. The result is dazzling music that feels beautiful, affecting, and strange. Arthur...more

  • Michael Feinstein on Oscar Levant

    Nov 05 2018

    In the mid-20th century, pianist Oscar Levant (1906 –1972) was a pre-digital version of a social media star – a ubiquitous, witty presence on American TV and radio, and films. He was also a bestselling author, radio game show panelist, and a talk show host. As a concert pianist, his Gershwin performances, especially a 1945 version of the “Rhapsody in Blue”, were the best-selling classical records in America. But, Levant was a troubled figure off-camera and out of the limelight. He’s the subject ...more

  • Composer and Drummer Tyshawn Sorey Explores Time

    Nov 01 2018

    Newark-born composer, multi-instrumentalist, collaborator, and 2017 MacArthur Fellow Tyshawn Sorey, is also the Assistant Professor of Composition and Creative Music at Wesleyan University. A recent Instagram post (Sept. 2018) of the day’s listening ranges from Nigerian King Sunny Adé and a record by legendary drummer Tony Allen to Frank Zappa with Joseph Jarman (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Art Ensemble of Chicago), Steve Reich, and Karlheinz Stockhausen in between. On...more

  • Richard Reed Parry's 'Quiet River of Dust'

    Oct 29 2018

    Richard Reed Parry is perhaps best known as the really tall, really redheaded guy playing half a dozen instruments in the Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire. But he’s also a founder of the instrumental group Bell Orchestre, and a composer of contemporary classical music. His latest project is called Quiet River of Dust, and it was at least partly inspired by the psychedelic folk/rock scene in Britain in the late 1960's. He and Quiet River of Dust perform some of the musical meditations live in-stud...more

  • Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen Is In No Hurry

    Oct 25 2018

    Jorma Kaukonen is a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, co-founder of Hot Tuna, a teacher, and a top-notch  guitarist. But though he will always be associated with the rock music of the 1960's, he’s had a much longer and more enduring relationship with American blues and folk music, as anyone who’s heard his duo Hot Tuna or his own solo performances will know. Together with his wife, Vanessa, he owns and operates Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp, a center in Ohio for studying guitar and other inst...more

  • Matthew Dear's Sticky and Decadent Electro-Thump

    Oct 22 2018

    The composer, singer, and tinkerer, Matthew Dear, is a DJ, dance-music producer, experimental pop artist, and bandleader. He keeps four music-making aliases and has released five albums and two dozen EPs, along with multiple commissioned remixes. On this latest record, Bunny, his weird, wild, gothic, body-shaking, bouncy electronica seems sinister, yet soft; a mix of charming villain and heroic basement nerd. Matthew Dear displays his enhanced baritone as he performs some of this new music, in-s...more

  • Songwriter/Guitarist Jill Sobule Keeps Moving on 'Nostalgic' New Record

    Oct 18 2018

    Denver-born songwriter, guitarist, singer, activist, and performer Jill Sobule, is possibly best-known because of her breakthrough hit of “I Kissed a Girl” (pre-dating Katy Perry by more a decade), and “Supermodel,” the anthem from the film Clueless. In her over seven albums, troubadour Jill has "mused on topics such as the death penalty, anorexia, shoplifting, reproduction, the French resistance movement, adolescence and the Christian right." She has also written music for TV and theater, been ...more

  • Meredith Monk's 'Cellular Songs'

    Oct 15 2018

    Vocalist and composer Meredith Monk is a multi-disciplinary artist, whose work involves music, dance, film, theatre, and now: biology meets anthropology. In her most recent large-scale work, Cellular Songs, musical forms evoke biological processes as layering, replication, division, and mutation in a “deeply affecting meditation on the nature of the biological cell as a metaphor for human society” (Financial Times). Through this work, Monk takes the microscopic unit of the cell, then projects an...more

  • Inventive Art-Rock by Ohmme

    Oct 11 2018

    Chicago-based duo OHMME serves up fuzz and melodies, along with vocal hockets and harmonies, oh - and lots of time and feel changes. Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, the songwriters and multi-instrumentalists of Ohmme, are both trained classical pianists with ties to the collaborative Chicago improvising scene. They made a decision to stretch their comfort levels and go with the guitar for their noise-making, and have composed a hard-to-categorize batch of songs that lean toward the experiment...more

  • Sons of Kemet Make Jubiliant Magic

    Oct 08 2018

    The Mercury Prize-nominated quartet Sons of Kemet is a super-group led by London-based Barbados-born saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings, and propelled by tuba player Theon Cross, and two drummers - Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick. (Kemet - the black land, is one of the ancient Egyptian names for Egypt.) The music is a dance party which may or may not touch upon techno, hip hop, grime, psychedelia, Caribbean music, and social commentary using jazz vocabulary. Their latest album, Your Queen Is ...more

  • Mountain Man Looks for Peace and Joy Through Vocal Harmonies

    Oct 04 2018

    Mountain Man, the Appalachian a cappella trio, features the timeless sound of three voices singing in harmony, with an occasional strum of the guitar. They released an album in 2010, a trio of college friends who’d gotten used to singing together, but then went their separate ways after college. All three of them toured for a long time as Feist’s backup singers, and lately Amelia Meath, one third of the trio, has been keeping busy as half of Sylvan Esso. Meath, along with Alexandra Sauser-Monnig...more

  • Surreal Art-Rock By Saxophonist Donny McCaslin

    Oct 01 2018

    Sax player and bandleader Donny McCaslin, who collaborated with David Bowie on Blackstar, freely mixes pop, jazz, electronica, and art-rock on his striking new album, Blow., which sees the band moving into sonic terrain that shows even more of Bowie’s impact. It’s some daring sax-led badassery - a blast of concentrated, powerful, and wonderful pop that rocks, with jazz tendencies - with lyrics and guest vocalists. He and his band play some of the new tunes in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the ful...more

  • A Kind of Nordic Blues From Tord Gustavsen Trio

    Sep 27 2018

    Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen and his trio, featuring new bassist Sigurd Hole and long-time collaborator, drummer Jarle Vespestad, combine together folk influences and church music for unhurried embraces of melody. Expressive and reflective, Gustavsen’s ‘Nordic blues’ slowly unfurls passages of delicate lyricism, with enough space for contemplation, and only the notes that are needed from all players in the trio. On the latest record, The Other Side, the trio effortlessly injects old Norwegia...more

  • Marissa Nadler Sharpens Her Elegant and Eerie Dream-Folk

    Sep 24 2018

    Boston-based Marissa Nadler writes intimate, sweeping dreamy and eerie songs, that shimmer with gothic melancholy. On her latest record, For My Crimes, she’s enlisted accomplished musicians: harpist Mary Lattimore, drummer Patty Schemel (Hole), experimental multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin, and Eva Gardner plays additional bass. Guest vocals come from Angel Olsen, Kristin Kontrol (Dum Dum Girls), and Sharon Van Etten, and there is but one non-female collaborator - saxophonist Dana Colley (Morp...more

  • Havana Pianist Harold López-Nussa's Exciting Cuban Jazz

    Sep 20 2018

    Havana pianist, composer and bandleader Harold López-Nussa delivers a range of drama and the irresistible rhythms of Cuban music, fully integrating his conservatory training and love of the jazz continuum with his Cuban roots and soul.   His wide mastery of styles includes a jazz album and documentary film with David Sánchez, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris, an album of compositions by revered Cuban classical guitarist, composer and conductor Leo Brouwer, and three years spent in the touring b...more

  • 'Mutant Chamber Jazz' From Robbie Lee and Mary Halvorson

    Sep 17 2018

    Mary Halvorson has established herself as one of the finest guitarists of her generation; Robbie Lee has established himself as a versatile flutist, sax player, and keyboardist. But if they’re not careful, they could wind up being known as the weird instrument team, because their new album together sports such oddities as a 19th-century harp guitar with 18 strings, the world’s smallest saxophone, and a Renaissance reed instrument called the chalumeau. The music of edited improvisations covers a ...more

  • Richard Thompson OBE Is Still the Shreddingest

    Sep 13 2018

    British singer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson OBE was part of the groundbreaking folk rock band Fairport Convention in the 1960's, made records with his then-wife, Linda Thompson, and has many fan-favourite solo records as well. Rolling Stone lists him as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time and the LA Times called him the greatest living songwriter after Bob Dylan. His new album is called 13 Rivers and it is largely an electric, band record. The folk-shredder and troubadou...more

  • Singer/Songwriter Blaze Foley Burns Brightly From Beyond in Film

    Sep 10 2018

    The Texas singer/songwriter/poet Blaze Foley never hit it big, although his song “If I Could Only Fly,” would later be covered by the great Merle Haggard. Actually, several of his songs have been covered by John Prine, Willie Nelson, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, and others. But if you’ve never heard of him, don’t worry – the new film called Blaze will change that. The film recounts Foley’s stormy career – a career that ended when he was shot and killed in Austin at the age of 39. The film was di...more

  • Aukai's Electroacoustic Music for a Timeless State

    Sep 04 2018

    German producer & multi-instrumentalist Aukai, aka Markus Sieber, grew up in the former East Germany, but his travels have taken him through Latin America, and he is now based in Colorado. "Aukai" is a Hawaiian term for a seafaring traveler, and on his second record, Branches of Sun, he has captured a certain nomadic wanderlust which might connect a listener to a certain peace of being in nature, high in the mountains. With an ensemble that centers on the South American ronroco, a kind of ma...more

  • Dark Dance-Pop Duo Bob Moses Confronts the Battles Within

    Sep 03 2018

    Canadian electronic outfit Bob Moses is actually two guys: Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance, who are originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. Named after master builder and urban planner Robert Moses, their thinking went something like - choose a New York icon because the aim was to be kings of the New York club scene, but keep it a bit irreverent, with “Bob.” The guys also think that it might be the gloomy northwest climate they grew up in that keeps their dance-floor ready yet moody pop songs ...more

  • Remembering Randy Weston, the Afro-Centric Jazz Pioneer

    Sep 01 2018

    Randy Weston, who died today at 92, was a jazz pianist. There, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you why he was so much more than a "jazz pianist." Well before World Music became a trend, and then a marketing term, Weston was creating a personal, deeply spiritual style of music that assimilated West African, Moroccan, and later Egyptian and East Asian elements. Although he was a Brooklyn boy through and through, he did live in Morocco for a few formative years and over the cour...more

  • Songwriter Gabriel Kahane Rides the Rails, Sings with Strangers

    Aug 29 2018

    Singer-songwriter, pianist, and composer Gabriel Kahane writes music between classical art song and pop song. His best-known work is probably Craigslistlieder (2006) – a song cycle of personal ads set to music -which made it clear that this songwriter could make music from the most unlikely of source material. The day after the 2016 Presidential election, he unplugged from the internet and slowed down time; he spent two weeks traveling the country on Amtrak. He logged 8980 miles and lots of conv...more

  • Rule-Breaking Punchy Americana by String Band The Devil Makes Three

    Aug 27 2018

    The trio The Devil Makes Three has always had a punk rock approach to string band music with their two guitars and upright bass and narrative-driven tunes. Musically, they draw from the deep roots of Delta blues, folk, and rock, along with slow metal, experimental music and drone. (Their list of influences ranges from The Reverend Gary Davis to Django Reinhardt and Steve Earle, as well as from the heavy side- Iron Maiden and Sleep.) They got a little crazy on their latest record, Chains Are Brok...more