Jon Norton

Music Director/Morning Edition Host

Not a hunter, skier, ice fisherman or hockey player, Northern Minnesota native Jon Norton has adapted well to what he considers the warm climate of Central Illinois.

After 20+ years in commercial radio, he's also "adapted" well to programming and playing jazz and blues music for listeners in Central Illinois.  John Lee Hooker and Oscar Peterson are among his favorite artists.

Norton is an ISU and Chicago Bulls Basketball fan, a Minnesota Twins baseball fan and treasures his time at home with his wife and son. 

Tony Morstatter is the new CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington-Normal.  The club board made the announcement yesterday in a statement. 

http://www.woodford-county.org/

The attorney for a Bloomington woman accused in the stabbing death of her husband has won a new court date for her client.  30-year old Sarah Mellor has pleaded not-guilty to first degree murder charges in the October death of her husband Mark Mellor.  The incident followed an argument at a campground in rural Carlock.

Staff / WGLT

The former executive-director of Bloomington's downtown Coliseum is under investigation for "financial impropriety" at his previous job managing a public facility in Bemidji, Minnesota.

The Bloomington City Council will consider approving economic incentive packages for the retention and expansion of both Kroger and Sam Leman Toyota.  Kroger has said it will close its store in Landmark Mall in Normal after completing a new "Marketplace" store in Bloomington near College Avenue and Susan Drive. 

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Mid-Central Community Action opened the doors of a house discussed a possible Bloomington Police substation. 

The house is at 828 West Jefferson Street in Bloomington.  The open house was Sun., Dec. 18 

The proposed substation has received pushback from the Bloomington-Normal chapter of Black Lives Matter and other community members.  Bloomington councilman Scott Black was at the open house.  He said he was disappointed some people didn’t dig deeper into the reasons the sub-station was proposed. 

Jon Norton / WGLT

Reverberation Vinyl on Main street in Bloomington is not unlike other local record stores.  As you're browsing the bins, the music playing on the stores turntable or CD player is fairly representative of the owner's personal taste.  But at Reverberation Vinyl, you're likely to hear sounds that color a bit more outside the lines.

Joe Borbely of Bloomington-Normal's Jack Dupp & the Empty Bottles said Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam taught him to sing.

"As an awkward teenager, I recall listening to a lot of Pearl Jam.  They were the first band I connected with, so Eddie kind of taught me how to sing ... in my car.  I'm still learning how to let go of him and let myself be him," said Borbely.

hurricaneruth.com

"Hurricane" Ruth LeMaster came to music through her parents. Her father was a trumpet player who fell under the spell of all kinds of music, including Dixieland, blues, jazz, big band, R&B and bluegrass.  As a young girl she absorbed that music, as well as the different sounds from the Friday night jam sessions along the Illinois river during the summers in her hometown of Beardstown, Illinois.

jgullo / Flickr

It wasn't just Sly & the Family Stone, James Brown, and Earth, Wind & Fire that caught the ear of a young Karl Denson in the 1970's.

"The jazz was really funky too," said Denson.  "Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis and all that stuff was going on. It was a pretty fertile time."

Middlebury College Professor Dr. Carly Thomsen said there is a disconnect between the desires, logics, and strategies of LGBTQ people in the rural Midwest and the "out, loud and proud" strategies of the gay rights movement.  Thomsen, who speaks at Illinois State University December 5, said her research of LGBTQ living in rural South Dakota and Minnesota uncovered a striking difference in how they consider themselves "supported" compared to their urban counterparts.

"Lay These Weapons Down" is a musical departure for Rebecca Rego & the Trainmen.  Where their now two-year-old "Tolono" album is firmly rooted in folk, "Weapons" shows the quartet veering into more contemporary territory, including horns and other colors.  Rebecca Rego said that musical evolution coincided with personal difficulties the band experienced since "Tolono."

http://madisonhouseinc.com/delta-rae/

Brittany Holljes of Delta Rae said Joni Mitchell was her go-to music while growing up, and the one artist who stuck with her over the years.  Give credit to her parents, as Mitchell was also her mother's favorite singer, and said her father would even pump himself up for high school and college wrestling matches listening to Joni Mitchell.

"I can image Michael Phelps making that face before he swims listening to Joni Mitchell," laughed Holljes. "His connections to her lyrics calmed his nerves and centered him."

Nathan Keay

That the punk-rock quartet Poster Children didn't break through to wider acclaim in the 1990's speaks to the vagaries of pop stardom.  Why did Spin Doctors chart in the Top-20 twice while mentioning Poster Children still elicits blank stares from most, even by fans of 1990's music?  As many critics have said, "it's a crime." 

Edward David Anderson has been flying solo as a folk/country/rock artist since Backyard Tire Fire announced an "indefinite hiatus" in 2011.  With two critically acclaimed albums since 2014 and a touring  schedule that keeps his cars odometer spinning, the multi-instrumental Anderson has found his sea legs post-BTF.  But he didn't find them overnight.

Janae Thomason

Though it's been done successfully, being band mates with a romantic partner can be fraught with ... challenges.  Where does business end and personal begin?  When is a decision final and who makes that decision?  What if one of the two becomes the breakout performer?

Husband and wife Jay and Jenae Thomason ARE the Bloomington-Normal based acoustic duo Hot Sauce Universe.   Jenae said playing with Jay in HSU brought them closer together.

"We connected hard from the get-go," said Jenae.

Paul Natkin

Rocking through what is now album 10 in a 30 year career with the legendary Alligator Records, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials show no sign of slowing down.  Though not as nimble as when he regularly performed back bends and toe walks, the energy and crunching houserockin' blues Lil' Ed Williams and his bandmates generate is as authentic as their late label mate Hound Dog Taylor.   Reflecting on those three decades of recording and performing, Williams said he has lived his dream.

“The funny thing about it, when I was walking around praying to the good Lord above saying what I wanted out of life, which was a wife and family, and a nice house to live in, I never asked for too much.  We start asking and we get greedy, you know.  And here it is: 19 (years of marriage) and 30 years later, I pretty much got what I asked for,” said Williams.

Dino Perucci

Danielle Nicole said flying solo after 15 years with her sibling band "Trampled Underfoot" had her a bit nervous.  But when critical raves and a Blues Blast Music Award for her debut album "Wolf Den" rolled in, she said it was validating.

"There was a lot of skepticism when "Trampled Underfoot" broke up and we went our separate ways.  Our fans said we were so great together and wondered how we're going to do this apart.  So it was pretty cool to be well received and to especially be nominated at all.  And then to receive the award was just awesome," said Nicole.

Marc PoKempner

Pierre Lacocque is especially geeked about Mississippi Heat's just released album "Cab Driving Man."  But to be fair, he was especially geeked about the band's last recording, 2014's "Warning Shot."

The Deep Hollow co-founder Micah Walk immediately knew “Devil” was a good song.

“Liz and I started writing songs together before Dave came along” said Walk, referring to fellow group members Liz Eckert and Dave Littrell.  “That was one of the first three or four songs we wrote, and I thought ‘this is coming along pretty well.’”

John Legg / www.johnleggphotography.com

Oliver Wood sort of chuckled when he said joining forces with brother Chris to form the Wood Brothers in 2005 was a good career move.

"Until that time, I certainly put in my 10,000 plus hours of playing music and working as a musician, but I was never able to realize the creative part with the business part to really make a living and be taken seriously in the world" said Wood.

Mitchell Glotzner

“Big Head Todd and the Monsters” built an audience for their rock/alt/pop/jam sound over 30+ years of touring, even landing a few songs and albums on Billboard magazine’s music charts.  But blues music has always been near and dear to band leader Todd Mohr, even if straight-up blues songs haven’t been part of their recorded output.

Wikipedia

As enthusiasm for the Chicago Cubs run to the World Series has roared across the country, so has the omnipresence of the Cubs theme song penned by the late Steve Goodman.   But there's an interesting back story to how that song became the teams OFFICIAL theme song.  

Daniel Hartwig / Flickr

When Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess died October 18 at age 95, it was another opportunity to wax nostalgic about a fertile era of independent U.S. record companies.  From the early 1950’s through the late 1960’s, the Chicago based blues label and its peer independents Atlantic, Sun, and Stax Records, produced and sold millions of recordings of some of America’s greatest roots music.

Jasmine Bejar

When the Chicago Cubs lost back to back games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series earlier this week, even optimistic Cubs fans including Zach Bernard began to feel the jitters.

“I remember between the last pitch of game 3 and the first pitch of game 4 there was a general uneasiness going through the day talking to people about the Cubs.  You just didn’t know. There was a significant difference to tying the series in game 4 or being down 3 to 1 in game 5” said Bernard.

A two saxophone, one drummer lineup playing mostly instrumental, often challenging music is probably not a path most would take to win widespread acclaim.  But both the honest (if edgy) bounciness of their music and the unadulterated joy they deliver their muscular sound is attracting new fans to New York City based Moon Hooch nightly. 

For those old enough to remember the late avant-garde saxophonist Thomas Chapin, Moon Hooch’s energy and stage movement will sound and look familiar.  When asked if the band views itself as Chapin did, that the band is a conduit rather than creator of music, drummer James Muschler said he’s still trying to comprehend music itself.

The Black Crowes founder Chris Robinson formed his latest incarnation “The Chris Robinson Brotherhood"  in 2011.  Since then, the group has 5 albums to its credit, including the well-received self-produced "Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel."  Robinson said the band wasn’t looking to forgo an outside producer for the July 2016 release so much as band members felt they had a grip on the sound they were looking for.

Jasmine Bejar

As longtime Chicago Cub fans wait for the inevitable shoe to drop on a dream season, Illinois State University graduate and former GLT announcer Zach Bernard is preaching optimism.  Bernard is a reporter and local host for NPR's All Things Considered at WBOI in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and writes and edits for the online baseball site robaseball.com. He said the Cubs had the better and more complete team coming into the National League Championship Series.

“It’s just a matter of beating their (Dodgers) best guys, which for game two, the Cubs couldn’t do” said Bernard.  “But the good news for the Cubs is that Clayton Kershaw can’t play every day.” 

Renjishino / Wikipedia

Route 66 conjures up nostalgic memories for many white's of a certain age in the United States. Television, print, and other media often invoke the highway as a symbol of freedom in a simpler time.  For black Americans of that time, memories of traveling Route 66 are likely to evoke different symbols, as summed up by music legend Aretha Franklin's brother Cecil in the June 28, 1968 Time Magazine profile on Soul music.

"Driving eight or ten hours trying to make a gig, and becoming hungry and passing restaurants all along the road, and having to go off the highway into some little city to find a place to eat because you're black - that had its effect."

Harry Pherson / Flickr via Creative Commons

The mother of all roads is turning 90 this year.  To celebrate nine decades of travel across the wide open spaces of America, Route 66 lovers are converging on the Twin Cities later this week.  The 2nd Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference is Thursday through Sunday, featuring a variety of speakers, historic tours and more.  

Lyndsie Schlink

For the first time in U.S. history, a woman tops the ticket of a major U.S. political party.

Illinois State University Associate Professor of History Dr. Kyle Ciani said that is a big deal.

"I think it's important for the nation, I think it's important historically" said Ciani.  "I think it's also very important in juxtaposition to who the Republican candidate is."

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