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. 

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. 

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.

Emo-Rock Underdogs Feel Right at 'Home'

Jun 3, 2016
@realfriendsband

The emo-rock band "Real Friends" released their latest record last Friday at a theater in Kingston, a royal borough in southwest London. That's quite a feat for the suburban Chicago band that as recently as 2012 was playing house shows in Bloomington-Normal.

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.'"

Pages