Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Earlier this month, pop singer Adele took home the Grammy for album of the year for her album “25.” Many people, including Adele, believed the award should have gone to Beyonce for the album “Lemonade.” But Adele’s accolade is in line with how Grammys have been doled out in recent years; a black artist has not won album of the year since Herbie Hancock in 2008.

Dom Flemons, the host of WUNC’s American Songster Radio Podcast, has a role in the new CMT TV series Sun Records, which premieres tonight (Thursday 2/23) at 10 PM on CMT.  

Courtesy of Frank Stephenson Jr.

Moonshine has shaped the culture and economy of North Carolina for hundreds of years. In the 19th century, sales from moonshine helped fund Civil War efforts, while in the 20th century, moonshine jump started the careers of prominent NASCAR drivers. North Carolina writer Frank Stephenson Jr. considers himself a lifelong student of moonshine. As a youth, he joined his father, a part-time deputy, on moonshine busting raids.  As an adult, he set out on a quest to explore the legacy of moonshine throughout the state. 


Cowboy Songs: American Songster Radio Podcast Episode 9

Feb 21, 2017
Dom Flemons, 2nd from left, with Brian Farrow, Cowboy Celtic, Sourdough Slim and Robert Armstrong
Vania Marie Kinard

What makes a song a folk song, anyway?

One familiar answer is that a folk song is a song without an author. Folk song scholars even have a name for the theory that some songs emerge without any one person composing them. They call it "communal creation."

Brandon Eggleston

In his new novel “Universal Harvester” (Farrar, Straus, Giraux/2017), writer and musician John Darnielle revisits an era about 20 years ago when video rentals were in high demand. The book features a young man named Jeremy Heldt who works at a video store in rural Iowa. Heldt discovers that somebody is splicing mysterious footage into some of the tapes.

Live from the World Science Festival

Feb 20, 2017
Michael Massimino
Jason Falchook

Mike Massimino must take to swimming before he can take off to outer space.

George Church tests his own strength of will as a human-guinea pig for science.

Sylvia Earle explores the ocean's depths as a pioneering aquanaut.

Menu Mysteries: Wolfdown Edition

Feb 17, 2017
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Lopez, Kristina

This isn’t just any main course this week. We’re launching something new: an occasional series we are calling “Menu Mysteries.” We check out a restaurant’s menu and have the chef decode some of the lesser known ingredients on it.

For this inaugural outing, Rico went to Wolfdown in Los Angeles. It’s a new restaurant from chef Jason Kim, who also runs a place called Forage.

The Health Nut Who Invented Corn Flakes

Feb 17, 2017
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Lopez, Kristina

The History Lesson

John Harvey Kellogg wasn’t your average 19th-century doctor.

At a time when the American diet was mainly meat and potatoes, he advocated vegetarianism. Today, we’d laud him for that, but we might question some other moves he said would lead to excellent health. Like, standing inside an electrified metal cage. Or undergoing — sorry, there’s no nice way to put this — daily water and yogurt enemas.

School haze

Feb 17, 2017

Across the country, thousands of public schools are within 500 feet of pollution-choked roads like highways and truck routes. Next time on Reveal, we investigate the high levels of exhaust surrounding U.S. schools and how the bad air is affecting the millions of children who are breathing it in.

Krista Tippett, host On Being
Peter Beck

Many people think that listening means just being quiet while someone else talks. But public radio host Krista Tippett says it an art form that must be practiced.

The Collection

The Collection started out as a Greensboro-based group with 15 members rotating in as a part of the group’s line up. The collective has now become more of a band with seven concrete members. But the group still sticks to its indie folk roots in it’s upcoming album “Listen to the River.”

A drawing of a body and an empty canoe.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

When people imagine having a superpower, invisibility is a popular choice. On this week's Criminal podcast, we'll hear stories about people who successfully disappeared by faking their own deaths.

Criminal host Phoebe Judge says it's a tough trick to pull off, but has been a popular pursuit. How-to guides were popular in the 1980s, but those are now outdated, Judge says, now that we all have digital footprints to follow.

Sound Opinions Show

Feb 16, 2017

The Gotobeds are known for outrageous stage antics and a biting sense of humor. But behind that is a lyrical sophistication and tight musicianship. The Pittsburgh post-punk band joins hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot for a raucous performance in the studio. Plus, a review of the new album from Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco and Jim has pick for the Desert Island Jukebox. 

Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist Talib Kweli entered the music scene in the late 1990s as one half of the duo Black Star. The group stressed the importance of lyricism and wrestled with systems of inequality through rap. Since then, Kweli has maintained a reputation as a “conscious rapper.” He’s collaborated with other hip-hop artists like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Durham-based producer 9th Wonder.

Actor Meshaun Labrone playing Stokely Carmichael in a new one-man show.
DJ Corey Photography / Courtesy of the Artist

In the early 1960s, Stokely Carmichael was a relatively-unknown young activist working primarily with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Alabama and Mississippi. But he rose to prominence in the summer of 1966 when he introduced the term “black power” into the national dialogue.

A picture of Mike Doughty
Rachelandthecity / Chartroom Media

Rocker Mike Doughty has a new collection of songs called The Heart Watches While The Brain Burns. It's his ninth solo record and his first since leaving his longtime home in Brooklyn for the southern comforts of Memphis.  He recently played at The Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, and came to WUNC for a chat.

You can hear more of Mike's songs on WUNC Music on our HD2 channel, streaming at WUNC.org or through TuneIn.

Courtesy Michael McFee

Poet Michael McFee is known for creating rich images of his native Appalachia that are grounded in the simplicity of everyday life and in the unique language used by his family over generations.

In his new collection, "We Were Once Here" (Carnegie Mellon/2017), the cast-iron skillet, chewing tobacco spit, and linguistic peculiarities of the mountains become anchors for stories woven from memories.

VG Photography

Comedian Aparna Nancherla is well known for her absurdist wit and introspective reflections. Her style is captured perfectly on her Twitter account, where she shares one-liners like, “I like to call therapy baggage claim,” and, “I once dated an apostrophe.Too possessive.”

A picture of Jason Isbell with a guitar.
Michael Wilson / Jason Isbell

Songs We Love is a series and a podcast that looks at the stories behind some of the songs we're playing on our new music discovery stream, WUNC Music.

This time, Eric Hodge sits down with Jason Isbell to discuss his song "Cover Me Up" from the album Southeastern.

Isbell says the song is an intimate look at a broken relationship, but also a plea for redemption.

Listen to their conversation here:

Ottessa Moshfegh’s 3 Favorite Wanderers and Weirdos

Feb 10, 2017
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Lopez, Kristina

Ottessa Moshfegh is a frequent contributor to the literary magazine The Paris Review. And her novel “Eileen” was shortlisted for the twenty-sixteen Man Booker prize. Her latest work is a collection of stories about characters on the fringes of society — it’s called “Homesick for Another World.”

Beer for Breakfast? We Try the Danish Dish Øllebrød

Feb 10, 2017
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Lopez, Kristina

We’ve talked before about the rebirth of Scandinavian cuisine and Brendan did a story from Copenhagen on how their open-faced sandwiches are a thing that’s become trendy, but we’ve never heard about a common Danish breakfast food that Brendan has been calling “beer porridge.”

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Lopez, Kristina

Ian Simpson, better known by his stage name Kevin Abstract, is a Texas native who won a diehard following online with a series of confessional hip-hop mixtapes. His new album “American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story” moves in a more pop direction, and sees him both rapping and singing about never quite fitting in. He heads out on a national tour later this month. Here’s Kevin with a playlist that’ll keep your party moving… through time itself.

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Lopez, Kristina

[Ed note: The audio above is an extended web cut of the interview. The transcript below reflects the broadcast version of the chat.]

Our guest of honor this week is playwright/actor/rapper extraordinaire Lin-Manuel Miranda. In 2008, his musical “In The Heights” won the Tony for Best Musical. His follow-up “Hamilton” — about our nation’s first treasury secretary — broke box office records and earned him a bunch of Tonys, a Grammy and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Deadly waters

Feb 10, 2017

The U.S. Navy spends tens of billions of dollars each year building and repairing ships. But how safe are the shipyards where that work is done? Reveal investigates how lax safety has been allowed to persist at shipyards that thrive on military contracts. The hour also will explore one of the newest warships in the Navy’s fleet and whether it’s living up to expectations. And we'll tell the story of one man’s unexplained disappearance on the high seas.

Courtesy Marsha Gordon

Starting in the 1950s, filmmaker Sam Fuller produced war films that gave his characters room to question the design of war and their role in it. He also raised conversations about equality of men on and off the battlefield. North Carolina State University film professor Marsha Gordon authored a new book on Fuller's work called, "Film is like a Battleground" (Oxford University Press/2017) that explores his legacy of genre shifting war films.

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