On The Road With NPR Music: Chris Campbell At WDET, Detroit, Michigan

Beyond travel, we’re also big music fans here at Gadling; largely because music is a great way to get to know a place. This month happens to be Public Radio Music Month and we’re teaming up with NPR to bring you exclusive interviews from NPR music specialists around the country. We’ll be learning about local music culture and up and coming new regional artists, so be sure to follow along all month.

Today we’re checking out the scene in Detroit, and local host Chris Campbell has his finger on the pulse of all that’s progressive and underground. His playlist that he made exclusively for Gadling is full of tracks you’ve probably never heard, but certainly won’t be able to stop listening to. If you think Detroit is just a rap scene as depicted in “8 Mile,” think again.

Name: Chris Campbell

Member station: 101.9 FM WDET

Regular Show/Contribution BeatThe Progressive Underground w/Chris Campbell


1. When people think of music in Detroit, what do they think of?

Generally speaking, people think of Motown Records, but Detroit also has a vibrant techno/electronic music scene (it’s the birthplace of techno music) in addition to a burgeoning progressive hip hop and R&B scene as well. The electronic, future soul and progressive hip hop genres are the scenes that we tend to focus on during our show broadcasts.

2. How do you help curate the Detroit musical scene?

I curate the electronic music scene through artist/DJ spotlights, atmospheric mix segments and artist interviews, which are also posted through various media networks (WDET website, Sound Cloud, etc).

3. How has that scene evolved over the last few decades?

The electronic scene has had a curious evolution. It started out very strong back in the 1980s locally, but became a genre that was more cherished overseas – especially in the UK and Japan. Many artists who are looking to become even more established still focus on touring overseas, but there has been a concerted effort made to play/tour the home market and build up the scene locally.

4. What would you say is the most unique thing about your music scene?

The most unique thing – in my mind – is that the electronic scene is full of diversity, variance and a myriad number of styles. Stylistically, electronic encompasses subgenres such as deep house, chill, chill wave, down tempo, and future soul. It is a genre that is seeing a “boon” in the number of artists who are embracing it.

5. What are three new up and coming bands on the Detroit scene right now and what makes them distinct?

Tall Black Guy – Terrell Wallace aka Tall Black Guy is a Detroit artist/producer whose music spans a wide spectrum of electronic. We have currently been playing his album “The Brazilian Chronicles,” which is electronic music that is inspired by the history and music of Brazil. His uniqueness is displayed in his production work – groovy orchestral flourishes set on top of multi-layered rhythm patterns. He is truly a producer that approaches his electronic music with a sense of musical virtuosity.

Inohs Sivad – Inohs Sivad is singer/songwriter/producer/composer, who exemplifies the emerging future soul genre. Her music combines some of the foundational elements of classic soul (strong lyricism/writing) with some of the staples of progressive and future soul arrangements (organic and elemental sound textures).

Leaf Erikson – Artist/wordsmith Vernon Greenleaf aka Leaf Erikson is an artist who is on Detroit’s famed underground Butter Made record label. He has shared the stage with many regional and national figures and what makes his music exceptional is the merger of the melodic production with his sense of communal awareness and lyrical substance.

6. For a Gadling playlist, what are your favorite tracks?

The last four are not Detroit artists, but they are artists that we have broken in the Detroit market and ones that we play heavily.

“O Fim De Viagem” – Tall Black Guy

“Brown Suga” – Swiftus Funkellwerk

“Moving On” – Rick Wade

“Somewhere Else” – Inohs Sivad feat. Diamondancer

“Artificial” – Leaf Erikson

“Midnight” – Candace Nicole

“So Blue & Green” – Cecilia Stalin

“Listeriosis” – BadBadNotGood

“See With Me” – Jesse Boykins III

“Play With Me” – Princess Freesia

Listen to the complete playlist on Spotify.

On The Road With NPR Music: Andrea Swensson At KCMP, Twin Cities, Minnesota

We love music here at Gadling, and this month is Public Radio Music Month, which is why we’re teaming up with NPR to bring you exclusive interviews from NPR music specialists around the country. We’ll be learning about local music culture and up and coming new regional artists, so be sure to follow along all month.

Name: Andrea Swensson

Member station: 89.3 The Current

Regular Show/Contribution Beat: Music Reporter

When people think of music in the Twin Cities, what do they think of?

The first thing that seems to come to mind for most people is either Prince or the underground punk scene of the ’80s, which spawned the Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum. In more recent years our hip hop community – led by Rhymesayers artists like Atmosphere and Brother Ali and independent crew Doomtree – has become world-renowned, and we have big variety of other genres of artists finding success, from bluegrass to electro-pop to jazz. In general, people think of the Twin Cities with a vibrant, collaborative and supportive place to make music. We like to joke that we are living in the Land of 10,000 Bands.

How do you help curate that musical scene?

The Current has several different ways it supports the Minnesota music community. My role at the station is to report exclusively on local music and post my findings on the blog – which contains everything from show reviews and interviews to news stories and in-depth profiles – and share them with the host of the Current’s weekly Local Show. We also have a 24/7 all-Minnesota music stream called Local Current, and have just launched a pair of specialty shows about the Duluth scene (home of Trampled by Turtles, Low, and Charlie Parr) and our ever-expanding hip-hop scene.

How has that scene evolved over the last few decades?

We have experienced a boom in both the number of active bands and the number of bands breaking out nationally over the past few years. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing this upswing, but at times it can be difficult to keep up with all of the high-quality new music coming out. It’s not just one genre or niche that’s expanding, either; there is an energy and excitement that is palpable throughout the Twin Cities.

What would you say is the most unique thing about the Twin Cities music scene?

There is a collaborative spirit that binds our community together. The Twin Cities are large enough to support a couple dozen venues and spawn hundreds of bands, yet small enough that musicians can develop meaningful relationships with one another. It’s not uncommon for bands to share members or work together on projects; the 27-member Gayngs recording project is a good example of this, as are compilations like “Absolutely Cuckoo: Minnesota Covers 69 Love Songs,” which featured Magnetic Fields songs covered by 69 different local artists.

What are three new up and coming bands on your local scene right now and what makes them distinct?

The Chalice: An explosive hip-hop trio that has caught the attention of our entire scene this year. They are natural performers and their charisma is off the charts.

Meme: Crystalline pop from a young duo who are just beginning to play out live. Singer Lizzie Brown’s voice is mesmerizing, and her partner Danny Burke creates cool high-concept, animated music videos to accompany their tracks.

Southwire: This Duluth quartet combines gospel, folk and spoken word to create a unique, alluring sound.

For a Gadling playlist, what are your favorite tracks?

  • Aby Wolf, “Permission”
  • Meme, “Young”
  • Crankshaft, “Boomtown”
  • Trampled by Turtles, “Alone”
  • Van Stee, “We Are”
  • P.O.S., “Get Down”
  • The Chalice, “Push It”
  • Southwire, “Gone Astray”
  • Dessa, “Dixon’s Girl”
  • Har Mar Superstar, “Lady, You Shot Me”

Listen to the playlist on Spotify.

[Photo Credit: Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR]

Harlem: neighborhood revitalization paves way for a new Renaissance

Harlem revitalizationHarlem. The very name of this former Dutch settlement conjures up a contrast in images: the cultural Renaissance years of the 1920’s and ’30’s, when the “New Negro Movement” attracted writers and other literary types from all over the world. The rise of a middle and upper middle class of black Americans. The Golden Age of Jazz, when legends like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Jelly Roll Morton could be found playing at iconic venues such as the Savoy Ballroom, Cotton Club, Apollo Theater, and Lenox Lounge.

After the Great Depression and WWII, Harlem experienced hard times. Once glorious buildings grew neglected; crime and poverty soared in the wake of an increasingly disenfranchised community and the social unrest of the civil rights movement. Then, in the late 20th century, Harlem began to get her groove back, and the neighborhood—which stretches north to south from 155th Street to 96th Street–began to gentrify. It’s still a predominantly black community, which is fueling a growing revivalist movement that’s an homage to the historic neighborhood’s cultural past.

Today, you’re just as likely to see beautifully restored brownstones (at newly jacked-up prices), eclectic boutiques, bars, and clubs, and destination restaurants. But some things are still the same. The inevitable downtown hipsters making the trek to soul food institutions such as Amy Ruth’s and Sylvia’s Restaurant. Street vendors hawking everything from incense to dodgy electronics from blankets spread on the sidewalk. Walking up the subway steps, you’re assaulted by a cacophony of sights, sounds, smells–not all of them pleasant. Welcome to Harlem, 2011. A work in progress, but definitely a destination in its own right.

[Photo credit: Flickr user i am drexel]

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harlem revitalizationSleeping

One of the biggest changes to take place is the December, 2010 opening of the Aloft, Harlem’s first hotel in nearly a century. The goal of the property has been to work with the community, and enrich the neighborhood by partnering with local businesses, which supply everything from grab-and-go food at the hotel’s 24/7 re:fuel, to floral arrangements.

The Aloft, a division of W Hotels, is a contemporary, more affordable sibling to the swanky, upscale chain, with locations all over North America and a growing number of properties throughout Asia, Europe, and Central and South America. The Harlem outpost is centrally-located on Frederick Douglass Blvd. It’s across the street from the 125th Street subway station, which makes getting downtown a snap.
Harlem revitalization
My room was clean, comfortable, and stylish (with free Bliss Spa Products: yay!), with modern, functioning amenities (read: Wifi is free and actually works). If a view is important to you, best to request a room facing the front of the hotel. On the other hand, if you’re a voyeur or exhibitionist, I highly recommend Room 625. One other note: the ground floor xyz bar is seriously popping on the weekend, and not just with tourists, either. Expect loud music and dancing to go into the wee hours; if you’re sound-sensitive, also best to request a room away from the acoustic zone. Or just join the party.

To See and Do

The Aloft is literally steps away from a number of Harlem’s top cultural attractions. Modern art fans will enjoy The Studio Museum on W. 125th, which showcases local, national and international work by artists of African descent. Also nearby is the Apollo Theater, and the Hip Hop Culture Center, which offers everything from youth activities to historical artifacts, exhibitions, and educational programs. The Jazz Museum is another don’t-miss, over on E. 126th.

Eating and Drinking
Harlem revitalization
Considered some of NY’s best, Patsy’s Pizza in East Harlem has been dishing out coal oven-fired pies since 1933. But a flock of new dining and drinking establishments have opened within the last year or so (all within stumbling distance of the Aloft).

Acclaimed Ethiopian-Swedish chef/Harlem resident Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, named after an infamous Harlem speakeasy, is a homey contemporary restaurant specializing in comfort food that “celebrates the diverse culinary traditions of the neighborhood.” Think dinner or brunch dishes like dirty rice and shrimp; fried yard bird with white mace gravy, hot sauce, and shake; cow peas; and sweet potato doughnuts. Don’t forget to loosen up with a Gin and Juice or The Spicy Lady (Plymouth gin, jalapeno/rosemary syrup, lemon juice, and creole bitters), first. P.S. If the name of the restaurant sounds familiar, it may be because Obama hosted a $30,800-a-plate fundraiser dinner there in March. He liked the corn bread.
Harlem revitalization
Harlem’s first beer garden, Bier International, sloshes up domestic and international offerings. It also serves brunch and lunch, and is family-friendly (how is mom and dad tying one on while the kids eat bratwurst not a family activity?). And yes, Virginia, there is fine dining in Harlem. The 5 and Diamond, which opened last year, is a popular spot offering contemporary American fare. It’s located on Frederick Douglass Blvd., which has been declared by no less than Frank Bruni–former restaurant critic of the New York Times– as the new “Restaurant Row.”

If serious mixology–with a laidback vibe and sexy, Prohibition-era style–is your thing, head to 67 Orange Street. I adore any place with craft-distilled and house-infused spirits, made-to-order juices, seasonal, intelligent, well-made libations, and a lack of attitude. Bar snacks run the gamut from oysters to deviled eggs, orange-roasted duck leg, and stuffed olives (at hard-to-beat prices). The name, by the way, is a tribute to the long-gone Almack’s, one of the first black-owned-and-operated bars in New York City.
Harlem revitalization
Harlem is evolving at a fast pace; best to visit now, while it’s still an affordable, uncrowded, diamond in the rough.

Want to learn how to shake up a refreshing Moscow Mule or other classic cocktail? 67 Orange gives you recipes, right here.

[Photo credits: pizza, Flickr user Pabo76; soul food, Flickr user fiat luxe; brownstone, Flickr user gsz]

Get out and go: Events around the world (September 30-October 1)

Happy Hump Day, Gadling’ers! It’s time to look at the festivals and events happening around the world, and this week has a particularly international selection of happenings. If you’re close and have time, then you have no excuse to get out and go!

  • Victoria (Australia)Spring Racing Carnival: The Spring Racing Carnival will take place today at various race courses in Victoria. The carnival is a series of racing and fashion events which will continue until November 18, so if you missed the first event, you still have 6 more weeks to take part!
  • Shanghai – Shanghai International Music Fireworks Festival: One of Shanghai’s most lively festivals will begin today in Century Park, Pudong. The event will continue until November 6, so you have plenty of time to catch some music or other festivities.
  • BelgradeBelgrade Jazz Festival: This international festival begins October 1 and lasts the whole month. A series of concerts by domestic and foreign performers is held at the Belgrade Youth Centre, the hall of the Belgrade Trade Union House, Kolarac Foundation and other venues.
  • Colombia – Hip Hop in the Park: Bogotá’s “Hip-Hop al Parque”, a festival of beats and rhymes that begins tomorrow, has taken place annually since 1968, providing two days of bass and hip-hop.
  • Paris – Spring Summer 2010 Ready to Wear show: If you’re into high fashion, head to Paris this week! Its Ready to Wear show presents the latest fashion. The show begins tomorrow and will continue until October 8.
  • Cuba – Celebration of The Cubania: The celebration of Cuban art and culture begins today in Bayamo, Cuba.

If you make it to one of these events, let us know how it was, or if you know of an even that’s coming up, please let us here at Gadling know and we’ll be sure to include it in the next “Get out and go” round-up.

‘Til next week, have a great weekend — the first of October!

Ten musical destinations that will rock your world

Music has a way of taking you on a journey. Like any great trip, the songs that inspire us are filled with joyous highs and sobering lows, unexpected revelations and exotic uncertainties. It’s only natural then that each of us seeks out music during our travels. Whether it’s a CD stand in a bustling market in Morocco or a classically-trained violinist playing on a street corner in Paris, music offers travelers a visceral way to cut through the confusion of language and custom, revealing the true essence of a destination.

Wherever we go, melodies both familiar and exotic burst out of speakers, vibrate in concert halls, groove around city streets and drip off the walls in sweaty dance clubs. Yet it’s only in a few select spots around the world that the culture of music becomes a truly tangible attraction. These are the special places where a unique confluence of cultural cross-pollination, inherent creativity and a critical mass of kick-ass musicianship coalesces to create something truly special.

In the course of our journeys here at Gadling, we’ve uncovered some of the world’s most unique and memorable destinations for music. The following list is by no means the end-all-be-all of musical places to visit, but each of the ten spots we’ve chosen is without a doubt one-of-a-kind and a true musical hotspot. Did we choose any of your favorites? Click below for our picks…
Number 10 – Mali’s Festival in the Desert
At first glance, it would be easy to mistake Mali’s Festival in the Desert as a cruel mirage. Yet every year this wind-swept country in Northwestern Africa puts on one of the continent’s best musical events, featuring traditional Tuareg tunes as well as music from around the globe.

Number 9 – Pitch-perfect karaoke in Manila
Love it or hate it, Karaoke has spread its melodies around the world, from the drinking dens of Tokyo to the back streets of New York. But to truly experience Karaoke talent, head to Manila. Filipino cover bands are legendary for their pitch-perfect renditions of Western pop songs. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference from the originals.

Number 8 – Concert hopping in Austin, TX
They like to say everything is bigger in Texas, and Austin’s annual South by Southwest music festival certainly doesn’t disappoint. Each March, over a thousand bands from around the world descend on the state’s capital for four days of drinking, dancing and music industry schmoozing. If you’re hoping to catch rock’s next great thing or simply looking for a good time, South by Southwest is definitely one of the USA’s best music events.

Number 7 – Tokyo Record Collecting
Tokyo, Japan is one of the world’s great cultural epicenters, consuming and re-creating pop culture trends at a furious pace. This intense consumption is particularly true of music, where the Japanese excel as the world’s consummate music collectors. If you need proof of Tokyo’s status as the crown jewel for record shopping, one need only stroll the back alleyways of Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district. Along the narrow side streets you’ll stumble upon hidden second floor record shops packed floor to ceiling with obscure vinyl and out-of-print rarities.

Number 6 – New Orleans gets Jazzed

New Orleans is known as the birthplace of Jazz music. It was the city’s unique mixture of French, Spanish and African traditions that allowed the city to develop this particularly unique musical heritage, one that is evident even today. One of the best ways to experience the Big Easy’s Jazz culture is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, perhaps the world’s best showcase of this distinctly southern-tinged style.

Number 5 – The London Remix
London has a reputation as a musical chameleon, a city that takes on the world’s constantly evolving musical styles, remixing and reinterpreting in a uniquely British way. Whether it’s Punk or Techno, Indie Rock or Dubstep, London has something to suit the tastes of about every music lover. Check out this list of London music venues, this rundown of record stores, or top-notch dance clubs like Fabric if you’re looking to jump along to the beat.


Number 4 – Kingston sound system parties
Jamaica holds an outsize reputation in the world’s musical lore, having birthed world-famous artists like Bob Marley along with hundreds of other equally talented Jamaican singers, producers and musicians. Though the laid-back vibe of Tuff Gong has long-since morphed into the raw sounds of Dancehall and Ragga, you can still experience Jamaican music at its finest at some of Kingston’s weekly sound system parties like Passa Passa and Weddy Weddy Wednesday. These rough and tumble affairs take over Kingston’s parks and streets with huge speakers, raucous dancing and plenty of fun.


Number 3 – All night techno in Berlin
Something happened when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. As a divided city was slowly mended together, music fans began to take over the city’s abandoned buildings and spaces for semi-legal dance parties. It was the beginning of Techno, a music scene that would soon sweep the capital and most of Europe. Berlin today is ground zero for electronic music fans, with some of the world’s best DJ’s playing parties that can last all night and into the next day and beyond. Check out the events list at Resident Advisor for a good listing of what’s happening.

Number 2 – Shake to the rhythm of Brazilian Carnival
Much like New Orleans and Jamaica, Brazil is the product of a unique confluence of cultures, bringing together Portuguese, African and indigenous influences. Nowhere does this unique cultural history make itself better felt than during Brazil’s annual Carnival festivities, when cities across the country like Rio de Janeiro and Salvador erupt in wild displays of samba dancing and furious drumming. Check out this Rio Carnival guide to get started.



Number 1 – Find what’s new in New York City
It’s hard to even describe how important New York has been to 20th Century musical innovation. Jazz. Punk. Disco. Hip hop. Whatever your preferred style of music, you can find it here…whether its an Indie Rock show at the Bowery Ballroom or killer night of Jazz over at Blue Note, New York’s got it all. Spend a day browsing through record stores like Other Music and A-1 Records before catching a show at Mercury Lounge, S.O.B.’s or Lincoln Center.

Did we pick your favorite musical destination? Think we forgot one of the best? Leave us a comment below to continue to the debate.