Kelis hadn't taken the stage in America since 2010. But from her opening notes — in which she took on the standard "Feeling Good," as popularized by Nina Simone — the singer never shied away from the most lavish possible spectacle on stage at NPR Music's SXSW showcase, held at Stubb's BBQ. Backed by a 12-piece band, complete with horn section and backup singers, Kelis reintroduced herself to the world as a transformed artist whose sound looks forward and backward without losing its focus on the present.
Our Sense of Place stop in Austin continues today with longtime resident and singer-songwriter Patty Griffin. In late 2013, Griffin finally saw the release of her album Silver Bell. It was recorded in 2000 as the follow-up to her second album, Flaming Red, but was shelved by her record company.
Longtime Austin resident Jody Denberg, who is at least somewhat responsible for Austin's musical tastes as the program director of KGSR radio for 19 years, is our guest for this Sense of Place episode. KGSR was and is a commercial station playing music, much like public station KUTX, where Denberg works today. Although he was born in New York, he is with us to talk about the musical history of his adopted home. He engagingly brings a fan's perspective.
We had a great choice for our Latin Roots segment of Sense of Place: Austin. It's Grupo Fantasma, a nine-piece Latin band that formed in 2000. The band created their own path as a Latin funk orchestra.
Host Tom Druckenmiller talks with John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band about his performances at McCoole's Arts and Events Place in Quakertown on Saturday, March 15th with a Children's Matinee at 4:00 p.m. and an adult performance at 7:30 p.m. (Original air-date March 12, 2014).
Listen to All Songs Considered at SXSW - Wednesday
For most of Wednesday, our team in Austin, Texas, had their eyes on the stage at Stubb's BBQ, where we presented our SXSW showcase featuring sets by Damon Albarn, St. Vincent, Kelis, Eagulls and Perfect Pussy. But near the end of the night, we started hearing news of a terrible accident involving dozens of people outside another venue.
When Mayer Hawthorne showed up at Village Studios for his live session on Morning Becomes Eclectic, he was still wearing his pajamas. In fact, his whole crew (which he dubbed the "Brunch Bunch") were adorned in their PJs — but that didn't stop them from bringing down the house with big-time dance grooves. They mostly played songs from his latest release, Where Does This Door Go, including "Her Favorite Song."
This is FRESH AIR. Starting in the late 1960s, jazz saxophonist Clifford Jordan produced a series of recordings mostly by other leaders that came out on the musician's own Strata-East label. Those seven albums are now collected in a box set. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Jordan the producer had impeccable taste in musicians.