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RIP: Manitas de Plata, “A Great and Savage Artist” (1921–2014)

Posted November 10, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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“A great and savage artist” were the words John Steinbeck once used to describe gypsy guitarist, Ricardo Baliardo, better known as “Manitas de Plata” for his “little silver hands.” Born in 1921 to a traveling gypsy caravan in the Camargue region of southern France, de Plata never learned to read or write (he was tasked with begging as a child), but was a self-taught …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show, RIP »

Show #64: Remembering Charlie Haden (1937–2014)

Posted July 18, 2014 by | 6 Comments
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Charlie Haden died last Friday at the age of 77. He had contracted polio as a teenager in Springfield, Missouri, and the dreaded disease returned in 2011 like Faust from Hell.
Charlie was a great friend of KCRW. He probably visited both myself and Chris Douridas at least 30 times on Morning Becomes Eclectic. But he didn’t want us just to play his music; he …

MBE Archive, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Russian Rock: Then and Now

Posted May 14, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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I was Music Director of KCRW and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic during the 1980s and we did regular programs featuring the latest in Soviet-era Russian pop and rock music. Back then, the Cold War was alive and well, with Reagan and Brezhnev regularly rattling their swords. Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny once told me that as a kid in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, he played near …

Artist Spotlight, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP »

Remembering Ronald Shannon Jackson

Posted March 24, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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Jazz drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson passed away in October of 2013. He was a powerful drummer in a band that broke down a lot of barriers and blended many genres of music: The Decoding Society. The Decoding Society was more edgy, funky, driving. Looking in my KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic archives and there is my aircheck of an interview I did with him on September …

Artist Spotlight, MBE Archive, Music History »

Nelson Mandela’s Niece Brenda Fassie & Joy

Posted December 16, 2013 by | 1 Comment
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One of the rarest album in the KCRW library (and mine as well) is a 1984 12″ single by a South African group called Joy, lead by Brenda Fassie, late niece of Nelson Mandela. It was issued by Island Publishing but never became available commercially. Perhaps because it was a cover of a big pop song by Vangelis and Jon Anderson? I don’t really …

African, MBE Archive, Music History, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #34: Celebrating Nelson Mandela

Posted December 13, 2013 by | 2 Comments
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I was music director of KCRW (1979-1991) we had a dedicated African show (The African Beat) and often featured African music on other programs as well. We gathered South African music wherever we could: from Jo’Burg’s Kohinoor Store, from a woman named Di Brukin who brought us the latest SA grooves when KCRW was still on the John Adams Middle School Campus in 1981-1984. …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Interviews, MBE Archive, Music History »

Leonard Cohen: 1988 Interview & New Biography

Posted November 18, 2013 by | 0 Comments
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I interviewed Leonard Cohen in 1988, shortly after his reappearance–he had retired both from music and from the world. He had a best-selling album called I’m Your Man. This interview appeared in my first book, Stolen Moments: Conversations with Contemporary Musicians (Acrobat Books, 1988).
A 2013 biography of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons is now a best-seller: I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. …

MBE Archive, Music History, New Releases, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Eek-A-Mouse and KCRW’s Reggae Beat Show

Posted October 9, 2013 by | 2 Comments
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I started as Music Director and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic in July, 1979. The first show I put on was the Reggae Beat, which soon became the most popular weekend show at the station.  Roger Steffens and Hank Holmes, the co-hosts, had come to me that fall with some colorfully and carefully-illustrated cassette demo tapes. It didn’t take long for me to put them on the air …

MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #16: Overlooked Unusual Songs, Part 1

Posted August 9, 2013 by | 1 Comment
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As I’ve said before, I’m always so busy listening to new albums that some real gems tend to be forgotten or neglected. This week, Rhythm Planet shows the love for some long-form pieces and pop pieces in a part 1 of a 2 part series. Some of these pieces run 20-30 minutes so for interests of space and time I had to excerpt them–no way …

Jazz, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Intro Notes on Nina Simone from 7/5 Grand Performances

Posted July 9, 2013 by | 0 Comments
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I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Nina Simone and over time becoming friends with her. I have never met a more talented or complicated person in my life.
Nina could be little girl blue; she could also be—like she was on her second visit to Morning Becomes Eclectic–an angry, tempestuous diva who referred to herself as Dr. Simone, in the third person. That …

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