Sleepy Hollow’s Best of 2016 (so far)

sleepy hollow
Paul Simon | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN |

As we move beyond its halfway point, 2016 has proven to be filled with a wealth of new musical treasures. We’ve been treated to unexpected and rich collaborations between Dawn Landes & Piers Faccini (Heaven’s Gate EP), Sam Beam (of Iron & Wine) & Jesca Hoop (Love Letter for Fire), and the self-titled albums from Colvin & Earle and case/lang/veirs (both of whom are performing the weekend of our XPoNential Music Festival in Camden, NJ).

Well-established artists like Paul Simon (Stranger to Stranger), Bill Frisell (When You Wish Upon a Star) and Lucinda Williams (The Ghosts of Highway 20) have offered some of the best recordings of their careers, while Allen Toussaint’s swan song (American Tunes, produced by Joe Henry) serves as both a perfect coda, as well as poignant elegy to the pianist/singer/songwriter’s incredible life.

Country is alive and well with a high-profile release from Sturgill Simpson (A Sailor’s Guide to Earth) and the long overdue recognition of Karl Blau (Introducing Karl Blau). And guitar-centric releases from William Tyler (Modern Country), Steve Gunn (Eyes on the Lines) and the forthcoming release from Ryley Walker (Golden Sings That Have Been Sung) are keeping the six-string relevant in an era increasingly awash (for better and worse) with “electronic” instruments.

And as we await to hear what great music awaits us, enjoy this playlist of some of the Sleepy Hollow hosts’ favorite recordings from the first half of 2016.

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Sleepy Hollow Celebrates Bob Dylan…Through the Years

Bob Dylan | via The Guardian

Few, if any, artists of the past 75 years have led a career with the immense wealth of creative work as Bob Dylan. Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, MN on May 24, 1941, Dylan would begin to set popular music on a new course by the time he turned 22.

With his second album, 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, he introduced his unparalleled craftsmanship of song in “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Girl from the North Country,” “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” and became the country’s most popular folk singer and the adopted voice of his generation. When he released Bringing It All Back Home in 1965 though, Dylan had abandoned his post, alienating much of his audience by focusing less on overtly cultural and political topics in favor of a more personal, and of course, more electric approach to songwriting and performing.

This would be the first indication of a trend in Dylan’s career that saw him shifting from folk singer to rock and roll frontman (Highway 61 Revisited; 1965), country balladeer (Nashville Skyline; 1969), confessional singer/songwriter (Blood on the Tracks; 1975), Christian proclaimer (Slow Train Coming; 1979), and late-night crooner (Shadows in the Night; 2015), and that’s to name only a few of his personas…not to mention skip the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s entirely.

And if not all of his recordings have managed to be consistently excellent (and many are), they have at least always been consistently intriguing. As we approach Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday this coming Tuesday (when we will celebrate with a full day of his music on #XPNDylanDay), the folks here at Sleepy Hollow give you a few of our favorite recordings from Bob Dylan’s vast catalogue.


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Who Tribe Sampled: A Sleepy Hollow tribute to Phife Dawg

The late, great Phife Dawg | photo via The Source

Since the moment I heard of the passing of A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg earlier this week, I, like so many others, have spent a lot of time revisiting Tribe’s catalogue. For me, hearing their two undisputed classics, 1991’s The Low End Theory and 1993’s Midnight Marauders were complete revelations. Never before had I hung on every single word an MC put forth as I did with Phife and his partner-in-rhyme Q-Tip — hearing a new knockout phrase with every subsequent listen, I became infatuated with their lyrical skill and playfulness.

Already a jazz enthusiast, I also became interested in the many, many recordings that ultimately found themselves sampled on ATCQ tracks via their great DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Continue reading →


WXPN’s Sleepy Hollow to celebrate Sinatra’s 100th Birthday

frank sinatra
Frank Sinatra | photo via

As important as any vocalist of the twentieth century, Hoboken, NJ-native Frank Sinatra (born December 12, 1915) rose out of Tommy Dorsey’s immensely popular orchestra of the 1940s to become the most famous popular singer of the 1950s and beyond. As we celebrate his 100th birthday this weekend on Sleepy Hollow, we focus on some of our favorite Sinatra recordings, as well as songs associated with ‘Ol Blue Eyes recorded by others.

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Sleepy Hollow’s Greatest Year(s) in Music: 1959

Miles Davis
During a recording session (later released as ”58 Miles’), American jazz musicians John Coltrane (1926 – 1967), Cannonball Adderley (1928 – 1975), Miles Davis (1926 – 1991), and Bill Evans (1929 – 1980) perform in the studio, New York, New York, May 26, 1958. (Photo by Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images)

As we prepare for this November’s playback of the XPN community’s continuing conversation regarding “the greatest year in music,” the folks here at Sleepy Hollow will be offering a glimpse into what we believe are five years that best exemplify not only popular music over the course of the last sixty-five years or so, but also, what we do here each Saturday and Sunday morning.

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Sleepy Hollow’s Songs of Summer

Yp La Tengo | via
Yo La Tengo | via

Today is the official first day of summer, the Summer Solstice. To celebrate, the hosts of WXPN’s Sleepy Hollow, Keith Kelleher and Julian Booker have put collaborated on a list of their favorite summer-themed music. As languid and dense as a late July afternoon, these selections are a good place to start for those looking for a soundtrack to get them through the season, especially during those early mornings and late nights. (Words by Julian Booker) Continue reading →


Sleepy Hollow celebrates the music of Karen Dalton

Karen Dalton | Photo by Elliott_Landy_|
Karen Dalton | Photo by Elliott Landy |

Of all the decisions made during the recording and release of Karen Dalton’s second album titling it In My Own Time was, in retrospect, the most apt. Take Dalton’s country-soul workout of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “How Sweet it is (to be Loved by You)” and listen to it next to the haunting folk-informed pleas on her take of Richard Tucker’s “Are You Leaving for the Country” and try and figure out how they work together on the same album; they do. Continue reading →


Take Me Out to the (Sleepy Hollow) Ball Game

Illustration by Alex Fine
Illustration by Alex Fine

Continuing our exploration of music relating to spring, we take a look today at songs inspired by the game of baseball (whose season begins tonight)…and while the topic has spawned plenty of novelties and throwaways, here are a few songs about America’s pastime that should appeal to the Sleepy Hollow faithful. Continue reading →


Sleepy Hollow’s Songs of Spring

Sarah Vaughan | Photo by William P. Gottlieb c. 1946

The changing of the seasons has long been an abundant source of inspiration for musicians and songwriters, so as we round the corner past Friday’s spring equinox (albeit a snowy one), the Sleepy Hollow team is anxiously looking ahead toward longer days and warmer weather with five songs celebrating the season of rebirth and rejuvenation! Continue reading →


Sleepy Hollow’s Sounds of the 70s playlist

Nick Drake | Photo by Keith Morris | from the Five Leaves Left album sleeve

As you know, last weekend Dan Reed graced you with every #1 song to be released in the 1970s–some were great, and some were…well flat out dismal. It got the three of us here at Sleepy Hollow thinking about many of our favorite songs and records from that decade–here are a few thoughts about three recordings particularly close to our hearts, as well as a playlist that we curated for your listening pleasure. Enjoy the Sleepy Hollow Sounds of the 70s playlist! Continue reading →