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Album Review: Rhiannon Gidden’s Solo Debut ‘Tomorrow Is My Turn’


giddens-tomorrow-is-my-turn-450x409Rhiannon Giddens, lead singer and a founding member of the Grammy winning string band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, has just released her first solo album called “Tomorrow Is My Turn”.  It’s an impressive vocal tour de force that shows off Gidden’s superlative voice and extensive range.

Her rendition of  “Waterboy  floored the audience with in 2013 at the “Another Day, Another Time” folk concert honoring the Cohen Bros movie “Inside Lewyn Davis”.  Giddens caught the ear of T-Bone Burnett who asked to record with her and produced “Tomorrow Is My Turn” which features her percussive but strikingly updated version of “Waterboy”, a song most famously associated with Odetta.

Operatic background

Giddens , a classically trained opera singer seems quite at ease covering all genres of music. For this album, she purposely chose tracks that didn’t fit the Chocolate Drops’ M.O. picking out songs written or at least interpreted by women singer who inspired her like Elizabeth Cotton, Nina Simone, Patsy Cline. Her version of Dolly Parton’s “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” is absolutely stunning and so is her gospel prowess on Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head”.

The group of musicians Burnett picked to back Giddens on “Tomorrow Is My Turn” are also outstanding, notably fiddle player Gabe Witcher from the Punch Brothers. Chocolate Drop bandmates Hubby Jenkins and Adam Matta are also present.  The only fully composed song  is the self revealing “Angel City” penned by Giddens that gives closes the album.

Future bodes well

Rhiannon Giddens debut “Tomorrow Is My Turn” shows she has a voice to be reckoned with and the potential to become a legendary singer in her own right.  Can’t wait to see what Giddens does next. – Eric Berg



Album Review: Bill Frisell’s ‘Guitar in the Space Age’


FrisellBill Frisell’s new album, “Guitar in the Space Age” (Okeh Records) is a fun gravity free, instrumental spaced out walk into the future past. Except for two Frisell originals, all of these 14 tracks on “Space Age” harkens back to the early 60’s when satellites, sputniks, and purple people eaters hogged the transistor radios of the day.

“Pipeline”  and “Telstar” book end the album

After a first all the way through listen, starting with Frisell’s 7 minute space jam of the class surf hit, “Pipeline”, right down to the last tune, Joe Meek’s space age hit “Telstar”, I could imagine how fine it would be to listen to this record with set of headphones while circling the Earth in one of those old Mercury space capsules. Thing is, this album could use a bit more rocket fuel here and there. Frisell and fellow guitarist – steel pedal player Greg Leisz, seldom get pas the initial booster stage, preferring to lock everything in cruise control mode. Well, it is a space album, right?

Frisell is well known for themed albums – his John Lennon tribute was fabulous – but don’t expect any Los Straightjackets’ fireworks here.  “Space Age” slowly creeps up on you and makes for perfect on board space station listening. It’s Leisz outstanding pedal steel playing that gives this album it’s luster. In some ways, he over shadows Frisell as he does when he cuts loose on Link Wray’s “Rumble”.

Odd tracks

There are a couple of peculiar track choices on “Space Age”. A slow mo’ take of Brian Wilson’s “Surfer Girl”, Pete Seeger’s Brydsy “Turn, Turn, Turn” and, of all things, The Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting for You”.

It may take some adjusting to the slow pace of Frisell’s “Guitar in the Space Age”, but once you get on board with his space program, it’s a relaxing 14 track journey that warrants use of the repeat mode button and achieves a perfect “Lift Off”, which just so happens to be the title of one of two tracks this chameleon of a guitarist penned. – Eric Berg

VIDEO – This is an entire performance of Frisell and group playing the album and much more.

7th Avenue Project: Rick Doblin & MAPS: Psychedelics and Psychotherapy

Visit: 7th Avenue Project webapge.

The criminalization of psychedelic drugs in the 60s did little to halt their recreational use, but succeeded in making it nearly impossible to do legitimate research on their safety, effects and medicinal potential. Rick Doblin has spent most of his life trying to change that, and over the last 30 years, he and the organization he founded, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), have been making steady headway. After a series of successful government-authorized pilot studies on the therapeutic use of drugs like LSD, MDMA and psilocybin for a variety of psychological disorders, large-scale trials and FDA approval may soon follow. MDMA, for example, may be greenlighted for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder as early as 2021.

On today’s show, I spoke to Rick about the long road from proscription to prescription; where the previous generation of psychedelic advocates went wrong and what’s going right this time; how psychedelics might work to assist psychotherapy for PTSD, severe anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, and other conditions; and how that model differs from conventional psychopharmaceutical approaches. Also Rick talks about his own psychedelic experiences and why mind-altering drugs can be so life-altering.

Click the play arrow above to hear the interview, or the download icon on the upper right to get your own mp3.

Check out these audio extras:

Rick Doblin on psychedelics and placebos: in a placebo-controlled drug study test subjects aren’t supposed to know whether they’ve gotten the real thing or a dummy dose. That’s the whole point. But how do you pull the old switcheroo in psychedelic research, where the difference between a sugar pill and a hallucinogen is, er, noticeable? Rick discussed some novel solutions he and his colleagues have come up with.

Anthropologist, ethnobotanist and explorer Wade Davis from a recent conversation we had, on his own cross-cultural psychedelic investigations and those of his mentor, ethnobotanical trailblazer Richard Evans Schultes.

Writer Don Lattin on his book The Harvard Psychedelic Club, from our 2010 interview. I also spoke to Paul Lee, one of psilocybin-takers in the original 1962 Good Friday Experiment at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel.

Don Lattin on an earlier wave of consciousness explorers, including Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard.

7th Avenue Project: Poet & Word Warlock Michael Robbins

Visit: 7th Avenue Project website.

Michael Robbins says he wanted to be a rock star even more than a poet. His devotion to music, from rap to rock to pop and country, is audible in almost every line of his verse — not just in the lyrics he samples and remixes, but in the sonics and the syllables themselves. “Poetry for me has always been a kind of magic produced by sound,” he says, “like a spell or incantation.”

Michael’s just released his second poetry collection, The Second Sex, following up on 2012’s critical smash, Alien Vs. Predator. In this interview, he read a few selections from the new book while discussing some of the works – literary and musical – that have ensorcelled him over the years. Also, his thoughts on pop music tropes; ornamental overreach and epiphanic excess in poetry; rappers and their rhymes; faith and rationalism; and the virtuosity of Taylor Swift.

Here’s a mini-syllabus of some of the works discussed and heard in the interview:

Julia Reynolds Radio Interview: Inside California’s Nuestra Familia Gang

This episode was originally broadcast on The 7th Avenue Project , September 14, 2014.

Julia Reynolds never planned on becoming an expert on gang violence. But as a reporter covering towns like Salinas, CA, she found the carnage hard to ignore, and she wondered why so many young men were keen for a career that often ends in an early grave or a prison cell.

After a decade of getting to know gang members, their families and anti-gang law enforcement officials, she’s produced a vivid portrait of life and death in one of California’s most notorious crime organizations. Drawing on her own first-hand reporting as well as police surveillance tapes and court discovery documents, her new book Blood in the Fields: Ten Years Inside California’s Nuestra Familia Gang has a novelistic, you-are-there immediacy while remaining resolutely factual.

Robert Plant – Live Webcast – 9/28/14

From NPR | Front Row -

Join NPR Music for a live video webcast of Robert Plant and his new band The Sensational Space Shifters.

CLICK HERE, Sunday, September 28th at 5:45 p.m. PT. a live video webcast featuring rock ‘n’ roll legend Robert Plant and his band. We’ll webcast the show from the Nonesuch At BAM music festival in Brooklyn. The former Led Zeppelin singer released a new solo album, titled lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, earlier this month.

Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters include Justin Adams (guitar), John Baggott (keyboards), Juldeh Camara (gologo and a one-string West African violin called the riti), Billy Fuller (bass), Liam “Skin” Tyson (guitar) and Dave Smith (percussion).

Photo: Ed Miles/Courtesy of the artist

Photo: Ed Miles/Courtesy of the artist.

7th Avenue Project: Yael Kohen: The Rise of Women in Comedy

It’s taken decades, but women are finally catching up to men in the comedy business, with A-list stars like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman and Kristen Wiig. Have women comics achieved true equality? And if so, why’d it take so friggin’ long? We talk to Yael Kohen about her oral history, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy. (Originally aired in 2012)

In the Wake of Die-Off Lots of Baby Sea Stars

starfishJ.D. Hillard | KUSP News

After most species of sea stars suffered massive die-offs in 2013, researchers say there’s some hope for recovery.

Scientists still don’t understand why sea stars from Mexico to Canada started dying off. But the disease, which is called “sea star wasting syndrome” has affected most species and in many locations killed off a majority of sea stars, says Peter Raimondi, who studies marine ecology at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz.

“It’s unlikely you’ll go to a location and not find any sea stars but the numbers are fractions of what they used to be.”

The ailment begins with tissue death – parts of the sea star may fall off. Then bacterial infections kill the animal.

Now Raimondi says there’s a chance sea stars may recover. He and other scientists have seen the largest number of baby sea stars they’ve ever seen. That goes especially for a site near Raimondi’s lab.

“We’ve seen more babies in the last 6 months than we’ve seen in the last 15 years combined. ”

Raimondi cautions that the large birth year doesn’t necessarily promise a return to normal populations. These new sea stars could still get the disease.

“The comeback would be when these individuals actually make it through to the adult stage.”

He says that would take a few years, once this year’s babies reach maturity.


Watsonville Adds Water Restrictions

A scene like like could lead to a $500 fine. Courtesy of Stephen Laufer

A scene like like could lead to a $500 fine. Courtesy of Stephen Laufer

J.D. Hillard | KUSP News
This week Watsonville’s City Council approved new restrictions on water use following an emergency mandate issued by Governor Jerry Brown last month.

The emergency measure was aimed at reducing outdoor water use in urban areas. A lot of water districts have a variety of restrictions already, the mandate specifies all districts have to adopt measures such as prohibiting watering that causes runoff or washing cars without a nozzle that shuts off.

In order to comply Watsonville adopted the mandated limit for outdoor watering: no more than two days per week for less than 15 minutes.


At Farming Workshop: Drought and Salty Wells


Mark Silberstein-500

By Wes Sims | KUSP News

During droughts cities tell residents to stop watering outside. Farms don’t have that option. This drought highlights the challenge growers face maintaining agriculture while preserving water supplies. It’s become part of the curriculum for a program that educates community leaders about local agricultural issues.