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.
The Thai Elephant Orchestra is, remarkably, just what it sounds like. At a conservation center in Thailand, made for former work animals with nowhere to go, a group of elephants has been assembled and trained to play enormous percussion instruments, holding mallets in their trunks and sometimes trumpeting along.
Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 10:46 am
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.
For the next year, NPR will take a musical journey across America, which is one of the most religiously diverse countries on earth. We want to discover and celebrate the many ways in which people make spiritual music — individually and collectively, inside and outside houses of worship.
The founder of the choral group Sounds of Africa is Fred Onovwerosuoke. He was born in Ghana and brought up in Nigeria, and his choir in the heart of the U.S. — St. Louis, Mo., to be exact — has recorded his arrangements of African sacred music by a composer named Ikoli Harcourt Whyte.
Host Rick Weaver welcomes Carlos Nunez to the program for an interview and live performance prior to his appearance at Musikfest on Friday at 6:30pm at Plaza Tropical. Carlos is a world-renowned Spanish performer on the gaita (traditional Galician bagpipes).
Last weekend the Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon lashed out at his audience; an audience that had already been lashed by winds and rain during what was pretty terrific set in a spectacular new waterfront venue in lower Manhattan.