So many variables determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history. On-air and online, we celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years. Let’s love these FUV Essential artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.
With Ani DiFranco is playing a sold-out show at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 10, 2018, it's a good time to revisit Ben Jaffe of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's reflection on his good friend and collaborator.
Ben Jaffe, center on double bass, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (photo by Danny Clinch, PR)
Willie Nelson, who turns 85 years old on April 29, 2018, knows he's a pretty blessed survivor. His new album, Last Man Standing, is his 73rd studio album and while it wrestles with mortality, it does so with a wistful grin, a shuffling groove, a hearty swig of beer, and a little (maybe more) weed. He's an FUV Essentials legend.
Willie Nelson (photo by Curtis Millard, PR)
Damon Albarn's diverse, compelling career has spanned Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, the Bad & the Queen, the collaborations of Africa Express, musical theatre, his own solo work and much more. A visionary musician with a workaholic's tenacity, he's one of our FUV Essentials.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra released its fourth album this year, Sex & Food, a record that found singer, songwriter and guitarist Ruban Nielson traveling the globe. And yes, a jazzy hint of Nielson's beloved Steely Dan gently ripples through new tracks like "Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays" and the tender "Hunnybee."
Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Ruban Nielson (photo by Neil Krug, PR)
As FUV celebrates Essential Songwriters during our 2018 Spring Membership Drive, now through April 20, we realize that every songwriter is essential to someone. As you tell us who your Essential Songwriters might be this week — and support the radio station you love — the FUV on-air staff has chosen some of the songwriters whom we personally treasure and revere.
Joe Henry happens to also be an enthusiastic admirer of this week's FUV Essentials artist, John Prine. When FUV asked Henry if he might like to choose "Five Essential John Prine Songs," he not only agreed, but wrote a loving and long assessment of the man and his music:
Joe Henry (photo by Glen Hansard, PR)