As a teenager, the singer-songwriter was already touring the world with his rock band. His new album takes him back to before then, when country music blasted out of Texas radio stations. He performs a solo acoustic set in NPR's Studio 4A.
He should be a name everyone knows by now. Instead, troubadour David Dondero returned to NPR having slept the night before in his car. Dondero travels from club to club, singing his well-crafted songs — songs that have his signature lyrics at their core. His lyrics can make you smile with their wit and hurt with their bite, all at the same time. Watch Dondero perform his well-crafted songs at Bob Boilen's desk in the NPR Music offices.
By the time she was 16, Janis Ian already had a Grammy and a permanent place in the American consciousness. Her new autobiography shares the sometimes shocking stories behind her life and music. In a session from Folk Alley, she performs a cross section of her songs.
Last week, host Andrea Seabrook asked listeners to send in home recordings and photographs of their oddest musical instrument. The responses were eclectic, and some were indeed strange. Here is a smattering of some of the more interesting instrument descriptions from listeners.
O'Riley enjoys his Bach and Beethoven, but he's also a serious fan of pop music and jazz: He's recorded piano arrangements of songs by Radiohead and Nick Drake. O'Riley's latest passion is the adventurous jazz trio The Bad Plus.
When Bill Callahan (a.k.a. Smog) came to KUT to promote the release of 2007's Woke on a Whaleheart, he brought members of Shearwater to back him up. His performance was hopeful, big and explicitly in touch with his influences.
Atlanta native Eli Sweet moved to Chengdu, China, nearly two years ago to improve his Chinese and discover a new way of life. The energetic American raps in underground clubs with Chinese hip-hop artists. He says he encounters "an endless stream of adventure."
Before pursuing a career in music, Lee was a Philadelphia schoolteacher. Then he started going to open-mic nights with a car stereo full of classic R&B records. He recently brought his folky, soulful style to NPR headquarters for a solo performance.