February 2011

In mid-February, Mr. Barb and I embark on our 4th  journey through song.  This year, we are on a larger ship, The Pearl.  Sold-out.  Almost 2,400 passengers on a 7-night cruise visiting ports-of-call in the US & British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.  Three days at sea, including Valentine’s Day.  It’s yet another stellar line-up of over 30 acts. There is one new headliner, John Prine, who is joining past headliners such as: Patty Griffin, Indigo Girls, Steve Earle and The Dukes, Brandi Carlile (who has been on all 4 cruises), and Buddy Miller. Other returning singer-songwriters on-board will be: Shawn Mullins (another 4-time cruiser) , Jim Bianco, Chuck Cannon, David Ryan Harris, Larkin Poe, Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars, and Works Progress Administration (WPA). New on the journey through song will be: Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III (there will be a Loud and Rich show one night), Allison Moorer (Steve Earle’s wife was scheduled to be on board last year, but she was due to deliver their son then), Colin Hay  Dar Williams, Scott Miller, Ellis Paul, Steep Canyon Rangers, Will Hoge, Sam & Ruby, Kevn Kinney, Toby Lightman, Enter the Haggis, Tyrone Wells, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Shannon Whitworth  and Sarah & Christian Dugas. This year, in a green initiative, instead of sending us a CD in advance, we were able to download 29 songs from the artists scheduled to be on the 2011 cruise. It’s a treat to see the returning performers; and we know, especially looking at this line-up, we are definitely going to discover some new artists too.  In addition, there’s some events I’m really looking forward to:  This year’s version of Songwriters in the Round will be with Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Dar Williams and Scott Miller; Shawn Mullins will be headlining a concert in the main theater (for which we have front row seats!); and the non-music onboard activity of Beer Tasting with Glen Phillips (WPA) – I don’t even drink beer, but with Mr. Phillips as host, it’s bound to be a hoot.  The cruise begins with Shawn Mullins on the pool deck as we sail away from Miami and ends with Brandi Carlile teaming up with the Indigo Girls. We again chose the earliest headliner show time of 6:00 PM.  The schedule remains friendly to those of us who are “morning people” and don’t necessarily want to try to stay awake until Midnight to see a performer every night. We expect plenty of sunshine, permanent smiles on our faces, unexpected impromptu collaborations (which is what this journey though song is really all about), and to add to our CD collection.  I’ll have lots of stories to share via the WYEP Music blog.  We’re packing sun block and hopefully I won’t bring back a cold this year. Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Mervis of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott: Wanda Jackson, "Shakin' All Over" - Jack White, the one-man Page-Plant from the White Stripes, worked wonders with Loretta Lynn on "Van Lear Rose." Now, he adds his manic production touch to the Queen of Rockabilly on this 1960 hit from Johnny Kid and the Pirates that most of us know from The Who's "Live at Leeds." The result is thrilling and bombastic, and that carries through to the rest of "The Party Ain't Over." Wire, "Bad Worn Thing" - This British post-punk band inspired the likes of R.E.M., Pere Ubu and the Pixies. Thirty-five years later, Wire is making music better than any of them. This is one of the more accessible, radio-friendly songs from the band's acclaimed 12th album, "Red Barked Tree."
Erin McKeown will be spending Sunday afternoon performing songs about sports live over the internet from her snowy cottage in rural Western Massachusetts. As part of her webcasting series "Cabin Fever," she's going to be chatting with fans and maybe even welcome a special guest or two. Erin is encouraging fans suggest songs for her to play via Twitter or her Facebook fan page. She has more info here. And it perfectly bridges the gap between WYEP's Alternative Souper Bowl and heading over to your big game party! Check out her short promo video for the event:

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus some bonus songs): Big Hurry, "Gets Me Low" - This is the title track from this Pittsburgh band's new EP, released this past week -- this band plays kinda dancey, kinda '80s-ish, kinda contemporary pop. The songs are tight and the production is impeccable; make room on your best-of-2011 list. Justin Andrew, "Early Bird" - This song is an advance look at Justin's forthcoming album. Everything about it, from the songwriting to the production, takes it up a notch from his previous release. Especially impressive when you know that he played all the instruments on this recording himself! I posted it as a free download on CP's music blog here: Free "Early Bird" download. New Shouts, "Save Me" - This is the b-side to the Shouts' new single, "Kiss for Fun." It's absolutely infectious and has a timeless quality to it; Derek's falsetto is killer here. It's also available as a free download, on the New Shouts Bandcamp page.