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Listen to any Lionel Loueke record long enough and you'll wonder, "How did he make that noise?" When the unusual jazz guitarist and his drummer showed up for a video performance at the NPR Music offices — literally with bells on — they helped answer that question.
There have only been a handful of Tiny Desk Concerts where NPR employees have overflowed our modest office space, stepping away from looming deadlines to hear some music. Jakob Dylan and his touring companions, Neko Case, Kelly Hogan and Paul Rigby, joined those ranks when they stopped by to perform a mesmerizing, stripped-down set of songs from his latest record, Women and Country.
In 2002, 17-year-old musician Evan Premo appeared on From the Top. Little did he know it then, but someone special out there in radio land was listening. Watch the video of how boy meets double bass, then meets girl.
The Baltimore duo didn't have to travel far to liven up a day at the NPR Music offices. Wye Oak's four-song Tiny Desk Concert draws two songs from a new EP called My Neighbor/My Creator, another from 2007's If Children and an as-yet-unreleased song called "Civilian."
Damian Kulash, singer-songwriter-guitarist with OK Go, talks about the group's split with its label as the result of a label policy that kept a popular video the band made from being embedded on YouTube. "This Too Shall Pass" is a viral video that took a month to make; it displays an elaborate two-story Rube Goldberg device timed to the song.
The singer was part of a musical scene in 1950s Cuba that produced an entire generation of musical innovators and pioneers. The two classic boleros she performs in this Tiny Desk Concert are a reflection of the passion for life she instills in every performance.
The songs on July Flame orbit around Veirs' acoustic-guitar playing and voice. But it's her idiosyncratic lyrics and melodic flourishes that imbue her music with sun-dappled warmth; hers is the sound of immense, wide-open spaces. When a very pregnant Veirs settled in for this performance behind Bob Boilen's desk, that same kind-hearted intimacy shone through.
As the frontman for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth wrote brash, poppy songs. But the singer and songwriter clearly had more music to make. In the fall of 2009, he released a solo record called Mo' Beauty, an album he wrote and recorded in New Orleans with a number of local musicians. Here, Ounsworth performs songs from Mo' Beauty, accompanied only by two guitars.
Castaneda is the sort of musician who isn't afraid to challenge the established order. He's carving out a place for himself in Latin jazz on an instrument you don't often hear in his style of music: the Colombian harp. Castaneda recently parked himself behind Bob Boilen's desk and crafted a transporting mix of tradition and improvisation.