NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  For WUNC's music programs,  Back Porch Music.

Back at the beginning of time, the human voice was the very first instrument. Probably close in second place were folks banging on stuff – in other words, percussionists. The quartet of gentlemen who form the Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion takes primordial pounding into a completely distinctive new league. To be sure, in this Tiny Desk performance, they'll play their sophisticated, modern marimbas and vibraphones, but be on the lookout for the subtleties of tuned cowbells and 3/4" galvanized steel pipes, like those found at the local hardware store.

Soul Queen Irma Thomas Becomes A Doctor

May 29, 2018

Irma Thomas is known to R&B fans all over the world, but she's most beloved in her hometown of New Orleans. Everyone in New Orleans calls her Irma.

After much anticipation, Pusha T's third studio album has arrived. And though it was years in the making and is, according to the rapper, a study in having the luxury of taking your time, the last week leading up to the project's release was a haphazard race to the finish line as much as it was a celebration of the long-awaited music.

Ill Camille: Tiny Desk Concert

May 25, 2018

Los Angeles rapper Ill Camille hooked me during my first trip through her sophomore album, Heirloom. Her lyrical prowess and storytelling were so moving, I immediately reached out to her on Instagram and asked if she would like to perform a Tiny Desk. "Please don't make me cry right now. Tiny Desk!?!? You don't understand. I've been praying on this", she replied. "This (message) made my year and my band is ready!"

In the history of world domination schemes, there hasn't been a conqueror that took over the Earth in Spanish since Christopher Columbus. J Balvin is ready to reclaim the music world for his people.

The Thistle & Shamrock: A Gentle Revolution

May 23, 2018

After fading into obscurity, the Celtic harp made a steady resurgence beginning in the 1970s. We present an hour of inspirational sounds from harpers William Jackson, Wendy Stewart, Moya Brennan and Alan Stivell, the latter having been credited with sowing the seeds of this gentle revolution.

Colombian pop star Juanes and Chilean singer Mon Laferte recently wrapped up a sold-out tour of the United States, which (lucky for us) included a stop at the Tiny Desk.

All Bets Are On Jade Bird

May 21, 2018

After nearly 800 Tiny Desk concerts, The Band's Visit is the first Broadway musical ever to play the series.

The crew from the show, which opened last November at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, descended on NPR at 8:30 a.m. — seven musicians, five actors, a wardrobe department, a make-up artist, a publicist, a music director, the composer and even a vlogger. We started early so they could hustle back to Manhattan for a 7 p.m. curtain.

This is one of the sweetest, funniest and most endearing Tiny Desk performances I've seen. From the moment they began playing, it was clear best friends Lucy Niles and Josée Caron, who perform as the Canadian rock band Partner, were there to leave their mark and have a whole lot of fun doing it.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Kickstarters

May 16, 2018

Join host Fiona Ritchie to hear vintage sounds from some of the trailblazers of Celtic music, artists who influenced a generation of musicians across the world.

Artists featured include Clannad, The Chieftains and Battlefield Band.

It was daylight but the music was dark and moody. And despite having the office lights turned on high, it was Khruangbin's trance-inducing tone that set the mood and carried me away.

Last week, Spotify announced it was implementing a new policy in which it would stop promoting "hate content" and artists who engage in "hateful conduct" within its very powerful playlists and through its equally powerful suggestion algorithm. In the week since, the move has been greeted with celebration, derision and skepticism.

The streaming platform Tidal, whose most public owner and champion is rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z, is facing heavy criticism and possible legal action from several Scandinavian artist organizations and other entities after a Norwegian business newspaper alleged last week that the company had faked hundreds of millions of plays on Beyoncé's Lemonade and Kanye West's The

I am so proud of our 2018 Tiny Desk Contest winner, Naia Izumi. The band he brought and the songs they played for this winning Tiny Desk Concert made us all even prouder.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Brittany

May 11, 2018

Hear intoxicating melodies from the father of the pan-Celtic sound, Alan Stivell, along with Kornog, and The Celtic Fiddle Festival. This week we feature the musicians who have helped shape the contemporary Breton sound.

A very pregnant Abigail Washburn points to Bela Fleck at the Tiny Desk and says "and just so you know, this is his fault." I won't spoil the video by telling you his response.

R&B singer Chris Brown, rapper Young Lo, and an unknown woman are being sued in a civil lawsuit by a woman who alleges that she was repeatedly raped at Brown's house in Los Angeles last year.

Gloria Allred — the prominent civil rights attorney who has also represented women who have accused President Trump, Bill Cosby and Roy Moore — filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court yesterday on behalf of the anonymous woman, who is being called Jane Doe.

After a 14-year absence, Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited rocked until dawn at Glamis Arena, an open-air stadium packed with some 20,000 fans of three generations. Mapfumo — Mukanya to his fans, a reference to his totem, the baboon — moved his family out of the country in 2000, to escape turmoil and harassment under the regime of Robert Mugabe.

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