As we hurl ourselves ungracefully into the digital swill, we're finding different ways to be heavy at a rate faster than Mick Barr shreds guitar strings. Boundaries broken, banjos and black metal living in sin, cats and dogs singing King Diamond together ... is this progress? If this year has taught me anything, it's not that genre matters less because our share-happy Internet's a flesh-eating black hole, it's that genre doesn't mean a damn thing unless it hurts so good.
Had you been watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno one Monday night last March, you might have seen pianist Robert Glasper leading his Experiment band from the NBC studios in Burbank, Calif. Had you preferred the Late Show with David Letterman, you might have seen bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding front a horn-heavy ensemble at the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan.
Red Wanting Blue makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the historic Keith-Albee Theatre in Huntington, W.Va. in partnership with the Marshall Artists Series. As host Larry Groce says in his introduction, Red Wanting Blue "earned their fans the right way — bar by bar and concert by concert."
The Celtic folk band Ensemble Galilei has been performing music from the Renaissance, Ireland and Scotland for more than two decades. When the time comes every year for the six musicians to pick out a Christmas set, they have a lot of material from which to choose — without being too predictable.
"Honestly, after 22 years of Christmas concerts with Ensemble Galilei, we do everything," Carolyn Surrick, who plays viola da gamba with the group, tells NPR's Neal Conan. "We also ... have to honor the solstice."