Saturday, April 1, 2023

The Fool (TOTR 450)


-aired on WTTU 88.5 FM The Nest on Saturday, April 1, 2023
-Includes audio clips from the Weird Studies podcast & the Joker (2019) film featuring Joaquin Phoenix & Rober DeNiro 
-audio archive drops after live episode

Sam Cooke - Fool's Paradise
Bobby Blue Bland - Who Will The Next Fool Be?
The Beatles - The Fool On The Hill
The Rolling Stones - Fool To Cry 
Led Zeppelin - Fool in the Rain
Grateful Dead - Heaven Help the Fool
Michael Stanley Band - Fool's Parade
Levon Helm - Even A Fool Would Let Go
John Prine - Caravan of Fools
Heavy Meadow - The Fool
Bob Dylan - Jokerman
Steve Miller Band - The Joker
Wolfmother - Joker And The Thief
G. Love & Special Sauce - Rodeo Clowns
John Mellencamp - Rodeo Clown
Charley Crockett - I'm Just a Clown
Bruce Springsteen - Wild Billy's Circus Story
World Party - Ship of Fools
U2 - Stand Up Comedy
Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding
The Collection - Love At The End Of The World

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Beautiful Noise (TOTR 449)


Shea Diamond by zanetookapicture on Instagram

-aired on WTTU 88.5 FM The Nest on Saturday, March 25, 2023
-A mixture of celebration & determined action after the #LoveRising concert at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Monday, March 20, 2023
-You can listen to the audio archive here: 
Stream episode Beautiful Noise - TOTR 449 by Teacher On The Radio podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Jake Wesley Rogers - Under the Sun
Adeem the Artist - For Judas
Sheryl Crow - Hard To Make A Stand
Autumn Nicholas - On A Sunday
Brittany Howard - Stay High
Joy Oladokun - Changes
Mya Byrne - It Don’t Fade
Fancy Hagood - Don't Blink 
Interview with Billy from the Tennessee Equality Project 
Jason Isbell & The Rainbow Coalition Band - Keep On Smilin (live fan recording)
Amanda Shires - Take It Like A Man
Hozier & Mavis Staples - Nina Cried Power
Shea Diamond - I Am Her
Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile - A Beautiful Noise
Allison Russell & Brandi Carlile - You're Not Alone
The Highwomen - Crowded Table
Yola - Stand For Myself
Hayley Williams - Inordinary
Wrabel - The Village
Maren Morris - Better Than We Found It
Sister Sledge - We Are Family

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

#LoveRising Setlist - Nashville - 3.20.2023


Monday night
20 March 2023
Bridgestone Arena

Benefit concert for Tennessee Equality Project & other lgbtqia+ organizations!
**notes and corrections and additions accepted

-pictures are from @zanetookapicture on Instagram. Please go follow them!

Jake Wesley Rogers

Adeem the Artist
"For Judas"

Sheryl Crow
"Everyday is a Winding Road"
"Hard To Make A Stand"

Julien Baker
"Man" (Neko Case cover) 

Autumn Nicholas
"On A Sunday"

Brittany Howard
"Stay High"

Joy Oladukun

Mya Byrne 
"It Don't Fade" 

Fancy Hagood
"Don't Blink"

Izzy Heltai - ?

Jason Isbell
"Cover Me Up" (Amanda on fiddle)
"Keep On Smilin" (Wet Willie cover) with the oRainbow Coalition band
Amanda Shires
"Take It Like A Man"

Hozier & Allison Russell
"Nina Cried Power"
"Take Me To Church"

Shea Diamond
"I Am Her"

Allison Russell, Shea Diamond, & Ruby Amanfu
"Beautiful Noise"

Allison Russell & company
"You're Not Alone"

The Highwomen
"Crowded Table"
"Stand For Myself"

Hayley Williams
"Did I Shave My Legs For This?"
(Deana Carter cover)

"The Village"

Maren Morris
"Better Than We Found It"
"The Middle"

Yola & everyone
"I'm Every Woman" (Chaka Khan cover)

"We Are Family"

Playlist is based on this great show, close to this but not precise! Some of the added songs fit the spirit, to be sure!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A Man, the Spirit, and the Sea: A Conversation with The Waterboys’ Mike Scott

Seeing some particular pictures posted by Carol Shapiro in the “I Miss Play It Again Records” Facebook group, these images sent me whirling and tumbling again into the mid-1980s rabbit hole of my musical obsessions. Yes, that’s me in that picture with that singer! We had stayed up so late, almost until dawn, doing an interview in his hotel room. Joe, not pictured, one of two close high school friends who mentored me most in all things rock n roll, must have snapped the shot. 

It’s hard to imagine being more addicted to live music and music fandom than I am now in late middle age, but then I remember my teenage abandon and passionate early days as a DIY music journalist and DJ, during the last two years of high school in the Detroit suburbs. There’s something about those days and those artists that keeps drawing me back to revisit, rediscover, and even crash into things I never heard or forgot about. Critiques of nostalgia and memory aside, I am going there. 
The perpetually prolific Scottish singer Mike Scott continues to record and perform under the banner of The Waterboys, and although he doesn’t often make it to the States, I did see him perform once at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley, in this century. Although I have dug by dabbling more than devouring the last few decades of his extensive output, it’s all still so stunning and topical, with Scott being as much a mystic and rebel as ever.

Back then, This Is The Sea undid us and remade us, at times heavy and earnest, yet soaring and ineffable, such a strong diet for a few denim-wearing, fist-waving teenagers searching for the truth on vinyl and cassette. I found The Waterboys because they were opening for U2 on the Unforgettable Fire tour. I found The Waterboys because theirs was the “big music,” like U2, like Simple Minds, like Big Country, like the Alarm. In retrospect, Waterboys were at least as rootsy and authentic as any of those peers and would find their own unparalleled trajectory.
Anticipating their opening set at the Fox Theatre for the first leg of Unforgettable Fire, I might have written Mike Scott some handwritten paper fan mail, and I might have tracked down his label reps in New York, as was my custom as an ambitious young rock writer who had recently figured out how to work the phones for all kinds of perks. Somewhere I have the photo set of my dear friend and fellow music-freak Scott Greenberg and me dancing in my second-floor loft-style suburban bedroom and reading that handwritten reply from Mike Scott. I still get the gloriously goofy chills when I recall how much we reached out to all our favorites back then and how many of them reached right back. 

The advent of streaming services and enough income for concert tickets have made my middle-aged music fandom as varied and immeasurable as ever. Although I remained an avid listener through the 1990s, I really only got my hands on a handful of new records during those days. In the early 00s, I depended on others to give me tips, but soon the bug would bite me fully, incurably again. 

A Man, the Spirit, and the Sea: A Conversation with The Waterboys’ Mike Scott
originally published in Disoriented Rain Dance # 3, Summer 1986

THE WATERBOYS played Traxx last November [1985] in support of the record This Is The Sea. It was raining early Sunday morning when JOE and ANDY had the following conversation in Mike’s hotel room. The dialogue lingered well into the morning, but through tired eyes came the following expressions. 

Joe: You seem to have a pretty good memory, to take in a lot of things.
Mike: Yeah, I got a good memory.
Andy: Last time we talked, you said, “I don’t really consider myself a spiritual person, but that doesn’t mean I’m not” and not it seems you’re talking about that a real lot now....
Mike: (after long pause) Well, when we last spoke, these kinds of ideas were in the songs, songs like “The Big Music” and so on, but I hadn’t been able to articulate them as well as I have now. Like the song “Spirit” especially. I think I was able to compress a lot of my thinking into one short song. And I get asked about that song a lot, and I can talk about it. And that I wrote that song -- was able to write it and receive it like that -- taught me a lot. I don’t know if that answers your question.
Joe: Even if it didn’t, the song speaks for itself, almost. Your writing shows a sort of fervor for improvement, for you and the people in your life. Is that a goal of yours, to constantly improve?
Mike: Yeah, well I always want to improve myself. I think every human has a duty to life to be worthy of the life that he’s been given. The best thing you can do with any gift is to make full use of it and to learn from it and to do good with it. We get given life, and it’s our job to improve ourselves and to grow and to learn. Everything that happens to us in a life is a lesson: every incident or situation we’re in has got it’s own opportunities or problems. I just wanna get better at what I do and improve as a human being. That’s important; that’s the best thing you can do.

Joe: So do you think it would help other people; it’s rub off of you and onto them?
Mike: Well, anyone who changes themselves positively and works to improve themselves will rub off on other people. Yeah, if they’re doing it right. But it’s easy to kid yourself. Man’s capacity for self-illusion is huge -- not to be underestimated. You can spend years thinking you’re improving yourself and wake up one day and find that you’ve just been kidding yourself and that you’re bleaker than you’ve ever been.
Andy: Who rubbed off on you?
Mike: My mother.
Andy: You used to do a fanzine yourself. What rubbed off on you enough to put a magazine out.?
Mike: I went into a record shop one time in my hometown and saw -- this is in 1977 -- and saw a bunch of fanzines. That was punk rock, y’know? I think I saw “Sniffin’ Glue” and “The Next Big Thing,” which were two of the first fanzines, and I thought, “Oh, I could do that,” so I did.
Andy: Who was the person you were most glad to talk to?
Mike: (pauses) Richard Hell and the Clash on the same night, they were touring together. I met Patti Smith, sort of through the fanzines, but not for an interview or anything. She was the best.
Joe: She’s one of your heroes.
Mike: Heroines
Joe: Heroines, yeah.
Mike: Well, not really. I don’t think of her like that. I wouldn’t idolize her or put her on a pedestal. I think she was a great artist. I don’t know what she’s doing now, artistically. But she was great and she never got the recognition she deserved. She was really damn good. 
Joe: She’s a mother now, isn’t she? 
Mike: Yeah.
Joe: Maybe that’s her art now, rubbing off on her children.
Mike: I’m sure.
Joe: You could only hope.
Mike: I’m sure you’re right.

Joe: What about Van Morrison? You speak a lot of him. Is that the same type of thing? 
Mike: Well, I like him. He’s a musician. Like Patti Smith wasn’t really a musician, she was something else. Van is a great musician. When he was young, you know he used to sing in clubs and he grew up in musical families, so he’s got rhythm and blues and folk music in his blood. So when he performs and works, he’s drawing on all that. He’s really a great musician.
Joe: Maybe there’s more of a technical inspiration.
Mike: No, because not only is he a great musician, he’s a great singer, and he’s also a very inspired musician. He closes his eyes and lets something else speak through him.
Joe: Do you think you’re a good singer, a good musician?
Mike: I don’t think I’m a very good musician. I think I am a better singer than I am a musician.
Joe: The feeling is obviously there.
Mike: I’m getting better.
Joe: You can only get better?
Mike: No, you can get worse, too. You can slide.
Joe: If you’re not paying attention, but you seem to be paying attention.
Andy: You seem to have a lot of awareness. I mean, if you’re aware of the people around you, your surroundings, it’s a lot better than just doing your own personal thing.
Mike: Oh, you’re right.

Andy: What kind of role do you think the weather plays in your music?
Mike: Weather?
Joe: The elements, you seem to be consumed by the elements.
Mike: The weather’s really useful because if you want to set a scene in a song, you can describe what the weather’s like, and everybody knows about the weather. I can say that it’s raining or it’s a cloudy day or the sun is shining or the leaves are falling or whatever you want. Everybody knows day like that, so it usually gets into a song as a tool. It sets the scene. It draws people in.
Joe: You seem to have a fascination with [indigenous Americans]. How did you acquire that fascination?
Mike: I don’t really know, it just happened to me. It’s not like that. I’m not fascinated by them now, it’s something I went through. I was really mad keen on them for a while and just devoured books and everything that I could. Now it’s something that, something that I learned along the way. I’d still like to go to reservations and so on. I’m still interested, but it was a phase for me about four years ago. Maybe it’ll come alive again as a fascination. For about six months, I was living in the year 1860. You know, it was like that.
Joe: I saw Medicine Bow on a map [Also the name of a Waterboys song].
Mike: There really is a place named Medicine Bow?
Joe: Yes, there is!
Mike: I made that up, you see. Quite funny that it exists. In Canada?
Joe: It’s in the states. Do you have a map?
Mike: No.
Joe: It’s maybe in Montana or Nebraska.

Andy: How does the river become the sea? Does that have a parallel in your own life?
Mike: Lots of them. For example, I’m here in America touring, and my life as a musician is a lot more serious than it’s ever been before. I’ve got more responsibilities, I’ve got more problems. I’ve got more things to work out. There’s more money involved, be it record company money that’s put out to support the group or potential money that can be made.

There’s more people involved because there’s a bigger audience. There’s more people on the road with us. It’s a much more serious thing than say, it was last year when we were touring with U2. 

And I could say that, that tour, THAT was the river, but THIS is the sea, because that was just something that led to here. In two years time, when it’s a different situation again, I’ll look back on now and say THAT was the river, but THIS is the sea. It’s like, life always changes. It keeps getting different and the things that are solutions this year won’t necessarily be solutions next year, because one has to adjust to new situations. And that’s what the song is about, a person who is adjusting to new situations. And you try to make sense, but you know that you once had the key, and, of course, you can get the key again, you just have to assimilate to a new situation. The song can be applied to any situation where change happens.

Joe: I was happy about the album title because the sea seems to be pretty much the only perfect place left on Earth, because [humanity] can’t be there. [Humanity] seems sometimes to be God’s mistake.
Mike: [adamantly] [Humans are] not God’s mistake. [Humans are] God’s greatest creation.
Joe: It’s just an opinion.
Mike: No, no it’s not an opinion. One can have an opinion on what kind of creature [we are], but [humans are] the only creature we know of in the Universe that has a reasoning brain, that is conscious of [themselves], and is able to consider [themselves]. And as such, the Universe sees itself through our eyes. We’re the only creature that can look at the Universe and ask questions about it.
Andy: This creation, that we’ve kind of, [humans] have made a mistake of a lot of it.
Mike: Yeah, of course [we have], but [we’re] learning.

Joe: Is there a goal you want to reach in music?
Mike: I just want to get better. I just want to get closer to home.
Joe: So you can say what you’re saying.
Mike: So people will understand it. And I think that the best thing a musician could hope for is to be a good tool, a good instrument, not the guitar. The musician is the instrument through which music speaks, like I choose the notes I play.
Joe: The guitar doesn’t play itself.
Mike: No. The best music is either written or played when the musician has the least thoughts getting in the way, when it’s coming down pure. Van Morrison was really good at that.

Joe: Is there a time or situation when you write best?
Mike: When my mind is not busy; when my mind is calm.
Andy: What do you do to clear your mind?
Mike: I haven’t cleared it for so long. My mind hasn’t been cleared for over a year; there’s a lot of debris floating around.
Joe: Do you ever agonize over songs?
Mike: Sure, I spend months on ‘em. Some of the one I like best are the ones that come out easy. The songs “Spirit,” “Savage Earth Heart,” or “A Pagan Place” are three of my favorites.
Joe: “Spirit” seemed like something that came out in a moment.
Mike: I can’t remember writing it, but I have it on a piece of paper, so I must have done it.

Andy: What is the connection between “Savage Earth Heart” and “The Pan Within”?
Mike: (after long pause) Well, maybe you believe that inside every human, there is a soul, and the soul is a drop out of the ocean that is the body of what we call God. Those two songs are both about getting to the soul. “Savage Earth Heart” is what I named the soul in my ignorance when I wrote the song. And “The Pan Within” is an aspect of the soul that in the song is reached by a selfless and positive love between two people.
Joe: Would it seem . . . like it would all tie in?
Mike: What do you mean?
Andy: Everything kind of ties together in your life?
Mike: Mmmmm....Everything everywhere ties in together. I can think of a lot of worthy concepts and put them in songs like “Spirit.” But translating it into your everyday life is quite different than that. It’s hard. If I could do that, I’d be Mahatma Gandhi. I wouldn’t be a rock n roll musician, you know? I wouldn’t be smoking a cigarette.

Joe: Do you have set ideas for your lyrics, or is it pretty much ambiguous?
Mike: You mean does a song mean one specific thing?
Joe: Yeah.
Mike: I think the best songs are the ones that either, well . . . I like songs that can be open to different interpretations, that can relate to a number of different situations. But then I think of Bob Dylan who wrote songs like “It Ain’t Me Babe” which is about a very definite situation. There’s no mistaking what that song’s about, and that’s a great song-- better than any other he’s written.

Joe: You seem to admire Bob Dylan a lot.
Mike: Sure.
Carol: You seem to be “religious.” I was thinking of what you think of Dylan and the way he considers religion?
Mike: He’s pretty smart.
Andy: What do you think of his whole trip, though?
Mike: I think he was trying to find himself.
Joe: He seems to be exposed more than most people.
Mike: It must be pretty difficult living with the legend of Bob Dylan for 20 years.
Joe: Maybe he wishes he was still Robert Zimmerman working at his father’s store.
Mike: He must have such moments, yeah. His father was a carpenter [actually, he ran a furniture and appliance store, with his brothers].

[Pictured - fanzine spread of Waterboys interview; Carol & I with Mike after our wee hours interview. Mike live at Traxx.]

Monday, March 6, 2023

Americana Sunrise - A Short Story


This is a work of fiction. I would not want to be a successful American singer songwriter right now, in this climate. Please forgive any resemblance to real people or real events, especially artists that I love and admire, as do y’all.

Americana Sunrise
Henry Woods sat in a mood on the tour bus. He refused to go by Hank for obvious reasons, but folks did call him Woody sometimes, especially his friends. He remembers being back in his bedroom, back in the hollers of East Tennessee as a teen, learning to sing “This Land Is Your Land,” discovering all those extra verses about private property and stuff, wanting to write one like that one day, to be just as scandalous. 

But his albums always displayed his full name Henry Walker Woods, because just like the vests and the boots and the faded sunsets or the blurry and stone-washed rural apocalypse vibe, next to an abandoned filling station, he always knew that he was selling a version of that rural misfit, a concept of the authentic, the brand and the vibe as much as his songs. He had yet to write one as cutting as his nickname’s namesake, but he did try. He did try to remember when he was punk rock once, but that was back at the end of the last century, back before these gritty concepts met a mellower palette and an acoustic guitar made him a star.

Ever since Americana Sunrise dropped in 2010, everything changed. People were hopeful back  then. Okay, at least more hopeful than today. People wanted to hear songs about working class people getting sober and about the struggles to maintain analog humanity in a digital age. If those newly sober, newly hopeful songwriters also tackled human rights and toxic masculinity in subtle yet biting ways, all the better. The best American folk music always had that left-of-center side, and if it originated in the rural south, that was a whole thing that could sell records.

He didn’t want to do another show in Alabama, but here we were in Birmingham. He didn’t want to do another podcast, but the label kept calling, asking him to talk to Billy Jay Hester from Stone Water magazine, again. “We need you to say something,” Susan Sharp shouted over the cell. Woody snapped. “I don’t want to say anything. You know that my songs say enough.”

“But you are still on Twitter,” Susan bit back.  
He turned it all around in his head. He thought. He mulled. 
Her tone softened for a second. “Take as long as you need. I won’t hang up.”

He continued to talk to himself. I am sick of writing songs about police brutality that don’t offend the cops who come to my shows. I am sick of writing antiwar songs, if they are only ever from the perspective of the veteran with PTSD or the widow with a flag on the casket. I am sick of writing male feminist songs, ever since Stacy left me, he thought. I might have the best snarky activist stickers on my guitar case, but I am lonely and mad, and even after going back to 90 meetings in 90 days, online of course, because we are on the road, and I still want to throw back several shots of Jack. 

As the streaming-service sensation who said it was okay to let people listen for free as long as they bought the all-cotton, fair-trade t-shirt for 50 bucks, Woody was sick to his heart of the dance and the duty of being the liberal American voice of Americana music. The benefit concerts were not working. The fiery Twitter game with cutting clapbacks was definitely not really working, except as emotional outlet, and might be making things worse.

Susan leveled with him. “You are already allowing Lavender Jones to open up shows in Oklahoma and Texas. Did you see what the Governors of Oklahoma and Texas are saying about people like Lavender? Did you see what Lavender said about leaving the country? They said they would never cancel this upcoming tour, but they don't want to raise their kid with queer parents in a place that passes laws like these. Can’t you just say something?” 

Woody bit back, “I am not freaking Rage Against The Machine. My career arc is more like Bono or the Boss. I am not the boycott guy. Did you see what I tweeted back at that furious fan about Florida? I said it simple. I am not going to cancel shows because one stupid politician wants to cancel us. Just like I was a misfit in East Tennessee and needed Michael Stipe to feel human, the weirdo kids in Oklahoma and Texas and Florida need us.”

“But people are speaking up,” Susan insisted. “Other bands and artists, but their megaphone is not as big as yours.”
“Yes, yes, but some folks have a different way about it. I did see what that one band did, what are they called Hobo Wine? That is a great name, but no, we are not dressing up in dresses to protest the drag law. I am a heterosexual misfit from rural Tennessee whose look isn’t that different from these assholes who always cover my songs, like that bro-country singer from the poorly named band Jackson Whole. These people disgust me but I take the royalties. I already feel like a hypocrite. Anything I say or do now will seem so flipping extra, so performative.”

“Maybe you could retweet Lavender? Or I can call their people, maybe you could help them privately? I am not sure how, but we have to do something. What if the Proud Boys and their ilk come to the shows? Letting Lavender open is great as one kind of solidarity, but the community is hurting, and our entire operation is based in the place where some of the worst laws and worst politicians are. Maybe we are not Oklahoma or Texas or Mississippi or Florida, but in some people’s eyes, Tennessee is worse than them all.”

Woody got out his notebook and poured more seltzer water over ice. 
“I know a song is not the answer, Susan, but it is the best we can do. Contact Lavender’s people about us doing a song together. That I can do. They and me can come up with the storyline that works.”
There was silence on the other end of the line. Susan was crying. 
“Even when I am mad and up your ass sometimes, you always make me grateful to work for you.” 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

The Deal (TOTR 448)

-aired on WTTU 88.5 FM The Nest on Saturday, March 4, 2023
-pre-recorded in West Cookeville, an all-vinyl edition in which the Teacher reflects on all things hippy & spiritual including a recent journey to New Mexico for the Dead Scholars Caucus

Thunderclap Newman - Something in the Air (from The Strawberry Statement)
The Chamber Brothers - The Weight
Floyd Westerman - World Without Tomorrow
AMBR - Homesick for Albuquerque Blues
CJ & Friends - Sunset from Santa Fe
Grateful Dead - Next Time You See Me - 5/4/1972
Grateful Dead - Sugaree - 5-3-1972
Grateful Dead - Space (with Sunfrog spitting “ABQ Medicine Freedom Poem”) 
Grateful Dead - The Deal -1980 from Dead Set 
Earth Opera - Time And Again
Earth Opera - When You Were Full Of Wonder
The Burning Incense - Forever Young
The Burning Incense - Meditation
The Byrds - Wasn’t Born To Follow
The Holy Modal Rounders - If You Want To Be A Bird
The Electric Prunes - Kyrie Eleison
Promise - My Soul Is Free (from a folk mass from 1976)
Promise - You Are Love (from a folk mass from 1976)
Lawrence Reynolds - Jesus Is A Soul Man
Indigo Girls - Blood and Fire 
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit feat. Brandi Carlisle & Julien Baker - Kid Fears
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Driver 8 
U2 - I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Dawes - Didn’t Fix Me

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Emergency Hearts - For Jen Angel RIP (TOTR 447)

 -for Jen Angel (1-29-1975 to 2-9-2023) & all the friends, family, & movements who survive her 
-as always, the views on this show belong to the host & curator & not to the WTTU student management or Tennessee Tech
-aired on WTTU 88.5 FM The Nest on Saturday, February 18, 2023
-We begin with a reading of Jen’s obituary by Mark Zaborney from The Blade. 

Listen to the audio archive here:

Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic - from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite
Sweet Honey In The Rock - We Are The Ones
Porterdavis - Come On In My Kitchen
The Decemberists - Don’t Carry It All
The Avett Brothers - True Sadness
Conversation with guest Chris Crass
Evan Greer - I Want Something
Evan Greer - Punk Rock Angel From Montgomery
Pagan Holiday - Hallelujah 
Fugazi - Blueprint
Screeching Weasel - A New Tomorrow 
NOFX - Johnny Appleseed
Fifteen - Lookin’ for Trouble 
Boom Boom Racoon - States and Nations 
Ramshackle Glory - Of Ballots & Barricades
Moon Bandits - Emergency Hearts 
The Window Smashing Job Creators - Utopian Spiel 
Kimya Dawson - Utopian Futures 
Grace Petrie - If There’s A Fire In Your Heart
Casey Neill - Sisters of the Road
Poison Girls - All The Way 
Nina Simone - Here Comes The Sun 
Thanks to Kristi, Jeff, & Lee for help with the playlist
Learn more about author/activist Chris Crass:

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Banging Breakdown (TOTR 446)


A program in the spirit of Alan Lomax & Black History Month.
 Special guest Nathan Salsburg.

The Association for Cultural Equity
Music | Nathan Salsburg (

Originally aired on Saturday, February 11, 2023 on WTTU 

Listen to the LIVE audio archive here:
Stream episode Banging Breakdown - TOTR 446 by Teacher On The Radio podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Alan Lomax - My Little John Henry
Nathan Salsburg & Bonnie Prince Billy - Unlearning Chant
Hobart Smith - Banging Breakdown 
Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson II, & Big Bill Broonzy - I Could Hear My Name A Ringin'
Lead Belly - Alabama Bound
From Alan Lomax’s Negro Prison And Blues Songs
Little Red, Tangle Eye, & Hard Hair - Early in the Mornin'
Alex - Prison Blues
Bama - Levee Camp Holler
R.C. Crenshaw - I'm Going Home on the Mornin' Train
Son House - Downhearted Blues
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Woke Up This Morning With My Mind On Jesus 
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Lord Have Mercy 
Johnny Lee Moore - Levee Camp Holler
Jesus Is Real to Me
Bessie Jones - Hambone
Bessie Jones & Georgia Sea Island Singers - Before This Time Another Year
Bessie Jones - Get in Union
Bessie Jones - This Train is a Clean Train
Rev. Gary Davis - I Belong To The Band-Hallelujah!
Union Choir of the Church of God and Saints of Christ - None But the Righteous 
Othar Turner & The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band - When I Lay My Burden Down
Henry Morrison & Saint Simon's Island Singers - I'm Gonna Sail Like a Ship on the Ocean
James Shorty & Viola James - This Little Light of Mine
James Shorty & Viola James - Jesus on the Main Line

Saturday, February 4, 2023

People Got To Be Free (TOTR 445)


[photo - Andrew Smith the Teacher On The Radio, his mom Barb Smith, and today's guest interviewee Tom Savage, from the October 2022 NAACP banquet]

Originally aired on Saturday, February 4, 2023 on WTTU 
Listen to the audio archive here:

Keb' Mo' - People Got to Be Free
Interview with Tom Savage, Cookeville NAACP
Stevie Wonder - Love's In Need Of Love Today
Fantastic Negrito- Highest Bidder 
Sunny War - No Reason
Prince - Sign 'O' the Times
Tracy Chapman - Behind the Wall
Boogie Down Productions - Who Protects Us From You?
Tré Burt - Under the Devil's Knee
Sam Cooke - Chain Gang
Cynthia Erivo - Stand Up
Moby & Gregory Porter & Amythyst Kiah - Natural Blues
Ondara - Mr. Landlord
Miko Marks & The Resurrectors - Lay Your Burdens Down
The 1865 - Buckshot
Bad Brains - Stay Close to Me
Dropkick Murphys - We Shall Overcome
Pete Seeger - John Brown's Body
Our Native Daughters- Black Myself
Resistance Revival Chorus & Rhiannon Giddens - All You Fascists Bound To Lose
Sweet Honey In The Rock- Ella's Song
The Staple Singers - Everyday People

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Let's Go (TOTR 444)


Originally aired on Saturday, January 28, 2023 on WTTU 

Listen to the audio archive here:

The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man
The Byrds - Eight Miles High
David Crosby - Tamalpais High (At About 3)
David Crosby - Laughing 
The Feelies - Let's Go
Guadalcanal Diary - Litany (Life Goes On)
Pylon - Crazy
Drivin N Cryin - With The People
Drivin N Cryin - Let's Go Dancing
Arrogance - Sunday Feeling
R.E.M. - Harborcoat
Let's Active - Waters Part
Camper Van Beethoven - One of These Days
Game Theory - If and When It Falls Apart
Miracle Legion - All for the Best
Dreams So Real - Bearing Witness
The Bongos - The Bulrushes
Blue Rodeo - Rebel
The Grapes Of Wrath - I Am Here
Dumptruck - 50 Miles
The dB's - White Train
Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains
The Cleaners From Venus - Please Don't Step on My Rainbow
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?
The Reivers- Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
The Velvet Underground - Pale Blue Eyes
the Windbreakers - Do Not Be Afraid

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Been To The Mountain (TOTR 443)


Originally aired on Saturday, January 21, 2023 on WTTU 

Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder - What a Beautiful City
Ruthie Foster - Feels Like Freedom
Shemekia Copeland - Fried Catfish And Bibles
Margo Price - Been To The Mountain
Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs with Margo Price - State Of Mind
The Heavy Heavy - All My Dreams
Mr. Sam & the People People - Get Up Early
Cosmic Guilt - Cosmic Guilt
The Mars Volta - Vigil
Wild Pink - ILYSM
Wrest - End All the Days
Animal Collective - We Go Back
The Smile - We Don't Know What Tomorrow Brings
Brett Dennen - This Is Going To Be The Year
Caamp - The Otter
Old Crow Medicine Show - New Mississippi Flag
Zach Bryan - Corinthians (Proctor's)
Justin Hiltner - 1992
Nicki Bluhm & A.J. Croce - Love To Spare
The Brother Brothers - Feelin' Good Again 
40 Watt Sun - Closure
John Van Deusen - Boring
Gungor & Nathan Greaux - Hey Na Na (Rejoice)
U2 - Pride (In The Name Of Love) - Songs Of Surrender

The Robots Are Coming (poem)

 Listen to a reading of this poem:

The robots are coming 

You have heard it 
& it is true
the robots are coming

just yesterday I was 
texting with a poet but 
I was on my way to the gym
just to walk & get my heart rate up &
endorphins going & as I put
my phone in my pocket

the robot in my pocket
butt-texted the poet
something crazy & then 
the poet had to explain what 
he really meant but then I said
I didn’t send that last text

the robot in my pocket did
because the robots are coming
even for the poets & we are
so fucked now that the robots are here

The robots are coming to take my job
Apparently not your job
Yet the robots are coming 
to take my job & honestly
even with all the scifi dystopia
we didn’t see that one coming

The robots are writing the papers
for the students & the robots invented
the program to check to see if the 
students really wrote the paper or
if the robot did & the robot can write
comments on the paper that the
student-prompted robot wrote & here we are

Get rid of the middle man
Get rid of me

Your robot can talk to my 
Robot because I would rather
not deal with grading papers 
right now but I would like to 
deal with this robot in my phone

Did I tell you about the robot
in my phone it is amazing
It has access to every song
ever recorded since the beginning
of forever & it has been paying 
attention to what I listen to 
so the robot knows

That is right I said it 
the robot knows what song
I want to listen to before I listen to it
& it has every song in my phone
every song since the beginning of 
forever & this is my happy robot
I will pay for my relationship
with this song calling robot 

But I don’t pay the person who
made the song who wrote the 
song who played the song who
recorded the song no because just
like me they are really scraping by
but I will pay the robot who has the 
song & who told me to listen to the 
song because that makes me happy

but now that I have no job
i have not yet figured out yet
how to pay the robot who found the song
the robot in my pocket is like 15 dollars
per month or some such thing I don’t 
remember how much because that is 
on automatic debit & I have a job 
or at least I used to have a job

does the robot who grades the papers
for me get to listen to the song the 
robot chooses for me how does it
work now that I cannot pay the robot
The robot I love who will find 
the songs that make me happy

the robots are coming with art too they
are really amazing these robot artists
they make these portraits of me that look
like me well kind of but more handsome
& with visual superpowers & yes that
artistic robot lives in my pocket too &
it also charges by the month to make 
me look amazing on social media
which I think is still free because of the
ads or something or maybe because 
of the robot spies from the CIA FBI NSA
who can see what I post which lately 

I have been posting about the robots 
I have been posting for us to calm down
because the robots are not really that bad 
what are you some conspiracy theorist 
the robots are not really taking over 
I am just the one typing on the machine 
that makes me happy the poem about 
the robots it isn’t true at all 
I am just making it up

then somebody said wait the robots they 
can write poems too now that is too
much a robot poem but I tried it just once
I told the robot to write a poem & get this mess
the robot poem it just had to rhyme
man they need to get out more that robot
should go to more poetry readings drink more coffee
do more drugs break more hearts really
have something traumatic & terrible happen 
to that robot so it can write better poems

the robots are coming the robots are here
just as I was finishing this poem i was going
to even let the robot write a few lines to 
prove my point but when I went to log on 
it said “we are at capacity” & the robot 
was not there to meet my poetry needs 
guess I will just have to finish the damn poem
about robots all by myself 
about the robots
who are not here yet 
to take over my life
even if I want them to 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

One Day (TOTR 442)


Originally aired on Saturday, January 14, 2023 on WTTU 

Listen to the audio archive here:

Justin Townes Earle - Workin' For The MTA
Steve Earle - Last Words
Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu Public Charter School Students - Ua Ao Hawai’i  
The Rose Ensemble - Hawai'i Aloha
Eddie Suzuki - High Tide 
Denny Guy - Say You'll Be With Me
Hapa - Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai 
Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School Students & Natural Vibrations - Better World
Trevor Hall - O Haleakala
Hapa - One Day
Merrell Fankhauser - Garden In The Rain
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Mahalla
Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains
Cast of Rent - Seasons of Love
Cast of Almost Famous - Everybody's Coming Together
Thunderclap Newman - Something In The Air
Black Pumas - Eleanor Rigby
The Beatles - Love You To
Junior Parker - Tomorrow Never Knows
The HU - Mother Nature
Tengger Cavalry - Hymn of the Wolf
Zergananda - The Path to Valhalla
Brewer & Shipley - Witchi-Tai-To
Ali Lizzi & Michael Shlofmitz - We Are One in Harmony

20 Great Concerts from 2022!


Teacher On The Radio presents- a month by month selection of some great festivals & shows, seen & heard in 2022


Jason Isbell at the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville 

Just needed the “Driver 8” encore; both Jason & my wife Jeannie came down with Covid right after this


Adeem the Artist & My Politic at The Basement in Nashville

Heard “Going to Hell” months before it would be released & the december drop of White Trash Revelry would shock the country/Americana world.


Langhorne Slim at the Walker Theatre in Chattanooga, TN 

Strawberry Mansion was my favorite album of 2021, & this intimate show had so much love & passion & pure fire energy for a solo-acoustic set. Langhorne is really celebrating his sobriety & huge appetite for life & these songs are hardcore healing medicine. 


High Water Fest in Charleston South Carolina (Shovels & Rope, Jack White, MMJ, Delta Spirit) 

We loved this two-day curated festival, very similar to Moon River in structure, one of many waterfront festies we would attend this year. The walk from parking to entrance took us through abandoned military housing. Both headliners were fantastic, but our hands-down hardcore highlight of the weekend was a steamy stunning purely pummeling powerful hour with Delta Spirit on Saturday afternoon. 


Jazzfest in NOLA (Hurray for the Riff Raff, Shovels & Rope, Stevie Nicks)

Yes this was hot, overcrowded, & absolutely crazy, so grateful that I had a friend to drop me off & pick me up, I mean really really really fun, but one day is definitely enough!

Beaufort Music Festival, Beaufort, NC (Susto, The Collection)

We rented an old-school, beachfront motel, about 20 minutes from the festival & absolutely loved  it. We have been following The Collection for a decade now, & they are about to get signed to a major label. This show was a duo, due some illness in the band & absolutely delightful. Tonight is our first Susto, & we are so here for it. Although they didn’t release any new material, we really discovered Susto for the first time this year


Riverbend Festival  in Chattanooga, TN 

One of our many required Jason sets this year, a surprisingly good Cage The Elephant, my first Jenny Lewis in many many moons was amazing, but Moon Taxi was just wow wow wow as always, especially their second-set all Rage Against The Machine tribute. 


Dead & Company at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA

Despite some fierce downpour rain that killed the first set, it was still amazing. Incredible. My older brother treated me, his first Dead show of any kind. Shakedown was amazing. Got to meet the Dead Tarot deck people, a political radical/black power dead t-shirt guy, saw a street musician I first met in Venice 35 years ago, & enjoyed an amazing grilled PBJ. Looking at the prices on the tickets I have not bought for next summer, that may have been my last Dead show ever. 

Goddamn Gallows at The Earl in Atlanta

In the summer of 2020, when I left my church job, my sweet spot for spiritual catharsis was gospel songs with cuss words. That’s when I discovered “Y’all Motherfuckers Need Jesus” by the Goddamn Gallows, who were thrilling to see in a tiny ATL punk venue. 

Honeybrook & a bunch of poets at the Backdoor Playhouse, Cookeville

This year I reconnected with a great local band that plays mildly psych poppy warm classic indie rock in the tradition of Wilco or The Band, Honeybrook, fronted by a colleague & a former student. Myself & an array of poets opened the show. 


Wilco in Newport, KY 

Ever since my friend Kurt died, I have tried to see Wilco at least once a year, as a kind of memorial tribute. The first time was with a common friend, who once took the three of us to see the Boss at Bridgestone. The new Cruel Country album has all the summer shades of the Sky Blue Sky Wilco that I fell in love with back in 2007.  This solo trip to Kentucky on the eve of my semester/academic year was the healing balm I needed. 

Roger Waters in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena

I have always loved Pink Floyd’s more famous records The Wall & Dark Side of the Moon & have also followed the ferocity of Roger Waters’ leftwing antiwar activism. I frankly am surprised that  a show of this level of societal critique made it to a place like Nashville in these times & that it looks like the RNC pleading to have their convention in Nashville in 2024 was rejected. We had cheap nosebleed seats & were given brilliant upgrades by the Bridgestone staff. A sonically & morally stunning night. 


Holy Locust & Doom Scroll at Brickyard in Knoxville

I listen to lots of folk punk but forget to prioritize seeing these bands live. I am so glad I made it a priority to check out Holy Locust whose entirely unplugged set on the floor of the venue (forget the stage for some anarchist folkies) was sublime & transcendent in every possible way. They were also playing Muddy Roots here in Cookeville, but I have delayed having my first Muddy Roots for another year. 

Moon River Festival in Chattanooga (cut to one day)

Drew Holcomb’s curated festival is a regular stop for us. We loved & needed The National’s headline set, but are pretty bummed that day two got cut for rainy weather, which kept us from having our only scheduled Band of Horses set of the year. 

American Aquarium, Sarah Shook, & Adeem at the Exit/In Americanafest

I almost didn’t say “go” on this mid-week show, but I am so glad I did. My first-ever journey to Nashville Americanafest.  I have been following Adeem’s rising fierce folk star since the top of the year, & it was great to have only my second American Aquarium & my first Sarah Shook show. So much fire. 


Shoalsfest in Florence, AL (Nathaniel Rateliff, Jason Isbell, John Moreland, Drivin N Cryin)

If I don’t see Jason as often as I can, I get bad cravings; he just speaks to my soul like that.. So I just make it a point to go. This was our first Shoalsfest on a chilly early October weekend on another riverfront. A simple, single-stage fest with great music was all we needed. Drivin N Cryin so incredibly blew my mind & reminded me to go on a deep dig of 80s southern & rural jangle rock in the days following, perfect sounds for autumn & my 55th birthday. 

Black Angels at Saturn in Birmingham, AL 

Made a last minute decision for this Sunday solo jaunt to Birmingham. Independent & underground psychedelic rock are their own thing, & Austin’s Black Angels bear a million torches for this genre. For a pure brain melting total soul scorching rock-as-religion experience, this show had  it all. 

My Morning Jacket - Louisville 10-29-22

We were not able to get tickets for the Louisville homecoming shows over the summer due to date conflicts, so when those shows were canceled & rescheduled as a Halloween throw-down, we were all in. Such a great way to spend our holiday weekend. 

William Elliott Whitmore & Adeem the Artist in Newport, KY (above picture is Adeem's guitar from this gig)

My passion for great artists that are new to me runs really deep. I decided I had to sneak up to Kentucky to see Adeem, & I got the added benefit of seeing a fierce sizzling one-man-band in William Elliot Whitmore. The whole experience was exhilarating & mesmerizing as I explored more of Newport (coffee, record stores, etc), even staying in an AirBnb a block from the venue & a loft above a magical gift & potion store. 

Ryan Adams in Indianapolis, IN

I had mixed feelings about Ryan Adams before his crash-&-burn after being called out in the NYT for his relationship history. I also have mixed feelings about rock culture cancellations & cancellations in general. All that said, the Ryan resurrection this year was something to see, releasing album after album after album of solid songs. Then this tour where he would play these marathon two or three-hour solo sets, sometimes reaching 30 songs or more. Ours was filled with him fighting with himself & his audience, an incredible array of radically vulnerable disclosures, wearing his mental health struggles up front. Right before the show started, I got some incredibly troubling personal news, & this show was all therapy for me even as Ryan treated his audience like his therapist.