June 8th, 2016

The Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Black Experience in Country Music

 

This week, we talk to the founding members of the Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Justin Robinson, Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons started playing music together under the tutelage of legendary black old-time fiddler, Joe Thompson in his backyard shed. The Chocolate Drops came together to carry on the old time and country traditions from the Piedmont region in the Carolinas, but they wanted to do more than just play. They wanted to show their audiences that African American music finds its roots in genres beyond blues and jazz. Then we delve into the archives for our classic conversation with the late, great Ray Charles - and pianist Johnnie Johnson tells us about the surprising origins of Chuck Berry's "Maybellene."

 

June 15th, 2016

Earth and Blood: James Blood Ulmer and Tracy Nelson

 

Elemental blues, jazz and country from two performers with deep roots and cosmic connections. In the '60s, young Tracy Nelson left the midwest for psychedelic San Francisco to front the R & B rock band, Mother Earth. Now deep in the Tennessee hills, she's looking back to country sounds. From South Carolina to deep space, guitarist James "Blood" Ulmer takes us on his journey from childhood gospel to free form harmolodic jazz with Ornette Coleman. Blood now brings it all to bear on a brutal, personal version of the blues.