Keith Weston

Web Producer & Back Porch Music Host @keithweston

Keith listening to his parent's hi-fi circa late 1963
Credit Pat Weston

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. 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.

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.

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). A North Carolina native, his family can trace roots in NC back to the 1780s.  For more than 12 years, Keith also ran an alternative music on-line radio station, Deeper Into Music.

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 BEST rock" at WKZL (Winston-Salem), college radio DJing for WXYC (Chapel Hill) and briefly playing classical music at WFDD (Winston-Salem) and college radio DJing for WXDU (Durham).

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NC Symphony Broadcast
6:07 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

A Musical Mystery, "The Enigma Variations" - NC Symphony Broadcast For Aug 19

Sir Edward Elgar
Credit 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.

Conductor Grant Llewellyn puts on his sleuthing cap and joins the audience in the search for the answer to Elgar's Enigma Variations. (Short excerpt from this NC Symphony broadcast of Aug 19)

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."

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Last Motel
5:47 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Mandolin Orange On Last Motel

L-R: Jeff Crawford, host Eric Hodge, Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz. Mandolin Orange appear on 'Last Motel' on Sunday Aug 18 at 6 p.m.
Credit 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:

Mandolin Orange chat with Eric Hodge during 'Last Motel' about their new album 'This Side of Jordan.' They play a song from that new release just out.

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NC Symphony Broadcast
7:37 pm
Sun August 11, 2013

Abraham Lincoln And "Hair-Raising" Music - NC Symphony Broadcast For Aug 12

Conductor William Henry Curry
Credit 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."

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NC Symphony Broadcast
12:00 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

"Romantic And Terrifying," Grant Llwellyn Leads The NC Symphony In Sibelius

Music Director Grant Llewellyn
Credit 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.

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WUNC Updates
12:01 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Saying "Goodbye" to Patty Painter-Wakefield

Patty Painter-Wakefield
Credit Diane Douglass Photography

Today is her last day. We say goodbye to our colleague Patty Painter-Wakefield. She and her family are moving to new opportunities out of state.

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Arts & Culture
11:36 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley

Tom Dooley sign as seen along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Credit Jan Kronsell, 2002 / Wikipedia, Wikicommons

On June 18, 1866, the body of 21-year-old Laura Foster was found in a shallow grave in Wilkes County, NC. Thomas C. Dula (Tom Dooley), a veteran of the Civil War, was tried, convicted and hanged on May 1, 1868, in Statesville, NC, for the murder.  Dula had fled to Tennessee before the discovery of the body.

Controversy surrounded the trial and conviction. The trial was covered widely in national papers including The New York Times. Dula is reported to have said on the gallows, “Gentlemen, do you see this hand? I didn’t harm a hair on the girl’s head.” 

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WUNC Fund Drive
1:47 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Six NC Potters Offer Handmade Mugs During WUNC Fund Drive

A sample mug from from McCanless Pottery
Will McCanless McCanless Pottery

Seagrove, North Carolina, located just a few miles south of the North Carolina Zoo in Randolph County, calls itself the handmade pottery capital of the United States. It is home to dozens of potters, and the tradition of pottery-making there dates back to the late 1700’s. English and German immigrants are said to have settled the area and quickly realized the value of its strong, red clay for making pots and dishes. Since then, the tradition has grown, and now the area is now a mecca for pottery and pottery-related history.

Events held there include the Seagrove Pottery Festival and the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, and the town is also home to the North Carolina Pottery Center and the Museum of Traditional NC Pottery. The Seagrove pottery directory lists dozens and dozens of potters in the area.

Six of the area potters (represented by four potteries)  are providing mugs to WUNC listeners as part of the Spring 2013 Fund Drive.  For a pledge of $120, or $10/month as a sustainer, you can choose to have WUNC send you a one-of-a-kind handmade mug created and fired in North Carolina from a Seagrove potter.

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Back Porch Music
1:41 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Four Concerts Scheduled In Expanded, Larger Back Porch Music Series In Durham

Credit American Tobacco / American Tobacco

The Celtic powerhouse band Solas will kick off the 2013 Back Porch Music concert series in Durham.  Bluegrass, local blues, and much more will be a part of the four Back Porch concerts scheduled between May and October.

The crowds at the annual Back Porch Music concerts On The Lawn at American Tobacco Campus in Durham have grown so much that "the lawn" can no longer contain the anticipated numbers. This spring and summer  the concerts will be in a much bigger space and have a more festival like feel.

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Arts & Culture
4:13 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Acclaimed NC Composer Robert Ward Dies

NC Composer Robert Ward
Credit Robert Willett / News & Observer

NC Composer Robert Ward in conversation with Keith Weston from a 1999 State of Things broadcast.

The acclaimed classical composer and Durham resident Robert Ward has died. He was 95 years old.

Ward was known and honored for his contributions to the world of classical music and was chancellor of the UNC School of the Arts (then called N.C. School of the Arts) from 1967 to 1974 before joining Duke University as a music professor.  He composed many symphonies and operas over his lifetime, including an operatic adaptation of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962.

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Arts & Culture
1:25 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

6 Tunes: Some Personal Faves I'd Like To Share With You

Keith Weston in the WUNC Back Porch library
Credit MelShoots

Every weekend it's my pleasure on Back Porch Music to share with you scores of selections from WUNC's wide-ranging folk music library.  It's always a musical adventure that I often find surprising and inspiring myself - and I hope you do, too. From fiddle tunes to singer-songwriters, the term "folk" applies to such a large range of sounds and textures.

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