Into the Music

About Us

highway61The name Hwy. 61 Productions is a tip of the hat to the classic Bob Dylan album "Highway 61 Revisited", and to the company's origination in Minnesota. The actual highway 61 that Dylan sings about runs along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Superior, north of Duluth (Dylans' birthplace). Farther downstream it follows the Mississippi River through some of the most scenic territory in southern Minnesota, down through the center of the country to the deep South.

Like the mythical East-West Route 66, the broken stretches of highway 61's remnants still provide the most scenic and historic North-South highway of the middle United States. Highway 61 was the route that took southern blues and country music northward, with some of our key jazz, blues and Rock & Roll artists to the urban industrial centers of America after World War II.

Hwy 61 founders Al Neff and Kevin Ridley found themselves traveling this highway on two profound occasions. The first was on the beginning of a 38-day odyssey through England, Ireland and Europe via Ridley's hometown of Chicago. That journey brought them in contact with a homeless harmonica player who taught them to "breathe the music". The next was their impoverished pilgrimage in Neff's 1979 Datsun B-210, then with 306,000 miles on the odometer, to the 1995 grand-opening celebration of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The purpose of the Into the Music series is to provide listeners with a radio roadmap to the evolution and crossroads of "popular music". The metaphor of the highway system, all roads being connected, provides a universal connection-point for this journey of discovery Into the Music. 

The Host and Producer


Al Neff is a 30+ year radio veteran who has been refining the Into the Music concept for the past decade. He has a Master's degree in Popular Culture Studies and a black belt in Rock Trivia.

Note From The Producer: I was raised mainly on country music. I still love Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, but at a certain point of childhood I heard some new beats. The Beatles bridged the gap between David Cassidy and Jim Morrison. The Who, Zeppelin and Floyd followed, and a whole new universe opened up for me. 

What I try to do with the Into the Music series is provide bridges between, connection points and ways to get into, the music that mattered most in the larger picture of Music.  There's still a lot to be done, but the series is impressive as it stands.  It represents thousands of hours of learning, distilling, voicing and sequencing.

I hope you enjoy and get into the current selection.  The ITM library is broadcast on 3 separate schedules, in 1 and 2 hour formats, to both public and commercial radio stations.  We now have broadcast and streaming coverage every day of the week. Meanwhile we continue to expand, connect and enhance the features and audience of Into the Music.  Please stay tuned. 

Favorite Quote: You gotta travel through the Blues to get to Rock & Roll