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Etown is an exciting weekly radio broadcast heard from coast to coast on NPR, public and commercial stations. Every etown show is taped in front of a live audience and features performances from many of today's top musical artists as well as conversations and information about the world around us. At etown, we build community through music.

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Fishing For Music With a Tape Recorder – Before There Was Spotify

Sat, 05/30/2015 - 01:42

Back in the early 80’s, when I was a young boy in Tennessee, music was a commodity that was much more difficult to obtain and share than it is these days. There was no such thing as the Internet. There were no iPods, mp3’s – no Spotify, no Pandora. MTV had just launched, and actually played music videos. MTV actually playing music??? What a novel idea that was.

For the most part, you heard all of your music on the radio, and if you saved your allowance, you’d go out and buy the vinyl copy of what you liked (hoping that the rest of the songs on the album where just as good as that one song on the radio – but never knowing for sure until you got home). Most of us in the neighborhood would sit by our dads’ stereos with a tape recorder, waiting for that cool song to come on the radio so we could try to record it onto cassette by putting the microphone up to one of the speakers. We’d call into the radio station and request a song, and sometimes wait for hours for the disc jockey to play it. It never failed that when the song would finally come on, you’d be distracted and miss the first 30 seconds or so while fumbling with the tape recorder. If one of us in the neighborhood got lucky enough to catch the song we all liked, we’d let the others copy it onto one of their cassettes. Because of the way it was recorded, it usually sounded pretty awful, but we loved it anyway.

12-TYH_4227I have fond memories of trying to capture our first musical guest’s music this way. While we have lots of interesting musical guests on eTown every week, having Colin Hay visit us has been one of the most surreal for me. I was obsessed with his band Men at Work back then, and still play those albums to this day. I can even remember looking at the album sleeve of Business As Usual and imagining what the band member’s lives were like. Needless to say, meeting Colin Hay at eTown, and standing inches away from him with a video camera while he warmed up sound check with a few of those classics from Men at Work was a full circle moment for me. What makes it even better is the fact the Colin is an incredibly nice guy. I’ve had a few of those moments so far during my time at eTown. Getting to play drums with Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame) last year was another one. It is moments like these that make me thankful for my job at eTown, and be able to wake up each day to the possibility of magic.

35-TYH_4300That said, I hope you enjoy this week’s episode of eTown as much as I did back at the taping. Our friend Nellie McKay, is also with us – plus a great eChievement Award story and a conversation with one of the nation’s most renowned polar bear experts.

Be sure to tune in or podcast, and check out the behind-the-scenes videos from the taping, below.


– Zack

The post Fishing For Music With a Tape Recorder – Before There Was Spotify appeared first on eTown.

Categories: E-Town

A Royal Flush of Legendary Proportions

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 23:52

It’s one of those places worthy of a pilgrimage if you’ve never been. When I was very young, I used to sit in my grandmother’s attic apartment and listen to my brother’s cassette tape of U2’s live concert that was recorded there. I remember later seeing that same concert on TV and being amazed at how it was raining, and at how the band was nestled in between two enormous rocks. At this point in my life, I hadn’t even been to Colorado. It wasn’t until the late nineties that I made the pilgrimage myself, stood on the stage and yelled – “This is Red Rocks! This is The Edge!”

Bassnectar copyright Tim ReeseFigured it out yet? I’m talking about Red Rocks – one of the most amazing looking and sounding places to see in music on the planet. This week, we’re pulling out a gem from our archives and giving it another go. The show you are about to hear on our broadcast/podcast this week was originally recorded there back in 2012. With the legendary venue as the setting, we are dropping in three legendary entertainers to make it even more HUGE – Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Yes…that Steve Martin, who happens to also be a pretty amazing banjo player.

Bassnectar copyright Tim ReeseFor the next two weeks you can let your mind take you to this wonderful place, as we’ll air Part 1 of this two-part music and conversation odyssey this week, and will finish it out with the second half next week. In Part 1, you’ll hear Emmylou and Arlo, along with a great eChievement Award story. Next week we’ll go back to Red Rocks to round things out with more from Emmylou, along with some great music and conversation with Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

We hope you’ll enjoy it! Be sure to tune in or podcast. Speaking of podcast, did you know that you can download your favorite eTown episodes as they air for free over in iTunes and keep them forever. Just head to the iTunes store and do a search for “eTown” and you’ll find us.


Enjoy the show!


– Zack

The post A Royal Flush of Legendary Proportions appeared first on eTown.

Categories: E-Town

A Sense Of Place

Sat, 05/09/2015 - 06:04

There’s no doubt about it – where you are can have a huge effect on who you are as a person at any point in time, as well as who you become as you continue to grow older. The same goes for music. Place plays a huge role in how music is formed. An environment can bleed its way into the sounds of an instrument, and the subtleties and inflections of a singer’s voice. You can’t tell this from reading this post, but if you spoke to me in person, you’d easily detect that I am from the south. That region of the country shaped the way I speak and even the way I play music myself. Different landscapes can also call for different sounds to go along with them. How many times have you been on a road trip, and put great thought into what music you’d listen to at various stages in the drive? It’s almost as if each changing landscape calls for just the right music to accompany your stairs through the windshield. Am I trailing off too deep here? Hope not.

IMG-1031AThis week we have two great musical guests that prove that a connection to PLACE is a big thing in music. Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors join us from Nashville (by way of Memphis), while Del Barber joins us all the way from the Canadian Prairies region. Both artists bring lots of stories with them in their music, as well as to share with eTown host Nick Forster during the interview portions. Place has played a huge role in the art these artists make. IMG-1045 - Version 2When you are listening, see if you can pick out the subtleties, as well as any places where influences may overlap. It will be a fun game, not unlike games you might play in your car during a road trip.

Our eChievement Award winner this week tells his story of transformation from a natural products business titan, to a man who wanted to find more meaning in his life by finding a unique way to combat malnutrition around the world by providing vitamins to people in need.

We hope you’ll enjoy this week’s episode. Be sure to tune in or podcast.

Thanks for visiting!

– Zack


The post A Sense Of Place appeared first on eTown.

Categories: E-Town