Music on VPR

For the November edition of Live From The Fort, Emma Cook & Questionable Company perform live from Studio One at the VPR headquarters in Colchester.

From VPR's first day on the air, music has been a critical piece of what makes VPR so special for so many listeners.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

As Vermont Public Radio celebrates 40 years of public service, we're looking back at some of the important moments that have made this service what it is today.

Joel Najman / VPR

In this second program of a My Place series on song lyricist Johnny Mercer, the focus is on songs Johnny wrote early in his career for Hollywood motion pictures.  Memorable recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mercer himself are among the selections featured.

Azaliya / iStock

Nothing says "home for the holidays" like curling up with a mug of something warm, and putting on some holiday tunes. Reuben Jackson and VPR Music have you covered with a "genre-free" playlist, sure to make your holidays merry and bright!

Courtesy, Joel Najman

My Place host Joel Najman features a collection of famous pop music duets from the early years of the rock-and-roll.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week, My Place looks at fathers and sons who have recorded pop music hits a generation apart. Prominently featured are the Burnette brothers and sons and the Nelsons - Ozzie, Ricky and his twin sons, Gunnar and Matt. The Nelson clan own the unique distinction of having recorded #1 hit singles over three generations.

Musicians have been sampling other artists' songs for decades. Though some get into hot water when they blur the lines between homage and theft, when pop culture borrows a tune from classical music, it's usually more flattery than fines.

iStock Agency / Thinkstock

Tell us a story! Vermont Edition's annual music show is Friday, and this year we want to know what song encapsulates 2014 for you.  What music do you associate with your strongest memories of the last year?

It can be an old or new song, funny or serious, about your personal life or our collective memory.  Tell us about the soundtrack to your year by posting below or visiting our Facebook page.

Bob Hilliard was a prolific pop music lyricist whose many hit songs both preceded the rock & roll explosion of the mid-1950's and continued well into the rock & roll 1960's.

This week Joel Najman's My Place program presents the story of one of the finest tin pan alley tune smiths of his generation, as well as an hour of his most memorable compositions and biggest hits. Danny Kaye, Patti Page and Gene McDaniels are among the top artists who have recorded Bob Hilliard's songs.

Angela Evancie / VPR

Lowell Thompson and his band visited the VPR performance studio at Fort Ethan Allen to play live on Vermont Edition. The Burlington-based band performed several songs from their new album Stranger’s Advice. They played Lately I’m Down, Different Name, and Make Your Mark.

Thompson was accompanied by Brett Lanier on the pedal steel guitar, Kurt Flanagan on the bass, Steve Hadeka on the drums and Leon Campos playing piano.

Between songs, Thompson spoke with Vermont Edition about his creative process and the new album.


This week, Joel Najman's My Place program presents a continuation of the previous week's theme of pairing songs using the same melody but with different lyrics.

In contemporary popular music over the years, there have been many instances in which a familiar melody has been recycled in the creation of a new and different song. A number of the examples presented this week are suggestions submitted by My Place listeners.


In the long history of contemporary popular music, it's not uncommon for an old familiar melody to reappear with new lyrics in the form of a brand new, but different song.  In the My Place program titled "Same Melody, Different Song," host Joel Najman presents a series of paired songs with different lyrics that share identical melodies.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

So prolific was the songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, that in the early years they composed songs for other artists to record, in many cases songs The Beatles never recorded themselves for commercial release. This week, My Place host Joel Najman further explores several rare Beatles demonstration recordings as well as a collection of Lennon/McCartney songs that were given to other artists to record.  

Courtesy, Joel Najman

So prolific was the songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, that in the early years, they composed songs for other artists to record. In many cases, the Beatles themselves never recorded these songs for commercial release. This week, My Place presents several rare Beatles demonstration recordings as well as a collection of Lennon/McCartney songs that were given to other artists to record.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

The Philles Record Company was the vehicle for many of the biggest hit singles of the 1960's by artists that included the Crystals, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers.The company name was an acronym derived from the first names of record producer Phil Spector and music industry entrepreneur Lester Sill, a partnership that was a rocky one.This week on My Place, host Joel Najman traces the history of the personal and professional association of Phil Spector and Lester Sill, punctuated by many of the popular music recordings that resulted from their partnership.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

Old Town Records was one of the pioneering rhythm-and-blues independent New York City record companies at the dawning of the rock-and-roll era. Its founder, Hy Weiss, was one of the more colorful characters in the dog-eat-dog popular music business at that time. This week on My Place, host Joel Najman relates the story of Old Town Records with an hour of the company's biggest hits and most significant recordings.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

Laurie Records was a successful independent record company in New York City which, beginning in 1958, released many contemporary hit singles and albums over a four-decade lifespan. One of Laurie Records' specialties was as purveyor of harmony group vocal and street corner doo-wop recordings.

This week on My Place, Joel Najman samples an hour of Laurie Records' most famous and significant vocal group recordings from the late 1950's and early 1960's.

Broadcast Saturday, October 25th at 8 p.m.

Cricket Blue

Laura Heaberlin and Taylor Smith have been playing music together since they met at Middlebury College. Most people familiar with Burlington’s music scene now know them as Cricket Blue, a singing, acoustic-guitar-playing duo.

Heaberlin says she and Smith always write songs separately, then come together and work out their share of the sound.  Their music is inspired, in part, by fairy tales and the work of short story writer Angela Carter.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week on My Place, the conclusion of a remembrance of songwriter/record producer Bob Crewe. Hear an hour of his biggest hits and most enduring recordings, ranging from his production of hits with The Four Seasons in the early 1960s to his disco-style dance hits of the mid-1970s. Host Joel Najman will play hits by Frankie Valli, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and LaBelle. 

Credit, Joel Najman

This week on My Place, it's the second installment of novelty songs, including many listener requests. Host Joel Najman will play memorably comedic songs by Louis Jordan, Ray Stevens and Nervous Norvus.