John Kessler

All Blues Host

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KPLU since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KPLU “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.

His most memorable and satisfying KPLU radio moment was getting an email from Jimmy Lane, a bluesman and the son of blues legend Jimmy Rogers, who said something like “You’re playing the good stuff, keep it up!”

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Jazz & Blues
12:00 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

'Eyesight To The Blind' and the Rock Opera 'Tommy'

Sonny Boy Williamson was a blues originator who helped shape the sound of modern blues. In his life, he knew the first generation of Delta bluesmen, and would go on to see the birth of modern rock music. He played with Robert Johnson in the 1930’s, and with Eric Clapton in the 1960’s. His ability to span eras is a testament to the timelessness of his voice and harmonica.

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Jazz & Blues
11:30 am
Fri November 1, 2013

'Traveling Riverside Blues' and the Roots of Led Zeppelin

Robert Johnson has become a mythical figure of the blues, who acquired his prodigious skills in a deal with the devil at the crossroads. The truth is he was a man who worked very hard to turn himself into a musician. His early attempts at music – sitting in with legends Charley Patton and Son House—were not successful, and he didn’t appear to have much in the way of musical talent.

But then Johnson found a teacher in Ike Zinneman, an unrecorded Mississippi blues player, spending a year developing his musicianship.

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The Blues Time Machine
11:30 am
Fri October 25, 2013

The Piedmont Blues of "Crow Jane"

It’s hard to trace the exact source of “Crow Jane”, but it’s a song that has outlasted many others from the early days of the blues. Its roots lay in the Piedmont region of Virginia and North and South Carolina. Rev. Gary Davis was known to perform it during the 1920’s, and the first recording was made in 1927 by guitarist Julius Daniels. Daniels is important partly because he was one of the first Black guitarists to record in the Southeast, inspiring others to follow.

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Jazz & Blues
11:30 am
Fri October 18, 2013

'Sitting on Top of the World' with the Mississippi Sheiks

The Mississippi Sheiks were a popular string band of the 1920’s and 30’s, with a sound that was a crossover between country music and blues. Though Mississippi-based, their music differed from delta blues in some important ways.

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Jazz & Blues
11:30 am
Fri October 11, 2013

'Nobody Knows You', Classic in Any Genre

The Empress of The Blues

This iconic hard-luck song was a hit when Bessie Smith recorded it in 1929, and with its timeless message and memorable melody, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” has been a favorite for singers in almost every genre including jazz, blues, folk and rock. Bessie Smith was the most popular female jazz and blues singer of the 1920’s, and the highest paid black entertainer of the day. Known as “The Empress of the Blues”, she often worked with the top tier players in the business, including Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and James P. Johnson.

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Jazz & Blues
11:55 am
Fri September 27, 2013

'Mercury Blues' Still Running after 60 Years

Cars make great musical metaphors, and they’ve inspired some famous blues songs like “Cadillac Boogie”, “Maybelline” and “Mustang Sally”. K.C. Douglas came out with “Mercury Boogie” in 1949, a song that would go on to be a widely covered blues standard, known as “Mercury Blues”. Ford purchased the rights to the song for advertising (“Crazy ‘Bout a Ford Truck”), and it was a #2 hit for country singer Alan Jackson in 1993.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Patton's 'Pony Blues' Still Kicking

Charley Patton

The Blues Time Machine

Charley Patton was one of the first to play what we might recognize as Delta blues, putting blues into a strong and syncopated rhythm. A powerful singer with an aggressive guitar style, he was also a masterful entertainer, and one of the best-known traveling performers of his time.

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Jazz & Blues
12:00 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

The Long Life of 'Stop Breaking Down'

Robert Johnson

The Blues Time Machine

Eric Clapton called Robert Johnson "the most important blues singer who ever lived."

Saying that Johnson was a superlative guitar player, impassioned singer and masterful lyricist seems barely adequate to convey the importance of the work he accomplished in his 27 years. 

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Studio Sessions
2:31 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Marcia Ball Performs Live in the KPLU Studios

Marcia Ball performing live in the KPLU Seattle studios on August 27.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Pianist/singer Marcia Ball is one of the best-known  players of Louisiana blues, swamp blues and boogie-woogie. While in town for a show at Jazz Alley, we were lucky enough to have Marcia stop by for a solo performance and interview hosted by All Blues' John Kessler. 

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Blues for the 'Big Boss Man'

Jimmy Reed

The Blues Time Machine

Jimmy Reed is one of the most influential bluesmen in history and his songs will always be part of the blues repertoire. "Baby, What You Want Me to Do," "Bright Lights, Big City," “ You Don't Have to Go”, are just some of the songs Reed made popular.

His style was easy-going and non-threatening, which made it accessible to white audiences of the 50’s and 60’s. Perhaps because of that, Reed sold more records than other blues stars like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

'The Milk Cow Blues'—Alive and Well 80 Years Later

The Blues Time Machine

Sleepy John Estes was a Tennessee-based blues singer of the 1920’s and 30’s. Though not a flashy guitarist, his voice was packed with power, and the songs he wrote have lasted through the years to be sung by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.

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blues time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

4 Ways to Sing 'The Same Thing'

The Blues Time Machine

This deceptively simple blues song is a masterpiece of restraint and execution. Recorded first in 1964, it features the voice of Muddy Waters and the piano of Otis Spann in call-and-response. Buoyed by composer Willie Dixon’s bass, Waters slide guitar speaks only twice in the entire song, with bone-chilling results.

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Jazz & Blues
12:00 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Blues Turns Electric with 'Crawling King Snake'

Big Joe Williams was part of the first generation of blues players, and lived to help spark the blues revival of the 1960’s. An active performing and recording musician, he traveled the country starting in the 1920’s, and by the 1970’s, had become very popular on the folk circuit as well. He is best known for the songs “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Crawling King Snake” which he recorded in 1941.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Gershwin's 'Summertime' Becomes a Rock Classic

The Blues Time Machine

“Summertime” is considered one of George Gershwin’s finest songs. Collaborating with his brother Ira and lyricist DuBose Heyward, Gershwin composed the piece for his 1935 “folk-opera” Porgy and Bess.

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paul allen's creative side
5:01 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Experience His Music Project: Paul Allen Releases Star-Studded CD

Paul Allen and Joe Walsh

A new CD is being released Tuesday by hometown kid Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. The CD features his songwriting and collaborations with Joe Walsh, Chrissie Hynde, and Heart.

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