Artistic revolutions are rarely born easy. They complained about cubism, they grumbled about the "talkies" — and boy, did they bellyache over Wagner's trailblazing operas, especially Tristan und Isolde, which debuted 150 years ago Wednesday.
Say the name "Les Paul" to anybody born after 1960, and they'll probably think you're talking about an electric guitar. But the musician and inventor, who was born 100 years ago Tuesday, was also an accomplished jazz guitarist. Paul was never happier than when playing for a live audience.
Anna & Elizabeth are almost single-handedly resurrecting the "crankie." If, like me, you didn't know what a "crankie" was, it's like a mural on a spool — each drawn and crafted to be hand-cranked and unfurled at the pace of a song. The effect, as experienced here in "Lella Todd Crankie," is breathtaking.
Dar Williams plays Mountain Stage, recorded live at Charleston, W.Va.'s Culture Center Theater. Dar Williams has remained a fixture within the folk scene and beyond for nearly two decades, thanks in no small part to her lovely soprano voice and unique songs that are often beautiful, idiosyncratic and tart at the same time.
Richard Thompson's 16th solo album Still closes with an unusual homage to his longstanding sources of inspiration. It's called "Guitar Heroes," and though it's predominantly a standard jump blues, it's laced with extended interludes in which Thompson — arguably the most under-appreciated guitar hero currently recording — tips his hat to Django Reinhardt, Les Paul and other titans.
Martin Sexton says that when he sat down to produce his latest album, Mixtape Of The Open Road, he'd originally set out to record around a theme, like a "Nashville, 1972 album or a bluegrass record or a Zeppelin-esque rockin' CD." But the songs that were coming out had a different plan — each had its own distinct feel. So, as Sexton says, he just "stepped on the gas and headed in that direction of making a mixtape ...
Bing Crosby, current jazz singers Tony Bennett and Jane Monheit, some select times from Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, Bunny Berigan and Glenn Miller...All these great acts, on Big Band Saturday Night this weekend! Join us for the great sounds at 8 o'clock on 89.5! You will be entertained!
"The monastic life is very plain and ordinary," says Father Cassian Folsom, the founder and prior of the Monks of Norcia, ensconced in the St. Benedict Monastery in central Italy. "You get up, and you pray, and you do your work and go to bed and then the next day you do the same thing."
A large portion of the monks' daily routine is singing. "We chant the Divine Office and the Mass every day," Folsom tells NPR's Scott Simon. "And if you put all of those moments together it takes about five hours a day. Three hundred sixty-five days a year."