NHPR Folk Show 02.19.12

Feb 19, 2012

7 pm Hour

World Turned Upside Down-John McCutcheon-What It's Like-Rounder

Promised Land- Gina Forsyth-Promised Land-Waterbug

A Summer Wind, A Cotton Dress- Richard Shindell-Shanachie

Dishes- Rita

One of Those Things-David Mallett-Alright Now-North Road Records

The Phoenom-Chuck Brodsky-Subtotal Eclipse

Prodigal Daughter-Michelle Shocked-Arkansas Traveler

Dad's Song-Pharis & Jason Romero-A Passing Glimpse-Lula Records

Kate hosted Suzanne Vega live at Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Friday, February 17. Listen to the complete performance!

Country Music Award winner Gretchen Peters had an eventful 2010: The BP oil spill washed up on her doorstep, a good friend committed suicide, and her son announced that he's transgender. The last of those in particular, she says, got her thinking about personal conflict.

Who'd have thought a 77-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter would be hovering near the top of the pop charts?

For his third symphony, the 26-year-old American composer Mohammed Fairouz decided to incorporate text in three languages. Poems and Prayers, which had its debut Thursday in New York, features passages in Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic.

The symphony was commissioned by Northeastern University, where Fairouz teaches. The idea was to write something exploring the conflicts in the Middle East, so for inspiration, Fairouz delved into the region's poetry — both ancient and modern.

Sometimes I wonder: Do the members of young indie-rock bands know that they're walking stereotypes? There's the scruffy dude who's obsessed with everything vintage and analog, the Pavement-worshiping, whiny-voiced lead singer, the rhythm section that knows its way around every oddity recorded by The Kinks. That's pretty much how I pegged the Philadelphia sextet Dr.

Paul McCartney, Madonna, Doc Watson and Luciano Pavarotti have at least one thing in common: They've all collaborated with Irish folk band

Note: A number of listeners responded to this story and said the definition of appoggiatura was incorrect. Music commentator Rob Kapilow has a second opinion here.

Heavenly Sight

Feb 13, 2012
<a href="">Burnt Pixel</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Since the time of Aristotle, blind seers have been regarded as bearers of special insight. Host David Marash brings us the stories, music and this insight from the blind gospel tradition that transformed American song and gave it soul.

Photo: <a href="">Structures:NYC</a> / Flickr/Creative Commons

BOB MARLEY - LIVE FOREVER is a free one-hour program with live music from and stories about his last concert.  Songs recorded live at Pittsburgh's Stanley Theater in Sep 1980 include "Exodus," "Could You Be Loved," "Redemption Song," "No Woman, No Cry," "Jamming" and more.  Rita, Damien and Rohan Marley are interviewed, as well as Marcia Griffiths, biographer Vivien Goldman, and Doug Gebhard - a former journalist who covered the 1980 Pittsburgh show and is now a priest. These interviews discuss the concert, Marley's philosophies and influential moments from his life. 

Photo: Jack Delano / Library of Congress

Langston Hughes, an enduring icon of the Harlem Renaissance, is best-known for his written work, which wedded his fierce dedication to social justice with his belief in the transformative power of the word. But he was a music lover, too, and some of the works he was most proud of were collaborations with composers and musicians.  Hosted by Terrance McKnight, WQXR host and former Morehouse professor of music, I, Too, Sing Americawill dive into the songs, cantatas, musicals and librettos that flowed from Hughes’ pen.

One Grammy Award You Won't See On TV

Feb 12, 2012

The 54th Grammy Awards will be handed out Sunday — not all of them during the evening telecast. The winners of the lower-profile categories are announced earlier in the day, and Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin spoke to Ken Shipley, who's nominated for two of those: Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.

In the 11 years since the Oscars introduced an award for Best Animated Feature, the category has been dominated by children's movies, often with computer-animated pandas, penguins and ogres at their center. This year's a little different. Two of the animated films are subtitled, and one is definitely aimed at adults: the Spanish film Chico and Rita, an animated love story steeped in jazz.

Zydeco Nation

Feb 9, 2012
Photo: <a href=""> Clotee Pridgen Allochuku </a> / Flickr / Creative Commons

Zydeco Nation is an hour-long, music-rich documentary that tells the story about an epic chapter in modern American history. Starting during World War II, French-speaking Louisiana Creoles began moving across the country to Northern California in search of both jobs and freedom.

Super Bass: Can You Hit This Note?

Feb 7, 2012

Calling all basses: Decca Records is on the hunt for someone who can sing a low E, nearly three octaves below middle C. The note is featured in a new piece called De Profundis (Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord — Psalm) by the Welsh composer Paul Mealor.

I'm really attracted to the depths of the human spectrum," Mealor tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "We're seeking to find the person that can sing the lowest note ever written in choral music — and not just that note, but the solo in this piece for bass solo and choir. So we're looking for someone very special."

This Sunday the annual Grammy Award winners will be announced. One of the biggest categories is Song of the Year, which goes to a songwriter. Every day this week, we'll give you a little intel on one of the nominees. Today, Bruno Mars' "Grenade."

For any Ani DiFranco fan amazed by her one fine album a year between 1995 and 1999, the many albums she put out in the '00s just weren't up to par. So her new record, Which Side Are You On?, comes as a surprise and a tremendous relief.

The first words out of her mouth are the most striking she's uttered on record in over a decade. The opening track, "Life Boat," is sung in the voice of a homeless woman who's pretty jaunty, considering:

'Soul Train' Creator Don Cornelius Dies At 75

Feb 1, 2012

The host and executive producer of Soul Train has died. The Los Angeles police department is reporting that Don Cornelius was found dead at his home in Los Angeles this morning from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Photo by mae noelle, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Composer Philip Glass turns 75 today. His birthday is being celebrated with festivals and performances around the globe and the premiere of his 9th symphony at Carnegie hall tonight. Glass is easily the most famous composer of his generation.  How many other composers have received commissions from the Metropolitan Opera and inspired a knock-knock joke? Philip Glass began playing works to tiny, often hostile audiences back in the 1960’s.

Photo by urbanmkr, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Part 1: "Ready for Liftoff: 3...2...None?"

 To the average American, Chinese music might evoke a stereotype, the atonal, plucky sounds of soundtracks to martial arts films, or the ambience in Chinese restaurants. But like Chinese culture, the traditions of Chinese music reach back thousands of years and pull from myriad styles that reflect the diverse landscape of the worlds most populous nation. And weaving through much of it is the distinctive strain on the pipa, the ancient, four stringed instrument sometimes referred to as the Chinese Lute.

Musical Change

Jan 23, 2012
Photo by cjggbella, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

This segment begins with a recording of a 26-year-old Gustavo Dudamel conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar in Leonard Bernstein’s Arrangement of Mambo. Dudamel is the most energetic young thing on the podium. Before being named music director of Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, he was a violinist in the Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela.

Photo by Leo Reynolds, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons



Part 1: Revenge of the Web-nerds


Jan 19, 2012
Photo by Abby McBride

The “string-rock” quintet Darlingside is based in New England, but its lineage includes California pop harmonies, Appalachian root riffs, and classical arrangements all shadowing that full-on American mongrel we call rock music.  After earning high praise and an eager following for a self-produced EP, Darlingside is rolling out a new subscription album, called Pilot Machines, throughout 2012. Darlinsgide

Every year, thousands of video-game fans flock to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for a unique music festival called MAGFest. It's short for "Music and Gaming Festival," and it's designed to celebrate the music of video games.

When Joshua Bell was 21, he recorded an iconic piece of chamber music for piano and violin — the Sonata in A major by Cesar Franck. Today, Bell is 44 and he's recorded it again. It's on his new album, French Impressions, with pianist Jeremy Denk.

All Things Considered host Robert Siegel invited Bell to listen to his old recording for a little session of compare-and-contrast.

"Do you hear the same violinist?" Siegel asks, after playing for Bell the opening bars of his 1989 recording.

Kate hosts Peter Yarrow at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, Vermont.