I've been entranced by tUnE-yArDs for a long time. Bandleader Merrill Garbus makes music about rage and love; it wrestles with cultural inequality while also celebrating the joy of what it feels like to open your mouth and let out a wild sound.
Gabriel Kahane seems to enjoy blurring the lines between indie rock and indie classical. He arrived at the NPR Music offices with a string quartet and an electric guitarist in tow, and though they hadn't played together for long, you'd never know it.
For musicians performing behind Bob Boilen's desk at the NPR Music offices, there's often an inverse relationship between professional accomplishment and the amount of time required to set up. For new bands still finding their way, pre-show preparation can be a numbing chore of positioning effects pedals and rehearsing song after song before the cameras start rolling.
Audio Only: Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile And Stuart Duncan's Tiny Desk Concert
Yo-Yo Ma calls himself a "venture culturalist," and he's got the proof to back it up. He's reached out to a broad range of musicians (and Muppets) to play not just Bach and Beethoven, but also Brazilian samba, Argentine tango, jazz, songs from Sesame Street and a smorgasbord of Asian music with his Silk Road Ensemble.