Will Hermes looks at a trend in music making and performance; musicians using the power of laptop computers in live performance. They cut up samples and use synthesizer programs to create new and quirky music. Hermes says that the music fills a wide range, but watching a band performing live with a laptop can be a bit like watching the grass grow. (4:30)
Music in this piece comes from several CDs. Matmos CD is called A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure and is available through Matador Records. Nobukazu Takamuras' CD, called Hoshi No Koe, is available from Thrill Jockey Records. Kid 606's CD, called PS I Love You, is available from Mille Plateaux Records. Chicks on Speed's CD, called Will Save Us All, is available from Chicks on Speed Records.
Reviewer Alan Cheuse says if Susan Minot's new novel Rapture were a movie, it would be X-rated. (2:00)
The book is published by Knopf.
American Roots Music
Meredith Ochs reviews American Roots Music, a four-CD box set of American country, blues, gospel, folk, and other genres. (4:30)
The compilation is inspired by last year's television documentary series of the same name. Copyright 2001, Palm Pictures .
The Gutenberg Bible
Robert Siegel reports on a Library of Congress project with Octavo, publishers of rare books on CD, to digitally photograph the LOC's 'perfect' copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Martha Blegen, the photographer explains the process. Mark Dimunation, rare books chief at the Library of Congress describes the importance of the project. And Paul Needham, a Gutenberg Bible scholar at Princeton's Scheide Library explains the value to scholars of having digital representations of the Bible to study. (7:30)
Commentator James Sullivan vinyl records still have their devotees, but cassette tapes are disappearing and nobody is mourning their passing. Cassettes gave us the Walkman and the "mix tape." Still, nobody seems to care. (2:45)
Noah Adams talks with two tubists, Patrick Sheridan, on bass tuba and Sam Pilafian on contrabass. They explain the range of their instrument and what it takes to be a tuba player. The two players have a new CD of Latin music called Dos Amigos. (8:00) The CD, Dos Amigos, by Patrick Sheridan and Sam Pilafian is only available at www.patricksheridan.com.
Robert talks with marine biologist Josie Sutherland, Curator at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, England. The Tope sharks Sutherland cares for at the Centre have shown little interest in reproduction. To foster an amorous atmosphere the Centre is playing Barry White for the sharks. (2:00)
We invent a shark-specific variation of a Barry White hit to help sharks get in the mood for love. (2:00)
Westminster Dog Show
A miniature poodle is the upset winner of the nation's most prestigious dog show. Surrey Spice Girl, a 3 year old with black pompoms, beat out the favorites with her performance. Robert Siegel talks with Deborah Woods, author of Top Dogs: Making it to Westminster. Woods' book is published by Hungry Minds, January 2002. (5:00)
Weblogs and Writing
Commentator David Weinberger says the phenomenon of "Weblogs" -- a sort of daily journal that hundreds of thousands of people now keep on the Internet -- is one example of how the Web may transform journalism. (3:00) Weinberger is author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web, published by Perseus Books.
Noah Adams notes the death of country
singer/songwriter Waylon Jennings. He was 64. We hear a part of his
song Good Hearted Woman. (3:00)
Commentator Scott Huler lives for the NASCAR racing season. He says it's more than beer, marketing and stories about Dale Earnhardt. It's a legitimate sport. (3:00) A Little Bit Sideways, by Scott Huler, is published by Motorbooks International, March 1999.
Noah Adams talks with Misha Gleny, author of The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War, about the indictments against Milosevic. The indictments cover the years from 1991 to 1999, and refer to incidents in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovoina and Kosovo, including the destruction of Vukovar, the shelling and killings in Sarajevo, and the brutalities and rapes in a Kosovo village. While calling attention to specific indictments against Milosevic, Gleny explains the rise of Milosevic in the Balkans, and how his championing of a "greater Serbia" was a catalyst and a cause for the bloodshed in the region. (7:30) The book is published by Penguin.
Jack Henry Abbott
Convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbott, who turned
letters that he wrote from prison into a best-selling book, apparently
killed himself in his jail cell yesterday. He was 58. In the Belly of
the Beast, was composed of letters that Abbott wrote to Norman Mailer
between 1978 and 1981. To talk about Abbott, Robert Siegel is joined by H.
Bruce Franklin, a professor of English at Rutgers University and author of
Prison Writing in 20th Century America. Franklin's book is published by Penguin, 1998. (4:30)
Dave Van Ronk
Noah Adams talks to folksinger and songwriter Tom
Paxton about his friend and fellow folksinger Dave Van Ronk, who died Sunday
at age 65. Van Ronk was a mother hen to many aspiring and later successful
folkies, including Bob Dylan. Van Ronk, says Paxton was not concerned about
his own career as much as he probably should have been. But Van Ronk was a
well-read man with many interests, who influenced many singers with his
earthy style. (5:00)
The Lion That Roars: Live in America
Banning Eyre reviews the new live CD from Hakim, one of Egypt's most popular young singers. Hakim is known to his fan as the "Lion of Egypt." He recorded The Lion Roars: Live in America in New York early last year. (4:00)
The CD is on the Mondo Melodia label.
Reviewer Alan Cheuse tells us about Roscoe, the latest novel from William Kennedy about the city of Albany, New York. The book is published by Viking. (1:45)
Reviewer Will Hermes takes a listen to a CD by a dance band from Senegal known as Orchestra Baobab. The group recorded this music 20 years ago. It made its way to the states on bootlegged cassettes. Now the legendary recording called Pirates Choice has been released in the United States. The CD is a beautiful mix of African and Cuban dance rhythms. (4:3
The CD is Pirates Choice by Orchestra Baobab, available from Nonesuch Records.
Scratch is the name of a new documentary film chronicling
the evolution of the hip-hop DJ. The film's soundtrack is a distilled
version of the documentary, laced together with clips of live performances
and commentary from DJs. Guest host Liane Hansen talks with Bill Laswell, the producer of the soundtrack, about the idea of "turntablism" and "DeeJaying." (7:30)
The CD is from TransparentMusic. For more, visit the movie Web site and the Transparent Music Web site.
POWs In Wisconsin
About 20,000 prisoners of war were housed in Wisconsin during World War II. Betty Cowley has written a book about them, called Stalag Wisconsin: Inside World War II Prisoner of War Camps. She tells guest host Liane Hansen that she wrote the book because her students (she is a retired teacher) sometimes did not believe their communities had camps for the Germans, Japanese, Italians and others. (5:00) The book is published by Badger Books Inc./Waubesa Press, February 2002.
How to Name a Bestseller
Commentator Tony Hendra knows that to sell books one must use certain provocative words in the title. "Hitler," for example. Or, "Golf." And now the latest buzz word, "jihad," has joined the list. (2:15)
Claude Brown Obit
Writer Claude Brown has died of a lung condition at age 64. His 1965 book Manchild in the Promised Land was a best seller. It told his own story of growing up in Harlem, New York. Liane Hansen talks with Ellis Cose, an editor with Newsweek magazine, about Brown's work. (4:15)
Jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd has played just about everything -- from hymns in his grandmother's church to Dixieland at Yale, to avant garde with Cecil Taylor, to recording with Sonic Youth. But he's never lost his feeling for the growling, stomping sounds of his predecessors. Rudd recently won a Guggenheim Fellowship and his latest recording was named one of last year's best. Karen Michel reports. (7:30)
David Greenberger reviews Nude on the Moon -- The B-52s Anthology. It's a two-CD set that covers more than 20 years of songs from this pop band from Athens, Ga. Their sound has always been playful, space age, and loopy. Many of their songs became party anthems, like "Rock Lobster", "Love Shack", and "Private Idaho." Greenberger says this set is a great collection of songs from a surprisingly inventive and resilient career. (5:00)
The CD is on the Rhino Records label. Catalog # RS78357.
Music critic Tom Manoff reviews Turban and Nemtsov Play Hebrew Melodies, a recording from violinist Ingolf Turban and pianist Jascha Nemtsov. More than half the recording is devoted to music written by the Russian composer Joseph Achron. Manoff says Achron's compositions create classical music with Jewish folk themes. (4:00)
The CD is on the Hanssler-Classic label - #93028.
Guest host Liane Hansen talks with blues vocalist Rory Block about her newest album, I'm Every Woman. It's her 14th album and features various covers including, "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing," which she recorded with Keb' Mo'. Block tells about how she came to record the duet. (4:30) The album is available on Rounder Records.
'Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family'
Robert Siegel talks with Patricia Volk, author of Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family. Volk says that her great grandfather is responsible for bringing Pastrami to the New World, and subsequently the pastrami sandwich with mustard on rye. She describes a funny world of New York restaurateurs over generations, where there is food a plenty. (7:30) The book is published by Knopf. ISBN # 0375411062.
Books & Music Review Archive
Alan Cheuse's Book Review for 2001
Alan Cheuse's Summer Reading List
The Top 100 Books Since 1900