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.
Natalie Merchant's second solo album, Ophelia, turns 20 years old on Saturday, May 19. While Merchant isn't doing anything special to mark the occasion, FUV will celebrate that gorgeous album with selected tracks that day, at 8 a.m. and noon (streaming online).
Natalie Merchant and the cover of Ophelia.
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)