Love is a burning thing that makes a fiery ring. That, my friends, is musical poetry. OK, maybe not, but it is the opening line to one of Johnny Cash's biggest hits. "Ring of Fire" turns 50 years old this year.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RING OF FIRE")
JOHNNY CASH: (Singing) Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring.
When country violinist Amanda Shires goes on tour, she meets a lot of interesting people. Once after a show in Tampa, Florida, a fellow calling himself Tiger Bill handed her a mysterious bag — whose contents, he said, would make her "bulletproof."
"And I opened it and looked inside of it," Shires recalls. "And it was whiskers and claws and teeth and fur."
To be a folk musician these days, there's no requirement that you be some sort of rambling wanderer. But it can't hurt, right?
Gregory Alan Isakov was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He didn't stay there long: He moved to Philadelphia, then around the East Coast, switching schools every couple years. As an adult, he's found a more stable home: a remote part of Colorado. And in his music, he writes from the perspective quite happy to be away from any big cities.
Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 8:31 pm
The Lumineers may have on the pop scene out of nowhere — scoring a worldwide hit with the band's self-titled 2012 debut album and its multimillion-selling single "Ho Hey" — but the Denver group had tooled around in obscurity for quite a few years before its breakthrough. These days, though, it's one of the biggest folk-rock outfits in the business, joining a suspenders-clad Mount Rushmore with the likes of Mumford & Sons.
The day before Keaton Henson arrived to play the Tiny Desk, we hosted a group called The No BS! Brass Band, a nearly dozen-piece horn section with an almost brutal (and totally amazing) sound. It was one of the loudest and most thrilling, heart-pounding Tiny Desk sets we've ever had.
Four years ago, Iranian singer Mohsen Namjoo was touring in Italy when he learned when he learned he would not be able to go home. The Iranian Revolutionary Court had ruled that one of Namjoo's songs disparaged the Quran. He would have to serve five years in prison if he set foot back in Iran. But the music that concerned the court was somewhat unusual for Namjoo; most of his music actually steers clear of religion and politics.
It takes a while to orient yourself when you're listening to the band Dawn of Midi. The new album Dysnomia is a 47-minute-long composition by what looks like a jazz trio — drums, bass and piano. But it sounds like something completely different — looping, minimal electronic music. And there's no improvisation here: It's performed the same way, note for note, every time.