Jessica Verma

Vaud and the Villains is the 19-piece group known for putting on rollicking musical theater and cabaret shows with a "New Orleans in the 1930s" twist. The band is performing this weekend at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Joining us is bandleader Andy Comeau, also known as "Vaud Overstreet," as well as his wife, Dawn Lewis, A.K.A "Peaches Mahoney."

Via Photobrew

Gary Burton was thirteen when he first heard jazz. By then, he’d been playing the marimba for seven years, and had toured around his home state of Indiana with his siblings. “The Burton Family” band came apart shortly after Gary heard Benny Goodman’s band playing a song called  "After You’ve Gone."

That song helped launch a career that has spanned the globe, the decades, collaborations with musicians from Chick Corea to Stan Getz to Astor Piazolla, and originated what’s called the "Burton Grip," playing the vibraphone holding two mallets in each hand.

Now 70, Gary Burton is a seven-time Grammy award winner. He’s the former Executive Vice-President at Berklee College of Music and has spent the majority of his life playing and teaching jazz. Burton has a new album, called "Guided Tour," and a new autobiography called, Learning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton.

Abigail Washburn

Aug 29, 2013

Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck are a banjo playing husband and wife duo. Bela,  a fifteen time Grammy winning virtuoso on the instrument plays "Scruggs Style". Abigail  plays "Clawhammer" and sings…together they whip their respective styles into intricate music that sounds big and new. We asked Abigail Washburn about her peculiar journey into music and life on the road with her family. The duo will be at The Music Hall in Portsmouth tomorrow night.

Guus Krol via flickr Creative Commons

Not so long ago, “Americana” was the term for rusty milk jugs, embroidered pillows and souvenir spoon collections found at antique stores. In the mid-1990s, it became the nickname for the rootsy, twangy, weather-beaten music of bands like Uncle Tupelo, Alison Krauss, and a man who embodies rebellion against the country music establishment…Johnny Cash. Americana stalwarts like Wilco, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch and the big-selling collaboration of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant revived the music of an America that was appealing to boomers and those to the left of the “real” America celebrated by conservatives.

Eric Schwortz Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

Contemporary music, local and international acts, ten concerts, seven venues and three days of music…that’s the promise of the Parma Music Festival that begins Aug. 14 and runs through the 17 in Portsmouth.  Music fans can hear world musicians, hometown artists, classical, contemporary and chamber music alike; music for film, electronica, SCI panel discussions, a kid’s concert… and many of these events are free!  Dipping into this all you can eat buffet of music is Bob Lord. We guarantee that listeners will have heard his theme for NHPR’s “The Exchange” and his clever covers of thematic songs as leader of Dreadnaught, the house band for our Writers on a New England Stage series.  He now wears his other hat as CEO of Parma, and the keynote speaker for the festival.

via Monadnock Lyceum

Bluegrass music is close to America’s musical heart. Its recurring themes of love, loss, and longing for home resonate deeply with the American psyche. The sounds of bluegrass – beginning with the fiddle and banjo - draw on the contributions of America’s diverse immigrant communities, from Europe to Africa.

Created just 70 years ago by professional musicians, bluegrass first raged across the country in the 1940s. It was a driving, supercharged view of American folk roots, named for the style’s creator and his band: Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.

Chris Valdes and Ted Griswold via Kickstarter

Los Tigres del Norte’s 1972 breakthrough hit, “Contrabando y Traicion” – is a song which, despite its cheery tone and instrumentation, tells the dark tale of two lovers trafficking marijuana in the tires of their car…a story that ends in betrayal and murder.   The song is what is called a “narco-corrido”, or drug ballad.  After returning from a two-year stint teaching grade-school in one of the most dangerous parts of Honduras, Ted Griswold and Chris Valdes find themselves wanting to return… they’re raising funds on Kickstarter for a documentary film about Honduras’ most famous underground drug-ballad band, Los Plebes de Olancho.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content, curated in one amazing hour of radio. This week, the science behind J.K. Rowling's unmasking, a guy who played Mr. Darcy at a Jane Austen Summer Camp, the Libertarian festival for Seasteaders, a new telescope technology that will send balloons into space, regular folks drive NASCAR cars, and a musician who writes songs based on the New York Times column, "Modern Love."

Journey Song

Journey Song, a group of singers based in the New Hampshire Seacoast, brings the solace of music to hospice patients and their families. Ed Brown remembers how the group sang for his wife, Judith Whipple Brown.

Festival Indie Rock via Flickr Creative Commons

There’s plenty to do this summer weekend in New England, including a few Word of Mouth favorites and others yet to be discovered. In the favorites category, Ethan Lipton, the man Time Out New York says is to lounge lizardry what Peter Sellers's Inspector Clouseau is to policing, performs “No Place To Go” at the Hop at Dartmouth on July 20th.  The Obie-Award winning theatrical song cycle is about the anxieties and driftlessness of being suddenly jobless. Ethan and his orchestra then travel to the Music Hall in Portsmouth to play songs from their vast and repertoire of old-timey style swing and songs.

One of NPR’s Fifty Favorite Albums of 2012 was the self-titled debut album from Debo Band. The eleven member band, based in Boston, blends 1960’s Ethiopian music with American funk, brass band music, and rock. Tonight, the Debo Band is playing on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover. Band leader and saxophonist is Ethiopian-American Danny Mekonnen, who we spoke with about the band and their unique sound.

Hopkins Center TEST

We spoke with beatboxer, comedian, musician, and kinda TV talk show host Reggie Watts about his music and other ongoing projects. Reggie takes suggestions submitted via Youtube and turns them into original songs which have never before been performed, and may never be performed again. It’s all part of his online comedy collective called Jash with comedians Sarah Silverman, Tim and Eric, and actor Michael Cera. In addition to his online performances, Reggie has also been playing shows and festivals around the country. He’ll be at the Portsmouth Music Hall in the fall.


“Yellow Cocktail Music: The Great Gatsby Jazz Recordings”, is a kind of way-back machine for the contemporary songs featured in the new film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Jay-Z, Will-I-Am, and Beyoncé, are featured on the original soundtrack and this follow-up album imagines what the songs might have sounded like coming out of a Victrola in 1922…with help from the Bryan Ferry Orchestra. Joining us to discuss the album is Baz Luhrmann; the distinctive director, producer, and screenwriter for Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge, among others, including the movie that kicked off the summer blockbuster season – The Great Gatsby.

The Music In Between

Jun 23, 2013
Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you ever heard some music on NHPR and wondered, "what was that song?" Those musical interludes set the tone and pace for the stories you hear, because great storytelling demands great music. It’s why we choose the music that surrounds our reporting so carefully. This week, we’ll hear more of that music in between. 


Modest Mouse; “Custom”

Beastie Boys; “Son of Neckbone:

Wilco; “Impossible Germany”

Son Volt; “Chanty”

Kaki King; “Solipsist”

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content from Word of Mouth's weekday show...all wrapped up in one gratifying and glam program.

This week: The emerging forum for high school confessions on Facebook; a sunny picture for the relationship success of online daters; a documentary looks at the life of experiential journalist George Plimpton; Dr. Who's potential recast as a woman; and Glam matters more than you know.

Alex Giron via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content, all in one spit-polished piece of ear candy. 

This week, a program pairs juvenile delinquents with Russian literature, a musician asking NYC commuters what inspires them, a play about traumatic brain injury, Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth, and the healing power of a special horse named Chester.

Vinx has performed, recorded and toured as a singer and percussionist with Sting, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and many others.  As far as we know,  he's the only R&B crooners of his caliber currently working and residing in the state of the New Hampshire.  This memorial day weekend he’ll be leading Soul Kitchen Volume 29 – that’s three days of collaborative jams and songwriting workshops hosted at Dreamsicle Arts and Entertainment Studios in Suncook Village.  But first, we invited Vinx to our Concord studio to tell us a little bit about the event, and maybe even give us a lesson or two.

Geraldine Petrovic via

While everyone else is going somewhere, musician Cathy Grier is staying still. She's the New York City Subway Girl.

Gabriel Kahane

Apr 18, 2013
Gabriel Kahane via

Gabriel Kahane made his recital debut as a composer and performer at Carnegie Hall, played piano for Mark Morris Dance Company, premiered a song cycle with John Adams conducting the LA Philharmonic, and performed his “Craigslistlieder” at a number of New York City bars. It’s little wonder the NY Times called Gabriel Kahane a one-man cultural Cuisinart. He’ll be mixing it up Friday, April 19th at the HOP with the premiere of “Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States”. It’s the culmination of two years as composer-in-residence with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

wfuv via Flickr Creative Commons

Moving back in time for a moment to 1976 when The Band released The Last Waltz, Martin Scorcese’s film of that final show at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.  The film is often held up as the greatest rock movie ever and almost universally loved, except by Levon Helm…the musician,  actor, composer and original member of The Band who died a year ago this week. But then, Levon Helm was a drummer who marched to a different drummer, Helm ’s creative struggles,  crippling personal losses, and musical renaissance after battling cancer are at the heart of a new documentary film,and a new book by the writer, editor and spy magazine alum Jamie Malanowski.

Cody York via

You may know the band cloud cult from an animated commercial that aired during the Super Bowl a few years ago. In exchange for the work, e-Surance helped fund some of the band's costs for greening the recording of album. The fact that Cloud Cult chooses deals like that--writes heart-warming songs, and travels across the country to perform for good causes--may have you wondering if they are for real. But doing good and staying positive are deeply embedded in the DNA of Cloud Cult. This evening the band will perform a live acoustic set during a yoga class at the At Om Yoga studio in Concord. It’s a benefit for a local child with pediatric cancer. I talked with Craig Minowa, singer, guitarist, and leader of Cloud Cult before they headed to New Hampshire and can say that the whole kind-hearted thing is not just PR. In fact, I told him that they are just about the least cynical indie band I can think of.

Howard Fishman

Mar 21, 2013

Howard Fishman is no stranger to the diverse potential of musical genres. His first project, The Howard Fishman Quartet, captured the New York City music scene. The group has released three eponymous quartet volumes since its inception in 1999. After several live and studio albums, he diversified further by helming a brass band echoing hints of bluegrass and New Orleans street music in 2008. This was followed by an original theater work, “We Are Destroyed”. His most recent endeavor consists of a concept album, “No Further Instructions,” which illuminates the traversement of Romania and Eastern Europe.

Howard will appear at the Portsmouth Music Hall tomorrow night, and the Stone Arts Church in Bellows Falls, Vermont on Saturday.

njj4 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Eiffel Tower has inspired countless t-shirts, souvenirs and sentimental works of art. A new Kickstarter project aims to turn the iron and lattice landmark into a gigantic instrument. That’s the dream of composer Joseph Bertolozzi, who proved that he can tackle projects on a mammoth scale when he wired and then played New York’s Mid Hudson Bridge.

The Makem & Spain Brothers' Rory Makem

Mar 14, 2013

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, we get a visit from Rory Makem of The Makem & Spain Brothers, a new generation of Celtic music royalty with roots right here in New England.

Carlos Casas/Aga Khan Music Initiative

New Sounds From Arab Lands is five musicians from Syria, Tunisia and Lebanon respectively. They were brought together in collaboration with the Aga Khan music initiative, and are artists in a residency at Dartmouth College curated by ethnomusicologist and music professor Ted Levin. The group performs this evening at the Spaulding auditorium. We caught up with the group from a studio at Dartmouth College.

Marc Averette via Wikimedia Commons

Recently, long time Miami resident and author Dave Barry joined us for Writers on a New England Stage and he spoke a lot, as he always does, about his wacky adopted home:

"I think of myself as sort of an ambassador for the city of Miami - which needs an ambassador because it doesn't have a good reputation.

Photo courtesy

Ranjit Bhatnagar is no stranger to cool projects...he's made iambic pentameter from tweets, and is creating a bunch of instruments out of unexpected items, like a robo- toy piano.  Now, the sound artist can add one more feather to his cap...coming on our show.

It’s not often you get to hear authentic world music in New Hampshire, especially in the dead of winter. But on February 6th at the Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, the southern Italian band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino will be bringing their high energy pizzica tarantata music and dance.  Leading a new wave of young Italian artists reinventing and invigorating traditional Italian music, CGS includes six singers/musicians and a dancer.

I think it would be impossible not to have fun at a show like this:

The ukelele has never gotten the respect it deserves. When you think of one, you may think of something like Tiny Tim's famous falsetto version of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." But the ukelele has come a long way.

We sit down with Marco Werman, host of the Public Radio program “The World”. This summer he came to New Hampshire, promoting his new film about Senegalese musician and activist Youssou N'Dour. We’ll learned more about it and talked with Werman about his long career at “The World”, from the huge political and cultural shifts he’s covered, to his particular interest in uncovering unique music from around the globe.


Marco Werman - Host of the PRI radio program, "The World"