NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  Find more music at WUNC's  Back Porch Music.

I want to take a moment to remember and appreciate Bernie Worrell, the former keyboard star of Parliament-Funkadelic who is dying from cancer as I write this.

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Longest Day

Jun 22, 2016

Ancient holidays, festivals and fertility rituals once marked the time when the sun reaches its greatest height in the Northern Hemisphere. Host Fiona Ritchie joins in the celebration with music and song handpicked for the longest period of daylight. Hear from artists like Richard Wood, Kathryn Tickell, Maddy Prior and more.

Before he turned twenty-five, Van Morrison had written a rock and roll standard ("Gloria"), essayed arguably the greatest-ever Bob Dylan cover ("It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" — both with Them), made a top-ten American hit ("Brown Eyed Girl") and recorded two very different, very compatible LP masterpieces, Astral Weeks and Moondance — the former concerned with "childhood, initiation, sex, and death," per Greil Marcus in Stranded, the latter with rebirth, experience, love and living for its own sake.

Very few musical gatherings during the crowded summer festival season have been going on as long as CMA Music Fest, which launched under the name Fan Fair in 1972 and now descends upon Nashville just after the heat and humidity set in each June. One of the secrets to its longevity is that it's always been a place where country fans can encounter artists up close; folks who get a bit of face time with their favorite artists, maybe even a hug, are prone to keep coming back.

In 1970, a young business school grad — and failed opera singer — named David Gockley landed a job as business manager of the Houston Grand Opera. After two years, at age 27, he moved up to general director.

Over the next 30 years, Gockley transformed the company into a hothouse for new and revived American opera. During his tenure in Houston, Gockley presented 35 world premieres, including John Adams' Nixon in China, Stewart Wallace's Harvey Milk, Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place, Mark Adamo's Little Women and three operas by Carlisle Floyd.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Raise Your Voice

Jun 15, 2016

While solo singing is revered in traditional circles, layers of harmony and massed voices create stunning arrangements of traditional folk songs. Hear choruses and choirs like Anuna, Gaelic Women, The Black Family and The Poozies.

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Dâm-Funk's Time Machine Boogie

Jun 14, 2016

DJs can be a cagey bunch, protective of their knowledge, reluctant to reveal favorite digging spots to even their closest friends or, in the case of Afrika Bambaataa, peeling center labels off in the shower so that only he knew the groove, all so as to keep their secret weapons, well, a secret. But not Damon Riddick.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Songs Of The Times

Jun 9, 2016

Old ballads offer fascinating glimpses into the past, but what do today's songwriters say about our contemporary concerns? Hear timely songs by Karan Casey, the Paul McKenna Band, Karine Polwart and more.

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