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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DJ Sessions: Milwaukee’s Paul Cebar

Paul Cebar is a musician and host of a weekly show on WMSE in Milwaukee. (Richard Dorbin)

Paul Cebar is a musician and host of a weekly show on WMSE in Milwaukee. (Richard Dorbin)

In the latest installment of DJ Sessions, Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson listens to some new music out of Milwaukee, from the sister-pair Vic and Gab to the Middle East-inspired Painted Caves and longtime singer-songwriter Paul Cebar, who is also our guide.

Cebar hosts a weekly show called “Way Back Home” on WMSE 91.7 FM in Milwaukee. His band Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound is out with a new album, “Fine Rude Thing.”

Songs In This Segment

Vic and Gab, “Love of Mine”

Vic and Gab, “Let You Down”

Painted Caves, “Blood in the Water”

Painted Caves, “Peace Bear”

John Sieger, “When My Angel Smiles”

Paul Cebar, “The Whole Thing”

Paul Cebar, “Summer Starts Right Now”

Guest

  • Paul Cebar, musician and host of the weekly show “Way Back Home” on WMSE in Milwaukee.

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

OK. Time now for the HERE AND NOW DJ Sessions.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE LAST DJ")

TOM PETTY: (Singing) There goes the last DJ.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DJ PLAY A LOVE SONG")

JAMIE FOXX: (Singing) DJ, won't you play this girl a love song?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROLLOVER DJ")

NIC CESTER: (Singing) Dance, little DJ, come on.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PON DE REPLAY")

RIHANNA: (Singing) Come, Mr. DJ, song pon de replay. Come, Mr. DJ, won't you turn the music up?

HOBSON: Paul Cebar hosts a weekly show called "Way Back Home" on WMSE in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - he has for more than 20 years. He is also a musician, and he's with us from Milwaukee Public Radio to share some music from that city. Paul, welcome.

PAUL CEBAR: (Spanish spoken)

HOBSON: Is that the greeting in Milwaukee?

CEBAR: It is today.

HOBSON: All right. Well, let's get right to the music. This is a duo called Vic and Gab. Here is "Love of Mine" from their new album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE OF MINE")

VIC AND GAB: (Singing) Remember when you first saw me. I bet you saw a possibility. We walked you talked said pleasant things. I wished the ground would swallow me. Love of mine run from me. Save your love for better company. Love of mine run from me. I'll never love you easy.

HOBSON: So tell us about Vic and Gab.

CEBAR: Well, they're two Mexican-American sisters. Vic is a great guitar player, kind of Edge without the pretention. And Gab is a wonderful bass player. And they both have this kind of terrific, sisterly vocal blend and this kind of wise crack and persona in their songs. Gab really reminds me of the glory days seeing Tina Weymouth play the bass. There's something about the physicality of her playing the bass that's pretty fantastic.

HOBSON: Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads.

CEBAR: Yes.

HOBSON: And the sisters say that Rush and Death Cab for Cutie are influences.

CEBAR: Oh, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

HOBSON: Well, they've got a nice upbeat sound.

CEBAR: They sure do. They're really a wonderful thing to see. I saw them at a great street fair this past summer and really took a shine to them.

HOBSON: Well, here's another song by them. It's called "Let You Down."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET YOU DOWN")

GAB: (Singing) Here we go again. I'll sit down and pretend. And here my heart it breaks. Oh, can you hear it? And all my jealousy, oh, can you feel it? And if I let you down it's 'cause you've let me down before. And if you shut down it's 'cause I shut down first. But no one moves like you do. I need you. I'll keep you.

HOBSON: So are they kind of emblematic of what kind of music is coming out of Milwaukee right now?

CEBAR: I'm not sure. I'm not sure what is. I think that, you know, people really follow their own schnozzola out here.

HOBSON: Well, let's listen to another group. This is called Painted Caves, and the song is called "Blood in the Water."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLOOD IN THE WATER")

PAINTED CAVES: (Singing) Underneath the water deep, shark is waiting sound asleep. In a way, you're just like her, say to swim, but I'm unsure. Say to swim, but I'm unsure.

HOBSON: Tell us about Painted Caves.

CEBAR: Well, it's led by Ali Lubbad, who's a Palestinian-American and a very crafty and wonderful fellow. And he's enlisted any number of traveling musicians, but he incorporates a guy that used to be in my band, a guy by the name of Mike Kashou, who's a fine oud player. And so Mike plays oud, Ali plays the guitar and often the drums on the recordings.

HOBSON: Tell us what an oud is, by the way.

CEBAR: Well, an oud is a Middle Eastern instrument. There's a Turkish tradition for oud. There's a Palestinian tradition for oud. And there's slight varieties, but there - it's a fretless, usually quite low-tuned instrument, but really expressive.

HOBSON: It's a string instrument.

CEBAR: It's a string instrument, yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CEBAR: I always think of this band as, in some ways, incorporating Middle Eastern music the way The Beatles incorporated Indian music, in that there's a very pop kind of drift to it, but there's this incorporation of all these instruments that - another one that's used on this record is the qanun.

HOBSON: And what is a qanun?

CEBAR: A qanun is not unlike a hammered dulcimer in the Celtic tradition, but it's a - it also has, I think, microtonal tuning. So it's a - it's quite an elaborate situation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOBSON: I thought we were just going to hear new music from Milwaukee, but we've heard now about a couple of new instruments, at least I have. Let's take a listen to another song from them. This is called "Peace Bear."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PEACE BEAR")

CAVES: (Singing) Life is but a dream, real as it may seem. It's only a dream of images we've seen. When I was a boy, I played as children play.

HOBSON: Any instruments in there we should know about besides the oud and the qanun?

CEBAR: I think, you know, it's guitar and bass and drums.

HOBSON: OK. Well, you also wanted us to know about John Sieger. Here is a song called "When My Angel Smiles."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEN MY ANGEL SMILES")

JOHN SIEGER: (Singing) When my angel smiles and wraps me in her wings.

HOBSON: What is it that you like about this sound?

CEBAR: Well, the next line, the birds all start to sing, it's a beautiful thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEN MY ANGEL SMILES")

SIEGER: (Singing) And the birds all start to sing...

CEBAR: I always imagine the doo wop, the birds singing doo wop, when she smiles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEN MY ANGEL SMILES")

SIEGER: (Singing) Sha la la la. Can't do what you did. You can't stay where you been. But I feel just like a kid.

CEBAR: John is just a wonderful writer and performer, and he leads a band called Semi-Twang. He also is the vocalist on Greg Koch's most recent record called "Plays Well With Others," and he's just a - he's been a real mentor figure for me here in town.

HOBSON: Well, and you are a musician, as we mentioned, in your own right. You have a new album out. It's called "Fine Rude Thing." You've got a lot of interest in African and Caribbean sounds, which we can hear in the album. Let's listen to the song "The Whole Thing."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WHOLE THING")

CEBAR: (Singing) We think we got it clean. We know we saw it whole. I want to pull you up to where I think it ought to go. But you stay where you are. There's nothing to move you but the way we look when we're pulling too hard.

HOBSON: You know, Paul, taken altogether, the music that you've given us today, including yours, makes me think that Milwaukee is a much warmer place than it actually is.

CEBAR: It's the old heart. The heart is what does it.

HOBSON: The heart is what does it.

CEBAR: Mm-hmm. Keeps you warm.

HOBSON: Paul Cebar, musician and host of the "Way Back Home" on WMSE in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Paul, thanks so much for talking with us.

CEBAR: Thank you very much for having me.

HOBSON: And, Meghna, our DJ Sessions already making an impact here. I just got a tweet from Molly Davis in North Carolina who says: Just got introduced to Vic and Gab. Thanks. Now, I know what my next music purchase.

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

Always great music here.

HOBSON: And we've got the whole list of all the songs we just heard at hereandnow.org.

From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

CHAKRABARTI: I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. This is HERE AND NOW.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WHOLE THING")

CEBAR: (Singing) The whole thing. The whole thing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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