NPR Music

It's been 50 years since Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of three days of peace, love and music, Woodstock 50 will take place this Aug. 16–18, 2019 in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Devon Gilfillian is very excited to be talking about the release of the first single from his forthcoming debut album on the phone. However, he's still pretty hyped from singing The National Anthem at the Southeastern Conference basketball game between LSU and Florida the morning of our talk. He's been in this spot before.

We've returned from our weeklong grind through the South by Southwest music festival happy, though a little dazed, with ringing ears, and a whole bunch of incredible discoveries. On this All Songs Considered we run through some of the most memorable music and performances, from the shredded noise rock of Rev Rev Rev and thundering soul of Yola Carter to the Afro-Cuban grooves of Cimafunk and the remarkable voice of Tamino. Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson and I each saw around 100 different shows in just a few short days, way more than we could ever share in a single episode.

What do you think of when you think of a Piano bar? Is it Billy Joel's "Piano Man?" There's always been something that made me slightly uncomfortable about the piano man, and don't even get me started on dueling pianos. But my guest, Robert Ellis, who dressed in an all-white tuxedo for the occasion, has an answer.

From the front, the unassuming Nashville building that's home to Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Studio looks like a place more likely to house drab offices than creative labor. In fact, its proprietor confirms a call center once operated inside its walls before he bought the facility and had tracking and control rooms built to his specifications.

There's something extra special about going to visit an artist in the place where it all began. On our recent trip to Dublin, Paul Noonan, lead singer of beloved Irish band Bell X1, took us on a walking city tour to show us some of the spots that have been important to the band over its 20-year career.

When Mary Timony digs in to heavy power chords or unspools a scorching solo, it's impossible not to smile. Celebrated for her innovative work in the trailblazing '90s bands Autoclave and Helium, and later in the supergroup Wild Flag, Timony has long held a reputation for dexterous guitar playing, acidic textures and noisy deconstruction, and an ever-shapeshifting musical aesthetic. But with Ex Hex's debut in 2014, Timony sealed her status as a boundary-pushing guitar hero. One the best live bands around, the Washington D.C.

The musical leg of SXSW 2019 has taken over Austin, Texas, once again and Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras has been standing amidst the food stands, venues and musical equipment cases to check out all the best Latin talent making noise.

"South by Southwest is becoming more important for Latin music every year," Contreras says. "More and more bands from Latin America, Spain and the U.S are coming here. I've been coming for 10 years and I used to be able to see most of the bands I needed. Now, its impossible."

Karen Lee Orzolek, or Karen O, is the stage-stomping frontwoman for the rock trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

But her latest work wasn't with the American indie rock band. Instead, Karen O teamed up with Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse — a Grammy-winning musician who has worked with artists like Adele and The Black Keys.

In a combination of forces, the superstar duo has produced a new album called Lux Prima. The album's title track features ethereal, laid back orchestration as Karen O sings, "No sun on the glass / No darkness / No eyes / Nobody but you."

When blues legend Buddy Guy calls you the real deal, that's no small compliment. Recently, Guy bestowed that honor on Mary Lane. After years of flying under the national radar, Lane has released a new album and is getting a well-deserved burst of recognition.

When Paddy Moloney formed The Chieftains in 1962, he wanted to take the sounds he loved from his Irish upbringing and share them with the rest of the world. Little did he know things would go so well that eventually, The Chieftains would help take the sounds of Ireland to outer space.

This week's somewhat abbreviated edition of New Music Friday includes an ambitious collaboration between Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O and producer Danger Mouse; the British electronic duo The Cinematic Orchestra returns with its first new album in more than a decade, featuring singer Moses Sumney, rapper Roots Manuva and other guests; and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus injects his woozy rock with a strange jolt of electronica. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the best new albums out on March 15.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

We had a blast visiting this Irish four-piece band Pillow Queens at the iconic Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin. Pillow Queens has a delightfully DIY approach to pop punk and the band's songs are sneak-attack catchy. We found ourselves singing them long after the last amp rang out. Plus, the members sing clever lyrics in loud and proud full-on Irish accents.

Gregory Alan Isakov On Mountain Stage

Mar 14, 2019

Gregory Alan Isakov was raised in Philadelphia and is now based in Colorado, but the sonically rich music he conceives doesn't sound like it's from any place in particular, except maybe the deep, dark soil of earth. It's an easy analogy to make, since Isakov has a glowing reputation both for his records, and as an organic farmer.

Time has always seemed to work in American Football's favor.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Welsh Roots

Mar 13, 2019

Some of the acoustic roots sounds of Wales are well worth checking into. Fiona Ritchie features great singers like Cerys Matthews and Julie Murphy, along with enigmatic bands including Rag Foundation, Ffynnon, Ember and Crasdant.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The expectation upon seeing a banjo hanging is one of rollicking rowdiness, but when Kaia Kater began to strum her five-string, the mood in the office turned plaintive and a bit mournful. The Afro-Caribbean-Canadian singer and songwriter, who studied Appalachian music at West Virginia's Davis & Elkins College, often references the Black Lives Matter movement, within a music form that doesn't exactly snap to mind as being in dialogue with modern issues.

David Keenan is a young singer with an old poet's soul and wardrobe. His acoustic guitar is adorned with pieces of poems, love letters and photographs.

No ticket required! Nashville's WMOT Roots Radio is once again headed to Austin for SXSW 2019, presenting you with five straight days of live music.

It's one thing to meet someone who's talented, but it's a trip to meet someone like Northern Ireland's Naomi Hamilton, who makes music (and art) as Jealous of the Birds. Naomi has a knack for slicing up genres and making music that sounds homemade and tiny, but also explosive and bombastic. She studied English and creative writing at Queens University Belfast and uses her love of language to great effect when crafting songs for the band.

Stella Donnelly is not afraid to ruffle feathers or disrupt the status quo. At 26, the Australian singer-songwriter has already made that clear with songs like her breakout singles, "Boys Will Be Boys," and "Mechanical Bull" off of her 2017 debut EP, Trush Metal. Both songs attack the folkways of misogyny and rape culture.

To celebrate the release of his third studio album, Gary Clark Jr. performed music from This Land live on KCRW. A lot has changed in Gary's personal life and political outlook since his last album in 2015 — including marriage, two kids and two presidents — all of which has clearly informed this latest release and makes it his most intimate to date.

Amanda Palmer has made a living out of delivering emotionally sobering strikes. From her early street performing days dressed as an 8-foot bride handing flowers and intense eye contact to passers-by through her current album cover, where she stands completely full frontal naked wielding a sword overhead, Palmer has always demanded we see her and feel something. You don't get to call yourself "Amanda F****** Palmer" for nothing.

Juice WRLD, the reigning prince of emo rap, is back with a follow up to last year's Goodbye & Good Riddance. Deathrace for Love is bleak, brutal and the rare sequel that lives up to the original. The Oxford rock band Foals takes a big swing in one of the group's most ambitious albums to date; and singer Patty Griffin has a beautiful and profoundly moving, new self-titled album on growing old, the frailty of life and perseverance.

Amy Ray Band On Mountain Stage

Mar 7, 2019

Beginning with the Indigo Girls' Mountain Stage debut in 1991, Amy Ray has proven herself to be one of those rare artists who is never bashful about expressing what's on her mind musically, socially or politically.

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After five years — and a countless string of solo endeavors, a record label launch and some work on the animated Netflix show BoJack Horseman

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

If you've been on social media in the few months, you've come across the 10-Year Challenge. It first began on Twitter in January with one user posting two photos side by side, one from 10 years ago and their most recent upload. Within a week, the trend had moved to Facebook, to Instagram, to local news segments. Unless you're Paul Rudd, it was fun to look back on the passing of time and 2009's fashion on display.

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