Blues

Studio Sessions
2:16 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Justin Kauflin: A Pianist And His Mentor

Pianist, Justin Kauflin, in the KPLU Seattle studios.
Aaron Hushagen KPLU

Listen to the full interview & performance

Justin Kauflin is a 23-year-old jazz pianist who is also one of the subjects of a new documentary film called Keep On Keepin’ On.

The other subject of the film is Justin’s musical and spiritual mentor, jazz trumpet legend, Clark Terry. Kauflin has been a musician since childhood. He’s also been blind since age 11. The film deals with Justin’s apprenticeship and friendship with the 93-year-old Terry.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue March 4, 2014

This, We Agree, Was The First-Ever Recorded Rock And Roll Song

John Lee Hooker
Stevesworldofphotos Flickr

What was the first recorded rock and roll song?

Before we can answer that question, we have to go back and figure out the ingredients of rock and roll. We can identify three most important ingredients: gospel, jump and blues. 

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

The long flight of Muddy's 'Honey Bee'

Muddy Waters

The Blues Time Machine

Muddy Waters was born in rural Mississippi, and learned his blues at the feet of Son House and Robert Johnson.

By the 1940’s he took that delta blues to Chicago and led the gradual transition to electrified urban blues. He then recorded “Honey Bee” in 1951 with just bass and guitar accompaniment. The sound was closer to the delta, but you can hear the beginnings of the more aggressive modern sound starting to happen.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Hendrix inspired by Earl King's 'Come On'

Earl King

The Blues Time Machine

Earl King is one of the great songwriters and performers to come out of New Orleans, and his legacy continues to live on. Many of his compositions, including “Big Chief," “Trick Bag” and “These Lonely, Lonely Nights” have become an important part of the New Orleans “songbook."

His 1960 recording of “Come On Pts. 1 & 2” is punctuated with many starts and stops, featuring his expressive voice and aggressive and precise guitar work. If you look through Jimi Hendrix’s early releases, there are only a handful of songs among the dozens that he did not write. Earl King’s “Come On” is one of those.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

'Black Rat' comes from the most powerful singer to walk the Earth

Big Mama Thornton

The Blues Time Machine

The urban blues of places like Detroit and Chicago came from country blues. Little Son Joe and his better known partner Memphis Minnie were among the players who brought the blues to the cities, paving the way for Muddy Waters and others who would follow.

Memphis Minnie is known as one of the best guitarists and singers in the blues, and had a prolific career lasting 40 years. She married Little Son Joe (Ernest Lawlars) in the late 1930’s and they recorded “Black Rat Swing” in 1941 with Joe on vocals.

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Best Of 2013
1:00 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

10 Artists You Should Have Known In 2013

Trampled Under Foot
Courtesy of the artist

It's usually easy to keep up with your favorite artists. You can follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and check them out when they come to your town.

Falling in love with unfamiliar bands? That's not quite as simple. There are so many aspiring musicians out there, you can't possibly listen to all of them.

But a few lucky people get to listen to random new artists for a living, including public radio hosts. So we asked NPR stations around the country to highlight their favorite musical discoveries of the year. The results ranged from a Pulitzer Prize winner to stars of the Kansas City BBQ circuit.

Read on for more about the 10 artists you should have known in 2013.

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Jazz and Blues
7:01 am
Sat December 14, 2013

John Kessler’s Top 10 Blues Albums Of 2013

FILE - Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks perform with the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I.
Joe Goblin Associated Press

Boz Scaggs: Memphis (429 Records)

A tribute to the Memphis soul-blues tradition, made with some of the city’s best players. His unique rasp has only improved with age, and perfectly complements the laid-back groove that permeates the release. Not all the material is “soul” music, some of the best tracks are the bluesy “Cadillac Walk” and “Dry Spell”. Boz is a master of the simmering blues vibe, slightly restrained, but overflowing with mojo.

James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator Records)

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Following "Blues With a Feeling" through cutting-edge changes

Little Walter

Here’s a perfect example of a song that changed with the times, and was at the cutting edge of those changes.

Drummer and singer Rabon Tarrant recorded “Blues With a Feeling” in 1947, a time when big band swing music was in transition to rock and roll. This version straddles both genres with the beat of rock and roll, but the more jazzy instrumentation of piano, sax and trumpet.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Robert Johnson at the Crossroads represents Delta blues the best

Robert Johnson, circa 1935.
Hooks Brothers

The Blues Time Machine

If I had to pick one person to represent Delta blues at the peak of its expression, it would be Robert Johnson.

Saying that he 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. Many of his songs became not only blues standards but would be a huge influence on rock music.

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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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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 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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KPLU Studio Sessions
9:05 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Gregory Porter: Football's loss is jazz's gain

Gregory Porter performs live in the KPLU Seattle studios on June 21, 2013.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Listen to the full interview & performance

On his first trip to Seattle, Grammy-nominated vocalist Gregory Porter stopped by the KPLU Seattle studios for a live studio session that you do not want to miss.  This also happened to be the day that Blue Note Records announced the release of Porter's new album, Liquid Spirit. 

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

John Henry's legend lives through music

John Henry, Steel Driving Man
Ken Thomas

The Legend of John Henry is an iconic myth of American railroad history, a battle between man and steam drill. One of the intriguing things about the legend is that no one knows for sure if John Henry existed. At least part of the myth is based  on historical events from the mid-1800’s; some say the source lies in Alabama, others point to West Virginia, both places where significant railroad tunnels were dug.

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KPLU Studio Sessions
12:51 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Joan Osborne and The Holmes Brothers are a recipe for soul

Joan Osborne performing live with The Holmes Brothers in the KPLU Seattle Studios on April 19, 2013.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Want a good recipe for soul music?

Here’s what you do: Start with vocalist, Joan Osborne, who has had pop music hits, performed on The Grand Old Oprey, toured with members of The Grateful Dead and yet never strayed from her roots in rhythm ‘n blues music.

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