In the Jewish tradition, you're supposed to greet Rosh Hashanah — the New Year — with foods like honey, apples, dates and pomegranates. But all those treats can get kind of sticky, so we wanted to usher in the year 5772 the way we know best: with some sweet, sweet music.
Jenny Lin is a pianist who doesn't mind downsizing. She typically plays eight-foot Steinways in concert halls that seat hundreds. But for this performance, we squeezed her into a corner, behind Bob Boilen's desk, and gave her a Korg electronic keyboard that weighs about 20 pounds. That's a good sport.
It's rare to see a world-renowned pianist willing to make such a sacrifice, but that's how strongly Lin feels about getting the music out there, knowing that (with even more downsizing) folks could watch her perform this Tiny Desk Concert on their iPhones.
It was a long, dusty trail to the Tiny Desk. Beirut had just finished a show at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., where it had been a brutal 100-plus degrees outside. Without a chance to bathe between there and here, the band needed to be led to NPR's basement showers, at which point things began to look up. Zach Condon and company came up beaming, clean and ready to play — a bit exhausted, but with a handful of inspired new tunes.
Audio Only: Jeremy Messersmith's Tiny Desk Concert
It's sort of astonishing that more people don't know about the sweetly effervescent pop of Jeremy Messersmith. Sure, the Twin Cities singer-songwriter's latest album, The Reluctant Graveyard, is a song cycle about death, and at his Tiny Desk Concert, he trots out a Star Wars-themed "Tatooine," which he says is "for the nerds." But, really, this guy is for everyone — his charming, timeless songs are just radiant, beautifully sung and beautifully played.
On paper, Sean Rowe's music should be the stuff of ineffectual self-parody: He is, after all, a bearded guy who sings acoustic folk-rock songs, complete with themes revolving around humanity's relationship to nature. But this is big, bold, muscular stuff — a closer relative of Man vs. Wild than the nearest coffeehouse. When Colin Meloy's beard is cornered in a dark alley, it summons the assistance of Sean Rowe's beard.