Station Breaks Best Music Of 2019: Live Sessions Staff from public radio music stations handpicked their favorite performances, including music from the Grammy-nominated band Black Pumas, upcoming Americana artist Yola and Courtney Barnett.
NPR logo Station Breaks: Our Favorite Live Sessions Of 2019

Station Breaks: Our Favorite Live Sessions Of 2019

The band Black Pumas was recently nominated for a Grammy for best new artist, thanks in part to the support of Austin's KUTX and LA's KCRW public radio stations. Lyza Renee/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Lyza Renee/Courtesy of the artist

The band Black Pumas was recently nominated for a Grammy for best new artist, thanks in part to the support of Austin's KUTX and LA's KCRW public radio stations.

Lyza Renee/Courtesy of the artist

In October, NPR Music and public radio music stations around the country launched a new internal site called Live Sessions From NPR Music Stations Across America. With a mix of in-studio performances, playlists, video interviews and live webcasts, Live Sessions features content that the public radio network is uniquely poised to deliver and reinforces public radio's role as an engine of music discovery. We asked our stations to choose their favorite videos of the year and here's what they picked.


The Regrettes, "I Dare You"

Skyline Sessions captured this performance during a helluva summer for The Regrettes, who went on a sold-out tour, dropped a new album and performed on Good Morning America. —Troy Schulze, Houston Public Media


Kiltro, "The Hustle"

Kiltro performed this song for the closing party for the Underground Music Showcase at Haute Mess, our favorite hair salon with a great backyard deck for dancing. —Irvin Coffee, Indie 102.3, Colorado Public Radio


Brittany Howard, "Stay High"

The lead singer of Alabama Shakes makes a stunning solo debut. Jaime is a profound, intimate self-portrait with a deeply righteous message, all packed with sublime blues, folk, jazz-rock and hip-hop influences. —Garth Trinidad, KCRW


Fontaines D.C., "Too Real"

When Fontaines D.C. joined me for a live session on May 28, the band was in top form, having just finished a US tour with IDLES. To end the set, the band tore into a version of "Too Real," with guitarist Carlos O'Connell playing the guitar with a bottle. It created a wailing storm of distortion, like a jet taking off, and they all played just like that: with precision, speed and power. —Kevin Cole, KEXP


Cimafunk, "Ponte Pa' Lo Tuyo"

Erik Iglesias Rodríguez was recently a medical student in rural Cuba, but after ditching the scrubs and adopting the moniker "Cimafunk," he's quickly become a full-blown superstar. We were lucky to catch some of the passionate Caribbean Afro-Beat the same week this eight-piece made their US debut during SXSW 2019. —Jack Anderson, KUTX


The Teskey Brothers, "Rain"

There was no doubt in our minds that this session is not only our favorite of the year, but also one of our favorites from the past decade. Josh Teskey's voice is even more powerful in person than on recordings, and this song really shows the breadth of this band's talent. —Amy Miller, KXT


Y La Bamba, "Boca Llena"

Although tucked away in an inconspicuous industrial neighborhood in Northeast Portland, Ore., Type Foundry Studio is a vital part of the city's music scene. This beloved and well-worn space hosted Y La Bamba for a hometown session in February. There, the band — fronted by Luz Elena Mendoza — performed this slinky and mesmerizing song from its latest album, Mujeres. —Jerad Walker, opbmusic


Beabadobee, "She Plays Bass"

Ten days into her first visit to America, London-based Beabadoobee visited The Bridge studios and performed "She Plays Bass" solo with electric guitar. Bea Kristi still aspires to be a nursery school teacher, even as her confessional DIY music videos have logged millions upon millions of views. —Jon Hart, The Bridge


Yola, "Love All Day (Work All Night)"

At WFUV, we were early fans of Yola — we captured this session the morning after her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall. What's so cool about this stripped-down, acoustic duet version of the song with guitarist Jerry Bernhardt, is that it holds up to the fully-produced version on her album. That's the mark of a great song and a great singer. —Rita Houston, WFUV


Black Pumas, Live in Studio

When Black Pumas came to perform a live set at WGBH, lead guitarist Adrian Quesada was unable to join. Vocalist/guitarist Eric Burton took the lead; with backup vocals and keys, he performed incredible stripped-down versions of "Black Moon Rising," "Confines," "OCT 33," and "Colors." —Stacy Buchanan, WGBH


Keb' Mo', "I Remember You"

NPR Music, World Cafe and WMOT presented the Day Stage at AmericanaFest at the War Memorial Auditorium for the second year this September and featured a Keb' Mo' session that included an interview with Garth Brooks. The song "I Remember You" from his latest album, Oklahoma, shines as bright as the resonator. —Jessie Scott, WMOT


The Sittin' In All-Stars, "L.O.V.E."

Bassist and producer Anthony Tidd visited WRTI to promote the anniversary of his popular Sittin' In series held at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center. He invited drummer and rising star Khary Abdul-Shaheed, critically-acclaimed pianist Orrin Evans and wordsmith extraordinaire Ursula Rucker. The unrehearsed magic that resulted is, indeed, best describe as love. —J. Michael Harrison, WRTI


Courtney Barnett, "Everybody Here Hates You"

Courtney Barnett was kind enough to let us sit in on her sound check at the North Carolina Museum of Art this past July. The museum hosts a stellar line up of concerts every summer, and this one was certainly a highlight this year. —Brian Burns, WUNC


Julia Jacklin, "Don't Know How To Keep Loving You"

Julia Jacklin performs an intimate and beautiful version of "Don't Know How to Keep Loving You" from her latest album Crushing — recorded live for a World Cafe session at WXPN Studios in Philadelphia. --Bruce Warren, WXPN


The Commonheart, "Do Right"

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Pittsburgh is very proud of our musical brethren. Clinton Clegg led his crew in a rousing rendition of the band's first single from its sophomore album, Pressure. —Rosemary Welsch, WYEP