On today's episode of Latin Roots, NPR's Felix Contreras returns to discuss the Latin Alternative music of the 1970s. Contreras is a connoisseur of Latin music who hosts NPR's Alt.Latino, reports on jazz, world music and Latin culture for NPR's Arts Desk, and plays in several Latin and jazz bands. Here, Contreras describes how politics in the 1970s influenced Latin music of the era.
Here's what's surprising about guitarist Nathan Salsburg: He writes passionate instrumental tales about racehorses and turns them into accessibly eclectic tunes. With a brilliant debut album (Affirmed) full of intricate and melodic fingerpicking, Salsburg is likely to become one of those names we all associate with American folk guitar.
Download 'Touch And Go: The Studs Terkel Project' By The Moshier-Lebrun Collective
This year, Chicago is celebrating the Studs Terkel centenary — the life and work of the actor, radio host, author, historian and, in the words of the Chicago Historical Society, "ennobler of his fellow man." There will be a re-dedication of the Studs Terkel Bridge, a 100th birthday party at the Newberry Library, a museum exhibit, readings and a film and video festival.
A lot of artists come into the KEXP studios on their way to stardom, and you count yourself lucky and excited to be a part of an inspired performance. The best sessions, though, happen just as a band is taking off — and on its record-release day, no less — and you know it's going to break through.
Like many musicians who've come through Cuba's music conservatory, 26-year-old pianist Alfredo Rodríguez displays ferocious virtuosity on his splendid debut, Sounds of Space. Underneath all the firepower, though, lies a remarkable composer who knows how to pull back from the razzle-dazzle and play a piece that's more memorable for its melody and arrangement than for his awe-inspiring technique.
The Lebanese classical musician and composer Marcel Khalife is often compared to Bob Dylan — not for his music, but for his politics. The Middle Eastern musical and political icon sings about freedom and nationalism.
Khalife is famous for translating poetry into music. For years, he collaborated with the nationalist Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
"It began when I graduated from the music conservatory in Beirut. The civil war started in Lebanon — I wanted to change the world with music," says Khalife.
I haven't been able to listen to Vic Chesnutt's music much since he took his own life on Christmas Day, 2009. It's just been too heartbreaking. But on a recent, chilly Spring night in D.C. I had my iPod on random and Vic's song "Aunt Avis" came up. It was one of those seemingly innocuous moments when you're off in your own little world and something hits you out of the blue.