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New GM Blog Post

By Lee Ferraro, KUSP General Manager -

November was a very eventful month at KUSP. My kudos to the staff, my thanks to the community (including the KUSP Community Advisory Board) and my appreciation to the Board of Directors for their unwavering support. The switch over from a mixed NPR news/info/volunteer music format to a format centered around music discovery is one month old today!

Initial feedback from the community about the music programming has been very positive. Compliments emailed to us about the music mixes have been running nearly three to one in favor. The staff and I truly appreciate all feedback, both positive and less so. We want the station to be reflective of the region, so your input truly matters — please keep it coming to musicmatters@kusp.org.

The next phase of programming changes is expected early this month, tentatively December 7. Phase One launched on November 1 and focused on the “dayparts” affected by the move away from NPR programming. Phase Two will address changes to the evenings and weekends to better align these “dayparts” with the weekday schedule. The guiding principal here is that more consistent adherence to an overall format will give KUSP its best chance at long-term sustainability.

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Donny McCaslin Lands Gig in David Bowie’s New Band

Donny McCaslin, backstage at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Photo: Stephen Laufer / KUSP

Donny McCaslin, backstage at the Monterey Jazz Festival, 2011. Photo: Stephen Laufer / KUSP

Details are emerging about David Bowie’s next album entitled ★ (Blackstar), and it’s being released shortly. The lineup includes saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who is quite a familiar face to jazz fans around the Monterey Bay.

Mojo Magazine reports in an interview with Bowie’s long-time producer Tony Visconti, that the artist turned to jazz players to help steer his project in a new direction.

Visconti said:

“★’s exciting, adventurous vibe – jazz-informed, but rock-intense – is more than partly down to the cast of young musicians Bowie assembled for the New York sessions.”

Donny McCaslin grew up in Santa Cruz county, playing jazz at an early age. The Grammy-nominated artist appeared many time on stage at the Monterey Jazz Festival and Kuumbwa Jazz Center.


Listen to the first released track below. Bowie’s album ‘Blackstar’ is scheduled for release January 16, 2016.

Dearly Departed: Allen Toussaint -The Big Easy’s Prolific Songwriter (1938-2015)


ToussaintBy Eric Berg | KUSP’s BergAlert -

The great Allen Tousaint, the New Orleans pianist, prolific songwriter and record producer, unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack last week after a performance in Spain. He was 77.

What?  You’ve never heard of him? Believe me, you’ve heard his songs.

Prolific songwriter

How ‘bout Robert Plant and Alison Kraus’s version of “Fortune Teller” from their Raising Sand  album? The song was penned by Toussaint  in 1962 and became a hit for Benny Spellman and later the Rolling Stones.

Toussaint wrote “Southern Nights” that was Glen Campbell’s very first no.1 hit single. And how ‘bout Al Hirt’s “Java”, Boz Scaggs’ and Bonnie Raitt’s  “What do You want the Girl to Do”, “Mother In Law” for Ernie K Doe, Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade”, “Ride Your Pony” for Lee Dorsey. Devo’s “Working in a Coal Mine” – originally another early hit for Dorsey. And don’t forget Dr. John’s  Toussaint produced album, “Right Place, Wrong Time”.  All this is a mere drop in Toussaint’s royalties bucket with all the other songs he’s written.
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Album Review: Blizten Trapper’s Classic Rock History Lesson


91YPqYUG92L._SY355_By Eric Berg | The BergAlert – Blitzen Trapper’s latest album All Across The Land is hot off the presses, but it actually sounds the something you’ve heard before. Many times. This time around, the Portland band has crafted an amiable tribute to 70’s and 80’s classic rock. On the title track alone, you’ve got elements of the Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Stones all rolled into one fat song.

Intentional Rocks

“The classic rock thing is intentional and it captures our live sound”, so says Blitzen Trapper’s chief songwriter and singer Eric Earley. The album does indeed sum up what life is like for a band that’s spent the last decade on the rock and roll highway.  All Across the Land clocks in at a reasonable 39 minutes and along the way you can pick out nods to everybody from Dire Straits to Bob and Bruce particularly on “Nights Were Made For Love” that sounds straight out of Jersey.

There’s plenty of furious 70’s arena style guitar soloing. The blazing twin guitars at the end of Rock and Roll (Was Made For You) will bring back memories of packed to the walls, giant arena concerts and salutatory BIC lighters, sans ear plugs.

What Year Is This?

Despite all the nostalgia, the content of these songs really does address real emotions, relationships, romances and loneliness that’s all part of being in a band perpetually on tour, as in Cadillac Road.

In the long run, there are times when Blitzen Trapper’s All Across The Land seems nothing more a well crafted audio version of the “Trivial Pursuit Classic Rock board game. C’mon guys, do we really need another knockoff impersonation of Bob Dylan and his harmonica to get Across the River? - Eric Berg

Video Proof that Old Vans are In Again:


RIP Allen Toussaint – Seven Decades of Music

The New York Times reports that Allen Toussaint has died:

Allen Toussaint, the versatile producer, songwriter, pianist and singer who was a fixture of New Orleans R&B, died after appearing in concert in Madrid on Monday night. He was 77.

Watch this 60 minute documentary by the BBC from 2012:

Allen Toussaint Photo: Jasper Uhlenbusch / flickr

Allen Toussaint Photo: Jasper Uhlenbusch / flickr

KUSP’s Successful Fall Membership Drive!

white-phone-5412Thanks to more than 740 people who contributed during KUSP’s fall fundraiser.

Your contributions totaled more than $82,000 and will help launch our new music-focused format.

Thank you for supporting independent public radio in the Monterey Bay area!

And for those of you who have not yet donated, you can still give online:


Album Review: Dead Weather Kicks Up a Storm with ‘Dodge and Burn’



By Eric Berg | The BergAlert -

Dead Weather’s new third album Dodge and Burn is a deliciously ferocious, flame spewing collection of noisy energized rock that owes a lot to Led Zeppelin and not surprisingly…the White Stripes.

Side Project

That’s because Dead Weather is another type A side project from guitarist Jack White, of the Stripes, Raconteurs and founder of Nashville’s Third Man Records. With these guys, White sticks to exhuberant drumming throughout and occasional voice, leaving most of the  singing and songwriting duties to Alison Mosshart from the Kills whose take no prisoners vocals sting with urgency like she does with her love on the road look-back called “Mile Markers”.

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KUSP’s 2015 Fall Fundraising Drive

What you hear on KUSP is about to change. We’re here to ask for your financial support for the new station with a schedule full of music and community voices that we’ll be bringing you in just a couple weeks.


KUSP is becoming more about music. Photo: Laufer









You’ll help us enrich our region’s culture with a new complement to the Monterey Bay area’s public radio offerings.

By supporting KUSP you’re part of a community that believes in independent media and that voluntary contributions from listeners — people just like you — are the key to preserving an independent voice on the media landscape.

Album Review: Banana Revisits The Youngbloods


bananaThe fabled Summer of Love happened in 1967 and one song truly captured the hippie spirit of the day and ruled the AM-FM airways those hot summer nights. It was The Youngblood’s Byrdsy sounding but San Francisco drenched version of  “Get Together” that, for a short time, became the anthem of the psychedelic generation.

Psychedelic anthem

That song featuring Jesse Colin Young on lead vocals was composed by the late Dino Valenti, a folksinger turned psychedelic rocker with Quicksilver Messenger Service.  It was the Youngbloods only top ten hit. Celebrating those times is the new bluegrass tinged album  “Get Together: Banana Recalls Youngbloods Classics”. Banana’s revisits the song accompanied by mandolin maestro, David Grisman.

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‘Let’s Put Harry in the Hall’

Harry Nilsson is not the first musician that’s enjoyed a concerted effort by others to get them inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Nilsson died in 1994, but now there’s has a song dedicated to the Hall of Fame effort and over 30 professional musicians, artists, friends and family contributed. A video was made it the recording studio where the track was cut.

Public radio’s KPCC in Pasadena interviewed a number of the musicians in the project:

 “He was innovative, creative, his music is incredible,” says 60’s pop chanteuse Evie Sands.“People love it to this day, even those who may not be aware that it’s Harry Nilsson’s music.”

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