Virtual Jukebox

Ariel Pink’s cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s “Baby”–swoon-worthy groove!

Recommended programs for music lovers young and old!

Sound Opinions from WBEZ Chicago features live in-studio performances, humorous and smart discussions about music, critiques of latest releases in all genres by two respected journalists, Greg Cot and Jim DiRogatis, who is also an educator at Columbia College.  Download podcasts or listen weekly on your local NPR affiliate– here in Seattle Sunday nights at 10pm.

American Routes “is a weekly two-hour public radio program produced in New Orleans, presenting a broad range of American music — blues and jazz, gospel and soul, old-time country and rockabilly, Cajun and zydeco, Tejano and Latin, roots rock and pop, avant-garde and classical.” Nick Spitzer interviews musicians each week and explores the history and culture of the myriad threads that make up American music.  Informative and educational, as well as just plain good music, this show should be integrated into American History courses.

And while I am on this topic of roots music and history, PBS produced a documentary a few years back called American Roots Music.  I was given the corresponding box set of music CD’s as a gift one Christmas, which is an amazing compilation of rare, historic recordings of early blues, roots, country, gospel, native american music, and more.  As always with PBS productions, there are lesson plans for teachers of history, literature, or music who want to integrate the documentary and music into their lessons.

PBS is a great resource for music history education.  There are so many great programs that have been produced through the years that should be integrated into history and literary arts curriculum, such as Ken Burns’ Jazz, Austin City Limits (the longest running music series in American history), and The Blues.

While the debate continues about the effects of music on productivity, learning, memory, and focus, my experiences with students over the years, especially those with ADHD, point to the real need for some non-distracting music to help calm and center the mind on the task at hand.  Minds that are expansive, creative, and as a result easily distracted, often do work well with a rhythm.  For some people the music must be instrumental, others can work well with loud driving rock.  For me personally, my preference is dictated by mood and the the kind of work I need to complete.  A great tool I have found to provide musical motivation is Pandora.  You can locate playlists, including those compiled by students specifically for studying, or create your own based on musical preferences.  The great thing about Pandora, versus your iPod or CD collection, is that you will encounter new artists and expand your listening experience.

For insight into music and the brain, check out Musical Minds from NOVA, as well as Dr. Oliver Sacks’ writing on the topic, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.      

Musical Minds, no longer streaming on NOVA, can now be viewed on VimeoClick here! 

St. Paul Sunday from American Public Media was a favorite syndicated program on my local NPR affiliate when I first moved to Seattle.  It has long since disappeared, much to my dismay, from its place on my local dial, but it can be accessed & streamed online. It has been a great source of traditional and innovative classical music for 25 years, especially for those of us who are still learning about this area of music.

Indie Labels: Check out some new music

Music Publications

  • Pitchfork
  • No Depression
  • The Rock Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge, David Kamp and Steven Daly
  • Rock She Wrote: Women Write about Rock, Pop, and Rap, Ed. Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers
  • Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Ed. Peter Guralnick, Robert Santelli, Holly George-Warren, and Christopher John Farley
  • R. Crumbs’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country  

Some of my favorite musicians and albums…

Wilco   From alt-country darlings of the early 90’s to experimental rockers of the new millennium, Wilco remains one of my all-time favorite bands.

  • Check out their documentaries I am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002) and 2009’s Ashes of American Flags: Wilco Live  
  • Click the photo below & listen
In Chicago with towers from Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

The Fruitbats has been a favorite band of mine for nearly a decade.  Check out Mouthfuls, Written in Bones, and their 2011 release Tripper, and of course a nostalgic cover of “One on One” by the one and only Hall & Oates!

Pearl Jam: It’s more than a little challenging to believe that nearly two decades have passed since I sat transfixed in front of MTV Unplugged watching Pearl Jam render their music in raw acoustic form.  Grunge, the movies of Cameron Crowe, and the Seattle scene would dominate my musical and mental landscape during my undergraduate career, and factor significantly into my decision to explore and ultimately relocate to the Pacific Northwest a decade later.  Over the years I have lauded and lamented the efforts of these Seattle stalwarts, and now I eagerly await the retrospective PJ20 that will allow us all to relive a great moment in rock history.

Stay tuned for more entries….

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