Music

This year's Country Music Association Awards were meant to provide healing for an industry shaken by the mass shooting at a country festival in Las Vegas last month. Last night's show (Nov. 8) paid tribute to the fans who became victims, but it also reinforced how few artists want to talk about the gun debate reignited by the tragedy.

An all-star band of musicians joined cult favorite singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston for a live performance of his songs. Ben Lee, Mike Watt, Maria Taylor, Joey Waronker and Guy Blakeslee acted as his backing band, while members of the Silver Lake Chorus provided backing vocals on this session standout: "Try To Love."

SET LIST

  • "Try To Love"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

The Thistle And Shamrock: Seasons Of Mist

Nov 9, 2017

From the Celtic colors of Cape Breton Island to the amber of Highland Perthshire and the stunning autumnal displays of the Appalachian Ridges, we feature music from Maddie Prior, Dougie MacLean and The Critton Hollow String Band.

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Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Welcome back to the Caribbean, Alexander Hamilton: This morning, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer and lyricist of the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning smash Hamilton: An American Musical, announced that he is taking the show to the University of Puerto Rico's campus in San Juan for a limited three-week run in January 2019.

This past spring Grandaddy released its first album since taking a 10-year hiatus. It's called Last Place, and features everything that has made Grandaddy great since they formed and released their first cassette tape in 1992 — the meeting of fuzzed-out indie rock and the lo-fi psychedelia of video games.

On the last weekend of October, La Tribu de Abrante boarded a plane from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia to play a special live set, blending traditional bomba and plena with salsa, Latin jazz and lots of percussion. They played for hundreds of music fans — or, as frontman Hiram Abrante would prefer to call them: family. That's how Abrante thinks of his audience, and that point of view is at the core of La Tribu's music and the emotional connection they're able to inspire — especially at a time when things are so challenging in their home of Puerto Rico.

For Johanna Warren, spirituality and humanity are inextricable from each other: "it's all energy," as she writes in an email to NPR. The Portland singer-songwriter has been around a while — her voice, clear as water, has shadowed the records of Iron & Wine, Natalie Merchant and Julie Byrne.

Dan Wilson On Mountain Stage

Nov 8, 2017

Dan Wilson made his first appearance on Mountain Stage in March 1992 as a member of Minneapolis-based Trip Shakespeare. Wilson would go on to find major label success and commercial airplay with Semisonic before becoming one of the most in-demand co-writers, producers and arrangers for pop and rock musicians.

Sonic Boomerang: Is that, like, Sonic the Hedgehog's new weapon? A new shake from that burger drive-in? Psychedelic punk-rock whipped into the abyss and returned with aerodynamic force?

Shocking Omissions: Cesária Évora's 'Cesária'

Nov 8, 2017

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women.

For years, Kal Marks was the loudest band in Boston. Though it's hard to fathom, as bands like Pile hammered away on post-hardcore songs and Guerilla Toss shrieked through electronics-driven art-rock, Kal Marks charged through songs of exhaust and hopelessness from behind a wall of amps, a fervor that other artists couldn't match. The trio prioritized volume over all else — it's been their shtick, if it's fair to call it that — and frontman Carl Shane has no problem saying such.

One year ago today, American voters went to the polls, electing Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Trump's election was many things to many people; a shock, a line in the sand, an emboldening jolt. For everyone, it appears in retrospect, Trump's empowerment was a turning point.

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