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Director's Cuts: The 10th Anniversary Edition

Liane Hansen isn't the only one celebrating 20 years at Weekend Edition this week. It's my 20th year on the program as well, and the 10th since we began making Director's Cuts recommendations.

For this decade anniversary, I decided to check up on three alumni of Director's Cuts: film composer Steve Ulrich, also of a band called Big Lazy; folk singer Carol Noonan; and singer-songwriter Tom Freund.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Ulrich/Big Lazy


From 'Bored To Death Score'

By Stephen Ulrich

After the group Big Lazy came to play in 1999 for Liane Hansen in NPR's Studio 4A, we got mail literally for years asking about the group with the dark Telecaster twang. I had a chance to review their album Big Everything in 2002, and am happy to say the band members are all busy with interesting projects. Drummer Tamir Muskat moved back to Tel Aviv, produced the band Firewater's latest record, and plays with Balkan Beat Box. Bass player Paul Dugan is freelancing in New York with chamber ensembles, jazz groups and cabaret singers. Guitarist Stephen Ulrich was in the pit orchestra on Broadway for a while with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but most of his work lately is for film and TV. Ulrich is scoring the HBO series Bored to Death; here's a music cue from the show he kindly sent our way, called "Spy."

Carol Noonan

"Walk Away Renee"

From 'As Tears Go By'

By Carol Noonan

I first heard Carol Noonan's voice in a compilation from her '90s band Knots and Crosses, a set of songs from out-of-print discs by her already-defunct band. Noonan has recorded 4 solo albums since, and in 2004, she read an essay about her father on Weekend Edition. But the big news is that she and her husband Jeff Flagg have opened The Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine. It's an old barn where Jeff used to make fishing nets -- the couple converted it into a space that's hosted everyone from Bela Fleck to the Neville Brothers to Mary Chapin Carpenter. Noonan says her album As Tears Go By was recorded at Stone Mountain as an experiment to test acoustics. If the CD is any indication, the sound is wonderful, and Noonan's voice is as clear and pure as ever.

Tom Freund

"Copper Moon"

From 'Collapsible Plans'

By Tom Freund

The first recording of singer-songwriter Tom Freund to come my way was a 1998 7" vinyl single of his song "Digs." Maybe the 45 was just a publicity trick, but it was enough to prompt me to fire up the turntable. Ever since then, I've been following his music, which he describes as everything from buoyant pop to boho jazz and heartfelt folk. Ben Harper produced and sang backup on Tom Freund's latest album, Collapsible Plans. They've known each other for nearly two decades, and Harper's a big fan of Freund's songs -- "I just walk away singing them constantly," Harper says. And sure enough, these are great melodies that stay comfortably with you and keep on humming.

Ned Wharton is a senior producer and music director for Weekend Edition.

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