Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Fan fervor is one of the basic building blocks of rock and roll, but it's difficult to recall a rock star as tenderly beloved as is Bruce Springsteen in 2016. There are bigger legends who've evinced louder screams, like the baby boomer Boss's own early inspirations, Elvis and The Beatles.

We've never done a Tiny Desk Concert that wasn't behind my desk at NPR. But when the White House called and said they were putting on an event called South by South Lawn, a day-long festival filled with innovators and creators from the worlds of technology and art, including music, we jumped at the chance to get involved. We chose Common as the performer and the White House library as the space.

Love is elusive and innocence lost in a new video from The Dandy Warhols, for the band's idiosyncratic pop song "Catcher In The Rye." Like the song's namesake novel, the video opens on a sullen Holden Caulfield character, complete with a red hunting cap and a suitcase in hand, smoking and strolling aimlessly down the sidewalk. A young woman on the other side of the street catches his eye and, after they exchange a few glances, he takes off running with the young woman in pursuit.

Regina Spektor's family — Russian Jews from Moscow — left the former Soviet Union for the U.S. in 1989, when Spektor was 9. They settled in the Bronx, where her dad, despite their financial struggles, managed to secure his daughter a piano teacher so she could keep playing her favorite instrument.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


KSUT will feature the new Norah Jones CD Day Breaks, on its release date, October 7, at noon.  Her stunning sixth solo album, is a kindred spirit to the singer’s breakout debut Come Away With Me and finds the 9-time GRAMMY-winner returning to the piano and her roots. The album features jazz luminaries including her Blue Note label mates saxophonist Wayne Shorter, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and drummer Brian Blade on a 12-song set that presents 9 new originals alongside covers of songs by Horace Silver, Duke Ellington and Neil Young.

Fourteen hours ago, Jenny Hval was mashing watermelon and confetti into the compact stage at the Oslo club Vulkan. Now the Norwegian artist is struggling to transition into a more rarified mode. The 36-year-old is hiding from the sticky mid-September sun in her studio in gentrifying Grünerløkka, rehearsing — this weekend she'll form part of a choir backing homegrown superstar Susanne Sundfør at the 8,700-capacity Spektrum arena. "I'm bad at singing in choirs," Hval says, sitting on an old wooden chair and clutching each foot to the opposite hip, knees pointing forward like an arrow.

With both Mazzy Star and her band The Warm Inventions, singer Hope Sandoval has helped perfect an impeccably shimmering sound that's ideally suited to her gorgeous, approachable voice.

Neville Marriner, the conductor and violinist who was something of an entrepreneur as well as the guiding spirit behind one of the most successful classical recordings of all time — the soundtrack to the 1984 smash movie Amadeus — died overnight at age 92 at his home in London. His death was announced by the chamber orchestra he founded, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

If the viola is your instrument, it can be difficult to find repertoire to showcase your talent. But violist Nadia Sirota has plenty to play. She champions new composers to write music for her and forms ensembles to play it. Sirota's longtime collaborator Nico Muhly recently released an album called Keep in Touch, featuring two pieces written specifically for her.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Remarkable falsetto singing, accompanied mainly (and sometimes solely) by acoustic guitar, was the calling card for Justin Vernon's breakout as Bon Iver. Since his widely praised debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, he's sung with pop superstars, produced for other artists and greatly expanded the sound of his own band. This week — after a five-year break — he takes another step away from his beginnings with Bon Iver's third album, 22, A Million.

Shovels & Rope On World Cafe

Sep 30, 2016

The last album of original songs from the Charleston, S.C., band Shovels & Rope was 2014's Swimmin' Time. The duo put out an album of covers in 2015, but for the forthcoming album Little Seeds, it was time for Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent to put in some writin' time.

KSUT is featuring the latest release, Signs of Light, from Indie-folk rockers The Head and The Heart, Friday 9/30 at noon.  In 2014, after four years of non-stop touring, the six members of the Head And The Heart pointed their individual compasses to new cities, new relationships and new adventures. Pianist Kenny Hensley learned to fly planes and enrolled in kung-fu training in China, while bassist Chris Zasche packed up a camper and went off the grid in the Canadian Rockies.

The smartest thing Mikael Åkerfeldt ever did was to stop writing extreme metal and focus on his biggest musical obsession: progressive rock. As sterling a run as he and his band Opeth experienced from the 1995 debut album Orchid to 2008's Watermark, the Swedes ran the risk of spinning their wheels if they would've kept playing the same labyrinthine hybrid of death metal and doom metal over and over. You could tell guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Åkerfeldt wanted more space to express himself beyond a monotone growl.

This past week I was at the 17th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville, listening to and having conversations with musicians. One songwriter and singer I've admired from the world of Americana during this decade is John Paul White, whom you may know as a former member of the duo The Civil Wars.

For weeks, Bon Iver fans have been tantalized by cryptic imagery, pop-up murals and a symbol-heavy track list that would make any copy editor shudder. Now, the band's long-awaited third album, 22, A Million -- its first in five years — is finally available.

Solange announced her new album, A Seat At The Table, on Tuesday, calling it "a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing." Now the follow-up to 2012's excellent True EP is here, accompanied by a book, and featuring spots from Kelela, Q-Tip, Kelly Rowland, Lil Wayne, Dev Hynes, Sampha, Moses Sumney, The-Dream, BJ the Chicago Kid, Sean Nicholas Savage and Tweet.

What feeling of freedom must accompany recording artists who don't use their real names when they write or perform music? Does a musical mask, a second personality, let them create a whole new persona? A way to react differently to the world? I remember one Halloween, I went to a costume party at a friend's office. I didn't know anyone there, and was wearing a costume that included a mask that completely covered my face. I'll never forget the complete freedom as my friend's office mates tried to figure out who I was.

Kate Bush has toured only once in the last 35 years. Fortunately, that string of live performances, at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in 2014, was recorded and will soon be available for everyone to hear. Concord Records will release Before The Dawn, a three-disc set of the recordings, on Dec. 2. Bush produced the set herself, with no additional recording or overdubs.

Norah Jones returns to the piano for many of the songs on her new album, Day Breaks, which hearkens back to her blockbuster debut, Come Away With Me. She recruited an assortment of Blue Note jazz greats for the album, on which she delves into some of the issues of the day — particularly in "Flipside."


  • "Flipside"

Paul Simon is ageless and animated in his first-ever performance at Austin City Limits. His hour-long, career-spanning set includes this playfully infectious version of the song "Wristband," from Simon's most recent album, Stranger To Stranger. It's vintage storytelling from Simon as he describes a musician who's inadvertently locked out of the club where he's supposed to be performing. It's a maddening comedy of errors that ultimately speaks to much larger issues like abuse of power, race relations and the privileged class.

Ever since his early teens, songwriting has come fairly quickly to Conor Oberst. Whether as a solo artist, with Bright Eyes, in Desaparecidos, or in the supergroup Monsters Of Folk, he's stayed steadily prolific while performing with nervy intensity at every stop on his winding and unpredictable career path.

In a run spanning more than 30 years, Phish has become one of rock's all-time great touring bands, thanks to dynamic live performances full of lengthy improvisations and whimsical antics. But even with 1,600-plus shows under its belt since the 1980s, the Vermont quartet still has detractors, including those who point to Phish's uneven discography. Fair or not, it's true that the group's studio output is a different beast next to countless hours of live recordings.

As partners in marriage and in the rootsy duo Shovels & Rope, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent used to think there was no way their worlds could get any more intertwined. Then they had a kid.

Contrary to institutional narratives and popular perception, there's a place more significant to the country-music imagination than Nashville: the small town. It's impossible to miss the number of song lyrics and music videos set there. The humble hamlet is symbolic ground on which many artists choose to stand, idealizing it as a site of possibility — the notion that a meaningful life can be lived either by staying there or staying true to small-town values even when you make good elsewhere — and insisting that cosmopolitan elitism not render it invisible or inferior.

Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 3, which appears on his latest album, contains many levels of meaning. It's an homage to the Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev, whose Second Symphony serves as a structural model for the piece. It's an encoded musical portrait of Rouse's wife. And it's an engaging piece of music even for a listener who possesses none of this background knowledge.

Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath was one of the coolest records to come out in 2014, with Ozzy-era Black Sabbath songs recast as heavy Latin-funk jams. But it's not just some joke made after a night of tequila.