Saturday, December 31, 2011

The “Public Broadcasting is…” giveaway

As you may know, Congress completed work on the final funding bill for FY 2012 last week. Included in this bill is level funding of $445 million for public broadcasting through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

WUMB receives 13% of our annual budget for our programming and operations from CPB and it would be very difficult for us to operate without this money. So, we are very grateful to both the President and Congress for their support of public broadcasting…in addition to our listeners who provide support for nearly 50% of our needed revenue each year!

While our listeners may understand, Congress is largely unaware of the importance of a music station such as ours to the community unless someone takes the initiative to let their congressperson know. WUMB has joined 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting - a project that is bringing public radio & public television stations together in a national, grassroots effort to rally the support of the 170 million Americans who watch, use public media each month. Many of our listeners already participate. You can learn more about this campaign at:

Through January 16th, the 170 Million Americans campaign is engaging public broadcasting audiences in a fun giveaway aimed at further growing the public broadcasting network. Listeners (and viewers) are being invited to submit photos of themselves, their families, their friends, their pets - whatever inspires them - along with a sign declaring what public broadcasting is... to them.  

We’d like to encourage you to participate in this celebration of ‘what public broadcasting is…”
For more information about the giveaway visit:

If you would like to send us a copy of the photo also, you can email it to

Thanks for your support over the past year. Best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

~ Pat Monteith, General Manager

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Greetings from the Holiday Road!

I hope all is going well for you, that the holiday season is embracing you with a special feeling of warmth for today and optimism for the future.

We sure get inundated with images of how the season is supposed to be.  And if that makes people get into the season by doing random acts of kindness just for the sake of it, let's have more of that!  But the gap between the Imagery and the difficulty of Reality also make the holiday season a time of extreme depression for too many of us.  That can be from economic hardship.  It is hard to receive the benefits of giving...when there isn't much sugar plum fairy dust left after giving to the bills. 

This time is also difficult on those who spend it far from home (sometimes we call them "Holiday Orphans").  During the holiday season, that can mean more than geography.  That means being separated from family, friends, and associated memories.   Music certainly brings that point home, doesn't it?  After all, music reminds us of times and people we went though those times with.  Joni Mitchell's "River" used to make me badly miss friends in California I had worked with.  In-jokes on some of the LeeVees Hannukah Rocks album make me feel like I am in my parents' living room with the rest of the family--even if they are 3,500 miles away.  No doubt you have your own favorites that exert a poweful pull this time of year. 

Then there are people who invite the "Holiday Orphans" in.  They may be friends.  They may be people who have a local business that practically acts as a community gathering place.  They are anyone who says, "we know (or know of) of a number of people who are far from home for the Holidays...let's have them over."  You feel an extra pang when images of people in Holiday activity are all around, while you are not fitting into the loop.  For the "Holiday Orphan," getting invited to a dinner is about far more than a meal.  It's getting to participate in that whole sense of welcoming.    

Now that is the Holiday Spirit.

A toast to you, the Holiday Hosts, who have made the season better for others
(and to those who have done that in the past for this wanderer...).   

Happy Hannukah, Good Solstice, Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays to you all.

- Perry Persoff

Friday, December 23, 2011

Albums you may have missed in 2011

I love it when people tell me that there’s “no good new music”. What a crock. That statement literally makes me laugh because there’s tons of it, you just have to dig a little bit. I think 2011 was an amazing year for new music…we were lucky to get great releases from established artists as well a plethora of brand new artists. In no particular order, here are some of the albums that blew me away for 2011 and should make some great listening if you missed them.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit Here We Rest. Jason is a guitar player, singer, and songwriter formerly in The Drive By Truckers. This is his 3rd album with his band The 400 Unit.

Sarah Jarosz Follow Me Down. The second album from this amazingly young and talented artist. How do you follow up a stunning debut? You top it with songs featuring players like Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan Dan Tyminski and Shawn Colvin.

Gillian Welch The Harrow & The Harvest. Always the perfectionist, Gillian took eight years to craft this beautiful and haunting album.

Mount Moriah self titled. A group that was new to me from North Carolina blending traditional and indie folk sounds. Great stuff.

Tinariwen Tassili The story behind this band is as good as their music. The members came together in the southern Sahara, and were forced into involuntary military service under Ghadaffi.

Laura Marling A Creature I Don’t Know. The third album from this (again) very young and talented singer songwriter. Her confidence soars on this album.

Ryan Adams Ashes & Fire. Ryan returns to his classic singer-songwriter with a touch of country vibe.

Robert Ellis Photographs. Robert is 23 years old and already a veteran of the Houston music scene. His new album is a concept piece…the first half of the album is more singer-songwriter/folk based while side two is his ode to the classic country he grew up with.

The Civil Wars Barton Hollow. Joy Williams and John Paul White’s stunning debut.

The Head & The Heart self titled. Another great debut by a young band from Seattle infusing folk with up tempo elements.

There were so many other great releases from bands and artists that you just knew were going to be good….Red Molly, The Jayhawks, John Hiatt and many more. These were the albums that really floored me, so if you missed them…give them a listen! Feel free to leave a message about the albums that really wowed you too!

Happy New Year, and here’s to hoping 2012 is as good as 2011 (at least in terms of music!).

- Jay Moberg

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Community Partnerships

WUMB has recently launched two new community & campus partnership programs by piloting a Harmonica workshop for nearly three dozen students at the Dever-McCormack School in Dorchester, and with the UMass Boston GoKids Wellness program (in photo).

The workshops, which teach elementary and middle school students how to play harmonica helps to address the growing body of research which suggests that students who are exposed to music at an early age and who learn to play an instrument do better academically than do children without music education. Learning to play harmonica also has health benefits, since the required diaphragmatic breathing has shown to improve lung-functions in pediatric patients with pulmonary disease. Students were given harmonicas to use during an initial, hands-on, learn-to-play class and took them home with instructions about how to continue play.

Nationally-recognized harmonica player and singer-songwriter, Trina Hamlin (, who also teaches at the WUMB Summer Acoustic Music Week ( was brought in to help design the workshop, and to spend 75 minutes teaching the students in each class, the basics of how to play.

While a bit hesitant when they first picked up their harmonicas, the students quickly learned to play various rhythms by 'sucking' and 'blowing' the harmonica, and accompanied Trina on several songs before the sessions were over.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Need your ideas for Xmas music on HW61R

By now, you’re probably aware of an earlier Blog about our Christmas/Hanukkah 24/7 music channels at, and have noticed more and more seasonal offerings creeping into the weekly music mix as well.

But, the holiday season is not over and I need your valued input regarding Christmas music for Highway 61 Revisited on Saturday mornings from -.

This weekend (17th) I've got everything from the Letterman to Simon & Garfunkel and from the Chambers Brothers to Commander Cody.

Next weekend (24th) I've dug up a rare Christmas single from Leon Russell, we've also procured Christmas music from George Harrison, John Fahey, Johnny Cash & NRBQ to name but a few...can you think of any from that era I've overlooked?

- Albert

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Which Side Are You On?

We could write an entire Blog about the history of "Which Side Are You On?",  that iconic song written by Florence Reece in 1931 and covered by many including Pete Seeger.  Instead of that, I want to tell you about Ani DiFranco's new album of the same name. 

“Which Side Are You On?” is Ani's first album of new material in just over three years, and she includes a radically (and I mean radically!) reworked rendition of this iconic song. Ani calls Pete Seeger her "elder" and her "father in folk and political song".  Even though Pete made his interpretation of this song over five decades ago, it remains as relevant as ever today. 

You'll be hearing Ani's new version on WUMB very soon, and I'd love to get your thoughts on the song.  Oh and by the way, Pete even plays a little bit of banjo on the song himself. You'll have to listen closely, but Pete even does a little harmonizing on it as well. 

Ani's new album isn’t going to be released until January 17th, but you can purchase an advance copy of the CD on and WUMB will receive 8% of your purchase. Here’s the link:

- Jay Moberg

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas and Hanukkah music 24 hours/day

For some reason we still don’t understand, five years ago (in December 2007 to be specific) we received an inordinate number of calls from listeners about the amount of holiday music we were playing. Some listeners thought we weren’t playing as much Christmas music as we had in previous years, and some were upset because they believed we were playing more Christmas music than ever before. And, others wanted to know why we weren’t playing any Hanukkah music. But, our system with playing both types of holiday music hadn’t changed from previous years!

In order to address some of the listener comments, the following year we decided to create two special internet music channels, one for Christmas music and one for Hanukkah music. This way, anyone who wanted to hear more of either could just visit our web site and listen on-line. We’ve recently re-established both music channels and invite you to tune-in to them whenever you want, 24 hours/day – at home, at the office, or at a party.

On the WUMB Christmas music channel, you can hear a wide variety of your favorite artists from John Prine and Keb ‘Mo to Bruce Cockburn, Shawn Colvin and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. You can connect to our Christmas music channel at:

The WUMB Hanukkah music channel has a bit more of a traditional sound, but features music by John McCutcheon, Peter, Paul & Mary, Winterbloom, and the Klezmer Conservatory Band. You can connect to our Hanukkah music channel at:

I hesitate to ask this question after the amount of feedback we received 5 years ago…but, how do you think we’re doing this year with regards to holiday music on the radio? Are we playing too much, too little…or just the right amount?

- Pat Monteith, General Manager

Monday, December 5, 2011

RIP - John Lincoln Wright

The music community has suffered a great loss with the passing of New England Country Music Legend John Lincoln Wright on Saturday Night.

Lincoln, as he was known to fans and friends alike, had been professionally involved in music for his entire adult life. In the 1960s was leader of the Beacon Street Union which recorded two major label albums. They were signed as a part of the record company's "Boss-Town Sound" hype when they were trying to promote Boston as the next great "Underground" music city, to rival San Fransisco. These albums remain the most listenable of that era in New England music history.

Though the Beacon Street Union was a typical rock band of the era, Lincoln's heart was always filled with Country Music. He founded the Sour Mash Boys, a group that entertained audiences for decades with Country Music classics and his own wonderful original creations. A skillful band leader, the group became a training ground for younger musicians and there are few Country Music performers working today who do not trace their histories to Lincoln's band, or at least claim him as a major influence. Always a keen judge of talent his nurtured many artist, such as Darrell Scott, who have gone on to national acclaim.

He was always generous with his talents and if a benefit was being planed, Lincoln was always among the first to volunteer. Over the years, his songwriting practically defined what New England based Country Music should, or could be. All of his recordings are filled with songs that speak eloquently of his love for the region.

We will miss his talents, of course, but we will also miss in kindness and grace, his warmth and gentle presence. A true New England legend, John Lincoln Wright, gone from us on December 3, 2011

- Dave Palmater

Sunday, December 4, 2011

RIP Howard Tate and Hubert Sumlin

Music lost two great innovators over the first weekend of December 2011. Singer Howard Tate (above), respected for his late 60’s soul records, including those produced by songwriter Jerry Ragavoy, and Hubert Sumlin (below), Howlin’ Wolf’s playful guitar player who was present on many of the blues icon’s Chess recordings of the mid 50’s and into the 60's.


Both men had styles as distinct as any in their field, and both made sounds that were important parts of an era considered to be a hallmark in American pop music. It’s tough to watch the door physically close on the unredeemable past, but we are luckier still to have the recordings and their stories to keep. Howard Tate and Hubert Sumlin remind us of what it means to be dogged in our pursuit to be true to one’s self; to make and enjoy music for its own sake, on one’s own terms, and to always “get it while you can”.

VIDEO: Howard Tate – “Get It While You Can”

VIDEO: Hubert Sumlin with Sunnyland Slim:

Hubert Sumlin - Wikipedia bio:

Howard Tate – Wikipedia bio:

Jerry Ragavoy – Wikipedia bio:
- Brendan Hogan

Friday, December 2, 2011

Songs about The Halifax Explosion - Sunday night at 8pm

Thursday evening was the annual lighting of the official Boston Christmas Tree, a gift from the people of Nova Scotia in gratitude for the generosity of the people of the city following what is know as The Halifax Explosion.

On the morning of December 6, 1917, a French cargo ship, overloaded with munitions bound for the war in Europe, that had taken refuge in Halifax Harbor, collided with another ship and caught fire. The resulting explosion which leveled much of the city, was the largest man made explosion in history eclipsed only by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It is still the largest accidental man made explosion ever.

Enough time elapsed between the collision/fire and the explosion that many people had gone to their windows to look when the blast hit. Many not killed outright were blinded by flying glass. As it was a cold morning many stove that had just been relit were tipped over by the concussion causing fires that raced unchecked through the city. An overnight storm left the city streets unnavigable by the horse drawn fire wagons and the fires burned much of the city that was not destroyed by the blast. .

When word of the explosion and resulting fires reached Boston, relief trains were immediately dispached. Many doctors left their posts to ride north. As the trains from Boston eventually met trains carrying wounded out of the city, the trains slowed and doctors jumped from train to train to care for the evacuated wounded. Within days a massive benefit concert was held at Symphony Hall and much of the relief for the city came from the Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee. This is the reason that the people of Nova Scotia give a Christmas Tree to the people of Boston every year.

This Sunday evening on Downeast Ceilidh (8 PM) Marcia Palmater presents songs about the explosion including one about Vince Coleman, a heroic telegraph operator who stayed at his post and stopped incoming trains from entering the danger area, thereby saving hundreds of lives but losing his own.

This is the Canadian Broadcast Company page about the event:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

30 Grammy categories were eliminated

The Grammy nominations are out and I'm pleased to see that many of the artists you hear on WUMB were considered worthy of nomination. You can find a complete list at

I am, however, disturbed that as part of their decision to eliminate 30 categories, they seemed to have rolled what has previously been two categories into a single Best Folk Album category. In the last few years there has been a Contemporary Folk and a Traditional Folk category and while it was sometime confusing seeing which album ended up in what category, it was at least a chance to honor folk artists who were not primarily songwriters (they did the same thing in the Blues Category).

I think I can sum up my problem with this by asking if Pete Seeger had a new album this year, would it have had a chance in the current Best Folk Album category? You tell me. Am I way off base on this?

Here are the list of nominees for Best Folk Album:
  • Barton Hollow — The Civil Wars
  • I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive — Steve Earle
  • Helplessness Blues — Fleet Foxes
  • Ukulele Songs —  Eddie Vedder
  • The Harrow & The Harvest — Gillian Welch
- Dave Palmater