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

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.

Patty Painter-Wakefield
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.

Tom Dooley sign, Blue Ridge Parkway
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.” 

A sample mug from Will McCanless of 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.

Back Porch Music Center Stage Logo
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.

NC Composer Robert Ward
Robert Willett / News & Observer

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.

Keith Weston
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.

Back Porch Music Logo
Digital Chips

In addition to a pile of good music on Sunday night's Back Porch Music, you'll have the opportunity for two ticket give-aways.  Those are:

Karal Bonoff at the Carrboro ArtsCenter:

and The Gibson Brothers Brothers at the Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh:

For the first time since 2005, our friends over at UNC-TV will air a concert with Doc Watson and David Holt sharing stories and songs. The 1998 concert  features extended on-stage interviews with Doc Watson, relating the music to North Carolina and providing context and history.

Steep Canyon Rangers 'Nobody Knows You' wins Grammy for best bluegrass album of 2012
Steep Canyon Rangers

Here's an update on how some artists with North Carolina connections fared at the Grammys on Sunday February 10.  This article was originally prepared as a Grammy preview looking at the Carolina Chocolate Drops and The Avett Brothers with some of their recent appearances on "The State of Things" on WUNC.

Update 6:11 p.m.

"The Goat Rodeo Sessions" from Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile win for Best Folk Album 2012, edging out the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

DCD / WUNC

With 57 minutes and 52 seconds of goodness from Back Porch Music, here's a sampling of our Best of BPM CD offered during the WUNC fund drives. 

WUNC's Back Porch Music hosts, Keith Weston and Freddy Jenkins, join Eric Hodge to chat about this past year's memorable acoustic and roots music releases and to remember some of the important musicians who left us this year.


Picks mentioned in the conversation:

Artist - Album Title
I Draw Slow - Redhills
Midtown Dickens - Home
Darrell Scott & Tim O'Brien - Live: We're Usually A Lot Better Than This
The Grass Cats - The Mountains My Baby and Me
Matt Flinner Trio - Winter Harvest
 

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