Mark Humphrey

Join Mark Humphrey the 4th Saturday of most months for a mix of music on KPFK’s Roots Music & Beyond, Saturdays 6-8 a.m. 90.7 fm. The show is archived for two weeks after broadcast at KPFK’s website.

The Last Piano Roll Salesman

Who was the last piano roll salesman?  Surely someone who entered the trade with Gilded Age optimism as sales boomed, only to see `talking machines’ turn the 19th century marvel of player pianos into objects of quaint obsolescence.  The last piano roll salesman fell victim to technology’s restless relationship to music, and the fortunes made and lost thereby.  The story …

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Goodbye Pete Seeger

“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”  The passing of Pete Seeger in January made many nostalgic for the era when `topical songs’ boldly took on social issues.  Seeger was most famously associated with the Civil Rights struggle of the early Sixties and the anti-war movement which followed.  He also sang about environmental concerns, particularly the pollution of his beloved Hudson …

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Helluva Deal

The world comes to NAMM.  A maker of a guitar fretboard cleaner from New Zealand (Boogie Juice by name) is elated to announce he’s found a distributor for his product—in Thailand!  A family of Greek bouzouki makers has, for the first time, flown from Athens to Anaheim.  China’s presence grows greater year by year.  Every January, the National Association of …

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Buck ‘Em!

Ray Charles and the Beatles both `covered’ him.  He held his own with the era’s great rock and Soul singers to become part of America’s soundscape of the Sixties.  Yet by the decade’s end he’d become a self-parody, popping out of cornfields on the hillbilly Laugh-In called Hee Haw.  Twenty years after that (and before Johnny Cash), he’d become the …

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Vintage Blues

By art auction standards, it was chump change.  But eyebrows went up last year when John Tefteller paid $37,100 for a 1929 78 by Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson.  Tefteller is as famous for his passion for vintage blues as for the deep pockets that have enabled him to amass the largest private collection of this music.  For the eleventh consecutive …

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