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

Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

Joe Troop doesn’t so much play fusion as embody it: Since his North Carolina childhood, every sound he ever heard seems to have become part of his music personality. At 14 he was inspired when he saw Doc Watson perform, but as much as young Troop covered himself in bluegrass he didn’t think his home turf was the best place for a gay artist, so he opted for world pastures. In Seville he learned … More Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

Habib Koité: Kharifa

Everyone loves a love song, which explains why nobody composed What the World Needs Now is Responsibility Sweet Responsibility. Everyone touts diversity, yet there is Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All time” (*499 in English). If you seek wisdom in entertainment it’s useful to look beyond the market driven universe. A good place to start is with Habib Koité, the Malian singer-songwriter, born into a griot family of 17 siblings … More Habib Koité: Kharifa

Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn

“Pity the nation,” wrote Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “that knows no language but its own.” Far more satisfying than pity is listening to Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn, who know one another’s languages and express their familiarity in profoundly local and transcendently global music. Wu is a Beijing-born composer, singer and master of the 21-string guzheng; Washburn an Illinois-born, Grammy winning singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo … More Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn