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Chicago-Native Robert Coronado Explores His Relationship with Punk and Traditional Music on the Air

This week, McKissick is excited to bring Roberto Coronado to the Punk & Old-Time Radio Show. Born and raised in the city and suburbs of Chicago, Roberto’s entry into punk music came through finding Christian punk groups across the street from his local church. These initial artists, combined with the help of friends in high school, would lead Roberto into the expansive punk scene of Chicago. However, it wasn’t soon afterward that he started traveling across the country riding trains, eventually winding up, for a time, in Madison, Wisconsin. It was during this time, through a coincidence watching TV, that he would first hear the sounds of 1920s and 1930s traditional music through Martin Scorsese’s documentary series, The Blues. The haunting, sorrowful melodies of this music immediately captivated Roberto, and it wasn’t long before he picked up the harmonica to replicate the work of artists like DeFord Bailey and others.

Similarly, while in Madison Roberto would come into contact with who he called “The Old Man” – Catfish Stephenson, a famous local street musician. Learning music as well as several priceless life lessons, he pursued this traditional music in earnest and has been playing ever since.

Moving to Asheville, North Carolina in later years, Roberto has busked throughout the country playing harmonica. With a colorful life that includes over a decade riding trains, booking punk shows across the country, and learning the music of the 1920s and 1930s, Roberto Coronado’s story is emblematic of the close relationship between punk and traditional music, in some ways representing an unbroken legacy of music, musicians, and ideology.

McKissick's radio show Punk & Old-Time Radio: Conversations on Community, Conflict, and Cohesion airs weekly on WUSC Radio (90.5 FM) through April, Thursdays at 2:00pm EDT.

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