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Idiot's Delight

Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" For August 23

by WFUV Staff
Johnny Cash's 'Bitter Tears' Cover

On "Idiot's Delight"® tonight at 8, Vin Scelsa highlights the new Joe Henry-produced Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited, a reworking of the original, ground-breaking Johnny Cash album Bitter Tears: Ballads Of The American Indian, released in 1964. This 50th anniversary tribute to Cash, America's champion of the rights of the powerless and abused, features Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Kris Kristofferson, Rhiannon Giddens (of Carolina Chocolate Drops), Steve Earle, Norman Blake, Emmylou Harris and more, all backed by a fine "house band." Vin explores the original Cash recording too, along with the Smithsonian Folkways recordings of Peter La Farge, who was one of Bitter Tears' main songwriters and composer of "The Ballad Of Ira Hayes" and "As Long As The Grass Shall Grow." 

Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" For November 22

by Vin Scelsa
Elaine May, Mike Nichols and Dorothy Loudon in 1959

Might Neil Diamond and Neil Young be separated at birth? One Neil loves sequined blazers while the other prefers flannel shirts (guess which one). However, both Neils have grand new albums just released and tonight on "Idiot's Delight"® at 8, I'll explore both releases. In addition, there seems to be a lot of talented women singing the theme songs for high quality television series; enough for an entire set. I'll also have a musical remembrance for John F. Kennedy on the 51st anniversary of his death and honor the great Mike Nichols via his brilliant improvisational work with Elaine May.

Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" For November 15

by WFUV Staff
New Basement Tapes (courtesy of the band, Facebook.com)

On this chilly night, Vin Scelsa is hunkering down with what he's calls "a quiet, mostly acoustic show" on "Idiot's Delight"® at 8. He'll feature Bonnie "Prince" Billy, the New Basement Tapes (pictured), Johnny Cash, Maggie Björklund, Annie Ternheim, Simon and Garfunkel and others. Join Vin for a contemplative evening on this last weekend before holiday madness truly sets in.

Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" For November 8

by WFUV Staff
Black 47's logo

Celtic rockers Black 47 have been a part of the fabric of New York for 25 years and frequent guests of Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight'® since the early '90s, but on Saturday, November 15, the dynamic band will play its final show at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Tonight at 8, Vin will have his own radio-style wake for the group that frontman Larry Kirwan and former member Chris Byrne first brought to the show years ago, swaggering with punkish hubris, uilleann pipes, and rich tales of the politics, perils and poetry of the Irish experience and beyond.

Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" For November 1

by Vin Scelsa
Mary Lee Kortes (photo courtesy of the artist)

Mary Lee Kortes, of Mary Lee's Corvette renown, is finally seeing a longstanding project of hers come to fruition. Several years ago she turned me on to The Beulah Rowley Songbook,  a collection of songs with an interesting back story. Using a wonderful, time-honored literary device, Mary Lee spins a tale about a songstress who lived in the early 20th century. This aspiring fictional musician wrote her compositions on sheet music which she kept hidden in her piano bench, but she died a young and tragic death. As the decades passed, the piano bench had many owners until one day it came to rest in Mary Lee's music room on the Lower East Side. Upon opening the bench lid, Mary Lee discovered this amazing treasure trove of songs spanning several essential American musical genres. She recorded demos of a couple of these songs a few years ago, which she shared with the "Idiot's Delight"® audience.

Finally, it looks like Mary Lee's project will finally get a full-scale production with the help of legendary producer/wizard Hal Willner. Kortes and Willner are raising funds by pre-selling the album on the crowd funding site Pledge Music. There, you can find out more about The Songs Of Beulah Rowley project, hear samples of the music and see a video featuring Mary Lee and producer Hal Willner. I will play some of the demos on the show tonight.

Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" For October 25

by WFUV Staff
Billie Holiday and her dog, Mister.

On "Idiot's Delight"® tonight at 8, Vin Scelsa begins his two-hour musical odyssey with a Billie Holiday song that asks a poignant question. Segueing from Billie's query, Vin's song selections are fueled by love, loss, loneliness—and even Halloween candy—with music from Mary Lambert, Richard Thompson, Lucy Rose, Elliot Brood and many other treasures from Studio V.