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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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Here's some lascivious love songs for V-Day

You'll put an eye out with that thing!
--(@rwen flickr

Love songs are the heart, soul and spleen of the music business. And musicians, being rebels and upstarts, have always been pushing the boundaries of taste and decency, leading to some surprising outcomes…

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Sound effects in pop music explored

The 1812 Overture calls for cannon

The Beatles were famous for using sound effects they found in the Abbey Road library, and many other artists used sound to great effect. (haha)  Babby Darin’s “Splish Splash” had a gurgling bath in the track, and The Ronettes “Walking in the Rain” was Grammy-nominated for use of thunder sound effects.

Maybe the first use of sound effects in music was in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which calls for live cannons.

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Blues Time Machine
1:00 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

'Rock Island Line' evolved from the rhythm of hard labor

library of congess

Blues evolved from many different sources including spirituals, work songs, and chants. “Rock Island Line” began as a work song, first recorded in 1934 by prisoners at Cummins Farm in Arkansas. The rhythm of physical labor is integral to songs like these.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Singing about 'quiet desperation'

jerebu Flickr

Maybe sometimes the desperation isn’t so quiet, but we begin with a premise by Thoreau, and head straight downhill from there.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Singing about 'the slammer'

Johnny Cash outside Folsom Prison
WBUR Flickr

The Hoosegow, the Big House, The Clink, Up The River, The Pen. We’ve never been ourselves, but we did time listening to scores of songs about "the slammer."

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Slaying dragons and other pop song suffering

Queen For a Day!

This week we learned that it’s good to be the king. But it’s a long road from being a lord or lady to becoming a duke, princess or king. Along the way there are dragons to slay and pop songs to suffer through.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 5, 2012

Time is on our turntable

Time is Nature’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once. And the sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up. It’s deep thoughts like this that keep us up at night and make us sleepy during the day.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu December 29, 2011

Singing about ... pants?

Clothes make the man.
chappo2002 Flickr

Clothes make the man, and in this case, the radio episode. Who knew that there would enough songs about pants to fill a front loading washer?

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu December 22, 2011

The infamous 'Christmas Carol Bloodbath' of ... 2011

Can Lady Gaga defeat Bing Crosby?

This week we pit musical legends against upstarts and imitators, in a duel to the death. You be the judge and jury.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu December 15, 2011

What are memories and what's the brain doing with them?

Memory explained
luciana christante Flickr

Whenever we think about the past it brings back so many memories.

But what are memories, exactly?

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Exploring the 'sugar rush' phenomenon in music

There is a lot of disagreement about whether a “sugar rush” exists, but these studies have  obviously been conducted by scientists who don't have young children.

Nevertheless, there is agreement that anything this good must be bad for you. And it’s clear that sugar consumption is a factor in obesity, diabetes and dentists’s BMWs ...

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu December 1, 2011

Marking the decline of fashion ... and fashion music

Puttin on the Ritz

Fashion never goes out of style, and popular music has always provided the sonic accessory. From “Buttons and Bows” to “Chantilly Lace," musicians love to sing about fashions, but arguably there has been a decline in the looks — and the music.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu November 24, 2011

Musical turkeys for Thanksgiving and beyond!

Know your bird.

Songs about Thanksgiving and about giving thanks.

The tone for our episode is set by the down-and-out Johnson family, who have no turkey on the table but enough moralizing from Dad that no one has an appetite anyway.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu November 17, 2011

Don't worry, be happy (by whatever means!)

There are many paths to happiness. Spirituality, relationships, community, a warm puppy. Writing a hit song also helps, if you believe that happiness can be bought.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Honoring our veterans of military service and music

This week we salute our veterans and the music they made before, during and after their military service.

The first one that comes to mind is this Vietnam War-era classic from Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, a real-life wounded Vietnam Vet. Even as protest was building against the war, it was the biggest single of 1966, spending 5 weeks at Number 1 on the charts.

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