Music

328: Rhiannon Giddens

Does genre give music history and context or is it merely confining? “Genre is BS. I’m sorry. It just is,” says this founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and artistic director of Silkroad. The story of Black string band music — fiddles, banjos, and Jane Austen. Continue reading »

Music

324: George Lewis

Celebrated as a performer and composer, this Columbia professor is particularly noted for his computer music that draws on artificial intelligence. So is the computer a tool for making sound or a tool for thinking? Neither. “It’s actually a tool for investigating subjectivity.” A conversation made possible by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Continue reading »

Music

319: David Byrne

His work with Talking Heads lofted him to the empyrean, and he just kept going, making art, music, movies, books. He’s been particularly fortunate in his collaborators – Brian Eno, Robert Wilson, Twyla Tharp.  Spike Lee filmed his Broadway show, American Utopia, which streams on HBO this month. Clearly, one of the silliest things F. Scott Fitzgerald … Continue reading »

Music

309: Rosanne Cash

This singer, songwriter, and author didn’t have an easy start. “I had a chaotic childhood, to put it mildly, an abnormal childhood.” Then she discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little Therapist on the Prairie? Nope. A guide to an orderly life. Or so it seemed to a kid. The result: an impressively accomplished adult.  Continue reading »

Music

Episode 291: Meredith Monk

This composer and musician admires the Dalai Lama but got a little anxious when asked to sing for him: “They locked me in my dressing room…then there was a monk that was sitting next to me kind of glaring.” A conversation at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Music: Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Carmen Rockwell. Continue reading »

Music

Episode 258: Tommy James

In the 1960s, he had a string of hits with the Shondells: “Hanky Panky,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now” – 23 gold singles, 9 platinum albums, 100 million records sold. Yet his record company simply declined to pay his royalties: $40 million. Tales of music and the mob. Continue reading »

Music

Episode 249: Ethel

This quartet performs in concert halls around the globe but still works the Balcony Bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We’re a bar band,” say artistic directors Ralph Ferris (viola) and Dorothy Lawson (cello). What a band! What a bar! Plus a performance with Face The Music, all at the Kaufman Music Center. Continue reading »

Music

Episode 231: Sam Reider

  This accordion virtuoso has brought American roots music across the globe. He sees the accordion as a symbol of immigrant triumph – Zydeco! Tex-Mex! – and as the instrument of 19th century colonialism. Paradox and polkas. And no darn Lawrence Welk.  PERSON: David Amram  PLACE:a synagogue in Azerbaijan  THING:his accordion  RANDY’S THING: The Impossible … Continue reading »