Saturday, March 27, 2004

by Wayne Robins


The best music site on the Web has got to be that of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Last week the BBC streamed the entire Todd Rundgren's new CD, "Liars" (Sanctuary). The music--Todd-tronics updated with techno beats--was supplemented by a review, listeners comments, and a lengthy text interview with Todd. As you might with a title like "Liars," Todd displays some simmering anger. For really devoted fans, there's an audio interview with Todd in Hawaii, where he lives, possibly near a volcano, and, apparently, stews. This week's full streaming album is by Tinariwen, described as "the leading Toureg desert blues band" from Mali.

This morning I woke up and listened to a radio program from London, recorded live
last week in Austin, Texas. Disc jockey Stuart Maconie, the drive-time host of BBC Radio 2, was live in Austin with Bob Harris and other Radio 2 air personalities. Radio 2 went SXSW big time. You had traffic from the whole UK (on a stormy day, that forced high winds to close some bridges to double-decker buses). But you also had SXSW music: Los Lobos' "La Bamba," Jesse Malin's "Queen of the Underworld," Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez' "Sweet Tequila Blues..." All this, like I say, in drive time, the 4 PM to 7 PM (approx.) slot that in the U.S. is not aimed at serious music fans, but for the amusement and elucidation of people trying to survive the homeward-bound rush hour.

Later in the program, Maconie promised Tom Russell and Josh Rouse live. And he promised the traffic reporter back in London that Russell would be wearing a Stetson. She nearly swooned in anticipation.
This isn't your Auntie's BBC.

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