Arts & Culture

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Stephen Bruner is a bass player, singer and songwriter who's as well known for his own music as for his collaborations. But when he released his latest solo single as Thundercat few weeks ago, those who know his work with Kendrick Lamar were scratching their heads. Here was a fiery visionary collaborating with two icons of easygoing '70s pop: Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.

Alan Rhew

When we think of Southern Gothic, a lot of names come to mind: Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy. Critics include North Carolina-based author David Joy in that category. His new novel, "The Weight of this World," takes us into a gritty, seamy world in rural Appalachia. Characters are tormented by their own demons, roused by painful memories of a small town and memories of war.

Want to be in the audience to watch us tape Two Way Street? We'll be at the Carter Presidential Library Friday evening, March 17 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Join us for our conversation about sleep with author Benjamin Reiss.

Ruth Schowalter

On today’s edition of “Two Way Street” we’re going to go underground. We’ll explore cool, dark, subterranean regions where thousands of species – from humans to reptiles to insects – have sought shelter and safety, in some cases for hundreds of millions of years, back to the earliest appearances of animal life on Earth.

ChooseATL

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual conference and festival in Austin, Texas.

It brings together global innovators in media, entertainment, music and film for a week of concerts and conversations. 

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s marketing arm ChooseATL is bringing a number of musicians, entrepreneurs and local companies to Austin this weekend.

There's enough material in the life of Philippe Mora to warrant not just one movie, but maybe three or four. His career as the director of more than 40 films, for instance, including the Dennis Hopper outlaw flick Mad Dog Morgan. His prolific history as a visual artist — including the time the stench from his rotting-meat statue raised the hackles of Princess Margaret.

The Aussie trio Middle Kids came seemingly out of nowhere to release some of the catchiest pop songs we've heard recently. The band visited KCRW for a live session on the day it released its self-titled EP and performed the standout "Never Start."

SET LIST

  • "Never Start"

Photo: Michael Verdin/KCRW.

Go back almost 110 years, and you couldn’t find a place in Savannah that was legally serving alcohol. Georgia went dry the first day of 1908, and stayed that way more than 25 years, until Prohibition was repealed. A museum in Savannah opening next month tells the Prohibition story from the first drop to the last. We got a preview from the museum’s manager, Kayla Black.

 

A group of artists are coming together in Savannah to champion women’s rights. "The Personal is Political" is a new exhibit which explores “the relationship between personal experience and the political structures we navigate in our daily lives.” Art Rise Savannah and Planned Parenthood Southeast are teaming up for this exhibition, which opens Friday at the Art Rise Gallery. We talked about it with Heather McRae, exhibitions director at Art Rise Savannah. We also talked with Niki Johnson, whose work is featured in the exhibit.

The combination of an acoustic guitar and the human voice can trigger powerful emotions in countless ways, but it's pretty remarkable when they come together in ways that sound novel. "Goji Berry Sunset" — the first single by Naomi Hamilton, a singer from Northern Ireland who goes by the name Jealous Of The Birds — is made from some of the sparest ingredients imaginable; it's just a gently plucked acoustic guitar, a whistled hook and Hamilton's layered vocals. But those simple sounds dig deep.

Savannah Stopover

It's a busy weekend in Savannah, with the Savannah Stopover music festival and much more. Connect Savannah's Anna Chandler and freelance writer and Do Savannah columnist Joshua Peacock share some highlights.

Anna's picks:

Review: Jacaszek, 'KWIATY'

Mar 9, 2017

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Polish composer Michał Jacaszek's new album KWIATY, which translates as "flowers," strives to locate beauty in desolation. These aren't the kaleidoscopic gardens of Victorian manors. They're the dried petals inside old acrylic paperweights, their life cycles frozen in time.

In B. Catling's mind-bending debut novel, The Vorrh, a host of impossible creatures populated a mysterious, fictional forest in the heart of Africa in the years following World War I. There was a cyclops named Ishmael. There were plastic robots called the Kin. There was a bow made from the body of a shaman.

Over the weekend, I was in Los Angeles and attended a production of Zoot Suit, by the trailblazing Chicano playwright Luis Valdez.

Dave Valentin became one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz. He was known for his creative combination of fusion, pop and R&B.

He won a Grammy in 2003 for best Latin jazz album for "The Gathering," by the Caribbean Jazz Project. Vibraphonist Dave Samuels was also featured on that record.

Manager Richie Bonilla told news agencies that Valentin, 64, who had suffered multiple strokes over the last several years, died Wednesday from stroke complications and Parkinson's disease.

Stephin Merritt is a great storyteller with a really analytical perspective — except, maybe, when it comes to his own feelings.

As the driving force behind The Magnetic Fields, Merritt has written hundreds of songs. Almost none of them are autobiographical; it's just not his style. And yet, for his 50th birthday, he decided he was going to write 50 songs, one for each year of his life.

Ty Waters is an 11-year-old singer from Vancouver, Canada. His remarkable voice has won him recognition and opportunities from an appearance at the Apollo Theater in New York to the Music and Media Awards show in Hollywood. Now, he's released his debut album, titled Only Human.

Keggie Carew's father, Tom Carew, was once known as "Lawrence of Burma" and "the Mad Irishman," and in her new book, Dadland, we find out why:

Carew's father was part of the Jedburghs, an elite British unit established during World War II. Carew had heard stories about her father's war years, but she was never sure how much to believe until she went to a Jedburgh reunion with him. There, she learned that they were trained in everything from setting mines and neutralizing booby traps to silent killing and night parachuting.

Here's a story of how a sentiment, the kernel of a piece, can blossom when the right person comes along. The songwriter is Minneapolis-by-way-of-Wisconsin's J.E. Sunde, but the key transformer was Monica Martin, of the band Phox.

The Afghan Whigs embrace the sleaze and surreal in the first single from In Spades. "Demon In Profile" picks up where 2014's Do To The Beast left off, with smeared blue-eyed soul far more sinister than it lets on.

Today, for American women who are participating in A Day Without A Woman protest, the idea of taking a day off to celebrate their womanhood may be a new experience, despite the fact that International Women's Day has been observed worldwide for over a century.

With Slowdive's live reunion, stellar new song and promise of more material, you could forgive guitarist Christian Savill if he set aside any other projects for the time being. But no, Slowdive's return actually seems to have spurred more activity — he and Sean Hewson's long-running project Monster Movie will release Keep The Voices Distant, its fifth album and its first with an expanded band, next month.

Author Mohsin Hamid's new novel, Exit West, is about knowing when it's time to flee your country, and what happens when you migrate to a nation that's hostile to immigrants. It's a topic the author himself is personally familiar with.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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