Wed March 11, 2015
The Record

Benjamin Booker Faces The Past

David Goldman Courtesy of the artist


Tue March 3, 2015
World Cafe

Sinkane On World Cafe

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 5:26 pm

Erez Avissar Courtesy of the artist

There's something entrancing about the electro-funk of Sinkane. The Brooklyn band is led by Ahmed Gallab, who spent time in Sudan as a child before moving around the U.S.

Sinkane subtly incorporates East African sounds, complete with a loping repetition of lyrics and musical phrases. Last year, the band released its third album, Mean Love, and it's the most concise and poppy Sinkane record yet.

Read more


Sat February 21, 2015

'That Blew My Mind': Raiding The Lead Belly Vault

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 8:30 am

Lead Belly.
William Gottlieb Courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways and the Library of Congress

The story of Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter reads like a parody of the brutal bluesman biography: Kill a man, go to prison — twice — then appeal for a pardon in a song. According to the legend, Lead Belly's undeniable talent convinced Texas Governor Pat Neff to let him go.

Read more


Sat February 14, 2015
Music News

A Hero At Home, Deacon John Moore Is New Orleans' Best-Kept Secret

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 2:04 pm

New Orleans bandleader John Moore chose his "Deacon" nickname at the suggestion of a mischievous drummer. At 73, he's one of the city's most beloved musicians.
Courtesy of the artist

Deacon John does it all. The veteran New Orleans bandleader plays weddings, birthdays, proms, debutante parties. He holds his own at Jazz Fest and at carnival balls. He'll play 1950s R&B, rock, jazz, gospel, soul and disco — whatever the people want to hear. But when it's up to him, he chooses the blues.

Read more


Sat January 31, 2015
Music News

In A Few Fateful Years, One Record Label Blew Open The Blues

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 1:20 pm

Charley Patton was the grandaddy of the Delta blues musicians, according to Jack White: "He's the one that all the other blues musicians looked up to. He's almost the beginning of the family tree."
Courtesy of the Revenant Archives

The story of Paramount Records is a story of contradictions. It was a record label founded by a furniture company, a commercial enterprise that became arguably the most comprehensive chronicler of African American music in the early 20th century. And yet, for Paramount's executives, music was an afterthought.

Read more


Sat December 27, 2014

Preserving American Roots Music Begins With Keeping The Lights On

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 3:54 pm

For 20 years, the Music Maker Relief Foundation has been supporting indigent musicians like Boo Hanks (left), who recently released a collaborative album with fellow roots musician Dom Flemons.
Peter Breslow NPR


Thu December 11, 2014
Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness On Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Janiva Magness appears on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. One of blues music's most decorated vocalists, Magness drew her earliest musical inspirations from the sounds of her native Detroit and her father's record collection. After losing both her parents, Magness spent her teen years in foster homes, and eventually found her way to an Otis Rush concert in Minneapolis. Her job as a recording engineer in St. Paul led to session work as a background singer, and before long, she was leading her own band.

Read more


Sun November 30, 2014
First Listen

First Listen: 'When I Reach That Heavenly Shore: Unearthly Black Gospel 1926-1936'

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 10:43 am

African-Americans on their way to church.
Courtesy of the artist

In the history of American popular music, gospel is the great conveyor. People could hear it everywhere as the 20th century grew from infancy to adolescence: in churches, of course, but also on street corners, sung by wanderers whose guitar work and moaning vocals arose in dialogue with the blues; in factories and mines, where harmonizing quartets provided balm to frustrated workers; on the radio, where preachers and singers performed live to thousands of listeners; and through the new medium of recordings, which turned regional styles into national trends.

Read more


Wed November 26, 2014
All Songs Considered

Lead Belly, 'I'm So Glad, I Done Got Over'

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 5:20 pm

Portrait in New York, in Lead Belly's final days, 1948-49
Dr Richard S. Blacher

In the new, comprehensive boxed set Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, to be released in Feb. 24, 2015, the Smithsonian archivist Jeff Place reminds readers of the huge historical chunk of American music that the legendary singer and songwriter carried forward via his 12-string Stella guitar. "Lead Belly is often spoken of as the 'discovery' of folklorists, but in many ways he was a walking and singing collector of American folk songs in his own right," Place writes.

Read more


Fri November 21, 2014
World Cafe

Sonny Landreth On World Cafe

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 10:36 am

Sonny Landreth.
Brittany Salerno WXPN

It's fitting that World Cafe ends its Sense Of Place visit to Lafayette, La., with a performance from Sonny Landreth. The inventive and unpredictable slide-guitar player is a longtime Lafayette resident and a perfect ambassador for the city's music. Landreth's first sideman gig was with zydeco king Clifton Chenier, and several of his songs — like "Congo Square" — have become Louisiana standards.

Read more