Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 8:23 pm
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the helpful slips from FedEx reminding us that we have to be at home to receive their package even though most people work during the day, for pete's sake is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request for ideas for how to play music in the office without irritating people.
In this installment of our Latin Roots series, The Latin Alternative co-host Ernesto Lechner discusses his favorite singer, an influential Colombian musician named Joe Arroyo.
Arroyo began singing at age 10 in the whorehouses of Cartagena. He was discovered by Fruko (a.k.a. Julio Ernesto Estrada) when he was a teenager and soon joined the salsa player's band, Fruko Y Sus Tesos.
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 1:30 pm
Harmonica master James Cotton is a giant of the blues. Born in 1935 on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Miss., he learned the instrument from Sonny Boy Williamson, who had a radio program right across the river in West Helena, Ark. After listening to the show and imitating him on a harmonica, Cotton met Williamson, who took him under his wing.
At 15, Cotton met and played with Howlin' Wolf, who took him to record at Sun Studios in Memphis. Later, while on tour, Muddy Waters asked Cotton to replace Junior Wells in his band; Cotton stayed on the road with Waters for a dozen years.
Onstage at Nashville's tiny Station Inn, the multiplatinum-selling country veteran Alan Jackson announced that he was nervous. He had reason to be, considering that the music-bizzers who'd scored one of the night's 150 tickets were sitting cheek-to-jowl with regulars, all diehard bluegrass fans. He was there to celebrate his first-ever bluegrass album (out September 24), and right away he made a point of proclaiming that he's really not very fond of dirt roads.
"I hate music, what is it worth? / Can't bring anyone back to this earth," the band Superchunk sings. It's the kind of sentiment you'd imagine someone blurting out with bitter spontaneity, but it's not really music the band hates; it's the despair and grief to which their music bears witness. Superchunk's new downbeat-but-upbeat album, I Hate Music, is dedicated to a close friend who died last year.