NPR Music & Concerts

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

One of the more baffling cultural intersections to take place during President Trump's first overseas trip was a concert that took place Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It featured American country music star Toby Keith, who performed for an all-male audience.

When you stream a song on Spotify, it's delivered in an audio format — imagine these formats to be containers as literal as a phonograph record — cheekily named "Ogg Vorbis." YouTube, one of the most popular music streaming "services" in the world by volume, prefers something called AAC, or "Advanced Audio Coding." Radio stations, whenever possible, tend to prefer

The music of the late Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, the wife of the jazz giant John Coltrane, has always rested somewhat in the shadows. It didn't help that she gave her career up — to become a spiritual leader.

When Vince Staples releases his sophomore album Big Fish Theory next month, he won't be the only lanky rapper from Long Beach, Calif. with new music in the marketplace. Big Uncle Snoop Dogg, whose solo debut Doggystyle dropped the same year Staples was born, released his 15th studio album this week. And like the title Neva Left not-so-subtly suggests, his ubiquitous industry presence over the last quarter century is unprecedented in hip-hop.

Of course it's a story about death and Seattle music.

I woke up this morning after bad dreams last night, only to find the real nightmare — that Chris Cornell of Soundgarden was dead. As with all these losses it seems surreal, untrue, unimaginable. But there it is.

A video of Russian President Vladimir Putin taking a turn at the ivories in Beijing is currently making the Internet rounds.

In 2014, when the band Hundred Waters programmed the first installment of its FORM festival in the eco-friendly desert village known as Arcosanti, it was an entirely DIY affair.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Bridges

May 10, 2017

Music commemorates the landmarks that span our landscapes — and is its own bridge across time and place. Cross all forms of bridges this week with music from Altan, Kim Robertson, Eileen Ivers and more.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

On Monday, the Internet radio pioneer Pandora, one of the oldest music tech companies still humming, announced its first-quarter financial results. Like most of its brethren, the company both makes and loses a lot of money — it reported $132 million in net losses this quarter alone, but also announced a new $150 million round of financing and a shakeup of its board. Oh, and that financing requires the company explore all feasible avenues to sell itself off before receiving the cash.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel — one of the most famous Venezuelans in the world today and one of the world's most prominent classical musicians — issued an open letter today to the president and government in his native country.

Long reticent to address politics directly, he has published his comments in a letter titled "Levanto Mi Voz / I Raise My Voice," in both Spanish and English. (The full text is below, in both languages.)

One week ago around this time, thousands of people seeking a luxurious island reprieve were preparing for a trip to Exuma Island in the Bahamas to attend the Fyre Festival.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Singer-Songwriters

May 3, 2017

The talented songwriters featured in this week's show take us on a tour around the landscapes that inspire their music. Hear music by Battlefield Band, Bert Jansch, Áine Furey and more.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

As a composer, I entered a profession in which I knew I could actively alter our fractious present using the incomparable tools of art. After all, the intellectually curious and essentially progressive landscapes of our concert halls and opera houses seem like the perfect arenas in which to harness momentum for change and, through the aspirational craft of music, feel the resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy.

Gorillaz Are Human After All

Apr 27, 2017

The Thistle & Shamrock: Spring Sounds

Apr 26, 2017

The new spring shoots of music from Celtic roots are ready for broadcast. Hear new songs from Eamon Friel, Molly's Revenge, Runa and more.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Record Store Day, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is a consumer ploy in the guise of a cultural event. Or, depending on your vantage, maybe it's the other way around. Whatever the case, record stores across the country and around the world are happily (or gamely) bracing for impact: Record Store Day 2017 falls this Saturday, April 22, with a wave of exclusive releases, in-store appearances and other retail enticements.

Prince Without Permission

Apr 21, 2017

It is important — and always devastating — to remember that Prince died alone. He had probably also been in great pain that evening. But there was, as far as we know, nobody around to help him.

A 23-year-old, Russian-born violinist named Artem Kolesov is capturing international attention after posting a YouTube video in which he comes out as gay.

Allan Holdsworth, Revered Fusion Guitarist, Dies At 70

Apr 17, 2017

Allan Holdsworth, a spellbinding guitarist who influenced generations of jazz and rock musicians with his innovative sound, has died unexpectedly at age 70.

The period of anticipation preceding the release of Kendrick Lamar's fourth album, DAMN., was intense, brief but methodically built.

The D.C. brewery Right Proper was like a cultural mullet during a recent visit: a posh baby shower in the front (complete with chocolate petit fours), a bunch of metal heads making beer in the back. Right Proper's head brewer, Nathan Zeender, was dumping a heaping spoonful of hop extract into a tank.

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