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. 

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."

Cody Diekhoff (a.k.a Chicago Farmer) said he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life while growing up in rural Delavan, Illinois.  And it frustrated him.

"I remember my councilor and parents asking me what I wanted to do after high school" said Diekhoff.  "And I said 'I don't know.'  They asked me what I liked to do, and I said 'I like to go around breaking things.'"

One day he returned from school and announced he wanted to be a musician.  He said his parents were thrilled.

casajimbopics / Flickr

Country-folk rocker James McMurtry  attributes his penchant for writing about many different kinds of rural characters to growing up in rural northern Virginia, and to relatives in rural Texas.  And he said he often writes about the dark side of those characters because he gets tired of what he called "the glossing over of real life."

"I get sick of hearing 'what have they done with old home place' over and over again.  Cause I know what they did with the old home place" said McMurtry.  "Grandpa got senile, your evil Aunt Francis got power of attorney and sold it out from under everybody.  That's what happens in the real country."

Beth Hart is teasing fans ahead of the release of her new album with the iTunes and Spotify release of the title track.  "Fire On The Floor" is another smoldering blues ballad, a style that has become her calling card.  "Fire On The Floor" might be even more intense than her 2012 Kennedy Center Awards performance of "I'd Rather Go Blind" with Jeff Beck.  When asked for a preview of other songs on her upcoming album, Hart said she took a different approach to songwriting on "Fire On The Floor."

egkight.com

"Georgia Songbird" E.G. Kight talks with GLT's Jon Norton.

Flaccid

Nolan Kelly and Nick Ward of Flaccid said they can't remember seriously considering another name for their Bloomington-Normal based band.  Ward recalled "Captain something or other."   Kelly laughed and said "Once you go with Flaccid you never go back." When pressed further, Kelly adamantly said no other name came to mind. "You have to be pretty sure of yourself when you settle on a name like that" declared Kelly.

Ward and Kelly said the band name starts a few snickering conversations.

"Usually at first it's a pretty good laugh" said Kelly.  "But once they hear the music or get what it's about, they're usually pretty impressed it's a little more under the surface than what they might have expected."

Dave Weld is one of the founding members of the Chicago Blues Band Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials.  But his Chicago Blues history dates back to his time with Ed's uncle, the now legendary bluesman J.B. Hutto.  On this edition of GLT's Talkin Blues, Weld talks to Jon Norton about meeting Hutto and other blues artists when he ventured from white clubs on Chicago's north side to the black clubs on the city's "grittier" west side. 

Chris Monaghan

As one of the top blues harmonica players in the world, Chicago area native Bob Corritore travels the world playing the music he learned to love as a teenager growing up in Wilmette.  Now living in Phoenix, Corritore also owns "The Rhythm Room," a club specializing in blues and roots music.  Corritore also has a regular blues show on a Phoenix radio station, and is an enthusiastic blues ambassador and historian.  On this edition of GLT's Talkin' Blues, Corritore talks to Jon Norton about hearing the blues as a teen. 

Marty Rickard

Shaun Murphy returns to central Illinois to perform at the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards September 23 at the Fluid Events Center in Champaign.  Murphy is nominated for Female Blues Artist, a category she won in 2012 when GLT Blues Radio broadcast the awards show live from Buddy Guys Legends in Chicago.  In addition to fronting her own band, Murphy has a distinguished music background.

A 4-night film series at Illinois State University asks the question, “Who is a terrorist, and why?”  The series, "Terrorism on Screen," begins September 1 and will include the showing of five films over four nights.  Dr. Erin Ponnou-Delaffon is an Assistant Professor of French at ISU and the organizer of the series.  She said her interest in creating the series came from her personal and professional interest in contemporary France.

"I watch the news very closely and have friends over there" said Ponnou-Delaffon.  "And certainly France is a country that has been rocked by terrorist events as of late, and is still struggling to come to terms with what that means for them.  Particularly in the light of next year's Presidential election."

Jon Norton / WGLT

GLT's student music reviewer Matthew Mullins is spreading the word about a new soul album by an emerging artist.  The Normal Community West High School senior says Allen Stone's Radius has barely left his turntable this month. Mullins said like himself, Stone is a young guy from a small town.

"He grew up in the church singing and playing guitar.  He just signed with Capital Records" said Mullins.  "He's a singer-songwriter with a lot of soul.  His biggest influences were Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and Sam Cooke."

courtesy of Stephanie Castillo

When saxophonist Thomas Chapin died of leukemia at age 40, his obit in the New York Times hailed him as "one of the few musicians to exist in both the worlds of the 'downtown' experimentalist scene, and mainstream jazz."  Chapin died in 1998 just as his musical talent was emerging in mainstream jazz circles. Independent filmmaker and producer Stephanie Castillo was Chapin's sister-in-law. Her new film "Night Bird Song" documents Chapin's prodigious talent, creativity, and vision. After a screening at Canne, the film shows at the Normal Theater August 27. Castillo said while Chapin was alive, even SHE wasn't aware of his musical abilities, or the revered status he held in the "downtown" New York jazz scene.

James Christopher

At this time last year, Walter Trout was still re-gaining his strength following a liver transplant the year prior.  Today Trout sounds strong and happy to be alive.  When a 16 year old recording of a performance at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival was brought to his attention, specifically his aside saying he was appreciating his mortality more than ever as friends and family were beginning to die, Trout took a deep breath and said "I feel right now even more that every day is a bonus, every breath is beautiful.  Like 'there's another breath, I got to do that again'."

Marc Murphy

Chicago native Greg Murphy has been a fixture on the New York City jazz scene since the 1980's, performing and recording with numerous jazz luminaries.  Ahead of his show at The Promontory in Chicago August 25,
the one time Illinois State University computer science student talked with GLT's Jon Norton about his new album "Summer Breeze."  Murphy said among  the songs he recorded for the album were originals he wrote nearly 30 years ago.

A. BANKS/MRTJAZZ.COM

Mardra and Reggie Thomas are a husband-wife jazz team from DeKalb, Illinois.  Mardra is a vocalist with a theatrical background.  Reggie is a pianist and coordinator of the jazz program at Northern Illinois University.  They'll play the Front Street Music Fest in downtown Bloomington August 20, where they'll feature music from their new album "Matters of the Heart."  Reggie Thomas said he appreciates when fans refer to their recordings as "albums."

Dylan Langille (OntheDL)

Transcendental Folk is a term often used to describe the music of Nederland, Colorado based Elephant Revival.   The town of 1500 sits in the rarified hills just southwest of Boulder. 8200 feet above sea level, this mountain town with a mining past has a burgeoning music scene far surpassing its small population.  Elephant Revival's fiddle player Bridget Law says the high profile artists utilizing the now legendary Caribou Ranch Recording Studio just outside Nederland helped the town become home to a concentrated group of talented musicians.

Jon Norton / WGLT

Occasional we ask GLT's Jon Norton to drop by local record stores to hear what's playing while customers browse the bins.  It's a feature we call "What's on Your Turntable?" Norton recently stopped in at Waiting Room Records in Uptown Normal, where store owner Jared Alcorn gave him a CD preview of "Tween," the new release by the Baltimore, MD based pop/rock duo Wye Oak.  

Yusuf Sarfati / Personal Collection

On July 15, a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces failed in its attempt to overthrow the government.   On the day of the coup, Illinois State University Professor of Comparative Politics Dr. Yusuf Sarfati landed in Istanbul to begin a one-year sabbatical. Talking with WGLT's Jon Norton via Skype, Sarfati said despite the tension between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and various opposition groups, he had no inkling a coup was imminent.

"Neither me or anyone who was watching Turkey closely imagined a coup or at least a coup attempt could have happened right now" said Sarfati.  "Turkey has been unstable for the past year, however not in anyone's wildest imagination was that expected." Everyone was shocked."

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