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Nuns Who Rock

Posted May 19, 2014 by | 0 Comments

Back in 1963 there was an improbable hit song by a French sister, The Singing Nun, called “Dominique”.
But she couldn’t hold a candle to a another singing nun, a 25 year old Sicilian named Sister Cristina Scuccia. Perhaps it’s happening–I mean a nun really getting down–because of the new open-minded Pope Francis. Whatever the reason, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. She belts …

Featured, Headline, Music Phenomena, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #52: Songs About Food, Glorious Food

Posted May 16, 2014 by | 0 Comments

When I heard Jon Favreau and his music supervisor, KCRW’s resident Frenchman Mathieu Schreyer, on MBE earlier this week I was inspired to do a show featuring songs about food. The new film Chef is a hit and the soundtrack is great. It made me think of  another Frenchman, the great Enlightenment philosopher Voltaine’s comment about eating:
“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and …

Featured, MBE Archive, Music History, Recollections »

Russian Rock: Then and Now

Posted May 14, 2014 by | 0 Comments

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 …

Featured, Music Evolution, RIP »

RIP: Juan Formell and Dennis Kamakahi

Posted May 12, 2014 by | 0 Comments
juan formell

Two more musical giants have passed. Dennis Kamakahi, called the “Ambassador of Aloha”, died from lung cancer at 61. He was part and parcel of the Hawaiian renaissance that began in the 1970s, when cultural traditions were saved from extinction and celebrated again. He was a master of the slack key guitar; the guitar was brought to Hawai’i in the 1800s by Mexican cowboys, …

Featured, Headline, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #51: Eclectic New Releases

Posted May 9, 2014 by | 4 Comments

As I’ve been covering Cape Verdean music for the past few weeks, my record bag has been filling up with a ton of new releases. Here is the first batch for your review.
We start with Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa with Michael Nyman‘s lovely piano music for the film The Piano. After that, we listen to a duet between young fado sensation Carminho and Brazilian …

Audiophiles, Featured, Music Evolution, Music Phenomena »

CDs and Vinyl: An Odd Pas de Deux

Posted May 7, 2014 by | 1 Comment

When CDs started coming out in the early 1980s, they promised everything: cleaner sound, no surface noise, easier to use, more convenient. Early CDs also enabled record companies to resell their existing catalog, at higher prices of course, and sell the hardware to play it. Some of the early recordings eliminated the tape hiss inherent in analog recordings, ruining the upper octaves, harmonics, and …

Featured, Music Phenomena »

Music, The Mind and Me

Posted May 5, 2014 by | 2 Comments

Last November, I gave a short speech at the fifth annual fundraiser for an interesting organization called the Institute for Neuro-Innovation (INI). This non-profit is dedicated to brain research in an effort to fight Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, and other neurological diseases. It was started by Dr. Amir Vokshoor, a busy and gifted LA-based neurosurgeon. After he witnessed his father’s sad decline because of Alzheimer’s, he decided …

Cape Verde, Featured, Headline, New Releases, Performances & Events, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #50: Music of Cape Verde (Rising Stars)

Posted May 2, 2014 by | 1 Comment

Last week we listened to “The Classics”; this week, we check out the newer acts that constantly refresh the Cape Verde music scene with new talent. Our “Rising Stars” edition begins with Sara Tavares, who was my favorite artist performing at the Kriol Jazz Festival in Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde. I loved her earlier album Balancê; after that she was off the scene with …

Cape Verde, Featured, Headline, Music History, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #49: Music of Cape Verde (The Classics)

Posted April 25, 2014 by | 1 Comment

I just spent 9 days in Praia, capital of Santiago, the biggest island in the Cape Verde chain. I went there to visit the Atlantic Music Expo and the Kriol Jazz Festival, and was invited because I’ve championed Cesaria Evora’s music for 20+ years. It was a delight and an honor.
This show focuses on 4 different musical styles as well as the music of …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Music Phenomena »

Easter Island’s Only Concert Pianist

Posted April 23, 2014 by | 0 Comments

I recently saw a BBC feature by a Santiago-based correspondent on a young woman named Mahani Teave who is Easter Island’s only classical pianist. These are the type of stories I find truly inspiring.
When you think of this remote and isolated South Pacific island, you normally think of moai, those huge stone figures whose origins and presence have mystified people for a long time. …

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