The Villalobos Brothers Match Music With Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo became known for works that are bold, colorful, rebellious and emotive. What music might best complement her paintings? The Villalobos Brothers, a trio of singer-violinists from Veracruz, Mexico, now based in Manhattan, were asked to help answer that question.


“I think we’ve always been influenced by Frida’s work,” says Ernesto Villalobos, the oldest of the brothers, in an interview with NPR’s Eric Westervelt. The band is part of a group performing at the Frida Kahlo exhibit this summer and fall at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, where they are artists-in-residence through November.

Pairing music with paintings — especially by an artist as iconic and unique as Kahlo — might not seem like the easiest of tasks. Alberto Villalobos, though, says the art forms are “linked together.” For him, the combination is a rewarding experience.

“[Painting and music] come from the same source, which is creativity,” Alberto says. “So, in that regard, I think Frida Kahlo’s work comes alive when you mix it up with music and when you add the

Is Transparency The Music Industry’s Next Battle

The issue of how much musicians theoretically earn from their work has moved out of the trade press and into social media’s trending topics recently, whether that’s Taylor Swift demonstrating her clout via a successful protest of Apple Music or Jay Z’s Tidal promising artists higher royalty rates than other streaming services. In the background of these debates is the question of whether songwriters and performers are actually getting all the money they’re owed.


A new report released today by the Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship details what it repeatedly calls a “lack of transparency” in the music business. Titled “Transparency and Money Flows,” the 28-page report also gives recommendations that highlight the labyrinthine complexity of the current system.

The output of a year-long study, the report cites estimates “that anywhere from 20-50 percent of music payments don’t make it to their rightful owners.” Proposed fixes include better behind-the-scenes technologies, a “Creator’s Bill of Rights,” a “Fair Music” seal and education campaigns.

Those approximated percentages for music payouts lost in limbo are

Ornette Coleman, Jazz Iconoclast, Dies At 85

Ornette Coleman, the American saxophonist and composer who liberated jazz from conventional harmony, tonality, structure and expectation, died early on Thursday of cardiac arrest in Manhattan. He was 85.


Coleman was an American icon and iconoclast — a self-taught musician born poor and fatherless in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1930, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the Japanese Praemium Imperiale, two Guggenheims, a MacArthur, honorary doctorates and a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master honor.

Ornette Coleman played his alto saxophone the way someone whistles to themselves walking down the street, unconcerned with rules about how a song is supposed to go. In 1997, Coleman told NPR that he believed in the unfettered, imaginative, original, expressive powers of melody.

“As a music, it allows every musician to participate in any form of musical environment without them changing their own personality, their own tone or their way of phrasing,” Coleman said.

And he put that belief into practice when he could. Coleman was raised by his single mother and sister. He learned

Get Ready To Hear Alternative Music Through Online

The music is important for everyone life because it gives a piece of mind when you listen to it. There are different types of and styles of music are available. The most popular styles of alternative music are the right choice for those who looking the best music. It is mainly focused on to give a great and quality music for people and provides an honest rock. It includes a number of subcategories such as hard rock, progressive pop, hair metal, experimental rock and much more. These are not limited to the music is nonstop. People can allow enjoying music in every day with a different category. It is really rock music that fit for youngsters. It becomes more popular among people. Apart from that, the alternative music is to get the mainstream audience. However, it is also gaining popularity with the college to its top quality. The music is made by the professionals and they use latest tools and technology to make the music as high quality.

The alternative music is very popular and comes with albums and much more in order to hear it. However,

Iranian rock band members who fled repression are killed in New York

They said they sang in English instead of Farsi because they wanted their music to be heard by the world, but their secret performance space in Tehran was padded with Styrofoam so they wouldn’t be arrested for playing forbidden music.

Their shows in Iran sometimes had lookouts, and the rockers had to ask fans to come but not to bring their friends, lest they attract too much attention.

In other words, they were as punk rock as punk rock gets.

But when the band known as the Yellow Dogs eventually fled Tehran to escape repression and claim their slice of indie glory in Brooklyn, tragedy followed.

Early Monday, two band members who were also brothers were among four musicians found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. The incident shocked friends and acquaintances in New York, where the band had built a following for their dance-happy brand of post-punk.

For unknown reasons, police said, an Iranian musician, Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, 29, of Queens, took a rifle to the members’ apartment in East Williamsburg, where police believe he entered from the roof.

Police said Rafie fatally shot

How Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Changed The Music Business

In early 1984, when Epic Records executives presented their slate of upcoming releases at the CBS Records convention in Hawaii, they couldn’t resist playing up the success they were already having. So between the pitches for new albums, Epic inserted stock footage of semi trucks and a voice-over that thunderously announced, “There goes another load of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ albums!”

Trucks weren’t really leaving the warehouse every few minutes, but “Thriller” was still shattering expectations more than a year after its Nov. 30, 1982, release. Epic was selling more than 1 million copies per month in the United States alone.

Nearly 27 years after its release, “Thriller” still stands as the best-selling studio album in the United States, according to the RIAA, which has certified it 28-times platinum. More than 50 million copies have been sold internationally, according to estimates.

But the album’s success can’t be measured by sales alone. As Jackson moonwalked his way into music history, “Thriller” set a new benchmark for blockbusters that changed how the music business promoted and marketed superstar releases. It also changed MTV, breaking down the cable network’s racial barriers and raising the bar for video quality.

David Bowie dies from tributes, memories and pictures

avid Bowie died from cancer on January 10, aged 69. His representatives confirmed the news on Monday morning through his website and social media feeds. The world was shocked by the announcements, which read: “January 10 -David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. “

Bowie’s death came two days after the release of his critically acclaimed 25th album, Blackstar. His long-term producer and friend, Tony Visconti, posted a statement that the record was Bowie’s “parting gift”, confirming what many critics and fans later realised about the timing of its release. Blackstar is near-guaranteed to top the UK album charts on Friday as Bowie’s older records re-appear in the charts.

David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale Play! 00:31

Bowie was reportedly

Dan Auerbach Talks Parenting, Fashion and Why Fighting Is for Pussies

You work a ton, and you’re a lifelong insomniac. Have you ever learned to relax?
I have a hard time turning the brain off sometimes. A quarter of a Xanax helps [laughs]. And I’m a real good cook, man – I make breakfast, lunch and dinner. I got, like, a Zagat-rated lasagna that I make. And I make my own stock, make my own pasta, a great red sauce. One of the hardest things about [being on] the road is you never cook and end up eating a lot of subpar food.

You had a laid-back hippie dad. What did you learn from him that you use in parenting your own two kids?
My parents were always open and honest and real – my dad fucking cursed all the time. They didn’t hide stuff from me and it’s made for a good relationship. You’re going to be best served just being yourself – if you were phony as a parent, they’ll sniff that shit out really quick when they get older. I’ve been over to friends’ houses where the mother will reprimand them for holding the utensils wrong at the dinner table. For me, that kind of

Drive By-Truckers To Release Massive Live Album

A great concert is an occasion to tell stories that, as it unfolds, becomes a story unto itself. The members of Drive-By Truckers have been spinning tall and real tales since 1996, with the band’s core partnership of singers/songwriters/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood dating to nine years before that. A lifetime of crazy nights in clubs and serious days in the studio has yielded 10 studio albums and more than 2,000 set lists for this band, as well as the considerable distinction of having taken Southern rock into the future.

From the first time my husband and I stumbled upon the Truckers in a Pittsburgh dive in 1999, we’ve been the band’s joyful fans, and I’m proud to call these Alabama-rooted men my friends, too. Connected to a certain swath of indie rock that did Springsteen and The Replacements proud by turning punk’s wildness toward telling the truth about real, raw America, Drive-By Truckers also stand alone, boasting distinguished graduates Jason Isbell and Shonna Tucker and a current line-up that’s as tough and grand on any given night as the best live rock band you’ve ever seen.

Now the Truckers are celebrating those thousands of

Why Films About Musicians Leave So Much Music Off Screen

For anyone more interested in Amy Winehouse’s music than in her martyrdom, the most shocking images in Asif Kapadia’s new documentary Amy may not be the ones showing her strung out and terrifyingly thin at the end of her short life, nor those capturing her turn into serious addiction in filthy, paraphernalia-strewn rooms she shared with her enabler and eventual husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. The early footage of Winehouse playing music is what proves electrifying, even though it’s been available on YouTube for years. It’s revelatory to be returned to a time before her international fame, when Winehouse was still feeling out her sound. She’d stand behind a microphone, intently listening to her bandmates as she shaped those trademark rough melismatic vocal lines. She’d smile as she moved her long fingers over the fretboard of her Fender Stratocaster.

Amy Winehouse played guitar. It’s something few people talk about, partly because by the time of her second, breakthrough, tragically final studio album, Back To Black, she’s put it aside in performance, instead focused on balancing the beehive on her delicate head. But the instrument was essential to her musical development. She didn’t really play like a rock or even

Would You Like To Hear A Song, Dave

Late one Saturday morning last December, after a couple months using my Aether Cone, the “thinking” speaker played David Bowie’s “Changes.” I pressed the soft button in the center of the sleek, chrome-plated player, and out came the swaggering piano and sharp blast of sax. “Oh yeah,” cooed Bowie. “That’ll do just fine,” I thought, walking away from the wireless speaker sitting on the desk in my bedroom in order to do a few chores.

For the next half hour, the Cone played a selection of classic rock songs spanning the decades: Queen’s “Somebody to Love” into The Cars’ “I’m Not the One” into T.Rex’s “Lean Woman Blues” into The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking With You” into The Move’s “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” into Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” I was feeling the progressively adventurous run from T.Rex through The Move, while years of classic rock radio consumption has left me comfortably numb to “The Wall.” Then, out of nowhere: late era Foo Fighters. I thought you knew me, Aether Cone.

Versions of this same story comprise my personal history with music algorithm technology. Many of my experiences letting a computer tell me what I

Why Can’t Streaming Services Get Classical Music Right

Why is classical music so hard to enjoy on streaming services? In one word, it’s metadata. Metadata is the information that coexists with every digital music file: each and every piece of information about a selection of music that a listener might find useful to know, and what makes the information in one file discernible from the next. In the case of classical music, relevant and important metadata includes the name of the piece of music, the composer, the album it’s from, the performers, the label that released the recording and the year it was recorded.

If that metadata is wrong, or — as is so often the case — incomplete, then there’s a big problem. Call it the “tree falling in a forest” conundrum: If classical recordings can’t be found and heard, they functionally cease to exist.

And it’s easy to see how things can head south, very fast, when it comes to classical music: We’re talking about a genre that, in its broadest strokes, encompasses hundreds of years’ worth of music, many thousands of composers and performers, very similar titles (ex: Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 versus his Symphony No. 104), multiple movements

Streaming Utopia Imagining Digital Music’s Perfect World

Maria Yanez might be the present-day music industry’s ideal customer. The 36-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., owns roughly 1,000 vinyl records. Though she has sold “a lot” of her CDs and stopped buying digital music about three years ago, she’s mostly content with her paid Spotify subscription.

Yanez worries that more artists will follow Taylor Swift’s lead and pull their music from the streaming service, though she believes this is their right. Aside from the limits to Spotify’s library, offline listening has also been a problem for her on long drives when she doesn’t plan ahead. She expects other services to compete with her current preference, though, and she’s willing to think big about what tomorrow might hold (“chips in our ears or brains?”).

“The only thing I know for sure is that I love music so much, it gets me through my days, it comforts me, it excites me,” Yanez writes in an email. “And when I can’t listen it frustrates me.”

With Apple poised to roll out a full-fledged streaming music offering of its own sometime soon, the battle between streaming and downloads will effectively be over. So it’s worth taking stock of

A Band Of Their Own

In the 1940s, swing was king, and with World War II raging, many of the best male musicians in the States were sent off to combat. That left the door open for female jazz musicians to take the stage. By then there were already several well-known female jazz bands, including Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

The Darlinettes were a lesser-known band formed in central North Carolina whose path to the bandstand was not an easy one.

Doris Funderburk Morgan lives in a quiet suburban neighborhood in Monroe, N.C., just about 40 minutes outside of Charlotte, and not far from where she grew up.

“I had played jazz all of my life,” says Morgan. “Fats Waller was one of my favorites. Art Tatum was another one, and Duke Ellington’s band.”

Her shiny black Yamaha baby grand sits by a sunlit window in the living room. I’m wondering to myself if the 89-year-old still plays when Morgan sits down quietly at the keyboard and answers my question.

In 1942, she enrolled as a piano and voice major in Greensboro at the Woman’s College of the University of North

Before Berry Gordy’s Motown, There Was John Dolphin’s Recorded In Hollywood

Jeanette Baker got to know John Dolphin when she was an aspiring teenage singer in the 1950s.

“I can see him now walking around with that cigar,” Baker says. “When he walked around, you knew he was somebody, OK, because he had that air … which was kind of unusual in those days because being a black man with all that competence that he had, he was like a role model to us.”

Before there was Berry Gordy and Motown, John Dolphin ran his own record label, Recorded in Hollywood. It was associated with his groundbreaking record shop in South Central Los Angeles and the radio shows broadcast from it, which helped such musicians as jazz bandleader Charles Mingus and a young Sam Cooke reach the city’s white audiences (and beyond). Dolphin’s story is now playing to sold-out audiences in Los Angeles as Recorded In Hollywood: The Musical, and is moving to a new theater next month.

Dolphin’s store was just off Central Avenue — the main drag for black LA back then.

“Going north on Central, there was the Club Alabam, The Last Word, The Memo,” Baker says. “And the Lincoln Theatre, it

Trinidad’s Steelpan Players Turn Trash Into Something Beautiful

If countries had national instruments, then the steelpan would be Trinidad’s. In an island nation of just 1.5 million people, there are about 70 steel bands registered to compete in the annual Panorama competition, which takes place during the island’s Carnival—the biggest in the Caribbean.

Several nights before Carnival Tuesday, the illustrious Desperadoes Steel Orchestra plays an informal concert in a parking lot off a major boulevard in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The 120-member band has played everywhere from Royal Albert Hall to Carnegie Hall, but this is their local panyard. The band’s captain, Brian Charles, says the panyard is both a rehearsal space and a community gathering place—somewhere to eat, drink and dance during Carnival season.

The panyard is also something else, Charles says. “A panyard come like a lab, for a scientist,” he says, “where we start from scratch and build a tune.”

Building a tune is a big part of steelpan music. Each group prides itself on its arrangements, which can be quite complex. Different pans take the roles of different instruments in an orchestra—tenor, bass, cello—in groups that range from a dozen players to more than 100. Dr. Kim Johnson, director

B.B. King On Life, Plantation Living And His ‘Droopy-Drawers’ Sound

B.B. King, the legendary blues musician, died Thursday after spending much of the month in hospice care. He was 89.

Born Riley B. King in Indianola, Miss., in 1925, King began his life on a plantation, where he was born the son of a sharecropper. Speaking to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross in 1996, King remembered an early life without telephones, electricity or any outside opportunities. “A lot of the people, including myself in the early years, just thought this was it, you raise your families and you get old, you die, your families take over, kids, what have you,” King said.

But the world would soon open to the musician. In 1947, he moved to Memphis and began busking on streets with his guitar. Two years later, King made his first recording, and he’s been playing the blues, touring and recording ever since.

No matter how many times he performed, King admitted to feeling a rush of nerves whenever he stepped on stage. “I developed in my head that I’m never any better than my last concert or the last time I played, so it’s like an audition each time,” he said. “You get nervous

In Search Of Intensity, Musicians Turn To Adrian Utley

Adrian Utley just broke his portable synthesizer, a Minimoog. Not on purpose; simply “because I used it,” he jokes over the phone. Shattered strings and dilapidated drum kits aren’t a predicament for the veteran British guitarist, producer and engineer, though. In fact, cronky and abandoned instruments are what one might call his zone. “All of the instruments I have, which are often old, make sounds that I think I like and are useful in the sound world I want to inhabit,” he says. If it’s broken, maybe don’t fix it.

Since the early 1990s, Adrian Utley has specialized in extracting unprecedented sounds from storied instruments, both in his group Portishead and throughout dozens of collaborations. Well-documented praise has been lauded onto his Portishead compatriots; particularly to vocalist Beth Gibbons for her spine-lilting pipes and to multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow for his production work. Yet Utley is the dark horse of the enigmatic Bristol trio: It’s his dense, unusual guitar work that provides the tense undercurrents central to Portishead’s visceral, sweeping approach to music.

The versatility he brings to collaborations is singular, and perhaps even more expansive than what he contributes to Portishead. Utley’s credits include thumping the

Kamasi Washington’s 3-Hour Jazz ‘Epic,’ Complete With Creation Myth

When Kamasi Washington called his new album The Epic, he meant it.

His band has two drummers, two bass players, both piano and keyboards. There are three horns and two lead vocals. There’s a 20-piece choir and a 32-piece string section.

Washington is a very plugged-in Los-Angeles-based saxophonist. He’s played on two of the most important albums of the last year: rapper Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and electronic musician Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead. As a matter of fact, Lotus owns Brainfeeder, the label that released this new three-CD, nearly three-hour collection.

Kamasi Washington’s core band is made up of friends who date back to (or sometimes before) high school. Together, they comprise the collective called The West Coast Get Down.

Washington recently spoke with NPR’s Arun Rath about the marathon recording sessions that led to The Epic, his interconnected dreams, and the lessons he’s learned from hip-hop.

Interview Highlights

On The West Coast Get Down pooling resources to record many different albums at once

So we all just decided to just take a month, and just not do anything else — we didn’t take any other gigs, we

Songwriters And Streaming Services Battle Over Decades-Old Decree

Music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora continue to grow more popular with music fans — but not with musicians, who complain they used to earn more in royalties from CD sales and music downloads. Songwriters say they’ve been hit even harder, and the Department of Justice appears to be taking their complaints seriously: It’s exploring big changes to the music publishing business for the first time since World War II.

If you look at the top songs on the Billboard charts, most of them were written by at least one professional songwriter. It’s a real job.

“You don’t sit around and wait for inspiration,” says Lee Thomas Miller, head of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. “You get up and you go to work just like you work at the bank.”

Miller would know: He co-wrote the song “Southern Girl,” which became a top-five hit on the country chart for Tim McGraw. Twenty years ago, a hit like that that would have been a huge payday for a songwriter. But royalties from record sales are just a fraction of what they used to be — and Miller says payments from digital streaming services are alarmingly