Music Features | WGLT

Music Features

GLT has always been devoted to music. Blues, folk and jazz have been among our offerings for decades but we're also eager to explore just about any musical genre with you.  We love to feature interviews with musicians, visits to record stores, talking about who's rising in the local music scene and telling you about national acts headed our way. Here are some of our best music features. 

Colin Marshall

Mucca Pazza ("Crazy Cow") founding member Rick Kubes said the forming of the 30-odd member marching band was organic.  He gives kudos to fellow founder Mark Messing, the band's original director, choreographer, and music director.

Ryan Kindig

Brandon DaZ recalls playing beats and singing by the time he was barely one-year-old.  As the son of legendary Bloomington-Normal DJ Joe Beck, who has also been a drummer for a number of central Illinois bands over the last three decades, it's not surprising the apple fell close to his father's tree.

"From my Dad practicing with his bands and me going to his gigs, it was always music," said DaZ

Jon Norton / WGLT

GLT's Jon Norton occasionally drops by local record stores to hear what's playing on the turntable while customers browse the bins.  This week, Trevor Basham of Waiting Room Records in uptown Normal introduced him to a quirky Australian who both conceptually and physically adopts the persona of a failed lounge singer.

Karen Bridges

Bloomington's Dan Hubbard recently made the transition from fronting his band "The Humadors" to solo artist. He has also adopted a storytellers point-of-view to his songwriting, crediting Tom Petty producer Ryan Ulyate, who he got to know by phone. 

"And when I was in L.A. doing a couple shows, he invited me to his house.  He listened to my stuff, critiqued me, and said I needed to consider something Tom does, which is tell more stories instead of talking about my feelings and what I'm doing," said Hubbard.

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."

"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.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The Nobel Committee recently named musician Bob Dylan as the winner of this year's prize in literature.

The songwriter and sixties icon is known for his distinctive voice and delivery as much as for his lyrics and activism.

ISU Professor of English Jan Susina is a Dylan fan from way back and thinks this year's prize is a great choice.

Susina joined GLT's Charlie Schlenker to talk about Dylan's work. Susina says he and his tolerant family recently got to geek out on Dylan...

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.

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.

Illinois Symphony Orchestra

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra is spending this concert year auditioning potential new Music Directors.

First up is Vladimir Kulenovic.  The Illinois Symphony Orchestra performs tomorrow evening at the BCPA in Bloomington and Saturday night in Springfield.

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."

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."

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.

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."

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