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.
Cats have come a long way from being animals charged with catching mice to treasured, adorable creatures that snuggle with us in our beds. But this relatively new arrangement is creating issues for cats and the people who live with them.
John Bradshaw has studied the history of domesticated cats and how the relationship between people and cats has changed. He's the author of the new book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, which is a follow-up to his book Dog Sense.
They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh and John Linnell have just delivered an old-school video — think "early days of MTV" — and it's a pleasure to see. Over the course of 16 albums, the two Johns (first as a duo and later as bandleaders) have always kept humor at the core of their sound and general attitude. They continue the tradition with "You're On Fire," the first single from their 25-song, 45-minute album Nanobots.
Best Kept Secret is a film that follows a group of young adults with autism during their last year of high school. Host Michel Martin speaks with filmmaker Samantha Buck and Janet Mino, a special education teacher.
And we are moving into fall, so we are leaving you today with one final summer song. For the last several weeks, Gwen Thompkins has been bringing us wonderful musical nuggets from guests on her program, Music Inside Out. That's heard on WWNO in New Orleans. They're current artists who're bringing back old classics. Today, Gwen joins us for a listen to the Pfister Sisters.
GWEN THOMPKINS, BYLINE: The Pfister Sisters are a girl group that's been around for 30 years, so I don't know if it really is fair to call them a girl group.
Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 12:04 pm
Rapper Kanye West got paid a reported $3 million to perform at the wedding of the grandson of Kazakhstan's autocratic President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Video of last Saturday's performance was posted on Instagram — and resulted in a flood of criticism.
Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 3:44 pm
Monologist Mike Daisey has a new story to tell, and if you want to hear it, then you'd better settle in. It's going to take a month to get through it.
In one sense, All the Faces of the Moon, starting Sept. 5 at the Public Theater in New York, is a collection of 29 different monologues, which Daisey will perform consecutively and for one night only. Each piece has its own narrative, so even if they see just one installment, audiences can have a complete experience.
Pull back, though, and the project becomes a single massive opus — one that runs about 44 hours.