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All Things Considered (Weekend)

Apr 25, 2018 BY Cory Turner, Clare Lombardo, Erin B. Logan

Teacher Walkouts: A State By State Guide

Colorado teachers rally on April 16 outside the state Capitol to demand more funding for schools and oppose changes to the state's pension system.
Colorado teachers rally on April 16 outside the state Capitol to demand more funding for schools and oppose changes to the state's pension system.

It's been nine weeks since teachers in West Virginia walked out of their classrooms to protest low wages and rising health care costs. That sparked a movement that has spread to a handful of other states where teachers have fought — or are fighting — not just for higher wages but also increased spending, more pay for support staff and, in some cases, to stop proposed changes to their pensions.

In fact, so much has happened in the past two months that we thought we'd put together a refresher, state by state.

Arizona

Thousands of teachers across the state are expected to walk off the job tomorrow. That's after Arizona educators voted overwhelmingly last week in support of an organized protest. Their demands include an increase in school funding — enough to return to pre-recession levels — and a big lift in salaries, enough to get them to the national average of $58,950. In 2016-17, Arizona teachers earned $47,403, on average.

"I think that educators are ready to stay out for the duration and force legislators to strategically invest in our schools the way that we did ten years ago," Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, tells NPR. AEA, the state's largest union, is working hand-in-hand to coordinate the walkouts with Arizona Educators United, a grassroots organization behind the state's #RedforED movement.

"The educators of Arizona sent an incredibly strong message," Noah Karvelis, spokesman for Arizona Educators United, tweeted after the walkout votes were tallied. "We will not allow our legislature to neglect our students, families and educators any longer."

In an attempt to avert a walkout, Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, promised teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020, tweeting: "I am committed to getting teachers this raise and am working to get this passed at the Legislature. We need teachers teaching, and kids learning."

The governor's office says the money would come from a combination of increased revenue and small cuts. In a fact sheet, Ducey's office explains that the state can spend more money on schools and teachers because "revenues are on the rise and have been higher than originally projected, combined with a reduction in state government operating budgets through strategic efficiencies, caseload savings, and a rollback of governor's office proposals."

But Thomas and Karvelis — and the teachers they represent — aren't buying that explanation. "No funding tricks, no one-time fixes, no smoke and mirrors" says Thomas, "our teachers were absolutely disgusted."

He and Karvelis rejected the governor's proposal because, they say, not all teachers would receive pay hikes — and the money for those that would get them would come at the expense of other important programs.

Colorado

Teachers in Colorado are also set to walk out Thursday or Friday. Several hundred showed up at the state Capitol last week to voice a range of familiar concerns.

Teacher pay in Colorado is relatively low. The average teacher salary is $46,506, compared with $58,950 nationally. According to one study, the state ranks last in wage competitiveness. Also on teachers' list of complaints: underfunding of schools and efforts to scale back pension benefits.

But there are a few important differences between Colorado and the other states that have seen teacher protests. And those differences mean that lobbying lawmakers for a salary or funding increase isn't as straight-forward here — even with the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

For one thing, Colorado voters passed a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights in the early '90s. Here's how reporter Jenny Brundin of Colorado Public Radio explained TABOR for NPR's School Money project:

"It required that voters, not lawmakers, have the final say on tax increases, and it capped tax revenue. Anything the state raised over that cap — typically in boom years — would be refunded to taxpayers."

In short, teachers have to take their funding arguments to the people.

"It's gotta be a ballot," says Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, the union that represents 35,000 educators across the state. While previous ballot measures to raise school funding have failed, Dallman says Colorado teachers will try again in November.

Another big challenge for teachers boils down to two words: local control. Even if lawmakers are willing to repurpose money from elsewhere in the state's budget to raise teachers' salaries, Dallman says, they can't. Not easily, anyway.

"We don't have a statewide salary schedule, and so, when new money is freed up, it really is up to a local school district whether or not they want to agree to a raise," says Dallman. "That's the beauty of local control."

Oklahoma

While protests are just gearing up in Arizona and Colorado, the dust is settling in Oklahoma. Though the outcome, and what to make of it, is still in dispute.

Teachers walked out on April 2, hoping to win increases in school funding and more pay for support staff. Lawmakers passed a $6,000 pay raise for educators in late March — before the walkout had begun.

After striking for nine days and winning no new concessions, teachers returned to their classrooms. The move, which was supported by union leaders, frustrated some protesters.

"In reality, we are truly, literally in a worse position than when we started," says Larry Cagle, who leads a grassroots teachers group called Oklahoma Teachers United. "The unions were horribly complicit in this meltdown."

Cagle says independent teachers led the way to the strike but made a mistake allowing the state's largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, to negotiate on their behalf. He worries that the new money lawmakers have promised teachers simply won't materialize.

Ed Allen, leader of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, says that's not something teachers need to worry about. It's up to lawmakers, Allen says, to follow through on the deal, and, "if the money isn't there, they are going to have to find the funds to pay for it."

The unions aren't completely satisfied with the strike's outcome either. "Quite frankly, we're angry that the legislature — the Senate in particular — wasn't willing to talk about funding any more for education," says OEA President Alicia Priest. "That is an indictment on our legislature, and that's where the anger should be directed."

Still, union leaders say, these walkouts did achieve something. Priest says the bill to raise teacher pay is part of the OEA's three-year plan to make up the $1 billion in education funding that has been cut in the past decade.

Politically, the Oklahoma strike tested union strength and credibility in a state where employees can't be compelled to join a teachers union or pay union dues. More than half of all states are so-called right-to-work states — including Arizona, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

"It has been harder and harder to draw our younger teachers into the union and see the need for the union," says Allen of the Oklahoma City AFT. But, he believes, "it's a teacher's cost of doing business, your union membership."

For Cagle, though, the experience provides a cautionary tale for other states considering a walkout: "If there's one thing that Arizona needs to know today — it's don't give the union the mic. Because they're not powerful enough."

Kentucky

The fight here isn't over teacher pay, exactly, but teacher compensation. A pair of studies — here and here — show teacher salaries in Kentucky are more competitive than they are in either Arizona or Oklahoma. But the commonwealth's pension system is in trouble. Its unfunded obligations have ballooned in recent years, and lawmakers have struggled to contain them.

"Over the last 10 years, they have essentially doubled the amount of money they're putting into the pension plan, and it's still not enough," says Chad Aldeman, the editor of teacherpensions.org.

Recently, Kentucky's Republican governor, Matt Bevin, warned: "If we don't change anything, the system will fail, and most of the people now teaching will never see one cent of a retirement plan."

So, in a surprise move last month, Republicans fast-tracked a dramatic reimagining of the state's pension system, including something called a cash-balance plan for new teachers, by attaching it to a sewage bill.

"The biggest difference is, with the existing plan, you know exactly what your retirement is going to be before you retire," says Beau Barnes, general counsel for Kentucky's Teachers' Retirement System.

Under this new cash-balance plan, which is somewhere between a traditional pension and a 401(k), Barnes says teachers won't know how much money they'll receive each month until they leave the classroom. In short: It introduces a new level of uncertainty in a state where teachers don't enjoy the safety of Social Security.

When teachers realized this was happening, thousands converged on the Capitol in Frankfort to protest the pension changes. While these changes are here to stay, Republican lawmakers did override the governor's veto of a new, two-year operating budget that increases per-student spending, in part, by raising the state's cigarette tax.

West Virginia

And finally, the beginning: A statewide strike in West Virginia ignited the movement by teachers around the country. On Feb. 22, educators left their classrooms, demanding higher pay and relief from rising health care costs.

Teachers didn't head back to class until March 7, a day after the legislature passed a 5 percent pay raise for all state workers, including teachers. The governor has also convened a task force to explore ways to rein in health insurance costs.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018 BY Ken Tucker

From BlocBoy JB And Drake To Post Malone, A Roundup Of Catchy Hip-Hop

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.
Apr 25, 2018 BY Terry Gross

How America's White Power Movement Coalesced After The Vietnam War

In Aug. 2017, many Americans were shocked to see neo-Nazis and members of the so called alt-right demonstrating in Charlottesville, Va. But author Kathleen Belew says the roots of the rally were actually decades in the making.

Belew, who has spent more than 10 years studying America's White Power movement, traces the movement's rise to the end of the Vietnam War, and the feeling among some "white power" veterans that the country had betrayed them.

"To be clear, I'm not arguing that this is at all representative of Vietnam veterans — this is a tiny, tiny percentage of returning veterans," Belew says. "But it is a large and instrumental number of people within the White Power movement — and they play really important roles in changing the course of movement action."

In her new book, Bring the War Home, Belew argues that as disparate racist groups came together, the movement's goal shifted from one of "vigilante activism" to something more wide-reaching: "It's aimed at unseating the federal government. ... It's aimed at undermining infrastructure and currency to foment race war."


Interview Highlights

On how the Vietnam War changed the White Power movement

The Vietnam War narrative works first of all to unite people who had previously not been able to be in a room together and to have a shared sense of mission. So, for instance, Klansmen and neo-Nazis after World War II had a very difficult time aligning, because Klansmen tended to see neo-Nazis as enemies ... the people they were confronting in World War II. But after Vietnam they see common cause around their betrayal by the government and around the failed project of the Vietnam War. So that's one function.

Another function of the Vietnam War is to provide a narrative that shapes the violence itself, and this is partly material in that veterans who are trained in Vietnam War boot camps come back and create boot camps to train other White Power activists. People who didn't serve in Vietnam War combat even use U.S. Army training manuals and other kind of paramilitary infrastructure to shape White Power violence and they even choose Vietnam War issue weapons, uniforms and material and even obtain stolen military weapons to foment activism.

On the White Power movement turning on the state

The turn on the state happened in 1983. It happened at the Aryan Nations World Congress, which was a meeting of many different factions of the White Power movement and the thing that's important about this turn on the state is that it's openly anti-state for the first time in the 20th century. Prior Klan mobilizations had really been organized about maintaining the status quo or maintaining what historians would call "systemic power," which is to say, state power and all of the other kinds of power that are bound up in state power.

So if you think about the Klan in the 1920s, which is the example that most people are familiar with, it's very overtly and properly nationalist. ... It was out in the mainstream. It was very social. It was very overt. It was purported to be "for America" and their slogan indeed was "100 percent Americanism."

So fast forward to 1983, and we're looking at something completely different. This is now a coalition of united racist groups that is openly anti-government, that is focused on a transnational white nation and that is using texts and ideologies that call for an apocalyptic confrontation with everybody else.

On the White Power movement's early use of the Internet

The White Power movement pioneered some of the early Internet social network connection that we see now as early as 1983, '84, with a series of computer message boards that were password protected and not decrypted by the FBI for several years. ... It was called Liberty Net and it was founded in 1983, '84. Liberty Net was a series of computer message boards that put forward everything from common ideologies of the movement to personal ads to connect activists with one another and romantic and other kinds of social relationships to hit lists of targets for the movement violence. The movement matched that kind of activist with distribution of funds to buy computers, so there was a targeted effort to distribute the movement's resources around the country, so that everyone could get onto these early message boards.

On how her research has changed during the Obama and Trump administrations

One of the things that has happened just in the last few years is that this book has moved from being a niche story about political extremism to a book that has become really important to how we see the mainstream. ... Many people thought that they were living through a real progress moment of American history, and we had this idea, even as historians, of a "post-racial" moment, or a colorblind moment, or a multicultural moment. And I think what this story shows us is where overt racism went during the time that we thought of as peaceful and race-neutral. And that instead we were looking at this submerging and resurging story.

Sam Briger and Seth Kelley produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper adapted it for the Web.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.
Apr 25, 2018

Study Finds Viruses Rain Down From The Sky

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Research shows that viruses that affect microbes are ubiquitous, traveling around the world in the upper atmosphere.

Here & Now‘s Eric Westervelt (@Ericnpr) learns more from Curtis Suttle, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018

Spring Greens Recipes That Will Make You Forget The Winter Cold

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With spring in full swing, Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst is experimenting with seasonal greens like watercress, arugula, chives and dandelion greens. She brings host Robin Young recipes and dishes that show off their fresh, vibrant flavors.


Spring greens are like a tonic after a long winter, and these recipes provide color, texture, nutrients and a fresh taste of the new season. Think arugula, watercress, dandelion greens, sorrel, chives and dill.

Use these fresh greens in egg dishes (spring green frittata), soups, salads and stir fries.

Green Herb Spring Salad

This is a very simple salad that pays tribute to the fresh green flavors and crunchy textures of spring. The only “trick” is to thoroughly wash and dry all the greens.

Try not to make the salad too far in advance. The dressing, however, can be kept in a jar in the refrigerator for at least a week. The salad can be served as a “condiment” with grilled fish, meat, cheese, bread or as a traditional salad.

Serve with crusty toasted bread. Serves 4 as side dish or 2 as a more main-course salad.

The Lemon-Chive Dressing

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 scallion, very thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 large lemon, about 2 1/2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

The Salad

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored, cut in half and very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel fronds (the dill like herb on top of the fennel bulb), finely chopped
  • 4 radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Italian-style parsley, chopped with stems, about 2 packed cups, or 1 cup parsley and 1 cup young dandelion greens, stems removed and large leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill (and stems), chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, removed from stems and torn or coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing: In a small jar or bowl, mix all the ingredients and taste for seasoning, adding more lemon, oil, salt or pepper as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a shallow salad bowl or large plate, mix all the salad ingredients.
  3. Just before serving, toss the salad with half the dressing. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Arugula Pesto

This green pesto features the peppery bite of spring arugula, not traditional basil, and is as comfortable on pasta or grilled salmon as it is spread onto a slice of crusty bread.

Makes about 1 cup.

Ingredients

  • 4 packed cups tender arugula, with or without stems, depending on how tender they are
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Speck red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Instructions

  1. Place the arugula (and the stems if they are young and tender) in the bowl of a food processor. Whirl to chop. Add the garlic and whirl. Slowly add the oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using.
  2. When almost fully pureed, remove from the food processor and place in a bowl or jar. Stir in the cheese and taste for seasoning.

Sauteed Watercress With Ginger And Soy

You may think of watercress as something you put in a pretty tea sandwich or as a garnish for other foods. But watercress, a spring green, can take center stage.

This is the simplest stir fry imaginable: Fresh spring watercress is stir fried with shallots, garlic, ginger, a touch of red chile flakes and a splash of soy sauce. The whole dish takes under 15 minutes. Serve with steamed white or brown rice.

You can easily add or substitute spring spinach, sorrel and/or dandelion greens. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large shallot, or 2 medium, cut into thin slices
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large bunches watercress*
  • Pinch red chile flakes, optional
  • About 1 to 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari

*If the watercress and its stems taste tender, add them. If not, remove them. Wash watercress and thoroughly dry before cooking.

Instructions

  1. In a wok or a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute, stirring to make sure the aromatics don’t burn.
  2. Raise the heat to high and add the watercress and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until wilted and just soft. Add a pinch of chile flakes and the soy sauce and cook another minute, letting the sauce boil, stirring frequently. Serve hot.

Spring Sorrel Soup

Sorrel is an early spring green that has a subtle lemony flavor — it’s slightly bitter, but pleasing. It grows wild in many fields and gardens in early spring and the more it matures, the stronger the flavor becomes. It’s really easy to grow and can also be found at farmers markets and specialty food shops.

We have it growing wild in and around our garden; I can always identify the leaves by taking a small bite of the green and discovering the lemon flavor. You can also add or substitute spring spinach or dandelion greens. Potatoes make for a thicker soup, but if you want more of a thin green broth, you can omit them.

One of the best things about this soup (other than the flavor) is that it works equally well served hot or ice cold on a hot spring day. Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large leek, cut lengthwise and into small pieces
  • 1 large potato, or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 5 packed cups sorrel, cleaned and picked over, discard any tough stems, plus 1/2 cup sorrel for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • About 1/3 to 1/2 cup cream, depending on how creamy you want the soup to be

Instructions

  1. In a large soup pot heat the butter and oil over low heat. Add the leeks, stir well and cover. Cook about 10 minutes, making sure the leek isn’t browning. Remove the lid and add the potato, salt and pepper to taste and stir well.
  2. Add the stock, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low, stir in the 5 packed cups of sorrel, cover, and let simmer about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and, using an immersion blender or food processor, blend the soup. Taste for seasoning. Return to the pot, add 1/3 cup of the cream, and simmer gently. Taste again for seasoning adding more cream if you like; you can also drizzle a little cream on top just before serving.
  4. To serve, spoon the soup into a bowl and garnish with some of the remaining sorrel leaves. The soup is delicious hot or cold.
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018

'The Handmaid's Tale' Returns For Season 2

Hulu’s Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning drama series “The Handmaid’s Tale” debuts its second season Wednesday.

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans (@Deggans) says the new episodes reach beyond the story in Margaret Atwood’s source novel in surprising and complex ways.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018

French President Macron Caps Off State Visit; Mounting Questions About VA Nominee

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Political strategists Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) and Paris Dennard (@PARISDENNARD) join Here & Now‘s Robin Young and Eric Westervelt (@Ericnpr) to discuss French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Washington this week, and his difference of opinion with President Trump on the Iran nuclear deal.

Also, they discuss mounting questions in Congress amid allegations against White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, President Trump’s pick to be Veterans Affairs director.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018 BY Jerad Walker

Songs We Love: Turtlenecked, 'Knocked Down By Another Ghost'

Turtlenecked's High Scores of the Heart is out on April 27.
Turtlenecked's High Scores of the Heart is out on April 27.

Harrison Smith is at the forefront of a new generation of young rock musicians who've never known anything other than limitless possibilities. Smith's project, Turtlenecked, has been steadily fulfilling that potential since 2015. Although he often performs as a drummer, Smith plays every instrument in the band and largely produces and writes his own material, which has grown leaps and bounds in just a few years.

His latest release, an EP titled High Scores of the Heart, is so polished that you might be surprised to find out that he is still just an undergrad at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. But on the album's lead track, "Knocked Down By Another Ghost," Smith subtly hints at his youth by singing, "Cigarettes coffee and ramen / It's almost as romantic as I'd like / Except that being sickly never feels really good / And my mom is gonna kill me when she listens to these lines."

It's a moment of levity in an otherwise lyrically dark song that touches on depression, therapy, and mortality. That being said, you'll have to crane your neck to follow the narrative. Smith's voice is an instrument in and of itself and he contorts it like a carnival act through thumping bass lines, video game guitars and a singalong chorus. The result is an ambitious three-minute masterpiece that hints at much more to come from Turtlenecked.


High Scores of the Heart is out on April 27 via Good Cheer Records.

Copyright 2018 opbmusic.org. To see more, visit opbmusic.org.
Apr 25, 2018

The Rise And Fall Of K Street Kingpin Tony Podesta

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Once one of Washington’s most influential lobbyists, Tony Podesta has lost a fortune — and much of his political clout — since the 2016 election. His firm was a mainstay of Democratic Party lobbying for nearly 30 years until it closed last year. Podesta himself is saddled with debt from travel, real estate and lavish art purchases.

Here & Now‘s Eric Westervelt (@Ericnpr) talks with reporter Julie Bykowicz (@bykowicz), who wrote about Podesta with her Wall Street Journal colleague Brody Mullins.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018

Michigan Police And A Row Of Semitrailers Prevent Attempted Suicide

Police in Michigan parked a row of semitrailers under an overpass Tuesday morning to prevent a man from committing suicide by jumping onto an interstate highway.

https://twitter.com/mspmetrodet/status/988789208562225153

Here & Now‘s Robin Young speaks with Lt. Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police (@MichStatePolice).

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018

Go Into The Studio And 'Start Flicking Paint Around': Keith Urban On Making 'Graffiti U'

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Grammy Award-winning country music artist Keith Urban is out with his ninth studio album, called “Graffiti U.”

Urban (@KeithUrban) tells Here & Now‘s Eric Westervelt (@Ericnpr) that most of the songs were written in the studio, which inspired the album’s name.

“The studio to me is like a blank canvas,” he says. “I go in and just start flicking paint around and start building really an album from there. No preconceived idea, just creating in the moment.”

Interview Highlights

On what he thinks of as home

“Well, really for me, where my wife and our daughters are is home. But that song [‘Coming Home’] the inspiration for that song actually features a sample from a Merle Haggard song called ‘Mama Tried.’

“Hearing that lick, I wanted to use it in the song. But what I was surprised at was that it actually informed the whole story because when I heard it, it made me think of home, of growing up in Australia and my dad’s record collection. And all of a sudden the chorus came out, and it became apparent what the song was about. And also, I mean, I’ve lived in Nashville 26 years now, but when I first moved here, it was the town I wanted to be in and I was excited, my dreams were here, but it wasn’t home home. And unlike most people, I couldn’t get in my car and go home for the weekend. So that feeling has always stayed with me and all of that came out.”

On how he became interested in country music growing up in Australia

“My influences were from my dad’s record collection, which was, you know, back then was all Johnny Cash and Charley Pride and Merle Haggard and all of it. I mean that was my first influences, but then I played in cover bands. You know, I quit school at 15, and I was played four hours a night, five nights a week in a cover band and playing anything, top 40, playing just everything. And so my music, even looking back now, I realize why it’s such a fusion of so many things, and it’s very, very apparent on ‘Graffiti U’ how all those styles have come together.”

On how his music fuses country with elements of rock, pop and hip-hop

“I have a deep, deep respect for country music and the history of country music, but the history of country music is also full of this conundrum, challenge situation, environment, whatever you want to call it. Really when Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley started making records in the mid ’50s, they were really the first ones to start making these records have more of a crossover appeal. And you have an artist like Eddie Arnold who was a pop country, really the first pop country star making records. I mean, Jim Reeves put out ‘Four Walls,’ and that was a big country hit and a big pop hit simultaneously. You move into the ’60s, you see Glen Campbell with songs like ‘Wichita Lineman,’ ‘Galveston,’ [which were] huge country and pop hits. You have Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, ‘Islands in the Stream,’ ‘9 to 5.’ Country and pop have always intermingled, and 2018 is no different.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Apr 25, 2018 BY Stephen Kallao

Ben Harper And Charlie Musselwhite On World Cafe

Ben Harper (left) and Charlie Musselwhite (right)
Ben Harper (left) and Charlie Musselwhite (right)

In 2013, roots musician Ben Harper teamed up with legendary harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite for a blues record called Get Up! The album went on to win a Grammy for best blues album — not a bad way to start a partnership. So it would make sense for them to get back and record a new album, and that's exactly what they did with their latest project, No Mercy In This Land.

Ben Harper has been making music for almost a quarter century and in that time he's released well known hits like "Steal My Kisses" and "Diamonds On The Inside," as well as other works with The Innocent Criminals and Relentless7. All the while, Charlie Musselwhite has been playing harp with everyone over his 51-year career, from Muddy Waters to Cyndi Lauper to INXS. A little over 20 years ago, Ben and Charlie appeared on a John Lee Hooker record and a friendship was born.

In this session, we talk about the duo's working relationship, where they find common ground musically, and personally. They're both sober — Charlie for a while, and Ben, more recently — and as you'll hear in our conversation, they've got a strong connection that compliments their music. Listen in the player.

Copyright 2018 XPN. To see more, visit XPN.

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