Tiny Desk

Marisa Anderson

Download Audio

17 min 11 sec

Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She's studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that's as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn't easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)

In 2013, Anderson released two albums. December's Traditional and Public Domain Songs contains exactly what its title suggests; as she says, "I thought of these songs like our national parks — they belong to all of us. If we don't use 'em, we'll lose 'em, I reckon, or someone will buy 'em." At the Tiny Desk, that includes Stephen Foster's parlor song "Hard Times Come Again No More," in which she slowly builds the melody with a violent shake.

Mercury came out six months prior, and it side-winds through Americana off and on the beaten path. She plays "Sinks and Rises" on the lap steel; it's an ode to a Kentucky swimming hole. Quick to defer to the influential musicians before her, she pays tribute to blues guitarist Rev. Gary Davis with a deconstruction of his song "Hesitation Blues." Anderson's version has a bit more pick-up — and, since she doesn't sing, finds clever ways to mimic Davis' jokey speak-singing style.

Just when the gospel songs of "Canaan's Land Medley" set us in meditative mood, Anderson whips out a baby-blue Stratocaster for "Galax." It's got that chicken-pecking-at-corn rhythm, egged on (sorry) by a wild slide. If it sounds like 12 simultaneous hoedowns, that's by design: The song came to Anderson while she stood in the parking lot of a bluegrass festival, overwhelmed by everything hitting at once.

Set List

  • "Hard Times Come Again No More"
  • "Sinks And Rises"
  • "Hesitation Theme And Variation Blues"
  • "Canaan's Land Medley"
  • "Galax"

Credits

Producers: Denise DeBelius, Lars Gotrich; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Olivia Merrion; Production Assistant: Alex Schelldorf

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with Car Seat Headrest. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo is a wordsmith with a vision, as well as a DIY sound that's still finely crafted.

Tiny Desk Concert with EL VY. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

EL VY

The National's Matt Berninger and Menomena's Brent Knopf team up in an intimate setting.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Arcs. Jessica Mowery/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jessica Mowery/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Arcs

It's our 500th show at the Tiny Desk, featuring The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and his new band.

Tiny Desk Concert with Wolf Alice. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

Wolf Alice

The band's music can be noisy and primal, but at the Tiny Desk it showed a different side.

Tiny Desk Concert with River Whyless. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

River Whyless

The North Carolina band fills its rootsy music with unexpected instruments and clever ideas.

Tiny Desk Concert with Benny Sings. Morgan Walker/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Morgan Walker/NPR

Tiny Desk

Benny Sings

The Dutch singer layers R&B, jazz and pop over hip-hop beats in his first-ever U.S. appearance.

Tiny Desk Concert with Natalie Merchant Jun Tsuboike /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike /NPR

Tiny Desk

Natalie Merchant

The singer-songwriter gives a warmhearted performance of two new songs, an old favorite and a hymn.

Tiny Desk Concert with Mariachi Flor De Toloache Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Mariachi Flor De Toloache

While on tour with The Arcs, the powerhouse mariachi band performs live in the NPR Music offices.

Tiny Desk Concert with Rapsody Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Rapsody

Watch the rapper perform three songs from Beauty And The Beast live at the NPR Music offices.

In January, Mucca Pazza set a Tiny Desk record by fitting 23 members onstage. Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

All Songs Considered

2015: Looking Back On A Year At The Tiny Desk

This year, NPR Music published 84 sessions from behind Bob Boilen's desk. Here are 15 highlights.

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor