Nickel Creek was made to sing and play around a single microphone, so a Tiny Desk Concert seemed inevitable. All it took was a reunion tour — celebrating 25 years of Nickel Creek — to make it happen.
All three of the band’s remarkably talented core members have been to the Tiny Desk before. Chris Thile is a veteran, having played the Tiny Desk with friend and guitarist Michael Daves, then later in the same year with Yo-Yo Ma and others in a project known as Goat Rodeo. When The Decemberists performed a Tiny Desk Concert, Sara Watkins was there to play her fiddle and sing. Her brother, Sean Watkins, was also at the NPR offices earlier this year with the marvelous singer Tom Brosseau.
The trio, backed here by bassist Mark Schatz, has no equal. Nickel Creek has been doing this on and off since its members were kids, and what blows me away is the comfort and ease with which they navigate their instruments. That skill, and the creative force behind it, is a joy and a thrill to witness. —BOB BOILEN
“Rest Of My Life”
“21st Of May”
“Elephant In The Corn”
Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Colin Marshall; Production Assistant: Maggie Starbard; photo by Sarah Tilotta/NPR
I just discovered this wonderful live performance by one of my very favorite bands, Fountains of Wayne, on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert show in 2011. They often get put in the “power pop” pigeonhole, but there’s real emotional depth to their lyrics and music.
It speaks well of this performance that Fountains of Wayne’s set pokes around in a few gray areas; its four songs showcase a band with tremendous narrative gifts and a real flair for subtle beauty.
“The Summer Place”
“Valley Winter Song”
“A Dip In The Ocean”
For more videos and to subscribe to the Tiny Desk Concerts podcast, visit npr.org.
In this incredibly great Tiny Desk Concert, piano virtuoso Simone Dinnerstein plays several of Johann Sebastian Bach’s infamously difficult Two-Part Inventions, and talks about the demands these pieces make on a pianist’s independence and musicality.
And wow, is she ever skilled in both of these. She takes a couple of these inventions at an insanely fast tempo; it’s exhilarating to watch.
J.S. Bach: Inventions Nos. 1, 6, 8
J.S. Bach: Inventions Nos. 9, 10
J.S. Bach: Inventions Nos. 12, 13, 14
Producers: Denise DeBelius, Tom Huizenga; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Olivia Merrion; Production Assistant: Faith Masi; photo by Jim Tuttle/NPR
Some straight-up white people folk music, with a dry North Dakota edge to it, from Tom Brosseau, a true original.
Tom Brosseau possesses one of the most arresting voices in folk music today. Many people who hear him sing, without knowing his name or face, assume the voice belongs to a woman, as he hovers somewhere around the countertenor range, with an unusually pure tone.
The beauty of Brosseau’s voice is magnified in this Tiny Desk Concert by the spare accompaniment of two acoustic guitars. Brosseau is on rhythm, accompanied by Sean Watkins. Watkins, who also plays and sings with Nickel Creek, produced and plays on Brosseau’s new album, Grass Punks.
Brosseau is unabashedly sentimental and earnest. It informs his plainspoken story-songs, which find beauty and light in heartfelt themes of love and yearning. But Brosseau also possesses a wry sense of humor; you can hear as much in “Cradle Your Device,” a playful take-down of modern technology. The next song he performs, “Stuck on the Roof Again,” tells a true story about the octogenarian newspaper columnist Marilyn Hagerty, who got stuck on the roof of her home in Grand Forks, N.D., after a heavy snowstorm.
Brosseau closes his set with “Today Is a Bright New Day,” a wistful reflection on lost love and the belief that no matter our past disappointments or missteps, the future is full of hope and opportunity. —ROBIN HILTON
“Cradle Your Device”
“Stuck On The Roof Again”
“Today Is A Bright New Day”
Producers: Denise DeBelius, Robin Hilton; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Olivia Merrion; photo by Jim Tuttle/NPR
Courtney Barnett can tell you a story like she’s your best friend — provided your best friend is a funny poet with an Australian accent. Listen to “Avant Gardener,” an autobiographical account of trying to turn a life around through gardening, only to be foiled by a severe allergic reaction. The tale that follows at this Tiny Desk Concert, “History Eraser,” is a ramble in an alcohol-fueled dream state; it features some of the best lyric-writing in music today. Here’s a sample from that song:
“I found an Ezra Pound and made a bet that if I found a cigarette I’d drop it all and marry you. Just then a song comes on: “You can’t always get what you want” — The Rolling Stones, oh, woe is we, the irony! The Stones became the moss and once all inhibitions lost, the hipsters made a mission to the farm. We drove by tractor there, the yellow straw replaced our hair, we laced the dairy river with the cream of sweet vermouth.”
The only downside for a fan like me is that these songs have been kicking around my head for more than a year. As she played them, I found myself hoping for something new, too. And so it was that Barnett graced the Tiny Desk with a brand-new tune, not yet on a record, about a suburb near Melbourne known as Preston; it’s a song about house-hunting that she appropriately calls “Depreston.” The song is thoughtful, acerbic and funny, just like the woman who sings it. —BOB BOILEN
Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Olivia Merrion; photo by Jim Tuttle/NPR
Here’s the latest mysterious and disturbing information on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, from NPR’s Morning Edition because they give you the facts straight: Investigation Into Missing Malaysian Jet Expands.
He can play the horn. He can sing. And that’s made him the latest musical star of a great New Orleans tradition. But Trombone Shorty mainly just wants you to dance: “I know you came here to move,” he sings to an office full of NPR staff.
“Do To Me”
For more videos and to subscribe to the Tiny Desk Concerts podcast, visit npr.org.
Fox takes a page from Greenwald, using socks to counter criticism & it makes you wonder how many socks they registered here over the years.
NPR media reporter David Folkenflik writes in his forthcoming book Murdoch’s World that Fox News’ public relations staffers used an elaborate series of dummy accounts to fill the comments sections of critical blog posts with pro-Fox arguments.
In a chapter focusing on how Fox utilized its notoriously ruthless public relations department in the mid-to-late 00’s, Folkenflik reports that Fox’s PR staffers would “post pro-Fox rants” in the comments sections of “negative and even neutral” blog posts written about the network. According to Folkenflik, the staffers used various tactics to cover their tracks, including setting up wireless broadband connections that “could not be traced back” to the network.
A former staffer told Folkenflik that they had personally used “one hundred” fake accounts to plant Fox-friendly commentary:
Here’s a very good All Things Considered episode with lots of valid information about the NSA Phone Data Program.
The White House and lawmakers are defending a secret program that collects data on phone calls made by ordinary Americans. It was revealed Wednesday that the National Security Agency obtained data on calls from Verizon, including calls made locally, inside the United States and calls between the U.S. and overseas. Officials defend the program as necessary for fighting terrorism. Robert Siegel speaks with NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston about the program, its scope and civil liberties implications.
Testing out some changes in our automatic NPR audio feature, with a fascinating All Things Considered interview with Keith Jarrett about the new Trio album soon to be released, Somewhere (Live in Lucerne / 2009). The album almost didn’t come out, because the band had a miserable experience on-stage that night.
Jarrett says the hardest part was convincing [Gary] Peacock that the recording was good. You wouldn’t know it listening to Somewhere, but “he was in hell that night, as far as the sound was concerned.
“Players are very protective of their turf,” Jarrett says. “Over and over in the past, I’ve had the experience of knowing we just played the best version; we will not need to do another take. If it’s a band, it’s a band. If what we do when we’re playing together is good enough, even the solos don’t matter that much. What matters is the spirit kept.”
The ECM website has a full track from the recording you can stream online: Home - Keith Jarrett / Gary Peacock / Jack DeJohnette | Somewhere | ECM 2200 - ECM Records.