Inside The Collection: A Rocker Falls In Love With 70s Country Rock

Has an album ever changed your life? During my mid 20s, I was accidentally introduced to the music of Gram Parsons, the founder of what he called “cosmic American music,” or more broadly, Country Rock. I was deep in a rock-n-roll only phase when I discovered this music by way of Dinosaur Jr. covering “Hot Burrito #2.” This was a song by Parsons’ oddly named band The Flying Burrito Brothers. I bought the first two albums of that band and my curiosity about Parsons grew.

When I first heard this music I remember thinking many things. How had I not heard this before? Was there similar sounding stuff out there? I always assumed I’d hate the music my dad loved, but these songs made country music make sense.

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Curator Eric Shea at the Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville

Parsons’ career path catapulted him through some of the most popular bands of the late 60s. He helped The Byrds go country with Sweetheart Of The Rodeo before running off with Byrds’ bassist Chris Hillman. They bought some flashy, hippie, cowboy suits and formed The Flying Burrito Brothers. Parsons purportedly left the Burritos after just one year.


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Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Some of this week’s newest music and genre station highlights on Pandora, fresh from our curation team!

Artist Debuts

Anthony Skinner & The Immersion Family Band

A singer, songwriter, producer and author, Anthony Skinner has penned tracks for renowned praise and worship artists like Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, Jesus Culture, Bethel Music and CeCe Winans on her GRAMMY Award winning project Thy Kingdom Come. Along with his group, The Immersion Family Band, they are currently topping the charts with their worship anthem “Your Love Never Fails” off the EP by the same name.

Molly Kate Kestner

The voice behind the YouTube hit “His Daughter,” 18-year-old singer-songwriter Molly Kestner wrote the tune with “…a cracked iPhone and out-of-tune piano.” The track has already reached over 1.5 million views and is receiving praise from CNN, The Huffington Post and Star Trek actor George Takei.

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Born in the Ayacucho (the heart of Peru), Florencio Coronado was considered one of the premier folk harpists in the late 1950s. Throughout his career leading to his death in 2009, he had toured through Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.
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Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Some of this week’s newest music and genre station highlights on Pandora, fresh from our curation team!

Artist Debuts

Mark Ballas

Singer-songwriter who is better known to most as a professional ballroom dancer on the ABC program Dancing With The Stars. As a youth, he was member of a pop trio called 2B1G (2 Boys 1 Girl) along with fellow dancers Julianne Hough and Derek Hough. He premiered his debut single “Get My Name” on a recent episode of DWTS and had the track trending worldwide on Twitter, moving the song to #24 on the iTunes Top Singles chart.

Light Fantastic

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.26.47 AMSan Francisco’s Light Fantastic plays their jangle-pop with one foot planted in the sand and the other in the paisley underground. With ample help from Rex John Shelverton (Vue, Tamaryn), Light Fantastic’s Byrdsian jangle gets the post-shoegaze treatment with tasteful washes of reverb and gauzy guitars that sound like the Rickenbackers from Beachwood Sparks and RIDE had a baby. Singer Terry Sowers sounds like he could be the missing link between The Beach Boys and Allah-Las.
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Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

This is what our music curators are listening to this week on Pandora!

New Artist Additions

DJ Cassidy
A New York DJ who is known for his work at celebrity functions, including the 50th birthday party and 2009 inauguration of President Obama, and the 2008 wedding of Beyoncé and Jay-Z. He is gearing up for his debut album Paradise Royale, out in June, where he will bring together a 14-piece string section and musicians like Nile Rodgers (Chic), Ray Parker Jr., Mary J. Blige, Chromeo, Estelle, Cee Lo Green, Robin Thicke, Jessie J and more. His recently dropped single “Make The World Go Round” features a guest appearance by R. Kelly.

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Nightbringer
Nightbringer are one of those rare black metal bands that can swirl their cacaphony of guitar maelstroms to sound like a beautiful orchestra of evil. With equal parts restraint and tantrum, they’re absolute masters at reining in their chaos. Also, their singer sounds like he can gargle glass and barf blood into a Shure SM-58 microphone.
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Inside the Collection: Western Swing

Most times, the first things you’ll notice are the hiss, pops and crackles of the antiquated fidelity. The genre’s earlier recordings are delightfully haunting – as if you’re hearing ghosts play scratchy old records. And then the slide guitars and fiddles sound like they’re laughing joyously over buoyant rhythms. But when those bouncy horns, piano and guitars saunter in; that’s when you’re hearing some top-shelf Western Swing. And should some cartoonish vocals pipe-in with a high-pitched, “A-ha!” you can be certain that you’re listening to Bob Wills, the king of Western Swing.Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 12.12.51 PM

Every few years I go through a Bob Wills phase – and by proxy, a Western Swing phase. Subsequently, I just updated Pandora’s Country & Western Swing station with a bunch of my all-time favorite tunes from this realm (as well as some Classic Country and Honky-Tonk for complimentary flavor).
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Inside the Collection: Love, Loss and Mix-Tapes

I was a teenage skater, which back in the eighties meant I didn’t meet many girls. But there was one – Brynn was what we affectionately called a “Skate-Betty.” She stood out from the others with her sun-bleached bowl-cut, hi-top Vans, a flannel tied around her waist and a warm California smile that gave me the courage to ask her out. We instantly bonded on music. She was into many of the same Skate Rock bands that I listened to like JFA and Agent Orange. But she also turned me on to stuff I’d never heard before like Voivod and Reagan Youth.

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Do you remember the first mix-tape you made for a crush? What about the opposite – a mix that you curated following a heart-bludgeoning break-up? As we approach Valentine’s Day, it’s easy for me to flashback to the very first amorous mix that I recorded…and my first break-up tape. Allow me to share a few of the lessons that I learned from building those mixes.


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Inside The Collection: Songs Of Change

MLK Day never fails to find us reflecting on Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. As a lifelong record collector, musician and now Music Curator for Pandora – it also reminds me how the birth of the Civil Rights Movement was a groundbreaking time in music. It was a time that inspired songwriters of many genres to pen some of the most powerful and beautiful songs in the history of recorded music. During this part of the 1960s and 1970s, Gospel, Folk, Rock, Funk, Soul, Blues and even Jazz included musicians singing about themes of freedom and equal rights.

To commemorate this incredibly important time in history, we’ve made a Pandora Mix Tape: Songs Of Change.

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As much as I dig all kinds of new music, it’s the songs recorded during this time that tend to populate most of my music collection – my Pandora profile alone is telltale proof of my love for the classics. My generation’s musicians are lucky in that they never had to muse on the draft or the kinds of segregation that existed in the past.


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Inside the Collection: 2013 In Music

With 2014 around the corner, let’s rewind through 2013 to capture some of the most memorable musical moments with our End of Year genre stations.

2013 Top Pop

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Pop music reached record popularity in 2013 with the help of gigantic crossover hits from Rock, R&B, Hip Hop and Dance. Check out 2013 Top Pop for the biggest Pop chart-toppers on Pandora. It was a very good year for TV alums, veteran Justin Timberlake and newcomer Ariana Grande both made a huge splash. Beyond all the hype, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez delivered with the biggest hits of their career. And of course one of the most anticipated releases of the year was from One Direction, following their multi-monster singles. Finally, leading up to his 2014 Superbowl performance, Bruno Mars proved to be a superstar with the energetic “Locked out of Heaven” and “Treasure” to the more emotional “When I Was Your Man”.
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