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Music

Dave Frenzia

Jazz has taken Normal native Adam Larson to nearly all points on the globe.  The U-High grad has also been on the receiving end of critical praise from high places.  Longtime Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich says Larson is “a player for whom the word ‘prodigious’ was coined.”  Despite the acclaim, Larson said he still struggles with high, self-imposed expectations.

"Sometimes during school I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the wrong stuff.  For example, looking at other people's success as anything else but admiration and joy."

marccohnmusic.com

Twenty-five summers ago, the gospel-tinged pop song "Walking In Memphis" was in heavy rotation on Top-40 radio across the country, including stations in central Illinois.  The song was the first single released from Marc Cohn's eponymous major label debut, peaking at #13 in July of 1991.  Though Cohn continues to record and tour, no other song he has written or recorded since has come close to matching the commercial or chart success of that song. 

Radio Munson 6/30/16

Jul 6, 2016

Some early Independence Day Weekend fireworks on this week’s Radio Munson from Jim Cullum’s Jazz Band, Keely Smith, and trombonists John Allred and Wycliffe Gordon; plus Frank Sinatra, Lee Wiley, Michael Buble and more. 

Jerrod Campbell

Two months ago, NPR's Morning Edition challenged listeners to reinvent its theme music. Submissions since have spanned genres, including ambient, dubstep, reggae, waltz, jazz, and blues. Illinois State University School of Music Professor Mark Grizzard recently took up the challenge.  

Grizzard said he's "an NPR addict" who listens to Morning Edition on his commute from his home in Peoria to his teaching position at ISU, and his Doctoral studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  With choral as his specialty, a choral arrangement of the Morning Edition theme was an obvious choice.

Radio Munson 6/23/16

Jun 24, 2016

Tony Bennett is on Don’s playlist for this week’s Radio Munson, along with Lee Wiley, Joe Williams, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Sarah Vaughan, and the Count Basie Band. 

Avett Brothers 'True Sadness' is an Absolute Delight

Jun 22, 2016
Courtesy of the artist

Music is hardly ever one thing. Influences run deep for most artists, but few groups build their sound on as many layers as the Avett Brothers. Equal parts bluegrass, country, punk, pop, folk, rock, honky tonk, and ragtime, the Avett brothers have an audience as diverse as their sound. 

Matthew Bactat Photography / Music Business Organization

Bloomington based Sherwood Forest is one of many bands scheduled to play the "Make Music Normal" music festival June 18.  Sherwood Forest was initially a solo vehicle for founder Clifford Close to express his love of indie-alternative music.  The 21-year-old now leads an iteration of the band that includes Matt Powers, Mitchell Owens, Kirk Lundeen, and new member C.J. Edwards.  As you might guess, Close said the band’s name comes from his fascination with the folkloric man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Radio Munson 6/9/16

Jun 13, 2016

Don plays Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be”, but you can't say that about Radio Munson.  With sides from Les Brown, Carmen McRae, the Ames Brothers, and Eddie Cantor, it’s going to be two hours of radio—the way it used to be.

One of the founding members of the early 1980's Rockabilly revival group "The Stray Cats" will headline the GLT Summer Concert June 11.  Double-bassist Lee Rocker has had a successful career of his own following the bands breakup.  Despite being the son of acclaimed clarinetists Stanley and Naomi Drucker, and brother to country music artist Rosanne Drucker, Rocker said from an early age, his ears were tuned to rockabilly and blues music.

Julia Bailey

Boogie-woogie pianist Eden Brent will grace the GLT Summer Concert stage June 11.  The Greenwood, Mississippi native has been immersed in blues music since she met the much older Aibe "Boogaloo" Ames when she was a teen.

"Boogaloo was a fixture here in the delta.  He enjoyed quite a successful career from the middle 1940's through the 1960's in Detroit.  First as a jazz piano player, and swing player with his own band in the 40's.  Up until the mid 60's he did some work with Barry Gordy at the Motown studio's.  Boogaloo had enjoyed a celebrated career, just fortunate for me he fell in love with a woman with ties to Mississippi, so he followed her down here.  I didn't meet Boogaloo until probably 1980 or so."

Radio Munson 6/2/16

Jun 3, 2016

Don’s sweet tooth catches up with him on this week’s Radio Munson and we catch him with his hand in the sugar bowl.  “Sugar Foot Stomp,” “Sugar Blues,” and “My Sugar Is So Refined” make their way to the turntable; Anita O’Day is on Don’s playlist, too, along with Jimmy Rushing and the bands of Count Basie and Les Elgart.

Emo-Rock Underdogs Feel Right at 'Home'

Jun 3, 2016
@realfriendsband

The emo-rock band "Real Friends" released their latest record last Friday at a theater in Kingston, a royal borough in southwest London. That's quite a feat for the suburban Chicago band that as recently as 2012 was playing house shows in Bloomington-Normal.

Music Therapy Helps Elderly Remain Fit

Jun 2, 2016
Rory Bolton

An increasing number of senior citizen facilities are using music therapy to help the elderly improve their cognitive skills, avoid depression and even stay more physically fit. 

Rory Bolton recently completed graduate studies in music therapy and piano performance at Illinois State University. Throughout his time at ISU, the 28-year-old singer performed at private parties and on cruise ships. For the past several months, Bolton has sung and played old standards and classic pop songs at Twin Cities residences for seniors. 

A Mashup Of Ska & Jazz

Jun 2, 2016

Casey Doremus was a band nerd of sorts.  Growing up in Washington, Illinois, he watched all kinds of bands, and said his heroes were the local drummers and musicians that performed in jazz and marching bands.   But like many a teen, his first experienced was in a rock band.

"It was high school kids putting together something.  A lot of people were into the "Screamo" music at the time. So we had many heavy parts to it like we were almost a metal band."

Radio Munson 5/26/16

May 27, 2016

Don is polishing his virtual Mirror Ballroom Ball for this week’s Radio Munson, with a set on his playlist of iconic romantic dance recordings by Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw.  Sammy Davis, Junior is on the evening’s card, too, along with Keely Smith, Nat “King” Cole, and Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band’s offering of the “Tin Roof Blues."

Monaghan Photography

Corey Dennison listened to a lot of music growing up in Chattanooga TN and various other southern burgs.  But he said everything changed once he heard Howlin' Wolf's "London Sessions" album.

"Right then and there is when I said 'whoa ... I gotta have this.'"

Brad Olson Photography

Following his muse has worked well for California based singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Eldred. Exhibit A is a recent album of Elvis covers titled "Elvis Unleaded."  Eldred said his latest album “Baptist Town” was inspired by his readings of folklorist Alan Lomax, which themselves have inspired many trips by Eldred to Mississippi.

“The more I dug into the folklore and history, and the prisons, prison work songs and field hollers, I realized that this music has always done something to me, as has gospel.”

Danny Clinch

Experiencing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is intoxicating in any venue.  To inhale the band in its home in New Orleans is an extra joyous occasion.  But you could easily miss Preservation Hall as you walk by the storied venue on St. Peters Street in the French Quarter.  The Hall’s creative director Ben Jaffe said the compact size is an appealing attribute.

“Isn’t that beautiful?  It’s as if we invited a group of our friends into our living room to experience us playing for ourselves.  That’s a super rare experience for anyone. For us to be able to do that every night is special.”

Louisiana native Marc Broussard seems to have life by the tail.  He’s a successful Southern soul singer/songwriter with an adorable family, including four children. But this self-described family man said his life has evolved quite a bit since breaking into the music business over 15 years ago. 

“I’ll put it this way. If today I ran into a 20-year old Marc Broussard, I’d walk right up to him and punch him straight in the face.”

Peoria’s Paul Adams is a multi-instrumentalist who writes and records music that spans multiple genres.  Adams embraces the characterization, and compared himself to a visual artist.

“For example, he may be tired of working in oils, so he says ‘I’m going to do something in acrylic.’ Or maybe he has some tools, and decides to carve some mahogany.  That’s my thing; I’m a generalist in music. I feel comfortable in a number of different genres.”

Jon Norton / WGLT

WGLT's legendary Blues host "Delta" Frank Black made an encore appearance during GLT Blues Sunday, May 15.  Black played his 50 favorite blues songs as part of GLT's 50th anniversary celebration, and said he had "a blast."

"It's been a long time since I've been on the radio. I tell ya, and I haven't had this much fun in a long, long time."

Joe Mazza

In a town that birthed House music and wears Blues music on its sleeve, Kent Rose is an outlier in the Chicago area.  A child of the 1950's and 60's, Rose grew up in suburban Glencoe devouring the rock & roll of Buddy Holly and Elvis.  He was also enamored by country and honky-tonk and the folk music of Pete Seeger and Mahalia Jackson. 

“What I found was that I was given some records by country artists by my cousin, and WLS radio at the time played a wider mix of music. You could hear something like Stonewall Jackson or The Statler Brothers. I was pretty entranced by the whole thing.”

Radio Munson 5/12/16

May 12, 2016

Billy Eckstine, Catherine Russell, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy put the swing into this week’s Radio Munson; plus a trip to 1937 to listen to some of Benny Goodman’s best soloists, the Buddy Rich Band roars through “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town), Bobby Troup sings a song he wrote—“(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,”--and Errol Garner plays one he wrote—“Misty."

Jamie Day

Alexandra "Alex" Fisher is the founder and leader of the Bloomington-Normal indie-pop band "Alex and the XO's."  Since forming five years ago, the band has toured the U.S. and has recorded three albums, with the 2015 self-titled being their latest.  Though not a household name outside the Twin Cities, they're having moderate success, which Fisher said seemed unlikely just over five years ago.

“My ambition at the time was to teach third grade, settle down, and have a family.”

Dave Glacinski

Writing one song with an appealing melody is difficult.  Bloomington's Michael Adams and his War Painted Horses band mates have filled their debut album “Murder at the Wheelhouse” with 12 melodic gems (not including a hidden track).  When lauded for his impressive songwriting ability, a trait not always present in even great musicians, Adams deftly deflected the compliment.

Radio Munson 5/5/16

May 5, 2016

Singers Matt Monroe, Mavis Rivers, Tony Bennett, and Nancy Wilson swing some familiar tunes on this week’s Radio Munson, along with the bands of Perez Prado, Ted Heath and Jimmy Dorsey, plus a classic live track from Oscar Peterson.

Radio Munson 4/28/16

May 3, 2016

Helen O’Connell is “Steppin’ Out With a Memory Tonight” on Radio Munson while Louis Armstrong climbs “Blueberry Hill” and Bobby Darin predicts “I’ll Remember April.”  Don samples a track from a newly discovered and issued album by jazz piano great Bill Evans and salutes the recording anniversaries of iconic songs by Jack Teagarden and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Marc Cooper / Flickr

Jeff Jensen was living in Portland Oregon in 2011 when he lost his marriage and house. Devastated, he packed what was left of his belongings and prepared to move to California,

“I have a really supportive family and they encouraged me to move back to California, where I’m originally from. That was the plan.” 

The plan changed at a service station.  As he was getting an oil change before departing, he said something didn’t feel right. On a whim, he drove east, instead of south.

Courtney Armitage

Covering a 1972 Black Sabbath song seems an unlikely choice for a black Soul singer.

“The reason I wanted to learn it is because of my Mom, and because the lyrics fit my soul. And when I hear something my soul likes, I can bring it out.”

Ralph Weisheit

Matthew Curry's ascent in the music business has been breathtaking.  Barely out of Bloomington (IL) High School, the 20 year old has recorded two full-length albums and has opened for some of the biggest names in the music business, including Peter Frampton and the Doobie Brothers.  But that steep trajectory flat-lined in late 2015. Instead of opening for rock legends or crisscrossing the country on another solo tour, he was back in Bloomington, scratching his head.

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