The Rolling Stones have been around for over five decades and touring almost as long. This week we listen back to Stones songs about working people, the band’s sources in blues, country and gospel, and speak with two of their sidemen who share their tales of working with the group. Pianist and Rolling Stones music director, Chuck Leavell got a fateful call to join the band in 1982 while working on his family’s Georgia tree plantation, but before that he played with the Allman Brothers. Singer and percussionist Bernard Fowler was touring with Herbie Hancock before he got the call to come work with the Stones. He recently made a spoken word recording of their songs as social commentary. Then a conversation with Missouri’s own Narvel Felts, who tells us about his journey from the cotton fields to the famed studios of Sun and Mercury Records as a rockabilly singer, and later adventures in country and pop. Narvel is a marvel—a maker of some of the best rock n roll songs you’ve never heard.
In celebration of Black Music Month, we honor the struggle for equality with the sounds of freedom. Sixties soul queen Fontella Bass used her gospel background and voice to make freedom statements of her own, such as her biggest hit “Rescue Me.” Then, late jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard talks free form music and freedom of expression. Plus music from John Coltrane, Leyla McCalla, the Staples Singers and more.
We walk the line of isolation and go outside carefully with music and words of wisdom for contemplation, comfort and hope. It’s a Corona Stray from Home Companion, in conversations with a few of our favorite artists including Tejano accordionist Flaco Jimenez and the late Ray Charles — both speaking of their families’ role in helping them emerge as great musical citizens. We harken to the creative wisdom of jazz, locally and globally, with the late pianist Dave Brubeck whose travels abroad as a soldier and later with Louis Armstrong lead him to “Take Five” and other worldly sounds. And we take to the streets with New Orleans Original Pinettes Brass Band, the first such women’s jazz ensemble today. Plus: music from Bob Dylan, Nina Simone and John Prine.
Carlos Santana speaks about playing music from the streets of Tijuana to the stage at Woodstock, launching his career in San Francisco, and his hopes for a global society explored on his new album Africa Speaks. We’ll hear from the late Tito Puente, el Rey de los Timbales, who tells about the roots of tropical Latin jazz in Spanish Harlem and how he brought his instrument, the timbales, to the foreground by moving them from the back to the front of the stage. Steve Berlin and Cesar Rosas from Los Lobos talk about their mix of American pop and Mexican traditions, and we remember Celia Cruz, la Reina de Cuba, who we spoke to in 2001 about her musical beginnings in her beloved homeland, Cuba.