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Music

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"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.

Radio Munson 12/8/16

Dec 8, 2016

Sammy Davis, Junior belts out a tune with the Basie Band on this week’s Radio Munson, along with classics from the bands of Stan Kenton and Sammy Nestico, swinging vocals from Ray Charles and Sarah Vaughan, a 1936 jewel from the Mills Brothers, and a track from the only album made featuring the Ellington and Basie bands together.

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."

"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."

Radio Munson 11/24/16

Nov 24, 2016

Don Munson is pretty sure you’ll be ready to dive into the leftovers by 7 o’clock Thanksgiving night, so he’s serving up some musical leftovers on Radio Munson—songs by great artists that he has been meaning to play but hasn’t gotten to.  Count Basie offers a swinger called “Dinner With My Friends,” Nat “King" Cole and Johnny Mercer harmonize on “Save the Bones for Henry Jones,” and Diana Krall offers “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep." 

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." 

Singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer is perhaps to the Midwest what Bruce Springsteen is the the New Jersey shore.

Her lyrics evoke not only a landscape, but a Midwestern sensibility of neighborliness and an appreciation for tradition, common sense and the land.

Her rich alto voice, acoustic guitar work and knack for capturing the sacred in the ordinary have delighted Twin City audiences for decades.

Radio Munson 11/17/16

Nov 18, 2016

Radio Munson returns to Tucson this week and Don remains in awe of the Super Moon we’ve witnessed in recent days.  That calls for swinging take on “How High the Moon,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” and ”On Moonlight Bay” from the bands of Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.  Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is also on the playlist along with sides from Erroll Garner, Dianne Reeves, and a duet by Ella and Satchmo.

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.

Radio Munson 11/10/16

Nov 11, 2016

Don is back in The Friendly Confines for this Week's Radio Munson, swinging out from the GLT studios with the Duke Ellington and Les Brown bands, Blossom Dearie, Ernie Andrews and the Manhattan Transfer, plus Lionel Hampton's famous recording of "Ring Them Bells!"

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."

Radio Munson 11/3/16

Nov 3, 2016

A pair of originals from the flapper years of the 1920s headline this week’s Radio Munson as Don spins a hit by the girl who became “Betty Boop” and the guy who sang “Everything Is Hotsy Totsy Now.”  Don also has sides by Curtis Stigers, Chris Connor, and Cassandra Wilson, plus an anniversary salute to Glenn Miller’s famous instrumental “A String of Pearls."

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.’”

U.S. Coast Guard/Flickr

They produce one of the most distinctive and pleasing sounds to the ear. The mellifluous tones of hand bells and chimes are a regular part of the music ministry at many churches, like Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington.

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.

Radio Munson 10/27/16

Oct 27, 2016

Bobby Darin, Ann Hampton Callaway and Buddy Greco belt out swingers on this week’s Radio Munson, along with the bands of Larry Clinton, Benny Goodman and Harry Connick, Junior, plus a 1954 West Coast Jazz classic from Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker.

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.

Radio Munson 10/20/16

Oct 21, 2016

Now that the final debate of the political season is history, Don turns to some Happy Talk on this week’s radio Munson.  The SONG “Happy Talk,” that is, as Karrin Allyson does honors. Don also has singers Dianne Reeves and Dick Haymes on tap, along with the bands of Les Brown and Terry Gibbs plus a hat-tip to the season with “Autumn Leaves” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."

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.

Radio Munson 10/13/16

Oct 14, 2016

Big Band vocalists drifted from band to band during the 1930's and 40's and the Ted Weems Orchestra boasted of some good ones, most notably Perry Como.  But Weems was stuck with some clunkers at times, too, and one of those was Elmo Tanner.  At one point Weems was so disappointed with Elmo’s singing that he asked Tanner to just WHISTLE the lyrics to a song titled “Heartaches.”  The record became one of the era’s biggest hits, and Don gives it a spin on this week’s Radio Munson.

Radio Munson 10/6/16

Oct 7, 2016

Don checks in from Tucson, Arizona for this week’s Radio Munson with Tony Bennett’s promise that “There’ll Be Some Changes Made.”  There are sides from Jonah Jones, Janice Siegel, Glenn Miller and Dinah Shore on Don’s playlist, plus Stacey Kent states the obvious when she sings “’Tis Autumn."

Sangamon Auditorium

In 2007, a low budget sleeper film called "Once" about a Dublin street singer and a Czech woman who begin to write songs together gained a cult following.

In 2012, "Once" was first staged as a Broadway musical, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It was an unusual film and musical in that there's very little plot and character development.

The show's popularity stems from its staple of pop-style songs. "Once" is coming to Springfield's Sangamon Auditorium this Sunday, October 10

Radio Munson 9/29/16

Oct 3, 2016

Catherine Russell kicks off this week’s Radio Munson with “We the People (Gotta have Rhythm and Song)” and Don follows up with plenty of all of that!  There’s Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Django, the Mills Brothers, Hoagy Carmichael and plenty more.

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.

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