For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.
Thursday night â just as Twitter was coming down from Scandal's midseason finale, and it's hard to think of this as a coincidence â Beyonce dropped an album out of nowhere. The news ricocheted through social media. People called it Bey Day and Christmas come early.
Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-center rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.
Macklemore and Lewis' gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.
Bob Schneider finished writing "The Effect," a song from his latest album, Burden of Proof, in just a few days. That's how he does it: For 12 years, the Texas musician has beaten back the urge to procrastinate by writing a song once a week, every week. It began casually, just him and a friend sharing their songs with one another.
"I'll go home, write a song, you'll write a song, and then we'll come back here in two days and play 'em for each other," Schneider says. "That's basically how it started."
Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 3:34 pm
Friday night at 1:45 a.m., at least a hundred people were on the main door line for Output, a dance club in Brooklyn that opened near the beginning of the year. They wouldn't be getting in for a while: the spot had reached capacity a half-hour before, shortly after the night's headliner, John Digweed, had begun his DJ set, and they were only letting in folks who'd bought tickets specifically for the show. "No wristbands," said the doorman. The wristbands were all-events passes for the sixth annual Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival (BEMF) â the nominal reason for Digweed's appearance.
For about five years, we at NPR Music have been listening to G-Side, a rap duo from Huntsville, Ala., and the group's in-house production pair the Block Beattaz. Some of us rocked 2008's Starshipz & Rocketz until the tape popped, reveling in the sequined sound and mostly level-headed lyrics that alternate between the gruff and drawled deliveries favored by Clova and ST 2 Lettaz, respectively.
Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 11:07 am
Late last month I witnessed the most creative music festival I know, and I'm back with some astonishing new music discoveries. The first annual Mountain Oasis festival took place in a number of venues in Asheville, N.C. the weekend before Halloween. Asheville's a city that, much like Austin, Texas or Portland, Ore., lives up to that often-used slogan "Keep (insert city name here) Weird." As music pours into the streets, you'll see people dressed up as gnomes in illuminated hats, traveling in packs along with jellyfish, various monsters or even giant butterflies.
SIMON: It may sound like Savion Glover tapping, or some kind of tin pan Buddy Rich, but this is digital music in the true sense. You're hearing the fingers and hands of Darren Drouin snapping and slapping out a percussive freestyle in a YouTube video that he uploaded this week.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 10:11 am
Now that Bob Dylan's no longer talking about it not being the guitar he played when he famously went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, a sunburst Fender Stratocaster is to be auctioned by Christie's on Dec. 6.
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 2:18 pm
What does the concert-ticket buyer want? If we're accepting that the market for albums â physical and digital â won't ever rebound, that digital singles will never make up for the loss in revenue and that streaming can't be profitable under current licensing laws, professional musicians (and the labels that love them) need to figure this out. Rap music, with its younger audience, has been more flexible in this regard than other genres: Rap acts now run the multi-genre summer festival gamut after infiltrating smaller cities' club circuits long ago.
If you stop by the Cuban restaurant Guantanamera in midtown Manhattan on a weeknight you're apt to hear one of the great Cuban bands of our time. The Pedrito Martinez Group is a four-piece powerhouse. Since they formed in 2007, they've earned a fanatical following in Latin music circles.
The group's self-titled debut CD is just out and Banning Eyre has this review.
Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 12:22 pm
As the pallbearers carried the casket through the streets of New Orleans, a brass band led the procession with the slow dirge "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." But this was no jazz funeral, this was a brass band blowout, and painted on the coffin were the names of competing bands: New Breed, New Generation and To Be Continued.
We're listening now to some of the music of Lou Reed. He died over the weekend at the age of 71. He was in his mid-20s in 1967 when he released this song called "Sunday Morning" on the album "The Velvet Underground and Nico."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUNDAY MORNING")
LOU REED: (Singing) Early dawnin', Sunday mornin'...