Singer-songwriter M. Ward sits down on his couch for a truly intimate acoustic guitar set that will transport you a kinder and gentler time and place. Along the way, you’ll enjoy classic tracks like Chinese Translation, and new ones like Coyote Mary’s Traveling Show from his 2020 album Migration Stories.
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With the NPR offices temporarily off-limits, they’re continuing the Tiny Desk series with new episodes recorded at musicians’ homes. Here, MC Sa-Roc brings her smooth blend of hip hop, soul, social commentary, and spiritualism to bear, with a set of four poetic tracks loaded with meaningful messages. That’s Sol Messiah on DJ duties.
Formed way back in 1976, Wire was one of the most influential bands in the UK punk rock scene. So it’s pretty awesome that three of the band’s original members still get together and make music. In this NPR Tiny Desk Concert, they performed a mix of classic and new tracks, which meld as if they were all recorded in the same era.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s, NPR produced a series of broadcasts that retold the original Star Wars trilogy as a radio drama. Using original audio recordings of the series, combined with movie music and sound effects, Nigel Langes compiled all of the episodes into a playlist of three videos, running about 11 hours in total.
Shortly before the lockdowns began, Chris Robinson and his brother Rich dropped by the NPR offices to perform three of their soul-stirring 1990s tunes stripped down to their essence, including their hits “She Talks to Angels” and “Jealous Again,” along with a lesser-known track, “Wiser Time.”
(PG-13: Language) Alex O’Connor aka Rex Orange County performs a mini-concert of four soulful and heartfelt tunes, bringing a touch of much needed light into these dark days. We love how he embraces the vibe of 1970s adult contemporary music, but still makes it his own.
Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland dropped by the NPR offices with a nine-member gospel choir, who provided backing vocals for soulful performances of “Cry Cry Cry,” “Viva La Vida,” “Broken,” a cover of Prince’s “1999,” and their 2019 track “Champion of the World.”
Christmas arrived early in October when Los Lobos released Llegó Navidad. For a special holiday edition of NPR’s Tiny Desk, the beloved group performed four festive tunes: “Dónde Está Santa Claus,” Freddy Fender’s “It’s Christmas Time In Texas,” the record’s title track, and Llegó Navidad’s sole original, “Christmas and You.”
The always amazing Sheryl Crow and her ensemble stopped by NPR Music’s studios to perform a true mini concert, playing seven tunes, including classics like All I Wanna Do, A Change Would Do You Good, and If It Makes You Happy, along with tracks off of her collaborative album Threads.
The members of the jazz collective Snarky Puppy turned in a downright funky mix of keyboards, horns, bass, guitar, violin, and percussion during their appearance at the NPR Music offices. They performed their instrumental tracks Tarova and Xavi, the latter’s complex rhythms with the assistance of the audience.
Listen up as NPR’s offices are filled with rich and vibrant sounds made by musician Kian Soltani and his rare Giovanni Grancino cello, made way back in 1680. The tracks are Hungarian Rhapsody by Popper, Nacht und Träume by Schubert (arr. Soltani), and Persian Fire Dance, by Soltani himself. That’s Christopher Schmitt on piano.
Public television meets public radio with a celebration of Sesame Street’s 50 years on TV, as Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Rosita, Abby Cadabby and a few people from the neighborhood regale us with 15 minutes of our childhood favorite earworms.
(PG-13: Language) Songwriter and producer Dev Hynes and his amazing band prepared soulful renditions of Blood Orange songs for their NPR Music set. They started off with a chilling performance of By Ourselves before launching into a trio of songs from Negro Swan.
“I don’t waste ink, brother, I think. I drop megaton bombs more faster than you blink. ‘Cause rhyme thoughts travel at a tremendous speed.” Watch the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA perform three tracks from his classic album Liquid Swords alongside brass band The Soul Rebels.
(PG-13: Language) ’90s alt-rock sensation The Breeders return to the lineup that gave them hits like Cannonball and Divine Hammer. This three song set offers a stripped down and fuzzed-out mix of folk and garage rock, including two from their new album All Nerve.
Funk’s living legend George Clinton and his band the P-Funk All Stars spread good vibes and infectious energy at NPR Tiny Desk Concert. They performed a trio of classics: Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On, One Nation Under A Groove and Give Up the Funk.
He’s turning into a creepy uncle, but nothing can change the fact that Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins helped define alternative rock. He recently dropped by NPR Music’s office to perform Tonight, Tonight and two songs from his new solo album, Ogilala.
NPR Music introduces us to a talent we weren’t acquainted with before, but now that we’ve heard Benjamin Booker’s raspy, soulful voice, we want every single one of his songs. He’s joined by vocalist Saundra Williams, whose gospel sound is a perfect complement.
(PG-13: Language) “Looking for justice and it’s just us. It ain’t fair. There’s a riot going on out there, and it ain’t fair. When your protector is your predator – it ain’t fair.” The Roots and Bilal dropped by NPR to perform their contribution to the soundtrack of Detroit.
The legendary and inimitable singer/songwriter dropped by the NPR Music offices to turn in a captivating performance, filled with the perfect blend of sardonic wit, sentimentality, and raspy vocals we’ve come to appreciate over many decades. Even at age 73, he’s still got it.
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