The Blues Finds A Home In A South Central Garage

Sep 19, 2015

One sun-baked residential street in South Central Los Angeles is regularly bombarded by the chorus of jets cruising toward Los Angeles International Airport. Unless you're in Franklin Bell's garage, where the walls soak up the raw, earthy chords of L.A. blues.

Sharon Isbin On Song Travels

Sep 18, 2015

Renowned classical guitarist Sharon Isbin has released more than 25 albums, toured worldwide and premiered some of the finest new guitar works of the last century. Trained by the legendary Andrés Segovia, Isbin is the first and only female guitarist to win a classical Grammy. She's also the founder and director of the guitar department at the Juilliard School of Music.

On this episode of Song Travels, Isbin's mastery is on display as she shares notable recordings of her work and performs from her classical repertoire.

Gala event tribute speeches are often so much fluff—in the right hands, however, they ascend to the level of the poetic. On Wednesday night in Nashville, Robyn Hitchcock's paean to his longtime friends and collaborators Gillian Welch and David Rawlings hit that high mark. Handing them a Lifetime Achievement prize at the Americana Honors and Awards, Hitchcock wove a tale that was also a dream history of American roots music itself. It was so good we decided to publish it. Do they give awards for awards show speeches? The man in the polka-dot shirt deserves one.

Over in London, the Independent's arts editor, David Lister, recently published a scathing commentary about the paucity of valuable or even interesting information in artist biographies. He wrote it in a fury after paying £4 to obtain the program for a Proms concert he attended, featuring the excellent German violinist Julia Fischer.

Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don't expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

Rock fans who are going to Metallica's concert in Quebec City Wednesday will see an unusual sight: a 48-foot tanker truck filled with Metallica-branded beer. Made at the Labatt facility, the beer is to commemorate the band as it opens a large new venue, the Centre Vidéotron.

The Centre Vidéotron says:

"Budweiser has partnered with legendary rock band Metallica to channel the brute force of this historic show and be inspired by its vibrations, its energy and its decibels to create a beer in the image of the power of rock."

NPR Music is in Nashville all this week for the 16th annual AmericanaFest. So the newest episode of All Songs Considered offers a big bundle of music from some of the acts who are playing the festival that the team is most excited to see. Before leaving D.C., Bob called up NPR Music's Ann Powers and NPR Music contributor Jewly Hight in Music City to talk about what Americana means, and who its newest and most promising voices are.

Mystical, monk-like, reclusive — those are a few words often used to describe Arvo Pärt. His music gets labeled as timeless, spiritual and meditative. The Estonian composer, born 80 years ago today, is perhaps all of these things ... and maybe none of them.

When it comes to artistic partnerships, there's a lot to be said for the fireworks of musicians joining together for the first time. But there's another kind of collaboration that can yield profound pleasure: a recording with two artists who know each other deeply, in a relationship that has unfolded over years or even decades.