A lot of talented artists pass by Bob Boilen's desk. But this was the first time that NPR Music was serenaded by a trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba and truncated drum kit playing a Rufus Wainwright cover (and several clever originals) in rich, soulful polyphony.
During this week of learning to love Phish, I wanted some curatorial help from the people who know their music the best. A handful of kind people showed up, bringing with them CDs, books, and stories. I extend to them my thanks and gratitude.
It's a high compliment to suggest that these three Bill Callahan songs may well implant themselves in your brain, lay eggs and sprout horrifically disturbing dreams at that point when you're banging on the snooze alarm in a state of anguished early-morning half-sleep. Hear and watch Callahan perform at the NPR Music offices.
With roots coming from everywhere, it was refreshing to find the same Southern charm and friendliness effused through every member of The Dixie Bee-Liners at Folk Alley's studios. The band performed its sweet mix of bluegrass and roots music in a session.
With all due respect to its terrific albums and kinetic, frenetic live shows, if The Avett Brothers could put on a three-song acoustic concert at every workplace in America, the band would be a world-beating colossus. For proof, listen to this performance in the NPR Music offices.
He's been wowing audiences since he was barely able to walk. But, fed up with the standard jazz career path, Lewis -- or ELEW, as he calls his latest musical identity -- has embraced a new repertoire: rock songs. He performs live at NPR.
The classical guitarist has a wide ranging appetite for music, and plays with a clear, lyrical technique. His diverse set at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen mixes the baroque, Argentine dance, West African rhythms and a classic from Spain.
Singer Tony Dekker has a sterling track record for gentle, sweet-voiced ruminations on nature, beauty, conflict and the human body. He sheds his backing band, Great Lake Swimmers, long enough to perform three of his songs at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.
Ferree is a character with just enough charisma to draw you into his oddball world. While his subject matter is dark (his latest album revolves around a child actor whose life ended tragically), Ferree's music often has a lilt with hints of humor, as is evidenced by his Tiny Desk Concert.