On Air

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Composers, Philip Glass’ Music Director/Conductor & Director Brett Berns on Sounds of Film

THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2017
6:00 PM EDT

Martin Scorse’s Silence composers, Kim Allen Kluge and Kathryn Kluge, Michael Riesman, Philip Glass’ music director and conductor, and Brett Berns, the director of BANG! The Bert Berns Story will be Tom Needham’s special guests on Thursday, April 13,  on WUSB’s the Sounds of Film.

For more information, please visit http://www.longisland.com/news/04-11-17/martin-scorseses-silence-compose...

2017 Spring Radiothon Specials

Pete Mancini, Gene Casey and Brooks Williams to visit Sunday Street during April


Please listen in on Sunday Street (from 9 AM to 12 noon) during April when these guests, who all have recent album releases to their credit, will visit Sunday Street and join program host Charlie Backfish for conversation and music:

Sunday April 2nd - Pete Mancini, frontman of Butcher's Blind, with his first solo album, Foothill Freeway on Paradiddle Records

Sunday, April 9th - Gene Casey (of Lone Shark's fame) with his latest release, Guitar in The Rain

Sunday, April 30th - Bluesman Brooks Williams, with two recent releases to his credit: My Turn Now, with several of his originals, and Brooks Blues, a collection of classic blues tunes given the Brooks Williams treatment.

Larry Sparks on The Stony Brook Jamboree April 10 at 6 pm

The legendary Larry Sparks will be making an appearance on WUSB’s Stony Brook Jamboree on April 10th at 6:00 pm!  A member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, this king of the flat top guitar and soulful singing has more than 50 years in music.  Larry has released such hits as John Deere Tractor, A Face in the Crowd, Tennessee 1949, Blue Virginia Blues, I Just Want To Thank You Lord, Love of the Mountains, Goodbye Little Darlin’, You Could Have Called, Tribute to Hank Williams, Green Pastures in the Sky… and the list goes on.  Larry has performed at such world famous venues as the Grand Ole Opry, Austin City Limits television show on PBS, Song of the Mountains on PBS, etc.   You won’t want to miss this American music legend!

Robert Randolph Talks “Got Soul” and Keeping Listeners Feeling Up

Pedal steel guitar innovator Robert Randolph’s latest album Got Soul is jubilant and energetic, full of reverb and motivation. It’s a jolt of positivity that comes at the right time for many.

“Everybody’s sorta depressed with a lot of stuff going on in the country and the world,” Randolph said during an interview for the April 3 episode of Country Pocket on WUSB. “People are just looking for something like this to pick them up.”

Count Darius Rucker among those who received this boost. His guest vocals on the track “Love Do What It Do” are among the best in his career largely because it’s so obvious he’s having the time of his life jamming along with Randolph and the family band.

Randolph knew he wanted a soulful country vocal on the track and auditioned the track for an incredibly receptive Rucker over the phone. The fun song with down-home charm provided both Randolph and Rucker with plenty of opportunities to dig into riffs with their respective instruments.

“I’ve collaborated with other people before, and they weren’t too excited,” Randolph said, describing the collaboration process as one some musicians view as more of a job or a favor than an expression of their art. “But [Rucker] kept saying ‘Yeah man, yeah man, I can’t wait’ and while he was in the vocal booth, he was just really excited about it.”

Cory Henry, someone Randolph described as a “great soul” who’s on the path to be “the next Herbie Hancock” also turned in a spirited guest vocal on a cover of Sam & Dave’s “I Thank You.”

“I always had that song in the back of my head to record it one day,” Randolph said. “It’s about time we really start learning to appreciate what others do for us and the joy that someone can bring to us. It’s alright to tell them 'thank you.'”

Randolph’s signature steel guitar playing is the primary draw on Got Soul. He plays it the way he would in the Pentecostal church he grew up in on “Heaven’s Calling.” The pedal steel rarely makes an appearance outside of country music, and on this track, the sound is quite similar to something you’d hear played at the Grand Ole Opry. On other cuts, like the title track, Randolph uses it much like a traditional electric guitar, except of course with more reverb and the ability to sound more comfortable at higher notes.

Higher octave and even falsetto harmonies on tracks like “Shake It Off” and “I Want It” sound excellent and contribute to the joyous energy central to the album. The brief “Lovesick” stands out for Robert’s shredding and cousin Marcus’s remarkable drum playing.

Randolph chose to end “Gonna Be Alright,” a song he retooled from a message to a depressed friend to one with a wider audience.

“It just seemed like it should have a little bit of a wider message for the time that we’re in with everyone freaking out and thinking that it’s the end of the world, World War III… So we wanted to re-tweak the lyrics to fit what’s going on today.”

With those changes, it became the best choice to end the album.

“I’m always looking for the positive ending. It’s always to keep people’s minds up. It’s one of those things I carried out of the church. The slogan was you come in here feeling down, but you’re supposed to leave here feeling up.”

"David Lynch: The Art Life" Explored on Tom Needham’s the Sounds of Film

THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT

The director of David Lynch: The Art Life, Jon Nguyen, will be Tom Needham’s guest this week on WUSB’s the Sounds of Film.

For more information, visit http://www.longisland.com/news/03-29-17/david-lynch-the-art-life-explored-on-tom-needhams-the-sounds-of-film.html 

Heterotopia Composer Lainey Schooltree on Captain Phil's Planet

THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2017
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM EDT

Tune in to Captain Phil's Planet this Thursday for an aural journey through the world of PROG music. In the 4:00 PM hour, there will be an exclusive interview with Lainey Schooltree. She is the composer of the new Prog Rock Opera, Heterotopia, which will have its first public performance at Oberon in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 31, at 9:00 PM.

Mr. X presents...Radiothon/Women's History Month Special: Tomeka Reid Interview

TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2017
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT

Tune in to Mr.X presents...for a special Radiothon and Women's History Month special featuring Tomeka Reid, which will include an interview.

For more information about Tomeka Reid, please visit her website: http://www.tomekareid.net/

The Business of Healthcare With Habanero: Those Dirty Rats at Aetna

By Habanero

So many people like to talk about what a disaster the ACA (aka ObamaCare) was, however, it seems that people forget a few key points.  First, it wasn’t implemented as designed.  There were many detrimental compromises included and many partisan roadblocks thrown up. 

And it seems that many people have also forgotten that the insurance companies are for-profit entities, responsible not to the ACA, not to their providers, not to patients.  They are beholden to their shareholders.  All the other stuff – laws to follow, people to satisfy, all come as side dishes to the primary objective – profit. 

Aetna recently made a controversial decision that put profit before patient care, though few were able to hear about it in a news media so enthralled with the new president.  These stories show just how important profit is to the insurance industry. 

The stories:

“How Aetna frittered away $1.8 billion on a merger destined to fail”.  http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-aetna-merger-20170214-story.html

“U.S. judge finds that Aetna deceived the public about its reasons for quitting Obamacare” http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-aetna-merger-20170214-story.html

You can read them yourself, but the Cliff Notes version is this:

Aetna is a powerful force in the health insurance market and has been for decades.  Many people on the east coast are likely familiar with the name.  Humana is another giant, with more of a southern and western presence.  In the modern spirit of “bigger is better,” these two behemoths had been working on a merger.  Of course, they touted this as a benefit to consumers, although you know they wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t truly a benefit to themselves.

But the Justice Department was concerned about this merger and the impact it would have on costs and competition.

Aetna pulled a super sneaky stunt and got caught. 

It turns out Aetna had threatened the Justice Department that if the merger wasn’t approved, the company would pull out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This is a big deal because Aetna is such a big player, and the ACA was still in the fragile early years of a new program. 

Well, the Justice Department was not going to be bullied.  They opposed the merger.

After Aetna had pulled out of the ACA, Justice did some investigation of their own and learned that there were so many deceitful actions by Aetna that the presiding judge cited malfeasance. 

This was an expensive strong arm tactic that backfired on the insurer.  I would expect the shareholders to be pretty unhappy about the whole incident.

The Business of Healthcare With Habanero airs alternating Fridays at 1:30 pm

Sunny Sweeney Hands Country Music Fans a Real Prize with Trophy

by Trevor Christian, host of Country Pocket

Just about every song has multiple layers and meaning on Trophy, the latest from Sunny Sweeney, which turns name calling, regrets, and even gossip into country gems.

Trophy is the fourth record and second independent release for Sweeney, who became a Texas country favorite with 2014’s Provoked. The album’s title comes from a track that turns an attempted insult into an opportunity to brag. Sweeney delivers the lyrics with a taunting swagger: “Yeah, he’s got a trophy now/For putting up with you.”

“I heard that one of my husband’s exes was calling me names and I thought it would be funny to write a song about it instead of getting mad,” Sweeney said in a phone conversation for the March 20th episode of Country Pocket.

Sweeney teamed up with the influential Lori McKenna on that track and three others, including the uncharacteristically sentimental “Grow Old With Me,” which covers Sweeney’s relationship with her second husband.

“I don’t ever have love songs, but I really liked that one for some reason.”

Sweeney is one of the few songwriters who regularly acknowledges in her music that her husband is not her first.

“I think people don’t want to talk about their first relationships failing. They kind of pretend that it didn’t happen, but it did, and you wouldn’t be where you are if it didn’t.”

Sweeney captures the same energy as she did on her Texas radio number one hit “Bad Girl Phase” with “Better Bad Idea,” a rare song made better by a lack of detail. Wine and weed are specifically mentioned, but for the most part, the singer is only playing up her potential to be wild and challenging her companion to come up with the details. It’s as much a statement of rebellion as it is an over the top act of seduction.

“Unsaid” also leaves a few words out for emotional impact, this time while conveying the pain of being on bad terms with someone who unexpectedly passes away. The first three lines mention church bells and headlights in describing a funeral procession. We hear about a name written in stone early on, but the word “heaven” doesn't appear until after the second refrain. It’s a strong indicator that the singer is struggling to accept the death, just as the decision to end the song by leaving out the third note of a repeated three-note guitar part had the effect of conveying the suddenness of the tragedy. It's also Sweeney's strongest vocal to date.

“Pass the Pain” and the Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay penned “Pills” play around with the idea of judgment and self-awareness in satisfying ways. “Nothing Wrong With Texas,” which came from Sweeney’s move to New York City, is most notable for its fiddle work and the impressive rhyme scheme of perspective/respect is/Texas. The Jerry Jeff Walker cover “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” uses the title as a great double entendre.

“I’ve always wanted to record that song. I think it’s one of the greatest country songs ever written.” Sweeney said of the cover song.

“Bottle By My Bed” takes on even more meanings. The risky track is on its face about wanting a child, but also about reaching a new stage of maturity. Underneath is a feeling that perhaps a deeper, more heartbreaking problem exists for the singer. She says she only calls her husband baby “because I like the word” and describes watching the news at night alone with some beers while he suggests waiting to have a child. Her friends are all busy raising kids, so it’s easy to get the sense the singer feels little in the way of support and companionship.

It’s hard to imagine this review isn’t missing at least one layer of meaning on even the songs described in depth. As enjoyable as these songs are to listen to, Trophy is an album best thought about deeply and played repeatedly. Sweeney’s songwriting will undoubtedly hold up to that level of examination.