John Kessler

All Blues Host

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KPLU since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KPLU “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.

His most memorable and satisfying KPLU radio moment was getting an email from Jimmy Lane, a bluesman and the son of blues legend Jimmy Rogers, who said something like “You’re playing the good stuff, keep it up!”

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Blues Time Machine
12:01 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Waters' 'Trouble No More' came out of Estes' 'Someday Baby Blues'

The Blues Time Machine

Sleepy John Estes was a master of country blues with a “down-home” feeling. A little rough around the edges, but loaded with emotion. Though his music wasn’t complex, his songs have lasted through the years, and have been sung by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.

In his 1935 recording of “Someday Baby Blues”, the guitar is barely heard, the mix dominated by Hammie Nixon’s harmonica and Estes’ plaintive voice.

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Blues Time Machine
4:38 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

'Walkin' Blues' still has legs

Legendary bluesman Son House

It’s one of the defining songs of the Blues, written by one of its formative figures, Son House. The opening lyric “Woke up this morning…” would be considered trite today, but its 1930 recording date makes it more iconic than anything.

With its simple but insistent guitar rhythm and mournful lyrics, “Walkin’ Blues” is a virtual blueprint for Delta Blues, and a powerful influence on the development of modern blues.

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Jazz & Blues
12:00 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

'Early in the Morning' - samba, rumba and history

Louis Jordan's music was a bridge between jazz and rock.

Louis Jordan is one of the pioneers of American music, and an important force in the transition from the Jazz Era to Rock and Roll. He was one of the first to down-size the big band format to a combo of five or six players, pounding out high energy jump, swing and rhythm and blues for dance audiences.

One of the early bands to use electric guitar, he established a musical style that rock originators like Bill Haley followed closely. Louis Jordan’s 1947 recording of “Early in the Morning” is an example of the influence of Afro Cuban rhythms on American music.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

'Shake 'Em On Down' created the cutting edge for blues

Bukka White

The Blues Time Machine

Most blues started in the country before becoming urbanized, and Bukka White brought his brand of Mississippi blues to Chicago in the 1930’s and 40’s.

It is likely that he met and learned from elemental bluesman Charley Patton, and he was known for playing a National steel guitar with a slide. He recorded “Shake ‘Em On Down” in 1937 and established the cutting edge.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Little Walter's 'Mellow Down Easy' rips through time

Little Walter

The Blues Time Machine

Little Walter made a harmonica sound like nothing that had been heard before – somewhere between a saxophone and an electric guitar. By the early 1950’s he not only used amplification, he used the amp to creatively alter his sound with distortion and sonic effects.

You might say he was the Jimi Hendrix of the harmonica. One song in particular has rolled through history: 'Mellow Down Easy.'

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Still a mystery who wrote 'One Way Out'

The Blues Time Machine

It’s another one of those mysteries — who actually wrote “One Way Out”?

Elmore James recorded it in 1961, but didn’t release it until ’65. Sonny Boy Williamson released a version in 1961 and 1965 and G.L. Crockett had a 1965 hit with the same song under a different name.

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Blues Time Machine
12:05 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Many rivers converged to make a New Orleans classic: 'Iko Iko'

Mardi Gras Indian
Joel Mann

The Blues Time Machine

It’s one of the most iconic songs from New Orleans, and like the city, it’s origin and meaning are a product of may different influences.

Its meaning is still being debated by scholars and linguists, but “Iko Iko” was first recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, who wrote the pop song “Jock-A-Mo” based on 2 different Mardi Gras Indian chants. The Mardi Gras “Indians” are actually African-American groups who have been parading as Indian tribes at Mardi Gras since the mid-19th Century.

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Jazz & Blues
12:00 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

'That's All Right' and the father of rock and roll

The Father of Rock and Roll

The Blues Time Machine

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup has been called the “father of rock and roll” for writing the song that launched Elvis Presley’s career. His own career had a rough start-- after migrating from Mississippi around 1940, he was living on the Chicago streets, playing for tips.

His unique, though unpolished sound was distinctive enough to land him a record deal, and he had several songs on the mid-40’s r & b charts. Despite the success of his songs, he was never paid fairly for the music he composed and worked as a laborer to support his family.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:49 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Strange History of Super Bowl Halftime Shows

He Played the 1st Super Bowl

It all started innocently enough with Al Hirt, Carol Channing and Up With People. Later things got hipper with New Kids and Michael Jackson, and then there was the infamous 2004 "nipple incident". Britney Spears, U-2, The Who...we tackle them all.

And please be sure to waste 4 minutes of your time watching the newest addition to the Record Bin Roulette bag of tricks...SEE THE VIDEO:

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Record Bin Roulette
10:13 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Wake Up! Here's an Episode About Sleep

You won't be able to sleep after experiencing this thrilling episode.Learn who sleeps in the nude and many other fascinating things, with accompaniment from Bobby Lewis, Petula Clark, The Beatles and special cameos from The Three Stooges.

Now you can WATCH RBR in living color !

Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Blind Willie Johnson cared about 'The Soul of a Man,' others dug the music

Blind Willie Johnson

The Blues Time Machine

Blind Willie Johnson was a bluesman and a preacher. His lyrics were spiritual, and his music was blues.

Though he only made 30 recordings, his work is a lasting part of the blues legacy. Early players like Son House and Fred McDowell played his tunes, and his influence reached people like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. In 1930 he recorded “The Soul of a Man” accompanied by his wife, Willie B. Harris.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Reefer Madness & Pop Music

With Cannabis now legal in Washington and Colorado, we decided to roll out an episode that features Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Cab Calloway. We find out which President inhaled and which one did not. Special appearance from Puff the Magic Dragon.

Here's the NEW psychotronic VIDEO version of RBR.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

'Dust My Broom' sets the standard for blues guitar

Elmore James

The Blues Time Machine

"I believe I’ll dust my broom" is an old saying meaning to make a new start.

With that catchy phrase, and a distinctive guitar riff Robert Johnson created an important piece of blues history when he recorded “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” in 1936.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Harping for Hit Songs

The harp has lent its angelic touch to many a pop song, and we've plucked tunes from Cher, The Beatles and The Carpenters. Guest appearances from Harpo Marx and a lady who plays the harp to calm zoo animals. Really.

Here's what radio looks like...it's the shiny new VIDEO version of RBR:

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

"Going Up The Country" and the roots of the Blues

Roots of the Blues

The Blues Time Machine

Henry Thomas is literally a link to an earlier time.

Born in 1874, his music is a patchwork of blues, rags and folk songs. His use of quills, or pan-pipes, is a relic of a nearly vanished African American tradition. Listening to Henry Thomas gives a glimpse of what music might have sounded like before “the blues."

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