Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

A headshot of Blue Cactus
Courtesy of Blue Cactus

With a soulful blend of twang and spacey-rock tunes, the indie-country duo Blue Cactus is known for its country music sound. Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez released their EP “Finger on the Button” earlier this week with a titular track that they call their President’s Day anthem. 

It's time again for hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot to share their latest buried treasures: recently released, under-the-radar albums you need to hear! Plus, Jim takes a trip to the desert island jukebox to play a song he can't live without. Then, they hear from musician Briston Maroney about the song that got him Hooked On Sonics.

Courtesy of Alexis Pauline Gumbs

A multi-year, daily writing practice taught Alexis Pauline Gumbs a lot about what it means to listen. Deeply influenced by the black feminist author and scholar Sylvia Wynter, Gumbs’ daily exercise changed the way she thinks about the stories that define humanity and how she percieves her own ancestry.

Kendall Bailey Photography

Ashley Wright relocated from her home in Clarksville, Tennessee to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2016 to nourish her musical career. Since then, she has made a home for herself and her music in Boone. 

A colorful beaded top on a mannequin featuring the image of Mary and a cross above.
Courtesy of Lynn Neal

How did images of Jesus end up on our clothes? Historian Lynn Neal aims to answer that question in her latest book “Religion in Vogue: Christianity and Fashion in America” (NYU Press/2019).

It's the Little Things

Feb 14, 2020
LeeThomas
Jason Falchook

Beverley Elliott writes a song about a yellow dress, despite not owning one. Lee Thomas is a newscaster with vitiligo. Matthew McGough becomes a Yankee batboy. Reilly Horan considers her relationship to clothing and to her identity. Camille Woods seeks a small bit of comfort after the death of her son. 

Courtesy of Mebanesville

The musical project Mebanesville started 20 years ago with just five friends playing in a new coffee shop.Two decades later, the project has seen band members come and go, but nobody ever really leaves for good.

We don’t know if there are any songs written about when a bar opens for the night, but there are plenty of them dedicated to the moment before it closes. "Last call" isn’t just a public service announcement, it isn’t just a call to action - buy another drink or get outta here - it’s a ritual, it’s an intimacy, it’s the moment the night changes.

If you step into a cool cocktail bar today, chances are they have drinks made from mezcal, a Mexican spirit with an intense, roasted, smoky flavor. But just a decade ago, barely anyone in America had heard of it. You could call it the hot new thing in bartending, except that it’s hundreds of years old. And in Oaxaca, it’s much more than that. Bricia Lopez, who’s been called the Mezcal Queen of Los Angeles, is the owner, with her family, of Guelaguetza restaurant in Los Angeles.

Photos above: Jordana Rothman (left) and Julia Bainbridge

Mark and Brian Canlis are brothers and the third generation of their family to run Canlis, a nearly 70-year-old restaurant in Seattle and a true landmark. But even beyond the restaurant, what’s extraordinary about the Canlis family is how thoughtful they are at helping people to connect. And for years, in the basement of the restaurant, they had a very special barrel of whiskey. But, you couldn't buy yourself a taste of it - not with money, anyway.

The language of wine is a mix of science and poetry

Feb 14, 2020

Esther Mobley
Photo: Russell Yip

Six Years Separated

Feb 13, 2020

An asylum-seeking migrant girl is separated from her family at the border and enters U.S. custody at 10 years old. Now, she’s 17 and still in a shelter, even though her family is ready to take her in. They just can’t find her. They turn to reporter Aura Bogado for help.


The rest of this episode originally was broadcast April 6, 2019.


Ask the Critics

Feb 13, 2020

This week, hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot answer listener questions in a segment called Ask the Critics! They’ll give responses on subjects like musical taste, disagreements with each other and what it’s really like to be a professional critic. Plus, they’ll talk to music journalist Mark Binelli about the rise of deceased musician hologram tours. They also review the new album from English art rock band Wire.

Black man looks puzzled holding a comb while looking at his daughter's massive afro, with a plethora of hair products before them.
Sony Pictures Animation

What happens when a black father tries to do his young daughter’s natural hair for the first time? In the animated short “Hair Love” a battle ensues: The father wields a comb as his weapon, but his first attempt is a miserable failure.

Man on stage looks out at audience.
Courtesy of Jeff Polish.

What would it feel like to stand up in front of a group of people you do not know and talk about some of the most personal moments of your life? It is a special kind of terror that is usually reserved for professional comedians or actors, but in the past few decades, more and more everyday folk have been trying it out through live storytelling events popularized by organizations like The Moth.

REVEAL Fundraiser Episode Spring 20202

Feb 7, 2020

For the 2020 Spring fundraising season, here are three of our favorite Reveal stories from the past year.

The Moth Spring Fundraiser 2020

Feb 7, 2020
Tim FitzHigham
Mark Arrigo

Nimisha Ladva comes to terms with what it means to be a "good Indian girl."

Tim FitzHigham is a record breaking adventurer who sets off to cross the English Channel in a bath.

Caroline Connolly describes her misadventures on a family road trip. 

Maxie Jones finds an unexpected relationship that changes his life forever.

Wyatt Kane

Keenan Jenkins excelled in school, leaving his hometown of Rocky Mount in high school to attend the highly-selective North Carolina School of Science and Math. But music pulled him away from his studies, and midway through completing his doctorate, he came to the conclusion that his creative pursuits needed his full attention.

King Crimson and R.I.P. to Andy Gill of Gang of Four

Feb 6, 2020

King Crimson is a legendary progressive rock band that has evolved through the decades in innovative, and sometimes surprising ways. This week, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis explore the constant evolution of the classic band that refuses to rest on its laurels. Plus, Jim and Greg pay tribute to Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, dead at the age of 64.

Lost in Transplantation

Feb 6, 2020

Delivering donated organs quickly to patients waiting for a transplant is a matter of life and death. Yet transportation errors are leading to delays in surgeries that put patients in danger and make some organs unusable. This week, we look at weaknesses in the nation’s system for transporting organs and solutions for making it work better. More than any other organ, donated kidneys are put on commercial flights so they can get to waiting patients.

Bill Bamberger / Courtesy of Weatherspoon Art Museum

From its creation in the late 19th century, basketball captured America’s attention. What began with James Naismith and two peach baskets evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry with its reach extending beyond sports to marketing and fashion. 

Headshot of Canales.
Courtesy of Carla Canales

American classical music is overwhelmingly male and white, so if you’re trying to encourage diversity and equity in youth orchestras, the repertoire choices are not great. A new partnership between Durham-based El Sistema USA and The Canales Project is trying to mix it up.

Vince Rozmiarek

Hold your groans! Wordplay can be inventive, poignant and, at its finest, a shared discovery.

Alex Maness

In 1991 a chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina caught on fire, killing 25 people and injuring 55 others. The Imperial Food Products plant fire is one of the worst industrial disasters in U.S. history — and now the subject of a new play.

Fruit of Labor logo
Courtesy of Angaza Laughinghouse

Members of The Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble perform five-part harmonies and play instruments. But do not make the mistake of calling them a band. Their mission is much broader than playing gigs and producing albums.

Best Acting By Musicians in Film

Jan 30, 2020

Over the years, several notable musicians have tried their hand at acting in movies, whether it’s playing a character or playing themselves. While the results are mixed, there have been a handful of great, pitch perfect performances. With the Oscars looming, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot share some of their favorite acting performances by musicians in film. They’ll also talk with Joel Anderson, host of the third season of the podcast Slow Burn, which focuses on the murders of the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

Don’t Count on the Census

Jan 30, 2020

The 2020 census will make a huge imprint on the nation for a decade, from determining how much federal money goes to states to divvying up congressional seats and helping city planners figure out where to build schools. But experts warn this census is doomed to be inaccurate because of a poor rollout and a swirl of controversy over a citizenship question proposed by the Trump administration. 


Jamea Richmond-Edwards / Courtesy of E. Patrick Johnson

Writer E. Patrick Johnson was hesitant to collect the stories of queer black Southern women. He is a cisgender gay black man, and the divide between the male and female experience was something he felt he could not portray on the page. But after being encouraged by women who wanted their experiences known and shared, he found a way to spotlight their voices.

University of Nebraska Press

M. Randal O’Wain’s memoir features standard ingredients of a classic country song: beat-up trucks, cigarette smoke, and a nostalgic father-son relationship. Yet at the same time, it manages to pull the rug out from under stereotypes of working class life in the South.

Violence soaks the pages of “Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working-Class South” (University of Nebraska Press/2019), not in gory detail, rather as a wry aftertaste.

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