NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  For WUNC's music programs,  Back Porch Music.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Chansons

Feb 25, 2016

From the chant de marin, or sea shanties, of Brittany to the songs of the voyageurs of the Canadian fur trade, many French-language songs extend branches of the Celtic music tree from the old world to the new. Enjoy them here, in a new episode of The Thistle & Shamrock.

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Wilco: Tiny Desk Concert

Feb 23, 2016

Thousands of bands have made strong debuts, and many of those have made good second and third records — it's harder, but not unusual. It's truly rare to make your 10th album exciting and relevant more than 20 years on. For all that, I'd say Wilco is an American legend.

From romance to fairy tales, poetry tells the story this week. Hear Loreena McKennitt, Johnny Cunningham, Robin Laing and others as they perform music inspired by poets' lives and works.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The artist and thinker, who just released a new album that's only one part of a larger multimedia conception, takes us from the drummers of Burundi to Adam Ant, Octavia Butler to David Bowie, Rakim to Young Thug. We also hit on ageism in rap, artistry for sale and how to work interviews.

ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD: Saul Williams in the house! What up?

FRANNIE KELLEY: Thank you for coming.

Welsh singer-songwriter and broadcaster Cerys Matthews recorded "A Child's Christmas" by Dylan Thomas in 2014 to mark the poet's centenary year. Matthews tells host Fiona Ritchie all about the project, set to original music she created with Mason Neely, and transports us to Christmastime in Wales by narrating excerpts from this timeless holiday classic.

When Franz Liszt wrote The Fountains of the Villa d'Este, he added a Latin quotation from the Gospel of St. John. It says: "But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life." That composition is featured on the newest album by French pianist Helene Grimaud, called Water.

Watching Ben Folds perform his songs on piano at the Tiny Desk, there seems to be a direct line between thought and expression, except perhaps when he stumbles or forgets a line or two. Folds has a knack for plainspoken, smartly crafted words that sometimes sting and always seem to speak the truth — like these words from "Phone In A Pool":

Seems what's been good for the music

Hasn't always been so good for the life

Watching Beyoncé From New Orleans

Feb 16, 2016

The low rumble of Beyoncé built like thunder, starting on the first Thursday of February, as the #BEYONCEISCOMING hashtag began trending on Twitter. Rumor spread that not only was the reigning Queen of Pop about to unleash a Super Bowl performance that would render headliner Coldplay a sideshow, but the Internet had gotten wind that there was new music afoot, too.

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