Music News

The Record
11:29 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Rickie Lee Jones Embraces 'The Big Invisible'

Rickie Lee Jones' new album, The Other Side of Desire, will be out on June 23.
David McClister Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 11:41 am

Rickie Lee Jones needs no introduction. Seriously. The singer-songwriter is so elementally articulate, so gifted at grasping both the rawest and the most complicatedly cooked emotions in her compositions, that critical framing best comes after the experience of listening to her.

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A Blog Supreme
4:06 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

Bruce Lundvall, Jazz Record Executive, Has Died

Bruce Lundvall attends a ceremony hosted by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which produces the Grammy Awards. In addition to his role as record executive, he also once served as director of the Recording Academy.
Noel Vasquez Getty Images

Bruce Lundvall, the longtime President of Blue Note Records who supported many top jazz artists over the last four decades, died yesterday, May 19. The cause was complications of Parkinson's Disease, according to a Blue Note statement. He was 79.

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Deceptive Cadence
6:49 am
Sun May 17, 2015

After Thaw, Minnesota Orchestra Returns To Cuba

The Minnesota Orchestra under the direction of conductor Osmo Vanska (center) performs during a concert at the Cuban National Theater in Havana on Friday.
Yamil Lage AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 8:44 am

The Minnesota Orchestra plays Havana this weekend. It's the first professional U.S. orchestra to perform in Cuba since the United States and the island nation began the process of normalization last December. For the musicians, this trip is about healing β€” both diplomatically and for themselves.

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The Record
3:35 am
Sat May 16, 2015

B.B. King And The Majesty Of The Blues

B.B. King performs at the Newport Jazz Festival at Yankee Stadium in 1972 (the festival temporarily relocated to New York in the 1970s).
David Redfern Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 8:42 am

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The Two-Way
1:47 am
Fri May 15, 2015

B.B. King, Legendary Blues Guitarist, Dies At 89

B.B. King performs at Bluesfest Music Festival in Byron Bay, Australia, in 2011.
Mark Metcalfe Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 12:11 pm

It seemed as if he'd go on forever β€” and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

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The Record
12:36 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Shakey Graves, Lucinda Williams And Sturgill Simpson Lead Americana Awards Nominees

Shakey Graves performs at the Americana Music Association Showcase at Gatsby's during SXSW 2014 in Austin, TX.
Erika Goldring Courtesy of the artist

The nominees for the 2015 Americana Honors and Awards were announced today at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. This year's slate shows how the definition of Americana is gently expanding to include more generationally, racially and stylistically diverse stars, while remaining grounded in its country-leaning, singer-songwriter-dominated definition of roots music.

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Business
4:43 am
Wed May 13, 2015

Vinyl's Comeback Keeps Record Pressers Busy

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 5:58 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF JACK WHITE SONG, "HIGH BALL STEPPER")

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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NPR Story
3:09 am
Tue May 12, 2015

Sold Out Grateful Dead Chicago Concerts Attract High-End Scalpers

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 6:12 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FRIEND OF THE DEVIL")

GRATEFUL DEAD: (Singing) I set out running, but I'll take my time. A friend of the devil is a friend of mine.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Music News
3:24 am
Mon May 11, 2015

Prince Releases 'Baltimore'; Holds Concert In Troubled City

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 1:07 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Music News
10:03 am
Sat May 9, 2015

Black Thought Made You A James Brown Mixtape

Black Thought never met James Brown, but he did play Brown's saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis in the movie Get On Up last year.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat May 9, 2015 6:21 pm

Right before the 2014 release of the James Brown biopic Get On Up, producer J. Period and The Roots rapper Black Thought recorded an entire mixtape in one take. It functions like a documentary about the Godfather of Soul.

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Code Switch
11:04 am
Fri May 8, 2015

The Slants Frontman Fights Government To Register His Band's Name

Here's the band.
Sarah Giffrow The Slants

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 8:38 pm

Editor's note: In 2013, we wrote about a band named The Slants and the legal battle over its name. As the saga continues, we check back in on what it means to the band's members β€” and what it could mean for trademark law.

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Music News
1:46 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Songwriters And Streaming Services Battle Over Decades-Old Decree

Neil Portnow (left), president and CEO of The Recording Academy, talks with Lee Thomas Miller, head of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, at a music licensing hearing in 2014.
Paul Morigi WireImage for NARAS

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 12:16 pm

Music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora continue to grow more popular with music fans β€” but not with musicians, who complain they used to earn more in royalties from CD sales and music downloads. Songwriters say they've been hit even harder, and the Department of Justice appears to be taking their complaints seriously: It's exploring big changes to the music publishing business for the first time since World War II.

If you look at the top songs on the Billboard charts, most of them were written by at least one professional songwriter. It's a real job.

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Music
3:06 pm
Wed May 6, 2015

The Evolution Of Earworms: Researchers Track History Of Pop Music

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 5:55 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Record
1:29 pm
Wed May 6, 2015

In Search Of Intensity, Musicians Turn To Adrian Utley

Musician and producer Adrian Utley in his studio in Bristol, U.K., in 2013.
Adam Gasson/Guitarist Magazine Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 5:00 pm

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Music News
5:59 am
Sat May 2, 2015

'Louie Louie': Indecipherable, Or Indecent? An FBI Investigation

The "Louie Louie" record, shown in 2003 ahead of an eBay auction, was a huge hit in the '60s. The hard-to-decipher lyrics led to some sordid speculation among teen listeners β€” and some fretting among those teens' parents.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Sat May 2, 2015 8:26 am

Everyone knows the song β€” or, well, parts of it.

"Louie, Louie." "Ohhhhhh, baby." "A fine little girl, she waits for me."

But the next line ... How's it go again?

The voice growling out those indecipherable lyrics belonged to Jack Ely, the lead singer of The Kingsmen, who died this week at the age of 71.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:03 am
Sat May 2, 2015

3-D Printers Bring Historic Instruments Back To The Future

Sina Shahbazmohamadi places a 3-D printed copy of a recorder foot joint into a measuring device in a lab at the University of Connecticut's Center for Clean Energy Engineering.
Peter Morenus UConn

Originally published on Sat May 2, 2015 8:26 am

In a recital hall at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, a group of musicians got together to play Jean-Baptiste SingelΓ©e's 1857 quartet for saxophones on some very old, very special instruments.

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Remembrances
2:29 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Ben E. King, Soul Singer Best Known For 'Stand By Me,' Dies

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 7:18 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

One of the most distinctive voices of 1950s and '60s R&B has died. Ben E. King, best known for the song "Stand By Me," died yesterday in New Jersey of natural causes. He was 76. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has more.

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The Two-Way
9:02 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Singer Ben E. King, Best Known For 'Stand By Me,' Dies At 76

Ben E. King
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 11:31 am

Soul Singer Ben E. King, best known for his hit "Stand By Me," has died, his publicist says. He was 76.

Phil Brown, the publicist, says King died Thursday of natural causes.

Born Sept. 28, 1938, in Henderson, N.C., King moved to Harlem, N.Y., at age 9, his biography says.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:15 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

Dazzling Trumpeter Rolf Smedvig Dies Suddenly

Trumpeter Rolf Smedvig, of the Empire Brass Quintet, was acclaimed for his lustrous tone and virtuosity.
Columbia Artist Management

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 2:39 pm

Trumpeter Rolf Smedvig, praised for his beautiful tone and virtuosic style, died Monday afternoon at his home in West Stockbridge, Mass. The cause of death, according to his long-time manager Mark Z. Alpert, was a heart attack. Smedvig was 62.

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The Record
12:18 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Waka Flocka Flame Is Hiring

Waka Flocka Flame reading resumes at Webster Hall in New York City April 20.
Polina Yamshchikov for NPR

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 10:27 pm

They say you can't overestimate the power of a good handshake. If that's the case, my job interview with Waka Flocka Flame was doomed from the start.

I went in for the sort of greeting I'm familiar with -– a clasp that pivots up into a grip and pulls in for a hug β€” but it unexpectedly continued. He raised our wrists to shoulder level, pointed his fingers out, locked them with mine ... but by that point I was long since lost. He looked at me and smiled sympathetically. First impressions, I thought, resigned, are everything.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:23 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Julia Wolfe Wins Music Pulitzer For 'Anthracite Fields'

Composer Julia Wolfe has won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for music for Anthracite Fields, an oratorio about coal miners and their families.
Peter Serling

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 9:03 am

Julia Wolfe, a composer associated with the New York music collective Bang on a Can, has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for Anthracite Fields.

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Music Articles
3:01 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Jazz's 'Sound Seeker' Finds Ancient Strings From Hungary And Greece

Charles Lloyd's new album is Wild Man Dance.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 9:59 am

Jazz musician and composer Charles Lloyd has what you might call an "eclectic" resume.

The saxophonist has played with hundreds of jazz musicians β€” but also B.B. King, the Beach Boys, tabla master Zakir Hussain.

Tonight, Charles Lloyd will be inducted as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. He's being honored, in part, for fusing jazz with musical styles from other places and times.

You can hear that on his new album, Wild Man Dance, which features two ancient instruments from Europe.

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Music News
5:47 am
Sun April 19, 2015

Live At Guitar Center: A Lot Of Noise And A Little Fun

Noah Wall recorded Live at Guitar Center in Manhattan, but really, it could have been in any showroom.
Courtesy of Guitar Center

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 4:58 pm

Noah Wall is an experimental musician in New York, and his latest album is maybe his boldest experiment yet.

"I usually make sort of very meticulously crafted music, and I think that's important because this project is so different from that," Wall tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

The album, Live At Guitar Center, is a series of recordings of nameless musicians β€” both newbies and old-timers β€” at the music equipment store Guitar Center.

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The Two-Way
3:09 pm
Sat April 18, 2015

It's Record Store Day – Here Are Pictures To Prove It

A customer walks in the Record Collector store in Sheffield, England, Friday. Hundreds of independent record stores are putting on special promotions for Saturday's Record Store Day.
Oli Scarff AFP/Getty Images

In the music world, today is all about bricks and mortar. It's the annual Record Store Day, when music fans are urged to get out to support their local shop.

From new releases to vintage finds, people have been posting photos of beloved albums and record stores Saturday.

Music companies are putting out dozens of limited-edition releases for the occasion. One example: Johnny Marr doing a live version of his old band The Smiths' song "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want."

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Goats and Soda
2:59 am
Sat April 18, 2015

In 'Song Of Lahore,' A Race To Revive Pakistani Classical Music

Asad Ali, 63, was unemployed for four years when Pakistan clamped down on live music in 1977. He now plays the guitar for Sachal Studios Orchestra around the globe and in his hometown, Lahore.
Courtesy of Mobeen Ansari

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 8:23 am

In his home in Lahore, Pakistan, Saleem Khan holds up his late father's violin. There are no strings, the wood is scratched and the bridge is missing.

"There was a time when people used to come to Lahore from all over the world to hear its musicians," the 65-year-old violinist says in the new documentary, Song of Lahore. "Now we can't even find someone to repair our violins."

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Music News
12:03 am
Sat April 18, 2015

It's Thin, It's Plastic, It's Back: Flexi Discs Find New Fans

"In the metal community, there's a fascination with the tangible aspect of things," says Albert Mudrian, editor of metal magazine Decibel.
Bruno Guerreiro Courtesy of Decibel

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 8:59 am

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The Record
2:35 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Solving The Vinyl Comeback's Big Problem, One Antique Machine At A Time

One of the record presses on the floor at the Quality Record Pressings plant in Salina, Kan.
Courtesy of Acoustic Sounds

Saturday is Record Store Day, when independent music retailers around the country host parking-lot concerts and sell limited-edition pressings of vinyl records, which have made a small but forceful comeback in an age dominated by digital listening habits. But if there's one problem with the vinyl resurgence, it might be this: The machines that press vinyl records are decades old, and no one's building new ones, so keeping up with increased demand is hard.

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NPR Story
3:15 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Demand Increases For Vinyl Records

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 5:35 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I'm David Greene, wishing you a happy Record Store Day.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OLD TIME ROCK AND ROLL")

BOB SEGER: (Singing) Just take those old records off the shelf.

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Music
2:21 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Wiz Khalifa's 'See You Again' Breaks Spotify Streaming Record

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 5:40 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It was streamed on Spotify 4.2 million times in just a single day this week. Last week it streamed a total of nearly 22 million times.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SEE YOU AGAIN")

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The Record
1:03 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

A Rational Conversation With Mac McCaughan And Waxahatchee

Superchunk frontman and Merge Records co-founder Mac McCaughan (left) will put out his first album under his own name next month. Katie Crutchfield just put out her third album as Waxahatchee on Merge.
Lissa Gotwals/Jesse Riggins Courtesy of Merge Records

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 10:30 am

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