The Waiting Game

Songwriter Iris DeMent has a problem with the words “songwriter Iris DeMent.” “I don’t like calling what I do writing songs,” she says. “It really doesn’t have much to do with pen and paper. I tried that a time or two and it was terrifying.” The Arkansas native sees herself more as a conduit than […]

Punk in Perspective

Lucian Perkins was a summer intern at the Washington Post in 1979 when he snapped a set of black-and-white photos at punk shows around the District. He’d stay at the paper for nearly 30 years, traveling the globe and winning two Pulitzer Prizes, but he never forgot those early shots. Two years ago, the photographer […]

‘Chronicles’ of Creativity

Indie guitar whiz Marnie Stern has watched her guitar collection dwindle down from several fine instruments to one beloved model. “I used to have a bunch of guitars but I’ve had to sell them or they’ve broken,” she says with a sigh. “So, now I have just one — a Jazzmaster that has a really […]

The Electric Genius of Edison

In school, we learn that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in his lab in Menlo Park, N.J. He had the idea and he developed the technology to make it a reality. The truth is much more complicated, involving a vast network of investors, partners and competitors all over the world. In his new book […]

On the Spot: Roy Scranton

As an artilleryman in the Army’s 1st Armored Division, Roy Scranton was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He draws from his experiences in Iraq as a fiction writer and co-editor of the new collection “Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.” Where did the idea for this book originate? It started […]

On the Spot: Roy Ayers

The Smithsonian owns a set of vibes that once belonged to Roy Ayers — and for good reason. During the 1960s and ’70s, the vibraphonist melded jazz, R&B and funk into an indelible concoction that spawned hit singles (including “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and “Running Away”) and inspired generations of artists. What kind of vibes […]

King of The Keys

Pianist Eddie Palmieri pounds the keys so hard he’s called “The Piano Breaker Man.” Born in Spanish Harlem to Puerto Rican parents in 1936, he became a fixture of the New York Latin music scene in the 1960s and 1970s, cross-pollinating all the sounds of the borough: not just rock and funk, but cumbia, bomba […]

Power to the People

Noel Heroux was only a high school freshman when he played his first show in New York City. He and his band, Hooray for Earth — which included close friend and bass player Christopher Principe — drove down from Boston to play the venerable punk club CBGB. The show was not triumphant. “We played for […]

Radio Ethiopia

The 11-member Debo Band, led by saxophonist/ethnomusicologist Danny Mekonnen, has members from multiple continents, but its musical roots are deep in Ethiopian soil. On its 2012 self-titled debut, the Boston-based band, above, deployed brass, accordion and a rhythm section that will move even those unfamiliar with Ethiopia’s rich dance legacy. Ahead of Debo Band’s Thursday […]

On the Spot: Oderus of Gwar

Barring the apocalypse, Gwar will release its latest thrash-metal opus next summer. While preparing for global domination and enslavement of the human race, the band is playing shows on its annual holiday tour. From his palace in Antarctica, where he was “sitting on my opulent throne of eternal metallic hatred,” frontdemon Oderus discussed his Christmas […]