NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  Find more music at WUNC's  Back Porch Music.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Music Migration

Dec 10, 2014

Join host Fiona Ritchie as she uncovers the deep roots across several generations that run under a family tree of songs from the British Isles and Ireland to the Southern Appalachians.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Cornell To Digitize A Rich Hip-Hop Archive

Dec 10, 2014

Aaliyah, Ace Hood, the Afros, Ali D, Arrested Development: In Bill Adler's extensive collection of hip-hop history, some of the genre's biggest names are arranged next to lesser mainstream artists.

If anyone has earned the nickname Pops, it's Ellis Marsalis.

As jazz's best-known father figure, the senior Marsalis has four noted musical offspring: Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. But if you consider all the musicians he's taught or mentored, his clan is even more extensive, diverse and influential.

I talked to six musicians who gave us the long view of the Marsalis family tree, and how they were schooled by its patriarch.

In the summer of 1971, I was a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp for a bunch of 5- to 7-year-olds. For those eight weeks, I walked home with about $50. I bought a guitar and began to learn the songs I'd come to love from the recently released Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens.

"Father and Son" touched me most — it's a song about growing old, and about beliefs and conviction. More than 40 years later, that songwriter is performing at my desk with his son standing right behind me. You can never imagine the turns life will take.

It turns out that Joni Mitchell keeps the same hours as the Morning Edition staff. She recently showed up at NPR's studio in Culver City, Calif., just before midnight to discuss Love Has Many Faces, a four-disc collection of songs dating back to the 1960s.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Dream Time

Dec 8, 2014

Kick back with some soothing voices and free-spirited instrumentals in an episode featuring Dougie MacLean, Maire Brenan, Karen Matheson and Davy Spillane.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WKRP In Perpetuity

Dec 6, 2014

Close your eyes and listen, and you might imagine someone who looks a bit like Otis Redding. Open them, and you're likely to see someone who looks more like your neighborhood bank teller.

DAY ONE

How much Bob Marley paraphernalia can you cram on a single boat?

That's no riddle. I'm sincerely pondering this as I stand in line at the Port of Miami, about to board the Norwegian Pearl. I am going on a cruise.

I am going on a cruise.

Don't ask the members of the Dublin Guitar Quartet to play the time-honored classics of the Spanish repertoire. They might play traditional Spanish style classical guitars, but they're not your standard guitar ensemble. The Dubliners are strictly devoted to contemporary music. They've been commissioning new pieces and adapting others for both acoustic and electric guitars since 2002, when the group formed at the Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Sam Amidon takes traditional music and makes it his own. He might begin with a traditional murder ballad and then morph it into something of his own, fueled by Bill Frisell's languidly atmospheric guitar, Shahzad Ismaily's minimal but essential percussion and Amidon's own yearning voice. At other times, Amidon weaves his own new tunes into worn, weary, seemingly ageless sagas.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Dance Time

Dec 1, 2014

The rhythms of Celtic music work their way down into your feet; before you know it, you're dancing. Limber up and tune into this hour of music featuring Alasdair Fraser, Trian, and a pair of traditional dance bands from Ireland and Scotland.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Jimmy Greene's Beautiful Life is dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, one of the 20 children killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The first song is an arrangement of "Come Thou Almighty King." The hymn was in a piano book that Greene's son, Isaiah, was learning.

Imagine you're in a Tower Records in the late '90s. You head for the cash register with a credit card and two compact discs in your hand. Let's say one CD is by OutKast, the other by Smash Mouth (remember, it's the late '90s). The following week on the Billboard 200, America's premier album chart, both of the CDs you bought have been tallied.

"You know I wrote this for you, baby — you know that." "Oh, yeah, sure."

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo do mock-bickering as well as any long-married couple – which, of course, is exactly what they are. More notably, they've formed a commercial and creative juggernaut spanning more than three decades, with the Brooklyn-born Benatar singing and Giraldo working as her guitarist, producer and fellow songwriter.

The loudest guy in the world came to the Tiny Desk to perform some of his quietest music. Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, for years a guy who's turned my ears red, showed up armed with just an acoustic guitar. I even had an amp for that guitar all lined up, but he decided to not plug in.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Islanders

Nov 21, 2014

From Shetland and Orkney to the Hebrides, the Isle of Man and Rathlin Island, this week's diverse choice of music is far from insular.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Nora Jane Struthers is guided by fire. Coming up within the tradition-minded bluegrass world, she spent her youth in a family band with her father, a good daughter learning tradition. But since she's been leading her own band, the Party Line, Struthers has poured more and more emotion into her songwriting, coming up with some of the most quietly powerful narratives within the new wave of Americana artists.

Davíd Garza was already a favorite son for folks in Austin when I discovered a collection of his past works, filled with stunning songwriting and a voice that seemed familiar yet new. Once I heard his music, I knew I'd always look forward to whatever he produced.

The Lone Bellow dropped by WUNC to play The State of Things.
http://www.thelonebellow.com/

The Lone Bellow is a band is born from tragedy with songs told with heart and simplicity. 

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