A dozen years ago, if someone told me that one of the liveliest, most inventive party albums of the year would come from a band originally associated with wedding celebrations and beer festivals, I would have been all, "Yeah, sure, you bet." If it was further explained that the band's roots were much closer to polka than rock, funk or hip-hop, I would have responded, "Don't push it." But nowadays, I'm familiar with the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, whose retrospective Golden Horns will lighten the heart and lift the feet as surely as anything you'll hear in 2012.
Up until a few years ago, Italian-born, French-educated composer-pianist-conductor Alfredo Casella's greatest claim to fame in America was as the director of the Boston Pops in the late 1920s, preceding Arthur Fiedler. But that pales in comparison to the significant body of distinguished music he left behind that is receiving increased attention from record companies.
Sara Watkins isn't the flashiest of singing stars, but she's already carved out a remarkable career: She got her start as a kid with Chris Thile and her brother Sean in the heavily decorated, platinum-selling Nickel Creek, and has since gone on to perform with The Decemberists,
Bibi Tanga is a true musical globe-trotter. Born in the Central African Republic to a family of diplomats, he spent most of his life following his father around the world. But Tanga says his journey has helped him to incorporate diverse genres into funky, multilingual songs that tackle themes well-hidden behind groovy hooks. Together with his band the Selenites, he is now touring the U.S. in support of his new album 40 Degrees of Sunshine.
Folk-pop singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega appears in this archival edition of Mountain Stage, recorded in December 2007. Vega enjoyed commercial success with hits like "Luka" and "Tom's Diner," which both reached into the Top Ten of pop charts in the U.S. and abroad, earning her a large national and international following.
Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 9:52 am
The experience of going to the Newport Jazz Festival actually starts before you get there. The community of Newport sits at the tip of Rhode Island's Aquidneck Island — the exact festival location even more so — which means you're going to need to cross a big bridge or hop a boat. You'll probably pass through the old resort community of Newport, and by its massive oceanside mansions. It'll be about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with a stabilizing ocean breeze. And then there's the music.
Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 3:21 pm
We took recordings from all the bandleaders at the Newport Jazz Festival this year and put them all in a 24/7 streaming channel. Mostly the actual bands at Newport 2012, with some classics mixed in for spice. Have a listen?
The last band to open for Levon Helm before his death earlier this year, Brooklyn's Spirit Family Reunion crafts a sweetly ramshackle Americana sound that's part secular gospel revival, part folk ramble.
It's summer. It's hot. And that means it's time for a particular kind of music: the kind that streams from church basements and empty lots, raising your spirit as high as the mercury. It's revival season.
Spirit Family Reunion isn't from Appalachia or the plains; the band is from Brooklyn. Its music, though clearly Americana-based, casts a wide enough net to elude classification.