Jon Batiste (photo by Sasha Israel, PR)
There are so many variables that determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history and discography — so WFUV is taking a deeper look with FUV Essentials. On-air and online, we'll celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years and still continue to do so. Let’s love these essential artists while they’re here, and also honor those who have departed too soon.
The music that Sam Beam has been making for the past 15 years as Iron & Wine is born of a multitude of traditions — Southern blues, jazz, folk, gospel, bluegrass, country and more. The elemental core of his artistry is visceral, tender and wise, like something mined from the earth, and with every year, it has developed character, boldness, sweetness, and a refined complexity. Iron & Wine's Sam Beam is one of our FUV Essentials.
Sam Beam of Iron & Wine (illustration by Andy Friedman)
Nobody tells Neil Young what to do. Famously headstrong and opinionated, the determination that drove him to change gears so many times in his career is the very thing that made him a world-famous musician in the first place. For his triumph over adversity, his steely vision, his sweet heart, and for the sweat and tears he put into becoming a transcendent artist, Neil Young is one of our FUV Essentials.
Neil Young (illustration by Andy Friedman)
An inimitable artist who has the rare ability to heal, electrify and inspire with every song she's ever released, Kate Bush, is one of our FUV Essentials. From her very first single, 1978's "Wuthering Heights," to her astonishing 22-date "Before The Dawn" residency at London's Hammersmith Apollo in 2014, Bush remains one of rock and art-pop's most innovative, influential artists.
Kate Bush (illustration by Andy Friedman)
In the vast annals of this country's great builders of songs, John Prine is an indisputable master. An American songwriter of understated genius, his astute grasp of character and story defines nearly his 50-year output of recordings. Prine is an FUV Essentials artist.
John Prine (illustration by Andy Friedman)
As the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Susan Tedeschi's soulful voice and ferocious guitar chops plus Derek Trucks' fiery guitar playing equals a kind of nirvana. But the pair also have a long history of solo releases and other bands. Musicians with an uncanny, intuitive connection to their muse, the blues, Tedeschi and Trucks are absolutely FUV Essentials.
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (illustration by Andy Friedman)
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on July 26, 2017 (photo by Dana Distortion for Forest Hills Stadium)
As an emancipated teenager with a shaved head and platform boots, Ani DiFranco first stomped into the hearts of young people looking to put their angst into words and their lives into focus. More than 25 years later, she's still making music that matters, like her 2017 release 'Binary,' and she's an FUV Essentials artist.
Ani DiFranco (illustration by Andy Friedman)
The Beach Boys are as good as seasonal music gets, this side of Christmas. That some of the most commercially conceived pop music could evolve into the subtlety and abstraction of Pet Sounds, or Sunflower/Surf's Up-era Beach Boys, or Brian Wilson's mid-life valedictory "Love And Mercy" is one of the great true stories of music. This week, FUV celebrates the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson as FUV Essentials.
The Beach Boys (illustration by Andy Friedman)
"The real question," Gregg Allman once told Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe, "is not why we're so popular. I try not to think about that too much. The question is what made the Allman Brothers keep on going." The deaths of Allman in May and drummer and founding member Butch Trucks in January, signaled the Allman Brothers Band's final chapter in 2017. But with the release of Allman's posthumous solo album, Southern Blood, in September there's still an afterlife to be reckoned with as FUV salutes the band and the man on this week's FUV Essentials.
The Allman Brothers (illustration by Andy Friedman)