In "Poor Moon," his recent release under the moniker Hiss Golden Messenger, MC Taylor revels in the classic simplicity of old-school folk. His waltz-y ballad "Blue Country Mystic" is a prime example of how Taylor blends the tried-and-true methods of home-grown bluegrass with the catchiness of contemporary indie folk. "Super Blue (Two Days Clean)" is a country-infused dance number that showcases his understanding of the folk tradition as history that lives, grows and moves its audience in deep, unpredictable ways.
Amid drizzling rain, I walked out to I Wayne's black van, which had been outfitted with tinted windows and fat rims. Reaching for the door to let him out, I spied the door handle — which read "Dutty" in big gold lettering — before unleashing a cloud of that oh-so-reggae aroma as I pulled back the sliding door.
Between the van and the fifth floor of the NPR Music offices, I Wayne and his entourage said little. But as soon as our cameras started rolling, he sprang to life. He was quickly transformed into performance mode — vibrant and full of energy, right on cue.
A lot of rock bands visit the NPR studios with maybe a fiddle or two in tow. But Miracles of Modern Science are not a typical rock band. the group boasts a mandolin, upright bass, cello, violin, drums — and absolutely no electric guitar.
Evan Younger, Josh Hirshfeld, Kieran Ledwidge, Tyler Pines and Geoff McDonald met in college, where they bonded over a shared love of jazz, rock and classical music. But even more important to their chemistry, McDonald says, is a belief that those genres can play nice together, with satisfying results.
"They used to call me Brian McWhite," Robin Thicke says, laughing.
Discovered by Brian McKnight, the singer-songwriter got a record deal at 16, and got his start writing and producing songs for artists like Brandy and Christina Aguilera. Since embarking on his solo career in 2003, Thicke has released five albums, the latest of which is titled Love After War.
In jazz, to be a bassist usually means playing in someone else's band. The bassist-as-bandleader is a fairly rare thing, with the torch being passed over the years from Charles Mingus to Ron Carter ... and now to Philadelphia-born Christian McBride.