Soundcheck Soundcheck, hosted by John Schaefer, is WNYCs daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, critics, and the public radio audience. Listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.
soundcheck
WNYC

Soundcheck

From NJPR

Soundcheck, hosted by John Schaefer, is WNYCs daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, critics, and the public radio audience. Listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.

Most Recent Episodes

Singer, Actress, and Activist Lila Downs Works To Break Down Walls (Archives)

Feminist icon and Mexican folklorist Lila Downs' 2018 album Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo (Dancehall, Tears, and Desire), is dedicated to strong women everywhere. Her lyrics, inviting all "dangerous" women to join her, often highlight issues relating to social justice, while spanning blues to cumbia, folk and ranchera music. Inspired by Frida Kahlo, Downs says in an interview with Remezcla that she finds being Mexican has "a lot of value, even if the world that surrounds one doesn't believe it." She's joined by her band, and special guest Chilean emcee Ana Tijoux, in-studio. (From the Archives, 2018.)

Singer, Actress, and Activist Lila Downs Works To Break Down Walls (Archives)

New Zealand Artist Marlon Williams Makes Beauty Out of Agony (Archives)

New Zealand singer/songwriter Marlon Williams has a voice like butter which can be charming and flirty as in the timeless crooner soon-to-be-classic, "Vampire Again," or which can convey despair and longing, see his duet with Aldous Harding - "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore." After his breakup from musician Aldous Harding, complicated torrents of feeling poured out in song, all delivered in a honey-smooth voice that accepts heartbreak and cultivates its beauty. Marlon Williams' 2018 record was called Make Way For Love; he plays some of those songs, in-studio. (From the Archives, 2018.)

Calexico Makes Mariachi-Laced Music for The End Times (Archives)

For the better part of two decades, the Tuscon-based desert-noir band Calexico has been making Mariachi- and Cumbia-laced expansive Americana. For their 2018 record, The Thread That Keeps Us, they explore the dual nature of anxiety and hope in these volatile times with some romance and gritty dread. The band joins us to play some of these songs in our studio. (From the Archives.) Their 2022 album, El Mirador, just out this past April, is "a hopeful, kaleidoscopic beacon of rock, bluesy ruminations and Latin American sounds" (YouTube.) Set List: The End of the World With You Voices in the Field Under the Wheels

Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell Explore Reconstruction-Era Music (Archives)

African-American string band tradition meets Cajun/Creole and Appalachian music in a collaboration between singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, actor and MacArthur Fellow Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell, a multi-instrumentalist, singer, arranger, songwriter, and actor himself. Together, with banjos and fiddles, they play each other's original songs, music that takes on the slave condition of pre-Civil War times, and chat about their recent project, songs tied to the Reconstruction era culture of the Wilmington, North Carolina Massacre of 1898. (From the Archives, 2018.) Set list: I'm Gonna Write Me A Letter Say Old Playmate At the Purchaser's Option

Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell Explore Reconstruction-Era Music (Archives)

Curse of Lono's Gothic Rock for a Late-Night Drive

For the guitarist, vocalist, and bandleader of the London-based Curse of Lono, Felix Bechtolsheimer, these past few years have been steeped with loss: his father, uncle, ex-partner, and his band – whose lineup was completely overhauled to the pandemic. The band's name comes from Hunter S. Thompson's 1983 book of the same name, and their cinematic southern gothic country songs land somewhere between The Rolling Stones, Wilco, Lou Reed, the Doors, Leonard Cohen and Lee Hazelwood. Bechtolsheimer's baritone guitars and baritone vocals are "a key part of the Lono sound", which might be good for "a late-night desert drive" (GuitarWorld.com). Curse of Lono's new record, People In Cars – an album named for a 2017 photo book by Mike Mandel – is introspective and at times steeped in memories of darkness and despair, and "is themed around the many roads he's travelled and those who've shared the journey" (folkradio.co.uk). Curse of Lono performs some of these songs for us remotely. - Caryn Havlik Set list: In Your Arms, London Rain, Way to Mars Watch "In Your Arms": Watch "London Rain": Watch "Way to Mars":

Richmond Duo Lean Year's Slowcore Minimalist Folk, In-Studio (Archives)

Dreamy slow-core folk duo Lean Year is Virginia-based singer Emilie Rex and filmmaker/musician Rick Alverson, along with contributions from Chicago musician/engineer Erik Hall and guest artists. Their musical palette is one of soft-spoken but direct vocals, a Telecaster guitar dredging through peaceful waters, baritone saxophone and clarinet parts, Rhodes, tape-warps, and waves of strings. Lean Year joins us in-studio to play some of these cutting and quiet minimalist folk tunes. (From the Archives, 2018.)

Richmond Duo Lean Year's Slowcore Minimalist Folk, In-Studio (Archives)

String Quintet Sybarite5, In-Studio (Archives)

Since their inception over a decade ago, the string quintet Sybarite5 has built a global audience, from Lincoln Center to The Cutting Room and the Museum of Sex; from the Apple Store to the Library of Congress, and a music salon-like residency at NYC's the cell, along with multiple international and national tours, residencies, and festivals. The five players (Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violins; Angela Pickett, viola; Laura Metcalf, cello; and Louis Levitt, bass) have made it their quest to champion new music by American composers along with other tunes that excite them: arrangements of Radiohead, Taraf de Haidouks, Led Zeppelin, and Astor Piazzolla. Their 2018 record, OUTLIERS, is a collection of new works composed just for them. The quintet plays some of these tunes in-studio. (Archives, 2018.) Set List: Black Bend by Dan Visconti Yann's Light by Shawn Conley Getting Home (I must be...) by Jessica Meyer

Bette Smith: Muscular Soul at a Fever Pitch (Archives)

Bette Smith was born and raised in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn – but on her debut LP called Jetlagger she draws on the gospel she sang in the church and the soul music she heard on the block on hot summer nights music growing up on the corner of Nostrand and Fulton. On the 2018 record Jetlagger, the tunes range from originals to covers of Staples Singers and Isaac Hayes classics, showcasing Smith's deep, confident, and powerful voice. Amidst rugged, muscular arrangements that hearken to the timeless sounds of Mississippi and Memphis soul and funk, Bette Smith barely contains a New York aggressiveness and passion, and piles on the sexy. Smith and her band play some of these songs, in-studio. (From the Archives, 2018.)

Manchester Rock Band elbow Makes Joyful, Emotive, Orchestral Songs (Archives)

The rock band elbow (small "e") hails from greater Manchester and makes subtle, sensitive, anthemic, joyful music, sometimes augmented with the strings of the Hallé Orchestra, (which they did not bring with them.) Guy Garvey's vocals and wordplay are perched atop a well-orchestrated but never overwrought blend of melodic bass, guitar and piano riffs, and pulsing percussion, all the while squeezing out a wide range of bottled emotions onto expansive life paintings. They've referred to themselves as "prog without the solos" (AllMusic). elbow plays music from their 2017 album, "Little Fictions" in-studio. (From the Archives, 2017.)

Manchester Rock Band elbow Makes Joyful, Emotive, Orchestral Songs (Archives)

Bjarte Eike & Barokksolistene (The Alehouse Boys) Tear It Up In-Studio (Archives)

The Norwegian band called Barokksolistene is out to give classical music a bad name. They're trying to drag classical music – and especially Baroque music – down to the level of folk musicians fiddling in back of a pub. We here at WNYC fully support this sort of thing. Led by violinist Bjarte Eike, the band Barokksolistene has created a project they call The Alehouse Sessions, where they merrily blend together the sounds of Baroque music, drinking songs from the British Isles, and folk fiddling from various places in Northern Europe. See if you can figure out which is which. (From the Archives, 2017.) "Hole In the Wall" (Henry Purcell - Abdelazer); "Johnny Faa/I Drew My Ship" (Scottish/Irish trad.); "Travel Set, medley" (Norway/Scotland/Norway/Denmark/Shetland Islands/America)

Bjarte Eike & Barokksolistene (The Alehouse Boys) Tear It Up In-Studio (Archives)