NPR Music & Concerts

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

Enter the spirit of a traditional Celtic Christmastide with old carols, dance tunes and verses. Fiona Ritchie shares reflections on the season of joy, as we gather to share song, food, fellowship and hopes for the coming year. Artists include Emily Smith, Jennifer Cutting, Ashley Davis and John Doyle.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Gifts

Dec 18, 2019

With the pressure we put on ourselves around the holidays, it's a pity if we can't take some time to allow the spirit of the season to wash over us. Music is one helpful way of easing the tension and accessing that mysterious festive feeling.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Fall Compilation

Dec 11, 2019

Fiona Ritchie says there is so much great new music she feels as if it all goes by too fast. So, Fiona will loop back around to feature some more tracks from recent releases, featuring Bill Jones, Sara Grey, Lorraine Jordan and Lissa Schneckenburger.

Discover more of the jewels in Celtic roots-based music as we continue to sample the best from the Thistle mailbox. We feature new music from Karan Casey, Eamon Friel, Gerry O'Beirne and Karine Polwart.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Myth And Legend

Oct 30, 2019

Radio is your ticket and music your passport to a flight of the imagination. You're invited to embark on a musical journey through myth and mystery, featuring the Peatbog Faeries, Loreena McKennitt and Natalie MacMaster.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Fall Compilation 1

Oct 16, 2019

Fiona Ritchie features an assortment of artists from our New Releases shows whose music is well-deserving of more airtime. These creative artists include Garadice, Suzy Bogguss and Altan.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Hometown Song

Oct 9, 2019

This week, we feature artists singing about their homelands and hometowns, including Maura O'Connell, Liz Carroll and The Easy Club.

Recorded live at the Birnam Book Festival, American folk singer, songwriter and activist Peggy Seeger is joined by Scots singer and songwriter Alan Reid, with host Fiona Ritchie to explore the transatlantic travel of songs.

The Thistle & Shamrock: ThistleRadio New

Sep 25, 2019

Tune in to hear a sampling of Fiona Ritchie's award-winning 24-hour ThistleRadio stream, featuring Luka Bloom, Calan, and Irish group The Unwanted.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Debuts

Sep 6, 2019

Hear musicians from both sides of the Atlantic making their first appearances on our show. Artists include Beth Malcolm, a new duo for Tony McManus and a welcomed return from a band last aired in the days of vinyl.

Hear the haunting melodies from St. Kilda that offer a last link to the "island on the edge of the world," featuring arrangements by composers including Sir James MacMillan with singer Julie Fowlis and additional music from Barrule.

We remember Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, one of Ireland's most influential artists, with the music he recorded and produced over three decades.

When the Celtic rhythms go quiet on your radio, you can always stream great songs and tunes on ThistleRadio's 24-hour music channel. Span the decades with classic tracks that are the bedrock of the playlist, together with some of the newer artist who are helping redefine the sound of today's music from Celtic roots.

It's a bit like browsing through a photo album where the memories are captured in sounds, not images.

This week, join Fiona Ritchie as she features new music from both sides of the pond, with Skipinnish, Suzy Bogguss and a brand new release of a 1982 Dick Gaughan recording.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Chansons

Jul 24, 2019

From the "chant de marin," or sea shanties, of Brittany to the songs of the voyageurs of the Canadian fur trade, enjoy the French songs that extend branches of the Celtic music tree from the old world to the new, with artists Le Vent du Nord, Hilary James and Chris Norman.

Hear the music and learn about the short life of 18th century poet Robert Tannahill, who wrote in the style of Robert Burns and composed well-loved songs that are still widely sung today. We feature artists Emily Smith, The Tannahill Weavers and Rod Patterson.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Common Currency

Jul 10, 2019

The instrumental links and song streams that connect musical traditions in far-flung lands are often invisible. Join host Fiona Ritchie to discover the connections and follow the flow with artists Joe Craven, Julee Glaub and The Paul McKenna Band.

Scottish singer, songwriter and former Battlefield Band member Alan Reid visits Traditional Song Week at the Swannanoa Gathering.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Singing The Land

Jun 26, 2019

This week's show features music from Karine Polwart's theatrical event Wind Resistance and from fiddler Duncan Chisholm's Sandwood, named for the finest and least accessible beach in Scotland.

Step into summer by tuning into some of the fresh new music recently arrived at The Thistle & Shamrock offices in the U.S. and Scotland. Fiona Ritchie handpicks newly-hatched releases from debuting artists that have caught her ear as well as the latest from musicians who frequent her playlists. Be among the first to hear what's sprouting from Fiona's music inbox.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Raise Your Voice

Jun 12, 2019

Traditional and folk songs often lend themselves to carefully crafted, multi-layered singing, with some arrangements creating remarkably beautiful, new versions of old songs, rich with voices. Join the choruses with some of your favorite bands in fuller voice.

Host Fiona Ritchie is joined by the well-loved singer of Scottish traditional and contemporary songs, Christine Kydd.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Scent Of Spring

May 30, 2019

Spring is in the airs... and in the jigs, reels, and songs as we put out a musical welcome mat for the first signs of the season. Artists featured in this episode include Nightnoise, Kim Robertson and The Whistlebinkies.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Dreamtime

May 22, 2019

Settle into an hour of soothing voices and soaring instrumentals that all go to prove this roots music business needn't always be high-energy. Featured in this episode are Davy Spillane, William Jackson, Maire Brennan and Dougie MacLean.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit

The Thistle & Shamrock: Season Of Light

May 8, 2019

Celebrate the coming of summer, the fertility of the season and the greening of the earth as Fiona Ritchie invites you to gather around the fires of "Beltane," one of four ancient, annual Celtic festivals that mark the passage from one season to the next. Artists featured include Loreena McKennitt, The Poozies, and Jim Malcolm.

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Great Tapestry

May 1, 2019

Follow the historic migration from Scotland through Ulster into Pennsylvania and on down the Great Wagon Road to a final destination in the Southern Appalachians. Artists featured in this session include Patrick Street, Cara Dillon, and Sheila Kay Adams.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Atlantic Bridge

Apr 24, 2019

Fiona Ritchie presents an hour of music to ferry you across the Atlantic bridge from Old World to new, with fiddle melodies and Gaelic airs from artists including Alasdair Fraser of Scotland, Ireland's Maeve Donnelly and Dougie MacDonald of Cape Breton Island.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit