Where the Fire Comes From

St. Paul and the Broken Bones is a blues/soul group that's been making waves. They've got a visual hook: they're all pasty white and the lead singer looks like he should be in a live action Dilbert program. Yet they play a kind of Southern R&B that's very familiar to me from growing up in NC, and Paul Janeway sings like it's his last chance to save his soul.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gigZGc4KucEFred Clark is a fan. Not surprisingly so are a lot of NPR listeners - it's that kind of … [Read more...]

Secret Atheist Back-up Singer

Years ago, on an NPR interview program, I heard a representative from a Christian Music publishing company admit - without prompting - that CCM was "over-marketed." By that he seemed to mean that CCM was carefully crafted to appeal to a narrow segment of the population, and that narrow focus probably hurt the performers and the music.He acknowledged that many good performers who were openly Christian and writing songs on Christians themes - Johnny Cash and Bono were his examples - would … [Read more...]

So Long, Pete, It’s Been Good to Know Ya

My favorite Pete Seeger moment:MR. TAVENNER: Mr. Seeger, prior to your entry in the service in 1942, were you engaged in the practice of your profession in the area of New York?MR. SEEGER: It is hard to call it a profession. I kind of drifted into it and I never intended to be a musician, and I am glad I am one now, and it is a very honorable profession, but when I started out actually I wanted to be a newspaperman, and when I left school --CHAIRMAN WALTER: Will you answer the … [Read more...]

Bad Religion Does Christmas

Add this to the list of things I'd never thought I'd hear: Bad Religion producing a un-ironic Christmas album, and it's actually pretty good.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB2l6UESSyoI know they've been doing holiday covers for years, but to produce an album of punked-up but played-straight Christmas standards? Greg Graffin, tuneful atheist behind such songs as God's Love and New Dark Ages singing about God's promise to Israel? … [Read more...]

Simon Says …

Peter Dinklage recently made an appearance on Sesame Street as the character Simon, provoking deep reflection on the nature of authority: why do we have to do what Simon says?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkj4i-QjWrQ#t=24Dinklage's acting and facial expressions are worth the price of admission, and the puppet sitar is just icing. … [Read more...]