Audio Specials


Robert Cray Interview

Robert Cray of The Robert Cray Band recently joined Morning Mix host Joey Spehar to talk about the band’s new album In My Soul which released April 1st. Cray is an American blues musician and this most recent record definitely shows it off. Robert tells us that the band didn’t set out with the intention to sound like their final product does, but after each member added their own ideas and material to the table, In My Soul became a “rockin’ soul record.”Producer, Steve Jordan worked with The Robert Cray Band for the third time and had a great deal of influence on the sound of In My Soul. “The way he likes to record would be like if you’re using tape, which isn’t so affordable these days but we can almost approximate that sound,” says Cray. He also adds that Jordan’s vintage amps and microphones allow the music to have a warm sound.Bassist of The Robert Cray Band, Richard Cousins wrote both “Hold On,” a tune that Joey says sounds exactly like something that would come out of 1970’s Philadelphia, and “Hip Tight Onions,” a tribute to Booker T. & the M.G.’s. “Hip Tight Onions” is the band’s first instrumental track and Cray exclaims what joy that band has performing the song.“Richard didn’t think we would jump on the song, but it was one of the first ones that we did jump on. We’re all in the studio at the same time recording and Steve Jordan is producing, he’s in the room with us and he’s dancing to the groove we’re playing.”Cray admits that he doesn’t practice his guitar for 12 hours a day, but Joey isn’t convinced because his guitar sounds amazing. In My Soul is out right now and you can check out the full interview below.

Carolina Chocolate Drops Guest DJ

Hubby Jenkins of Carolina Chocolate Drops plays Guest DJ on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. Generally identified as an old-time American roots band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops pride themselves on aligning their musical style to what was played before music began to separate itself into genres. “Before record industries came along and developed race records that said, “black people play this, black people play that” it was just this one music...American music,” says Hubby as he explains the group performs songs dating back to before World War II. Since each member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops are historians in their own sense, Jenkins took an historical approach to playing guest DJ. The first song we hear is from Talking Heads live concert Stop Making Sense with “Found A Job.” The first old-fashioned kind of music Hubby became interested in as a kid was country-blues, like Bob Dylan, so when Jenkins’ friend showed him Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads quickly became Hubby’s favorite band.  We immediately transition into “Billy Jack,” a song by Curtis Mayfield from the 1975 album There’s No Place Like America. “I really appreciate Curtis Mayfield for leaving the impressions, focusing on social issues and feeling the responsibility that a lot of artists feel to talk about what’s going on in the day and talk about the struggles that people are dealing with,” says Hubby also noting that in 1975, when the record was released, the world looked a lot like it does now for African Americans.  The final song that Hubby Jenkins plays for us is by A Tribe Called Quest with the classic “Can I Kick It” from People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. A Tribe Called Quest was one of the most influential hip-hop groups in Hubby’s life growing up. He traces hip-hop roots to Jamaican dancehall music in the 1970’s when artists would rap over their favorite tracks to get people to dance more.  Carolina Chocolate Drops most recent record Leaving Eden is available now.

Over The Rhine Guest DJ on The Morning Mix

Over the Rhine is a husband/wife American folk band from Ohio and recently played at The Rex Theater in Pittsburgh. Linford Detweiller of Over the Rhine joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to play guest DJ for WYEP listeners.Detweiller began his set with “Bird on a Wire” by Leonard Cohen from his 1969 release Songs From a Room. “I think lyrically it’s just one of those perfect songs with relatively simple language, but it’s incredibly fresh and timeless,” says Linford.Linford transitions from Leonard Cohen to Ron Sexmith with the song “Secret Heart” from Sexsmith’s 1995 self-titled album. Detweiller tells us that Sexsmith is another artist he admires who masters the art of writing music with very simple language. “His lyrics feel like something that was uncovered that always existed. I love the simplicity of his writing but, again, there’s also a timelessness that all of us songwriters hope to find along the way somewhere”Detweiller finishes his Morning Mix guest DJ set with Bonnie Raits’ “You Can’t Fail Me Now” from her 2012 album Slipstream. This song is a cover from Detweiller’s friend and producer Joe Henry. “This song has been around for a little while,” says Linford, “It’s been one of those beautiful little mysterious transmissions and I just love Bonnie Raits’ take on this song.”The latest Over the Rhine record is Meet Me At The Edge of the World, released this past September but they have a project in the works with aforementioned Joe Henry. Hear the full Guest DJ set with Linford Detweiller of Over the Rhine below.

John Carter Cash on The Morning Mix

Midday Mix host Mike Sauter was recently joined by John Carter Cash to speak about Johnny Cash’s rediscovered, previously unreleased album. Out Among the Stars was produced in 1984 when Cash was signed with Columbia Records but the record was stored in Cash’s archived collection. It wasn’t until recently that his son, John Carter Cash, stumbled upon this album and decided to release it on Legacy Recordings.John tells us that in 1984, country music was headed in a different direction than where it previously was and Columbia records did not foresee the popularity and success of Johnny Cash. For this reason Out Among the Stars was never released despite the quality of production that producer Billy Sherrill put into it.Cash expresses that at the time in his father’s life that Out Among the Stars was being recorded, Johnny was in the prime of his life both physically and spiritually. Prior to this album, Cash went through some struggles in rehab where he wrote the final song on Out Among the Stars, “I Came To Believe.”“It begs the listener to open up to my father’s spiritual view at the time. No matter what was going on business-wise or in his career, he was in a spiritual prime. He was working and playing and singing on the road all the time so when we listen to this record we’re hearing Johnny Cash sounding as good as he ever sounded and as good as he ever would for the rest of his life.”John Carter Cash admits that the process of discovering and releasing this record was a positive emotional experience, for he had more time to spend with his father. It brought John back to the time in 1984 when he and his father were particularly close. As a boy he remembers when the duet with Waylon Jennings, “I’m Moving On” was recorded and when his mother was featured on “Baby Ride Easy.”There are plenty of other unreleased Johnny Cash material that John Carter explains he won’t release for the sake of releasing another Johnny Cash record. “It’s got to make sense. It’s got to say something that hasn’t been said or if it has been said before, perhaps in a different way. For instance, there are other live recordings but it’s hard to beat those two prison records.”Out Among the Stars was released March 25th and the full interview with John Carter Cash can be heard below.

Simone Felice Interview

Folk musician Simone Felice recently joined Morning Mix host Joey Spehar to talk about his most recent album Strangers which releases March 25th via Dualtone Records. Strangers is Felice’s second studio album after his self-titled came out in 2012, not too long after The Felice Brothers disbanded.Simone recorded the entirety of Strangers in the Catskill Mountains with help from a number of his friends and family members, all fellow musicians. The Lumineers, Leah Siegel, and James Felice, Simone’s brother, are all featured on the album with help from Simone’s backing band.“There’s a certain magic that happens when you’re on the road, especially with your brothers. I do miss that. Over the past two years I’ve been developing a special little trio: me and Matty (Green) and Gabe (Dresdale). It’s become like a real little band and not just players that I bring out. And I feel for the first time since I’ve been a solo artist that I’ve got a special group that are like my brothers in arms.”Felice wrote and recorded Strangers with producer David Baron who helped to bring a component of stringed instruments and organ arrangements to the album. Baron comes from a family of sound engineers in the Woodstock region of New York, so he has an extensive past of studio experience.In the interview Joey notices that the songs on Strangers are like old notes and postcards from past lovers or from ourselves that are saved in drawers. Simone Felice agreed and adds,”...our bodies, our hearts, our minds are kind of like a closet. We store all of this stuff, some of it we don’t want to share, some of it we do, sometimes to share it is a medicinal or healing thing. Music has always been that way for me.”Simone Felice’s album Strangers comes out March 25th and for more on what Felice and Joey spoke about, including Simone’s daughter and the story behind Strangers album artwork check out the full interview below.

Jake Bugg Interview

English songwriter and indie folk musician, Jake Bugg, recently joined Joey Spehar on the Morning Mix to speak about his musical career and newest album Shangri La. Bugg also announced his place in the Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Arts Festival lineup this June.Jake Bugg is merely 20 years old and has already released two full length studio albums, the most recent of which was produced with Rick Rubin. Rubin is a critically acclaimed producer who has worked with acts such as The Beastie Boys, Run D.M.C. and Metallica and he was the man behind Def Jam Recordings along with other various appraised record labels. Bugg’s 2013 release Shangri La is named after Rubin’s studio in Malibu, California and when asked about his experience working with Rick, Bugg expressed no original feeling of intimidation with the producer.“At that time I’m 19 years old, I’ve still got a lot to learn. I didn’t really know the reputation that Rick had which was cool because it allowed me to get to the studio and meet him for who he was and just allow me to do what I do. To me, it seemed like he genuinely cared about making cool records and everything was chilled and relaxed, I just had a good time.”   Bugg has already been referred to as the next Bob Dylan and the voice of a generation, but he does not feel the heavy pressures of these terms that many young musicians might feel who are in the same position. “Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan, the voice of a generation, it’s all been done before. I don’t aspire to be anything but myself. I just want to make records,” says Bugg.We are excited see Jake Bugg perform this summer at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh on June 15th. For information on what Bugg is up to check out his website.

Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs Guest DJ

Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs joined Cindy Howes on the Morning Mix to play guest DJ. The War on Drugs recently released their third studio album Lost in the Dream on Secretly Canadian. Granduciel lived in California for a few years before taking a train to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, eventually ending up in Philadelphia by 2003. Adam moved to Philly on a whim when he was feeling unsatisfied with his life working in a restaurant and recording music in his bedroom. Granduciel still resides in Philly where he bases The War on Drugs. Adam expressed that his personal music taste line up pretty well with the music he is writing and playing with The War on Drugs.“I’m a huge fan of classic songwriters and record production. We’re not setting out to make our band sound just like that, it’s just kind of the way I approach songwriting, and producing albums and recording.”The first song he plays for us is from Steve Forbert’s first album Alive on Arrival with “Midsummer Night’s Toast.” Alive on Arrival was Forbert’s first album, released in 1978 and Granduciel says this tune has some of his favorite verses. “It’s just this young kid who's kind of seeing his future in some way, he’s got high hopes.”Granduciel transitions into John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” and reflects on the time he was first introduced to John Lennon and the Beatles in general. Adam’s mother was a beatles fan, but more so a fan of Roy Orbison which led Adam to hear a lot of George Harrison.“When I was 17 or 18 I had my intense phase of trying to decide which Beatle was the best Beatle or how maniacal Paul was, and getting into the recording of Sgt. Pepper's, so even though musically I don’t fit in with the Beatles, they were one of my first real obsessive phases with music.”Adam Granduciel loves everything about “Jealous Guy.” He tells us that last year while recording Lost in the Dreams he heard the alternate rough mixes from Imagine. “Just hearing that record in a different way blew my mind, especially “Jealous Guy”. Everytime I hear it I close my eyes and I’m just amazed by how beautiful the song is.”The final song we hear is “Love in Mind” from Neil Young’s 1973 release Time Fades Away. Time Fades Away was a live show recorded after the high success of Harvest, but was a tour Neil Young was disappointed with. “Everyone in the band was partying too hard and asking for too much money. He always said it was like he was playing the wrong songs with the wrong band. “Love in Mind” is the last song on Side A, just him at the piano and it’s one of my favorite Neil Young songs.”The War on Drugs’ new record Lost in a Dream was released on March 18th and the band will be performing at the Altar Bar in Pittsburgh.Adam Granduciel's Guest DJ set:1. Steve Forbert - "Midsummer Night’s Toast"2. John Lennon - "Jealous Guy"3. Neil Young - "Love in Mind"

Aoife O'Donovan on The Morning Mix

American singer-songwriter, Aoife O’Donovan, recently joined Cindy Howes on the Morning Mix to talk about her newest album, Fossils. The vocalist of Boston based bluegrass group, Crooked Still, Aoife O’Donovan’s solo album Fossils is something she has been thinking about since the age of 18.A daughter of an Irish immigrant in Boston, Aoife was raised by a family who welcomed touring musicians into their home regularly. Her father’s work as a public radio DJ combined with the family’s pre-existing Irish folk connections led Aoife to grow up with a sense of community in musicianship.“My parent’s house was sort of the home base for a lot of touring Irish bands that would come through town. They would have huge parties, there would be music all night, all different kinds of musicians collaborating in my parents living room. From a very young age I was exposed to this so it seems like the natural course of events to want to go down that path.”Alison Krauss and Union Station covered one of O’Donovan’s songs, “Lay My Burden Down” from a 2007 demo record, which was eventually used in a film and played throughout Alison Krauss’ entire tour. O’Donovan’s version of “Lay My Burden Down” can be found on Fossils as the first track.Aoife worked closely with producer Tucker Martine on Fossils and his influence allowed her to look at music a bit differently. Being so familiar with performing with an entire band, Aoife now takes a different approach when touring solo. “Getting to record these songs with Tucker kind of helped me think about songs as individual kinds of artifacts, or fossils...I think getting really into the inside of a song, which is what I did with Tucker, has really helped me.”In Pittsburgh, Aoife O’Donovan will be opening for the Punch Brothers at Mr. Small’s Fun House. Check out the full interview with Aoife O’Donovan below.

Jesse Dee Guest DJs on The Morning Mix

R&B and Soul musician, Jesse Dee joined Cindy Howes on the Morning Mix to play Guest DJ. Jesse Dee originates from Boston, Massachusetts and recently released his newest album On My Mind / In My Heart.  The first song Jesse played for us was “Minute By Minute” by The James Hunter Six. “We’ve had the opportunity to play a number of shows together, he is just someone I look up to stylistically. I’ve probably heard these songs 60 or 70 times but it never gets old,” says Jesse admitting that he believes that he and James Hunter are “boys”.After The James Hunter Six, Jesse Dee played Lake Street Dive’s song “Bobby Tanqueray” off of the recent album Bad Self Portraits. Jesse Dee and Lake Street Dive have a history together as both of the bands are from Boston. Dee has enjoyed watching the rise of this band and has collaborated with the group a few times here and there.The final song we hear from Jesse is from Lee Field and the Expressions 2012 album Faithful Man with “Still Hanging On”. “Lee Fields is one of the best performers I’ve seen. His ability to convey emotion with a certain finesse that only comes from a 45 year career in the music business is just remarkable to me.”   Jesse Dee played Live and Direct at WYEP later that day and played at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville. Check out what else Jesse Dee is up to at his website.

Jillian Michaels Guest DJs on The Morning Mix

Jillian Michaels of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" plays Guest DJ on The Morning Mix with Cindy Howes. Jillian explains how she uses music with her own workouts as well as with contestants on the show.Jillian tells us about how she uses music in every event and for any situation to motivate others and herself. Every season of “The Biggest Loser” Jillian gives each contestant a song to relate to and use as a motivator throughout the season. Michaels starts her Guest DJ set with U2’s “Beautiful Day” from 2000 album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. “Beautiful Day” serves as a song to get everyone's’ spirits up, making them happy to be alive no matter how rough they think their days are. “Even when it’s a crap day, it’s a beautiful day because a bad day for our ego is a great day for our soul. I like to start a workout like that, especially when I’m teaching a class.”We immediately changed pace, turning to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams from his most recent album, G I R L . Jillian sees Pharrell trying to tell people to stop taking on the worries of others and just be happy, a similar theme to U2’s “Beautiful Day.”The final song we hear from Jillian Michaels is “Haunted” by Poe, the title track from Poe’s album released in 2000. Jillian recently returned from India and finds herself haunted from the trip. Michaels expresses her problem with people who look at underdeveloped nations and are thankful they aren’t in the same position of poverty.“Now that you’ve seen that the world is unfair and unbalanced and since you have an abundance, really make an effort to spread that abundance around. That song to me says, don’t forget where you were and don’t forget how that changed you and be a better person whenever and wherever possible.”Jillian Michaels will be in Pittsburgh on March 19th at the Benedum Center for her “Maximize Your Life” Tour. More information here. Jillian's song picks:1. U2 - "Beautiful Day"2. Pharrell Williams - "Happy"3. Poe - "Haunted"

Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive on The Morning Mix

Lake Street Dive lead singer, Rachael Price, recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to discuss the band’s new record, Bad Self Portraits. Bad Self Portraits is the third studio album of this Boston based indie jazz band, released on Signature Sound Recordings.The group met in jazz school at the New England Conservatory of Music, playing music with each other in practice rooms around campus and eventually expanding to random gigs in bubble tea shops and Chinese food parlors.The albums title track, “Bad Self Portraits” shows how the band members write songs of their personal experiences, each song serving as a self portrait of sorts. “The title of the album primarily came from the title of that song but we sort of realized it was an apt title because songs are a self portrait for what you’re going through at the time.” Rachael notes that their songs aren’t necessarily bad self portraits, but at least “some kind of self portrait.”Rachael Price was raised in a home full of music as her father was a choral and orchestra composer and conductor. Around 10 or 11 years old, Price began performing on stage around the country in the choir conducted by her father. “It was around 11 or 12 he would start giving me solos so I could get up and perform by myself. My love for performing sort of started then,” says Price.One of the directors of the Netflix Original Series “House of Cards” approached Rachael at a show and inquired about using her for a singing role on the show. Thinking nothing would come of it, Price shrugged it off but to her surprise, she was called to sing the National Anthem on the show. If you missed Rachael Price on “House of Cards”, you can still check out all of Lake Street Dive in Pittsburgh on March 29th at Mr. Smalls Fun House where they will be performing music from Bad Self Portraits.  

Tribute to Porky Chedwick

WYEP pays tribute to the late, great Porky Chedwick with help from Bob Studebaker (WESA), Henry Deluca (Roots of Rock and Roll concert series) and Scott Mervis (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). From WTAE:"Chedwick's family revealed that it's facing financial challenges to meet funeral and burial costs. As a result, friends and artists are rallying to lead donations.A trust fund has been created for public donations. They can be sent to: Porky Chedwick Memorial Trust Fund, Dollar Bank, 700 Towne Square Way, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15227"

Librarian Guest DJ Set

Tim Williams works in the music department at The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and stopped by The Morning Mix to share some Pittsburgh music found at the library.Tim's Librarian Guest DJ Set:Don Caballero - P, P, P, AntlessEugenie Baird - Everything But YouBob Schmertz - Braddock's Defeat

Dawn Landes on The Morning Mix

Dawn Landes recently joined Morning Mix host, Cindy Howes, to talk about her most recent album, Bluebird, released on Western Vinyl in February, 2014. Landes has spent a considerable amount of time practicing music in New York and around Europe, however, Bluebird shows clear musical roots from her home in Louisville, Kentucky.Landes used a producer for the first time on this record which really affected the sonic influence of this album compared the the rest. Thomas Bartlett, otherwise known as Doveman, characterized by Landes as having a Spartan aesthetic, insisted Landes recorded the album mostly live. “It’s not really a Thomas production if you can’t hear yourself breathing. He’s got this thing where it’s not volatile but there’s a lot of space,” says Dawn.Bluebird can be seen as her emotional response to her recent divorce of singer-songwriter, Josh Ritter. Ritter released a similar album in 2013 that tells the other side of the breakup story which Dawn has understandably avoided listening to. While continuing to be a fan of his songwriting, Dawn says that she’ll wait until Ritter releases a different album that she’ll listen to instead.“Bluebird” was the first song written off the album and was the tune that got the creative juices flowing for the rest of Bluebird. She hadn’t found that certain inspiration she was looking for when writing new songs for her all-girl trio, The Bandana Splits, but once “Bluebird” was written effortlessly, Dawn felt she was finally headed in the right direction.Norah Jones makes a Bluebird appearance on piano throughout the record and on vocals with the song “Cry No More.” “She came in and played on Love Song and then when we tracked “Cry No More” she just liked the music and we thought, “Well you’re here, you might as well sing on the song, you’d be perfect on it,” and she just did it, and it was amazing.Bluebird is out now and you can hear the full interview with Cindy Howes below.

Ketch from Old Crow Medicine Show Guest DJ Set

 Old Crow Medicine Show will be in town with the Avett Brothers at the Peterson Event Center this weekend and in anticipation for the show, Morning Mix host Joey Spehar welcomed Ketch Secor to the show to perform a guest DJ set.As Ketch was driving toward Pittsburgh from West Virginia and he was crossing the Monongahela River he wanted to hear some Bob Dylan, specifically “Jokerman” from the 1983 album Infidels, which he started his set off with.  Directly following Dylan we transitioned into “Tzena,Tzena,Tzena” a tune by American folk quartet The Weavers. Secor loves the sound of a bullwhip, especially hearing one over the Pittsburgh skyline. He hasn’t been back to Pittsburgh in a while but really enjoys the multitude of ethnic groups and breweries we have to offer.The third song that Ketch leaves us with on his guest DJ set is something listeners may not have expected to hear from Old Crow Medicine Show fiddle player, Public Enemy’s “911 is a Joke.” A song he first heard at 11 years old on the playground with a jam box. Back on the monkeybars you didn’t want to hear anything but Public Enemy, says Secor, “We listened to public enemy even though we were young, white children in overalls kicking our deflated basketballs up and down the asphalt tarmac.”A new Old Crow Medicine Show album will be released on July 1st this year and Secor assures Joey and WYEP listeners that this record will resonate with anyone from Pittsburgh, no matter which town or area around the Greater Pittsburgh area you reside. “These songs are guaranteed to cut to the heart of a cool town, and to your dark steel town soul.”  Ketch Secor's Guest DJ Set:Bob Dylan - JokermanThe Weavers - Tzena TzenaPublic Enemy - 911 Is A Joke

Interview with St. Vincent

Annie Clark, otherwise known as St. Vincent, recently spoke with Rosemary Welsch, host of WYEP's Afternoon Mix, about her new self-titled album. St. Vincent released on February 24th and has already received rave reviews. Inspired by a line in the Miles Davis autobiography which read, “the hardest thing for a musician to do is play like yourself,” St. Vincent approached a self-titled with confidence and abandon in order to create a sound which makes her sound like herself.Clark remembers watching Pearl Jam and Nirvana on MTV around the age of 10 years old and realizing that she wanted to do what they were doing. “I don’t sound anything like Nirvana or Pearl Jam, but seeing that it was possible, you know, suburban kids with something to say that could find an audience was an inspiration.” Annie also spent a considerable amount of time on the road touring with her uncle, Tuck Andress, of Tuck & Patti, learning the technicalities and all of the work that really went into making a show. This experience might deter anyone, whether 16 or not, from pursuing their musical dream due to the amount of work put in, but it instead worked as an inspiration to St. Vincent.“I got to see behind the curtain in a good way. I was learning about the technical side of things, what people really did on the road, but I got to see them play every night and move people to tears. I got to experience watching people with such a dedication to their craft and music with a capital ‘M’. Devotion. I just learned that that’s what it takes. There’s not some magic button that you press and become famous. It’s getting out there, it’s bringing the music to the people, and it’s about the work its about the craft and really honoring this really mystery, awesome thing that is music.”Annie describes her songwriting process for St. Vincent as trying to make "dance music for a funeral," wanting to create music that was really groove heavy but had heart and empathy. “It was an interesting task. I’m always interested in the little juxtapositions and seeming contradictions in human nature, and the squalor in the grandeur that exists in the same moment, so I was trying to bring in that macro/micro perspective.”While adding enough detail to her songs in order to make stories seem palpable but leaving enough ambiguity for listeners to fit themselves into the story, St. Vincent did a lot of reporting on her own life in this album, like in the song “Rattlesnake” which required no embellishments or exaggeration to the story. “Digital Witness,” the first single released off St. Vincent is a view into the way people react to the digital world, not necessarily serving as a statement of judgement but instead as a topic of curiosity.“I don’t know where we’re all heading, I just simply want to tap the phenomenon. I think we have this whole other realm, this whole other vehicle in which to express the selfhood that we used to express with our outer and inner physical being. Now we have this theoretical 0’s and 1’s world where we can create our ideal selves. I think that in some ways that is incredibly powerful and exciting.”Annie Clark looks at music with a sense of synesthesia, noting that St. Vincent portrays more primary colors which can explain why it seems to be more accessible than her past records. St. Vincent will be performing at Stage AE in April and you can check out the full interview with Rosemary Welsch below. 

Ari Picker from Lost In The Trees on The Morning Mix

Ari Picker, lead man of Chapel Hill orchestral band Lost in the Trees recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to discuss the band’s new album, Past Life. Lost In The Trees is Picker’s project that was started following his time at Berklee College of Music. The group is comprised of orchestrally trained musicians who explore dynamic folk sounds throughout their albums. The most recent album, Past Life, has changed pace, steering away from emotional sentiments, towards something a lot more vibrant.Lost in the Trees’ 2012 album A Church That Fits Our Needs was a celebration and remembrance of Ari Picker’s mother, who had passed a few years prior, and served as closure for the tragic event. This time around Picker knew that he couldn’t follow the same trend as he had with his previous albums, but felt he had more freedom to have fun with his work.“I think the main purpose of the album was to have fun making music again. Before it was very personal and it was dramatic. Also very healing and I’m proud of it, but it was heavy, so it felt good to just have fun writing a record.”“I had done something very specific in the past and it’s probably good to open my eyes to other things. It’s really freeing and allowed me to write another record, which I guess I knew I couldn’t do the same thing again so it’s either do something different or not do anything at all.”Picker drew his influence on Past Life from museum visits where instead of simply sitting in front of a blank page writing music he would pull from his emotions in galleries and perhaps take literal themes from pieces of art. This album was more minimalistic compared to previous records, as Cindy notices that Picker took a “less is more approach.”“Sonically, I think the less you have in the picture, the bigger those elements can be. You can hear more of the texture of the elements, you can hear the kick drum and the atmosphere around it versus if you’re packing a song with a ton of stuff.”Picker also comments that his minimalistic approach to this album is what makes the songs more focused and sisynced. Lost in the Trees’ Past Life is out now and we suggest you give it a listen. More information can be found on their website.

Nick Waterhouse on The Morning Mix

American singer, songwriter and producer, Nick Waterhouse, recently joined Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix to talk about his upcoming record Holly. Holly, which Waterhouse describes as “a novella or poem about a fictional protagonist,” is scheduled to be released March 4th.Waterhouse grew up in Southern California and was heavily influenced by the R&B, soul and jazz musicians that his parents would occasionally play. They were musicians that would sometimes show up on an oldy formatted station, mixed in with classic rock records. “They were hiding in plain site. I was always sort of mystified by those things... My natural inclination was to follow my curious childlike mind and figure those out. I guess I’m still doing that,” says Waterhouse in response to his style of music.Nick Waterhouse spent a lot of time DJing and continues to follow that passion, seeking out people who share a similar love for records. He told us that DJing has a similar feel to what performance is like as a live musician.“...whether it’s the way you present yourself or the way you format a night, it’s all like creating a set list or making a band or flyers. It also makes you focus on songs in a different way. I think it makes me really prize songs as singles, as things to be focused on at high volumes in a club versus very esoteric close listening.”The Tarots are an assemblage of musicians who serve as Nick Waterhouse’s backing band. Not only does Waterhouse pull influence from Ray Charles’ and Bobby Bland’s bands but he is also impacted by how jazz band combinations work together and how players interact with one another. “I believe in a slightly open ended interpretation of things, especially live, letting people blow 16 or 32 bars.”Holly, the album to be released in the coming weeks tells the story of a dead girl and not about who killed her, but what did. Waterhouse wanted to evoke an atmosphere familiar to his own lifestyle in the east side of Los Angeles. For more information on the album and Nick Waterhouse check out his website.

Interview with Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins

Cindy Howes of the Morning Mix was recently joined by Jessi Zazu, frontwoman of Those Darlins, a rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. Those Darlins just released their third studio album, Blur the Line an album that differs a bit from their previous work.The original three band members of Those Darlins met at the Southern Girls Rock and Roll camp in Tennessee about seven and a half years ago. This was the place that Zazu performed for the first time and felt a real sense of belonging. Jessi grew up as somewhat of an outcast for enjoying rock music while everyone else’s interests resided solely in country music. The people at the Girls Rock and Roll camp encouraged Jessi to do whatever she wanted to do, going for whatever she felt was right and has since kept these values with her throughout her music career.The band members of Those Darlins felt a lot more vulnerable with the newest album Blur the Lines. Many of the themes in the record reminisce back to some of the subjects of Jessi’s childhood and how she grew up. The record’s tone also shadows their experience on the road over the last eight years. These themes have been explored in previous albums by Those Darlins but have never appeared this dark.To portray the bands’ vulnerability and strength with Blur the Lines the album cover is a tasteful, naked photograph of the bottom half of the member’s bodies. “The album cover is just to represent laying it there. Being naked is your most vulnerable state but also there’s something really powerful about it.”This album cover got quite a bit of national attention after a blown up promotional poster was hung up in Nashville. Many people were upset and claimed it was pornographic, risque, and something that should not be hung for everyone and their children to see. Jessi claims that although this time was relatively stressful, it got the point across that they were aiming for.“The whole purpose of it was to create some curiosity about what the image is. It served its purpose just by creating a conversation about it and the question, what is the difference between pornography and art? But it was definitely blown out of proportion in some ways.”Those Darlins played at the Brillobox in Pittsburgh the next night. For more information on Those Darlins and their newest album Blur the Line check out their website.  

San Fermin Interview

 San Fermin is the latest musical project of composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone who recently spoke with Morning Mix co-host Joey Spehar about San Fermin's self-titled album. Right out of school at Yale, Ellis Ludwig-Leone has writen and assisted in operas, ballets, feature films and orchestral works with acclaimed Nico Muhly. Ludwig-Leone started a solo project in school and retreated to Canada after graduation to write what would eventually become San Fermin. The record features 22 musicians including a string player and an entire brass section. Allen Tate, a close friend of Ludwig-Leone, acts as the primary male vocalist on San Fermin while Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius perform the female parts. Since the two girls have recently released their own album and are also on tour, Rae Cassidy fills the spot excellently when San Fermin performs live with eight members. In the interview with Ellis, Joey brings up how the album reads like a book with the lowest of lows and highest of highs. While each individual song is great on its own, to get the full effect of San Fermin, the album should be listened to in full."One of the reasons that I wanted to write it was because I was getting a little numb to new experience and I wanted a call to wake up a little bit. I think that's one of the reasons there's such extreme diversity on the record," says Ludwig-Leone, while claiming he wanted to "...make something as intense as your experience of life in the universe."While many people are just hearing San Fermin right now, Ellis wrote the album almost two years ago and at this point has the next album almost fully written. The band plays of few of these songs each show to change it up and keep moving forward. San Fermin will be performing at The Warhol Museum this week with special guests Son Lux. More information on San Fermin can be found on their website.  

WYEP's Celebration of The Beatles' First Appearance in America

On the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' historic first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, WYEP's Mike Sauter presents a special hour-long program celebrating the occasion with interviews, music, and archival sound clips.

Guest DJ Ironman Bill Palermo

Ironman triathlete and softball coach, Bill Palermo, recently joined Morning Mix host, Joey Spehar, to talk about the kind of music that keeps him motivated during training. At age 65, Palermo has qualified for the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. Bill is the winningest coach in WPIAL history and was the softball coach at Sto-Rox High School for years.  He's now influencing the athletic experiences of his grandchildren by running and swimming with them.Bill started his guest DJ set off with Bob Dylan’s, “Summer Days” off of his 31st studio album Love and Theft which was released in 2011. During the summer months Bill heads to the water and runs up and down the beach and really likes to listen to summer themed tunes. Despite the fact that his family likes to poke fun at his summertime soundtrack, Bill is happy to share with us a song off of this specific playlist.Afterwards, we heard “Living Loving Maid” off of Led Zeppelin’s second self titled album released in October of 1969. This song gets Bill pumped up and keeps him going throughout the race, similar to the other music by Led Zeppelin which he reserves for those 60 mile bike rides.“The tempo, the cadence, the motivation, the energy that they [Led Zeppelin] give you, I put them into my legs and try to make those hills”The last song Bill played for us was one inspired by his time coaching softball, and what enthused his kids to work their hardest. Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” came to mind.“I used music in preparing my kids. We had a playlist every year with a theme, it might be a theme of fight songs, it might be a theme for having heart, being strong, being tough,” says Bill right before he tells the story of a young man who made a speech about Bill at a banquet. The young man claimed that Palermo had their back and if they had a game in hell, he would be right behind them and their team would be the victor. Tom Petty’s song serves as a memento from this speech.Bill ends his guest DJ set and leaves WYEP listeners with a word of advice on staying active, which was to simply get out and do anything at your own pace.Bill's Ironman Playlist:Bob Dylan - Summer DaysLed Zeppelin - Living Loving Mad (She's Just A Woman)Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down

GRAMMY Review with Scott Tady

Scott Tady - Entertainment Editor from The Beaver County Times - joined Joey Spehar on The Morning Mix to make sense of the 2014 GRAMMY Awards.

Alex Dezen of The Damnwells: New Solo EPs and Future Damnwells LP

Alex Dezen of The Damnwells recently joined Morning Mix host Cindy Howes to talk about the new Damnwells album and Dezen’s four upcoming solo EPs. No One Listens To The Band Anymore, released in 2011, was the last record that The Damnwells released which didn’t feature two out of the four original members, David Chernis and Steven Terry, but fans can rest assured that the original lineup is back together for the new album.No One Listens To The Band Anymore was funded by Pledge Music through fan support, and although the band’s original intent was to not use the site again, you can find yet another Damnwells Pledge page for this upcoming record.“We swore we would never do it again, not because it wasn’t a great experience, just because, how many times can you really go back to the watering hole and ask your fans for money to make records? But then I realized you can kind of keep going back as long as the fans are interested and they want to help out.”Dezen wrote a number of songs that were originally intended for the new Damnwells album, but once the original members decided to reunite, there was an inspiration to write all new music. The former songs are going to be released as The Bedhead Series under Alex Dezen’s solo career, to give fans something to listen to in anticipation for the Damnwell’s album. The first of these EP’s was released January 21st and features a common theme of breakups.“That’s kinda the theme for the course of my career. They’re all kind of breakup or love songs, but these are definitely more personal than other songs I’ve released on Damnwells records. Because they’re a solo effort, it allows me to say things that maybe I wouldn’t say if I was with the Damnwells, or at least say things without having to really be that clever.”Alex also works at Warner/Chappell Music as a songwriter for pop musicians and actually has a co-writing credit on Justin Biebers hit “Take You” off of his 2012 album Believe which was performed at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards. Luckily, Dezen gets Justin Bieber text updates from his mother, letting him know exactly what Bieber is up to.The first EP from the Bedhead Series is available, and to see what else Alex Dezen or The Damnwell’s are up to you can check out their website.

Dark Sisters Composer Nico Muhly Guest DJ Set

Composer Nico Muhly is making his Pittsburgh Opera debut with Dark Sisters. Muhly doesn't work in opera exclusively, though.  His orchestrations can be heard in songs by Grizzly Bear, Jonsi, and Usher to name a few.  Muhly shared some of his work with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix.Nico Muhly's Guest DJ Set:Grizzly Bear - CheerleaderJonsi - TornadoAntony & The Johnsons - Cripple & The Starfish