WDBX Opera Overnight: Strauss, Handel, Monteverdi

English: German Romantic composer Richard Strauss

German Romantic composer Richard Strauss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re going to start with an opera by Richard Strauss.  Strauss’s operatic catalog is intriguing in the variety of styles that he wrote in.  He wrote modernist music and neo-classical material, and even used waltzes in Der Rosenkavalier.  Tonight we’re going to hear one of his most modern works, Elektra.  The opera premiered in 1909, during the height of the Expressionist period in art, and makes extensive use of the sort of chromaticism and dissonance that we normally hear from composers like Schoenberg and Berg.  It was Strauss’s follow-up to his extremely popular opera Salome, which was also modernist, but Elektra finds Strauss at his most aggressive.  In fact, Strauss would moderate his future operas to be less dissonant, while still retaining the vivid chromatic harmonies that he was so good at composing.

Tonight’s recording is from 1988, and features Hildegard Behrens, Christa Ludwig, Nadine Secunde, Ragnar Ulfung, and Jorma Hynninen.  Seiji Ozawa leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

George Frideric Handel, born in the same year ...

George Frideric Handel, by Thomas Hudson (1749) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our second opera of the evening is Floridante, an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel.  It used a libretto by Paolo Antonio Rolli, and was premiered on December 9, 1721.  Although it received several performances between 1722 and 1733, it was not performed after that point in time until a 1962 revival.

Tonight’s recording is a 2005 recording that features Marijana Mijanovic, Joyce Didonato, Vito Priante, and Sharon Rostorf-Zamir.  Alan Curtis leads his Il Complesso Barocco, part of his excellent series of Handel operatic recordings.

Copy of a portrait of Claudio Monteverdi by Be...

Copy of a portrait of Claudio Monteverdi by Bernardo Strozzi, hanging in the Gallerie dall’Accademia in Venice (1640). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We shall conclude tonight’s show with a brief work by Claudio MonteverdiIl Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda is an operatic scene that Monteverdi wrote in 1624 for the Venetian Carnival season of 1624-25.  This was during a period when he was employed at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and focusing more on liturgical music.  The piece was not published until 1638, and was included with Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals.  The piece is notable for several compositional innovations, including one of the earliest uses of pizzicato, and one of the earliest uses of the string tremolo.

Tonight’s recording is a 1992 recording that features Konstantinos Paliatsaras, Jakes Aymonino, and Tina Malakate.  Skip Sempé leads the Capriccio Stravagante.

The Galaxy – Wishing upon a lucky star

A crop and enhacement of a Perseid Meteor I ca...

A Perseid meteor, captured during the August 12, 2008 Perseid Meteor Shower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was checking out the Perseid event last night (which continues tonight, although it may not be as good as last night, it is still a great experience), and it occurred to me that this would be a great theme for tonight’s show.  Of course, I’m not sure if I have anything that covers shooting stars specifically, and I’m fairly certain that I don’t have anything on meteors, but I think I have a few songs which should fit the mood nicely.

We started off the set with some Madonna.  I rarely play Madonna, but as far as pop music goes, her early ’80s pop was far more musical than a lot of the material that we see nowadays.  Now, not all of the songs we’re selecting here match up with the theme, but they do match up with her music, and Lucky Star was the song that I considered to be the perfect opener for tonight’s show.  We heard Lucky Star, Holiday, and Borderline.

This photo from a US Government website (http:...

This photo from a US Government website (http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/afp/afp1297.htm) shows Maj. Glen Miller during his service in the US Army Air Corps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Madonna, we heard some Glenn Miller.  One might find it odd that my thought process would have jumped from Madonna directly to Glenn Miller, but that is actually how I conceived the show, as I remembered that I have a lovely rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star (Miller’s version, with Ray Eberle doing the vocals, was in fact the version that we remember from Disney’s Pinnochio).  Happily, when I looked, I found that Miller had recorded a number of songs that fit in well with our theme this evening.  So we started with Stairway to the Stars (from 1939), then we heard When You Wish Upon A Star (from 1940), The Story of a Starry Night (1941), Moon Love (1939, based on the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony), and his well-known classic Moonlight Serenade (1939).

English: Gustav Holst (1874–1934)

Gustav Holst (1874–1934) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gustav Holst wrote The Planets between 1914 and 1916, and was intended as a character interpretation, with each movement named after a planet and scored to show the planet’s corresponding astrological character, as defined by Holst.  Holst used as inspiration a book by British astrologist Alan Leo, and the titles for each of the seven movements (the number of known planets at the time).  Holst originally wrote the piece for dual hand piano, with the Neptune (“Neptune, The Mystic“) movement scored for solo organ.  He then rearranged the music for large orchestra, displaying the influence of Arnold Schoenberg, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Glasunov  and Igor Stravinsky.  After its completion, it was performed privately on several occasions between 1918 and 1920, before finally receiving a complete performance on November 15, 1920.  Holst conducted it himself in 1923, and eventually made several recordings of the piece.  Tonight’s recording is a 1971 recording by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta.

Devils Tower in Wyoming was used as a filming ...

Devils Tower in Wyoming, which was used as a filming location for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While listening to this excellent recording of The Planets, I noticed another excellent piece that fits right in with the theme that we are exploring this evening.  John Williams was awarded two Grammys for his soundtrack recording for the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1978, and the composition works very well on its own, away from the theater.  Tonight we heard a suite based on the soundtrack, also performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta.

We then heard a tune from Billie Holiday, What A Little Moonlight Can Do, featuring a combo led by Teddy Wilson with solos from Benny Goodman and Ben Webster.  We followed that song with something from Miles Davis‘ Birth of the Cool sessions, Moon Dreams (one of the more interesting albums in the history of jazz, with a lineup comprised largely of veterans of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra).  We then closed out the set with Moments in Love, from The Art of Noise.  The song really isn’t celestially themed like most of the show, but I think that the music fits in well with the sort of mood one might have when scanning a gorgeous starry night.celestially themed

The Galaxy – Congratulations!

Illinois High School Association

Illinois High School Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the young musicians of Carbondale Community High School, who placed 2nd in Class A Music Program Overall (Solo/Ensemble + Organizational) at the IHSA Solo and Ensemble Music Festival.  They received 84 Division 1 ratings and 10 Division 2 Ratings, earning 2nd Place Band, 2nd Place Strings, as well as 2nd Place Overall.  In addition, I’d also like to congratulate Carterville High School, which received 41 Division 1 Ratings and 13 Division 2 Ratings, earning 10th place Band, 8th Place Vocal, and 9th Place Overall Class B Music Program.  Both of these are substantial achievements for these schools, and can serve as an indicator of the strength of their music programs.  Good job, guys!

In addition, the following local (or at least fairly local) schools also did well:

  • Waterloo (up near St. Louis – I’m including them because I have friends up there) finished 23rd in Class A
  • Mt. Vernon HS finished 25th in Class A, tied with Mattoon HS.
  • Jacksonville HS (way up north, but my cousin is on the school board, so I should be inclusive here too) finished 32nd in Class A
  • Herrin HS finished 55th in Class A
  • Nashville placed 10th in Class B, one behind Carterville.
  • Pinckneyville placed 20th in Class B
  • Duquoin HS placed 36th in Class B
  • Christopher placed 42nd in Class B
  • Massac County placed 56th in Class B
  • Sparta placed 68th in Class B.
  • Sesser-Valier placed 20th in Class C.
  • Chester placed 33rd in Class C.
  • Trico placed 68th in Class C.
  • Egyptian HS (in Tamms) tied for 33rd in Class D.
  • Pope County HS (that’s Golconda) placed 38th.

In addition, the following soloists and ensembles were given special recognition at the regional event hosted at Carbondale Community High School:

  • Alina Tichacek, Marian Repp, Trevon Sherrill – Carbondale  (Trumpet Ensemble) 
  • Alex Taylor, Chris Glennon, Jacob Criddle, and Tyler Anderson – Carterville (Mixed Brass Ensemble) 
  • Kelsey Crawford, Amanda Halter and Marissa Roath – Anna (A.-Jonesboro) (Treble Ensemble) 
  • Pinckneyville Men’s Octet – Pinckneyville (Bass Ensemble) 
  • Murphysboro Madrigal Choir – Murphysboro (Madrigal Group) 
  • Carbondale Guitar Choir – Carbondale (String Choir) 
  • Yenna Cho – Carbondale (Flute) 
  • Aaron Kennedy – Massac County (E-Flat Alto Sax.) 
  • Rachel Brady – Murphysboro (Trumpet) 
  • David Blaise – Carbondale (Marimba) 
  • Nick Ginsburg – Carbondale (Piano) 
  • Carbondale Percussion Choir – Carbondale (Percussion Choir) 
  • Emily Fink – Carbondale (Female Voice) 
  • Shannon Nehrkorn - Pinckneyville (Female Voice) 
  • Anne Visser – Herrin (Female Voice) 
  • Marian Repp – Carbondale (Female Voice) 
  • Quinlan Monk, John Sarvela, Stephen Blair – Carbondale (Mixed Wind Ensemble)

Each of these schools and their students should be congratulated for doing so well.  Having participated in that competition myself when I was in high school, I remember the experience – the nerves, the hours of practice time.  To that end, I take  great joy in seeing young musicians striving to develop their musical potential.  In my eyes, it gives us all hope for the future.

Related reading:

Upcoming on the Galaxy!!!!! A tribute to a great master!

Gustav Leonhardt (Cité de la Musique, Paris)

Gustav Leonhardt (Cité de la Musique, Paris) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This coming Sunday night/Monday morning, we’re going to have a special edition of the Galaxy, as we’ll be paying tribute to the important musicologist and keyboardist Gustav Leonhardt, who passed away back in January 16th.  Leonhardt was a pioneer in the period instrument movement, as a soloist, ensemble member and as a conductor.  His  collaborations with Nicholas Harnoncourt, which include recording the complete set of Bach canatas (a process that took many years, and the first time that had ever been done), rank among some of the most prestigious achievements of the late 20th century.  He was a preeminent performer on the harpsichord and pipe organ, with numerous important recordings of many works of the baroque era and earlier.  He also was a noted instructor of keyboard technique, and his students include many of today’s most important keyboardists musicologists and conductors, including Christopher Hogwood, Alan Curtis, Richard Egarr, John Fesperman, Davitt Moroney, Martin Pearlman, Colin Tilney, Bob van Asperen, Philippe Herreweghe, Ton Koopman, among others, many of whom are regularly featured on this program.  His recordings and research constitute a primary influence on the direction of this show – even when I wasn’t playing his recordings (which I have on numerous occasions over the years), I have often used selection criteria that is influenced in part by the movement that he helped launch back in the 1950s.  He might not be as big a name as, say, Luciano Pavarotti, but his influence on performance and recording practices is probably much greater.

A Tribute to Gustav Leonhardt – coming up Sunday night, March 25/26, on the Galaxy on WDBX.

The Galaxy – Demonstrating the art of the fugue

A portrait which may show Bach in 1750

Bach, possibly from c. 1750 (Image via Wikipedia)

I enjoy my annual celebration of Bach’s birthday (he would be 327 years old on March 21st), if for the simple reason that it gives me a convenient excuse to take a good, hard listen to any one of his numerous masterpieces.  The one risk that I run is the trap of unwittingly playing the same pieces every year.  That is hard to avoid, as Bach wrote some of the most easily appropriate music for the Easter religious holiday, which by happenstance usually falls near the 21st (this year’s observance is three weeks afterwards), and several of his works rank among the truly great musical compositions.  So, in the end, while I do strive for musical variety, I don’t worry about it.  If I choose one week out of the year to play some of the greatest music that the world has ever heard, the greatness of said music remains undiminished.

So it is with that very lack of reservation that I bring out Bach’s Art of Fugue for this year’s birthday show, even though I think I may have done the same last year.  The very brilliance of the work makes the suggestion hard to refuse.  A little background: Bach began the composition of the piece at some point during the early 1740s, although it could possibly have been earlier.  This was a period where Bach was writing pieces that encapsulated everything that he had done up to that point (i.e. The Musical Offering), or revising earlier pieces so that the craft would be to his satisfaction (the two Passion works, Wohltemperierte Clavier, B Minor Mass).  One might say that Bach saw himself as having reached the sunset of his life, and he wanted to have made a grand statement.  He was quite successful, as he was able to produce, either through revisions or through original composition, three truly epic masterpieces within the three years prior to his death: The B Minor Mass, St. Matthew’s Passion, and the Art of Fugue.

The basic subject of Bach's Art of Fugue

The basic subject of Bach's Art of Fugue

While each work has its own special qualities, the Art of Fugue is quite interesting, from a compositional standpoint.  Bach started with a simple musical phrase, seen above, which is stated unequivocally in the first section.  He then ran through all of the different potential ways that he could rephrase and reorganize the statement.  What he did (I use here Wikipedia’s excellent discussion of the compositional methods Bach used):

1. Contrapunctus I, and

2. Contrapunctus II: Simple monothematic 4-voice fugues on main theme, accompanied by a ‘French’ style dotted rhythm motif.

3. Contrapunctus III, and

4. Contrapunctus IV: Simple monothematic 4-voice fugues on inversion of main theme, i.e. the theme is “turned upside down”

Counter-fugues, in which a variation of the main subject is used in both regular and inverted form:

5. Contrapunctus V: Has many stretto entries, as do Contrapuncti VI and VII.

6. Contrapunctus VI, a 4 in Stylo Francese: This adds both forms of the theme in diminution (halving note lengths), with little rising and descending clusters of semiquavers in one voice answered or punctuated by similar groups in demisemiquavers in another, against sustained notes in the accompanying voices. The dotted rhythm, enhanced by these little rising and descending groups, suggests what is called “French style” in Bach’s day, hence the name Stylo Francese.

7. Contrapunctus VII, a 4 per Augmentationem et Diminutionem: Uses augmented (doubling all note lengths) and diminished versions of the main subject and its inversion.

Double and triple fugues, with two and three subjects respectively:

8. Contrapunctus VIII, a 3: Triple fugue.

9. Contrapunctus IX, a 4 alla Duodecima: Double fugue

Contrapunctus X, a 4 alla Decima: Double fugue.
11. Contrapunctus XI, a 4: Triple fugue.

Mirror fugues, in which the complete score can be inverted without loss of musicality:


Contrapunctus 12 (Image via Wikipedia)

12. Contrapunctus XII, a 4: The rectus (normal) and inversus (upside-down) versions are generally played back to back.

13. Contrapunctus XIII, a 3: The second mirror fuguein 3 voices, also a counter-fugue.

Canons, labeled by interval and technique:

14. Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu: Augmented canon in inverted motion.

15. Canon alla Ottava: Canon at the Octave. The two imitating voices are separated by an octave.

16. Canon alla Decima in Contrapunto alla Terza: Canon at the tenth, counterpoint at the third.

17. Canon alla Duodecima in Contrapunto alla Quinta: Canon at the twelfth, counterpoint at the fifth.

An arrangement of Contrapunctus XIII, see below.

18. Fuga a 2 (rectus), and Alio modo Fuga a 2 (inversus)

J.S. Bach's The Art of Fugue, breaks off abrup...

J. S. Bach: unfinished last fugue from "Kunst der Fuge", last page. Source: Deutsche Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Mus. ms. autogr. Bach P 200 (Image via Wikipedia)

Unfinished quadruple fugue:

19. Fuga a 3 Soggetti (Contrapunctus XIV): 4-voice triple, possibly quadruple, fugue, the third subject of which is based on the BACH motif, B♭ – A – C – B♮ (‘H’ in German letter notation).

The aforementioned unfinished quadruple fugue was quite the fitting capstone to the piece.  One must understand how interested Bach was in numerology and musical symbolism – there are a number of pieces where Bach spells out his name musically, such as he did here.  But this is just the beginning of how brilliant the fugue is.  A number of modern musicologists have suggested that Bach may have intended to use a restatement of the original theme as the fourth, missing section.  This may be, and is certainly logical, but we shall never know.

Further Reading

Tonight’s recording, made by Gustav Leonhardt in 1953, is also special in and of itself, as it is the first full recording of the piece on harpsichord.  When he made the recording, there was some argument as to whether it was actually written for harpsichord (the autograph score does not specify).  Now, there is little doubt, but this is probably in some part due to the work of performer/musicologists such as the eminent Leonhardt.  Leonhardt culminates the discussion thusly:

“The Art of Fugue has been written with an extraordinary knowledge of the technical possibilities of ten fingers on a keyboard.  The work does not only show Bach on his immense creative height, but also as the grandiose master of the keyboard.”

English: Gustav Leonhardt at the MAfestival in...

Gustav Leonhardt at the MAfestival in Bruges (Image via Wikipedia)

(postscript: I am utterly aghast to read, during the writing of this blog piece, of the passing of Gustav Leonhardt back in January.  The contribution that Mr. Leonhardt made to music in general, and to our understanding of the brilliance of Bach, cannot possibly be overestimated.  Leonhardt was brilliant on both organ and harpsichord, and he has been the subject of many Galaxy broadcasts over the course of the 16 years that I’ve been broadcasting.  He would have a place in musical history if just for this one recording that we’ve played tonight, but his career went far beyond this one recording.  Mr. Leonhardt, you will be missed.)

Related articles

For our second piece of the evening, we heard a cantata for solo voice, BWV 82, Ich Habe Genug (trans: “I have enough”).  The cantata was written for the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, and sung on the feast day, February 2, 1727.  This was during his Leipzig period, the height of his career, and came during an extended period of amazing output (at one point he was writing a cantata every week; in this manner he wrote three complete cycles of cantatas to cover the Lutheran calendar).  Tonight’s cantata is unusual, one of a select few that he wrote for solo voice, without other soloists or choir.  It was first written for solo bass (that version in C minor), but in later years Bach revised it for other voice types – for soprano in E minor in 1730-31, and for alto in C minor.  He also revisited the cantata at some point in the 1740s, bringing it close to the form of the original.

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Image from http://www.bach-cantatas.com)

Tonight’s recording, from 2002, also features a special talent, Lorraine Hart Lieberson.  She passed away from cancer a few years later, but left behind some gorgeous samplings of her ability, of which this is one (and a particularly beautiful one at that).  I don’t know if the selection of the specific cantatas was purposeful, but the libretto makes quite a statement for someone experiencing such an illness:

Ich habe genug,
Ich habe den Heiland, das Hoffen der Frommen,
Auf meine begierigen Arme genommen;
Ich habe genug!
Ich hab ihn erblickt,
Mein Glaube hat Jesum ans Herze gedrückt;
Nun wünsch ich, noch heute mit Freuden
Von hinnen zu scheiden.

I have now enough,
I have now my Savior, the hope of the faithful
Within my desiring embrace now enfolded;
I have now enough!
On him have I gazed,
My faith now hath Jesus impressed on my heart;
I would now, today yet, with gladness
Make hence my departure.

WDBX Opera Overnight – Wagner, Puccini

Richard Wagner, Paris, 1861

Photograph of composer Richard Wagner, Paris, 1861 (catalog number 007); this was taken when Wagner was in France for the premiere of Tannhauser.

We have another interesting show for you this evening, with two great operas featuring two great tenor/sopranos duos.  We begin the evening with Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser.  Wagner based the libretto on a poem by Heinrich Heine, the same poet who inspired Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer, although Wagner also found some inspiration in a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann,  the 15th century folk ballad Das Lied von dem Danheüser, and a collection of folk legends from Thuringia called Der Sagenschatz und die Sagenkreise des Thüringerlandes.  Heine published his poem in 1837, and Wagner (who wrote all of his own librettos) wrote a draft libretto in prose in 1842.  He began the composition of the music in the summer of 1843, and completed the full score on April 13, 1845.  It was premiered on October 19 of that same year, with Wagner’s niece Johanna (who had assisted him during the compositional process by singing the parts as he wrote them, thereby serving as a partial inspiration for Wagner’s vision of the lead soprano part) singing the part of Elizabeth.  The opera was not initially as successful as some of Wagner’s previous works, and he spent parts of 1846 and 1847 revising it.  He also produced a well known revision of the opera in 1860 for a special performance in Paris, and that revision was itself revised in 1875.

Grace Bumpry

Grace Bumpry, from some time in the 1960s, during a performance of Carmen

Tonight’s recording is a legendary live recording from the 1962 Bayreuth Festival.  It is commonly referred to as the “Black Venus” because of the presence of Grace Bumpry, the first black singer to appear at Bayreuth.  Along with Grace Bumpry (whose Venus is quite prominent in Act 1), we hear Wolfgang Windgassen and Anja Silja in the lead roles, along with Eberhard Wächter, Gerhard Stolze, Franz Crass, Georg Paskuda, Gerd Nienstedt, and Else-Margaret Gardelli.  The Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra is conducted by Wolfgang Swallisch, and the production was staged by Wagner’s grandson Wieland Wagner, who for years ran the Bayreuth Festival and is credited for initiating the modernist trend in Wagnerian productions (and who was in a relationship for a while with Anja Silja, tonight’s lead soprano).

Anja Silja, c. 1966

Anja Silja, c. 1966

Promotional poster for Giacomo Puccini's opera...

Promotional poster for Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot", from 25 April 1926. (Image via Wikipedia)

For our second opera this evening, we’re going to hear the last composition by Giacomo Puccini, Turandot.  Puccini began composition in January of 1921, using a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.  He had completed all but a final duet by March of 1924, but was dissatisfied with the text for the duet.   He finally received a version of the text that he found satisfactory on October 8th, but two days later was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He continued writing while undergoing what was then an experimental radiation treatment, but died of a heart attack on November 29th, 1924.  He left 36 pages of sketches, along with instructions for how it was to be completed and whom should complete it – the last part of which Puccini’s son objected to.  The job was eventually handed to Franco Alfano, whose contributions were edited by conductor Arturo Toscanini, who had worked extensively with Puccini in the past, and who conducted the premiere.  Although there have been a number of recent attempts at revising this last portion, none have managed to stick, and the edition with Alfano’s contribution is the version that is usually heard.

Birgit Nilsson as Turandot

Birgit Nilsson as Turandot, possibly for a Metropolitan Opera performance, date unknown

But a mere recounting of the music’s history fails to touch on the beauty that inhabits this music.  Puccini’s music, while a continuation of the Italian musical tradition established by such great writers as Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi, was fully modern for the 1920s.  He showed with traces of Wagnerian inspiration, but also suggesting hints of influences from Debussy and, later in his life, Stravinsky.  Puccini also had a taste for exotic locations and influences, as many of his operas were set outside of Italy, and two of them (Turandot and Madama Butterfly) were set in the Orient.  Puccini wrote demanding roles, and Turandot attracts the best sopranos and tenors.  He also had a gift for melody, and Nessun Dorma, the soaring tenor aria that helps lead off Act 3, is one of the more easily recognized melodies in all of music.

Tonight’s performance is a 1966 recording that features top vocalists Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli, two of the greatest voices of their era, along with Bonaldo Giaiotti, Renata Scotto, Angelo Mercuriali, and the Rome Opera House Orchestra & Chorus under the baton of Franco Molinari-Pradelli.

The Galaxy – The special music of a special man

Mozart, about 1780. Detail of Mozart family po...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, painted c. 1780 (Image via Wikipedia)

January 27th marks the 256th birthday of the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  It seems only fitting that we mark the occasion with some appropriate selections from this great composer.

We started off the set with a fine recording of the Requiem Mass, KV. 626.  The story behind the work is the stuff of legend: the mysterious commission from an anonymous benefactor (which eventually proved to be Count Franz von Walsegg), Mozart’s attempts at multi-tasking (he completed Die Zauberflote, wrote his well-known Clarinet Concerto and did some other things while working on the Requem), his illness (he first became ill on 20 November 1791), and eventual passing on 5 December; the struggle by his widow, Constanze, to assemble some form of a finished product, with the help of Mozart’s closest associates (most notably Franz Xaver Süßmayr), so that she might receive the balance of the fee owed by von Walsegg.  Indeed this is the sort of stuff that makes for good movies (which, in fact, it did).  But, while the fact is that we are listening to a work that Mozart left unfinished, which was completed by others, this should not diminish in our eyes the exquisite beauty of this masterpiece.  The fact is that the Requiem represents part of a chain of events and compositions which suggests the composer was in the process of exploring a number of interesting new ideas and directions at the time of his passing.  Tonight’s recording is a 1995 recording by Les Arts Florissants, with William Christie directing.

We followed the Requiem with the aforementioned Clarinet Concerto, K. 622.  The Clarinet Concerto was actually written for a new variety of clarinet then being championed by noted clarinetist Anton Standler, a basset clarinet that extends the range of the B flat and A clarinets down to a low C.  Interestingly, Mozart’s publisher made an arrangement of the concerto with the low notes transposed into a normal clarinet’s range, but never published the original, and the original itself has been lost.  Although there have been attempts at reconstructing the original, with special clarinets built to accommodate the range required for the work, the work we hear tonight I believe to be the altered version.  Regardless, the melodies set forth by this work are instantly memorable and strikingly beautiful, truly a joy to the ear, and the work ranks among the key parts of the clarinet musical catalog.  Tonight’s recording is a 1972 recording by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, under the baton of Sir Neville Marriner, featuring Jack Brymer on clarinet.

We closed the evening with one of Mozart’s early works, his Serenade No. 1 in D major, K100/62a.  It was written in the summer of 1769 (he was 14), and apparently was written for a party given for the retirement of a Salzburg University professor.  It was most likely written for outdoors performance (remember our discussion of serenatas from a few weeks ago?).  Here we have demonstrated his considerable technical skills, even at such a young age.   Tonight we heard a 1970 recording by the Vienna Mozart Ensemble as directed by Willi Boskovsky.

The Galaxy – You don’t have to have words to sing!

Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros (Image by planetschwa via Flickr)

What a combo I have this week: new material that comes from a live recording!  In this instance, the new material is Sigur Ros‘ recent cd/dvd release Inni, issued last fall.  Sigur Ros has earned their reputation as an excellent live band, and their live experience translates well to live recordings, as has been evidenced by their previous live video release.  We have been long-time fans of Sigur Ros here on the Galaxy, and I am pleased that they have put out a live album that captures some of the beauty that one sees in their concerts (regrettably, I’ve been forced to miss several shows that they have played in St. Louis, so I unfortunately have yet to actually see them).  We heard a lovely set that included Svefn-g-englar, Glósóli, Ný batterí, Fljótavík, Við spilum endalaust, and ending with Hoppípolla.

Rachel Harrington

Rachel Harrington

I’ve been listening to a lot of bluegrass lately.  Actually, I’ve been playing quite a bit of it on my bass as of late (resulting from a 6 hour jam session I participated while in Florida over the Christmas vacation).  So it feels quite appropriate to play some this evening.  We started with a pair of nice songs from IIIrd Tyme Out, from 1993: I’m Working On The Road to Gloryland (with Earl Scruggs guesting) and He’ll Take You In.  Then we heard some nice harmony singing from Kentucky Blue, with Joshua (from 1997’s Eighteen Years Ago), and also a great song from Dale Ann Bradley, Steady as a Rock (from her 1999 album Southern Porches).  We then heard two songs from Rachel Harrington, from 2007’s The Bootlegger’s Daughter: Sunshine Girl, and then a lovely rendition of the gospel classic Farther Along.  Rachel Harrington is an artist with some promise, and we shall look forward to hearing more from her in the future.  We then concluded the set with Alison Krauss and Union Station‘s My Poor Old Heart, from 2004’s Lonely Runs Both Ways.

As it so happens, I have several recent releases to feature on the show this evening.  The second item up for our perusal is the recent offering from August Burns Red, Leveler.  We started with the title track, then heard a nice piece, Meridian, from their previous album Constellations.  From the new album, we heard Internal Cannon (which features a rather interesting flamenco instrumental break).  From Constellations, we heard White Washed, then we heard Pangaea from the new album.  After a station break, I played two extra cuts from the extended edition of Leveler, instrumental renditions of two songs, Internal Cannon (done as a Spanish guitar instrumental), and a performance of their Boys of Fall by their friend Zachary Veilleux, which takes the form of a classical piano piece.

Album cover for Coltrane's Africa/Brass album

We closed out the show with an excellent bit of John Coltrane, the title track from his Africa/Brass album (with the jazz orchestra conducted by Eric Dolphy).  The orchestra is interesting, as it not only featured Coltrane’s usual quartet (McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman and Elvin Jones), but some other notable names pitching in: musicians such as Booker Little, Pat Patrick (of Sun Ra’s organization), Art Davis doubling on bass, Bill Barber (of the Birth of the Cool sessions) on tuba, in addition to Dolphy’s own instrumental participation.  Freddie Hubbard also participated in the session, playing on another one of the songs but not on Africa. All of this makes for one of Coltrane’s most distinctive albums.

Opening Night for “WDBX Opera Overnight,” Sunday 11/13

Here’s a “heads-up” for opera fans– WDBX is adding more opera to our current schedule! With the departure of the JLDJ’s “All Music No Talk,” long-time WDBX hosts Doug Flummer and DaveX have teamed up to present “WDBX Opera Overnight,” a 5-hour program of full-length, uninterrupted operas!

“WDBX Opera Overnight” will air weekly, following “The Galaxy,” from 2-7 a.m. Monday mornings. Future programs will include ‘s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” Ashley’s “Perfect Lives,” Erkel’s “Hunyadi Laszlo,” Monteverdi’s “Orfeo,” and many others representing the best of opera both old and new.

Just kidding!

For anyone who was concerned, the Laura Ingraham Show isn’t really joining WDBX’s lineup– so you can file yesterday’s announcement under “hijinks” and become a member with a clear conscience. Happy April Fools’ Day, everyone!

Spring Sprung {Whirled Peas Café Radio}

Mondays 7a-9a

WPC Radio: Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice

Spring Break is over for most of Southernmost Illinois. And what a note to end on! Saturday gave us a supermoon that comes even less frequently than a blue moon. The perigee and the full moon coincided less than 24 hours from the vernal equinox and the official start of Springtime. By the time Spring was officially with us, our thermometers were reading as high as 80°F. If this is an early spring day, I’m not sure I’m looking forward to the Dog Days of August this year. But for now, I’m rejoicing in the barefoot surveying of my garden. Bulbs are blooming, the hydrangea is budding, my herbs are still putting out. (My parsley, marjoram, & thyme never stopped growing this winter even with some snow fall) Garden cress, carrots, peas, and onions are coming along volunteer-style. Other herbs like catnip, bee balm and hyssop are starting to recover from hibernation.

Last week was SXSW. This annual event makes Austin, TX the music capital of the world. For those of you like me who couldn’t make it down Texas-way, both NPR and KEXP have done some wonderful recording of concerts. I sampled an upload from KEXP on today’s show. Check out the video below of Grouplove in a bike shop no less!

Local News: Tonight & Wednesday night are the last of the candidates’ forums. City Hall at 7p is the place to be to catch the candidates in the first half of the alphabet; Wednesday has the other end of the alphabet. Of the 12 remaining candidates on the ballot, only three will go on to take the prize as our public servants after the vote on April 5th. Be informed.

Update: This weekend at Cape, our local Toastmasters will compete at District level. Charlie Howe is tentatively scheduled for next Monday’s show to fill us in on the competition and tell us how Toastmasters has helped a seasoned speaker like himself.

Enjoy the season!

Peas! ~Lori

Spring: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Itzhak Perlman w/the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Joy Spring Raya Yarbrough
Spring RMB

Equinox John Coltrane
The Winding Spring & Nine Pound Hammer Frank Fairfield
Low Rising The Swell Season

Makin’ Plans Miranda Lambert
Gravity Alison Krauss & Union Station
Wandering Eye One Fell Swoop
New Beginning Tracy Chapman
Anywhere You Go Shawn Colvin
Earl’s Chair/Temperance Reel/Swinging On A Gate Mithril
No Corras Tanto El Combolinga
Pastures New Nickel Creek
Whole New You Shawn Colvin
Colours Grouplove at SXSW 2011

Love Is a Rose Neil Young
Feed the Light Lizz Wright
You Make Me Nick Lowe
Hummingbird Leon Russell
Ferris Wheel Charlie Barnet
Sittin’ On Top of the World Bob Wills & His Playboys
Tighten Up The Black Keys

Potluck Special {Whirled Peas Café Radio}

Mondays 7a-9a

WPC Radio: Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice

The Sunday evening before this show we held our 1st Annual DJ/Volunteer Post-Ball Potluck. With over 60 DJs, volunteers, and family members in attendance, the church dining room was full of intense and delightful conversation. I don’t know which was harder for me, choosing what to put on my plate or which table of DJs to join. The buffet tables had everything from venison to vegan dishes, apples to oranges, organic kale salad to specialty chips, curried corn chowder to traditional chicken and dumplings. The dessert table was well represented. We know what is really important! Thanks to Chuck from Chuck’s Place, one of our newest and most thoughtful DJs, for getting us not one but two occasion cakes. My solution: Put a little bit at a time on my plate to give me an excuse to ogle at everything all over again as well as an excuse to change seats to get a taste of another conversation. I knew I was not alone in my excitement and wonder when I realized that no one was manning the sound system. A room full of DJs, no music, and no one noticing. Now that is some serious eating and conversation!

If I’m making you jealous, I am sorry. But if you missed it, you can still get a taste of it (just not any of Chuck’s cake) if you are a member. Momma C of Kids’ Camp fame and Melia of Mixed Plate are two of the team of “newsies” cooking up a periodical which is slated to come to an email inbox or a snail mail box near you. If you can’t wait that long to get in on the action, come out to 10 Pin Alley in DuQuoin to cheer along the WDBX Dudes as they Bowl 4 Kids’ Sake Saturday, March 12th. The Dudes abide!

Roll On and Peas Out! ~Lori

Special Guests for Monday, March 7th: Southern Illinois ToastMasters International will join me for two hours of information, stories and tunes. Approximately 8 members of our local chapter will tell how ToastMasters impacts their lives and encourage you all to come see what all the fuss is about.

{WPC Playlist: February 28th, 2010}

Luz De Luna Vientos Del Pueblo
Gypsy Suzanne Vega
Geza’s Wailing Ways John Gorka
Sigh No More Mumford & Sons
That Bangle Girl Robbie Fulks
Walk Like an Egyptian The Bangles

When Doves Cry Patti Smith
I Don’t Know Why Shaun Colvin
In Spite of Ourselves John Prine & Iris DeMent

Our Town Iris DeMent with Emmylou Harris
The Bridesmaid Dress Song Deirdre Flint
I’m Ready Tracy Chapman
In the Nick of Time Joshua Bell & Edgar Meyer
While My Guitar Gently Weeps Jake Shimaburuko
Ho’ichi Ozzie Kotana
Unconditional Kirk Whalum
Let The Good Times Roll Ray Charles
To Higher Ground Winton Marsalis
16 Tons Johnny Cash

So Long Chris Smither
Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’ Mayer Hawthorne
She Was a Vision Active Child

Special Bonus Track:

Cigarette State Robbie Fulks

MLK Day {Whirled Peas Café Radio}


Mondays 7a-9a

WPC Radio: Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice


A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. ~MLK

Today is NOT Martin Luther King, Jr.’s day of birth, but it is the third Monday of January when we observe MLK Day as a day of service. Today also shares the date with that on Michelle Obama’s birth certificate. It is with the FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) in mind that I lead with the above MLK quote. Ms. Obama continues to be a molder of style, consciousness and consensus for the American people. Happy Birthday! May Peace, Happiness, and Many Blessing…be the mark of the year to come…for you and for us all.

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. ~MLK

The fourth Tuesday of the month the WDBX Board holds its public meetings. As DJs, volunteer, and members, we are open to attend, to listen, and to voice our opinions within the constraints of Robert’s Rules of Order. Those of us who have become a regular fixture at these monthly meetings are affectionately known as “The Peanut Gallery.” We, The Peanut Gallery and others, will be meeting at LongBranch next Tuesday, January 25th at 5p to review the agenda of the meeting and discuss our concerns and news before walking over to Township Hall for the 6p official Board meeting. Hope to see you there. All points of view and musical tastes welcome. FACTIOD: WDBX has a Wikipedia listing…that is pathetically sparse. I know we’ve got some serious fans out there. Let’s update this puppy!

I’m not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good. ~MLK

This Saturday marks the annual Neighborhood Alliance. At last look most if not all of the mayoral and city council candidates have RSVP’d in the affirmative. They are not there to give speeches and make promises, but to hear the schedule of speakers and to hear the concerns of the electorate. There will be a chance before (9:30-10) as well as after (Noon-?) the formal presentations to get informed and chat folks up over refreshments including some legendary vegetarian chili. Much thanks to the Methodist Church for the generosity of venue.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~MLK

Weekly Wednesday meetings resume for CAPSOIL. The Community Action Players of Southern Illinois (CAPSOIL) welcome individuals who are interested in creative community dialog to come and explore the philosophy and teachings of Paolo Freire and Augusto Boal within an interactive theatre experience. Actors or, as Boal would say, Spect-Actors of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds are encouraged to participate. Meetings are currently scheduled for Wednesdays from 5-7p at the Big Muddy IMC. Although meetings are weekly, weekly attendance is neither mandatory nor expected.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. ~MLK

North Dakota Lyle Lovett & Ricky Lee Jones
Calling You Holly Cole
Let the Tears Roll Down Marcia Ball
Times Are A’Changing Bob Dylan
I’m Coming Down with the Blues Marcia Ball
I Can’t Stop Crying Janiva Magness
Blues Won’t Let Me Be Steve Guyger
Undercurrent John Trudell
Angel from Montgomery Susan Tedeschi
Angel of the Morning
Evie Sands
Oh My Gin Wigmore
Good Excuse The John Butler Trio

Poor, Poor Excuse Shemekia Copeland
I Wonder Why Debbie Davies & Albert Collins
So Much Grace Allison Sattinger
Amazing Grace Ike & Tina Turner
Everybody Loves You Hazmat Modine
Screams from da Old Plantation King Kapisi

Citizens of the Empire Philip D’Agostino
There’s Gotta Be a Change Jonny Lang
Little Boy Blue Holly Cole

New features at The Blogapus

Everyone here at The Blogapus hopes you enjoy our new look! We’ve got a few interesting new features, too. Above these entries, in the header, you’ll see links to our current schedule and the Volunteer Spotlight. We’ve kicked it off with a short interview with  “The Galaxy” host and long-time volunteer Doug Flummer. You’ll also notice two links to WDBX’s webstream. There’s one in the header, and one in the right sidebar.

If you ever feel a little lost, just click The Blogapus herself– you’ll be whisked back to the main page with all eight arms!

Update: New features are coming so fast today! Check out the “Contact WDBX” form, up in the header. It’s a pretty swanky way to get in touch with us. Give it a shot, we’d love to hear from you!

New show name (again)-A brief(?) history

With all the line-up changes at the station, I thought it proper to officially announce  the change in my show name.

When I (briefly) took over the Jazz Buffet in 2000, little did I know that I would still be here over 10 years later.

Shortly after joining WDBX, I got what would be my last full time job working for someone other than myself.  In the meantime, my wife Sarah took over the Buffet so that we could hold that spot.  When I resumed life among the self-employed (that took all of two months,) I knew I wanted my show back.

That was the easy part.

Little did I know how strong of a claim Sarah had staked to the show.  So, upon talking with our station manager, BRP, I decided to pick up another show.  BRP encouraged me to continue with the jazz format, which lasted  for a few months.  The name of my show became “Take the J Train.”  I slowly began introducing some of my rock into the mix, in addition to some politically and socially driven spoken word and lecture-type material by the likes of Howard Zinn and Greg Palast.  All apologies to one of the greatest American institutions, but I was realizing that a show featuring jazz just wasn’t for me.

Enter “Music For Activists,” inspired by a CD of the same name by my childhood friend, Kevin Casper, who was living in Topenga, CA at the time.  This incarnation continued for some years, and while I got a lot of positive feedback regarding the political nature of my show, I grew wary of the “preaching to the choir” feeling I got on a weekly basis.  This was coupled with the increasing demands on me from my growing family, which seriously impacted the amount of time I had to “produce” each show in advance, an obvious requirement of a show based in any way on current events.

Nonetheless, I kept the name.  Meanwhile, listeners wondered aloud to me why there wasn’t  more of an activist slant to the music.  Apparently, since I wasn’t playing Joan Baez, I wasn’t playing true “activist” music.

So I changed my name again, this time more subtly.  Now i would be “Music and Activists,” which I felt relieved a bit of the stress to play music FOR activists.  And besides, I like to think that all of the musicians I feature are activists, if not in the traditional sense, then in the sense that they are actively creating and influencing listeners.

This name lasted until now, when I feel that a change is once again in order to reflect my new activism–farming.

When I started at the station years ago, I was rather unsure of the career path I had (not) chosen for myself.  I was three years out of school with an English degree, the aforementioned family was growing, and all I really enjoyed was working outside.  So I started a landscaping business.  I was able to work really hard for most of the year, but there was a forced vacation waiting at the end of the season.  Kind of like teaching, which my mom always wanted me to do, but around the holidays when I wanted to spend more time with family and enjoy my cozy home.

Fast forward about 7 years. I found myself still landscaping, but much of the commercial and new construction work on which I had depended started to wain.  We had purchased an old farmhouse (1893) and five acres of land in rural Union Co. in 2005.  Our modest garden was growing, and I had many visions of the homestead that would feed us, literally and spiritually.

Then i found a book that would change the course of my life.  It was called,”The Botany Of Desire,” by Michael Pollan, and it gave me a whole new perspective on plants.  I began to really think about growing food and the positive impact it had on my life.  This led me to another book of his, called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,”  which focused more on the environmental advantages of local food, and called into question the serious implications of continuing on the same path of ecological destruction through our ag practices.

Within months, Sarah and I began discussing a career change.  Later that year, we formed Frontwards Farm, and began growing food for other folks.  This past summer we began marketing through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), in which members buy into the farm for the season, and receive regular deliveries of produce.  Not only has this led to many new friends and a real connection to them, but it has given us a way to sustain our farm financially while competing with large farms around the world that rely on volume and mass transportation to deliver their food at a very competitive price.

So,what exactly does this have to do with WDBX.  Like many DJs, who I am is who you get on the air.  While I have considered on air monikers and other ideas to “conceal” myself, I have always decided to just be myself.  And this new name is very much about who I am.

The name is “Full Circle,” and it is meant to celebrate not only the days and seasons of nature, but the cyclical elements of all of our lives, elements which I fear are being lost in a wave of technology and a seemingly global desire to be connected via said technology.  Not only do I recognize the knowledge and accomplishments of those who have come before, I embrace them wholeheartedly as an essential part of continued life on this planet.  But as our farm motto (Rooted in the past, growing for the future) suggests, I believe that we must put to use these past accomplishments  in a way that makes sense for the changing world, and accepts the speed at which change is happening.

Life is fragile, youth is fleeting, but if you pay attention and remember the lessons you have learned, you just might be lucky enough to take a few extra trips around the sun.



Whirled Peas Café Radio Playlist: November 8, 2010

Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice

This week we celebrated Native American Heritage Month with a sampling of songs from Brulé & American Indian Rock Opera (aka AIRO). They mix native rhythms and themes with a modern rock vibe to render songs that are fresh yet rooted in the familiar. Yes, Native American culture is still alive and vibrant. Thankfully so!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I always become aware of all of the things that I am thankful for. Gratitude is a wonderful thing. November gives us an excuse to express those sentiments out loud. I shared some on the air this week which prompted me to start a list. I am hoping that it grows longer than I could possibly read on the air. The point is that the awareness of so much good in my life has such a magnificent impact on my day. If I can share that with you, the rest are just details.

Lizz Wright is out with a new album, Fellowship. I sampled three tracks off of it. The album reaches back to her roots, growing up as a preacher’s daughter in Georgia. It’s a heavy dose of the Spiritual and Gospel. But true to Lizz, her interpretation is what makes it holy. She has taken songwriters as diverse as Angelique Kidjo, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Me’Shell N’Degeocello and Gloria Griffin and taken their songs to church. A man of God once told me, “there is no such thing as spiritual life; there is just life. It’s either all sacred or none of it is.” Listening to this album makes me a believer in that.

Were Baba Wefe (Prayer for Travelers) JJ  Keki & Family
Oya Lizz Wright
In From The Storm Lizz Wright
Stomp Dance Brulé

Tom Traubert’s Blues Tom Waits
Shanti Laderoute
At This Point In My Life Tracy Chapman
Lonesome Whistle Little Feat
Tavake Taumafua Polynesian Cultural Center
Tears of Rage Bob Dylan & The Band
Walk Through the Bottomland Lyle Lovett & Emmylou Harris

Mon Dieu Edith Piaf
Nancy Whiskey Belfast Gin
Amazing Grace Lizz Wright
Buffalo Moon Brulé
Midnight Lullaby Tom Waits
When Doves Cry Patti Smith Flavio Y Sus Complices Tu Siempre Seras
Spirit Horses Brulé
Hello Bonjour Michael Franti & Spearhead

Mowbray Kaap Freshlyground
Nobody Knows Me Lyle Lovett

Whirled Peas Café Radio Playlist: November 1, 2010

Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice

Special guest, Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Herman stopped by the studio on the way to class this Monday morning. Betsy and I talked of our experiences in her bi-weekly writing group.  Betsy hosts us through her Vital Writer Services. We’ve been warming up for a couple of months now: practicing our free writing by suspending our inner critic’s voice and getting that pen to glide across the paper. We spend every other Sunday night, reading a short piece on writing, free writing for 10-15 minutes, sharing our writing, and giving feedback on each other’s work. We cap things off with a vegetarian potluck. Not too late to join in. By joining the Vital Writer Services Facebook page, we are notified of the next session.

What better way to kick off November, or NaNoWriMo? For the uninitiated (which included me last year), NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is the annual challenge to write an entire novel (sans editing) in merely 30 days. The important thing is to get pen to paper on a regular basis. To quote an artist on a recent Charlie Rose episode, “Inspiration is for amateurs.” This gets your butt in the chair. There is power in numbers. And there are plenty of resources and encouragement available on the NaNoWriMo website.  A handful of us from Betsy’s writers group have also pledged to take the challenge. A friend told me of a group that is meeting at Longbranch as well. It is everyone’s dream, so go ahead and make it your reality!

What I’ve been listening to this week:

This week’s playlist has me visiting an old friend, Patti Smith. I think I bought my first album of hers (yes, vinyl) back in the mid 70’s or so. She is paired with another strong poetic female voice, Gin Wigmore. Gin is a newcomer and a product from a vibrant and eclectic New Zealand music scene. Note: I played Dancing Barefoot from my own music library, not off of youtube for the broadcast show. The video below has a few FCC flagged words in it, but the performance of nonviolent communication skills makes this version my choice for the blog.

Hallelujah Gin Wigmore
These Roses Gin Wigmore
When I Write the Book Nick Lowe

Wrapped In the Arms of Another Susan Tedeschi
What a Wonderful World Louis Armstrong
Love Is a Rose Neil Young
Dancing Barefoot (Remastered) Patti Smith

Early Autumn Raya Yarbrough
True Believer Aimee Mann
Distant Fingers (Demo) Patti Smith
Trotto Liz Knowles
Wish I Could Be That Strong Coco Montoya
Goin’ to Acapulco Bob Dylan & The Band
Protons, Neutrons, Electrons The Cat Empire
Trip, Stumble & Fall Coco Montoya
Sweet Relief One Fell Swoop
Perfect Imperfection Little Feat
S.O.S. Gin Wigmore

Stoppin The Love KT Tunstall
You Don’t Know Me Ray Charles
Will the Circle Be Unbroken Mavis Staples
Angel from Montgomery Susan Tedeschi

Bonus Track:

What Music Is Supposed To Do {Whirled Peas Café Radio}

Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice

“Popular Afropop band Freshlyground have had their visas to perform in Zimbabwe revoked. This, after their Robert Mugabe spoof video for Chicken to Change, a collaboration with the ZA News team, upset the delicate constitution of the Zimbabwean ruling party. This effectively bans them from performing in the country for the foreseeable future,” according to Lisa Van Wyk’s Sept. 15th article for the Mail & Gardian Online, “What Music Is Supposed To Do”.

From Whirled Peas Café Radio’s first show on June 1st this summer, Freshlyground has been in heavy rotation on the playlist. The initial excuse for playing them was the World Cup when I dedicated the month of June to African music. I had already “discovered” the charms of Freshlyground, when I realized that they were included in Shakira’s Waka Waka Official World Cup video. The World Cup song I favor is the free download, I Am an African.

Doo Be Doo

Doo Be Doo got them notice in South Africa seven years ago when they were an up and coming band. It has a feel good vibe and focuses on the dream of a world that could be. Craftsmanship and quality are not subverted to serve the political message…and yet they still manage to have some infectious fun. This is precisely what I strive for on the Whirled Peas Café Radio. Without the elements of whimsy, art and humor, the “good fight” loses energy and vibrancy. This doesn’t mean that the message is diluted, just that it is easier to actually hear and, thereby, easier create the change we want to see in our world.

Pot Belly

The Freshlyground musical portfolio does not only contain the overtly political. Pot Belly is a simple but fun video that speaks a universal language of self acceptance and self worth. In the context of South Africa, which has so recently shed the bonds of a cruel and unjust apartheid system, the video images speak volumes as they reverberate on so many more subtler levels. That to me is the definition of literature, and the brilliance of authors like Mark Twain who are at once revolutionary and accessible. And it bears repeating for the joy of  finding ever more connections. And did I mention that it is just plain adorable?

I’d Like

This is actually the second video made for I’d Like. Although I find both charming, the first one was an earlier recording before the band had the luxury of better equipment and production. The first version bespeaks of a surreal dream world that smitten lovers can find themselves in. The later version is more elegant and poignant. I chose it not only for the superior musical quality, but because it speaks to the versatility of Freshlyground’s expression. It is easy to see why Kyla Rose is becoming everyone’s sweetheart. Zolani had our hearts from Doo Be Doo.


Nomvula is  Xhosa, translated as “after the rain.” Zolani is a native speaker of Xhosa, but also boasts an ability to sing and speak an astonishingly array of languages from African dialects to European. She is the lyricist of most of their original works. Although not a word of Xhosa is intelligible to me, her voice makes me understand on a core-of-my-being level. I find the frequent mix of English, French, and Xhosa as wonderfully rich as the interplay of bass guitar with classical violin and classical flute with mbira. Meet the Band!

One of the greatest pleasures I’ve experienced since Whirled Peas Café Radio has gone on the air is the discovery of wonderful “new-to-me” music. Freshlyground is one of many, and many more to come. One of the perks of my community profiles is that I ask my guests to bring in, at the very least, a handful of their favorites so I can stretch my own musical boundaries. Now, this blog also gives an opportunity for listeners to comment and share their finds and favorites. Please do so. WDBX is, after all, YOUR community radio station for Southern Illinois. At Whirled Peas Café Radio, we aim to provide “Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice.” Participate and become a member!

Membership Drive

Howdy folks,

Have you just discovered WDBX? If so, I have a suggestion. Listen all you can to the station for just one week. You will hear an amazing array of music and information that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the radio dial in southern Illinois and in fact is pretty rare across the country. You will find your favorite shows and can write down the best times to listen. You can also listen online.

Why don’t you begin by tuning in Wednesday night at 6:30pm for “Back to Bluegrass?” Foghorn & Johnny Mango take you through some of the best tunes in the genre. This is one of the most popular and longest running shows on the station. Don’t like bluegrass? You’ve got to be kidding! Everybody loves bluegrass. Give us a shot and call in to become a member. It just takes ten bucks. Now, “Back to Bluegrass!”