Happy Birthday Les Paul

Guitarist and inventor Les Paul was born on this day in 1915.  Paul helped develop the Gibson Les Paul solid-body electric guitar, an instrument so iconic that the foreword to Les Paul’s memoir was written by none other than Paul McCartney.  Les Paul died last year, but his handiwork continues to be heard from the […]

¡Feliz Cumpleaños Paquito D’Rivera!

June 4th was the birthday of Cuban-born composer and reed player Paquito D’Rivera.  His clarinet and saxophone work has graced a diverse range of ensembles, from the incendiary Cuban-jazz group Irakere to the National Symphony Orchestra. A performance of “Merengue” by cellist Yo-Yo Ma won D’Rivera a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental in 2004. Other […]

I saw Sir Paul on TV

Last December I began this blog with the announcement that Sir Paul McCartney would be the recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Music.  I chatted with four Library of Congress staff members who experienced Beatlemania in person.  From the stands at the Beatles’ rehearsal for the Ed Sullivan show, to the screams that could be […]

Memorial Day

In the United States, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. The day was first set aside in 1868  “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every […]

Bach and the Bohemian Gypsies

Tomorrow evening, the Montreal group Ensemble Caprice will bring Bach and the Bohemian Gypsies to the Coolidge Auditorium, in a featured concert at the 39th Annual Meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society. This program will illustrate the influence of anonymous gypsy virtuosi on the works of two great Baroque composers.   The Caprice musicians and […]

Of Crooners and Princes: May Birthdays

Last week we celebrated birthdays of a diverse array of musical luminaries. Pianist Wladziu Valentino was briefly known as  Walter Busterkeys before using the name by which we all know him: Liberace was born May 16, 1919. Read about him in the Nevada section of the Local Legacies project in The American Folklife Center. Alexander Warrack’s Scots Dictionary […]

Tickets still available: The Uri Caine Trio at the Atlas Performing Arts Center

Pianist-composer  Uri Caine has played with a veritable who’s-who of jazz, from hard bop legend Hank Mobley to soul-jazz leader Grover Washington to avant-garde icon John Zorn,  from scat singer Annie Ross to the man who has been described as “James Brown trapped in Don Knotts’ body,” Arto Lindsay.  He  has performed Duke Ellington numbers […]