Watch Public Radio's Favorite Sessions Of 2015 Public radio stations filmed thousands of performances this year. Here are a dozen favorites.
NPR logo Watch Public Radio's Favorite Sessions Of 2015

Watch Public Radio's Favorite Sessions Of 2015

Icelandic band Samaris played one of KEXP's favorite in-studio sessions of 2015. Charina Pitzel/KEXP hide caption

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Charina Pitzel/KEXP

Icelandic band Samaris played one of KEXP's favorite in-studio sessions of 2015.

Charina Pitzel/KEXP

Public radio stations across the U.S. capture thousands of musical performances each year. Whether it's an exclusive, intimate studio session or a triumphant rooftop concert, there's something about capturing a band live that feels dynamic and thrilling, inviting viewers and listeners to experience the show from wherever they are.

We asked some of our partners at stations all over the country to pick the sessions that most captivated them in 2015. From an otherworldly Icelandic band in a starlit studio to a sister duo singing slumber party style, watch 12 of public radio's favorite performances below.

Watch Public Radio's Favorite Sessions Of 2015

  • Samaris Live At KEXP

    So much of music's power lies in its transportative effect — its ability to allow us to sense things beyond our grasp. Even amid the starry skies that light all in-studio sessions at KEXP, our live room had never felt so exotically remote as when Samaris performed. In years past, we had recorded the young Icelandic trio several times on its own turf, but this year they made their first trip Stateside. You don't need to understand a word of Jófríður Ákadóttir's breathy lyrics, drawn directly from 19th century Icelandic poetry, to feel the longing they convey, particularly when combined with Áslaug Brún Magnúsdóttir's sirenic woodwinds and Doddi Steinþórsson's swooning downtempo beats. Ethereal and otherworldly, Samaris' songs — like this one, "Ég Vildi Fegin Verða" — are also universal in the most literal sense, drawing a chord through the heart of us all, and making for one of the memorable sessions at KEXP in 2015.

    Jim Beckmann, KEXP

    Watch more videos from KEXP via VuHaus.

  • Houndmouth Live At KXT

    In celebration of KXT's sixth anniversary, Houndmouth played to a sold-out crowd on Nov. 19 in Dallas. Earlier that day the band stopped by our studio to play a few songs and participate in KXT's first-ever VuHaus live stream. At the tail end of its fall tour, the band was in prime form, confirming what we had been hearing all year: "Houndmouth's live show is incredible!" Bringing good vibes and high energy to the set that day, Houndmouth wowed an intimate crowd of KXT fans and station staff. This performance of "Say It" was the perfect way to ring in KXT's seventh year.

    Amy Miller, KXT

    Watch more videos from KXT via VuHaus.

  • Feedel Band Live At WAMU

    With one of the most robust Ethiopian music scenes in the world, the Washington, D.C. region throbs with Ethiopian jazz. You're sure to hear Ethiopian melodies wafting from restaurants and bars along Northwest D.C.'s 9th and 18th streets at night — and those sounds can often be traced to the Feedel Band. The large ensemble plays regularly around town, specializing in Ethiopian-infused jams that channel the country's thriving 1970s jazz scene. That heritage shines through on "Girl From Ethiopia," one of the vibrant songs Feedel Band performed live for WAMU 88.5. Bandleader and keyboardist Araya Woldemichael starts things off sneakily tickling his keys, and around 90 seconds in, the rest of the 10-piece ensemble brings his simmer to a boil. But "Girl From Ethiopia" is just a sample of the bewitching tunes heard nightly on the streets of the U.S. capital.

    Ally Schweitzer, WAMU's

    Watch more videos from WAMU's at its YouTube channel.

  • Ben Folds Live For The Bridge

    Ben Folds is an artist in his prime, constantly seeking new collaborative experiences to challenge himself creatively and stretch his artistic sensibilities. His latest alliance, with chamber ensemble yMusic, has resulted in the album So There, which shows off a sound he's dubbed "chamber rock."

    We shot "Capable of Anything" onstage at sound check in Kansas City's Uptown Theater. A camera stabilizer mount allowed producer Cole Blaise to seemingly float through the band. The one-camera shot emphasizes the contribution of each band member in realizing Folds' vision, while the musicians' horseshoe-shaped configuration made for a unique show and presented a special opportunity to capture the latest chapter in a creative life.

    Jon Hart, The Bridge

    Watch more videos from The Bridge via VuHaus.

  • Hop Along Live For World Cafe

    In 2015, it seemed like everybody began to discover Hop Along, a band that we Philadelphians have embraced for a while. (Fellow Philly resident Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee even has a tattoo of the band's first album cover.) World Cafe caught Hop Along for a session right before it released its second full-length album, Painted Shut. This video of "Waitress" captures all the idiosyncrasies and power of lead singer Frances Quinlan's voice. Watch her eyes appear to roll back into her head near the beginning, a tic that hints at the possessed, abrasive sound to come.

    David Dye, World Cafe

    Watch more videos from WXPN via VuHaus.

  • Ibeyi Live For WFUV

    Part of WFUV's annual SXSW coverage happens in the courtyard at the Hotel San Jose, but when the weather turned wet, we scrambled to find an indoor location. It being SXSW, there weren't exactly empty hotel rooms. Luckily we managed to snag one (thanks to our friendly hosts), and since the duo Ibeyi are sisters, we were hoping they would respond favorably to our idea of a slumber party shoot. Fortunately they did, and this performance of "River" captures their energy and charm perfectly.

    Rita Houston, WFUV

    Watch more videos from WFUV via VuHaus.

  • Alabama Shakes Live For KCRW

    We've watched Alabama Shakes' remarkable rise from the beginning. Some of the band's members still had day jobs when they first performed live for KCRW in 2012, so their return to play our Apogee Sessions series earlier this year was a victory lap of sorts. After receiving critical acclaim for their debut and building a dedicated fan base, the band made the risky move of making a more experimental second album and exploring new sounds — and it paid off big time. We're not surprised to see Alabama Shakes' recent Grammy nominations, as the group's performance from April behind Sound & Color remains once of our favorite live sets of the year on Morning Becomes Eclectic. Check out "Don't Wanna Fight" for a taste.

    Jason Bentley, KCRW

    Watch more videos from KCRW via VuHaus.

  • Y La Bamba Live For opbmusic

    This summer, Portland artist Luz Elena Mendoza announced her band Y La Bamba would return with a new record, and announced a comeback concert on the rooftop of newly opened Revolution Hall. Y La Bamba had disbanded in 2013. The new record, Ojos del Sol, will be produced by Steve Berlin, and is one of our most anticipated releases of 2016. We recorded the rooftop concert at dusk on a late August night, with the Willamette River and Portland's West Hills as a backdrop, as they performed a new song, "Ostrich."

    Dave Christensen, opbmusic

    Watch more videos from opbmusic via VuHaus.

  • Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys Live For Mountain Stage

    Mountain Stage capped off its 32nd year of live performance radio with a birthday show filled with gobsmacking talent (Josh Ritter! Amy Helm! Noah Gundersen! The Cactus Blossoms!). But it was Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, a little-known string band out of Michigan, whose alt-bluegrass sound made 500 audience members swoon. Sure, the Flatbellys perform the old-fashioned way, gathering around a single microphone as they did for their 2015 release Ionia, but the band's music comes out of an original spring, and it's definitely not afraid to let its folk flag fly on tracks like "Everything Changed." That was the standout performance from their recent appearance in Charleston, W.Va., which showcased Lindsay Lou Rilko's sultry tones, Mark Lavengood's frenetic dobro skills and what should be a satisfying career to come.

    Joni Deutsch, WVPB's Mountain Stage

    Watch more videos from Mountain Stage via VuHaus.

  • Father John Misty Live At The Current

    Father John Misty and I Love You, Honeybear ruled much of early 2015. In the first of three stops in Minnesota, Josh Tillman — a.k.a. Father John Misty — stopped by The Current's studio to perform songs from his latest album, including the title track.

    Brett Baldwin, The Current

    Find more videos from The Current at its website.

  • Grupo Fantasma Live At KUTX

    Grupo Fantasma returned triumphantly in 2015 with a phenomenal album and a reminder that it's one of Austin's best live acts. Case in point: The band kicked off its KUTX live set with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." It was a statement of intent and a great reintroduction to the band. Grupo's Latin funk/psychedelia hybrid is still alive and kicking, malleable enough to make any song the band's own. Plus, sung en español, "Immigrant Song" takes on a new dimension. We're all immigrants. Let's party!

    Art Levy, KUTX

    Watch more videos from KUTX via VuHaus.

  • The Suitcase Junket Live For Folk Alley

    When I first heard the name Matt Lorenz (a.k.a. The Suitcase Junket) it was from his Vermont compatriot, Caitlin Canty — he's on her new album, Reckless Skyline. And then I started hearing a buzz about him from other friends. Once I let go of my initial skepticism at the description "one-man band," I started to get intrigued, and then excited, about hearing him. When Lorenz came through northern New York en route to the Otis Mountain Get Down, we had to get him in for a Folk Alley session. Armed with vintage 1950s amps and a guitar he salvaged from a dumpster, an old, oversized suitcase he plays with his heel as a bass drum, a baby shoe hitting a gas can, a cookpot, a circular saw blade and a box of bones and silverware for added percussion, he let it rip! In my favorite session of the year, The Suitcase Junket performs "Earth Apple" from his latest album, Make Time.

    Linda Fahey, Folk Alley

    Watch more videos from Folk Alley at its YouTube channel.