Sunday, March 31, 2024

Teacher On The Radio - Top 10 - March 2024


Introducing the Teacher On The Radio Top 10. 

At the end of each month, I will share my top 10 current albums and my most listened to artists from the last month.

Top 10 Albums - March 2024

Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Past Is Still Alive

Laura Jane Grace - Hole In My Head

Kacey Musgraves - Deeper Well

Waxahatchee - Tigers Blood

David Rovics - Notes From A Holocaust

Adrianne Lenker - Bright Flame

Mary Timony - Untame The Tiger

Sierra Ferrell - Trail of Flowers

Joe Pug - Sketch of a Promised Departure

Willi Carlisle - Critterland

Top 10 - Most Listened To Artists - March 2024

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit


Laura Jane Grace

The Verve Pipe

Against Me!

Nick Shoulders

Kacey Musgraves

Adrianne Lenker

Sierra Ferrell 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Breakdown & breakthrough on Good Friday at the Jason show

This spring of 2024 marks ten years since I first listened to Southeastern by Jason Isbell. As with many of my favorite artists, I was first prompted to listen by reading an excellent review of real music journalism, in a print publication, at that. Rock writers first led me to U2 when I was 16 and My Morning Jacket when I was 37. 

I chased my first Jason show in western Michigan a few months later, hot with grief after the passing of my father. I was transformed, and I have been digesting Jason albums as soul and mind medicine and chasing Jason shows as perfect selfcare ever since.

An honestly crafted Jason Isbell narrative draped in shimmers of sound has the power to unravel complacency and transport me to places of desperation and hope. Other artists do this too, but it takes a certain dedication of repeated listens and an immersion in regular shows to find one who will take you “there” with such piercing consistency. 

As a thoroughly deconstructed and voluntarily defrocked former member of the professional Christian prayer trade, it seems fitting that I am chasing a Jason show on a Good Friday, a day that a few years ago would have surely been spent in prayer and at church. The Atlanta venue that we are driving to tonight to see another Jason show (#32) is called the Tabernacle. 

When the news of Jason and Amanda splitting hit the fan communities, the persistent pitter-pat of parasocial speculation sent splinters into the fan community, Facebook post after Facebook post, nobody able to tell the difference between a breakdown and a breakthrough. One of the fan groups was “paused” and has yet to reboot, perhaps gone forever. 

I told myself silently, that I wouldn’t mind if staple songs such as “Cover Me Up” and “If We Were Vampires” took a break from the nightly setlist, such that I believe their associations with the Isbell-Shires marriage were undeniable. Couldn’t all that mixed feeling be rough for us to hear, even rougher for him to sing? But the songs stay in the live sets, and the story goes, they are our songs now. 

Southeastern songs anchor any live Isbell show, especially now, around its 10th anniversary, just as much as the recent Weathervanes tracks do, and for some reason I was worried about this. Won’t they land on my heart just plain weird? I’d be happy to hear more from Something More Than Free or The Nashville Sound, to say nothing of Reunions, which isn’t currently getting that much love. 

But to my surprise, at my first Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit show of 2024, on Good Friday at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, with as many as five Southeastern songs in the setlist, they all hit hard, but not in an awkward way. They hit hard, with a goosebump- ugly-cry of an emotional wallop, songs like “Stockholm,” “Flying Over Water,” and “Traveling Alone.” These songs moved me as powerfully now, as when I first heard them ten years ago and as powerfully as when I got to hear the entirety of Southeastern live, twice during the Ryman residency of fall 2023. 

A deeper cut from Something More Than Free, “Speed Trap Town” snuck into the Good Friday setlist and disassembled my soul with searing sad poetry, allowing me to feel the song in my depths, different than ever before. Tonight it hit me wobbly on my feet, same as “Cast Iron Skillet.” While there’s no need to place a literary tag on this kind of songwriting, but it seems to me that Jason and crew have mastered a truly “southern gothic” aesthetic, to borrow a phrase, in his lyrics as well as in the band’s overall sonics.

As much as the sadder softer numbers always move me the most at a Jason show, sturdy rockers like “King of Oklahoma” and “Super 8” open up an opportunity for the rest of the band to send us into orbit, not just with Sadler Vaden getting into some kind of rock god theatrics with Jason, but for the entire experience with the Unit to coalesce into full-arc face-melting.  Nowhere is this rocking rock more flipping rock than on “Miles,” with its full-on flirtation with a proggier, jammier side, with Will Johnson hitting the gong, included.  

Jason has always knit choice cover songs into the set, even when it’s at the expense of hearing less from his formidable catalog. For example, this show was one without any Jason oldies or Drive By Truckers standards. But two newer covers to the Jason repertoire that have been slipped into the sets recently are “When I Paint My Masterpiece” by Bob Dylan and “Just Like Heaven” by the Cure. Both showed up on Friday and were simply outstanding, especially the Cure track, if just for the reason that I really didn’t see it coming (even after the debut the night before) nor have any real internal referent for how epic it would be. Simply sparkly and swept us off our feet. 

With an already ambitious show agenda for spring and summer, I resisted adding Saturday night tickets as a last minute adjustment. Right now our next Jason is out west with Adeem opening, come summer, with lots of other great artists in between. 

All said, the depth of my gratitude for this music and this band just grow deeper. It’s amazing to just be alive at the same time as them and to have the privilege to repeatedly immerse my life in their musical mysteries. 

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
Good Friday 2024 - ATL, the Tabernacle
Wichita Lineman walkout at 915pm

Hope The High Road (Nashville Sound)
24 Frames (Something More Than Free)
Save The World (Weathervanes)
King of Oklahoma (Weathervanes)
Traveling Alone (Southeastern)
When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob Dylan cover) 
Super 8 (Southeastern)
Cast Iron Skillet (Weathervanes)
Stockholm (Southeastern)
Flying Over Water (Southeastern)
If You insist (Weathervanes)
Overseas (Reunions)
Strawberry Woman (Weathervanes)
Speed Trap Town (Something More Than Free)
Death Wish (Weathervanes)
Miles (Weathervanes)
Cover (Southeastern)

Just Like Heaven (Cure Cover)
Vampires (Nashville Sound)
offstage at 11pm

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Liberation (TOTR 470)


Liberation (TOTR 470)

-originally aired on WTTU 88.5 FM The Nest on Saturday, March 16-, 2024

-audio archive posts after the live episode

The Tennessee Freedom Singers - Tennessee Rise

Lindsay Lou & Billy Strings - Freedom 

Zo Tobi - Blessed Unrest 

Anna Surento - Wake Up Now

Mat Callahan et. al. - Stand and Fight

Average Joey - Bumper Sticker

The Fellow Travellers - Let's Go Walking

Brian Claflin & Ellie Grace - I'm Gonna Walk It with You

MGMT & Christine and the Queens - Dancing In Babylon

Gojira - Liberation

Refused - Liberation Frequency

Thunderclap Newman - Something In The Air

Afro Celt Sound System - Life Begin Again

Brewer & Shipley - Witchi-Tai-To

Ali Lizzi & Michael Shlofmitz - We Are One in Harmony

Sarva-Antah - Earth My Body

Sun Drum Forest - We are one with the infinate Sun

Akron/Family - Sun Will Shine

Kula Shaker - Great Hosannah

The Peace Poets - Our Liberation

Rafeef Ziadah - We Teach Life

Darryl Purpose - Song for Rachel Corrie

David Rovics - Once the Last Palestinian's Killed

Saturday, March 9, 2024

We Laugh At Danger (TOTR 469)

-originally aired on WTTU 88.5 FM The Nest on Saturday, March 9, 2024

-listen to the live audio archive here: Stream episode We Laugh At Danger - TOTR 469 by Teacher On The Radio podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Austin Lucas - Baby, I'm An Anarchist

Against Me! - Bob Dylan Dream 

Against Me! - We Laugh At Danger

Against Me! - I Was a Teenage Anarchist 

Laura Jane Grace, Joan Jett, & Miley Cyrus - Androgynous

Laura Jane Grace - Dysphoria Hoodie

Laura Jane Grace - Hard Feelings

Laura Jane Grace - Punk Rock In Basements

Dim Wizard - Believe in the Magic

Dollar Signs - Legend Tripping

New Junk City - Cleveland

Holy Locust - Live Wire

Holy Locust - Fallen Crown

Holy Locust - Breaking The Wheel

Nick Shoulders - Blue Endless Highway

Nick Shoulders -Won't Fence Us In

Nick Shoulders - Snakes and Waterfalls

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Little Black Star

Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Body Electric

Hurray For The Riff Raff - PRECIOUS CARGO

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Rican Beach

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Alibi

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Vetiver

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Ogallala

Croy and the Boys - I Know About No Money

Micah Schnabel - Blame It On Geography 

Harbottle and Jonas - Love Will Tear Us Apart 

Here Comes a Regular - Against Me!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The World Needs 'Hurray For The Riff Raff' Right Now - Live Review 3/5/24 Brooklyn


I needed these songs before they were written. I didn’t know how much I needed them, and it seems Alynda Segarra knew they needed to write them, because the world needed them. The world needed the new songs by Hurray for the Riff Raff. 

I needed these songs in constant rotation since the album dropped 12 days ago. I needed these songs on headphones, on car trips, for ugly crying. I suddenly knew that I needed to hear these songs performed live by a tight and energetic band.

This means I needed to find a secondary market ticket to a sold out show. I needed to make spontaneous travel plans to one source of the Riff Raff origin story, New York City, specifically Brooklyn. I needed the sense of hungry trance and religious possession that provided the focus to make these plans, as ridiculous as that seemed at the moment. 

I achingly needed to hear Alynda Segarra sing these songs, play their acoustic guitar, and express gobs of humble gratitude in their brief remarks between songs. I especially needed to hear Alynda chant to the “rocks and stones” right along with the “books and poems” in “Vetiver.” May we all chant to the things that ground us and give us hope.

I emphatically needed to hear Alynda sing the lyrics in person to “Snake Plant,” this raggedy outlaw and addicts’ glorious tragedy rant prayer anthem hymn. I needed specifically to hear about all the daily life stuff that hobo travelers deal with just to survive. We need this song to survive, so we all needed to sing along with, with some arms raised, to this lyric invocation:

“Tattoo with a needle and thread.
Most of our old friends are dead,
There's a war on the people,
What don't you understand?
There's fentanyl in everything,
Don't become an angel with a broken wing.
We need you back down here on earth,
Nothing is as painful as birth.”

Like we need that stanza, like right now. We need that song sung and loud. We need it in spraypaint stencil and graffiti. We need “Snake Plant” in the cities and the towns and in the trailers and the shacks and in the squats and on the street and all the places they mention in the song, line after line. We need to remember that harm reduction can come in a poem and a song to tattoo on the soul of too many addicts dying and we can finally say we want you to live and we can sing you this song, okay? 

I desperately needed Alynda to sing “Ogallala,” to bring the despair and dread of these days around to the unlikely hope and holler and even dance despite and because of it all. I need to hear them say that they are still here, that we are still living brightly and boldly and beware. We needed to stop saying we were born in the wrong time and embrace our time, as the conclusion to this song so deeply and defiantly does:

“I used to think I was born into the wrong generation
But now I know I made it right on time
To watch the world burn”

I prayerfully needed Alynda to quote Palestinian poetry in the closing rousing rowdy glory of “Pa’lante.” This was already a song about claiming one’s own narrative, with a nod to the ancestors and Segarra’s specifically Nuyorican lineage. This song leaves the audience ready to get back and get out and do their own work. We needed the energy to internalize and energize and carry us out into the damp late winter Brooklyn streets and to our homes and communities. 

I needed the sore feet from these boots to remind me to always wear my comfortable walking shoes with insoles to concerts, because I am old. As I contemplate how I am too old for this, Alynda reminded us that time is not real. I needed them to say that.

I needed a certain t-shirt but they were sold out in my size, so I settled for a sticker. I needed the promo poster tacked on a venue wall, so I helped myself toward the end of the show. I needed this immersive, completely communal, revelatory experience in the live and narrative universe being created by Hurray For The Riff Raff.