A distinct American voice is gone. The bluegrass and old-time singer Ralph Stanley died Thursday at age 89. He lived a rich, full life of music; singing with his brother Carter as The Stanley Brothers, he helped define the bluegrass sound from the 1940s onward. After Carter Stanley died in 1966, Ralph continued playing with The Clinch Mountain Boys.
Every time Neil Young joins World Cafe, he seems to have a different project he's excited about — and it's not always a new album. He's been telling us about his PONO digital music player and download service for a while, and he returns to that topic in today's conversation.
Blues singer-songwriter C.W. Stoneking is touring the U.S. for the first time this summer, but he's been well known in Australia for over 20 years. His last record, Gon' Boogaloo, even earned him a ARIA Award (the Australian equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Blues and Roots Album.
The Things That We Are Made Of is Mary Chapin Carpenter's superb new album. It captures a specific and relatable stage in life — a characteristic of Carpenter's music throughout 14 albums (which have earned her five Grammys and two CMA Awards).
Bob Boilen is the man behind NPR's All Songs Considered and the Tiny Desk concert series, which takes place at his desk. Needless to say, he's always in search of new music; last year alone, he saw more than 400 bands live.
For every country star and insurgent new sensation, Nashville boasts a dozen musicians who've perfected their art over many years. Tomi Lunsford is one such exceptional, undersung talent. She hails from a prestigious family — her great-uncle was the revered folklorist and songwriter Bascom Lamar Lunsford, and her father, fiddler Jim Lunsford, played with the likes of Roy Acuff and Bob Wills. Tomi herself began singing professionally as a teen with Jim and her harmonizing sisters.
Daptone Records, known for recording blues, R&B and funk artists like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, has entered into the world of rock music with a new offshoot: Wick Records. Wick's label debut, from Queens-based garage-rock band The Mystery Lights, definitely sets the standard.
In 1970, five guys — Tom Petty, Tom Leadon, Randall Marsh, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench — formed a band, moved from Florida to Hollywood, made a single and broke up. If it hadn't been for Petty holding onto Campbell and Tench as part of The Heartbreakers, that original band, Mudcrutch, might have never come back together — but in 2007, they did just that to make a new record.
Introducing Karl Blau is an interesting title for the singer-songwriter's latest album, seeing as he's been releasing music since 1997 on his own labels. Producer Tucker Martine gave him the idea to record an album of country covers after Blau worked with Martine's wife, Laura Veirs. In this session, Martine and Blau join forces to play three songs from that album live for World Cafe.
The Last Shadow Puppets is the work of two British rock stars, Alex Turner and Miles Kane, who met when Kane's band The Little Flames toured with Turner's Arctic Monkeys. In 2008, Turner and Kane released The Age Of The Understatement, their first album as The Last Shadow Puppets, to a very appreciative response — but they didn't find time to make another until Arctic Monkeys went on hiatus in 2014.