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

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.

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.

janwillemsen / Flickr

Where do babies come from? We may be unqualified to answer that one, but we can tell you with confidence that there’s a sucker born every minute.

For Halloween, a spooky blues that influenced a generation of rock musicians.

“I Ain’t Superstitious” is a bridge between the acoustic blues of the South and the electric blues of Chicago.

Kids used to have their own holiday. It was called Halloween. But now 50% of adults are celebrating Halloween, too. Giving up Halloween means admitting you're getting old, and no one wants to do that.

Here are some Halloween-ie tunes to help you get your spook on…

wackystuff / Flickr

It may be the first musical instrument ever: 40,000 years ago one of our ancestors blew into an animal bone and made music.

But were they fluting or flauting? There seems to be confusion, so let’s settle this right now.

Yvesanemone / Flickr

COULROPHOBIA. Fear of clowns. More common than you might think. We got a bad case of it after hearing all the nasty stuff people dressed like clowns are doing.

Besides selling hamburgers and squeezing into Volkswagens, clowns have been committing robberies and even murders…

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 …

“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.

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.

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.

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 ...

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.

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.

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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