Music News & Reviews

For the next year, NPR will take a musical journey across America, which is one of the most religiously diverse countries on earth. We want to discover and celebrate the many ways in which people make spiritual music — individually and collectively, inside and outside houses of worship.

The founder of the choral group Sounds of Africa is Fred Onovwerosuoke. He was born in Ghana and brought up in Nigeria, and his choir in the heart of the U.S. — St. Louis, Mo., to be exact — has recorded his arrangements of African sacred music by a composer named Ikoli Harcourt Whyte.

The rock club Maxwell's is a tiny space that's hosted some of the biggest names in music for more than 30 years. R.E.M., Nirvana and many more bands have squeezed onto Maxwell's stage in Hoboken, N.J. Native son Bruce Springsteen recorded the music video for "Glory Days" there.

If it weren't for a MySpace message three years ago, singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid might never have joined to form AlunaGeorge.

It's been too long since we simply sat up and pointed out a few of the many new releases worth a set of ears. Luckily, the staff on weekends at All Things Considered thought the same. They invited me to sit down with host Jacki Lyden and play a few cuts for them.

Here's music from an elder statesman of piano, a trumpeter who understands creole music personally, a drummer who writes tunes with a payoff, and a singer in her early 20s with maturity and kick.

J.J. Cale, whose songs became hits for the likes of Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died at age 74 from a heart attack, his management agency's website announced.

Cale died at about 8 p.m. Friday at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., the Rosebud agency said Saturday.

The Newport Folk Festival's history is dotted with historic moments involving musical icons — Bob Dylan plugging in jumps immediately to mind. But, while organizers still take care to stack each festival with huge names and star veterans, the margins are smartly and lovingly curated, too. The 2013 Newport Folk Festival is no different, with an impressive slate of boundary-pushers and genre-eschewers. Here are five of the newest and most promising faces, with a downloadable song from each.

The Slide Brothers have recently released their CD Robert Randolph Presents The Slide Brothers and they'll be making a stop in Columbus on this tour! 

It's time for an evening of bluegrass music with Rhythm On The River and WCBE! 

When Guns N' Roses released the album Chinese Democracy five years ago, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman commented that, questions of politics aside, the GNR sound just wasn't most Chinese folks' cup of tea.

"According to my knowledge," he said, "a lot of people don't like this kind of music because it's too noisy and too loud."

When singer-songwriter Jason Isbell used to get drunk, he'd sometimes tell his then-girlfriend, the musician Amanda Shires, that he needed to quit the bottle — and that if it was going to take, he'd have to go to rehab. Eventually, she said the next time he told her that, she'd hold him to it. And she did. And he went. And, he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "The jury is still out on whether or not it worked, but it worked today and all the days leading up to this."

Initially, he says he was scared about what sobriety would do to his personality and his creativity.

In a review for his last album, NME magazine described British singer-songwriter Frank Turner as "the people's prince of punk poetry." But Turner's lyrics can be quite personal as well. He's got a new album, released this spring, called Tape Deck Heart — and the lead single, "Recovery," is about as confessional as they come.

Last Thursday Mark Arm was on the top of the Space Needle; two days later, he was riding around in a golf car full of trash. Truth in criticism: I never actually saw the Mudhoney singer in the vehicle to which his name was affixed (the sign read: "MR. ARM") scooting around the streets of Georgetown, the Seattle industrial neighborhood where Sub Pop Records held its Silver Jubilee mini-festival on Saturday. But I did see it hauling recyclables and getting stopped by numerous concertgoers snapping phone photos.

We hope to see you at The Rumba Café where they'll host a benefit for WCBE with some of Columbus' finest musicians performing for you!  

WCBE Benefit featuring multiple stages with many different varieties of acts from musicians to comedians, magicians and live performance art.  

Blues musician Tab Benoit will return to Columbus on Friday July 19th to play at Woodland's Backyard

The second Tuesday of every month Shadowbox Live and Brothers Drake Meadery team up for Mead tastings and great local music!

Formerly of the San Francisco rock band Girls, Christopher Owens now explores music and life on his own. Shortly after the duo released its second album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Owens announced that he was leaving to go solo. Released this past January, Lysandre is his first album recorded under his own name; it's a coming-of-age story for the singer, intertwined with hints of romance.

Summer is heating up and so are dozens of classical music festivals all around the country. We couldn't possibly list them all, but here's a sampling of some of the best events, from open-air venues and seaside spots to historic concert halls. Been to a great summer festival we've missed? Feel free to pass along your own reviews in the comments section.


On John Grant And Healing Yourself

Jun 27, 2013

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the flyers from reputable debt-consolidation companies is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a vexing piece of concert-going etiquette.

From small country churches to the stages of the civil rights movement to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Mavis Staples' career has spanned more than 60 years.

Neko Case has a new single out called "Man" with the full length release to follow on September 3rd. 

KT Tunstall On World Cafe

Jun 14, 2013

In the spring of 2012, Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall traveled to Tucson, Ariz., to work on her sixth album, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon. But before she could return to finish the record, a lot happened in her personal life: The death of her father, as well as the dissolution of her marriage to drummer Luke Bullen, left Tunstall in a standstill.

WCBE and Woodland's Tavern proudly present Royal Southern Brotherhood