The Old Town School takes to the airwaves with Musicology

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On Friday, April 19, Chicago's "other" public television station WYCC (Channel 20) will debut an exciting new program that it's coproducing with the Old Town School of Folk Music. When WTTW tried to make a big splash in 2003 by reviving its popular 70s live music program SoundStage (which is currently on "hiatus") it did so with cutting-edge names like Chicago, Doobie Brothers, and former Styx front man (and Howard Reich's favorite rocker) Dennis DeYoung. (To be fair, there were some "younger" artists too, including Tom Petty, Sonic Youth, and Wilco.) WYCC's new Musicology: Live From the Old Town School of Folk Music, on the other hand, is considerably more daring and interesting, although that may be due to the fact that the OTS is the one programming the artists—and ultimately on the hook for paying the talent. Business as usual.

The show will focus on an eclectic mix of international artists—some relatively well-known, among them Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi and Argentina's Bajofondo, but others that are fairly obscure, including staunch practitioners of traditional forms such as Iraqi maqam master Hamid El-Saadi. Each show will feature about 45 minutes of performance footage and another ten of the artists talking about themselves and their work—the program will be narrator-free. Thirteen episodes are being made, running on WYCC every Friday at 9 PM starting on 4/19, and you can check out the entire concert lineup, which begins tonight with Habib Koite and Eric Bibb, here. The show will air only on WYCC, but the obvious goal is for the program to be picked up for syndication. Let's keep our fingers crossed, as international music has never proven to be an easy sell.

Today's playlist:

Ulrich Krieger, Fathom (Sub Rosa)
Kanon (Aki Takase, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, and Axel Dörner), Beauty Is the Thing (Doubt Music)
Sophie Agnel, Bertrand Gauguet, and Andrea Neumann, Spiral Inputs (Another Timbre)
The Doc Watson Family, Tradition (Rounder)
Raoul Björkenheim, Bill Laswell, and Morgan Ågren, Blixt (Cuneiform)

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