SoundcheckAuthor: WNYC Studios
28 Jan 2021


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Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

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    The Quartet ETHEL Champions New Music, At a Distance

    The New York string quartet ETHEL has been championing new music from often surprising corners of the music world for years. For this edition of the podcast, ETHEL plays new works by Lebanese violinist and composer Layale Chaker, joyful and eyeball-singeing electronic music by composer Dan Friel, and a piece by and with rock star Todd Rundgren. Also, members of the quartet share an inside view of quartet life, and the challenges of making music and advancing creative projects while at a distance. The video performances and chat were part of a program presented by our ground floor performance studio, The Greene Space.

    Set list: Dan Friel: "Valedictorian," Layale Chaker: "Vigil IV," Todd Rundgren: "I Saw the Light" 

    Watch the entire show:

  • Posted on 28 Jan 2021

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    Scottish Songwriter James Yorkston: Having Fun and Trying New Things

    Scottish singer, songwriter, and occasional novelist James Yorkston is a natural storyteller and a member of the Yorkston/Thorne/Khan group, a power trio of sarangi, double bass, and Yorkston on guitar. He’s also had a long-term friendship with Swedish music producer and bandleader, Karl-Jonas Winqvist, who recently suggested that he fly to Sweden and make a record. That album, The Wide Wide River, came together spontaneously over the course of a few days with members of The Second Hand Orchestra, musicians handpicked by Winqvist. Yorkston supplied the songs, and the orchestra members skillfully, and unfussily made their parts fit right in to serve the songs.  

    Yorkston joins us with members of Sweden’s Second Hand Orchestra to play songs from his new album, "The Wide Wide River." He also holds forth on songbooks and song collectors, the specific imagery of a seasoned storyteller (remember, he’s a novelist), and how Brexit will affect future touring possibilities. - Caryn Havlik

    Set list: "Struggle," "Ella Mary Leather," "A Very Old-Fashioned Blues"



    Ella Mary Leather:

    A Very Old-Fashioned Blues:

  • Posted on 25 Jan 2021

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    Gary Clark Jr.: Reinvigorating The Blues (Archives)

    Gary Clark Jr. got his first guitar for Christmas back when he was just 12 years old and the Austin, Texas native has been playing around his hometown ever since. But with a breakout performance at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010, Clark Jr. netted not only a manager, but a recording deal with Warner Bros. 

    In the time since Gary Clark Jr.'s 2012 major label debut, Blak And Blu, he's played with Mick Jagger and blues legend B.B. King for the President at the White House, opened for The Rolling Stones, and played with Alicia Keys and The Roots. That album also scored big at his home town Austin Music Awards, winning eight awards, including musician and album of the year. He's since released both 2015's The Story of Sonny Boy Slim and the 2019 album, This Land, which ranges from Delta blues to dub reggae, Stax-style soul anthems and Prince-like epics.

    Gary Clark Jr.'s scorching and gritty blues rock sound frequently draws comparisons to guitar legends like Jimi Hendrix. He plays an acoustic set in-studio, and talks with host John Schaefer about growing up in Austin, why he doesn't play a Stratocaster, and the inspiration behind his song "Bright Lights." (From the Archives, 2013.)


    Set List: 

    • "When My Train Pulls In"
    • "Bright Lights"
    • "Next Door Neighbor Blues"

  • Posted on 21 Jan 2021

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    Trumpeter Keyon Harrold's Vibrant Tunes Offer Strength & Courage (Archives)

    Trumpeter, singer, and composer Keyon Harrold has played with Beyoncé, Common, Erykah Badu, Rihanna, Eminem, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, LL Cool J, and Maxwell, to name a few. He was also the trumpet player behind Don Cheadle in the Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead; yes – that was his sound you heard on the Grammy-winning soundtrack.

    On his 2017 album, The Mugician, (a play on musician & magician), the Ferguson, MO-raised, NYC-based Harrold returned to his own music, with the help of a few friends and past collaborators, including Gary Clark Jr, Bilal, & Robert Glasper, among others. The tunes range from laments and expressions of frustration to melodic pleas for understanding, justice and peace. Keyon Harrold and his band perform play these songs, in-studio. (From the Archives, 2017.) 


  • Posted on 18 Jan 2021

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    Metric: What Happens in Vegas... (From the Archives)

    While writing the music for what would become Metric's 2015 record, Pagans in Vegas, front-woman Emily Haines traveled to Nicaragua and Spain, while guitarist Jimmy Shaw holed up at home in Toronto and fiddled with the knobs on synthesizers and pedals. The result of this mashed-up approach to songwriting is an album with tight, taut songwriting, but also the surface sheen of krautrock and 80s synth-rock idols. The band stops by the studio to play a few songs and talk about their latest approach to record-making.

  • Posted on 14 Jan 2021


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