Rovics, David — The Art of Political Song

Songs of a political nature are not surprising given the similarities and parallel community structures of politics and religions, with each community promoting the behaviors and concepts it supports as being the most appropriate.  The art of political song, which has been crafted and heard world wide since time immemorial, is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.

In this program we visit with singer–songwriter David Rovics, a veritable troubadour and folk musician of our time.  He visited the studios of Radio Curious on December 9, 2012, and began our conversation when he described his work, his songs, and how he creates them.  

The following is his biography taken from his website. 
”David Rovics grew up in a family of classical musicians in Wilton, Connecticut, and became a fan of populist regimes early on. By the early 90′s he was a full-time busker in the Boston subways and by the mid-90′s he was traveling the world as a professional flat-picking rabble-rouser. These days David lives in Portland, Oregon and tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies. He has shared the stage with a veritable who’s who of the left in two dozen countries, and has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al-Jazeera and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch and elsewhere, and the 200+ songs he makes available for free on the web have been downloaded more than a million times. Most importantly, he’s really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, he will make the revolution irresistible.”

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Silha, Stephen — The Puckish Whimsical Life of James Broughton

The puckishly whimsical life and times of poet and film maker James Broughton is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious in a visit with Stephen Silha, the producer and director of “Big Joy,” a biographical film of the life and times of James Broughton.   

Broughton believed that in order to live an authentic life we each should follow our own weird. He says:

“I don’t know what the left is doing said the right hand.

But it looks fascinating.”

And:

“I may be infecting the whole body

said the Head

but they’ll never amputate me.”

Stephen Silha and I visited by phone from his home near Seattle, Washington on Mother’s Day, 2014.  He began our conversation by telling us what drew him to make a film about his friend James Broughton.   

The book Stephen Silha recommends is “The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon,” by Tom Spanbauer.

The music in this week’s edition of Radio Curious is “Twirl” by Norman Arnold, from the movie, “Big Joy.”

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Luke, Gregorio — The Day of the Dead

Most countries in the world send ambassadors to talk about and promote what their country is like and to carry on political affairs between and along other nations.  These ambassadors often have assistants known as “cultural attaches.”  They bring and share their nation’s culture, history and the folklore with their host countries. 

The cultural event known as Halloween in the United States is celebrated annually on November 1st as the Day of the Dead in Mexico and other Latin American Counties.

In 1997 Radio Curious invited Gregorio Luke, the cultural attache from the Republic of Mexico based in Los Angeles, California, to our studios when he was the Consul for Cultural Affairs. His job at that time was to broaden the Mexican cultural presence in the United States.

Our conversation began when I asked Gregorio Luke to describe the cultural gaps he sought to bridge in presenting Mexican and to tell us about the Day of The Dead.

The book Gregorio Luke recommends is ”The Crystal Frontier,” by Carlos Fuentes.

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Levitin, Dr. Daniel — Your Brain on Music Part Two

The understanding of how we humans experience music and why it plays a unique role in our lives is this topic of two interviews with Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of “This Is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession,” recorded from his home in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in late October 2006.

Professor Levitin runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  He asserts that our brains are hardwired for music and therefore we are all more musically equipped than we think.  He says that music is an obsession at the heart of human nature, perhaps even more fundamental to our species than language.  Professor Levitin believes that the music we end up liking meets our expectations of what we anticipate hearing just enough of the time that we feel rewarded, and the music that we like violates those expectations just enough of the time that we’re intrigued.

In the first interview Dr. Levitin begins by describing how the human brain learns to distinguish between music and language.

The second interview begins with a discussion of what happens when people listen to music they like.

Professor Daniel Levitin’s website is www.yourbrainonmusic.com.

The books Dr. Daniel J. Levitin recommends are, “Another Day in the Frontal Lobe,” by Katrina Firlik, and, “The Human Stain,” by Philip Roth.

Originally Broadcast: November 1, 2006 November 8, 2006

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Levitin, Daniel Dr. — Your Brain on Music Part One

The understanding of how we humans experience music and why it plays a unique role in our lives is this topic of two interviews with Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of “This Is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession,” recorded from his home in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in late October 2006.   

Professor Levitin runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  He asserts that our brains are hardwired for music and therefore we are all more musically equipped than we think.  He says that music is an obsession at the heart of human nature, perhaps even more fundamental to our species than language.  Professor Levitin believes that the music we end up liking meets our expectations of what we anticipate hearing just enough of the time that we feel rewarded, and the music that we like violates those expectations just enough of the time that we’re intrigued.

In the first interview Dr. Levitin begins by describing how the human brain learns to distinguish between music and language. 

The second interview begins with a discussion of what happens when people listen to music they like.

Professor Daniel Levitin’s website is www.yourbrainonmusic.com

The books Dr. Daniel J. Levitin recommends are, “Another Day in the Frontal Lobe,” by Katrina Firlik, and, “The Human Stain,” by Philip Roth.

Originally Broadcast: November 1, 2006 November 8, 2006

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Buron, Melissa — Art of the French Impressionists

The travel facilitated by the industrial revolution in 19th century Europe opened vistas for those who could afford the excursion and vistas for the painters who became known as the Impressionists.  

In this edition of Radio Curious, we discuss the work of the French Impressionists, what they saw and what they chose to portray.  Our guest is art historian, Melissa Buron, the curator of Impressionists on the Water, the current exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, California. 

Melissa Buron and I visited by phone from her office at the Palace of Legion of Honor Museum, one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, on August 5, 2013.  We began our conversation with her description of the exhibit, Impressionists on the Water.

The book she recommends is “Possession,” by A.S. Byatt.

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Donahue, Terry — Alloy Orchestra: New Music for Silent Films

The Alloy Orchestra is a group of multitalented musicians with widely diverse abilities, based near Boston, Massachusetts.  This group provides live, in house orchestral backup to the Chaplin, Keaton and other classic silent films of the 1920s.

Our guest in this edition of Radio Curious is Terry Donahue, an Alloy Orchestra partner, a skilled player of the accordion, musical saw, drums and bells, to name only a few.

Terry Donahue and I visited by phone from his home near Boston Massachusetts, on May 10, 2013, and began with his description of the composition of the Alloy Orchestra.

The book Terry Donahue recommends is “Accordion Crimes,” by Annie Proulx, and “Delicatessen” a French film.

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Edelman, Reid — The Music Man is Coming to River City

The Music Man is coming to town, right here in River City, also known as Ukiah, California.

In this program Radio Curious visits with Reid Edelman, the producer and director of the musical extravaganza.  Edelman is a professor of Theater Arts at the Mendocino College in Ukiah, California.  This production of the Music Man, presented by the Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department and Ukiah Civic Light Opera, involves more than 100 people from the Ukiah community. It opens April 12 and plays through April 21, 2013 at the Mendocino College Center Theater on the Ukiah campus. For more information call (707) 462 9155.

I met with Reid Edelman in the Radio Curious studios on March 29, 2013 and began our visit when I asked him:  Why the Music Man?

The book Reid Edelman recommends is “Improv:  Improvisation and the Theatre,” by Keith Johnstone.

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Forrington, Capt. Cass — A Beach Made of Glass and Hands in Acid: One Man and Many Stories

A former dump site at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Ft. Bragg, California, is part of the story in this edition of Radio Curious.

Captain Cass Forrington, creator and owner of the Glass Beach Museum, and the author of “Beaches Of Glass, a History & Tour of the Glass Beaches of Fort Bragg, California,” is our guest.   He is also a Master Mariner, holder of an unlimited Master’s Certificate, allowing him to be the captain of any size sea going vessel.  He has many stories to tell.

Captain Cass and I sat on Glass Beach No. Two in Ft. Bragg, on a windy afternoon, June 2, 2012, with the waves lapping ten feet away.  We began when I asked him to describe Glass Beach.  But keep listening to hear his story about putting his hands in acid 40 years ago.

Captain Cass Forrington’s website is: captcass.com

Capt. Cass Forrington recommends a movie and a book. The book is “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” by Ray Kurzweil.  And the movie is “What the Bleep Do We Know?”

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Trimpin — Music and Thought: Pushing the Limits

Pushing limits in music and thought is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious as we visit with Trimpin, a man who makes music from unusual instruments.  He is the star of documentary film about his life’s work Trimpin, who uses a single word for his name received a Mac Arthur Genius Grant 1997.

He asserts that he is trying to “go beyond human physical limitations to play instruments in such a way that no matter how complex the composition or the timing, it can be pushed over the limits.”  The music, he said, starts with a sound in his head.  He then transforms that notion for us to hear.  The film Trimpin will be show at the Mendocino Film Festival the first weekend of June 2012, in Mendocino California.

I spoke with Trimpin from his studio in Seattle, Washington, on May 19, 2012, and asked him to comment on the characterization where he is described as a mad-scientist, a magician, or possibly a tour guide.

Rather than recommending a book, Trimpin said that he gave up reading sometime ago and replaced it with thinking.  He’d “rather think than read,” he said.

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