Narcocorridos are a form of Mexican folk music that tell the tales of drug traffickers. They are tremendously popular in Mexico and the Southwest borderlands. NPR's John Burnett has this story of one ex-Narcocorrido singer who escaped that life and lived to tell the tale.
JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: When Jorge Rivera, stage name El Imperial, watches old images of himself on YouTube these days, he's filled with conflicted feelings.
One of the hottest new bands out of Birmingham, Ala., doesn't sound new at all. On the new album, Half the City, St. Paul and The Broken Bones hits all the marks of a classic Southern soul band, complete with a fiery lead singer. Speaking with NPR's David Greene, bassist Jesse Phillips recalls the first time he experienced the voice of frontman Paul Janeway.
Dolora Zajick discovered opera as a 22-year-old pre-med student. "That's when I discovered I had a voice," she tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross, "and I actually had a crack at a singing career. And I decided to take the chance."
Neil Young wants you to truly hear the music you listen to. Over the years, the trend in audio has prioritized convenience over quality. Last week at SXSW, I had a conversation with Neil Young about an idea he has to change that trend. In this interview, he talks about Pono, the new audio player he's been helping develop. Just before the interview, I spent time listening to Pono. It's impressive.
The Southern Soul Assembly features some of the American South's most exciting contemporary singer/songwriter musicians: JJ Grey, Marc Broussard, Anders Osborne and Luther Dickinson. The debut artist-in-the-round performance series will tour in select markets this spring, including Cincinnati on March 19, and will provide the perfect setting for unique interpretations and collaborations between the musicians.
This is FRESH AIR. Marty Ehrlich is a jazz composer who plays clarinet and saxophones. But he doesn't play much on his latest album. He conducts his large ensemble performing his compositions. It's his first album devoted to his orchestral music.
The Leeds-based post-punk band Eagulls hit the stage at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas, ready to deploy some serrated weaponry. From neatly attired singer George Mitchell's assured yelp to a guitar attack that's clean and direct, the group generated a stormy sound that roared and banged with sleekness and power, while hinting at the doomstruck beauty of forebears like Joy Division.