McClinton is full of surprises. Despite his towering stature in the blues business and his naughty-but-nice musical persona, in person he's compact, quiet and relaxed. In a session from WFUV, he belts out a powerful performance that'd drain a man half his age.
Hear the genre-busting Turtle Island Quartet perform a new composition called Tree of Life, in the Performance Today studio. Inspired by Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species and written by Turtle Island's leader, David Balakrishnan, the music encompasses a wide range of cultural references.
The L.A. band Fool's Gold has really gotten off the ground in 2009. The group's sound is firmly planted in popular African styles, including the guitar music of Congolese rumba, Tuareg desert-blues and '70s Ethiopian soul, among others. Hear the Hebrew-language Afro dance band in a session from KEXP.
Florence Welch is a fashionable, artistic character with a big voice and beauty and charm to burn. In a session from WFUV, Welch gives an acoustic performance of her otherwise lush songs and talks about the movie The Little Mermaid.
Winterbloom isn't a traditional "group" so much as an ongoing event in which four talented, Boston-area singer-songwriters bond over holiday music. In a session, Winterbloom doesn't sing about Rudolph and Frosty, but instead plays contemporary folk songs about the world during Christmas and the darkness of winter.
Serpa was a student at the New England Conservatory in Boston when she was pulled into the jazz world in a big way by saxophonist Greg Osby. In a session from WBGO, the Lisbon-born vocalist sings two originals and gives her own unique twist on the fado.
Session Spotlight: Sara Serpa Performs 'Sem Razão'
As a way of thanking its supporters, KEXP brought Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of The Swell Season to the Triple Door in Seattle. Without a band, the duo gave an intimate performance that showcased its deeply personal songwriting, including a new song and a blazing cover of Tim Buckley's "Buzzin' Fly."
On a wet, chilly October afternoon, the prodigiously talented young jazz pianist Eldar visited the KPLU performance studio in Seattle. He immediately warmed everyone up with his outgoing personality and stunning solo piano work.
The young Viennese native is on tour, playing all 32 of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas. Hear Fellner at the WGBH studio, in Boston, where he plays the lyrical "pastoral" sonata and the cheerful Sonata No. 25.
Packing KEXP's studio with a wall of sound, The Heavy performs four gritty, funk- and soul-infused garage-rockers. Fronted by versatile singer Kelvin Swaby, the British band kept the walls vibrating, even after it left.
Maybe it's the accent, but Hay doesn't want for charm. The former Men at Work founder makes his home in California nowadays, which gave him plenty of fodder for his compelling new album, American Sunshine. He performs some of his hits alongside new songs.
Historicism, as a philosophical premise, allows outside conditions to influence an organic process like improvised music. In a session from WBGO, the much-celebrated pianist Vijay Iyer (who just released an album called Historicity) conducts a conversation between his trio and the original creators.
Asheville's Toubab Krewe is an instrumental band which fuses the music of Mali and other West African influences with American musical styles. In a session from KUT, the band augmented the standard rock formation with a kora, ngoni, djembe, krin and scraper.
Given their storied and troubled background, it came as a pleasant surprise that the members of Meat Puppets were such easygoing guys. In an acoustic session from KEXP, brothers Cris and Curt Kirkwood were joined by drummer Ted Marcus, who banged on a recycling bin and a trash can.
Train possesses a singing voice from another era, but her speaking voice is surprisingly youthful and down-to-earth — a compelling combination, to be sure. Hear the singer-songwriter in a session from WFUV.