For its eighth and most recent appearance on Mountain Stage, the iconic Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel traveled to the birthplace of country music in the border town of Bristol, Tenn./Va. Led for more than 40 years by singer-guitarist Ray Benson, the group was conceived in the tiny town of Paw Paw, W.Va., in 1969. Since then, Asleep at the Wheel has become the world's undisputed king of Western swing bands.
"Pink Champagne," a song on Caitlin Rose's second album The Stand-In, presents Rose's voice in its sparest purity and veiled shrewdness. She sends her voice skyward, the notes as buoyant and light as the bubbles of the pink champagne she's singing about. Her high trills could, with only a slight shift in tone and attitude, become self-conscious with a Betty Boop coyness, as they do once or twice on The Stand-In. But most of the time, Rose keeps her music grounded in the details of yearning, heartache and a welcome sense of gratefulness and enthused energy.
Imagine the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, in the 1980s. You can't, right? Neither can most music critics. That's why the recent re-release of a record by a popular '80s-era Mogadishu dance band has caught the attention of critics lately.
The founders of Dur-Dur Band now live in Columbus, Ohio. Weekends on All Things Considered asked members Abdinur Daljir and Sahra Dawo to go to a studio there — accompanied by an interpreter — to talk about the newly reissued record and the story that precedes it.
For decades, the Austin Lounge Lizards have been trying to keep their Texas hometown weird. Armed with an alt-country sound and precise harmonies, the members have been spoofing politics, religion and romance for as long as most Austinites can remember. Now, they're releasing their first studio album in seven years, Home and Deranged. Founding members Hank Card and Conrad Deisler spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin; click the audio link on this page to hear their conversation.
Several thousand young Afghans are attending a music and arts festival of their own this week in Kabul. NPR's Sean Carberry sent this postcard from the third annual Sound Central Alternative Music and Arts Festival.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Chanting in foreign language)
SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: While this is going on outside the French Cultural Center in Kabul...
The 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival wraps up Monday. This weekend and last, 12 stages have mixed such marquee names as Fleetwood Mac, Phoenix and Los Lobos with dozens of local bluesmen, soul belters and Cajun fiddle players.
Burt Bacharach has written huge hit songs, each recognizable after just a couple of notes: "Alfie," "What the World Needs Now," "That's What Friends Are For" — the list goes on. He's written 73 Top 40 hits, along with musical comedies and other collaborations. He's won Oscars and the Gershwin Prize. His songs are often poised on the edge between poignancy and joy, or sometimes the reverse.
"'The World Is Changing' is groove with a message." That quote, a pretty good summary of the music of Femi Kuti in just nine words, comes from Juan Gélas, the creative director of a new video for Kuti's new song. Femi Kuti is a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboard player and singer and songwriter. The son of legendary afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, he carries on the tradition of mixing Nigerian beats along with jazz and a healthy dose of politics. Juan Gélas says, "Femi Kuti continues to be a leading protest artist out of modern Africa and his voice talks to us all."