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Month: December 2021

The Soul Show: 2021 Reflections, 2022 Future

New Year’s Day feature: Top Ten Albums of ’21

The first day of 2022 is a perfect time to look back at all of the great music from 2021. Two weeks ago, The Soul Show presented its Top Ten Songs, and this week will be the Top Ten Albums. If you’ve been following Soulshowmike’s Album Picks in the City Paper all year, you’ll already know many of them. There were some late surprises. Enjoy.

Upcoming interviews

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be recording interviews with Slam Band & Sam, an emerging Pittsburgh funk band. Also, there’s Corey Harris, the MacArthur Genius Award recipient whose research focused on the West African origins of the blues. These interviews will be presented on radio, my Pittsburgh City Paper monthly feature, and right here at


In the face of the past year’s challenges, I’m really happy about the growth of The Soul Show’s universe:

  • The syndicated edition of The Soul Show expanded to a total of four markets.
  • The ongoing improvements to Electric Basement Studios afforded high-quality audio and video production to support collaborations with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the August Wilson Center.
  • Other WYEP hosts were trained in home production to support our pandemic broadcast needs.
  • The Soul Show was voted a Top Ten Radio Show and I was voted a Top Ten Radio DJ in the annual Best Of poll.
  • Soulshowmike’s Album Picks, the monthly column in Pittsburgh City Paper, celebrated its first anniversary. Also, The Soul Pod made its a soft debut on the CP online platform…stay tuned for its full launch in 2022.

Happy New Year!

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The Soul Show’s annual Holiday Edition, 12/25/21

It’s been awhile since Christmas fell on a TSS broadcast day. For a long time, I used to mix in 30-50% holiday music with the “regular” show music. I’m feeling like a full holiday theme this year, so let’s do that. As usual, you can expect a different and browner mix than is heard on most stations – classic tracks with other voices and other arrangements, newer tracks with a different twist, Kwanzaa flavor, …

What are some of your favorite holiday albums? My two sleepers are by Rhonda Thomas and Alex O’Neal.

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The Soul Show, 12/18: Remembering The Roots’ Hub and Joe Simon | The Black Godfather | ’21’s Top 10 Songs

The plan for this week was to honor Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Clarence Avant, aka The Black Godfather. Also, it’s time to feature The Soul Show’s Top 10 Songs of 2021. Unfortunately, between Wednesday and Thursday, we lost Joe Simon and then Len ‘Hub’ Hubbard of The Roots.


The Soul Show’s Top 10 Songs, 2021

Here’s the list of songs. This was the first time that I created a Top Song list to go with the Top Album List. There is some overlap, but it was worth looking from two perspectives. Two Pittsburgh acts made Songs, and one made Albums. Looking ahead to 1/1/22, Albums will be featured on TSS.

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The Soul Show 12/11/21: Greg Tate, Melvin Parker, Robbie Shakespeare

On The Soul Show this weekend, we honor three legends:

  • Greg Tate, noted musician/bandleader, author/lecturer, and co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition
  • Melvin Parker, early and oft-returning drummer of James Brown’s band
  • Robbie Shakespeare, whose footprint on reggae and the greater musical universe is larger than life

Greg Tate

Here are scrapbook items for Tate and his band, Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber. They performed at the Thunderbird in late 2015 and early 2016. At the latter show, they paid homage to the recently departed David Bowie.

Burnt Sugar, Thunderbird Café 2016: David Bowie tribute

and Click here for Tate lectures, articles, etc.

Origins of Burnt Sugar:

On the formation of Burnt Sugar, band collaborator and bassist Jared Michael Nickerson provided this written history in 2015…..

Mike Canton : “Greg Tate was a Village Voice staff writer, an Ivy League lecturer, an author, and an interviewer of musical royalty. You have a business degree from Notre Dame, you studied at the NE Conservatory of Music. How did you two meet and decide to collaborate?”

Jared Michael Nickerson: “We also have a Dayton Ohio connection as Greg was born there and I grew up there ( I was born in Cleveland Ohio.). We met during the formative days of the Black Rock Coalition. Our Burnt Sugar Arkestra collaboration was initially sparked by a good friend of ours Jimmy Lee recommending me to Greg when he described to Jimmy how he wanted Burnt Sugar to sound and asked Jimmy who would he suggest he call to create that sound … the very first inception of Burnt Sugar had Vijay, Trevor Holder (drums), Simmie (violin), Michael Morgan Craft and Ronny Drayton (guitars), Bruce Mack (synth). The inside photo of our first release “Blood on the Leaf” has a pic from one of the first CBGB Underground performances. Once “Blood” hit the streets the response and demand for appearances fueled the vision and then thanks to Arts International providing us a grant, that enabled us to establish a business entity to support the creative organism and we were on our way, up to today and as far as we know … beyond.”

Robbie Shakespeare

On The Soul Show, we’ll timeline Shakespeare’s works from his early contributions to reggae landmarks through the later Sly & Robbie machine: Bunny Wailer’s ‘Blackheart Man,’ Tosh’s ‘Equal Rights,’ Black Uhuru, Taxi Fare, and so on.

Melvin Parker

Among the percussion legends that graced the Godfather’s stage and recordings, James Brown called his early drummer a metronome. The Soul Show will feature Parker tracks from the 1964-1965 period, plus important contributions later on.

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TSS plans for today, Amythyst Kiah tonight(!), We Want The Funk chats

The Soul Show, 12/4/21

  • Melanie Charles’ full album, “Y’all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women is now released, so we’ll start digging in.
  • The Soul Show’s Top Ten Albums for 2021 will be announced in Pittsburgh City Paper on 12/15. Soulshowmike’s Album Picks, my CP monthly column, has provided hints throughout the year, but there are some more candidates you should know about. Listen today for some of those.
  • After celebrating Gil Scott-Heron’s RRHOF induction a few weeks ago, I’ll cover others from the 2021 class (Preston, King, Kraftwerk, ….).
  • Berry Gordy, Jr. turned 92 this week. Check out some songwriting before Motown, plus a track that you might be really surprised that he was involved in.
  • After hearing Dexter Wansel’s interview last week on TSS, get to know some more of his latest release today.
    • Also, the full interview is now available at There’s a lot I had to edit out for the program, and here are the full 20+ minutes.
  • I’ll play some Zapp, Skyy, Lakeside and Cameo in anticipation of We Want The Funk Festival at the August Wilson.

Amythyst Kiah, 12/4/21 at Kelly-Strayhorn

She’s bringing one of the most important shows of the year. What’s more, Calliope is bringing her to East Liberty. Don’t miss.

We Want The Funk Festival chats

I had the opportunity to chat with incoming artists before Funk Weekend. David Webb of The Funk Center in Dayton jumped in to support. Here are the links: Cameo/Zapp, Ladies of Skyy. Enjoy.

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The Soul Show’s complete Dexter Wansel video interview

As part of The Soul Show’s 50th Anniversary celebration of Philadelphia International Records, you heard reflections by Dexter Wansel. He was a major figure (producer, songwriter, arranger) for the label during the seventies, working with Teddy Pendergrass, Jean Carn and others. Early involvement with synthesizers catapulted his own space-themed albums (Life On Mars, Voyager) to iconic status. Please enjoy the full video interview, recorded November 15th, 2021.

Synthesizer pioneer Dexter Wansel
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