NPR Music & Concerts

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

Aoife O'Donovan got her start in a pair of folk-leaning groups, Sometymes Why and Crooked Still, the latter of which became one of the country's top modern string bands.

Cinematic sweep is hardwired into Band of Horses' sound: Ben Bridwell's voice always seems to be echoing through some canyon or other, whether the guitars are chiming to the rafters or drifting along drowsily. The group's most recent records, Infinite Arms and Mirage Rock, have tended toward the latter half of that equation, but Band of Horses remains versatile in tone, especially onstage.

Jenny Lewis' voice has helped provide a soundtrack to the last 15 years, but it's not part of one specific sound: She's sung heartsick ballads and spiky rock (in Rilo Kiley), summery surf-pop (in Jenny and Johnny), winsome electro-pop (in

My first time seeing this Norwegian band was at a fairly soulless convention center in Austin, Texas. They transformed that big, open room into an intimate affair. So having them perform at the Tiny Desk, an already intimate space, was a thrill. It was also the first appearance of a flugabone here. Kristoffer Lo plays that mournful horn and Ingrid Helene Håvik compliments the yearning with words that are mysterious, somewhat dark and contain surprising twists.

A thumbnail description of The Devil Makes Three — "acoustic string-band music with no drummer" — makes its music seem old-fashioned, even quaint. But the California trio plays with boozy aggression and unhinged intensity. If there were a Newport Punk Festival (and, really, why shouldn't there be?), The Devil Makes Three wouldn't be out of place in its lineup, amplification be damned.

There's ambition rooted in the pursuit of personal glory, and then there's creative ambition, rooted in a desire to do what hasn't already been done. Anais Mitchell is a folksinger with a kind, approachable voice.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Essential Celtic

Jul 23, 2014

Learn how to inject a Celtic core into your music library that reflects past and present, honors tradition and celebrates the spirit of innovation. It can be done! Host Fiona Ritchie has suggestions that will enhance any personal music collection.

This is the second time Hamilton Leithauser has graced the Tiny Desk. Two summers ago, he and his band The Walkmen played a powerful set of songs from their final album for now, Heaven.

Ryan Adams Live Webcast Today

Jul 21, 2014
Ryan Adams
Julia Brokaw

 This audio concert was streamed on Friday, July 25, 2014.

Can't be at this year's Newport Folk Festival? We'll bring some of the festival home to you with a live in-concert audio webcast from Ryan Adams. 

Adams is from North Carolina. He'll be playing the festival, which is known for stretching the definition of "folk music." Nearly a half century ago on its stage Bob Dylan notoriously plugged in and folk-rocked out.

Hear This Concert Live Online

Marisa Anderson: Tiny Desk Concert

Jul 19, 2014

Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She's studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that's as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn't easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)

From its legendary beachfront locale to its celebrations of folk music's past, the Newport Folk Festival draws on more than half a century of celebrated traditions. But it's also an event in which folk's boundaries are tested: This is, after all, where Bob Dylan famously plugged in an electric guitar 49 years ago, in the process enraging the purists in the crowd.

The Newport Folk Festival has been around for more than half a century now — this is its 55th year, to be exact — and the event now routinely sells out months before its lineup is even announced. And why shouldn't it?

Rivers run through many of our well-loved and best-known landscapes. Their quiet banks and neglected docksides are now often the focus of rural rediscovery and urban regeneration. Music, old and new, celebrates our rivers as sources of life and of timeless inspirations to song-makers.

This program previously ran May 2014.

The Thistle And Shamrock: Fiddle Styles

Oct 16, 2013

Sample a variety of fiddle flavors from the wide world of Celtic music.

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

The Thistle And Shamrock: Gaelic Voices

Oct 9, 2013

Explore the branches of contemporary song sprouting from the roots of ancient vocal traditions.

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

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