NPR Music & Concerts

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

"¡Des ... pa ... cito!"

The song of the summer actually became the Song of the Year at the 18th annual Latin Grammy's held in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.

The song by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee also picked up Record of the Year, Best Urban Fusion Performance and Best Short Term Video.

Vince Staples is impossible to categorize. A Southern Cali MC who prides himself on his Long Beach bona fides while eschewing the prototypical gangsta rap tag with which he's often mislabeled, he's a natural at bucking the status quo. Yet he also sees clear divisions between art and commerce that lead him to question how institutions choose to define — or fail to distinguish — the two.

For decades now, country's aesthetic and ideological sensibilities have been shaped as much by the music's modern, middle-class suburban appeal as its rural working-class roots, which can make for quite the rhetorical push-and-pull (likely one of many factors that contributed to the Dixie Chicks' famed expulsion from the format over voicing distaste for the second President Bush during a U.K. concert). Working-class political speech hasn't always been recognized as political at all; it's just as likely to be dismissed as class resentment.

The Thistle And Shamrock: Seasons Of Mist

Nov 9, 2017

From the Celtic colors of Cape Breton Island to the amber of Highland Perthshire and the stunning autumnal displays of the Appalachian Ridges, we feature music from Maddie Prior, Dougie MacLean and The Critton Hollow String Band.

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

The Thistle & Shamrock: Real Hallowe'en

Nov 2, 2017

Host Fiona Ritchie takes you back to the mystical ancient times as she uncovers folklore, legends and eerie tales in ballads old and new. She features original music with her award winning narration of Robert Burns' "Tam o' Shanter" and James Hogg's "The Brownie of the Black Haggs."

There can be no more personal or generous a gift from an artist to their fans than to say: Here is the museum of my heart as I prepare to die. Please come in. This room smells like Chanel No 5. It's the scent of all the letters sent by my old flame. That room is an exact replica of my baby's nursery. It's where we performed our old "Bedtime" routine: "I'd get you to your crib, slowly lower you down. Then pull my hands away, as if from a bomb. Then I'd step away, one step at a time, the floors were full of sounds, all the creaks of time." That window looks out at "The Lake," Lake Ontario.

Pop star Justin Timberlake will perform at halftime of the 52nd Super Bowl, it was announced yesterday evening in an excitedly adolescent announcement video Timberlake posted with Jimmy Fallon (below). The game will take place at Minneapolis, Minn.'s U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 4.

The Thistle And Shamrock: New Fall Sounds

Oct 20, 2017

New music is always in season, but autumn brings with it a special skew in our tastes. So for this episode of The Thistle and Shamrock, host Fiona Ritchie has collected another hour's worth to offer you, including The Breath, Robin Bullock, Ruth Keggin, and James Ritchie.

How 'The Con' Almost Broke Tegan And Sara

Oct 20, 2017

When The Con was released on July 24, 2007, it was a different time for Tegan and Sara. The Canadian duo was five albums in and still on the fringes of the alternative indie rock world. They were cast as outsiders, ridiculed in the press for their gender and/or sexuality, not to mention their haircuts. The stress of it drove a rift between the two of them.

From dance tunes to Gaelic airs, the musical links between old world and new come alive with Scotland's Alasdair Fraser, Cape Breton's Dougie MacDonald, Ireland's Maeve Donnolly and more.

This episode originally aired the week of April 1, 2010.

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

Call it a comeback. After years of absence from the spotlight, Eminem returned to relevance last night with a fierce lyrical condemnation of President Trump.

Tens of thousands of people will gather this weekend for the Austin City Limits Festival, a two-week music festival about a mile from downtown Austin.

"It's gonna be the safest part of the city to be in during both weekends, just because of the sheer number of officers that will be present," said Brian Manley, the chief of the Austin Police Department, during a press conference this week. Manley said the department will have officers inside and outside the festival, with heightened attention to threats from outside the gates.

For such an unassuming rock star, Tom Petty sure got to live a lot of lives.

Hip-hop may reign supreme in 2017, but it took several years of a digital revolution to shift dominance from music corporations, empower artists and prioritize the consumer before rap and R&B could bring home the gold. The crowning began with an unprecedented pocket of music history that saw hip-hop's pantheon of kings release this year's most anticipated compositions within a first quarter once written off as a dead zone on the album release calendar.

Charles Bradley, the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," whose late-blossoming career was built on fiery performances that evoked his idol, James Brown, died in Brooklyn on Saturday, Sept. 23, according to a statement by his publicist. In 2016, Bradley was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which spread to his liver. He was 68 yeas old.

Join host Fiona Ritchie and guests as they explore selections from the American Folklife Center's collection of about half a million sound recordings, including songs from Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Carrie Grover.

Anyone who has heard Jamila Woods' music knows she's an extraordinary artist. In our inaugural edition of Slingshot, you'll also learn what an extraordinary person she is, too.

Woods' lyrics depict a childhood spent growing up black on the south side of Chicago — emphasis on growing up. Her debut album, HEAVN, combines familiar playground double-dutch rhythms alongside references to Toni Morrison folk-tale collections. She is part poet and part professor.

In the age of SoundCloud rap, 19-year-old Demo Taped's rise from unknown Atlanta-bred music prodigy to 300 Entertainment signee isn't all that unusual. That he's ascended from hip-hop's bedrock city to the house that Lyor Cohen built while making something other than hip-hop? That's totally out of the ordinary.

In this episode, we remember Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, one of Ireland's most influential artists, with the music he recorded and produced over three decades. Host Fiona Ritchie features legendary Celtic music groups of which Domhnaill was a member — Skara Brae, The Bothy Band, Relativity and Nightnoise — along with other recordings featuring the guitarist, producer, composer and singer who contributed to over 100 albums.

The intrepid pianist Marc-André Hamelin has a reputation for embracing the toughest, strangest music. His new recording of For Bunita Marcus by Morton Feldman is a fine example. For nearly 75 minutes the music never rises above a whisper and the damper pedal is always pressed down, allowing single notes to ring out into vast, silent spaces.

Don't look for Walter Becker on those endless (ridiculous) listicles ranking the "Guitar Gods of the 1970s." He's rarely mentioned in the same breath as major dudes like Eric Clapton, or Jimmy Page, or Duane Allman, or Carlos Santana, or Billy Gibbons, or Frank Zappa.

Pages