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
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'

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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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Aging ... time marches on in song

Time Marches On

Aging is a high price to pay for maturity. But, getting old seems to be the only way to live a long time. One advantage of being old … you’ve already learned everything the hard way.

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

What's Up, Doc? Songs to celebrate that exam

"Calling Dr. Howard! Dr. Fine! Dr. Howard!"

This week we play Doctor, examining those practitioners of psychiatry, proctology and podiatry with our chilly stethoscopes. Now bend over a bit, this may feel a little uncomfortable…

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Hot hits from the Bible

Pop stars and Nuns. They don’t usually go together, with some notable exceptions.

But in 1973, Sister Janet Mead, a Roman Catholic nun from Australia had an international smash hit on her hands with her single “The Lord’s Prayer."

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 29, 2012

A few songs about real people

The Actual Girl From Ipanema!

Art imitates life in this week’s episode, some great (and not-so-great) songs have been inspired by actual factual folks.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Pucker up and hit those high notes, time for The Whistler

Beware The Whistler!

I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes... I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak ... opening to the 1940’s radio drama The Whistler.

Whistling has been around as long as we’ve had lips, and that puckering propensity has had a vital role in many iconic movies and songs.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Our favorite solar-powered pop music

Painful Solar Flares
thebadastronomer Flickr

At this time of year, most of us in the northern hemisphere are pretty darn glad to be seeing more sunshine. But our old Sun has been having some flare-ups lately, sending massive bursts of energy towards Earth, threatening communications and electrical grids. So before the power goes out, here are some of our favorite solar songs.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Around the world in 80 songs

I see London, I see France...
Trent Strohm Flickr

Despite the emergence or rock and roll, Lawrence Welk had a #1 pop single “Calcutta” in 1961. At age 57, he was the oldest  performer to achieve that milestone. (3 years later Louis Armstrong, at 62 topped the charts with “Hello Dolly”.) “Calcutta” the song doesn’t seem to have anything remotely to do with Calcutta the city, in fact the song was originally called “Tivoli Melody”.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Rockstar dreams

Early humans thought dreams were messages from the Gods, but to Freud it was unconscious wish-fulfillment. It wasn’t until 1952 that REM sleep was discovered, and the fact that our brains are quite active while we sleep.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Musical inspiration from religion

Religion and secular music don’t often cross paths, but many a pop singer and song has a religious inspiration … George Harrison raised some eyebrows with his 1967 composition “Within You Without You”, with lyrics that reflected the teachings of Hinduism.

From the Buddhist message of The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” to the uplifting spiritual “Oh Happy Day, we have tolerated and embraced religious meaning in our pop tunes.

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Record Bin Roulette
4:30 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Pop songs from real life

Don McLean's American Pie

From “The Star Spangled Banner” to “Walk on the Wild Side”, popular music has re-told real-life events, stuff that actually happened.

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