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."

Anthony Kearns singing at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
gageskidmore / Flickr

Twenty-two year-old Anthony Kearns was working in sales when he decided to try out for the radio competition "Ireland's Search for a Tenor." He earned an in-person audition after singing "Danny Boy" over the phone. After hitchhiking across Ireland, he won the entire competition.  

Host Frank Stasio talks with Anthony Kearns, member of The Irish Tenors about his journey. The Irish Tenors are performing tonight at the Carolina Theater in Durham.   

Soul Central Band

His name is Bobby 'Jaybird' Williams. He works at a diner in Greensboro, and he sings while he works. A lot. Sometimes he dances. 

He says he's worked with the family that owns Fincastles for a long time. He worked with them as a warehouse manager and he sang then. Now he has a bigger stage at the restaurant. 

And his band, Soul Central is also performing regularly.

The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy / ECU Creative Writing department


The United States military today has a diverse array of service men and women. But in the early 20th Century, that was far from the case. In World War II, African American men were still predominantly relegated to minor roles. The B-1 Navy band began to change that. It was made up of the first African American men to hold a position higher than messman in the United States Navy. And it was the first of many black World War II Navy bands. 

African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina / unc press

Maceo Parker, Billy Taylor, Thelonius Monk: many soul and jazz legends have North Carolina roots. The new book "African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina," creates a road map of African American musical history.

Kat Robichaud was a musician long before she got her big break on this season of NBC’s  “The Voice.” She was in a cover band for years before landing a spot on the hit television series. She was eliminated from the show a few weeks ago, but said on the State of Things today that her time there was a highlight of her career.

"It was a dream come true," she said. "It was amazing."

Hillside High School Marching Band


The Hillside High School Marching Hornets is one of the premier marching bands in the state. The Durham band hails from one of North Carolina's only historically-black schools. Generations of families in Durham have marched with the Hornets. A new documentary, One Band Indivisble, follows a year in the life of the Marching Hornets. 

Musicians from New Music Raleigh perform in a production called Penelope at Kings Barcade.


Indy Rock does a good job of getting new music out to the ears of listeners. The same cannot be said of classical style music or opera. 

The Steep Canyon Rangers


2013 has been a huge year for the western North Carolina bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers. The band released a new album “Tell The Ones I Love,” won a Grammy award for “Best Bluegrass Album,”  and toured with actor Steve Martin.

The Hot at Nights are a Raleigh jazz trio with flare.

They have played some of the hottest jazz spots across the country. Now they appear on The State of Things to promote their new album, “Try This!” Host Frank Stasio talks with the band about their new album and they play live in the studio.

Duke Performances

You may know Nick Sanborn as the bassist of Megafaun, but his musical influence in the Triangle spreads far beyond that.

Rocking Out At Recess

Oct 18, 2013
Justin Roberts

The New York Times calls him, “the Judy Blume of kiddie rock,” and USA Today says he is “hands down the best songwriter in the genre.” Grammy-nominated children’s musician Justin Roberts writes not only for young audiences but for parents and grandparents as well. He and the Not Ready for Naptime Players will play at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Host Frank Stasio talks with Roberts about his music. /

The band Schooner’s journey to their first national release of an album was not without bumps in the road.

Founder Reid Johnson created a new line-up of members after the band nearly broke up in 2007. The composition of the band changed again for the latest album, Neighborhood Veins. Host Frank Stasio talks to Schooner, and they play live in the studio.



The 100 Men in Black Male Chorus doesn't quite live up to its name -- they haven't broken the 100-man mark yet, but that's not stopping them from recording their voices for posterity. /


While the pink ribbons of breast cancer garner considerable public attention, other, more deadly cancers affecting women fall far from the spotlight.

Jazz great Branford Marsalis joins the State of Things to speak about his work.
Palma Kolansky

Grammy-award winning artist Branford Marsalis is one of the world’s leading jazz artists. In a career spanning more than three decades, the saxophonist has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music across an array of genres. 

Gross Ghost plays the main stage at the Hopscotch Music Festival in 2013.
Soleil Konkel

Before Mike Dillon and Tre Acklen formed the band Gross Ghost, they were friends and roommates.  They lived in a rural area on the outskirts on Raleigh and started creating music to combat boredom and cabin fever. Five years after the start of their friendship, they are releasing their second album, Public Housing.  

America's Music is a film and performance series at the North Regional Branch of Wake County Libraries.

America’s Music is a film and performance series that traces the soundtrack of a nation. The program features documentary screenings and discussions about the history of 20th century American popular music from blues to Broadway and bluegrass to rock 'n' roll. /

Chandler Kelley of the band The Hotels describes their music as, “a trashy, drunk version of big radio pop.”

The Lost Bayou Ramblers play songs from their new album Mammoth Waltz on The State of Things.
Lost Bayou Ramblers

Last year's independent film Beasts of the Southern Wild was a surprise box office hit.  The movie garnered four Oscar nominations and near universal acclaim. The soundtrack to the swampland fantasy prominently featured the music of The Lost Bayou Ramblers, a band born in Louisiana’s Cajun country. Host Frank Stasio talks with band members Louis Michot, Andre Michot, Cavan Carruth and Pauly Deathwish about their blended sound and the film. 

 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:

The album cover for Superchunk's latest alum,'I Hate Music.'

After 24 years together, the Chapel Hill indie-rock group Superchunk is releasing their 10th studio album, I Hate Music.  

Host Frank Stasio talks with band members Mac McCaughan and Jim Wilbur about the quirky album title and the band’s evolution. They will also perform  acoustic versions of their latest songs.

North Carolina-based Balsam Range raked in the second-most nominations for IBMA Awards Wednesday night.
Balsam Range

The International Bluegrass Music Association's 2013 award ceremony isn't coming to Raleigh until mid-September, but the excitement has already made it to town. Fans gathered at three viewing parties Wednesday night for live announcements of the IMBA Award nominees. 

Cover of the book 'Sounds of War: Music in the United States during World War II'.
Philip E Pascuzzo/National Archives / Oxford University Press


World War II was fought not only with guns and bombs but also with strings, brass, and percussion.

The American government used classical music as part of the war effort to demonstrate the cultural dominance of the Allies. The military also used songs to rally American troops.

Stephen Reynolds is an astrophysicist at North Carolina State University.

In the age of the Internet, it sometimes seems as though no questions remain unanswered. But for Stephen Reynolds, the mystery is only beginning.