Keith Weston

Web Producer & Back Porch Music Host @keithweston

Keith Weston was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He attended UNC-CH  where he earned a BA in English and Philosophy in 1984. His family (both sides) can trace roots in NC back to the 1770s and 80s.

Keith has always had an interest in radio. He built an AM transmitter from a Radio Shack kit when he was 7 and began broadcasting to his neighbors.  For more than 12 years, Keith also ran an alternative music on-line radio station, Deeper Into Music.

Keith Weston listening to a record player in his parents' living room circa late 1964/early 1965.
Credit Pat Weston

  Since then he's worked in both commercial and non-commercial radio - from classic rock to country music - landing at WUNC in 1987.

Keith hosted classical music and co-hosted the afternoon mix of jazz, classical, folk, and news on WUNC until 2001. Since then he's been a producer/director for The State of Things and currently is the station's web master and Back Porch Music host on Sunday evenings.

In his early teens he collected QSL cards by listening to shortwave stations broadcasting from Holland, Australia, USSR, South Africa, Canada, China, and dozens of other locations. He still dusts off his shortwave set from time to time to try to pull in a distant station.

Here's a video of Keith pulling in Radio Australia one morning in his home office:

Keith is interested in a wide range of music, from Gyorgi Legetti to Yo La Tengo and collects obscure 1960s psychedelic recordings. He owns a guitar - but hasn't yet fully captured the nuances of "Smoke on the Water."  He admits to being an Internet addict, reads too much E. A. Poe (his favorite) and likes watching movies by his distant relative, Oliver Hardy (of Laurel and Hardy fame).  

Keith's radio resume includes stints spinning adult contemporary hits at WCHL (Chapel Hill), playing hot country music at now-defunct WRBX (Durham), spinning "North Carolina's BEST rock" at WKZL (Winston-Salem), college radio DJing for WXYC (Chapel Hill). He also briefly played classical music at WFDD (Winston-Salem) and spun tunes at college radio station WXDU (Durham).

Personal website

Interactive county map with Wake County highlighted
Keith Weston

Even the most informed citizens sometimes lose track of all the chatter that’s going on in the General Assembly. Fights between Republicans and Democrats, the Governor and fellow Republicans, teachers and legislators – at some point, for even the most insatiable news junkie, it devolves into just so much noise.

Conductor Grant Llewellyn with the North Carolina Symphony - Logo for 2014 Broadcast Concerts
WUNC / North Carolina Symphony

It's a command performance by the North Carolina Symphony at your house.  Well, sort of.

Beginning Monday evening, June 30, and for the next three nights following, you have the opportunity to enjoy an evening of classical music at home when you tune in for the North Carolina Symphony broadcast concerts series. The hour-long concerts, hosted by David Hartman, begin each evening at 9 p.m.

DJ A-Khan and DJ Bounce kicking it in the studio.
Ryan Levin / Beat Making Lab

This week WUNC is partnering with The Beat Making Lab in Chapel Hill on a free summer camp for high schoolers where students take existing WUNC news stories, remix them, and set them to a hip-hop beat.  Called Re-Mixing The News, the camp runs through June 20.

John Howie Jr. and The Rosewood Bluff performing at a Back Porch Music On The Lawn concert in 2013
Kathryn Walbert / www.kathrynwalbert.com

John Howie, Jr. started off playing drums, but it wasn't long before he switched to guitar and began making some hard-core honky-tonk music, first in the Chapel Hill-based Two Dollar Pistols and now in his current band, The Rosewood Bluff.

The latest album is called "Everything Except Goodbye."  It's chock full of heartbreak, pedal steel, upright bass and John's baritone voice.

Mad Men Mondays: Episode 6, “The Strategy”

May 19, 2014

In partnership with Duke University's Hartman Center, we continue the Mad Men Mondays series with images from the University's advertising archive that relate to Sunday night's episode.

Last night’s episode featured references to loafers, Buick, Barbie, Fondue pots, among other things.  Enjoy our selection of highlighted ads that reflect the brands and themes that Mad Men characters interacted with last night.

Episode Synopsis

Back Porch Music on the Lawn Logo
WUNC / American Tobacco

Update: 12:28 p.m. Southern Culture on the Skids to has been rescheduled for  Thursday May 22 at 6 p.m.

Update: 12:06 p.m. Due to the weather, the concert tonight with Southern Culture on the Skids and the Letter Jackets has been canceled.  We're hope to reschedule -- stay tuned for details. We'll post updates on the main Back Porch On The Lawn Concerts page.

Mad Men Mondays: Xerox, Golf Clubs And Runaways

May 12, 2014

Episode 5 from the final season of AMC's "Mad Men" has aired and as we have done over the last several Mondays, in partnership with Duke University's Hartman Center For Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, we present the next in the "Mad Men Mondays" series.

The Steep Canyon Rangers 'Tell The Ones I Love'
Rounder

Our series of Back Porch Music album reviews continues this week with three new releases reviewed by the hosts of Back Porch Music.

Steep Canyon Rangers - Tell The Ones I Love
review by Freddy Jenkins

North Carolina-based bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers follow up their 2013 Grammy Award-winning Nobody Knows You with their second recording for Rounder Records, Tell The Ones I Love. The group’s profile has been raised in recent years by their collaborations with Steve Martin and this new recording showcases their many strengths.

Working with producer Larry Campbell at Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock, NY, the band continues with their blend of bluegrass, country and folk-pop, adding just a bit more percussion on this outing. They are fine instrumentalists and have a great vocal blend. And the songwriting of Graham Sharp and Charles Humphrey is first rate as well.  A train song, “Tell The Ones I Love,” kicks off this collection of a dozen original compositions and is a highlight. Other notable selections include “Camellia,” which brings to mind Helm’s group, The Band, the shuffling “Mendocino County Blue,” and the somewhat melancholic “Boomtown.” 

Ralph Epperson, founder of WPAQ. Photographed 07/20/05.
Megan Morr / Winston-Salem Journal

This weekend people in Surry County remember a radio pioneer and North Carolina broadcasting legend, Ralph Epperson. A special WPAQ broadcast of the long-running "Merry Go-Round" program and a screening of "Broadcast - A Man and A Dream" documentary are scheduled for Saturday morning and afternoon at The Earle Theater in Mount Airy, NC.

WPAQ - "The Voice of the Blue Ridge"

Here's another installment of Back Porch Music album reviews. We're posting these periodically here with two or three CD reviews each week and we hope you enjoy them. Leave your comments below. 

Lucinda Williams - self titled

Alert Carolina sirens sounded on the UNC Chapel Hill campus following reports of an armed and dangerous person on or near the campus. Additional email and texts were sent to campus staff, students and faculty encouraging area residents to remain inside.  According to reports, a man displayed a knife or knives near the campus area known as "The Pit."

CD 'Southern Comfort' by Regina Carter
Sony Music Masterworks

This is the first in a series of Back Porch Music album reviews that Freddy Jenkins and I will be writing periodically. We'll feature new and significant historical releases worth mentioning. You'll hear some of these and hundreds of other CDs every week on the program. Leave your comments below.

One of the best parts of working at Back Porch Music is sampling all the music that comes our way from remarkable artists and sharing these artists with you. Here's a look at three that are well worth your time.

Regina Carter: Southern Comfort

Pierce Freelon (left) and Apple Juice Kid with students from the community
Beat Making Lab

In an after-school project called "Re-Mixing the News" a group of middle and high school students from Chapel Hill and Carrboro, NC, take WUNC news reports and add inspiration: beats, sound effects, and music. They create a fresh, new take on traditional journalism in the Beat Making Lab.

Q: What would happen if you put WUNC News stories in the hands of youth armed with laptops and infectious hip hop beats?  

A: You'd get Re-Mixing the News -- it's a new project WUNC launched in 2014 as a part of its American Graduate Project.  
 
WUNC is teaming up with renowned beatmakers and educators Pierce Freelon and Stephen Levitin (aka Apple Juice Kid) for this special project that will engage young people in Chapel Hill over the next several months. 

From 'The Road Home', a StoryCorps animated special
StoryCorps

No doubt you've heard StoryCorps on Friday mornings during Morning Edition. Intimate one-on-one conversations are recorded in the traveling StoryCorps booth and played back on the radio. Some years back the booth came to Durham sponsored by WUNC. One of the conversations from that Durham visit is now part of an animated series from StoryCorps.

Christmas music. It's nearly inescapable at this time of year - on the radio, in shops, in cafes, everywhere. When Phoebe Judge sat down to talk about "Christmas" with jazz double bassist John Brown, the question arose: Why would musicians want to add to the large catalog of existing Christmas songs and recordings?

"It comes from a place of joy," said the double bassist. "We wanted to take this material that's tested, tried and true and say something different about it."

President Barack Obama views student projects created on laptops during a tour of Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, N.C., June 6, 2013.
Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

Two specials will air Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday during the "The State of Things" time slots. "The State of Things" returns Monday.

Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founders Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemmings
Carolina Chocolate Drops

Dom Flemons, a co-founder of North Carolina-based Grammy award winning string band The Carolina Chocolate Drops, will leave the band in mid-December following a series of concert dates. He will be starting a solo career. 

Here's video of a dramatic Coast Guard and Navy rescue off the North Carolina Coast. Watch as the Coast Guard and the crew of the Navy destroyer USS Cole rescue three people Sunday. Those rescued were from a sailboat, Wings, located approximately 210 miles offshore of North Carolina coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

30 second samples of all the tunes on the Best of BPM Vol 16 - new for Fall 2013 and our thank-you for supporting WUNC Radio! Pledge Now. See more of our thank-you gifts.

1 Tift Merritt—Traveling Alone . . . . . . 4:45

Rachel McCarthy (left) & Carol Jackson with Dick Gordon
Jorge Valencia / The Story

New evening time for State of Things, debut of On Being and Q as The Story broadcasts end on WUNC 

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Keith Weston / WUNC

Last night a few hours after the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences had closed for the evening, a series of banjos, fiddles and mandolins paraded past the smiling security officers into an area set aside as a sort of "green room." Musicians from the World of Bluegrass festival put on by the IBMA dropped by WUNC's newly opened studios in the museum for an evening of pickin' and singin'.

IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh
IBMA

The number of banjos, mandolins and fiddles has skyrocketed in Raleigh this week as the IBMA bluegrass conference and musical event comes to town. 

The "World of Bluegrass" is an annual business conference, awards show, and multi-day concert series put on by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Raleigh hosts this year's event, and will be the host city through 2015. Last year's gathering in Nashville drew more than 13,000 attendees.

WUNC Updates During IBMA

Beth Herzhaft / Yep Roc

Friday night WUNC, Yep Roc Records, and American Tobacco present the next Back Porch Music Center Stage Concert at Diamond View Park in Durham.  The free event starts at 6 p.m. and runs for three hours with music from The Aoife O'Donovan Band and Dave Alvin with the Guilty Ones. Both performers record for Yep Roc Records based in  Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Update: Hear the broadcast Wednesday night, September 25, 8-10 p.m. on WUNC and WAMU Bluegrass Country.

A 'Rite of Spring' ballet performance
drama_huddersfield / flickr

At its premiere in Paris in 1913 Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" caused a near-riot. There's debate over whether it was the unconventional ballet score or the avant-garde choreography (or the two combined) that enraged the audience. That first audience witnessed surprisingly modern music and evocative, provocative dance. Conductor Grant Llewellyn explains:

Today, the piece is considered a masterpiece and to mark its 100th anniversary, the North Carolina Symphony presents it with Grant Llewellyn conducting as part of the August 26 broadcast concert here on WUNC. The program airs Monday night at 10 p.m. It was recorded in Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh.

"Vibrant" and "virtuosic" are two of the words used by series host David Hartman to introduce the explosive "Fireworks" by Stravinsky that opens this program.  It's a short orchestral piece that prefigures a later work by Stravinksy, "The Firebird."

Sir Edward Elgar
P.D.

"A musical mystery. Sir Edward Elgar's 'Enigma Variations' have confounded music scholars and music fans since its premiere. Elgar tells us that the theme is never actually played during the piece.  So, just what is the theme and where did it come from?"

So begins series host David Hartman's introduction to the broadcast concert of the North Carolina Symphony for Monday August 19. The program airs on WUNC at 10 p.m. and will be available for on-line listening for the week following.

During the course of the broadcast conductor Grant Llewellyn presents some of the theories that try to get to the bottom of the Elgar enigma. The piece itself is a series of fourteen variations.  The missing part is the theme. Generally, when a composer presents a series of variations, either the theme is a well known and obvious tune (like, say, "Yankee Doodle") or the theme is clearly stated at the beginning of the piece. In the "Enigma Variations" that foundation is missing.

For Elgar's own first performance of the piece the composer wrote: "The Enigma I will not explain - its 'dark saying' must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the connection between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme 'goes', but is not played." Additionally, Elgar dedicated the piece to "my friends pictured within" as each variation is presented as an affectionate portrayal of someone Elgar knew.

See if you can solve the heretofore unsolved musical mystery as you join Grant Llewellyn in search of the answer to Elgar's "Enigma Variations."

 Jeff Crawford, host Eric Hodge, Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz
Al Wodarski / WUNC

Mandolin Orange is a Chapel Hill-based duo combining the talents of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz. Mixing elements of folk and traditional elements with rock n roll and country music, their music is predominantly acoustic-based featuring guitars, mandolins, fiddles mixed in with various other instruments. Both Emily and Andrew grew up in North Carolina and their roots show in their songs.

Mandolin Orange have just released their latest.  It's called "This Side of Jordan." 

Andrew and Emily along with bassist Jeff Crawford dropped by the WUNC studios, checked into Last Motel, and chatted with Eric Hodge for Sunday's broadcast. They play some tunes in-studio from their new album.  You can hear the full interview and conversation Sunday night August 18 at 6 p.m. Here's a highlight:


Conductor William Henry Curry
NC Symphony

The second in the series of August broadcast concerts by the North Carolina Symphony features two works by American composers, Aaron Copland and Charles Ives. The program airs at 10 p.m. on Monday, August 12.

Copland's Lincoln Portrait

During the Second World War Aaron Copland was asked to write a patriotic work. After first considering Walt Whitman, Copland then settled upon Abraham Lincoln for the work's subject.  Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" is for speaker and orchestra, combining a biographic sketch with texts from letters and speeches.  It also features melodic nods to popular tunes of the day, such as "Camptown Races" and other popular folk songs. The work was completed and first performed in 1942.

The North Carolina Symphony performed the work in honor of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln' Emancipation Proclamation of 1 January 1863.  David Hartman, who is also the host of the North Carolina Symphony broadcast series, is the narrator. The Symphony is lead by its resident conductor, William Henry Curry.

Ives's Second Symphony - A "Hair-Raising" Finish

American composer Charles Ives learned much about music from his father. Charles was born in October 1874 in Danbury, Connecticut. The elder Ives taught his son popular tunes from the age of the Civil War, as well as other music and hymns. In fact, "Camptown Races" and other popular tunes serve as an underpinning of the Symphony No. 2, but are not directly quoted musically as in the "Lincoln Portrait."

"He's a visionary and a Yankee contrarian with a great sense of humor," conductor William Henry Curry tells host David Hartman. These qualities show through in the ending of Ives's Symphony No. 2 in a jarring cluster of notes. This is  meant to replicate the sour notes from a barn dance where amateur  musicians would intentionally play something "off" at the end of the night to signal the end of the dance. "It was a way of saying good night folks, time to go home now," continued Curry.  "Ives caps this symphony with a completely crazy cluster of sounds. It really is hair-raising."

The symphony was premiered in 1951, some fifty years after it was completed, by The New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Some commentators referred to the closing discord as a sort of "Bronx cheer."

Music Director Grant Llewellyn
Michael Zirkle

Our first North Carolina Symphony broadcast for the 2013 Summer season presents the Symphony's Music Director Grant Llewellyn conducting Sibelius's Symphony No. 2.

Jean Sibelius began writing his Second Symphony while vacationing in Italy in 1901. It departs sonically from some of his other work composed in his native Finland in that it's sometimes described as more "sunny" and "uplifting" than his other compositions from around the same time. Also, some listeners hear a nationalistic current that imagines a Finland free of Russian domination.

"Some people would say that the Second Symphony is perhaps uncharacteristic  of his symphonic output in that in that it is as Romantic as it is, " said Llewellyn while talking with host David Hartman. However, he doesn't see the work as sunny reaction to a holiday in Italy as some might propose. "I think it's as terrifying in places as anything he ever wrote. The second movement is thorny and sort of monolithic. It's sort of cataclysmic stuff. This is the Sibelius of the endless forest and lakes."

"I have an opportunity to see this landscape (of Sibelius) because I conduct in Finland three or four times every year and I'm beginning to get a real sense of the epic proportions of that country. And, I see it immediately in the Second Symphony," continued Llewellyn.

This first broadcast also features a recording of Sibelius’s Humoresque No. 1 in D minor for Violin and Orchestra, played by Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Staatskapelle Dresden, with Andre Previn conducting.

Pages