By the time John Denver died in a plane crash in 1997, he had written and sung a remarkable assortment of cherished music: "Rocky Mountain High," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and many more. He was often mocked by edgier musicians for being a kind of musically soft, spongy Wonderbread of a singer-songwriter. But his songs have endured — and influenced more than one generation.
Richard Wagner was, and still is today, arguably the most controversial figure in classical music. A self-appointed deity and hyperdriven genius, Wagner is often considered the ultimate megalomaniac. He dreamed up and achieved a single-minded plan to change the course of classical music history.
On Sunday, voters in Venezuela will head to the polls, and in Caracas, the noise level is as high as voters' emotions. There is a background noise that accompanies everyday life in Latin America, a constant soundtrack: music blaring from food stands and cars, loud automobiles that are so run-down they defy the laws of physics, street vendors yelling product names. I've spoken to many immigrants to the U.S. who, like me, first arrived to live in the suburbs and found the absence of bochinche, or ruckus, maddening.
At World Cafe, we recently asked Stephen Bowen of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville, Tenn., to name the five most important country records of all time. The store was founded by country pioneer Ernest Tubb, who had a hit with the early honky-tonk song "Walking the Floor Over You." More than 65 years later, the shop is still known as a hub for country-music fans.
Bowen polled the store's online community to help choose these tracks.
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 8:04 pm
Coachella, the massive outdoor music festival that kicks off this weekend in Indio, Calif., has become an "incubator" not just for new bands, but for rising food entrepreneurs, according to a story in the San Jose Mercury News earlier this week.
Piney Gir (a.k.a. Angela Penhaligon) makes her first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Originally from Kansas City, Penhaligon grew up in a strict Pentecostal home; her father was a minister who forbade TV and modern popular music. She eventually relocated to London, where she threw herself into music and dabbled in everything from garage-rock and punk to country and electronic music.
Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 1:51 pm
Pianist and 2010 Grammy winner Laurence Hobgood was born in Salisbury, N.C., and grew up in Texas and Illinois. He took up piano at age 6 and showed a knack for improvisation early on, playing his own versions of pieces by Bach and Chopin. In 1988, Hobgood relocated to Chicago, where he met an up-and-coming vocalist named Kurt Elling.
On this episode of Piano Jazz, pianist and 2013 NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri brings along bassist Hugo Duran and percussionists Jose Claussell, Richie Flores, and Mark Quinones for a raucous set of original tunes with an Afro-Caribbean flavor.
There's something to be said for unconventional artists who can still connect to an audience. The band Broadcast funneled oddball library-catalog music through dreamy space-pop. Shabazz Palaces is hip-hop's cubist Sun Ra. Altar of Plagues, which works outside the roots of black metal, knows a thing or two about unconventional sounds. But the Irish band has, until now, strictly been a longform outfit, stretching drones and abrasive tones across sides of vinyl.
Neil Sedaka is synonymous with popular music. For more than 50 years, he's written, performed and produced the soundtrack for America's collective psyche. Sedaka had a string of early-1960s pop hits, and his songs have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Elvis Presley and The Monkees, among others.