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Throwback Thursdays - Music from the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival, Hour 2
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March 26, 2015 07:49 AM PDT
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Join us as we head down to the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. We’ll hear from a number of legends, such as Roosevelt Sykes, Houston Stackhouse and Joe Willie Wilkins, Big Walter Horton, and Hound Dog Taylor.

Throwback Thursdays - Music from the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival, Hour 1
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March 26, 2015 07:33 AM PDT
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Well blues lovers, it's time for another Throwback Thursday, and it seems logical enough to pick up where we left off last time. Truth be told, the 1972 Ann Arbor was a tough act to follow, and while the 1973 is a mixed bag at times, there are, indeed, few glories on earth like that of a live set by Hound Dog Taylor..... as always, hope you enjoy us dusting this one off for ya'. --SBH

Join us as we head down to the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. We’ll hear from a number of legends, such as Roosevelt Sykes, Houston Stackhouse and Joe Willie Wilkins, Big Walter Horton, and Hound Dog Taylor.

Pictured: Blues Slide Guitar legend, Hound Dog Taylor.

Studs & Big Bill (Part 2, Hour 2)
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March 24, 2015 08:06 AM PDT
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Join us for part two of our special on the legendary interviews of Studs Terkel and Big Bill Broonzy. Things get lively as special guests Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee help Big Bill and Studs discuss the spirituals and the blues; Big Bill pays tribute to some of his old friends during his last-ever recording session; and Pete Seeger and Big Bill tell stories and swap verses on old favorites like "John Henry" and "The Midnight Special." Our host for all this is Studs Terkel, the preeminent author, broadcaster, and oral historian of the 20th Century.

For further reading, we highly recommend "I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy," by Bob Riesman.

Book excerpts taken from "Talking To Myself," by Studs Terkel. Published in 1977 by Pantheon Books. Due to broadcast time constraints, some passages were edited.

Studs & Big Bill (Part 2, Hour 1)
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March 24, 2015 07:52 AM PDT
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Join us for part two of our special on the legendary interviews of Studs Terkel and Big Bill Broonzy. We’ll hear stories, conversation and song, along with special guests Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

Pictured: The Verve box set, which contained Big Bill's last recordings.

Studs & Big Bill (Part 1, Hour 2)
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March 08, 2015 09:36 AM PDT
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What do you get when you take one of the foremost oral historians of the 20th century, and sit him down with one of the most beloved blues musicians of all time? The legendary interviews of Studs Terkel and Big Bill Broonzy, which took place over a period of several years, between 1954 and 1957. Luckily for us, some of these were captured for the sake of posterity at the WFMT radio studios (where Studs hosted a daily radio show for almost half a century), finding eventual issue on the Folkways Record label. A box set of his last recording sessions, “The Big Bill Broonzy Story,” also featured music and additional dialogue between these two iconic figures, and fast friends.

As for Studs, he always seems to ever so gently guide the proceedings, while clearly taking delight in what transpires. Although he never appears to be intrusive, he does occasionally stop to ask a question, if it seems that some minor point needs clarifying. As for Big Bill, he seems most intent on telling his story — his truth, as it were — so that the events and details of his life could be shared and remembered. So that we could know, firsthand, what it was like to be a blues musician or a railroad porter, a short order cook or a plowhand, a janitor or a dishwasher, or to work on a levee camp — in other words, too many to count. But as Big Bill later reveals, to have the blues, you had to have lived that life. And in turn, everything that Big Bill was or ever did, became the very fuel and fodder for the hundreds of blues songs he wrote and sang over the decades.

Although it’s hard to know exactly how to describe what you’re about to hear over the next couple of programs, suffice it to say that we find two men — each of whom has great respect and admiration for the other — engaged in a fascinating and compelling dialogue. One that is coupled with an underlying and ever so faint sense of urgency. To try and get the story out before it’s too late.

The week after Big Bill’s last recording sessions, in July 1957, he underwent surgery for lung cancer. He’d had a rather worrying hunch about it, one that he confided to Studs. He told him he was afraid they were going to cut his vocal cords. Studs tried to reassure him, saying it wasn’t his throat they were after, it was the lung. “But the knife....” he told Studs. But the knife....

Big Bill Broonzy passed away one rainy and stormy August morning in Chicago, in 1958. As Studs later put it, it was just one more storm this Big Man was passing through.

After interviewing thousands of people around the world and authoring countless books, Studs Terkel passed away at the age of 96, in October 2008. And while it’s hard to grasp the enormity of his lifetime of achievement — being, as it were, the ears to the world — there remains something extraordinarily special about those times that two old friends, Studs and Big Bill, sat down in front of a microphone and talked about the blues. One of them had a guitar in his hands. The other kept an eye on the ever-revolving spool of audio tape. And what transpired between them, it’s fairly safe to say, will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of blues fans.

Studs & Big Bill (Part 1, Hour 1)
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March 08, 2015 09:08 AM PDT
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Join us as we take an extended look at the legendary interviews of Studs Terkel and Big Bill Broonzy. We’ll hear stories, conversation and song, along with special guests Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

Pictured: Legendary radio broadcaster, oral historian and author, Studs Terkel.

Lowdown Harmonica Blues from Jackson, Mississippi, Hour 2
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February 28, 2015 07:30 AM PST
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Join us as we take a ride down to the “City with Soul,” Jackson, Mississippi, to hear some lowdown blues harmonica. We’ll hear from the master, Sonny Boy Williamson, and some all time classics that were recorded for Jackson’s very own Trumpet label. In addition, we’ll also hear from a handful of other homegrown enterprises — Ace and Champion (Johnny Vincent), plus, the short-lived Delta label. In addition to Sonny Boy and his Trumpet Records pals (Elmore James and Arthur Crudup), we’ll also hear from Jerry "Boogie" McCain, Papa Lightfoot, Sam Myers, and a handful more. It’s lowdown harmonica from Jackson, Mississippi, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: "Natchez Trace," recorded in Jackson, Mississippi, was George “Papa” Lightfoot’s very last LP.

Lowdown Harmonica Blues from Jackson, Mississippi, Hour 1
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February 28, 2015 07:09 AM PST
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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!

Well, we're beginning to wonder if anyone really reads these little love notes, but if you're out there and you do..... here's the bottom line: The continuation of this program is dependent upon money coming in from radio stations who pick up the show for local broadcast. Without radio stations purchasing the show, this enterprise comes to a grinding halt. So, that's where YOU come in!

Blues Unlimited - The Radio Show needs a Marketing Director! This will be a strictly commission-based position. The ideal candidate will have experience in sales and radio. Since you’re a regular listener of this program, it’s also assumed that you have some knowledge and appreciation of the blues as well.

As the chief cook and bottle washer, I don’t have time to market the show. This is where you come in. You’ll be pretty much on your own, and left to your own devices. The bottom line - you’ll get paid when I get paid. Rate of commission to be worked out between the two of us.

The job is really what you want to make of it. Whether it be selling the program to radio stations, looking for corporate sponsors (or both).... grant writing..... government funding..... or any other creative ides you might have.

If interested - please don’t send a resume - please send an email to ( b l u e s u n l i m i t e d a t g m a i l d o t c o m ) and let me know some of your thoughts and ideas. And now.... on with the show!

Join us as we take a ride down to Jackson, Mississippi, to hear some lowdown harmonica. We’ll hear from the master — Sonny Boy Williamson, plus, Papa Lightfoot, Sam Myers, Jerry "Boogie" McCain and many more. It’s lowdown harmonica from Jackson, Mississippi, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Sonny Boy Williamson, who was not only a wizard with the harmonica, but also with the pen -- writing some of the most beloved blues songs of all time.

A Conversation With The Blues (Hour 2)
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February 19, 2015 07:03 AM PST
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At the risk of sounding like a broken record.... IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Blues Unlimited is looking for a Marketing Director!

Blues Unlimited - The Radio Show needs a Marketing Director! This will be a strictly commission-based position. The ideal candidate will have experience in sales and radio. Since you’re a regular listener of this program, it’s also assumed that you have some knowledge and appreciation of the blues as well.

As the chief cook and bottle washer, I don’t have time to market the show. This is where you come in. You’ll be pretty much on your own, and left to your own devices. The bottom line - you’ll get paid when I get paid. Rate of commission to be worked out between the two of us.

The job is really what you want to make of it. Whether it be selling the program to radio stations, looking for corporate sponsors (or both).... grant writing..... government funding..... or any other creative ides you might have.

If interested - please don’t send a resume - please send an email to ( b l u e s u n l i m i t e d a t g m a i l d o t c o m ) and let me know some of your thoughts and ideas. And now.... on with the show!

NOTE: This program contains strong and potentially offensive language. Listener discretion is advised.

Join us as we revisit two legendary albums. The first, a "Conversation With The Blues," was recorded by Paul Oliver during the summer of 1960. The second, "Blues In The Mississippi Night," is a haunting documentary recorded by Alan Lomax in 1947. A conversation with the Blues — on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

A Conversation With The Blues (Hour 1)
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February 19, 2015 06:50 AM PST
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NOTE: This program contains strong and potentially offensive language. Listener discretion is advised.

Many critics would agree that one of the finest books about the Blues is one by Paul Oliver called "Conversation With The Blues." To say that it is by Paul Oliver, however, is slightly misleading — like many similar books by Studs Terkel, it is actually an oral history of the Blues, spoken directly from the hearts and minds of the musicians who lived that life, told in a matter-of-fact, straightforward, and unadorned fashioned. Oliver collected these interviews during the summer of 1960, when he made an extensive sweep through the United States, gathering stories by Blues musicians from practically every walk of life. It took five years to transcribe the tapes that finally appeared in the book, and along with it, of course, came a companion LP of the same name. In 1997, after years of being out of print, the Cambridge University Press finally issued a second edition of the book, along with a companion CD, which contained a slightly different running order than did the original 1965 LP. On this episode, we'll be featuring most of the original LP, along with a couple of bonus selections from the 1997 Compact Disc.

The other album in the spotlight is one steeped in legend. One Sunday afternoon in March 1947, in New York City, Alan Lomax took Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim, and John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson down to a recording studio, turned on a tape machine (actually, it was a rather primitive disc cutting machine), and sat back and watched while the three men talked frankly and openly about their lives — the first time they had ever done so in front of a microphone.

The recordings they made that day and the stories they told are nothing less than deeply moving and stunning -- at times, a jaw-dropping testament to the lives they'd all lived back in the south, before heading north to Chicago to pursue the life of a musician. And when Alan Lomax did a playback of the afternoon's events for these three titans of the Blues, they were literally terrified. Fearing reprisals and retribution on their loved ones back home for what they had said, Alan Lomax agreed never to issue the recordings during their lifetimes using their real names. It wasn't until 1990, when Rykodisc issued Blues In The Mississippi Night, that they were finally issued — for the first time — without using pseudonyms.

For the uninitiated, the stories on tonight's program are sometimes hard to take. The language is often coarse, brutal, and matter of fact. But after experiencing the stories you will hear on tonight's program, you will never think about the Blues — or the people who lived that life — the same way ever again.

Pictured: The original 1957 release of "Blues in the Mississippi Night."

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