Musical Detective Work

It’s not often that folklorists get mistaken for crazed killers, but when Stephen Wade visited a small Mississippi town to research his new book, “The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience,” he was met with some wild suspicions. Searching in Brandon, Miss., for two sisters who in 1939 made a […]

Ain’t That America

On “Shepherd,” a harrowing song off her fourth album, “Young Man in America,” Vermont-born singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell tells the story of a farmer working his harvest while his wife goes into labor. Rather than have him stop working, she tells him to return to the fields: “We both have laboring to do. You do yours […]

On the Spot: Joan Walsh

In her controversially titled new book, “What’s the Matter with White People? Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was,” Salon.com editor and MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh writes about more than race. Walsh, who speaks at Politics and Prose on Friday, explores how liberals and conservatives have perpetuated an “us vs. them” narrative […]

Unearthing ‘Treasures’

Taj Mahal’s song “You Ain’t No Streetwalker, Honey but I Do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff” opens with a curious bit of studio chatter, as the man born Henry St. Clair Fredericks Jr. explains to his backing band how to play the groove. He sounds out how the rhythms should begin (“dup-day dup-day […]

Something More to Say

It’s taken nearly two decades, but the D.C. post-punk trio Lorelei has finally made a follow-up to its cult debut, 1995’s “Everyone Must Touch the Stove.” In the intervening years, the musicians have worked on other projects, moved to other cities, gotten married, had kids, moved back. But the band remained together through it all, […]

Bangers & Mashups

Much like chocolate and peanut butter, indie rock and hip-hop are two great tastes that taste great together, as the Hood Internet has discovered. Since 2007, the Chicago-based production team of STV SLV and ABX (Steve Reidell and Aaron Brink) has been releasing free mixtapes of its clever mashups via Thehood internet.com. Next month, the […]

Beats Under Pressure

When Johan Hugo and Esau Mwamwaya were in Malawi recording “MTMTMK,” their second album as the group the Very Best, they would take new tracks out to play at clubs in the capital city of Lilongwe to see how dancers responded to their big beats and catchy Afro-pop hooks. “Young people in Malawi listen to […]

Traditions & Twang

In 1999, fiddle player Ketch Secor and a few other members of string band Old Crow Medicine Show put live shows on hold and spent a summer harvesting tobacco in the Appalachian foothills. “We cut it and braided it and suckered it and all the things you do,” Secor says, referring to a method of […]

On the Spot: Natalie Hopkinson

Natalie Hopkinson’s new book, “Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City,” isn’t your typical history of D.C.’s music scene. The former Washington Post reporter, who now teaches journalism at Georgetown University, instead examines the cultural and economic factors that have sustained the go-go scene for four decades. She’ll discuss the book […]

Cinematic Soundtrack

Inside French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux’s mind is a constantly unfolding film. “I’m super fond of DVD commentaries,” she says, explaining the inspiration for her latest disc, “La Bala.” “So, I imagined this album almost like a tragic movie. I was imagining everything as scene one, scene two, scene three.” Spitting Spanish-language verses in a Chilean […]