Saturday, December 27, 2014

Philosophy Talk: The Billboards

One of my favorite parts of my day job as Producer of Philosophy Talk is putting together the billboards, aka open tease, that comprise the first minute of the broadcast (before the news). It's basically a condensed clip show, with a small set of voices (hosts, guest, movie/TV clips, song lyrics) combining to form an aural entity far greater than the sum of its parts. Coming up with that set for each show -- recording the hosts reading wild lines, scouring the interweb for clips to "answer" them, finding a song with just that right balance of usable lyrics and instrumentalizable passages -- can be a struggle, but the result is usually a pleasure.

I've finally started compiling all the ones I've produced (i.e. all but a tiny handful) in one place. As of this writing, it's everything that aired in 2014. But the complete will stretch back to 2007. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Playlist: December 24, 2014

The Ramones, Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
Blind Boys of Alabama & Taj Mahal, Merry Christmas!
     from the new album Talkin' Christmas
Ray Brenner and Barry E. Blitzer, The Problem
Larry Harlow, El Dia de la Navidad

The Enchanters, Mambo Santa Mambo
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, Sugar Rum Cherry
Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon, Jingle Jangle Jump
Freddy King, I Hear Jingle Bells
John Lee Hooker, Blues For Christmas
The Qualities, It's Christmas Time
The Five Keys, It's Christmas Time
The Drifters, White Christmas
The Marquees, Santa Done Got Hip

Christmas Jug Band, I'm Dreamin' of a Wet Christmas
     from the new album Jugology: Greatest Near Misses
Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, Somebody Stole My Santa Claus Suit
     Wed 12/31 @ Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center
Royal Jelly Jive, Alhambra
     Sat 12/27 @ Amnesia
     Wed 12/31 @ Bolinas Community Center
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Get Up & Get Out
     Tue-Wed 12/30-31 @ The Fillmore
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Shortyville
North Mississippi Allstars, Goat Meat
     Wed 12/31 @ Masonic Center
Earl Thomas, Don't Do Me This Way Again
     Wed 12/31 @ Biscuits and Blues
Terrie Odabi, Daddy-O
     Wed 12/31 @ Rhythmix
Will Magid, The Box
Midtown Social, Solid Ground
Con Brio, California Cowboy
     Wed 12/31 @ Rickshaw Stop
Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Playlist: December 17, 2014

Jon Stewart and Stehpen Colbert, Can I Interest You in Hanukkah?
The Klezmatics, Do The Latke Flip-Flip
     Sat 12/20 @ Kuumbwa Jazz Center
     Sun 12/21 @ SFJazz Center
Kim Nalley, Hanukkah in Santa Monica
     Sun 12/21 @ Biscuits and Blues
Christmas Jug Band, Hey Santa!
     Fri 12/19 @ Zodiacs
     Sat-Sun 12/20-21 @ Sweetwater Music Hall
Blind Boys of Alabama & Taj Mahal, Talkin' Christmas
     Sat 12/20 @ SFJazz Center
     Sun 12/21 @ Wells Fargo Center for the Arts

Special in-studio guests: Midtown Social

     Wed 12/31 @ Rickshaw Stop

It's Alright (in-studio)
Solid Ground (in-studio)
Shine Again (in-studio)
One of These Things (in-studio)
All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints

Special in-studio guests: Lyz Luke, Will Magid and Andrew Laubacher

Will Magid & Friends, Zig Zag
Will Magid, Ghanaian Pavane
Will Magid, Cuba Swing
Con Brio, Give It All
Con Brio, A Sex Supreme
Zakiya Harris, I Want to Take You Higher
Tumbleweed Wanderers, Everyday People

Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Last Night
Mark Hummel, I'm Gonna Ruin You
James Booker, Professor Longhair Medley: Tipitina / Bald Head
Professor Longhair, Tipitina

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Playlist: December 10, 2014

Yusuf, Editing Floor Blues
     Fri 12/12 @ Masonic Center
Quinn DeVeaux & The Blue Beat Review, Tara Jean
     Sat 12/13 @ Leo's
Con Brio, California Cowboy
     Sat 12/13 @ The Independent
Will Magid, Cuban Swing
     Thu 12/11 @ Academy of Sciences
Midtown Social, Socialite Boogie (in-studio)
     Wed 12/17 on Fog City Blues

Special guests: Tim Eschilman and Duke Dewey

     Fri 12/12 @ Rossi's 1906
     Sat 12/13 @ Point Reyes Dance Palace
     Tue 12/16 @ Freight & Salvage

Christmas Jug Band, Santa Claus Is My Main Man
Christmas Jug Band, I'm Dreamin' of a Wet Christmas
Christmas Jug Band, Rudolph the Bald-Headed Reindeer
     from the new album Jugology: Greatests Near-Misses (Best of...)

Franky Bey & Anthony Paul Band, Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday
Blind Boys of Alabama & Taj Mahal, Who Will Remember?
     from the new album Talkin' Christmas
Blue Rodeo, If We Make It Through December
     from the new album A Merrie Christmas To You

The Plāto'nes, Oops!... I Did It Again
     Sun 12/14 @ Philosophy Talk Live at the Marsh
The Plāto'nes, Didn't It Rain
California Honeydrops, Rain
John Campbell, When The Levee Breaks
Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (live)
James Brown, Stormy Monday

Stanley Adams and Sid Wayne, 'Twas the Night Before Hanukkah
Temple B'Nai Abraham of Essex County Children's Choir, Svivon Sov Sov Sov
Mickey Katz, Grandma's Dreidel
Meshugga Beach Party, Dreidel Dreidel
Guitar Slim, Things That I Used To Do
Big Mama Thornton, Sweet Black Angel
Junior Wells, Blues For Mayor Daley

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Inside the National Recording Registry: Celia & Johnny

A radio feature I produced about a 1974 salsa record by Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco airs nationally this weekend on PRI's Studio360:

It's the latest installment in our Peabody Award-winning series Inside the National Recording Registry. I'd had my mind set on doing this one since the get-go, based mostly on fondness for a CD of Celia's 1950s Cuban recordings that a friend used to play in his Park Slope apartment when I'd visit in the late 90s. I didn't actually know much about about Celia & Johnny, though I did narrate a pilot we produced about salsa music for a project called American Sabor. Our pieces didn't make the final exhibit, but one of the project's curators wound up as one of the voices in this story. (And for the small-world files: her partner, one of the other curators, co-founded the steel drum band I played in at Oberlin College.)

I myself did one of the interviews for the story, and it was easily the most challenging interview of my life. We managed to get in touch with Johnny Pacheco via his wife Cuqui, and so were thrilled to have one of the principals willing and available to talk about the record. He is, however, very old. Though he at first "got" the idea of repeating the question in the answer for our non-narrated purposes, he had a LOT of trouble keeping on topic. Lots of starting and stopping, trailing off. (Do I ask... now?) A not-great phone line didn't help either.

Later, when I got the studio tape, I could hear Cuqui prompting Johnny by whispering to him. God bless her, she was basically helping me each time she interrupted him with a little nagging admonishment. I may have cringed, but it saved the day, and Johnny was clearly touched to be talking about Celia. At the end of the interview he said to call him if I needed anything. I haven't yet, but in the meantime here's some more info about Celia & Johnny from Studio360's website:
In 1974, Latin music in the US was about to get a kick in the pants. The audience for the big bands was (as we say today) graying; younger, US-born Latinos thought of the classic Cuban forms — the mambos and sones and guarachas and guaguancós — as their parents’ and grandparents’ music. But Johnny Pacheco, a bandleader and star percussionist, had formed a new record label with a new approach. Fania Records, based in New York, put those forms together with influences from Puerto Rico, Colombia and other countries, and called it salsa. 
“There was always this debate between [bandleader] Tito Puente and Johnny,” says Ana Cristina Reymundo, a biographer of singer Celia Cruz. “Tito would say, ‘Johnny, pero que la salsa, se come, no se toca — We eat salsa, we don’t dance it, and we don’t play it.’ And then Johnny would laugh and say, ‘But Tito, the kids don’t know that.’ It was a truly brilliant marketing strategy to repackage to these beloved rhythms.” 
Pacheco wasn’t the first to use the term salsa to describe music, but Fania Records made it nationally popular, and Celia & Johnny was its first breakout hit. It set Cruz, a singularly talented and popular singer who had worked with Puente, in front of a much smaller band that left a lot of room for vocal improvisation.

“When I was rehearsing the band,” Pacheco remembers, “I saw that we had Dominicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and two Jewish fellows. When you make a sauce, you have different ingredients. And when I saw the band and the singer I thought, this is what we got. We got salsa.”

Playlist: December 3, 2014

Christmas Jug Band, S.A.N.T.A. (Gloria)
     from the new album Jugology: Greatest Near Misses (Best of...)
     Wed 12/10 on Fog City Blues
Preacher Boy, Down and Out in This Town
     Mon 12/08 @ Biscuits and Blues
Bob Corritore, Potato Stomp
     Sun 12/07 @ Biscuits and Blues
Kim Wilson, Hop, Skip & Jump
     Tue 12/09 @ Trianon Theatre
     Wed 12/10 @ Don Quixote's International Hall of Music

Special in-studio guests: Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir

     Sat 12/06 @ Paramount Theatre: 29th Annual Holiday Concert

Wonderful Counselor
God Is Great (in-studio)
Angels We Had Heard On High (in-studio)
Deck The Halls (in-studio)
Jesus What a Wonderful Child (in-studio)
Joy to the World (in-studio)
I Come A Mighty Long Way

Dr. John, Black Widow Spider
     Fri 12/05 @ SFJazz Center
Dr. John, Sweet Hunk o'Trash
     from the new album Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch
Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet, The 21st Century Trad Band
     from the new album The 21st Century Trad Band
     Thu-Sun 12/04-07 @ SFJazz Center
California Honeydrops, Cry For Me (live)
     Fri 12/05 @ Lost On Main
     Sun 12/07 @ Harlow's
Con Brio, Give It All
     Sat 12/06 @ Hopmonk Tavern
     Wed 12/10 @ Torch Club
Tin Cup Serenade, Lament For Javanette
     Sat 12/06 @ Cafe Revolution
Darren Johnston, And Still the Sun Comes
     Sat 12/06 @ Amnesia
Howell Devine, She Brought Life Back to the Dead
     Sat 12/06 @ Club Deluxe
     Sun 12/07 @ Plymouth Jazz and Justice Church
Little Jonny & The Giants, Kiddio
Sonny Boy Williamson, My Younger Days
Tom Waits, Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)