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The Soul of the Saxophone

In the space of just two weeks, musicians and music-lovers remember the life and death of two of the most famous saxophonists known to the world: Eric Dolphy, who passed away on June 29th, 1964 and Albert Ayler, who was born on July 13th, 1936. Each of them left an indelible mark on the world, […]

Our Newest Books on (and off) BARD

Since it’s back-to-school time, many folks find themselves looking for new projects, new topics of interest, and new hobbies. I sincerely hope that many of you reading this are hoping to learn how to play music or your favorite song, improving your already extant musical skill, or maybe teaching yourself about some topic in music […]

Drink Small

No, this post is not an injunction to moderation, or even a nudge towards abstemiousness of any kind. It is, rather, a toast to the achievements of Mr. Drink Small. The blues fans among you no doubt are familiar with the “Blues Doctor,” who has what some have called the “biggest, deepest bass voice in […]

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Recently, I discovered that September is the birth month of Blind Lemon Jefferson, a tried and true guitar player and singer who is celebrated in the American folk-blues world. It’s been awhile since I’ve celebrated a musician’s birthday on this blog, by writing a post about their career and lasting accomplishments. I can’t resist the […]

Behind the Scenes: An Interview with NLS Narrator Julian Thompson

Continuing our series of interviews with narrators from NLS’s own studio, I got a chance to sit down and talk with narrator Julian Thompson. Recently, Julian has recorded the liner notes for one of our Smithsonian Folkways books, Richmond Blues (DBM 03642). In addition, he has also narrated a number of books about music and musicians in […]

Bill Irwin & “A Light History of Piano Jazz”

The NLS Music Section has recently acquired another new title by popular and prolific contributor, Bill Irwin. Patrons of the Music Section, and followers of this blog, may already be aware of Mr. Irwin’s background. If you wish to read more about Bill Irwin, please check out our blog post from June of last year, […]

News about popular contemporary music? Yeah, we got that!

My colleague, Amanda Smith recently blogged about one of our magazines Musical Mainstream. While I have written of my classical music background and attend concerts in the area, I still like to be connected with what is trending in popular music. Contemporary Soundtrack is a compilation of magazine articles and reviews of popular music, featuring […]

Richmond Blues

The following is a guest blog from Ed O’Reilly, Head of the NLS Collection Development Section. He is a folklore specialist, with a strong interest in American folk music.   The blog highlights a recent addition to the Music Section’s offerings: Richmond Blues John Cephas and Phil Wiggins, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, NLS book number DBM […]

Thanksgiving with Hendrix and Handy

This year, Thanksgiving Day falls on November 27th, which also happens to be the birthday of legendary guitar player, James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix. Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, and influenced the world with his lengthy solos and stylistic touch to the electric guitar during the late 60’s. In the spring of 2006, Hendrix’s album, Are […]