Exploring different aspects of history, science, philosophy and the arts.
Even more Kershaw Tapes
During the 1980s and 1990s, DJ Andy Kershaw travelled around Africa and the Americas searching out great music and taping it on his Walkman Pro, a new broadcast-quality cassette recorder that was bringing about a revolution in mobile recording. He also used it to capture his celebrated Kitchen Sessions, held in his small flat in Crouch End.
In this episode, Andy meets Malian blues man Ali Farka Touré on a boat on the Niger and wins a bottle of BBQ sauce at Fred’s Lounge in Louisiana whilst enjoying some live cajun music from the Mamou Cajun Band. We witness the breakneck speed of Scottish accordionist Phil Cunningham and banjo player Gary Petersen in an impromptu session in a pub in Shetland and we take a look at the iconic Cuban song Guantanamera, with versions by Cuarteto Iglesias on a roof top in Cuba and Celina Gonzales in Andy’s Crouch End kitchen. Also from the kitchen we have vintage sessions from Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore and English psychedelicists, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians. Plus Andy dusts off the Walkman Pro to records a brand new session with folk singer-songwriter and guitarist Steve Tilston.
Producer: Martin Webb
Riding the Waves
Musicians and writers immerse themselves in the writing of Virginia Woolf, 90 years after the publication of her modernist novel The Waves.
More Kershaw Tapes
In this episode, Andy meets Kenyan harpist Ayub Ogada on a beach in Cornwall, the Antioch Gospel group in a car park in New Orleans, Cuarteto Iglesias on a roof top in Cuba and a young Ballake Sissoko next to the railway tracks in Bamako, Mali. On his very first day recording with his Walkman Pro, Andy visits the Edale Bluegrass Festival then travels to Leeds to record a rare performance from guitarist Mark Knopfler in a pub with his early group The Duolian String Pickers. Back in Andy’s kitchen Louisiana comes to Crouch End with sessions from blues man Lazy Lester and Cajun stars DL Menard, Eddie LeJeune and Ken Smith. Plus we pay another visit to Wilkinson's HiFi in Nelson to find out just why the compact cassette format is so enduring and well loved.
New Generation Thinker short feature: Hilltop Histories
Seren Griffiths uses a walk along a sandstone ridge in Northern Cheshire to explore the way a landscape can hold multiple histories, and in doing so make it easier for us to contemplate distant futures.
The landscape in question is bordered on the north by the M56 motorway. Commuters making their way into Manchester see it to their right for all of about a minute. But up on the ridge you can see that it stretches South towards Whitchurch in Shropshire. Seren starts her journey in a quarry used variously by the Romans, Iron Age settlers and latterly the victorians. She makes her way up to one of the string of Hill top forts that can be found along the sandstone escarpment, and then moves along to an old Cold War listening station, and not far away, the Frodsham Anti Aircraft Operations Room. And all the while the vista shows the canal work of the industrial revolution, the chemical plants of the 20th century and the wind turbines of the last decade. The ancient landscape hums with history and archaeology brings them into focus in the present.
For Seren, and many before her, this is a magical, mysterious place which draws out timelines like a strand, with artefacts from the past projecting forwards, enduring into the present.
Producer: Tom Alban
NGT The Balcony
New Generation Thinker Dr Islam Issa has a strong cultural attachment to the Balcony. In his native Egypt, the place where architectural historians believe the balcony was first developed, the balcony is a pivotal part of family homes, a place that blurs the line between private and public living. He recalls it being a place that linked communities and allowed an external life without the risks of life in the open streets.
When he saw Italians singing from their balconies during the early weeks of the COVID pandemic he was reminded that they have many other roles in political, cultural and literary settings. With the help of Egyptian film maker and photographer Alia Aidel and Shakespeare scholar Reverend Paul Edmondson, Islam explores the use of Balconies from Romeo and Juliet to Buckingham Palace and reflects on his own upbringing in which he learned to look up and in to the family balcony and yet as he matured, realised he thought of it principally as a place to look out and down.
Producer: Tom Alban
The Apple and the Tree
When he was a boy and returned to the family home from primary school in the afternoon, Carlo Gébler would often hear the sound of typing coming from the shed at the foot of the garden. This was where his mother, the writer Edna O’Brien, sometimes went to write her novels.
Later, when he lay in bed at night, Carlo would again hear the sound of typing. This time it would be coming from the downstairs front room where his father, Ernest Gébler, wrote plays for television.
Now 66 and an acclaimed author himself, Carlo wants to know why the children of writers often follow their parent’s footsteps into literature. Exploring the dynamics of literary lineage and his own journey into writing, Carlo asks if it is simply an iron law that the apple rarely falls far from the tree - or if the truth is something far more complex.
Producer: Conor Garrett
I would just like to say that the Radio 3 Documentary programs have been an important part of my life. So often I have found inspiration from hearing about topics and events I didn’t know existed as well as the people whose stories are given the importance they deserve.
Over the years I have listened to just about every broadcast from the archives, I won’t say they have all been brilliant but the quality of the story telling is there in all of them. The many that are brilliant though, they are exquisite!
I could write this off as just another example of the Irish gift for storytelling but I have a feeling that there is a tradition and respect for the craft of telling a story properly at your studio that has been handed down over the last fifty or more years. I have listened to public radio programs from all over the world but your productions, at least in my mind are the best.
So thanks for all of your efforts at bringing such beautiful works of art to what used to be the airwaves, thankfully podcasts have made them available to me in Brooklyn, USA.
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Ep. 1 - I'm compelled to read Watson now
Interesting commentary on Vernon Watson and his work, all new to me. I'm intrigued, and I look forward to the next documentary, whatever the subject.