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Illinois music and the great alternative, rock, folk, soul, blues, reggae artists you've come to love on 91.9-HD3.  Mid-October launch into the musical universe!

Gary Clark Jr., the blues-guitar wunderkind from Austin, Texas, who grew up into a solo star, titled his latest LP The Story of Sonny Boy Slim in a nod to his own nickname and whirlwind ascent. But there's a song on the album whose name might better represent its overall tone: "The Healing."

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside a new Wii U game that cost more than our gas bill is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts for parents who seek the mental energy to love music the way they used to.

Time seems to have passed by Judy Collins: To listen to her sing now, you'd think you were hearing the same unmistakable voice that first caught American ears half a century ago. It seems to have made an impression on Don McLean, the famed bard behind "American Pie," who began touring with Collins in 2013.

Rapper and producer Travis Scott, 23, is one of the most polarizing and intriguing figures in hip-hop today. Born Jacques Webster and hailing from a suburb of Houston, Scott was first known for his relationship with two megastars: rapper T.I., whose label imprint puts out his music; and Kanye West, his mentor and a frequent collaborator.

Year after year, the Americana Honors & Awards carries a tough balancing act: It remains understated and comfortable while showcasing one of the biggest and brightest lineups of talent seen all year. The 2015 Awards should be no different, and once again, we're extremely pleased to let you share in the fun. At 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 16, we'll bring you a live webcast of the entire awards show.

Beirut On World Cafe

Sep 11, 2015

From the beginning, the work of Zach Condon and Beirut has been put together in a startlingly inventive style. Condon loves Balkan brass, so he made it part of his music, learning to play the instruments in order to produce the sound he'd heard in his head.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate that there is a new Iron Maiden album in the world? That vocalist Bruce Dickinson kicked a cancerous tumor's ass? And that the British band still makes some of the most glorious heavy metal ever, 40 years later? Few artists have that longevity and consistency; and even fewer have refused to become a "legacy" act. But this is heavy metal, dammit, made to be played by gnarled bones and bodies.

Barbara Carroll On Song Travels

Sep 11, 2015

Jazz pianist Barbara Carroll is regarded as New York's grand dame of jazz piano. Her career has spanned seven decades and includes everything from appearances in concert halls worldwide to a remarkable 24-year run at Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel.

Carroll performs regularly in New York with bassist Jay Leonhart. On this episode of Song Travels, she plays "No Moon At All" and joins host Michael Feinstein for "Isn't It A Pity."

Bakers know to cut their sweetest confections with salt, to give dimension to that sugary taste. Painters and photographers use shadow to give shape to light. And on her latest single, "Still Your Girl" (from her newest EP, Arrows), the Michigan-born, Nashville-bred singer-songwriter Fleurie (born Lauren Strahm) uses heavy, jarring electronica to turn an airy pop song into something dark and downright luscious.

Mystical, monk-like, reclusive — those are a few words often used to describe Arvo Pärt. His music gets labeled as timeless, spiritual and meditative. The Estonian composer, born 80 years ago today, is perhaps all of these things ... and maybe none of them.

Are you a musician looking to be heard? If so — or even if you're not — give a listen to the first segment of a new series we're calling The Martin Atkins Minute.

English vocalist Sam Lee has an amazing backstory: He found his way to singing professionally after stints as a wilderness survival expert and a burlesque dancer. But what really matters are his mesmerizing performances, as well as his incredible ability to connect with people — certainly with the audience in front of him, but also with the elders he's sought out to learn these songs.

Though he's now traveled the globe, released a decade's worth of music and enjoyed ever-increasing popularity, Zach Condon will be the first to admit that naming his band Beirut was a pretty strange idea.

Ben Folds On World Cafe

Sep 10, 2015

Ben Folds has worn many musical hats, including pop-rock pianist and a cappella patron. On his new album, So There, he sets out in yet another direction by pairing a piano concerto he recorded with the Nashville Symphony and a batch of songs he wrote in collaboration with New York chamber ensemble yMusic. It's not classical and it certainly isn't rock — call it baroque pop.

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit



Dawes On Mountain Stage

Sep 10, 2015

Dawes makes its fourth appearance on Mountain Stage, showcasing songs from its latest album, All Your Favorite Bands. Led by brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Dawes has mastered its signature sound, which combines the best of 1970s California rock with a contemporary sensibility.

The Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach has a new side project called The Arcs, which features some of his favorite studio musicians, including songwriter and producer Richard Swift. The band's first album, Yours, Dreamily, has been a perfect rock album for summer, and "Stay In My Corner" is a particular highlight.


The Thistle & Shamrock: Harpers

Sep 10, 2015

Hear innovation on an ancient instrument. Harpers William Jackson, Wendy Stewart, Maire Brennan, Grainne Hambly, Savourna Stevenson and Alan Stivell are all featured in an episode of The Thistle & Shamrock dedicated to small harps.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Obnox exists in the static bleedthrough of punk and soul music. It's a place where Cleveland's Lamont "Bim" Thomas has spent decades dialing in deep and ripping off the knob in bands like Bassholes and This Moment In Black History. But with Obnox, Thomas lays himself bare in mind-numbing fuzz that doesn't forget the hook's the thing.

When Bridget Kearney and Benjamin Lazar Davis went to Ghana in 2014, they planned to travel and maybe make a few musical friends. They ended up spending the entire three weeks in the city of Accra, studying the traditional music of Northwest Ghana with master gyil player Aaron Bebe. The resulting EP, BAWA, treats the polyrhythmic peregrinations of the xylophone-like gyil not as a gimmick but as source material, a puzzle to be deconstructed and rearranged into a bright new collage.

When it comes to artistic partnerships, there's a lot to be said for the fireworks of musicians joining together for the first time. But there's another kind of collaboration that can yield profound pleasure: a recording with two artists who know each other deeply, in a relationship that has unfolded over years or even decades.

Over the last decade, Battles has firmly established an ethos (sweaty, impossible-sounding music constructed out of live instrumentation and loops) and a signature sound (broken-robot rock). So it's kind of surprising to realize that the musicians — once a quartet, now a trio — have only three albums, none following the same formula. Their 2007 debut, Mirrored, won fans for its hyperactive, head-nodding momentum.

From inhuman growls to operatic trills, heavy metal has long been home to a broad range of voices. But few singers summon the gutsy, unadorned immediacy of Dorthia Cottrell. The frontwoman of the Richmond, Va., metal band Windhand ventured out on her own earlier this year with her self-titled solo album, a powerful acoustic set that gave her soulful pipes a subtle airing out.

Michael Benjamin Lerner was stuck. After three albums of fuzzy and fizzy power pop, the singer, songwriter, drummer and mastermind behind Telekinesis felt sapped of ideas, as if he'd taken his guitar-driven sound as far as it could go. Writer's block can be a paralyzing frustration, riddled with second-guessing and false starts, but one of the best ways to push through it is to throw out what feels most comfortable and try something unexpected. So he got to work.

Darlene Love is irrepressible. When the 73-year-old voice of 1960s girl-group primary texts like "He's A Rebel" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" accepted the 2013 Academy Award for the background-singer documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, in which she starred, she stole the moment from director Morgan Neville by singing the gospel classic "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" at the top of her lungs.

Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard has proven incredibly versatile throughout a career spanning more than 25 years. In The Frames, he's mixed vein-bulging intensity, string-laden elegance and a rock star's flair for rafter-shaking anthems.