Music News

Jack Howell, What Are You Listening To?

Jack Howell

Howell has been the producer/engineer/musician/owner of WilloDisc Production House since 1989. For more information, go here.

When you put your key in the ignition and turn on the radio, what station would play right now? KWSS 106.7 FM.

What's the first album you bought? Michael Jackson, Off the Wall. Having already been exposed to various genres of music by my older siblings (the Beatles, (Rolling) Stones, Elton John, Aerosmith, Joni Mitchell, Carole King), my generation seemed to be torn between them all. But, MJ was the pop chart topper of the day in 1979. Had to have it.

What's the first concert you saw? Billy Joel -- he was touring in support of 52nd Street. Great show. First time I noticed the aroma of marijuana in a public venue, in 1978, chaperoned by my best friend's father.

What's your favorite concert you've ever been to? Sting, The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Maybe not the first artist to do so, but Sting's fusion of pop and jazz elements makes a sublime backdrop for his sophisticated storytelling. His band -- Omar Hakim on drums, Daryl Jones on bass, the late Kenny Kirkland on keys, Branford Marsalis on sax and percussion, and brilliant backup vocalists Dolette McDonald and Janice Pendarvis was the tightest professional group of performers I've seen to date. Perfection.

What's the last song played on your music player? "Radio Radio," Elvis Costello.

Preferred format: CD, vinyl, cassette, 8-Track or digital? It's been my intention to re-introduce vinyl into my listening space. I've got the collection, but not the turntable. Even without having one, vinyl is my preferred format. Its sonic subtleties are smooth and comfortable. And, its artwork is large format and full of info and pictures that I can touch and read without squinting. I hope its resurgence continues.

What's your favorite album? I could choose The Dream of the Blue Turtles here, but I think I have to give a firm nod to U2's The Joshua Tree. This band kicked down so many barriers with their sounds, rhythms and strong vocals. And, their songs aren't built from fluffy "I love you" centers -- they are driven by views of the world, the economy, the things that shape the future. And, I appreciate that kind of passion.

Who is your favorite singer or band? Foo Fighters.

What band do you wish was still together? Nirvana.

What was your favorite new or new-to-you album from the past year? Adele, 21 -- guilty pleasure. How can one not be hypnotized by the writing and performances on that project?

What one song would you play if you had a world-wide radio audience? I've been an Eagles fan since their first recordings. "Sad Cafe" is kind of a B-side for them. But, it's packed with beautiful imagery, performances and harmonies -- pre-Auto-Tune! It's a bit melancholy. But, I think everyone can and should identify with that from time to time.

Who is your favorite local artist? Ruca.

What is your favorite local venue to see music? Crescent Ballroom.

What is your favorite music video? Music videos aren't really a part of the way I consume music. I enjoy creating my own visual journey under the guidance of some headphones, a comfy chair, etc. Music videos were intriguing for about 10 years back in the mid-80s. But, now, the level of creativity is limited to mainly boobs, butts, and bling. Blah. There was a video very innovative for its time by the band A-Ha. The song was "Take On Me." The video was animated pencil sketches. Very memorable. I dug it.

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Nicki Escudero
Contact: Nicki Escudero