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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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Tour de France Inspires Pop Music Gold

The Tour de France is the world’s epic bicycle race, a grueling 2,000 mile ride that takes 3 weeks.  It’s arguably the most demanding athletic event, said the New York Times, comparing it to running a marathon several days a week for three weeks. With the 99th Tour underway right now, we salute the humble velocipede and their sore-bottomed riders.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:03 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Pop songs brave the elements

The chemical elements are the building blocks of life, including many a pop tune. Since we skipped chemistry in high school, most of our science education came from this song which conveniently names all of the elements. This tongue-twisting footage is an amazing live performance by Tom Lehrer:

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Pumping Out Cold and Hot Blooded Hits

That red stuff pumping through our bodies has inspired more than a few hit songs.

Some border on the grisly—Nervous Norvous reached the charts in 1956 with the grisly “Transfusion”. With lyrics like “Slip the blood to me, Bud” and “Pump the juice to me, Bruce”, it was considered offensive to many, and banned from some radio stations. But it also gave famed radio DJ Dr. Demento his name. After Barrett Hansen played “Transfusion” on the radio, people said he had to be ‘demented.’ He was, and the name stuck.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu June 21, 2012

No more pencils, no more books

School's Out!
ChrisM70 Flickr

It all began in 1635 in Boston—the nation’s first public school, the Boston Latin School. There were only 9 students enrolled back then, but they had the distinction of enjoying the very first summer vacation. That got us thinking about school-day songs, and we found that there are more songs about the end of school than about school itself.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Singing about good dads and funky fathers

This week we honor our Dads with a kaleidoscope of music videos. Starting on the sentimental side, here’s former Mouseketeer Paul Peterson singing, without a trace of irony, scorn or contempt, a ballad called “My Dad”:

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Here comes the bride songs

The great scholar Dave Barry wrote, “Marriage is very much like a birthday candle, in that 'the flames of passion burn brightest when the wick of intimacy is first ignited by the disposable butane lighter of physical attraction, but sooner or later the heat of familiarity causes the wax of boredom to drip all over the vanilla frosting of novelty and the shredded coconut of romance.”

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu May 31, 2012

Rocket science inspired by Rock Music

NASA

Space flight is finally becoming a reality for non-astronauts. Very, very rich non-astronauts. For a couple hundred grand, you can reserve a seat on Virgin Galactic, which is planning trips to space and beyond. Your fellow passengers might include Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie and Stephen Hawking, all of whom have already reserved window seats.

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KPLU Studio Sessions
1:15 pm
Sat May 26, 2012

Blues singer Janiva Magness takes the next step

Blues powerhouse, Janiva Magness, performing in the KPLU Seattle studios on May 15, 2012.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Blues singer Janiva Magness just released a new CD, Stronger For It, and was recently in town performing at Jazz Alley. She and her 4-piece band visited KPLU’s Seattle Studio and performed 4 songs from the new CD. It’s her 9th release, but the first to feature songs written by her.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Boogie Woogie and Battle Hymns for Memorial Day

Jason A. Samfield

Memorial Day originated after the Civil War, and commemorates soldiers fallen in battle. Record Bin Roulette salutes with song and video.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu May 17, 2012

Musical feuds help album sales

uwdigitalcollections

Musicians generally get along with each other, but when their disagreements happen in public, things get interesting.

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Record Bin Roulette
10:43 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Songs for Mommie Dearest

In a foul and farcical fillip of fate, the woman who created Mother’s Day became its biggest critic. Anna Jarvis worked hard to make Mother’s Day a holiday. She started the effort in 1908, and by 1914 convinced President Woodrow Wilson to declare it an official national holiday. But nine years later, commercialization of the day had become so rampant, that she became a major opponent of the very holiday she helped create. She was actually arrested while protesting against it.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Sayings for 'Mommie Dearest'

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Anna Jarvis worked hard to make Mother’s Day a holiday. She started the effort in 1908, and by 1914 convinced President Woodrow Wilson to declare it an official national holiday. But nine years later, commercialization of the day had become so rampant, that she became a major opponent of the very holiday she helped create. She was actually arrested while protesting against it.

This week we show our gratitude to Mom with a collection of distinguished sayings…

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Jazz & Blues
12:45 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Son House's masterpiece 'Death Letter' tracked through time

His life reads like a blues song … 1920’s, a young preacher playing the blues, despite his church’s opposition. Kills a man in self-defense, 2 years in prison, and comes out to team up with the best-known blues man of the day, Charley Patton.

After limited commercial success of his own, he fades from view, working on farms and railroads. Thirtyfive years later, some dedicated blues fans track him down and he begins performing around the world, finally getting recognition as a blues master.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Secrets and lies in song

Pinocchio, pathological liar
Express Monorail Flickr

It’s getting harder to keep a secret these days--between your ATM card, Facebook and the NSA snooping on emails and phone calls, our lives are pretty much on record in some form.  Of course people will continue to lie and try to keep secrets, but even the Secret Service couldn’t keep their Columbian Expedition under cover...

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Choirs and Pop Music

For many of us singing in school or church choir was our first experience making music. By high school we had been assigned to our respective risers. BASS-- for the boys who had matured early. These tended to be football players, many with facial hair in the 9th grade. TENOR-- for those boys who were still waiting for the big change. Some tenors had voices higher than the ALTOS, who were generally more sensitive and bookish than the haughty SOPRANOS, who were generally acknowledged to be the loudest and therefore most important.

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