Arts & Events

Overlooking The Sound: KUPS’s “The Blues With Lillian”

This Week: The Blues with Lillian Thursday at 8 a.m.
Lillian still uses CDs as opposed to scratch records or ScratchLive, a computer program. That is the only real negative element to be said about “The Blues.”
She simply has not received the memo that electronically playing your songs over the airwaves, or at least spinning records, boosts up your cool factor. Lucky for Lillian’s listeners, you cannot tell from listening that she still plays old-school, un-cool Compact Discs.
Lillian’s show is a hit-after-hit hour of songs that blend together well. Naturally slower paced music with smooth lyrics is the poster child of blues.
The show represents a pretty diverse compilation of blues musicians from instrumental folk tunes to Billie Holiday. Every single song is meant to give you the feeling of listening to a great song.
This week’s show started out with an instrumental banjo piece. KUPS DJs, pay attention: banjo is the way into this radio reviewer’s heart. It was a gutsy way to start a show that typically has little to do with the banjo. The song immediately following it cleverly kept the banjo underpinnings, but added a harmonica and words. This is a prime example of the thought that Lillian puts into the order of songs and transitions during her show.
The chosen songs include a variety of male and female vocalists from B.B. King to Nina Simone. The variety also includes songs closer to the classic rock genre, as well as newer variations on the old-school blues “I IV V” chord progressions.
The interludes between her songs are suave. Lillian has a sultry voice that coincidentally blends will the voices of the artists she plays. Her knowledge of the music she plays is vast after four semesters of the same show. She manages to get out some facts about the songs she highlights without sounding too bookish.
Though the radio interludes of Lillian started out with well said and researched information, it soon tuned to joke time as a guest was in the station.
Lillian’s strength as a DJ allowed her to have some impromptu fun with this ‘guest.’ Although his on-air joke was too corny for the harvest, his fact about Eric Clapton being the guitarist in the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was mind blowing, though barely related.
There was a moment during the show while listening to one of those songs that just sounds great, “Feelin’ Good” by Nina Simone, where more information would have been appreciated. It was a more modern sounding track. Or maybe it has been covered so many times that it sounds more modern.
Regardless, all the listeners got was an explanation along the lines of “This song is one of the best… in my humble opinion”. Yes I agree, but can we get a little more from you? Lillian and her never-ending books on blues have more to offer than that, this is sure.
Blues risks barely audible mumbled vocals and incredibly repetitive and similar sounding songs (three chords can only go so far). Yet Lillian’s choice of songs brings a well appreciated variety to the genre. Every note of every song is loaded with meaning, which makes for a show full of truly good music.