music | KUOW News and Information


A conceptual rending of what the Upstream Music Fest will look like.
Courtesy of Upstream Music Fest

A new kind of music festival will come to Seattle’s Pioneer Square this week.  

It's called Upstream.

A conceptual rending of what the Upstream Music Fest will look like.
Courtesy of Upstream Music Fest

Bill Radke speaks with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame DJ Marco Collins about the Upstream Music Festival. The three day festival in Pioneer Square is the brain child of Microsoft's Paul Allen. This is his way of bringing together local technology and local music. Collins is curating his own stage at the festival and shares some of the music he is excited for this weekend. 

Sydney Opera House

Artist Laurie Anderson has written six books, released a dozen albums, created multimedia performances for human and canine audiences and produced an acclaimed documentary film.

In 1992, on the occasion of her book Stories from the Nerve Bible, she talks with Ross Reynolds about her short stint as an art teacher ("I made up stories about artists"), why she made an American Express commercial, her thoughts on the then emerging internet, and how her first hit “O Superman” was appropriated for a car alarm company. 

Twenty-five years ago Tuesday, a career-defining single was born — and with it, endless sitcom jokes and rap homages. It was referenced in Sing, the 2016 animated children's movie, and in Shrek years before that. But when it debuted in 1992, there were those who took it to heart as an anthem of body positivity.

The fastest growing Mariachi music program outside of Mexico is in Washington state. A high school Mariachi band from Wenatchee has an award winning director and they’ve won a few themselves.

Since the 18th century, Mariachi has been an integral part of Mexico’s music scene and most students here have Mexican roots. There aren’t many programs like this in the U.S.

Photo Credit: Brady Harvey/Museum of Pop Culture

Bill Radke speaks with NPR music writer Ann Powers about the current state of protest music. Powers is moderating a panel discussing politics and music at The Pop Conference 2017 happening at MoPop this weekend. Also joining the conversation is local poet, songwriter and singer for the band The Flavr Blue, Hollis Wong Wear. 

music concert
FLICKR PHOTO/Avarty Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0)/

Bill Radke speaks with KEXP DJ Sharlese Metcalf. She hosts the local music show Audioasis on Saturday evenings. She came in to KUOW to talk about three bands she thinks you should know.

Songs mentioned: Falon Sierra "Expectations," Haley Heynderickx "Ride A Pack of Bees," Baywitch "Technopagan"

Courtesy of Mosaic Voices

Human beings have depended on mythology since the beginning of our existence. Myths told us how the world began, how to understand its trials and wonders, and how it might end.

Yet now, when many of us believe something is not true, we call it a myth. What happened?

Couresty of Phil Elverum

Phil Elverum, aka Mount Eerie, wrote an album about his grief after the death of his wife. This is his story.

Try out a Sad Bath. You just might like it

Mar 21, 2017
music concert
FLICKR PHOTO/Avarty Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0)/

From Seattle's Macefield Music Festival in Ballard DJ Michael Stevens shares with Bill Radke some local bands you ought to know about.

Bill Radke talks with music director Ludovic Morlot about the Seattle Symphony's performance of "Music Beyond Borders: Voices from the Seven." The concert was performed just 12 days after Donald Trump signed an executive order banning entry to the U.S. from seven majority Muslim countries.

Portland’s most prominent music teacher is facing allegations that he was inappropriate with some teenage students. Thara Memory has been coaching high school musicians in his American Music Program for over a decade. The news has sent the city’s musical community into a tailspin.

We watched more than 6,000 videos. Ten judges weighed in. Now, the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest has a winner.

Seattle loves swing, as featured in a sidewalk sculpture on Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/ Steve Bernacki (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Amanda Wilde speaks with historian Feliks Banel, a self-described huge fan of live local radio, about The Swing Years' place in Seattle radio history. 

music concert
FLICKR PHOTO/Avarty Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0)/

Bill Radke speaks with Jonathan Zwickel, senior editor of City Arts magazine about local music you should be listening to. Zwickel puts out a monthly list of local artists for City Arts called "Attractive Singles."

Is Thunderpussy too offensive to trademark?

Feb 13, 2017

Bill Radke talks to Molly Sides and Leah Julius of the Seattle band Thunderpussy and their struggle to trademark a name that the federal government has deemed too offensive. A case currently in the Supreme Court will determine if their name, among others, will be given trademark status. The members discuss why a trademark is so important, the misconceptions about their name and why they struggle with other names, such as the Washington Redskins, that would also benefit from this ruling.  

My Twitter feed is still roiling. As I write this, it's been mere moments since my friends and colleagues (and a few assorted celebrities) started taking a break from praising the 2017 Grammys' most vital and viral performances — A Tribe Called Quest, Beyoncé, The Time, a bonkers Lady Gaga-Metallica mashup — to fume about Adele's sweep of the night's top three prizes.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Al Jarreau, a versatile vocalist who defied categorization for decades, died Sunday morning at the age of 76. Earlier this week, Jarreau had been hospitalized in Los Angeles "due to exhaustion," according to his official Facebook page.

It's perhaps the unlikeliest symphony orchestra in the world — an all-female ensemble from a strict Muslim society where it's often dangerous for young women to step outside of their homes unescorted. It's called Zohra — the name of a music goddess in Persian literature, according to its founder.

And they were performing at an unlikely venue — a hall attached to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a bombed-out ruin in western Berlin commemorating the horrors of World War II. It's just steps from where Berliners experienced their first ISIS-linked terror attack six weeks ago.

Does protest music matter anymore?

Jan 19, 2017
music concert
FLICKR PHOTO/Avarty Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0)/

Bill Radke speaks with music critics Charles Cross and Gina Arnold about what makes a good protest song. They also discussed how protest music has changed over the decades. 

Wimps singer/ guitarist Rachel Ratner
KUOW Photos / David Hyde

Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexico border has inspired plenty of protest. Including a song by Portland-based musician Kyle Craft, “Before the Wall."

“It's just one big question,” Craft said, asking “what does that wall represent, not only to people inside of it, but outside of it?”

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Ruth Brown, the original queen of rhythm and blues.

Brown’s career took her from the Apollo theatre to Broadway. She was the most prolific African American female R&B vocalist of the '50's, surpassing Dinah Washington for a time.

Quinton Morris, violin professor.
Courtesy of Quinton Morris

Quinton Morris is a violin virtuoso who wants to give back. The Seattle University teacher grew up in Renton and fondly remembers the support he got from the community. He says that encouragement is important for people of color who want to be classical musicians. Morris told Jamala Henderson how he was often discouraged.  

Blues singer Courtney Weaver performs in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Kenneth Fiaui had always been jealous of his girlfriend. He was even jealous of her 4-month-old cat.

On the night he shot her, Courtney Weaver was preparing to go out with some friends for the evening. Fiaui didn’t want her to go.

British pop star George Michael, who died over the weekend at the age of 53, was famous for his sex appeal, his songwriting gifts and his enduring voice — and for his personal life, which was treated as tabloid fodder.

But not everything he did made headlines.

Since Michael's death, charities and fans have revealed that the iconic singer was also a dedicated philanthropist — making large donations, and working hard to keep them out of the public eye.

Jeannie Yandel talks to KUOW's Amanda Wilde about three local musicians from the 20th century who changed their industry through technology and innovation. 

Photos by Joan Marcus

David Byrne, rock star with the Talking Heads and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, knew the stories of Imelda Marcos's thousands of pairs of shoes. But when he wrote a musical play about her life he left out the fact most people know about Marcos. Why did he chose her as the subject of his play?

The 32nd class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, announced by the organization Tuesday, include its first solo rapper, giants of alternative and album rock, and a stalwart protest singer. Also being inducted are a pair of extremely influential producers, one with his signature band and one by himself.