Music Monday: Weekly Curator Picks


Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard record an album together for the first time in 32 years.

Willie_NelsonNot since 1983’s Pancho & Lefty has the Red Headed Stranger and The Hag stepped into a studio and cut an entire album together. Django and Jimmie (named for the two outlaws’ childhood heroes) sounds as timeless as their previous long-player, albeit more weathered. –Eric Shea


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Slow your roll on the streets of South Side Los Angeles and roll one up tight for the new Dom Kennedy.

Dom_KennedyWest Coast rhymes over soulful beats floating in the sunshine. The next generation of hip-hop knows how to kill it over any tempo, so lean back and vibe out to By Dom Kennedy. –J Boogie



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CMA Festival Day 3: Women Of Country Music


Carrie Underwood’sBlown Away,” in 2012, was the last huge chart-topper by a female country artist. Recently a radio consultant, in comparing country music to a salad, referred to male country artists as the “lettuce” and the female country artists as the “tomatoes.” Subsequently, a few of country music’s female luminaries (including Martina McBride and Jennifer Nettles) are speaking out against these remarks in an effort to put women in country music on equal footing as men, the debacle has been dubbed #TomatoGate.

GG2A9424Rootsy chanteuse Sunny Sweeney also offered her two cents on the matter with a screened a t-shirt depicting a cartoon image of her hoisting a salami over the text, “Sunny Sweeney – Breaking Up The Sausage Party.” When I heard she was playing CMA 2015 I made it a priority to see what she’s been up to. Read More →

From Kelsea Ballerini to Zac Brown Band: CMA Festival Day 2


Contrary to Thursday, Friday showered us in sheets of rain. It was the kind of hot summer rain that finds its way into many country songs, and most of the CMA fans seemed to welcome it. As some of the Pandora crew and I ducked under a tent, Kelsea Ballerini took the stage to an enthusiastic round of hoots and hollers from her fans. I was excited to see her live, I heard that she put on an amazing show the week before at Marathon Music Works for our Pandora Country event (she opened for Dustin Lynch and Thompson Square). I was further intrigued because of recent Taylor Swift comparisons – Ballerini also writes her own songs.


Ballerini confidently strode on stage, slung an acoustic guitar over her shoulder and sang “Yeah Boy.” Her crowd didn’t need warming up – they were instantly fervent. I paid for a cold beer and when I turned back around, the audience seemed to double in size. For a second I doubted myself but then Ballerini said, “There are so many of you! I just got word that there are over 4,000 people here right now!” And the sound of 4,000 people cheered back at her in panoramic sound. She then introduced her next number “Peter Pan” as a song about boys who didn’t want to grow up. The catchy “Dibs” got heads bobbing and the crowd sang along. But the spectacle of her set was a ‘90s mashup medley that blended Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys and Destiny’s Child. Following that she covered an especially impassioned version of Rihanna’s “Take A Bow” as her fans chanted, “Kelsea! Kelsea!” and waved their hands in the air like some kind of country-pop tent revival. Read More →

Honky Tonks, Blazing Heat, Twang & Swagger: CMA Festival Day 1


Three members of the Pandora crew and I had just missed Kenny Chesney. He played outside on Broadway in downtown Nashville and after stepping out onto the balmy Southern night following a hearty soul-food dinner; we heard the explosion of applause to what was his last song. So the four of us decided to go honky-tonkin’ at Robert’s Western World across the street. Don Kelly Band was blazing through some old hillbilly standards with help from a 20-year-old guitar prodigy named Daniel Donato. This amazing six-string jedi looked like a young Rory Gallagher and picked a Telecaster like Don Rich on steroids.

IMG_7712But it was A Thousand Horses who really set the tone for this year’s CMA Music Festival. The band sauntered on stage over a droning organ before launching into “Landslide.” Armed with three, soulful, female, backing singers, they rocked with the timeless soul of Delaney & Bonnie through a nitty, gritty, Lynyrd Skynrd swagger. Lead guitarist Bill Satcher was kicking out the jams with a punchy tone that recalled The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion era Black Crowes. There was a palpable excitement in the crowd when Michael Hobby strapped on a Gibson acoustic guitar. After he strummed the first few chords to “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” the audience ignited in applause. But their fans really went wild when Hobby announced that they were now going to play their number one single, “Smoke.” For a few seconds, the roar of the crowd even eclipsed the band’s audibility. After walking away from their set with “Trailer Trash” stuck in my head, I realized that A Thousand Horses is everything that I’ve ever wanted from Kid Rock and Shooter Jennings. Southern Rock is alive and well at CMA Music Festival. Read More →

Country Built

Today we add another great guest blogger to the list of venerable scribes who have written for us.  First Anthony DeCurtis wrote about the legendary Rolling Stones, recently Alan Light gave us his take on Josh Groban, and now James Sullivan is talking COUNTRY BUILT. James is the author of four books, including biographies of James Brown and George Carlin, and a frequent contributor to the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone and more. He’s at and on Twitter @sullivanjames.  

country builtCountry music is often called a storytelling music. As the great songwriter Harlan Howard once said, it’s “three chords and the truth.”  On Pandora’s new specialty station, Country Built, we’re recalling some of the best stories about American music.

Your host, Otis Gibbs – himself a mighty fine songwriter in the traditional American mode – is your tour guide through more than half a century of landmark recordings by timeless artists. Each episode of Country Built will also feature a special appearance from a “future” representative of the style. Read More →

Pandora Whiteboard Sessions: Good Old War performs “Broken Into Better Shape”

Good Old War is an indie-rock band from Philadelphia. Their folk-rooted style often features melodic songwriting, acoustic rhythm guitars, and vocal harmonies. Other artists that can be heard on their station include Iron & Wine, The Shins and The Lumineers. They came by the office and played “Broken Into Better Shape”, the title track off their upcoming album.


Music Monday: Weekly Curator Picks

933_MusicMonday_Blog Your Old Droog mines his Coney Island home for dirty rock loops and fiery rhymes.

Your_Old_DroogOften compared to old school MCs Nas, Big L and Kool G Rap; Your Old Droog resurrects classic lyricism with a new flavor. Thick New York accents dropping rock references over production from beat masters DJ Skizz, El RTNC and Marco Polo on Kinison. –J Boogie


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Thee Oh Sees continue to kick out the frazzled garage jams on their fourteenth (!) release.

Thee_Oh_SeesWith the mellow haze of last year’s Drop putting an end to the band’s brief hiatus, frontman John Dwyer and a muscular new line-up produce more fuzzed up, Nuggets-like finery on Mutilator Defeated At Last – adding yet another gem to their extensive discography. –Michelle Solomon


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Artists to Watch at CMA Fest

cmaWho’s headed to Nashville for CMA Music Festival?  This year’s line-up is filled with some of the biggest names in country – Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Rascal Flatts (to name of few) – but we’re also really excited for a lot of the performers who aren’t already household names.  We used your listening feedback (coupled with the buzz each of these acts has been receiving) and think the following artists might just be some of your new country favorites come CMA Fest and its surrounding events (if they aren’t already). Read More →

You Can Call Me Janet – Miss Jackson’s Most Thumbed Up Songs

Maybe it’s the seven year itch. Whatever the reason, Janet Jackson has new music coming and we can’t wait to hear what she has in store for us.


In honor of the seven year break, below, take a look at her seven most thumbed up songs.

  1. Anytime, Anyplace
  2. I Get Lonely
  3. That’s The Way Love Goes
  4. Let’s Wait Awhile
  5. All For You
  6. Escapade
  7. Come Back To Me

Where did your favorite land?

Pandora Whiteboard Sessions: The Growlers perform “Black Memories”

The Growlers are a rock band from California. Their garage rock style features a wide variety of influences including punk, disco, folk and country.
Other artists that can be heard on their station include Allah-Las, The Black Keys, and The Doors. They came by and played “Black Memories” off their album Chinese Fountain.