It's been 50 years since The Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan, to an audience of screaming, hair-pulling, ecstatic (in the classic sense) teenage girls. Cutes in suits, you might call them, like (and, of course, nothing like) countless other bands of the time that wore skinny ties and shared microphones and said "oh" and "yeah" and "baby."
Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 10:11 am
"A Rational Conversation" is a column by writer Eric Duckerin which he gets on iChat or Gchat or the phone or whatever with a special guest to examine a music-related subject that's entered the pop culture consciousness.
Police in Milwaukee have recovered a Stradivarius violin and arrested three suspects in its theft. The instrument, said to be worth approximately $5 million, was stolen in a brazen armed robbery from the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra late last month. Mitch Teich of WUWM in Milwaukee reports on the violin's recovery.
Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 3:23 pm
Every year around this time, the All Songs Considered team begins the process of listening to nearly 2,000 MP3s by bands playing the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. We acquire them from any number of sources, as bands willing to circulate their songs for consideration make them available online. But every year, we wind up missing something. In pursuit of music by thousands of bands, hundreds slip past our radar altogether.
Duke Ellington added more than 3,000 songs to the American music vault before his death in 1974. He also started composing what he hoped would be a great American street opera — which composers have spent 40 years adapting, trying to figure out what the Duke wanted for his unfinished opus.
But before you imagine soothing arias or boisterous trills and vibrato, let me stop you: Ellington's opera is very much a work of jazz.
Composer Dmitri Shostakovich called it a perfect masterpiece without ever having seen it performed. The Passenger, an opera about the Holocaust, was written nearly half a century ago, but was only given its first full performance just three years ago.
Now it's getting its U.S. premiere at the Houston Grand Opera. The opera is based on a story by a Holocaust survivor, with music by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a composer who lost his entire family in the Nazi death camps.
When the Oscar nominees for best song were announced earlier this month, there were, of course, several well-known titles, including Karen O's "The Moon Song," from the movie "Her"; and Pharrell Williams' "Happy," from "Despicable Me 2." Then there was this...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALONE...YET NOT ALONE")
JONI EARECKSON TADA: (Singing) I will not be bent in fear. He's the refuge I know is near...
A tireless campaigner for his own vision of a utopia marked by peace and togetherness, Pete Seeger's tools were his songs, his voice, his enthusiasm and his musical instruments. A major advocate for the folk-style five-string banjo and one of the most prominent folk music icons of his generation, Seeger was also a political and environmental activist. He died Monday at age 94. His grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, said he died of natural causes.
Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 2:13 pm
At the beginning of the 2014 Grammy Awards show, it seemed that one story would dominate the night. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the Seattle duo whose highly accessible take on hip-hop became last year's indie-to-mainstream success story, took home three awards during the ceremony's pre-telecast portion.
Well, let's move from the pre-telecast to the artists you did see on TV, if you were watching; the winners and nominees who were on stage at the Staples Center for a marathon evening ceremony. NPR television critic Eric Deggans joins us to talk about the big show.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: First, let me ask you this. With most of the awards given out actually before the ceremony, the Grammys - unlike the Oscars - are not really an awards show. What would you call it?
French dance music producers Daft Punk won Album of the Year for Random Access Memories and Record of the Year for their hit "Get Lucky" at the 56th annual Grammy awards on Sunday night. In a ceremony heavy on collaborative performances (Robin Thicke with Chicago, Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons and Metallica with Lang Lang were a few of the more random pairings) and light on surprise, no single artist dominated.
Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow, host LL Cool J and Executive Vice President of Specials, Music and Live Events at CBS Entertainment Jack Sussman pose at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 23, a few days before the 2014 Grammy Awards.
This Sunday's Grammy Awards ceremony is the annual big-ticket item for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. More than 28 million people around the world tuned in to watch the concert show last year. And this year's telecast is once again being touted as the most complicated — and expensive — production on TV.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 11:42 am
Just before 11 o'clock on a crisp Monday night in Hollywood, 82-year-old Kenny Burrell put his Gibson guitar in its velvet-lined case and said goodnight to several members of the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited. He had just finished an intermission-free, two-hour-plus set with the large ensemble, as he has done once a month since the summer. Waiting patiently among the suits and smiles was a 21-year-old guitarist eager to meet his idol. When the room finally cleared, Burrell was amiable and inquisitive, talking to the young fan about music and Michigan, where he grew up.
Odd musical mergers in the Grammy Awards telecast are nothing new — remember Paul McCartney, Linkin Park and Jay-Z singing "Yesterday?" Still, when thrash metal band Metallica and classical pianist Lang Lang take the stage together Sunday night, it may seem more like a head-scratcher than a clever match.