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#nowplaying with Nathan Cone

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Nathan Cone / Texas Public Radio
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A pensive Nathan and his profile ponder his playlist.

Florence Price: Symphony No. 1 – Philadelphia Orchestra
Over the past decade, awareness of Florence Price’s music has steadily grown in the classical music community, but it is nevertheless, as they say, a big freaking deal that the esteemed “Yellow Label,” Deutsche Grammophon, released in September 2021 an album of symphonic music by a Price, a Black female composer from Arkansas who lived from 1887-1953. The Philadelphia Orchestra on this digital release performs her first and third symphonies, the former of which is infused with gorgeous gospel flavor in its chord progression and hymn-like structure in the second movement (heard in the link below).

The Beatles with Billy Preston: “Without a Song”
The latest mammoth box set from The Beatles covers one month of recordings in January 1969. The fraught sessions produced “Let It Be,” and are famous for their acrimony, but the new box set shows the Beatles were still capable of joyous collaboration when the vibe was right. Billy Preston sat in with the group for these sessions, and in a spontaneous moment captured on tape, jammed on the old standard “Without a Song” with Ringo Starr and John Lennon. It’s not a polished track, but just listen to it, and imagine what would have happened if the group had taken up with John’s suggestion to bring Preston in as a full member of the band!

8 ½ Souvenirs: “Bei Mir”
The mid 1990s brought a nationwide swing revival with bands like Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. At that time, RCA Records signed the Austin-based swing group 8 ½ Souvenirs, who released two albums on the label before singer Chrysta Bell departed to work with David Lynch and other collaborators. Sometime a few years ago, the band reunited with original singer Kathy Kiser and started gigging again at the famed Continental Club. Their new album, “8 ½ Souvenirs at the Movies,” is now out. “Bei Mir” leads off the release and will bring back all those carefree memories of cocktails, dancers whirling across the floor, and trés French sounds.

Bob Dylan – “New Danville Girl”
Over the course of the pandemic my Bob Dylan listening rose dramatically. I leaned in to his songs that—as Gregory Peck described when honoring the songwriter at the Kennedy Center—express “the echo of old American voices. Whitman & Mark Twain... blues singers, fiddlers and balladeers.” Even so, Dylan’s music from the 1980s has never been high on my radar, and so when I bought the new “Bootleg Series” release “Springtime in New York,” which covers 1980-1985, I didn’t know what to expect… and I certainly didn’t expect to be completely bowled over by “New Danville Girl,” a stripped-down early version of the officially released “Brownsville Girl” that name-checks San Antonio, the Corpus Christi newspaper, running across the Midwest until the wheels fall off, and the water moccasin dies, and… whaddya know, a movie starring Gregory Peck, made a long time ago.

I’ve listened to this nearly 12-minute song at least 15 times in the past three weeks.

Terri Hendrix – “Pilgrim’s Progress”
In 2015, San Marcos-based Terri Hendrix announced an ambitious goal—she was going to write and record four thematically-linked albums and write a book, all to be released within the span of a year. Life and death got in the way. Health setbacks slowed “Project 5,” and in 2018, her older sister, Tammi, died suddenly.

It may have taken longer than expected, but “Pilgrim’s Progress” caps the project beautifully. It’s an all-country album, in tribute to her father, who begged the eclectic songwriter to embrace her country side. From a press release to promote the record: “It’s still not totally country enough for him,” she says with laugh. “But he’s really happy with it.” So am I. My favorite tracks are her covers of Dolly Parton’s “Wildflowers,” “Fisherman’s Blues,” originally by the Irish-Scotch band The Waterboys, and “Me and the Moon Aren’t Speaking,” written by Cindy Walker.