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!”

Ways To Connect

It’s another one of those mysteries — who actually wrote “One Way Out”?

Elmore James recorded it in 1961, but didn’t release it until ’65. Sonny Boy Williamson released a version in 1961 and 1965 and G.L. Crockett had a 1965 hit with the same song under a different name.

Joel Mann

It’s one of the most iconic songs from New Orleans, and like the city, it’s origin and meaning are a product of may different influences.

Its meaning is still being debated by scholars and linguists, but “Iko Iko” was first recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, who wrote the pop song “Jock-A-Mo” based on 2 different Mardi Gras Indian chants. The Mardi Gras “Indians” are actually African-American groups who have been parading as Indian tribes at Mardi Gras since the mid-19th Century.

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup has been called the “father of rock and roll” for writing the song that launched Elvis Presley’s career. His own career had a rough start-- after migrating from Mississippi around 1940, he was living on the Chicago streets, playing for tips.

His unique, though unpolished sound was distinctive enough to land him a record deal, and he had several songs on the mid-40’s r & b charts. Despite the success of his songs, he was never paid fairly for the music he composed and worked as a laborer to support his family.

It all started innocently enough with Al Hirt, Carol Channing and Up With People. Later things got hipper with New Kids and Michael Jackson, and then there was the infamous 2004 "nipple incident". Britney Spears, U-2, The Who...we tackle them all.

And please be sure to waste 4 minutes of your time watching the newest addition to the Record Bin Roulette bag of tricks...SEE THE VIDEO:

You won't be able to sleep after experiencing this thrilling episode.Learn who sleeps in the nude and many other fascinating things, with accompaniment from Bobby Lewis, Petula Clark, The Beatles and special cameos from The Three Stooges.

Now you can WATCH RBR in living color !

Blind Willie Johnson was a bluesman and a preacher. His lyrics were spiritual, and his music was blues.

Though he only made 30 recordings, his work is a lasting part of the blues legacy. Early players like Son House and Fred McDowell played his tunes, and his influence reached people like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. In 1930 he recorded “The Soul of a Man” accompanied by his wife, Willie B. Harris.

With Cannabis now legal in Washington and Colorado, we decided to roll out an episode that features Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Cab Calloway. We find out which President inhaled and which one did not. Special appearance from Puff the Magic Dragon.

Here's the NEW psychotronic VIDEO version of RBR.

Did he inhale?

"I believe I’ll dust my broom" is an old saying meaning to make a new start.

With that catchy phrase, and a distinctive guitar riff Robert Johnson created an important piece of blues history when he recorded “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” in 1936.

The harp has lent its angelic touch to many a pop song, and we've plucked tunes from Cher, The Beatles and The Carpenters. Guest appearances from Harpo Marx and a lady who plays the harp to calm zoo animals. Really.

Here's what radio looks like...it's the shiny new VIDEO version of RBR:

Henry Thomas is literally a link to an earlier time.

Born in 1874, his music is a patchwork of blues, rags and folk songs. His use of quills, or pan-pipes, is a relic of a nearly vanished African American tradition. Listening to Henry Thomas gives a glimpse of what music might have sounded like before “the blues."

Here's the dazzling new VIDEO version of RBR:

50 years ago James Bond hit the big screen with Dr. No, and with it’s heady cocktail of intrigue, treachery and sex, pretty much set the standard for every spy movie to follow.

Sonny Boy Williamson’s career had a wide range. He played with Robert Johnson in the 1930’s and with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page in the 1960’s. His ability to span eras is a testament to the timelessness of his voice and harmonica.

Sonny Boy Williamson recorded “Help Me” in 1963, and it bears a striking similarity to the instrumental “Green Onions," from Booker T and the MGs one year earlier. It is unusual because it uses minor chords, and has a sort of dark and foreboding sound.

Here are the top 10 Blues albums of 2012 according to KPLU's John Kessler, host of "All Blues" and "The Blues Time Machine" and co-host of "Record Bin Roulette".

JOAN OSBORNE:  BRING IT ON HOME,  Saguaro Road Records

This week we pit musical legends against upstarts and imitators.

You be the judge and jury…

Let’s start with the best selling single of all time, Christmas or not…50 million copies of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” have been sold. Here’s the crooner singing "White Christmas":

This song emphasizes the “rhythm” in “rhythm & blues."

“Mercy, Mercy” or “Have Mercy” was recorded by Don Covay in 1964. It features 22-year-old Jimi Hendrix on guitar. He’s still a few years away from his own solo career, but his guitar playing is recognizable.

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