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. 

Miami bluesman Albert Castiglia returns to central Illinois early next month, and this time he's touring on what critics are calling his finest album.  Castiglia says he agrees with with what his critics are saying about the album titled "Big Dog," and credits the albums producer Mike Zito.

"Because Mike and I are cut out of a similar cloth musically, and we both grew up listening to blues and rock music made it a good pairing. There's an edge to this album.  Mike dialed in my guitar sound. When we met at the studio, he brought his trailer full of all the equipment he owns.  We experimented with sound and he really got my guitar sound to what I sound like live.  And vocally he pushed me to heights I never thought possible."

Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

Strong storms blew through central Illinois late yesterday afternoon and early evening.  Up to 70 mph wind gusts downed tree branches, uprooted a few trees, and played havoc with the construction site at Colleen Hoose Elementary School in Normal.  No injuries were reported in McLean County. 

This is a story of an improbable musical collaboration. It all began years ago, when a central Illinois woman bore two sons. One was given up for adoption. The second she raised with her husband. The two half-brothers met for the first time six years ago, and quickly found the musical interests they shared ran deep. WGLT's Jon Norton has their story.

Dave Frenzia

Jazz has taken Normal native Adam Larson to nearly all points on the globe.  The U-High grad has also been on the receiving end of critical praise from high places.  Longtime Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich says Larson is “a player for whom the word ‘prodigious’ was coined.”  Despite the acclaim, Larson said he still struggles with high, self-imposed expectations.

"Sometimes during school I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the wrong stuff.  For example, looking at other people's success as anything else but admiration and joy."

marccohnmusic.com

Twenty-five summers ago, the gospel-tinged pop song "Walking In Memphis" was in heavy rotation on Top-40 radio across the country, including stations in central Illinois.  The song was the first single released from Marc Cohn's eponymous major label debut, peaking at #13 in July of 1991.  Though Cohn continues to record and tour, no other song he has written or recorded since has come close to matching the commercial or chart success of that song. 

Jon Norton / WGLT

Occasionally we send WGLT's Jon Norton out to local record stores to hear what's playing on the turntable while customers browse the bins.  This week Norton stopped by Reverberation Vinyl across from Illinois Wesleyan on Main Street in Bloomington.  Owner John Anderson was flashing back to lush recordings from the 1980's and 90's by Mick Head, an artist practically unknown to the general public due to bad timing and a lot of bad luck.

Jerrod Campbell

Two months ago, NPR's Morning Edition challenged listeners to reinvent its theme music. Submissions since have spanned genres, including ambient, dubstep, reggae, waltz, jazz, and blues. Illinois State University School of Music Professor Mark Grizzard recently took up the challenge.  

Grizzard said he's "an NPR addict" who listens to Morning Edition on his commute from his home in Peoria to his teaching position at ISU, and his Doctoral studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  With choral as his specialty, a choral arrangement of the Morning Edition theme was an obvious choice.

Eshan Singh

19-year-old Normal Community High grad Eshan Singh has been an active participant in community issues.  In 2015, he and more than 100 students walked out of class to protest the initial implementation of the PARCC exam in Unit-5 schools.   Singh has now turned his attention to the "Black Lives Matter" movement. This American of Indian descent said he recently spent a semester in Ghana during his "gap year" of college to discover the roots of what he characterizes as "Black Beauty" and "Black Power" in America.  That experience turned into a movie he titled "Blackness: A Beauty."

"I came to Africa with the idea that I could learn about the power of blackness in Africa.  But in the film I quickly discovered that wasn't true."

Jon Norton / WGLT

Rabid fans of Radiohead likely already downloaded the bands new album "A Moon Shaped Pool" when it was released in early May.  June 17 is the official release date for the CD and LP.  On this edition of "What's On Your Turntable," WGLT's Jon Norton dropped by Waiting Room Records in uptown Normal, where owner Jared Alcorn was spinning an advance copy of the album.  He gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. 

Matthew Bactat Photography / Music Business Organization

Bloomington based Sherwood Forest is one of many bands scheduled to play the "Make Music Normal" music festival June 18.  Sherwood Forest was initially a solo vehicle for founder Clifford Close to express his love of indie-alternative music.  The 21-year-old now leads an iteration of the band that includes Matt Powers, Mitchell Owens, Kirk Lundeen, and new member C.J. Edwards.  As you might guess, Close said the band’s name comes from his fascination with the folkloric man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

One of the founding members of the early 1980's Rockabilly revival group "The Stray Cats" will headline the GLT Summer Concert June 11.  Double-bassist Lee Rocker has had a successful career of his own following the bands breakup.  Despite being the son of acclaimed clarinetists Stanley and Naomi Drucker, and brother to country music artist Rosanne Drucker, Rocker said from an early age, his ears were tuned to rockabilly and blues music.

Julia Bailey

Boogie-woogie pianist Eden Brent will grace the GLT Summer Concert stage June 11.  The Greenwood, Mississippi native has been immersed in blues music since she met the much older Aibe "Boogaloo" Ames when she was a teen.

"Boogaloo was a fixture here in the delta.  He enjoyed quite a successful career from the middle 1940's through the 1960's in Detroit.  First as a jazz piano player, and swing player with his own band in the 40's.  Up until the mid 60's he did some work with Barry Gordy at the Motown studio's.  Boogaloo had enjoyed a celebrated career, just fortunate for me he fell in love with a woman with ties to Mississippi, so he followed her down here.  I didn't meet Boogaloo until probably 1980 or so."

Jon Norton / WGLT

Occasionally we ask WGLT's Jon Norton to peruse local record stores to hear what's playing on the turntable while customers browse the bins.  Recently he stopped by Waiting Room Records in uptown Normal, where owner Jared Alcorn was spinning the new album by "Anohni." He summed up the album as violent, haunting, and devastating.

A Mashup Of Ska & Jazz

Jun 2, 2016

Casey Doremus was a band nerd of sorts.  Growing up in Washington, Illinois, he watched all kinds of bands, and said his heroes were the local drummers and musicians that performed in jazz and marching bands.   But like many a teen, his first experienced was in a rock band.

"It was high school kids putting together something.  A lot of people were into the "Screamo" music at the time. So we had many heavy parts to it like we were almost a metal band."

An Incident To Remember

May 28, 2016

On Memorial Day weekend in 1970 an estimated 60,000 mostly hippies and college age students invaded the village of Heyworth, Illinois.  They descended on this small McLean County town to attend a rock festival named "Incident at Kickapoo Creek." 

Monaghan Photography

Corey Dennison listened to a lot of music growing up in Chattanooga TN and various other southern burgs.  But he said everything changed once he heard Howlin' Wolf's "London Sessions" album.

"Right then and there is when I said 'whoa ... I gotta have this.'"

Brad Olson Photography

Following his muse has worked well for California based singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Eldred. Exhibit A is a recent album of Elvis covers titled "Elvis Unleaded."  Eldred said his latest album “Baptist Town” was inspired by his readings of folklorist Alan Lomax, which themselves have inspired many trips by Eldred to Mississippi.

“The more I dug into the folklore and history, and the prisons, prison work songs and field hollers, I realized that this music has always done something to me, as has gospel.”

Danny Clinch

Experiencing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is intoxicating in any venue.  To inhale the band in its home in New Orleans is an extra joyous occasion.  But you could easily miss Preservation Hall as you walk by the storied venue on St. Peters Street in the French Quarter.  The Hall’s creative director Ben Jaffe said the compact size is an appealing attribute.

“Isn’t that beautiful?  It’s as if we invited a group of our friends into our living room to experience us playing for ourselves.  That’s a super rare experience for anyone. For us to be able to do that every night is special.”

Louisiana native Marc Broussard seems to have life by the tail.  He’s a successful Southern soul singer/songwriter with an adorable family, including four children. But this self-described family man said his life has evolved quite a bit since breaking into the music business over 15 years ago. 

“I’ll put it this way. If today I ran into a 20-year old Marc Broussard, I’d walk right up to him and punch him straight in the face.”

Peoria’s Paul Adams is a multi-instrumentalist who writes and records music that spans multiple genres.  Adams embraces the characterization, and compared himself to a visual artist.

“For example, he may be tired of working in oils, so he says ‘I’m going to do something in acrylic.’ Or maybe he has some tools, and decides to carve some mahogany.  That’s my thing; I’m a generalist in music. I feel comfortable in a number of different genres.”

Jon Norton / WGLT

WGLT's legendary Blues host "Delta" Frank Black made an encore appearance during GLT Blues Sunday, May 15.  Black played his 50 favorite blues songs as part of GLT's 50th anniversary celebration, and said he had "a blast."

"It's been a long time since I've been on the radio. I tell ya, and I haven't had this much fun in a long, long time."

Joe Mazza

In a town that birthed House music and wears Blues music on its sleeve, Kent Rose is an outlier in the Chicago area.  A child of the 1950's and 60's, Rose grew up in suburban Glencoe devouring the rock & roll of Buddy Holly and Elvis.  He was also enamored by country and honky-tonk and the folk music of Pete Seeger and Mahalia Jackson. 

“What I found was that I was given some records by country artists by my cousin, and WLS radio at the time played a wider mix of music. You could hear something like Stonewall Jackson or The Statler Brothers. I was pretty entranced by the whole thing.”

Jamie Day

Alexandra "Alex" Fisher is the founder and leader of the Bloomington-Normal indie-pop band "Alex and the XO's."  Since forming five years ago, the band has toured the U.S. and has recorded three albums, with the 2015 self-titled being their latest.  Though not a household name outside the Twin Cities, they're having moderate success, which Fisher said seemed unlikely just over five years ago.

“My ambition at the time was to teach third grade, settle down, and have a family.”

Jon Norton / WGLT

Matthew Mullins is a 17-year-old junior at Normal Community West High School with a passion for music bordering on obsessive.  He said he devours all types of music, but especially classic rock, blues, and jazz. 

"I actually got into jazz in general from my teacher at Normal West, Mrs. (Sarah) Williams, who introduced me to jazz.  And I had a deep appreciation for jazz around sixth grade.  I listened to all the greats ... Bill Evans ... Dave Brubeck.  Then I started expanding from there.

Dave Glacinski

Writing one song with an appealing melody is difficult.  Bloomington's Michael Adams and his War Painted Horses band mates have filled their debut album “Murder at the Wheelhouse” with 12 melodic gems (not including a hidden track).  When lauded for his impressive songwriting ability, a trait not always present in even great musicians, Adams deftly deflected the compliment.

Illinois State University Theater grad Nick Demeris is a whirling dervish.  His own Twitter account lists him as a writer, composer, actor, & street artist.  He teaches workshops on Hip Hop & Shakespeare, and is part of the vocal improvisational group Moving Star currently serving as an artist in residence at Carnegie Hall.  And that's just the beginning.

Marc Cooper / Flickr

Jeff Jensen was living in Portland Oregon in 2011 when he lost his marriage and house. Devastated, he packed what was left of his belongings and prepared to move to California,

“I have a really supportive family and they encouraged me to move back to California, where I’m originally from. That was the plan.” 

The plan changed at a service station.  As he was getting an oil change before departing, he said something didn’t feel right. On a whim, he drove east, instead of south.

Courtney Armitage

Covering a 1972 Black Sabbath song seems an unlikely choice for a black Soul singer.

“The reason I wanted to learn it is because of my Mom, and because the lyrics fit my soul. And when I hear something my soul likes, I can bring it out.”

Jon Norton / WGLT

When Cheap Trick was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this month, 17 year old Bloomington High School junior Bridget Lantz was thrilled for her father Doug, a huge fan of the band since he was a teen. For this edition of “What’s On Your Turntable,” Doug pulled out a mitt full of Cheap Trick albums from his collection to play for Bridget. The two spent the better part of an hour swapping stories about the band and interpreting song lyrics.

Ralph Weisheit

Matthew Curry's ascent in the music business has been breathtaking.  Barely out of Bloomington (IL) High School, the 20 year old has recorded two full-length albums and has opened for some of the biggest names in the music business, including Peter Frampton and the Doobie Brothers.  But that steep trajectory flat-lined in late 2015. Instead of opening for rock legends or crisscrossing the country on another solo tour, he was back in Bloomington, scratching his head.

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