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. 

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."

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.  

@jeffbeckmusic

60 years into a career seems like an odd time to shake things up, but for iconic guitarist and blues-man Jeff Beck, the timing could not be any more perfect.

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."

Required Listening: The First Half of 2016

Jul 22, 2016
@carseatheadrest

2016 has been a year of major loss in the music community. But halfway through the year, an incredible array of music has been released to help the healing process. WGLT's Taylor Bauer takes a look at five releases that caught his eye in the first half of 2016.

Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool

@chrisyoungmusic

Country music is changing in just about every way. A more pop-friendly sound, sold out stadium tours, and a fresh batch of new talent is challenging tradition and moving the genre to new heights. Don't panic; the classic country style is still alive and well.

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.

Avett Brothers 'True Sadness' is an Absolute Delight

Jun 22, 2016
Courtesy of the artist

Music is hardly ever one thing. Influences run deep for most artists, but few groups build their sound on as many layers as the Avett Brothers. Equal parts bluegrass, country, punk, pop, folk, rock, honky tonk, and ragtime, the Avett brothers have an audience as diverse as their sound. 

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. 

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