Results for Mississippi

interviews

Mavis Staples

It's not often we get to share a room with a genuine national treasure. Jim and Greg were honored to speak with gospel and soul legend and Civil Rights icon Mavis Staples. (Greg is also the author of Mavis's 2014 biography I'll Take You There). Beginning her career at age eleven as the lead singer of her family band The Staple Singers, Mavis has inspired countless artists over the past half century.

Her father Pops Staples learned guitar at the feet of Charley Patton in Dockery Farms, Mississippi before moving to Chicago. There, he formed The Staple Singers, a gospel vocal group featuring his children – Pervis, Cleotha, Yvonne, and Mavis taking the lead. The combination of Pops's blues guitar, Cleotha's counterpoint, and Mavis's precociously powerful voice launched them into national attention with their 1956 hit "Uncloudy Day." Soon, the Staple Singers were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, often serving as the opening act to Martin Luther King, Jr. (We'll cover that period in more detail in a second episode with Mavis).

The group had its greatest success once it signed to Stax Records and began recording with the famed session musicians in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on hits like "I'll Take You There." That's also when Mavis began her solo career – reluctantly at first, but still going as strong as ever today. Her latest album Livin' on a High Note found her working with songwriters like Nick Cave, tUnE-yArDs, and Neko Case. Mavis offers Jim and Greg an intimate look at growing up on Chicago's South Side, forming the Staple Singers' signature sound, meeting Mahalia Jackson, and collaborating with Curtis Mayfield and Prince.

Go to episode 593
specials

Bob Dylan

moderntimes During this episode Jim and Greg wrap up our series on Bob Dylan and bring it up to "Modern Times". How, you may ask, can they gloss over the '70s and '80s so cavalierly? Trust that it was difficult to narrow down Dylan's entire canon to three episodes. And it's important to note that Dylan is one of those rare artists who emerged in the '60s and was still making great, new music into his sixties. So that's why our hosts decided to bring it up to Act III: 1989-2006. Dylan was in amazing form live and released a string of impressive albums including Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind and Modern Times. He collaborated with producer Daniel Lanois and also worked with Jim and Greg's guest this week, engineer Mark Howard. Howard gives us a sneak peek into what it's like to record with Dylan.

As always Jim and Greg like to round out these features by highlighting significant tracks. Greg chooses an unreleased version of "Mississippi," later put out on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8. A highly produced version appears on 2001's Love and Theft, but Greg prefers the more stripped down recording, calling the performance fascinating. And he notes that Dylan draws from older material for inspiration just like he did when he was starting out as a folkie.

Jim admits that he prefers Dylan live during these years. But "Ain't Talkin'" from Modern Times in 2006 is perfectly simple and spooky–just a fiddle, percussion and that signature voice. This is a song Dylan couldn't have given justice in his younger days.

Go to episode 288
reviews
Keys to the KingdomKeys to the Kingdom available on iTunes

The North Mississippi Allstars Keys to the Kingdom

The North Mississippi Allstars also have a new album out, called Keys to the Kingdom. This album was written following the death of producer Jim Dickinson, the father of bandmates and brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, and the songs are not only filled with emotion, but steeped in the sound of their youth – the blues of the North Mississippi hill country. They also collaborate with some of Dickinson's favorite musicians, including Mavis Staples. This is a great return to form for the band. Both Jim and Greg say Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 271
dijs

Greg

“"Bad Dog"”Ted Hawkins

On his latest trip to the desert island, Greg pays tribute to an unsung musical hero who passed away more than 20 years ago. Mississippi-born guitarist and singer Ted Hawkins was often found on Venice Beach strumming along to folk, blues, and country standards, but occasionally - often at the behest of an awestruck passerby - he made his way into a recording studio. One such occasion came after Hawkins spent a lengthy stint in jail working through a heroin addiction. The album Hawkins cut after his release, Happy Hour, features the poignant track "Bad Dog" which Greg sees as the perfect metaphor for the late soulman's erratic life and career, and the perfect song to get a sense of what the man was all about.

Go to episode 448
news

Music News

The thrill, alas, is gone: B.B. King, international ambassador for the blues, has passed away at 89. Although the blues is associated with pain and heartbreak, King took great joy in his music, playing shows around the world non-stop until practically the day he died. King had a unique approach in which his voice was in a constant conversation with his legendary guitar, Lucille. That style was picked up by British blues-rockers like Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, and he influenced countless others after that. Greg thinks King's iconic sound was on display as early as 1951 on his song "Three O'Clock Blues," so he plays that recording in tribute to the great Mississippi bluesman.

Go to episode 495

Music News

Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in Greensboro in protest of North Carolina's new“bathroom law,”which dictates that transgender people use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate. Bryan Adams also called off a concert because of a similar law in Mississippi. Jimmy Buffett is going on with a pair of North Carolina gigs for the sake of his fans, but says he'll reconsider playing in the state in the future. Jim argues that The Boss is unfairly penalizing his fans and would make more of an impact by speaking out from the stage and leading a march to the Statehouse. Greg counters that Springsteen's cancelation has led to far more media coverage and awareness of the issue.

Steve Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week, but took the opportunity to blast the Hall during and after the ceremony. He criticized the lack of transparency in the nominating process and its exclusion of women, as well as calling the whole induction process unpleasant. Jim and Greg have never had kind words to say about the Hall of Fame, pointing out that while Miller's criticisms aren't new, nothing seems to have improved.

Go to episode 542