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 October 6, 2011

Jingles: The little melodic encouragements that birthed a nation

The Birth of Jingles

Scientifically crafted earworms, designed to make us buy things we didn’t even know we wanted, were invented in the early 1920’s. Since then, jingles have become an integral part of American culture.

And to think it all began with Wheaties …

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Blues Time Machine
8:00 am
Fri September 30, 2011

'Drop Down Mama' – Country blues or hard rock?

“Crying the blues” perfectly describes the style of Sleepy John Estes. His music is not very complex, and he was a solid, but not a great guitarist.

Instead, Estes is known more for his ability to write about universal themes and to sing with deep emotion. He was a big influence on early bluesmen like Big Bill Broonzy and Arthur Crudup. He also was a big inspiration for later players like Michael Bloomfield, with whom he worked in the 1960s.

“Drop Down Mama” is a song of his that has re-surfaced several times. Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon recorded it in 1935.

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

Can you use any money (songs) today?

Greenbacks
AMagill Flickr

Just in time for fund drive we ponder some eternal questions about money.

Can money buy you love? No, but it puts you in better bargaining position. Can money buy you happiness? No again. But you can rent it for awhile.

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

Going postal ... with music

Take a letter...
Rob Weir Flickr

We’re going postal on you this week. Songs about letters and mail abound, and no wonder, with over 570,000 workers, the US Postal Service is the second largest employer in the US, behind Wal-Mart.

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

Is this the face that launched a few thousand songs?

The face that launched a thousand ships.
Kotomicreations Flickr

Capable of at least 5000 expressions, the human face has inspired at least that many songs, and we listened to most of them ...

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

Husband and wives making beautiful music together

Desi and Lucy 10 years in.
Elena-lu Flickr

Being married is hard enough, but combine that with working together and you’ve got a tough proposition, so to speak.  It didn’t work out well for Ike and Tina Turner or for Sonny and Cher, but there are many musical couples who stayed together til the end.

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

'Hi-Ho' and other songs that lead the way on Labor Day

Stamping Hams is hard work.
Wisconsin Historical Images

It's a shame that the only thing a person can do for eight hours a day is work. Can't eat for eight hours; can't drink for eight hours; can't make love for eight hours. The only thing a person can do for eight hours is work.

So it makes sense that we would have a national holiday dedicated to work and working people, and an episode of iconic and quirky worky songs.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:00 am
Thu August 25, 2011

Sweating to the oldies, but letting the records do the spinning

Old School Fitness
kevindooley Flickr

Music and working out seem to go together. But instead of working out this week we burn calories with a quick trip down the (short) memory lane of notable exercise music. (Please consult a physician before attempting any of these exercises. If you fracture your fundibula, we can’t be responsible.)

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Blues Time Machine
5:00 am
Fri August 19, 2011

'Blues in the Night' brought change, still solid after 60 years

“Blues in the Night” first was heard in the 1941 movie “Hot Nocturne."

Written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, it’s considered to be a landmark in American popular music because it was one of the first times that rural black dialect and an explicitly bluesy melody was used in a popular song.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:00 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Chime in as we sing away the recession!

Please, sir, I want some more.
wikimedia

Things are so bad, a picture is now only worth 200 words. People are using the sun to get a tan. Everyone is downsizing — CEOs are even playing miniature golf.

Recession has us in depression, and we are certainly not going to let a good crisis go to waste, hence this week’s episode on songs about hard times ...

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Blues Time Machine
11:10 am
Sat August 13, 2011

Taking the 'Rollin' and Tumblin'' ride through 70 years

Muddy Waters

For the first "Blues Time Machine," I’ve chosen “Rollin’ and Tumblin’," a song that goes through some major changes on it’s way to the 21st century.

The story of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" also shows us that although the sound may evolve through time, the song remains true to the original.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:00 am
Thu August 11, 2011

A look back at how Michael Jackson bought the Beatles

Paul and Michael
quicheisinsane Flickr

This week RBR takes a look at the money train of the music industry and the mysterious world of song royalties.

This one sounds like an urban myth, but it’s true: Michael Jackson really did acquire the rights to most of the Beatles songs. It’s a strange and sordid tale, but it’s hard to feel too sorry for people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars …

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Record Bin Roulette
6:00 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Can't do much about the weather but quote others about it

Lego Zeus
Dunechaser Flickr

This we talk about the weather, but as usual, don't do anything about it ... except offer some favorite sayings for your amusement, starting with the classic, definitive bad opening line of all time:

It was a dark and stormy night.
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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Record Bin Roulette
4:00 am
Thu July 28, 2011

Pop music and politics, more cooptation than cooperation

Sarah Barracuda!
Chuckumentary Flickr

Political figures have frequently used pop music for an image boost. Bill Clinton played Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” and President Obama used the Allen Toussaint song “Yes We Can Can” to great effect.

But the musicians aren’t always so keen on the idea ...

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Record Bin Roulette
5:00 am
Thu July 21, 2011

Taking a musical ride through the annals of obsolete technology

Cassette Death
Moff Flickr

Until about 120 years ago, if there was music, an actual person was playing it. There weren’t rock stars and music heroes, because there weren't machines to reproduce music and radios to broadcast it.

But technology has not only changed music, it's also changed our relationship to it ... not always for the better of the music.

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