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The summer of 2012 marks the centennial of the birth of American folk icon Woody Guthrie, on July 14, 1912. A poet of the people, Guthrie wrote some of America's most important songs, including "This Land Is Your Land." He penned ballads that captured the heart of hard economic times and war.

While Guthrie left a lasting mark on music, culture and politics, he struggled with family poverty, tragedies and personal demons.

Lucero — bright star in Spanish — has been creating quality punk-inflected country since the late '90s. Hailing from Memphis, frontman Ben Nichols gives the act a gruff Southern twang with both his voice and his guitar. Since the release of 2001's eponymous debut, Lucero has recorded five more studio albums and plays an impressive 200 shows a year in the U.S. and Canada.

The transporting music of Exitmusic is so grandiose, so romantically rich, it could easily envelop a concert hall or cavernous church. It's a beautifully buzzing mix of distorted guitars, synth pads and sparse electronic beats, all of which intermingle around Aleksa Palladino's alluring, heartsick voice like a swarm of bees in your chest.

"We had two shows that night," says Bobby Womack, recounting a recent concert in Houston. "It was a small theater, about 5- or 6,000 people. The second show, I was just out of it; they had to take me to the hospital."

It was a serious scare for the 68-year-old singer-songwriter — who has also lived through drug addiction and the deaths of two sons — and it didn't end that night.

Maggie With BoDeans
WCBE

The Floorwalkers will perform as an acoustic trio to open the show.

NPR In The News: NPR Music

Jun 27, 2012

NPR Music Director and Executive Producer Anya Grundmann was profiled last week as part of Fast Company's "Innovation Agents" series, which showcases the personalities behind "the ideas that shake up business as usual":

Third World On World Cafe

Jun 27, 2012

Together nearly 30 years, the reggae band Third World is one Jamaica's most popular and decorated musical acts, with listeners around the world and 10 Grammy nominations to its name. Partly responsible for mainstreaming reggae music, the group formed in 1973 and built a solid following playing the Kingston reggae scene, making its debut at Jamaica's Independence Day celebration.

Paul Thorn: Live from Studio A REPLAY

Jun 22, 2012

Paul Thorn performed live from WCBE's Studio A on June 21st, 2012! Check out these great performances of "Bull Mountain Bridge", "She's Got A Crush On Me", and "I Have A Good Day Every Now And Then"! Enjoy!

Do you like what you hear? Let us know what you think about our online Live from Studio A REPLAY series!

There's never just one theme running through the music of a given year, but through the first half of 2012, it's been hard to ignore the varieties of ecstasy referenced, performed and endorsed by the musicians behind many of our favorite songs.

There's no clear formula for why a new song catches fire at one of our partner radio stations. Sometimes it's a hook you can't get out of your head, and sometimes it's a tune's ability to distill a station's overall vibe into three sublime minutes.

We asked five stations to select a song currently blowing up on their airwaves and tell us why. For a limited time, you can download their answers — the results include new music from the smart Canadian pop band Metric, U.K. singer Lianne La Havas, folk newbie John Fullbright, funk collective Brownout and British pop group alt-J.

Tracing The Trail Of Musical Fathers

Jun 15, 2012

With Father's Day coming up this weekend, Morning Edition music commentator Miles Hoffman has been thinking about a few musical dads and their children.

I was born in 1970, sprung from one of the most aspirational generations America has ever produced: The Hip-Hop Nation. With decades of rap music anthems dedicated to our fantastical transition from poverty to prosperity, we rarely celebrate our wealth without looking back on our meager beginnings. The American Dream, for us, always represents the possibility of success and affluence on our own terms — with a watchful eye toward our hardscrabble origins.

DUH-duh ... DUH-duh ... DUH-duh!

Like those ominous bars of music signaling the approaching shark in Jaws, some of the most recognizable film scores were designed to terrify us.

Around this time each year I begin to marvel at how we've already reached the halfway point. I haven't even taken down my Christmas lights yet and already everyone's reflecting on all the great music we've had so far.

Fiona Apple: 'I Don't Really Have A Plan'

Jun 10, 2012

It's been seven years since Fiona Apple has released a new album. The singer-songwriter, who broke out in 1996 with Tidal, says the delay is a quirk of her creative process.

The British ska-revival band The Selecter formed in the late 1970s, playing what can be described as rock fused with calypso and American jazz.

Much of what set the band apart was its charismatic lead singer, Pauline Black. As one of few women in a musical movement dominated by men, she was called "The Queen of British Ska."

That experience is one of many recounted in her new memoir, Black by Design, which has just been released in the U.S.

Dick and Jane Song of the Week: "Soar Like a Bird"

Jun 8, 2012

I spread my wings to fly, but all they do is die. My brother already soars, yet I’m behind closed doors.I look up into the sky. Everything seems so high.

But if you don’t quit. It’s your goal you’ll get. But if you don’t quit

Just like a baby bird who’s falling, your life it might be stalling. The bird will soon succeed. Just follow its lead. But if you don’t quit.

Neil Young: The Fresh Air Interview

Jun 6, 2012

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's latest project — their first together in nine years — is an album featuring American folk songs and the tunes many of us learned as children, performed with grit, wit and a whole lot of electric guitar.

The Beach Boys are in harmony again. The group is recording and performing together, after years of disputes and estrangement.

Brian Wilson and Mike Love tell Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, that they're not surprised at the reunion.

"We've had 50 years' practice," Wilson says, "not just in music but in being guys."

Love says once they got back in the studio and started writing again, it felt like they had never left.

"It was nuts," Wilson says. "It was a nutbuster."

The Keels: Live from Studio A REPLAY

May 31, 2012

The Keels performed live from WCBE's Studio A on May 31st, 2012. We heard the songs "Wild Bill Jones", "I'm No Doctor", and "Sound Check". Enjoy! 

Do you like what you hear? Let us know what you think about our online Live from Studio A REPLAY series!

CD Review: The Dave Brubeck Quartet "Their Last Time Out" 1967

May 16, 2012
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Columbia Records (CK-40585)

 

Music now has some what alienated listeners due to what has seemed to me like random popularity spikes in genres of music. In my age group, I tend to hear a lot of Indie Rock, Hip-Hop, and Electronic music.

You've Never Heard Simon And Garfunkel's 'Bookends'?!

May 14, 2012

Note: This is a recurring series in which we ask our unimaginably young interns to review classic albums they've never heard before. Until very recently, Jenna Strucko was an intern for NPR Music.

Polica On World Cafe

May 10, 2012

Despite the slow, twisting, synth-looping style of Polica, the group's album came together in only a few recording sessions. Recovering from the breakup of her folk rock band Roma di Luna and the breakup of her marriage to one of her bandmates, Channy Leaneagh turned to friend and collaborator Ryan Olson, founder of Gayngs. The two worked together on Gayngs' album Relayted in 2010 and they were interested in working together again.

Dick and Jane Project Song of the Week: "Bumper Cars"

May 4, 2012

LYRICS

A beautiful sunny day started out like any other. Driving down the street in his rusty old clunker, “Can I make it there?” he wondered. The big promotion was his for the taking. He could finally see to the top. This is the day when he needed to get there the most. You can’t give up.Your can’t give in. If you’re meant to be on the road that you’re on, then you’re bound to win. No, you can’t give up. You can’t give in. Take your time. Slow down. See life through to the end.

Well she sits and she thinks, “I’m so glad I’m on this road, I have no idea where I’m going but I have room to be bold.” And sweeping by all of the slow ones, the busses and the tractors. All that’s left is the open road. And all she can do is go faster.

Oh, that last left turn was a time to forget. But you’ll always remember and always regret. Never before has something bad been so good. Both cars in pieces and as you stand to the side, it could have been worse. You’re still living life.

Dick and Jane Song of the Week: "Heartbroken"

Apr 27, 2012

CREDITS

lyrics by Angelique & Nakita / music by The Town Monster

The number of major record labels is down to three. But that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to promoting music that's out of the mainstream. A label called Amarrass Records, founded in the Indian state of Rajasthan, is dedicated to exposing and preserving indigenous folk music before it disappears.

It's never been easy to make a living as a musician. But there was always a dream: to become a star on the strength of your talent and your music. The Internet is a rude sandman, however, and today that dream is a lot more convoluted.

No longer can a would-be rock star follow the once-accepted checklist: (1) sign with a big label, (2) get a hit, (3) buy mansions and cars. The number of ways a musician can make money is now varied. The question, for many musicians still trying to make a go of it in the industry, is whether those many sources can add up to something sustainable.

Elliott Brood: Live from Studio A REPLAY

Apr 9, 2012
www.eventbrite.com

Elliot Brood performed live from WCBE's Studio A on March 9th, 2012. Check out the amazing performance right now on Live from Studio A REPLAY. Enjoy!

Do you like what you hear? Let us know what you think about our online Live from Studio A REPLAY series!

With simple melodies and sardonic lyrics, Archie Powell and the Exports' new album, Great Ideas in Action, may well be the soundtrack to this summer. The group released its first EP (Loose Change) in 2009, and its debut album, Skip Work, followed a year later. Skip Work was praised for its addictive hooks, lyrical wit and sophistication. Buried beneath catchy, raucous rock 'n' roll, the album's emotional content reflected the nervous energy and anxiety that the band members say they felt graduating college.

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