Live and Local
Michael Lasser is a writer, critic, teacher and host of the nationally syndicated radio program Fascinatin’ Rhythm. He grew up in New Jersey in the shadow of Broadway, and the theater and its songs have been in his blood ever since. Lasser has written a new book called America’s Songs II: Songs from the 1890s to the Post-War Years, and on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local,” we’ll visit for part two of a conversation sharing more great stories about more great songs.
Several years ago, Philip Furia and Michael Lasser published a book called America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley. As you might expect, there were far too many songs to choose from. So Michael Lasser wrote a sequel, America’s Songs II: Songs from the 1890s to the Post-War Years. Michael will be my guest on the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of “Live and Local,” sharing wonderful stories about some great songs.
Chris Maden is a recent transplant to Champaign-Urbana, by way of seafaring towns like San Francisco; Providence, Rhode Island; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Along the way, he picked up a serious fascination for sea shanties and other music of the waterways. He hosts a monthly shanty sing in Urbana, and he'll be my guest on the Monday edition of "Live and Local." I'll also talk with cellist Jessica Ivry of the Real Vocal String Quartet, who will play in Urbana Sunday and in Charleston next Tuesday.
Jeff Coffin is a saxophonist, bandleader, composer and educator, three-time Grammy winner with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and now playing with the Dave Matthews Band. He’ll play in Urbana Saturday night, and he’ll be my guest on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” We’ll spend most of the hour with filmmaker Johnny Robinson, whose new film, The Garden of Chloe, will feature music performed by the Almost “A” Quintet, who will play for us live in the studio.
Jim Malcolm has been called “the ultimate Scots troubadour” and “one of the finest singers in Scotland in any style.” He played for years with the Celtic folk/rock band Old Blind Dogs but now works solo, performing his own well-crafted songs and the traditional songs of Scotland. He’s also a highly regarded interpreter of the songs of Robert Burns. Jim Malcolm will play in Urbana on Sunday, and he’ll be my guest on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.”
Frederick Hemke retired two years ago after fifty years as professor of saxophone at Northwestern University, my alma mater. He’s been called a legend among classical saxophonists, for his playing, for advancing the sax as a solo classical instrument and for teaching hundreds of students, many of whom teach and perform throughout the world. Dr. Hemke will play a new concerto at the University of Illinois Thursday night, and he’ll be my guest on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.”
Everybody loves Good Ol’ Charlie Brown, the star of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip, which ran for nearly fifty years and has been called “the longest story ever told by one human being.” The 1967 musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and its 1999 revival involves six of Schulz’s characters, played by adults. The show is the first production of the season for the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company, and we’ll hear a live preview on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.” I'll also talk with Syrian musician and composer Essam Rafea, who will give a solo oud performance in Urbana on Wednesday.
The University of Illinois will host the biennial national conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance—or NASA— March 20 to 23. Featured artists will include legends of the classical saxophone as well as renowned jazz saxophonists, with evening concerts and daytime events on the campus in Urbana. We’ll hear details about the conference, and a bit about the sax, from NASA co-hosts Debra Richtmeyer and J. Michael Holmes on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
The New York City-based piano-bass-drums trio The Bad Plus call their music “avant-garde populism.” They create inventive originals and imaginative covers of music by Nirvana, Neil Young, Ornette Coleman, and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The Bad Plus will play in Urbana this weekend, and they’ll join me on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” Also, live in our studio, we’ll hear the Sutphin and Levy southern fiddle-banjo duo, who play in Urbana Friday night.
This weekend, Millikin University will host the Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival, with participants able to take part in sectionals, guitar orchestra rehearsals, master classes and nightly performances. The Guitar Festival will present as its featured guest artists Duo Melis, who are Spanish guitarist Susano Prieto and Greek guitarist Alexis Muzurakis. I’ll be privileged to speak with both on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.”
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