February: WESU Fans Huddle Together For Warmth; Good Times

Ain't No Concerts Like the WESU Concerts cuz the WESU Concerts are in SPACE

Ain’t No Concerts Like the WESU Concerts cuz the WESU Concerts are in SPACE

Thanks to everyone who came to our events this month! We bipped and bopped in new ways, learned what it means to really DO-IT-yourself, and heard a hundred cell-phones ringing at the command of a punk rock legend. Here’s all the fun we had:

The Stepkids // Sidewalk Dave // Featherwood Bee @ Memorial Chapel

Featherwood Bee and Sidewalk Dave rollicked in some good ol’ time rock n’ roll. Then The Stepkids brought us to some deep corner of the galaxy of the soul. You can find some spectacular photos on dear WESU friend and high-stakes photographer Truancy Park’s Facebook. You can read a decidedly unconventional review from Wesleyan campus blog, Wesleying, here.

Thanks to the Wesleyan Concert Committee, the Student Activities and Leadership Department, and TuneIn for support with this series. TuneIn is a service you can use to listen to radio stations from around the world, including WESU, on your smartphones, tablets, and online.

Ian MacKaye @ CFA Hall

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Ian Mackaye shared his sage wisdom and fiercely independent attitude to a loving crowd of students and Connecticut fans. An on-air broadcast of the talk as well as a podcast are coming soon. Click through after the jump to view a photo gallery. You can also check out the Wesleying Review here.

Stay tuned for more awesome WESU events all Spring long! Like us on Facebook and listen to WESU for updates on all these awesome radio parties! Everything WESU does is open to the public!

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WEDNESDAY: Ian MacKaye at the CFA

We are excited to announce that WESU is co-sponsoring a talk by Ian MacKaye at the Center for the Arts Hall, located at 287 Washington Terrace in Middletown, CT. This event will take place February 27th at 8 PM. It will be free and open to the public. Be sure to show up early to make sure you can get a seat. The talk will be made up entirely of questions and answers, so please think of questions in advance!

Ian MacKaye is co-founder and owner of Dischord Records, an independent Washington D.C.-based label that has existed since 1980. He has been lead singer, songwriter, bassist and guitarist for world-changing rockbands The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, EmbraceFugazi, and The Evens. His latest album with The Evens, The Odds was released on November 20, 2012. The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano (past WESU lecture guest) describes the concoction, “great songwriting, strong messages, and tight playing are the main ingredients.” An awe-inspiring documentary about his band Fugazi, Instrument directed by Wesleyan alum Jem Cohen was released in 1999. It shows the band playing at such locations as prisons and college gyms, and getting interviewed by an eighth-grade girl on public access TV.

TONIGHT: Get Psyched for The Stepkids/Sidewalk Dave/Featherwood Bee

 The Stepkids

Get psychedelically psyched, because tonight the first show in WESU’s Spring Concert series is going down in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel. The show is free and open to the public.

If you can’t join us in the Chapel, located at 221 High Street in Middletown, CT, you can stream the show live beginning at 7:30.

Doors open at 7:30. Featherwood Bee will take the stage at 8:00, Sidewalk Dave will take over at 8:45 and the Stepkids will melt faces at 10:00.

Special thanks to the Wesleyan Concert Committee & TuneIn, a service which you can use to listen to the world’s radio including WESU. TuneIn is available as a app on all smartphones and tablets and online at TuneIn.com.

FRIDAY: The Stepkids/Sidewalk Dave/Featherwood Bee

We unveiled our Spring Concert Series on Monday. Now we’ve got some updates on the first of these shows that WESU will be presenting.

Our first concert will take place Friday February 22 in the Memorial Chapel at Wesleyan University, located at 221 High St in Middletown, CT. Doors will open at 7:30 PM and the show starts at 8:00 PM.

Set Times
8:00 Featherwood Bee
8:45 Sidewalk Dave
10:00 The Stepkids

The show is free and open to the public! Brought to you by WESU, The Wesleyan Concert Committee & TuneIn, a service which you can use to listen to the world’s radio including WESU. TuneIn is available as a app on all smartphones and tablets and online at TuneIn.com.

The Stepkids put on a very psychedelic live show complete with video projection. The band comes from Bridgeport, CT and is signed to the legendary Stones Throw (owned by Peanut Butter Wolf and home to Madlib and J Dilla (RIP)). They call their music “futuristic electro soul” and their guitarist was once in Alicia Keys‘ touring band. Their debut album, The Stepkids, was released in 2011 and they are set to release a new album, Troubador in 2013.

Sidewalk Dave is a WESU favorite and fellow CT native. Here’s an interview we did with him last November. He plays rock & roll and his last album, Hard on Romance came out last year. Sometimes he wears pants!

Featherwood Bee is a self-described psychedelic merman surf rockin’ band straight out of Middletown, CT.

Here’s the Facebook Event. Enjoy the concerts! WESU loves you.

The WESU Spring Concert Series

After the success of our Lecture Series last semester, we at WESU have organized a Spring Concert Series. This series will be free and open to the public. We hope that all our listeners both at Wesleyan and throughout the greater Middletown community will feel welcome to come and enjoy the music together. Here are brief descriptions of the concerts we have planned. More details will be posted soon so stay tuned!
February 22
The Stepkids
Sidewalk Dave
As seen in the video at the top, The Stepkids put on a very psychedelic live show complete with video projection. The band comes from Bridgeport, CT and is signed to the legendary Stones Throw (owned by Peanut Butter Wolf and home to Madlib and J Dilla (RIP)). They call their music “futuristic electro soul” and their guitarist was once in Alicia Keys‘ touring band. Their debut album, The Stepkids, was released in 2011 and they are set to release a new album, Troubador in 2013.
Sidewalk Dave is a WESU favorite and fellow CT native. Here’s an interview we did with him last November. He plays rock & roll and his last album, Hard on Romance came out last year.
March 30
Zammuto is the project of The Books‘ member Nick Zammuto. Like The Stepkids, Zammuto puts on a unique live show that includes video projection. Zammuto’s music is experimental electronic. His debut, Zammuto came out last year.
Snowblink describes themselves as “nondenominational devotional pop from California/Canada.” And their latest album, Inner Classics also came out last year.
April 12
Boldy James
Gifted Higgz 
We covered Boldy James‘ shows at CMJ here. He is an MC from Detroit, who has released two mixtapes, Trapper’s Alley: Pros & Cons in 2011 and Consignment: Favor for a Favor The Redi-Rock Mixtape last year. A collaboration with The Alchemist is due out later this year.
Gifted Higgz is a local Middletown MC. He released his latest track “Killa” in December.
The WESU Spring Concert Series is sponsored by WESU Middletown, the Wesleyan Concert Committee, and TuneIn, a service you can use to listen to WESU on your smartphonedongles.

Vote for WESU as Best College Radio Station!

WESU and Rob DeRosa, host of our local music show, Homegrown, have been nominated in the 2013 Hartford Advocate Reader Poll!

Please support us by voting for WESU in the “College Radio” categories and for Robbie DeRosa as “Best Radio Personality”. You can cast additional ballots for WESU and Robbie DeRosa’s “Homegrown” in the “Media and Education” category under the “Radio station” and “Radio Show” categories.  The Needle Drop is also listed in the “Radio Show” category. Online ballots must be submitted by 11:59pm EST on February 13th
While you are at it, you can also vote for Wesleyan in “local 4 year University”  and for The Green Street Arts Center in the “Arts Center” category. Then, there’s Middletown’s Art Farm in “Local Arts Organization” and Wesleyan CFA in the “College/University Performing” and “College Performing Arts Center” categories. Oddfellows Playhouse is listed in the “Community Theater Co.” category and you can write in The Buttonwood Tree in the “Concert Venue”.  Don’t forget Red Scroll Records in the “Indie CD/Vinyl Store”  category under “Books, Cds, DVDs”. That’s more than 10 suggestions for the 10 required categories one is required to vote in to submit a ballot.

Please spread the word and help WESU get the recognition we deserves as “The Best College/Community Radio Station” in the Hartford Advocate Readers Poll!

Tinariwen and the Conflict in Northern Mali/Azawad

Before they released any albums or gained the international acclaim they currently hold, the founding members of Tinariwen spent several years training in a Libyan military training camp. They then fought in a Touareg rebellion against the governments of Mali and Niger in the Southern Sahara. When that conflict ended in 1994, Tinariwen left behind war to concentrate on music. They have since become the most prominent Touareg/Kel Tamashek musicians in the world. Their latest album, 2011′s Tassili features Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio, as well as Nels Cline and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. It won a Grammy for Best World Music Album. The video from the recording sessions of that album is highly recommended.

More after the jump


Tinariwen’s music has remained strongly political. Though they formed back in the ’80s in Algeria, the group’s base is Tessalit in Northern Mali, the area that is also known as Azawad. Their people, the Touareg, are nomads, who live primarily in the Saharan area of Mali and Niger. The conflict in this area has now lasted half a century, spanning multiple generations of Touareg rebels. The father of Tinariwen’s leader, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib died in the earliest conflict of the early 60s. Tinariwen literally brought the electric guitar to the Sahara. Ibrahim, a fan of Hendrix and Dylan, built his first guitar (much like the one pictured in the album cover for Imidiwan: Companions) at the age of “four or five.” As he puts it: “Before us, the guitar didn’t exist in Touareg music.” The group has to import amps from Europe because it is impossible to find any “within fifteen hundred kilometres” of their home. While they have introduced the guitar to the Sahara, they have also introduced the world to the Desert Blues, a genre invented by the band. The Desert Blues or Assouf contains elements of traditional Touareg music along with an electrified Western influence that combined sounds like an almost trance-like, highly rhythmic version of the blues. Many of Tinariwen’s songs are about the political struggle of the Touareg, which has  lately drawn international attention and concern.

The current conflict in Northern Mali/Azawad began this year on January 12 when the MNLA (Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), a Touareg rebel group (pictured above), declared the beginning of an insurrection against the government of Mali. The group declared, “The important military operations of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad will continue so long as Bamako does not recognise [sic] this territory as a separate entity.” On April 6, the MNLA went ahead and declared the independence of Azawad from Mali without the recognition of Mali, or, for that matter, that of any other country. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Malian government has lost control of Northern Mali, an area now being fought over by Touaregs and various Islamist groups. Northern Mali/Azawad is also a hotbed for international arms dealers and drug smugglers. Jihadists from Afghanistan and Pakistan have reportedly moved into the area to train militant groups. The situation is so tense in Mali that the interim President, Dioncounda Traore was beaten unconscious by protesters, who may have been allowed into his office by the military. Since June, the MNLA has been engaged in a series of battles with Ansar Dine, an Islamist organization with ties to al Qaeda. Ansar Dine has gained the upper hand in the conflict, and now controls the cities of Northern Mali where it has imposed sharia law. Negotiations have recently begun between Ansar Dine, the MNLA and the Malian government, but the situation remains precarious.

Two days ago, Tinariwen left this status on Facebook: “We are all safe back home in Mali, Assouf Ag Assouf….”Just like the conflict itself, there is no way to exactly predict what Tinariwen will do next. In an interview with Afropop Worldwide, bandmember Abdallah Ag Alhousseini said, “As artists, how we will view [the current conflict], maybe it takes some time. Maybe it will be after a year, maybe more. Because a true artist is never tied to events. Sometimes he sees things 10 years, three years, four years in advance. He sings about an event before the event even happen. Sometimes the events come, but you hear nothing. Because the artist spoke about these events years ago. So we don’t just look at what’s happening today, and sing about that.” Another bandmember, Eyadou Ag Leche told Tamazgha that for their next album, “nous travaillerons dessus dans le désert américain” [We'll be working in the American desert]. It’s hard to be optimistic about the situation in Northern Mali/Azawad, but the idea of Tinariwen working on a new album somewhere in the American desert that may or may not comment on the war gives hope for exciting new music in our future. Regardless of politics, few groups make music as beautiful and powerful as Tinariwen.

An Interview with Shloggfather: Godfather of Shlogg

Current Wesleyan senior, “mysterious beatician hailing from Eugene, OR” and occupant of the room beside mine, Shloggfather has cultivated a unique sonic palette/soft palate over the years. I sat down at my computer and gchatted with him while he made dinner for our apartment. Listen to “recent” chef-d’oeuvre “Intergalactic Furgle-Fest” on his bandcamp page, where it is available for free download.

Click through to read the interview

WESU: Hi, [Shloggfather's real name]. I’m a Music Director at WESU.
Shloggfather: K.
W: We received a copy of your album, “Intergalactic Furgle-Fest,” a few years ago, and it just made its way to the top of our pile. Have you sent your music to other radio stations?
S: When I finished that album (the summer between freshman and sophomore year) I sent it around to KWVA in Eugene, WESU and various indie labels and artists. I may have sent it to WFMU also but not too many radio stations. Excuse me, I have to check on the potatoes.
W: Does KWVA play this kind of music?
S: KWVA is similar to WESU in many ways. Definitely some of the same kinds of music get played, though I think the main difference is the level of commitment DJs have to the station.
W: Maybe you could also explain what genre you consider your music a part of?
S: This may be a cliche, but I prefer not to construct musical value around arbitrary nomenclature. That said, my music has been classified on last.fm as slutwave and sexperimental.
W: Those are helpful specifications. Did you take a similar approach to naming your album? Is “Intergalactic Furgle-Fest” an arbitrary generation of words?
S: It’s a reference to a character in (Joseph Heller’s) Catch-22 who is so preoccupied with taking pictures of women that he is unable to simultaneously furgle them. I took the idea of a furgled furgle and expanded it to resonate through the galaxy.
W: Which character? Milo? Huple?
S: Hungry Joe.
W: Right. Inspirations. What sounds inspire you?
S: I am inspired heavily by heavy machinery, as well as rattling, clanging and banging.
W: “You’re sweet but you can be a cold hard bitch sometimes” sounds far from industrial/metallic. You’ve clearly got some funky melodic proclivities, too.
S: Right. I also take cues from Jean-Pierre Rampal. Ken Davis’ “Pan Flutes by the Ocean” is seminal.
S: Dinner is ready. Let’s eat now and finish this after.
W:  Okay. Bon appetit.
W:  Hi. If your music were a sport, what it would be called?
S: Poopscatball.
W: Who are the musicians on campus you like working with?
S: I really haven’t played with that many people on campus, but Jeremy Webber ’13 and Henry Molofsky ’13 and I have formed a band this semester called Goodbye Goodbye Penis Penis Penis which has so far played 1.5 aborted gigs.
W: What’s a dangus? 
S: A dangus is a dry dingus.
W: You mentioned that you released this album three summers ago. Was your freshman year at Wesleyan at all formative in the creation of IFF?
S: Definitely. Taking Intro to Experimental Music with Alvin Lucier really expanded my horizons, and Physics for Future Presidents, well… Some of the tracks on that album are reworkings of things I’d started long before Wes, too. That’s often how I work – I’ll start something, get sick of it, and return to it after a few months with fresh ears.
W: One (ish) more question. What can we expect from Papa Shlogg in the future? Similar aesthetic? Sun Ra + Stockhausen? Organ blowing?
S: Lately I’ve been focused on composing for the pipe organ as well as designing custom audio software in Max/MSP. In fact, I’ll be combining the two in my senior organ recital this spring, which will focus on the work of Olivier Messiaen and his forbears. That could be a nice story for a children’s book. O.M. and his Four Bears.
W:  I look forward to the audiobook. Thanks for your time! Last words of wisdom to students who want to make electronic music but are too intimidated to start?
S:  Download Propellerhead’s Reason for free online and figure out how to use it. That’s a great way to learn how to fit different sounds together in time, as well as how physical audio equipment works. Reason was my gateway drug.
W:  Great. Happy Hanukkah.
S:  Matzoh Tov.