Arts & Culture

Ways to Connect

The Fred Hersch Trio brings a seductive and crafty intelligence to its version of "We See," the Thelonious Monk tune. Articulating its melody at the piano, Hersch slips in a few leisurely pauses, which slow down and stretch out the form. Then, in the bridge, he ratchets up to twice the speed, evoking the frenetic whir of the factory machinery in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times.

Hip-hop's relationship with the Grammys began with a mutual dis.

Like many awards shows, the Grammys are about more than just honoring artistic achievement: They're also about anointing ambassadors for a music industry that's forced to evolve as quickly and constantly as trends and technology mandate. Of course, the awards also attempt to represent dozens of far-flung genres, from traditional pop to EDM to country to jazz to Latin music to classical to rap and beyond.

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When last spotted in his indigenous habitat, John Oliver was sharing his perception of 2016 and what was to come: a dystopian hellscape.

After months of well-sourced rumors, the streaming service Napster (formerly known as Rhapsody) and another source have confirmed to NPR that Prince's records under Warner Bros. — which include the epochal classics 1999, Purple Rain, Dirty Mind, and Sign o' the Times — will be available to stream this Sunday, the day of the 59th Grammy Awards.

As the company wrote: "The rumors are true ... music fans rejoice!"

For all the talk of Hollywood smut rotting the moral fabric of society, it's worth noting that, when the public demanded the industry embrace a franchise whose only claim to fame was smut, it chose instead to keep things squeaky-clean.

Thomas Jefferson believed cities bred sin and corruption, and John Wick: Chapter 2 offers persuasive if hallucinatory evidence that Jefferson was onto something. In Manhattan, in Jersey, in Rome, and in, um, Brooklyn, every tourist and beggar and barista and concert violinist is a potential assassin just waiting for the order to clip you in the most ostentatiously art-directed way possible.

Batman has been in need of a great unburdening. It became necessary after Christopher Nolan's trilogy posited the Caped Crusader as a hulking avatar of turn-of-the-millennium anxiety. And it grew even more urgent after the drudgery of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was like chasing the heaviest meal of your life with a fully loaded, twice-baked potato. Over the last 50 years, Batman has crossed the spectrum from the campy, freewheeling POW! of the 1966 TV version to a grim-faced, gravel-voiced bulwark against festering corruption, urban blight, and existential malaise.

There's more than one fractured monarchy in A United Kingdom, a period saga of love, race and colonial politics set in both post-World War II Britain and a tiny African tribal nation then-named Bechuanaland. Some of this really happened: In 1947 the African country's heir apparent, Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and white office worker Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) cross paths at a missionary dance in drab, foggy post-War London. In the film, their eyes lock across a crowded room; they bond over a mutual love of jazz; that's it, they're hooked for life.

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People have been drinking beer for a very, very long time, but it's been tough to know exactly what ancient beer tasted like.

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Bless the salon, for it is a holy place of renewal and tiny dogs. For "We Should Be Friends" off last year's excellent The Weight Of These Wings, Miranda Lambert hits up Wanda's House of Beauty to get her hair done and, perhaps in a nod to Legally Blonde, give her some life.

All manner of differences can seem like unbridgeable chasms in a social and political climate like this one, but East Texas singer-songwriter Sunny Sweeney happens to be quite practiced at bridging divides.

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Savannah has plenty to offer this pre-Valentine's Day weekend. Joshua Peacock, a freelance writer and DO Savannah columnist, and Mahogany Bowers, founder of Blessings in a Bookbag, offer up their ideas.

Joshua's picks:

Combining their formal jazz training with their love of hip-hop, the members of the Canadian quartet BadBadNotGood have carved out a niche all their own. Fellow Toronto native Charlotte Day Wilson joined them in KCRW's studio for a performance of "In Your Eyes," a favorite from the band's latest release, IV.

Set List

  • "In Your Eyes"

Photo: Spencer C. Amonwatvorakul/KCRW.

Willie Lincoln was only 11 when he died in February 1862 of typhoid fever. The Lincolns' third son was said to be their favorite, and after Willie was interred in a borrowed mausoleum in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, his father, Abraham Lincoln, returned to that cemetery several times. Newspapers reported that the president visited the crypt to open his son's coffin and hold his body.

Sean Rowe's voice, a room-rattling baritone, demands attention. The stories he tells with it are portraits that feel simple on the surface... they never are. Within "Gas Station Rose," Sean Rowe is on the road with a partner, they have each other, not much else. Even this little scene is filled with tension:

When the Los Angeles-based rock group Giant Drag released it's debut full-length, Hearts And Unicorns, in 2005, fans were immediately taken by frontwoman Annie Hardy's playful and fearless crush of the innocent into the profane. She intentionally subverted her image - pigtails with large, bashful eyes and an almost childlike voice - with brawny guitar noise and provocative songs like "You're Full of S*** (Check Out My Sweet Riffs)" and "YFLMD." (I'll let you look up that second one).

Our relationships with and access to music lie between rocks and hard places; the rocks that own it, the hard places that distribute it to us. Those relationships are constantly evolving, and to figure out what might come next, we've combed through the recent earnings statements of some of the largest record labels and tech companies to reveal how they're preparing for 2017 and beyond.

Even if you've read the news reports or seen the horrifying photographs, it's hard to fathom the terrible extent of the Syrian refugee crisis. The United States has accepted more than 10,000 Syrians fleeing the country's civil war, but that's a drop in the bucket — millions of Syrians have been forced out of their home country, hoping other nations will take them in. Some have, some have since closed the door.

M.I.A. still does not want to be your pop icon, thank you very much. Over a hyper-cut sample of "Blue Moon" by The Marcels, she sings, "I'm not Rihanna / I'm not Madonna / I'm not Mariah, or Ariana."

"The greatest stories ask the biggest questions," budding animation artist Alex Sopp replied when I asked about the video she's created for "Sunset Boulevard," a song from First, the upcoming album by the new music sextet yMusic.

As a New Yorker, I ordered my groceries online and had them delivered to my third-floor walkup. After we moved to Portland, Ore., my husband and I started growing our own fruits and vegetables in the backyard. The logical next step in our evolution from city to country-ish mice: foraging.

A few months ago, some friends asked us to go mushroom hunting. When we actually found chanterelles, which sell for $15 a pound at the grocery store, I felt a small thrill: Expensive ingredients were free for the taking in a forest half an hour from home.

Could Scottish writer Ali Smith be J.D. Salinger's natural heir? It's not as preposterous as it sounds. Not since Salinger's plucky English orphan, Esmé, soothed an American sergeant's no-longer-intact faculties at the end of World War II has a writer so artfully and heartrendingly captured the two-way lifeline between preternaturally wise children (mainly girls) and young-at-heart gentle souls (mainly men) who forge special friendships that have nothing predatory or Lolita-ish about them.

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