Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 11:56 am
The "Graffiti Park" in Austin, Texas, is stunning from any angle: Essentially a giant public canvas, the staggered façade on Baylor Street is constantly refreshed with new eye-popping murals by aerosol artists. When the members of Now, Now met us there, they were good enough sports to haul their guitars and amplifiers all the way to the top.
Experimental folk-rock singer Joseph Arthur appears on this episode of Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. Though Arthur appears solo (as he almost always does), a listener might assume he's backed by a full band. Arthur uses his mastery of digital looping machines, harmonizers and distortion boxes to create a lush, multi-layered background for his songs — culminating with his five-and-a-half-minute spoken-word tune "I Miss the Zoo."
Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 10:58 am
Here's a pairing that raises the question: "Why hasn't this happened before?" The Bad Plus have been a revisionist cover band and today mostly make original piano trio music sui generis. Bill Frisell is the quintessential jazz collaborator: The guitarist, making the second of three appearances at this year's Newport Jazz Festival, is down for anything involving good musicians, and can be counted on to execute it well. Together, they paid tribute to one of their mutual heroes, the late drummer Paul Motian, in a set comprised mostly of his haunting compositions.
Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 5:16 pm
In its 21-year career, Enslaved has stayed ahead of the curve. While defenders of the orthodox black-metal sound have a field day hating modern-day mold-breakers like Wolves in the Throne Room and Deafheaven, Enslaved was tearing down Valhalla with Pink Floyd-ian psychedelia and '70s prog-rock back around 2000's Mardraum.
Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 10:41 am
A classic male singer, Kurt Elling has an old-school vibe to everything from his mannered stage banter to his declamatory, full-chested delivery. But he isn't afraid to write brainy, twisty lyrics over an obscure jazz number, or take a pop song back to the drawing board. He can do a lot with his voice, you see, and the band featuring long-time collaborator Laurence Hobgood, a pianist, helps to set the stage.
Curtis Salgado is a blues icon in Oregon. During his 40-year career in music, he's held long stints with The Robert Cray Band, fronted Roomful of Blues and done his own thing with The Nighthawks and Curtis Salgado & The Stilettos. Growing up in Eugene, Salgado began playing music on the guitar, but fell in love with the sound of blues harmonica and changed course. When he inherited a small amount of money for education, his parents used it to pay for vocal lessons, which helped Salgado nurture his huge voice.
Five-time Grammy winner and New Jersey native Mary Chapin Carpenter has been cranking out country and folk standards for nearly a quarter of a century. Her recent 11th album, Ashes and Roses, finds the singer-songwriter reflecting on grief over her father's death, her recent divorce and concerns about her own health.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 8:41 pm
Blur was never huge in the U.S. Even the British group's best-known song (the two-minute explosion "Song 2") failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. So the moment the group is having right now might be confusing for casual listeners. Blur has reunited in recent years to play live (it'll headline the closing ceremony of the Olympics this weekend) and release a few new songs (last month's "Under the Westway" is lovely). Last week, the band put out a career-spanning box set.