The New York street performer's songs feel like deep primal screams, each accompanied by a traditional Venezuelan cuatro — a small stringed instrument similar to a ukulele. At the NPR Music offices, Las Vegass weaves magic with her presence, her playing and especially her voice.
Avital has the long, slender fingers of a concert pianist. Yet instead of stretching chords out wide on a Steinway, he squeezes those lengthy digits onto the tiny fretted fingerboard of a mandolin. The instrument today is associated with bluegrass and western swing, but in Avital's hands, the mandolin sings with the sounds of J.S. Bach, Ernest Bloch and contemporary composers.
The renowned double bassist from France demonstrates his love of classical, jazz and flamenco while performing solo behind the Tiny Desk. Watch Garcia-Fons thump, strum and loop his way through three mesmerizing songs.
Somehow, we managed to fit a glossy black Yamaha upright piano behind the Tiny Desk. Then we tuned it and waited for some glorious moments. By the time Wainwright reached the middle of his final song, "Montauk," there were few dry eyes among the NPR employees and guests.
Predicting music that will survive the ages just isn't possible. In a stripped-down performance at the NPR Music office, founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone still have the chemistry that began 51 years ago, playing classics like "She's Not There."
Known for mixing folk and electronic music, Orton unveils three new songs with just an acoustic guitar. Her next album, Sugaring Season, doesn't come out until Oct. 2, so consider this a sneak preview — alongside a lovely, spare version of 1999's "Sweetest Decline."
Singer Hamilton Leithauser may wield an acoustic guitar in these three songs, but this is no awkward attempt to shoehorn booming rock anthems into arrangements that don't suit them. It's clear that these guys were making the Tiny Desk accommodate their sound rather than the other way around.
Guitarist Janet Feder marries classical technique and folk song structures with a curiosity and imagination that lets her custom nylon-string baritone electric take on otherworldly textures and sounds.
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale get a lot done with subtle gestures, but there's real sophistication to the three gorgeous, harmony-rich folk-pop songs they recently performed in the NPR Music offices.
A soulful yet steely singer-songwriter from Algeria charts her own course, from withstanding death threats in her native country to selling hundreds of thousands of records around the globe. Watch her perform four songs in the NPR Music offices.
In this performance at the NPR Music offices, two pieces from Laura Marling's newest record, 2011's A Creature I Don't Know, bookend a gorgeous new song called "Once." She'd never even recorded "Once," let alone released it, so consider this performance a premiere of sorts.
In the tradition of the best bluesy folk-rock singers who preceded her (think Janis Joplin or Melissa Etheridge, but with less bluster than either), Carlile sings with restrained power and from-the-gut force. Here, she and her band perform three tremendously assured songs from Bear Creek.