NPR Music & Concerts

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

There is a wonderful irony in a career retrospective of a living artist that becomes so popular it outlives its subject. In 2010 — long before David Bowie Is travelled to ten other locations around the world, before it landed in Brooklyn earlier this month — London's Victoria & Albert Museum was approached by the rock icon's management to create an exhibit out of the singer's archives. At the time, the idea that such a show would be taken seriously, much less prove to be a success, were hardly foregone conclusions.

We mark the 10th anniversary of the Swannanoa Gathering's Traditional Song Week with more music and interview highlights from Julee Glaub Weems, David Holt, and Jean Ritchie.

On Sept. 28, 1963, The Ronettes performed on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. In the video, the curtain parts to reveal the three singers dressed in identical long-sleeved pencil dresses, their hair partially swept up in the same half-bouffant that would become part of their signature style. They sway their hips and arms awkwardly to the opening bars of "Be My Baby," and then Ronnie Spector, standing on the left, opens her mouth.

We mark the 10th anniversary of the Swannanoa Gathering's Traditional Song
Week with music and interview highlights from Cathie Ryan, Sheila Kay Adams
and Brian McNeill.

Long before he was the leader of rock octet Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Nathaniel Rateliff was a kid in rural Missouri sneaking around listening to rock and roll. Rateliff remembers finding a Led Zeppelin tape out in a country barn and secretly listening to it over and over in his headphones.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Songs Of The Times

Feb 28, 2018

Join Fiona Ritchie to hear what today's songwriters with Celtic roots have to contribute to our understanding of current concerns, locally and globally. This episodes features music from Karan Casey, Solas, Dick Gaughan, and Karine Polwart.

The lack of women engineers and producers in music is not news. Historically, the recording studio has rarely seen women outside of the reception area or, in the case of a performance venue, in the box office. And as a 2012 report in The Journal on the Art of Record Production shows, these same conversations about gender imbalance in music production have been happening over and over for decades — with little progress being made.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Clear Sounds

Feb 21, 2018

This week, Fiona Ritchie presents some great solo performances from both sides of the Atlantic. This includes the pure, clear acoustic sounds of Jean Redpath, Julee Glaub, and Maura O'Connell.

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This week, from ThistleRadio's award-winning 24-hour music channel, we span the decades with classic, bedrock tracks of our playlist along with some of the newer artists helping to redefine the sound of today's Celtic-rooted music. Artists include Kris Drever, Dervish, and the Bothy Band. Enjoy.

By her own admission, composer Florence Price had two strikes against her.

"To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins," is how she began a 1943 letter to Serge Koussevitzky, the revered conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She added later, "I would like to be judged on merit alone."

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Long View

Feb 7, 2018

If you've been listening to Thistle for some years, perhaps you'll remember two unforgettable extended medleys of tunes: one from Breton harper and multi-instrumentalist Alan Stivell and the other from Irish fiddler Kevin Burke. Make their re-acquaintance this week!

The Thistle & Shamrock: Songs Of The Bard

Jan 31, 2018

Discover and embrace the contemporary appeal of the verses and timeless music written more than 200 years ago by Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns.

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It's time to acknowledge that the Grammy Awards has a real race problem on its hands: It's racing toward total irrelevance.

In a year when the nominees were more eclectic and adventurous, the safe bets prevailed at the 60th Grammy Awards.

Join us for our second week of new year releases, with artists including Jim and Susie Malcolm, Aurora Celtic, and the young musicians of Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd.

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Lift your winter spirits and warm your heart with the New Year's brand new releases, with artists including Anna & Elizabeth, Open the Door for Three, and Matthew Byrne.

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In Charlotte Zwerin's 1988 film Straight, No Chaser, Thelonious Monk road manager Bob Jones tells a story about Monk appearing on a television show sometime in the late '50s. Monk is asked what kind of music he likes, to which he replies "all kinds." The interviewer, hoping for a "gotcha" moment, smugly asks "even country?" to which the maverick pianist coolly deadpans, "I said all kinds."

Updated, Jan. 11, 4:00 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include new allegations of sexual assault made against Dutoit.

The Thistle & Shamrock: At The Edge

Jan 10, 2018

This week we explore the evolving sounds of Celtic music inspired by jazz and classical music, with artists including Solas, Kila and Shooglenifty.

This special radio hour features Pete Seeger's music throughout his career, plus an interview during a visit to his home, where he shared his anecdotes, spirit and zest for life with Fiona Ritchie.

This episode originally aired the week of Dec. 30, 2010.

Join us for a warm blend of festive songs, carols, stories and season's greetings featuring Rhiannon Giddens with The Gathering, Maddy Prior, Little Windows and Cherish the Ladies.

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In music and the culture it reflects, 2017 was predictably unpredictable: idols fell, empires shook, consensus was scarce. This conversation is one of five with artists, makers and thinkers whose work captured something unique about a chaotic year, and hinted at bigger revelations around the bend.

Reggie Ossé, better known to the hip-hop world as podcast host Combat Jack, has passed away from colon cancer. Chris Morrow, Ossé's friend and his co-founder of Loud Speaker Networks, confirmed his death, telling NPR that he died this morning at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York. Ossé was 53 years old.

The Roots' Black Thought proved yesterday that eviscerating lyricism still matters in hip-hop when the rapper dropped a nonstop, awe-inspiring 10-minute freestyle on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show.