Beppe Gambetta: Where the Wind Blows / Dove Tia o Vento

Over a career spanning 40-plus years and more than a dozen albums, Beppe Gambetta has steadily added talents to his repertoire. From a young acoustic guitarist channeling Italian and American folk and bluegrass into a signature style, he became singer, composer, arranger, sound engineer and concert producer. At age 65 he has added one … More Beppe Gambetta: Where the Wind Blows / Dove Tia o Vento

Black Umfolosi: Washabalal’ Umhlaba / Earth Song

The Zimbabwean ensemble Black Umfolosi takes its name from a river in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, whence the group’s ancestors migrated almost 200 years ago. And though the zigzagging riverbed has been mostly dry in recent years it remains a wellspring of identity and memory inspiring the gentle cadences and sparkling harmonies of its distant sons and daughters. Over the course of … More Black Umfolosi: Washabalal’ Umhlaba / Earth Song

Tio: Sorousian

Any artist who mixes traditional and contemporary music navigates between old and new worlds but few, if any, bridge gaps as wide as Tio Bang. The multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter divides his time between modern Melbourne, Australia, and a treehouse—made of bamboo and cast-off timbers tucked between the roots of a towering banyan—in his native Vanuatu, an 83-island archipelago embracing more than 100 languages. On Sorousian (Story) … More Tio: Sorousian

Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet & Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger

Just as we remember Bach and Beethoven, future generations will surely know Pete Seeger (1919-2014). From McCarthy-era blacklisting to performing at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, with an ebullient tenor and wielding a five-string banjo or 12-string guitar, the seminal folksinger-songwriter etched a riveting but humble profile … More Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet & Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger

Ásgeir: Bury the Moon / Sátt

There’s a lot in play on Ásgeir’s third album and at any moment some features are prominent while others are concealed. The songs are constant in tone but richly layered: Musically a mix of traditional folk and folktronica with forays into jazz and R&B (several with alternate acoustic and electronic videos), thematically they range from meditations on nostalgia and heartbreak to the power and vulnerability of nature, with Iceland’s stark and magical landscape … More Ásgeir: Bury the Moon / Sátt

Pharis and Jason Romero: Bet on Love

They met at a fiddle jam in 2007 and married three months later; they live outside Horsefly, British Columbia, a village of 1,000 souls in the foothills of the Cariboo Mountains, where they build and sell banjos and raise their two children. Among the storybook details of their life together, the rarest is the music Pharis and Jason Romero make, a folk-country-bluegrass hybrid so fresh they might have picked … More Pharis and Jason Romero: Bet on Love

El Pony Pisador: Matricular una Galera

They are zany, surreal and buoyant, bathtub mariners and virtuosos who sweep through a composition like a storm, leaving behind a perfect mosaic of disparate elements. Five guys from Barcelona who have never gone to sea, El Pony Pisador surfs the soundwaves, inspired by Lord of the Rings (they imagined their earliest gigs as playing “hobbit party music”) and the comic strip figures Asterix and … More El Pony Pisador: Matricular una Galera

Special Consensus: Chicago Barn Dance

A week after it began broadcasting from Chicago on April 12, 1924, radio station WLS debuted National Barn Dance, one of the pre-eminent country music programs of its day; over the decades it hosted leading stars—Gene Autry, Patsy Montana, Hank Williams, among others. When the last Barn Dance aired in 1968, Greg Cahill, a young Chicago banjo player, was dancing between college, music … More Special Consensus: Chicago Barn Dance

Aditya Prakash Ensemble: Diaspora Kid

Aditya Prakash describes his Los Angeles childhood as “socially American and culturally Indian” and observes that growing up the two aspects of his life were largely separate. He began studying Carnatic music—the classical vocal style of South India—at age five; by the time he was 10 he was shuttling between LA and Chennai in pursuit of his music education, and by 15 he was touring with Ravi … More Aditya Prakash Ensemble: Diaspora Kid

Louisa Lyne & di Yiddishe Kapelye: Lust

Louisa Lyne’s art is inserting Yiddish songs into unexpected contexts. On her third album she and her band put the traditional language of Ashkenazi Jews into creative dialogue with Spanish, English, Hebrew and her native Swedish; mix period pieces with new—sometimes surprising—material; and season with klezmer, tango, jazz, Central European cabaret, Cuban and West African sounds. In Lyne’s … More Louisa Lyne & di Yiddishe Kapelye: Lust