Other than bluegrass virtuosos like Ricky Skaggs, players of the mandolin don't often get taken very seriously. But a young Israeli musician named Avi Avital is trying to change that. He's not a bluegrass star; instead, his mandolin sings with the sounds of Johann Sebastian Bach, Ernest Bloch and contemporary composers like Avner Dorman.
For 25 years, the London synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys have done one thing better than any other duo in the UK: sell records.
In fact, they've sold 50 million records worldwide since Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met at an electronics shop in 1981.
Many people were reminded of the Pet Shop Boys when they helped close out the 2012 Olympic Games in London with their biggest hit, "West End Girls." The duo, however, continues to make new music and has just released their 11th studio album, Elysium.
This summer we've brought you musical postcards of street performers from around the country. Our "Music Alfresco" series takes us to our last stop: Berkeley, Calif., where we meet guitarist Phillip Rosheger.
<strong></strong>Singer-songwriter Maryanne Sokol left Houston for New York two years ago, hoping for greater exposure but aware of the increased competition. "I felt like I was going to be like a little piece of algae in a huge ocean," she says.
Credit Jonathan Sokol / Courtesy of the artist
The members of the band Bass Drum of Death, drummer Colin Sneed (left) and singer-guitarist John Barrett, live in their hometown of Oxford, Miss. -- a city of around 19,000 people.
Maryanna Sokol is a 29-year-old singer and songwriter originally from Houston, but she left her hometown for New York almost two years ago.
"New York is just filled with talent everywhere you go," she says.
Even before she left Texas, Sokol began collaborating with New York musicians online. They chatted and emailed, discussing how each song should sound. With limited resources and without the support of a record label, Sokol used this process to produce her own album. But after a while, this long-distance relationship just wasn't cutting it.