WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

World-music DJ Betto Arcos is back — this time, with music he's found all over the African continent. The host of Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles recently joined NPR's Arun Rath to discuss new albums from four different corners of Africa, including soulful songs from a prison in Malawi, dance music from Congo and a collaboration between a Malian singer and a Cuban pianist. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and check out the music below.

After Thaw, Minnesota Orchestra Returns To Cuba

May 17, 2015

The Minnesota Orchestra plays Havana this weekend. It's the first professional U.S. orchestra to perform in Cuba since the United States and the island nation began the process of normalization last December. For the musicians, this trip is about healing — both diplomatically and for themselves.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



There are a few musical riffs that are seared into my childhood memories - the opening bars of "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, the big chorus from "Let's Get Physical" by Olivia Newton-John and this.


Fifty years ago, the Ramsey Lewis Trio sat in a Washington, D.C. coffee shop, musing over what it could add to its set that evening. It was booked for a run at Bohemian Caverns — the group had issued a live album made at the nightclub, and it was gearing up to record a follow-up live album. Over walked a waitress, who inquired about the band's predicament.

A Mississippi car accident in 1937 cut short the life of Bessie Smith.

She was just 43 years old. But she'd already established her legacy as "Empress of the Blues" — a pioneering American performer who demanded respect and equal pay in a world dominated by men and controlled by whites.

She'd also achieved a degree of infamy for her boozing, her brawling and her sexual appetites.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the package shipped Next Day Air but addressed to the guy who moved out of our house eight years ago is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This week: deep thoughts on beach balls at concerts.

Margaret H.W. writes via email: "Why do music festivals seem to hand out beach balls to drunk, high 19-year-olds? If I would like to listen to music WITHOUT beach balls, what are my anti-beach-ball options? CAN I DEFLATE THE BEACH BALLS?

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Bhi Bhiman grew up in St. Louis. He played baseball. He listened to Michael Jackson. He watched "Back To The Future." He grew interested in music, and today, Bhi Bhiman writes and sings songs that have an international character.

B.B. King And The Majesty Of The Blues

May 16, 2015

1,000 Songs From Holocaust Survivors Archived

May 16, 2015

B.B. King, the legendary blues musician, died Thursday after spending much of the month in hospice care. He was 89.

Born Riley B. King in Indianola, Miss., in 1925, King began his life on a plantation, where he was born the son of a sharecropper. Speaking to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1996, King remembered an early life without telephones, electricity or any outside opportunities. "A lot of the people, including myself in the early years, just thought this was it, you raise your families and you get old, you die, your families take over, kids, what have you," King said.

For more interviews from NPR Music, click here.

This week's Drum Fill Friday comes from Guest Quizmaster Hanna Brewer, drummer for the Texas party-rock group Purple. The group is known for its rowdy live shows and healthy sense of humor, and is currently on tour for its debut album, (409).

Brewer, who also sings for Purple, shared a range of her own influences for this week's puzzler, from hip-hop to reggae, rock and pop. I'd give it three drum sticks out of five for difficulty. As always, good luck, careful listeners!

Kat Edmonson On Song Travels

May 15, 2015

Singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson has played major stages across the country. She's performed on The Tonight Show and Austin City Limits, and her 2014 album The Big Picture topped Billboard's Heatseekers chart. This week, Edmonson shares her original song "Champagne" and teams up with Feinstein for "Long Way Home."

Subscribe to the Song Travels Express podcast.

While they're not splitting open a person's chest and massaging their heart back to life, musicians and the songs they make may actually be saving lives.

Benjamin John Power's new album as Blanck Mass, Dumb Flesh, is quite literally electronic body music. Its artwork zooms in uncomfortably on synthetically disfigured flab; its track titles make reference to various states of corporeal corrosion.

Great fado singers sound as if they carry the weight of the world's sadness. They don't just wear their hearts on their sleeves — they bare their souls.

It seemed as if he'd go on forever — and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

When Clap Your Hands Say Yeah released its self-titled debut record in 2005, it became one of the first albums to break big because of the Internet. The band recorded and released it on its own, without any label support, and shared it on the group's website, where fans picked it up and quickly spread the word.

The Milk Carton Kids On World Cafe

May 14, 2015

The nominees for the 2015 Americana Honors and Awards were announced today at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. This year's slate shows how the definition of Americana is gently expanding to include more generationally, racially and stylistically diverse stars, while remaining grounded in its country-leaning, singer-songwriter-dominated definition of roots music.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Dave And Phil Alvin On Mountain Stage

May 14, 2015

Brothers Dave and Phil Alvin appear on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. The principal members of influential California roots-rock band The Blasters, the Alvins forged a strong bond with American music at an early age.

Hop Along has more friends in the Philadelphia music scene than just about anybody; Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield even has a tattoo of the band's first album cover. Singer Frances Quinlan is an exciting, unorthodox performer whose phrasing in "Waitress," from Painted Shut, isn't intuitive. But that makes it all the more powerful.


May 14, 2015

Seattle producers Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight met during their senior year of college in the Pacific Northwest. Each had his own unique style — Mills with more of a dance mash-up approach and Knight with a hip-hop background — which they combined to form the intricate sounds of ODESZA. Together, they've developed a stunning live show that has made them mainstays on the festival circuit. For a small audience at Sonos Studio in Los Angeles, Knight and Mills show the crowd why they're built for the long haul.


Spoon, 'Inside Out'

May 13, 2015

The Jeff Austin Band On Mountain Stage

May 13, 2015

The Jeff Austin Band makes its first visit to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. As a founding member of the beloved bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band, Jeff Austin is no stranger to roots-music fans. But Austin has embarked on the next step in his musical journey, releasing his first solo recording, The Simple Truth, on a national label.