Strange Currency

Monday - Saturday at 8pm

Strange Currency airs six nights a week on KMUW, bringing you new releases, old favorites and forgotten classics. We spotlight local and regional acts, including guests on Currency Exchange, our live in-the-studio program recorded at the KMUW studios.

Jedd Beaudoin invites you to listen 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday as he opens up his personal music vault and lets you in.

Once again, KMUW 89.1 FM and its music shows Global Village and Strange Currency are winners in the annual Public Radio Exchange (PRX) Zeitfunk Awards. KMUW was #1 in the category of Most Licensed Station.

Have a question? Send Jedd an email.

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Listen to recent Strange Currency shows:

Archive is updated between midnight and 3:00 a.m. after the show airs.

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In the 1980s, Ozzy Osbourne had a reputation for launching the careers of talented younger players. His original guitarist, Randy Rhoads, was a classically-trained wunderkind whose untimely death in early 1982 punctuated the brightness with which his star burned. There would be a succession of six-stringers who passed through the former Black Sabbath vocalist’s camp: Brad Gillis would have mainstream success with the band Nigh Ranger, Jake E. Lee would become one of the great unsung players of the ‘80s.

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Friday, October 20

Derelicts is the first album in six years from Swedish duo Carbon Based Lifeforms. We’ll hear selections from this release as well as music from Robert Plant’s 2005 effort Might ReArranger.

Saturday, October 21

Masseduction is the latest release from Tulsa-born musician Annie Clark, who performs under the name St. Vincent. We’ll hear music from this recording plus selections from Lotta Sea Lice, the new collaborative effort from Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile.

Monday, October 23

Released in 1993, Fate of Nations would be Robert Plant’s final solo album for nearly a decade. The record featured a cover of Tim Hardin’s “If I Were In A Carpenter” as well as the hits “29 Palms” and “I Believe,” a song he wrote for his son Karac, who died in 1977 at the age of five. We’ll hear selections from this album as well as from Led Zeppelin’s final official studio release, 1979’s In Through The Out Door.

Tuesday, October 24

Listen for music from Deerhoof’s latest, Mountain Moves. We’ll hear selections from that recording as well as Everything All At Once from Birds.

Wednesday, October 25

Personal Boy is the latest EP from Har Mar Superstar, the name under which soul/R&B-influenced musician Sean Tillman performs. We’ll hear selections from that recording as well as selections from Space4Lease’s latest.

Thursday, October 26

Colors is the long-awaited thirteenth release from Beck. Listen for music from the album as well as selections from the latest by singer-songwriter Jeffrey Martin, One Go Around.

Friday, October 27

Released in 1978, Cats Under the Stars is the one and only studio album credited to the Jerry Garcia Band. Joining him on the effort his bandmates from the Grateful Dead, Keith and Donna Godchaux, plus his longtime rhythm section of Ron Tutt and John Kahn. We’ll hear songs from Cats Under the Stars on this episode plus music from PJ Harvey’s 1992 release Dry.

Saturday, October 28

Dreamland is Robert Plant’s 2002 covers collection featuring songs written by Bob Dylan, Tim Buckley and others. We’ll hear music from that recording plus music from Joan Osborne’s recent Songs of Bob Dylan album.

Monday, October 30

Listen for selections from Robert Plant’s 1982 solo debut, Pictures At Eleven as well as Kirk Ross’ Cartwheel.

Tuesday, October 31

It’s our annual Halloween celebration with music from Roky Erickson, Ghost, John Carpenter and The Cramps. 

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Thursday, October 12

Carry Fire is the latest album from Robert Plant. The record finds the former Led Zeppelin vocalist in typically adventurous form. We’ll hear selections from this release as well as the new single by Wichita’s The Its, featuring Kendall Newby of Moreland & Arbuckle as well as his a few of his former bandmates from the band Black Gasoline.

Friday, October 13

We’ll mark Friday The 13th with selections from The Cure, Jeff Beck Group and others.

Saturday, October 14

One Go Around is the latest release by Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter Jeffrey Martin. We’ll hear music him plus selections from Neil Young’s 2017 archival release, Hitchhiker.

Monday, October 16

Sky Trails is the new jazz-inflected release from music legend David Crosby. The recording may surprise fans of his work as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash with its contemporary sensibilities but it’s consistent with the sense of adventure Crosby has held onto in his 50-plus years as a recording artist. Listen for music from this release plus songs from the vocalist’s time as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Tuesday, October 17

Chris Hillman’s work with The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and Manassas is well-known. Now in his 70s, the veteran musician has returned with the Tom Petty-produced Bidin’ My Time. We’ll hear selections from Hillman’s latest plus from Petty’s mid-90s effort Wildflowers.

Wednesday, October 18

Released in 1988, Now and Zen was Robert Plant’s fourth solo release and most commercially successful record since leaving Led Zeppelin. The album featured hits such as “Ship of Fools” as well as “Tall Cool One” and “Heaven Knows” (both of which featured his Led Zeppelin cohort, Jimmy Page). Listen for music from that album as well as music from Page’s Outrider, issued the same year.

Thursday, October 19

We’ll hear music from Procol Harum’s 1968 effort Shine on Brightly plus Steve Windwood’s 1980 effort, Arc of A Diver.

“I’m not just OK,” says Kim Rancourt, raconteur, archivist, tour guide, songwriter, etc. and so forth. “I’m A-OK.” He’s speaking from Brooklyn, a place he’s called home long enough to be a native, though he’s a Michigander by birth and raising. He emerged from Royal Oak, a small-ish Detroit suburb that reached its peak population in the 1960s and ‘70s. Today, it boasts less than 60,000, though Rancourt would find escape in a less populated region, travelling to the state’s sparsely populated Upper Peninsula to attend Northern Michigan University.

David McClister

John Prine remains a singular voice in American music. It’s fitting that his biography fits with the mythology of the nation as well. He grew up in Chicago in the post-World War II era, joined the Army and came home, taking a job as postman. He delivered mail by day and, in his telling, often wrote songs in his head, trying them out on his guitar when he returned home. Along with writers such as Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc and others, he became a central figure of the Chicago folk revival.

  

KMUW Music is celebrating National Coffee Day with five hours of music! Tune in to Global Village, Strange Currency and Crossroads on Friday, September 29 from 7:00 p.m. to midnight.

Global Village is brewing up an entire show devoted to great java songs from the likes of Bob Marley, Willie Bobo, the Ink Spots, Herbie Mann, Robert Plant, Bob Dorough and more.

The special continues on Strange Currency with selections from Prince, Squeeze, Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg and John Hiatt, among others.

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Monday, October 2

Released in 1983, The Principle of Moments was Robert Plant’s second solo album and the first to reach wide commercial appeal, thanks in part to the single “Big Log.” The album saw Plant teaming with a cast of musicians that included his longtime friend and frequent collaborator Phil Collins. We’ll hear selections from this release as well as Cavedweller, the solo debut release by Matt Cameron, known for his work with Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Tuesday, October 3

Gathering is the latest release from singer-songwriter Josh Ritter. The album features Ritter’s signature literate, poignant lyrics as well as guest appearance from the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. We’ll hear from this release as well as music from Loudon Wainwright III’s Last Man on Earth.

Wednesday, October 4

We celebrate World Animal Day with music from Harry Nilsson, The Beatles, Wings, The Kinks, Lil Bub and many more.

Thursday, October 5

We'll remember musician Tom Petty, who died earlier this week at age 66, with selections from his solo work, with his longtime band The Heartbreakers and as a guest player and as producer with Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Johnny Cash and more. Plus selections from Petty's time with Traveling Wilburys, the supergroup featuring Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison.

Friday, October 6

It’s our New Month, New Music feature with selections from Reeves Gabrels and His Imaginary Friends, The Oh Sees, and Primus. Plus, a birthday celebration for Tommy Stinson, former bassist for The Replacements; we’ll hear music from his work with that band plus Bash & Pop, Soul Asylum and more.

Saturday, October 7

The Replacements earned a reputation for wild, sloppy and frequently defiant live shows, leading band co-founder Tommy Stinson to suggest that the reason there were no live albums from the band was that there wasn’t much to be found. That changes with For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s, a Holy Grail performance which captures the band in February, 1986 at the legendary Hoboken, New Jersey club. It’s also among the group’s final live performances with founding member, guitarist Bob Stinson, who died in 1995. We’ll hear music from that recording plus selections from the 2002 Johnny Thunders release, You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.

Monday, October 9

We celebrate the birthday of John Lennon with selections from his time in The Beatles plus his solo work and collaborations with artists such as David Bowie and Harry Nilsson.

Tuesday, October 10

In 1972, Pink Floyd traveled to Pompeii, Italy to perform at the city’s ancient Roman amphitheater to an audience of no one. The band’s guitarist, David Gilmour, returned to the city in 2016 for a performance in front of thousands of fans. A new live set chronicles Gilmour’s shows there in July of that year. The material spans from his time in Pink Floyd to his most recent solo work. We’ll hear selections from that release plus music from Pete Townshend’s 1985 album White City: A Novel, to which Gilmour made significant contributions. 

Wednesday, October 11

Hallelujah Anyhow is the latest release from Hiss Golden Messenger, the name under which musician MC Taylor performs. We’ll hear selections from this new effort plus music by Bob Mould from his 1989 solo debut, Workbook.

Richard X. Heyman’s latest album, Incognito, reaffirms the veteran artist’s place in the pantheon of great American songwriters. OK, not the songwriters who are part of the (yawn) Great American Songbook, but the guys (and women) who have inspired others to take up their pens, cheap notebooks, weathered pack of Gitanes and start strumming their own hits. The garage heroes and heroines whose limited run singles we hold tight to our breasts or place on shelves so that they sit higher than all others.

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Monday, September 25 

Released in December, 1971 Wild Life was the third post-Beatles release from Paul McCartney and the first from his band, Wings. We’ll hear music from that recording on this episode plus selections from the brand-new album by Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter Anna Tivel, Small Believer.

Tuesday, September 26

Treasures Untold is the recent live LP from singer-songwriter Tom Brosseau. Listen for music from that recording on this episode of Strange Currency plus selections from the latest by Gov’t Mule, Revolution Come … Revolution Go.

Wednesday, September 27

Released in 1977, Linda Rondstadt’s Simple Dreams was notable for its inclusion of songs by Warren Zevon, the Rolling Stones and others. We’ll hear selections from this recently reissued recording plus new music from Phish bassist Mike Gordon.

Thursday, September 28

We’ll hear new music from Joey Henry’s Dirty Sunshine Club plus music from the second full-length release by Carrie Nation and The Speakeasy, Hatchetations.

Friday, September 29

We team up with Global Village and Crossroads to celebrate International Coffee Day. Strange Currency will feature selections from Prince, Squeeze, Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg and John Hiatt, among others.

Saturday, September 30

Black Country Communion features former Black Sabbath/Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes, contemporary blues artist Joe Bonamassa, ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer Jason Bonham. The band recently reunited for its fourth album, simply titled BCCIV. Listen for music from that recording on this episode plus music from Glenn Hughes’ 2016 effort, Resonate.

Blister Steel is the latest release from Portland, Oregon’s Roselit Bone. With founding member Joshua McCaslin further cementing his place as a lyricist/songwriter of the first order, the material conjures images of broken world, one that Cormac McCarthy might find one mark over the line of disturbing, one that Nick Cave might categorize as bleak. No doubt either/both man would find some semblance of catharsis in these songs. It’s more than darkness for darkness’s sake and McCaslin proves that there’s a separation between his often harrowing images and the man friends and strangers encounter on the street.

McCaslin adopted Portland as his hometown a decade ago, starting Roselit Bone as a duo circa 2013. The unit expanded to the nine-person mark with flute, trumpet, pedal steel, accordion and violin finding their place in the mix. Influenced by Mexican music and disparate Americana strains, the music on Blister Steel eludes easy categorization but one suspects its creator and executors wouldn’t have it any other way.

Though there are lyrical and musical threads that find their way through the songs on Blister Steel, some of the material reaches back to this album’s predecessor, 2014’s Blacken & Curl. “I sit on songs,” McCaslin says. Songs such as “Leech Child” and “By the Glint of Your Horns” were already in live rotation for a few years before the group committed them to tape. What is markedly different this time is that Roselit Bone has become a far more collaborative endeavor.

“With the first album it was mostly me alone in my warehouse space,” he recalls. “I would just layer things on my own. This time, I had nine or 10 different members who all had input. Generally, I write the songs so that they work all on their own as solo acoustic pieces. I’ll do trumpet arrangements and a lot of that stuff before I even bring it to the rest of the band. When I bring it to the band, I always make sure to leave room for the people who like to improvise and add atmospheric stuff, so they usually have space set aside for them in the compositions.”

Despite an expansive lineup, the material heard across Blister Steel and its predecessor rely on open spaces. The eeriness and emptiness of the world McCaslin has conjured into being crackles across the latest record’s 10 cuts. “It was never my intention to have such a big band,” he says. “It was a little more raw, aggressive and based in the Delta blues at first. As I got more into Western music and Mexican music, I started adding people.”

Valerie Osterberg (flute) and Barry A. Walker (pedal steel) came into the band as a couple. “I never thought of having pedal steel in the band until I heard Barry,” McCaslin recalls. “When I saw them, I just thought I should have them both in the band. But I wasn’t looking for them. A lot of times, I’ll see someone who’s a pretty great musician and then find a place for them. But I think I’m done,” he adds. “I’m capping it at 10.”

The roots of Roselit Bone’s sound can be traced to The Gun Club which led him to Son House and Skip James as well as Dave Von Ronk. “I really loved the Ragtime players,” he says. “I still love that sound and play like that quite a bit. When we were just a two-piece, that guitar style was the most prominent.”

He formed an early appreciation of Scott Joplin-style piano playing as well as the country music his grandparents loved. “Some of it was pretty bad but they did listen to Marty Robbins and a lot of old hillbilly music,” he says. Odetta came into the picture later but left a lasting impression. “I think she was the first folk artist that really embraced what I’d consider a Western sound,” he notes. “She had those operatic vocals and that minor key style of guitar playing that I loved.”

Within her music, he says, he found something akin to a lack of an internal dialogue. “It’s like reading a Cormac McCarthy novel or something,” he says. “If there’s violence described, it’s just part of the landscape and I think you can find some Odetta songs that are deeply like that.”

Though he can understand that some will draw comparisons between his own music and Americana, he’s not eager to segregate the music. “I think it has traditional elements without being hardcore traditional,” he says. “I’m not crazy about dividing up genres like some people. I grew up as a punk and goth kid. I get it. We’re obviously not making authentic Mexican music but there are people who see us showing respect to ranchero music and trying to work it into something new. They seem to like that. It’s not a novelty band for us, it’s another tool.”

As for the lyrical content and manner in which violence is represented in his songs, McCaslin chuckles slightly, hinting that it’s a question which comes up often.

“For a lot of the stuff that’s on this record, it wasn’t experienced firsthand, so there is a distance from it that I think allows me to safely write about it. But I’m not doing it out of novelty. A lot of this is drawn from people I know,” he says. “I feel like I’m privileged in that I can write about the things I do. I think that’s why you don’t see a lot of lyricists that go that deep, because it might hit a little too close to home.”

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