Public Radio Music Day Thursday, Apr 16 2020 

Today we’re celebrating the first-ever annual Public Radio Music Day together with 91.9 WFPK! Hosted by the noncomMUSIC Alliance, Public Radio Music Day is a nationwide celebration uniting public radio music stations, fans, artists and other members of the music industry to celebrate and spread the word about the special role noncommercial stations play in […]

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“A Black and White Night”: Film Review Podcast Friday, Mar 27 2020 

So, among the blessings in these strange and perilous times are the many musical events that can be watched on the interweb.

Just last night, I watched an entire concert of my favorite group, Tedeschi Trucks Band, from last fall at the Beacon Theater. They were smokin’ hot, and I actually was up and dancing during some of the tunes.

(Feel free to close your eyes at that the virtual visual, but it’s a moment to savor these days when we can be carefree.)

So, I thought of a concert film you might not know about.

“A Black and White Night” is a Roy Orbison made for TV gig, filmed in late ’87, and first shown the following January.

It is evocatively shot in, duh, high contrast black and white, adding to the panache.

His back up band is arguably as star studded a contingent as there’s ever been. I name names in the podcast below.

Orbison’s an icon from the first wave of rock & roll, but his voice was still in fine fettle decades later.

It’s available online, but you’re going to have to listen to the podcast to find out where. (See what I’m doing here, nodding like the woman in the H&R Block advert to my podcast link below.)

For more details, listen, you know, down below. It’s a great set of live music from one of the greats.

Audio MP3

“Once Were Brothers”: Film Review Podcast Tuesday, Mar 3 2020 

Saugerties, NY: 1968. The Band behind Big Pink‚ Easter Sunday, West Saugerties. Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm. ©Elliott Landy / The Image Works

I was chatting up some guy I didn’t know in the hallway before the beginning of the reunion concert I saw with Dylan and The Band in Bloomington in ’74.

The guy was talking about how “Dylan was OK,” but he was really there to see The Band.

I, of course, ever wise, and full with my own opinionation, dismissed his utterance as foolishness.

Upon further contemplation through the decades, I, like many, have come to understand the transcendence of The Band’s music and place within the pantheon of rock & roll.

Of course, they’re not Dylan. Then again, they’re a cut above and more significant than just about everybody else in the rock era.

“Once Were Brothers” is a Robbie Robertson-centric documentary about the group’s origins and demise. Lots of great footage. Some interesting interviews, especially with Ronnie Hawkins.

If you care about rock & roll, it is to be seen.

For more, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

Blake’s Take on the Billboard’s 5 hottest songs of 2019 Wednesday, Jan 22 2020 

By Blake Wedding–

A new decade has begun and with it the promise of new music. If you want a clue of the sounds the music industry will be heavily investing in over the next ten years then look no further than last year. 

Every year, Billboard compiles a list of the most popular songs of the year. Throughout much of 2019, trap rap largely reigned supreme as the prevailing cultural zeitgeist. It seems indefinite at this point that trap rap will carry on into the next decade (which is not necessarily a bad thing), though this past year did see some interesting new developments in the realms of electropop, pop rap, emo rap and R&B. 

2019 was in many ways a turning point for the music industry. Artists that were once indie veterans began to see stunning levels of exposure. The best way to summarize much of what made 2019 such a peculiar year for music is by looking back at Billboard’s top 5 hottest songs of the year.

5. Post Malone – “Wow.”  

It’s nearly impossible to discuss the modern trap-rap landscape without mentioning Post Malone. Over the latter half of the 2010s, Post Malone became hip-hop’s most unlikely shining star.

As it turns out, “Wow.” is a track that attempts to reconcile for the highs and lows of abrupt and massive fame. It’s a pop-rap song filled with predictable albeit catchy production, ranging from trap-inspired hi-hats, to booming 808s.

The instrumentation here adds character to Post Malone’s lyrics, which seek to answer the skeptics and critics who have been asking the same question for years regarding his place in the spectrum of modern hip-hop: “Why him?”

4. Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” 

No conversation surrounding music in 2019 would be complete without mentioning Billie Eilish. For a while, it seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Eilish’s voice. Many have argued that Eilish’s place in the music business is unearned, but the creative spirit of her music speaks for itself.

She is an artist clearly indebted to her influences, however, she has also carved her own niche. Before her sudden rise to stardom, there was no one in the music world that sounded like Eilish.

Compare that to where we are at the beginning of this new decade, and it’s quite clear that Eilish’s unique form of hushed, moody vocals and downbeat production have already influenced countless new artists. 

3. Halsey – “Without Me”

Halsey’s single “Without Me” is a perfectly serviceable example of pop music at its catchiest, but does that catchiness translate to it being one of the standout songs of the year?

“Without Me” does have an interesting message with relatable lyrics. However, it’s the musicianship, production and vocals on “Without Me” that disappoint.

Halsey is an admirable artist in pop music, but that doesn’t change the fact that her approach and style comes across so painfully average and tedious. Her nasally vocals don’t quite fit the caliber of what you might call one of the most noteworthy songs of the year.

Furthermore, there are more interesting and forward-thinking female voices in pop music: Lana Del Rey, Grimes, Charli XCX, Angel Olsen, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish are all female artists doing more interesting things and propelling the genre forward in a more thought-provoking manner.

4. Post Malone & Swae Lee – “Sunflower” 

The only artist with two contributions to this list, Post Malone, comes back firing on all cylinders with one of his best singles to date.

“Sunflower” is actually a song that released back in late 2018, coinciding with the Marvel animated film, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” The fact that “Sunflower” managed to stay as relevant as it did should stand as a testament for how great this song really is.

Switching gears after getting famous from rapping about beer bongs and Bentleys, Post Malone proves that not only can he rap proficiently and play a number of instruments, but he can also sing.

“Sunflower” is the type of gloriously upbeat, seemingly carefree sounding song that we needed in 2019.

5. Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus – Old Town Road

It seems like most people spent 2019 either listening to “Old Town Road” on repeat, or they spent it praising Lil Nas X for having the bravery to attempt to bridge the gap between rap and country music. It’s easy for many people to write off “Old Town Road” as a simple, derivative and all-too-ordinary trap-rap ‘banger,’ but it is a song that accomplishes so much more than that.

It was a song that was able to get airtime on several traditionalist country music radio stations. Not only that, it effortlessly questioned many of the ties that bind us to particular genres of music. All of this goes without mentioning the incredible hook on “Old Town Road,” which helped shape it into one of the catchiest and grooviest songs of the decade.

It even brought Billy Ray Cyrus back into the limelight.

Love it or hate it, “Old Town Road” was 2019 in many ways. I don’t think anyone could ever argue that. 

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Jazz band’s first year performance goes off without a hitch Thursday, Jan 16 2020 

By Kyla Thomas —

The University of Louisville Jazz band had their first performance of the new year Jan. 10, and they surely started off with a bang.

With several upbeat selections and a few slow jams, the concert was a delight to all in attendance.

Junior english major Brady Alexander said, “I had always heard about how good our music program was, and I decided to give it a shot today. I was blown away by how great they sounded, as well as how professional they all seem. I hope that the people in the band that want to pursue a career in music have success, they deserve it.”

Students of the music school loved the performance as well, especially because they appreciate how much work goes into a performance like that. Freshman music school student Zoey Mullins sang the band’s praises too.

“As someone who’s in the music school, I know how much work goes into having the perfect piece, and to have such a good concert, you can really tell how much effort everyone put in,” Mullins said. “They really should be proud.” 

The School of Music has a calendar for all their upcoming events this semester on the university website. Other events coming up are a concert hosted by students in the electronic music program on Jan. 15 and the Music eX Series on Jan. 19.  

File Photo// The Louisville Cardinal

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New Music Festival allows audience to experience music in new ways Friday, Nov 22 2019 

By Zoe Watkins —

Last week, the University of Louisville’s School of Music held their fall New Music Festival with a plethora of concerts highlighting unique forms of music.

The festival began in 1998 to show how music can be made in creative and innovative ways. Students would take classic pieces and interpret them in a way that was unique and modern for the current time.

This year’s New Music Festival included all different types of concerts with performances from the University Percussion Ensemble, the Faculty Chamber concert, the New Music Ensemble, the Longleash trio and the Elysian Trombone Quarter.

Krysztof Wołek, director for the Electronic Music Concert, said the pieces chosen were classics of the electronic medium. “They were the first pieces that really did take the medium to larger forms,” he said. “They used technology of the times to the full extent.”

The final event of the week was the Electronic Music Concert.

Most of the pieces played during the performance were from when electronic music was just being introduced to the music world. During the performance, the pieces “Bicycle Built for Two” by Harry Dacre, “Gesang der Jünglinge im Feuerofen” by Karlheinz Stockhausen, “Symphonie pour un homme seul” by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, “Bye Bye Butterfly” by Pauline Oliveros and “Silver Apples of the Moon” by Morton Subotnick were played.

Derek Carter, third year graduate student and event organizer, said they chose these pieces was because they act as a staple to the electronic music world.

“Pretty much everyone on this program made a large contribution to tape music. They’re kind of like the grandfathers and grandmothers of this genre so we’re paying homage to them,” Carter mentioned.

In an interesting twist all five pieces are a live spatialization of themselves.

“So essentially, we are going to be playing these pieces through all of these speakers in the hall and we’re going to be sending the audio to different speakers, so you can hear the sound move around,” Carter explained.

First year graduate student Gunner Basinger included a lot of the spatialization element in his interpretation of “Bye Bye Butterfly”.

“There was a moment where there was a recording where a full orchestra comes in and I tried to reserve that moment for fading all of the faders in and so that moment would hit louder for example,” Basinger said.

Though there was a lot of memorizing and trying to find focal points, he found it to be a great lesson in acoustics and how sound diffracts in a space. “I love the event, it was fantastic. I think it is great that U of L is doing an electronic music concerts,” Basinger exclaimed.

If you didn’t have time to make it to this semester’s New Music Festival, there will be another one held in the spring for people to see how many other ways music can be adapted.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal

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“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice”: Review & Podcast Thursday, Oct 10 2019 

Upon full contemplation, there really has never been anybody quite like Linda Ronstadt in the rock & roll era.

Her truly transcendent voice.

Her personality.

Her intelligence.

Her many worthy collaborations.

And, yes, her looks. (So sue me if it bothers you that I’ve mentioned that.)

She has been plagued with Parkinson’s which cut her career short, but which disease she confronts with admirable perspective.

It’s all set out in this entertaining documentary.

For more details about Ms. Ronstadt and this film, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

NuLu Fest Returns Sept. 28 Monday, Sep 23 2019 

Now in its 11th year, the newly expanded festival will take place on September 28th in the 600 – 900 blocks of East Market Street in Downtown, Louisville. NuLu Fest 2019 is presented by Royal’s Hot Chicken, Feast BBQ, and bar Vetti. This year’s event will feature two stages that will ‘book-end’ East Market St, with even more local entertainment and live music throughout the day provided by sonoBLAST! Records.

This year’s lineup includes; Fredrick The Younger, The Fervor, Tyrone Cotton, Tyler Lance Walker Gill, Carly Johnson, Bridge 19, Beware The Images, and a performance from Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School. Additionally, we will have local DJs playing throughout the day and night starting at 1:30pm in the Green Building Lot. This year’s DJ lineup includes; DJ Joe Dubb, Blythe & Lisa of The Spinsters Union of Louisville, DJ Hi-Def, and Sam Sneed.

NuLu Fest 2019 will also feature expanded offerings of bourbon, beer, and other spirits.

Our Nulu Bourbon Row will feature specialty bourbon bars from Four Roses, Bulleit, and Michter’s.

The Kentucky Guild of Brewers Beer Garden features West Sixth Brewing, Against The Grain, Falls City Beer, Goodwood Brewing Co., Milewide Beer Co., Akasha Brewing Co., and Gordon Biersch.

Other specialty bars include a Nouvelle Bar & Bottle curated wine bar. Rabbit Hole Gin, La Crema Wine, Nulu Tequila, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka will all be offered at our two new Premium Bars located near each stage, in addition to Four Roses Bourbon, West Sixth Brewing Co., and Against The Grain.

Focusing on local and regional original businesses. The festival runs from 11:00am – 11:00am and the family-friendly event as always is free and open to the public. In addition to live music the festival features numerous food and retail booths by local vendors, activities for all ages and a Kid’s Area from 11am until 5pm that will be located on Shelby Street.

There will be an official NuLu Fest After Party at TAJ Louisville following the event.

NuLu Fest is proudly sponsored by those mentioned above as well as; Park Community Credit Union, Jagermeister, Garage Bar, Louisville Downtown Partnership, Red Bull, Louisville Public Media, Jeb Advertising, Smith Creek, Le Leche, Red Tree, WestRock, Sunny Acres Farm, Cityspace Self Storage, and MPerfect.

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U of L professor blows away the audience with trumpet performance Friday, Sep 20 2019 

By Victoria Harris —

A steady stream of students and adults filed into Comstock Hall Sept. 10, each one ready and waiting for Reese Land, an associate professor of trumpet at the University of Louisville to step on stage.

Land, who also directs the trumpet ensemble and has performed with artists such as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Mannheim Steamroller and Joshua Bell, performed in Carnegie Hall with the Eastern High School Band in 2015.

The concert began not on the stage, but on the upper level by the organ. Land opened his recital with “Sonata in D for Trumpet,” accompanied by Jim McFarland, a former director of music ministries at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

“Sonata in D for Trumpet” is a rousing three-movement piece, the third of which, “Vivace,” certainly lives up to its title. Land’s fingers were a whirl of motion, as he kept beat-for-beat with exact precision.

The concert may have only lasted about an hour, but time seemed to have stood still. Post-intermission, Land was accompanied by pianist Krista Wallace-Boaz.

Wallace-Boaz is an associate dean and professor of pedagogy and piano and assistant dean for student programs. She has performed in Belgium as a guest of the Belgian Grand Consulate.

It was in the second half of the performance that Land displayed his dexterity and breath control as he spouted runs that would make another trumpeter sweat bullets, courtesy of “Andante and Capriccio for Trumpet and Piano.”

The program closed with “The Debutante,” a piece with so many adagio to allegro tempo changes, it was like watching a tennis match. Adagio means to slow down, and allegro means to speed up in a piece.

As the evening ended, Land received, not one, but two standing ovations, prompting him to give a second bow.

The crowd was buzzing with energy after the performance, once again breaking out into cheers when Land exited Comstock Hall to its atrium.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal

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PBS’s “Country Music”: Review & Podcast Friday, Sep 20 2019 

It would seem to me that to call Ken Burns an American treasure would be understatement.

The fellow has provided history and cultural perspective on any number of topics through the decades with his excellently crafted PBS documentaries.

The Vietnam War.

Jazz.

The Civil War.

To name but three.

He, along with c0-producer Dayton Duncan, have done it again.

This time the subject matter is the history and evolution and importance of Country Music.

It is 16 hours long, divided into 8 two-hour episodes. The first four aired last Sunday through Wednesday. The final four shall commence for four straight nights, starting this Sunday evening. The series can also be streamed through the middle of October at pbs.org.

It’s a brilliant piece of documentary filmmaking, and a must see for all music fans.

For more insight on the series, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

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