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Remembering the Father of the Blues

Today’s blog celebrates the career of W.C. Handy. Born in Florence, Alabama on November 16, 1873, William Christopher Handy became interested in music at an early age. His father, a minister, felt that music was an unwise career choice for him and, indeed, the young Handy experienced years of poverty and homelessness at first. But […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: A (Part 2 – Atkins, Charles)

This blog is about filling the alphabet with names of American composers, and American composers and musicians who are visually impaired or blind. At this point the idea is to have two composers listed for each letter of the alphabet, knowing that some letters will have more options than others, or that for some letters […]

There’s No Song Like an Old Song

I’m always reminding myself how fortunate I am to live in an area that offers not only great classical music, theater and dance performances, but many popular music performers make a stop, especially during the summer. Being a child of the sixties, rock and roll concerts usually meant performances in smoky nightclubs (missed out on […]

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, […]