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Individually, Fleck, Meyer and Hussain are world-class masters of the banjo, the bass fiddle and the tabla, respectively. Playing together in the offices of NPR Music, the three demonstrate the way musical mastery can be transformed into an exercise in wordless communication.
Conor O'Brien essentially is Villagers. The Dublin, Ireland, native played nearly all of the instruments on the band's debut album, Becoming a Jackal, and even did the cover artwork. Though he tours with a full backing band, for this Tiny Desk performance he showed up with just his guitar. In the process, he treated the NPR staff to one of the most beautiful and memorable sets we've had here.
The Avett Brothers have released a new video for "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise," from the band's latest album I And Love And You. It's a spare but stunning work of art, featuring the animated paintings of Jason Ryan Mitchum.
Los Campesinos! usually performs with as many as eight members — the group needs that many to reproduce the mightily clamorous ruckus heard on its records — but only four Campesinos are present here. And while there's no nudity or violence in this performance by the whip-smart U.K. band, the group's bawdy, often sexually suggestive lyrics make this the closest we've come to a NSFW Tiny Desk Concert.
Gogol Bordello's frenetic live show is a gypsy punk circus, complete with a high-wire act. So when the band arrived at the modest NPR Music offices, we wanted to make sure we were covered technically. If you watch this video and don't get to the part where Eugene Hutz dances on the desks, then you've missed the most rollicking and insane Tiny Desk Concert of all time.
Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton) and The Shins' James Mercer recorded a homemade video of the two performing an acoustic version of "Insane Lullaby." The track originally appeared on the Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse album Dark Night of the Soul.
Ryan Lott, a.k.a. Son Lux.
Courtesy the Artisthide caption
The experimental electro-rock artist Son Lux (Ryan Lott) has released a new video for his song "Weapons VII." The video features a mix of artfully stylized images, including half-naked models and Lott himself completely covered in a white powder.
For cellist Zuill Bailey, J.S. Bach's solo cello suites loom as a kind of musical Mount Everest. As Bailey describes it, every trip up the mountain brings a new challenge. Hear the acclaimed musician play Bach on his amazingly resonant cello, built in 1693.
Authors Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Roy Blount Jr., Kathy Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry didn't bring any instruments to their performance at Bob Boilen's desk. But they were smart enough to bring a ringer: The Byrds' Roger McGuinn.
We were not prepared for Bettye LaVette's appearance in the NPR Music offices. We thought we were — having set up our cameras and recording gear and signed in all the friends who had heard she was scheduled to play and beaten down our door. But then she blew into the room and conquered it before she'd sung a single note.