Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:33 am
It's New Year's Eve at The Blue Whale, a "live jazz + art space" in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Founded in 2009 by singer Joon Lee, this is a listening room. There's food at the bar, poetry (Rumi!) on the ceiling, and wall-to-wall people. The Blue Whale has been sold out for days, and the phone keeps ringing off the hook because everybody wants to be on the air, cheering for Billy Childs live on NPR's Toast of the Nation.
The Irish indie-folk duo The Lost Brothers makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of Ohio University in Athens. Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland aren't actually brothers; they met nearly a decade ago, while they were both working with other bands in Liverpool. The two began writing songs together in their spare time, and liked the results so much that they decided to form a singing duo.
The New Jersey band Titus Andronicus doesn't shy away from big ideas: It's named for Shakespeare's first tragedy, and its last record (2010's The Monitor) is a concept album drawing on the history of the Civil War. The group's big, shambling rock 'n' roll doesn't mess around with the everyday, opting instead for life-and-death urgency.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:24 pm
The Chicago-based record label Thrill Jockey, led by founder Bettina Richards, has been presenting music on its own terms since 1992. Like any great independent label, it's difficult to identify the core "sound" of its releases, but its fans can easily identify its curatorial spirit. This is by design. "The way I listen to music, there are no categorical limits," Richards says.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 11:30 am
William Basinski has lived on both American coasts, but I know a Southern gentleman when I hear one. The ambient music composer, who grew up in Texas, is on vacation visiting the Celeste ranch of his partner James Elaine's family when I call him — "I just fed the horses apples," he mentions — and is just as sweet as I'd heard from colleagues. He pauses long between words, measuring each one because the weight of each word is just as important as its meaning.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 2:20 pm
I saw Bruce Springsteen perform when I was 12. It was my first real concert, and I was there with my parents. (I have cool parents.) I remember it vividly — the giant screens surrounding the stage, the heady aroma of weed, that deep chant of "Bruuuuuce" that swelled through the stadium and kept going and going and going.
These days it's not unusual to find classical musicians performing in unlikely venues — pubs, clubs and out-of-the-way places. But long before this trend took hold there was Matt Haimovitz. Ten years ago, the intrepid cellist lugged his instrument across the country, bringing music by J.S. Bach to barrooms, coffeehouses and even Manhattan's famous punk club CBGB.