I'm pretty sure this is the coolest thing we've ever done behind the Tiny Desk. There was a bit of furniture-moving and finagling, but when all the heavy lifting was done, there it was: A Hammond B3 organ and its sturdy wooden Leslie speaker cabinet sat waiting for its star performer, Booker T. Jones.
The small country of Nepal stretches from Mt. Everest in the north to the Indian border in the south. Nepal's musical traditions reflect its geography, from Himalayan folk tunes to Indian ragas. Reese Erlich reports from Kathmandu that Nepali musicians are now fusing that traditional music with jazz and rock.
Hailing from Washington state, Brandi Carlile began her music career at the age of 8, when her musician mother brought her on stage to sing a Rosanne Cash song. From then on, music was her constant companion, as she taught herself to sing, play the piano and later the guitar. Her latest album, 2009's Give Up the Ghost (produced by Rick Rubin), featured a guest appearance by Elton John and helped earn Carlile the "Breakthrough" artist honor at Seattle's City Of Music Awards.
In the early '90s, the nomadic Tuareg people of Niger and Mali rebelled. Laid low by drought and abandoned by governments, they fought to establish a Tuareg nation. That dream was never realized, but the rebellion did inspire a tradition of guitar-wielding rebel rockers with songs of suffering and nostalgia. Bombino is one of these — a young guitarist and singer from Niger, and a rising star in Tuareg folk rock. His newest album is Agadez.
Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III have each assembled remarkable careers, full of top-notch albums and influential music that spans at least 40 years. In the five decades that Thompson has been making music, he's earned some of the highest possible praise for his work as a live performer, guitarist, singer and songwriter.