Music Features | WGLT

Music Features

GLT has always been devoted to music. Blues, folk and jazz have been among our offerings for decades but we're also eager to explore just about any musical genre with you.  We love to feature interviews with musicians, visits to record stores, talking about who's rising in the local music scene and telling you about national acts headed our way. Here are some of our best music features. 

Like many bands, the Bloomington-based quintet Old Smoke used downtime during the pandemic to write and record a new album.

Dan Hubbard during a live online performance from "The Toy Room" in his basement
Dan Hubbard

Family took center stage on Dan Hubbard's new five-song EP “Fall in Love Again (Quarantine Lullabies)”.

Most music planners in the twin cities said they remain optimistic live music will return this summer or fall but moving parts could change those plans at any time.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has many optimistic a return to something resembling “normal” is approaching. That includes a Bloomington Normal live-music scene gutted by the pandemic. Most music organizers in the Twin Cities said they are shooting for summer and fall performances. 

"That Was the Year That Wasn't" album cover
Rick Valentin

Rick Valentin says dreary central Illinois winter weather is why he began writing and recording new music in January 2020. But that exercise for his solo vehicle, Thoughts Detecting Machines, evolved into an album that acted as a coping mechanism when the pandemic hit.

The new EP from V8 Vast Change is "Life"
Levi Briggs photography

Dominique Stevenson is a very visible Twin City activist who uses his music to spread a message of unity and encouragement. He was on the front lines of social justice marches last summer and even founded the youth-based advocacy group Next Gen Initiative.

Lucero's new album "When You Found Me" can be heard on Highway 309
Bob Bayne

You never know what you’ll hear traveling Highway 309, but what you do hear ... will be good.

Brett Conlin's new EP it titled "The Great Divide"
Nic Gundy Photography

Bloomington singer/songwriter Brett Conlin said a three-month isolation at home with his family last spring became the fodder for his just released acoustic EP "The Great Divide."

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Joe Borbely said creating the debut album for the Bloomington-based Progressive Space rock outfit CAPS LOCK was almost literally a life-saver.

Peoria may not seem fertile ground for birthing a Flamenco band. But a side jam during the making of a compilation CD among area musicians grew into one of Peoria’s newest outfits.

Touring musician Andrew "Blaze" Thomas believes musicians must adapt to downtime the pandemic has forced upon them.

Edward David Anderson performing during the summer of 2019 at the Black Dirt Music Festival in Bloomington
Simeon Marie

The pandemic has hit full-time performing musicians especially hard. There are very few places to perform and in-person audiences are sparse, at best.

Singer-songwriter Leah Marlene's first full-length album is quite a curveball for those that came to her through her 2018 up-tempo, hook-laden debut EP “Arrows.”

Chris Anderson, "aTOMic" Satterfield and Marsha Satterfield are Tina Sparkle
Tina Sparkle

The leader and front-woman for the Peoria-based rock outfit Tina Sparkle says she feels fortunate to be married to someone who understands a musician’s life, and that she could be the muse for many a song.

Charlie Starr and Blackberry Smoke play the Corn Crib in Normal Saturday night
Blackberry Smoke

Musicians and concert promoters are working their way back into larger live music events. Blackberry Smoke headlines one of two shows this weekend at the Corn Crib in Normal.

The new album from V8 Vast Change is titled "Civil Disobedience"
Dominique Stevenson

Dominique Stevenson has been a very public figure in Bloomington-Normal this year. He founded the youth-based Next Gen Initiative. The social-justice group initiated several marches and education forums in the Twin Cities this summer.

Normal IL rapper and visual artist Grill Billyenz
Grill Billyenz

Rapper and visual artist Grill Billyenz of Normal says the darker industrial sound on his latest album "Metamorph" comes from the ghost-town feeling he gets working the third shift at his "day job."

Gina Schock, from left, Jane Wiedlin, Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey and Kathy Valentine pose for a portrait to promote the film "The Go-Go's" at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Park City, Utah.
Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

You never know what you’ll hear traveling Highway 309, but what you do hear ... will be good.

Folk, pop, rock, soul, gospel, Americana, jazz, blues (and then some) are all part of the mix. That includes new music in the past few weeks from The Go-Go's, H.E.R., Dawes, Josh Ritter CeeLo Green, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Broadway Calls, The Mavericks, and Kathleen Edwards.

Listen to Highway 309 on-air weekends and overnights on WGLT and WCBU, and streaming 24/7 on both station websites.

You'll hear new music from the Hinds and many others right now on Highway 309
Alberto Van Stokkum

You never know what you’ll hear traveling Highway 309, but what you do hear ... will be good.

Springfield native Mary Jo Curry and her band are receiving much critical acclaim and airplay for their sophomore blues album "Front Porch." It’s an unlikely path for the Illinois State University theater program alum with training in classical voice and piano.

Releasing a new album during the coronavirus pandemic has a silver lining for the bluesy Peoria roots-rock trio Hoosier Daddy.

Zak Hoffman, Alex Girard, and Bill Price of NoRobot
Dave Fulton

Necessity really was the mother of invention for the Bloomington-based funk-rock band NoRobot.

A scene from Summercamp in May 2019
Aaron Bradley

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the live music scene to a screeching halt.

Edward David Anderson plays Nightshop in Bloomington Saturday night
Troy Phillips

Bloomington Americana singer/songwriter Edward David Anderson says his new "Live and Solo" album intentionally tried to capture where he's at in his current iteration.

Ana Popovic plays The Castle Theatre Thursday night
Marco Van Rooijen

Blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Ana Popovic said she mentally worked to overcome doubt when she crashed the male-dominated blues scene two decades ago.

Jared Grabb plays Nightshop in Bloomington Thursday night
Rodger Hanlon

Peoria native Jared Grabb knew art would be a major part of his life from a young age. But once he arrived in college to study comic book art, he discovered his love of music trumped visual art.

Rich Fury/Invision/AP

You never know what you're going to hear on Highway 309. But know that what you hear will be good. 

Oak Park native and organ aficionado Neal Francis infuses his original music with the classic soul vibe of the 1960s and 70s. His debut album “Changes” is accompanied by lyrics that document his work to overcome addictions and other demons. A year later, his new single continues that effort.

Taylor Steele says a spicy sound may soon mix with the Illinois prairie sound her Effingham-based band is known for.

Touring the country with bandmates on the strength of major record label releases can sound glamorous.

Eric Johnson plays
Max Crace

During the 30th anniversary year of the release of Eric Johnson's classic album "Ah Via Musicom," the much lauded guitarist said looking back on that album and his other works can be helpful.