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In this photo taken on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008, Blues legend B.B. King pauses during an interview in Los Angeles. King, whose scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues, died late Thursday, May 14, 2015, at home in Las Vegas. He as 89.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Stamina, Consistency Marked B.B. King’s Legacy

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Let nothing that follows detract from B.B. King’s indelible legacy — a legacy that, though King died early Thursday at 89, stands unparalleled in the history of the blues. He was an incredible guitarist, “without a doubt the single most important electric guitarist of the last half century,” as AllMusic.com put it. He helped create a ornamented, horn-heavy version of minimalist Mississippi Delta blues without sounding like a cheesy lounge act. And he was a stand-up guy: diabetes advocate, philanthropist, friend of U2’s Bono. “From his humble beginnings as a plantation worker to his rise to world-class status as king of the blues, King not …

Kanye West, Nicki Minaj on Billboard Bill

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New York — Kanye West and Nicki Minaj have been added to the list of performers for Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards. Dick Clark Productions also announced that Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth will perform their No. 1 hit remembering actor Paul Walker, See You Again, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Imagine Dragons will pay tribute to the late Ben …

A Living in Music: Patrick Ross Plays and Records With the Urgency of Manual Labor

Saturday, May 9, 2015

It’s about time I understand That timing is everything. The heart beats for a reason. I hear it beat in rhythms that dance. — from The Fun of A Chase April 2015 journal entry by Patrick Ross At the rear of The Stone Room in Bradford, Vt., last Sunday, with 10-month-old Ophelia asleep …

India’s Brass Bands Struggle

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Delhi — The wedding season is in full swing in India, marking what should be the busiest time of year for the traditional brass bands that lead raucous processions announcing the arrival of the bridegroom to the …

R&B Singers Confront Growing Older

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The first great album I heard in 2014 was Love, Marriage & Divorce by Toni Braxton and Babyface. The last was D’Angelo’s Black Messiah. Plenty separated these excellent records. The former, a reunion of the R&B singer and …

Creative Self-Disruption

Sunday, January 4, 2015

No less than the taxi industry or the news media, the music business was defined in 2014 by “disruption,” that tech-world buzz word referring to the way a given field is upset — and in some cases remade …

Drops Co-Founder Finds True Calling

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What a difference a year makes. Toward the end of 2013, singer-fiddler Rhiannon Giddens and her band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, were at a crossroads. One of the group’s original members, Dom Flemons, had decided to pursue a …

Bringing Back the Blues

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Canaan — From the Canaan Old Home Days parade to Autumnfest in Woonsocket, R.I., Teddy Makalinaw and Eben Brown have covered a lot of ground since taking their Blues Brothers act on the road in 2013. But heading …

Song Leak May Help Madonna

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The year-end surprise album release is becoming a holiday tradition. First, Beyonce, then D’Angelo: Each of them released recordings that came out of nowhere to capture the pop imagination just in time for the New Year. But what …

The Passion of Joe Cocker

Friday, December 26, 2014

A few years ago we were watching a televised concert series, when the voice on the stage suddenly thundered through the TV speakers. In the flesh, with gravel and grit, Joe Cocker was live and spouting the blues. …

Meryl Streep Sings Sondheim, and Finds Her Own Voice

Friday, December 26, 2014

New York — Meryl Streep sings. Her fans know this. Meryl Streep sang in Postcards From the Edge, in Ironweed, on the children’s album Philadelphia Chickens and, of course, in Mamma Mia, the movie that improbably, given all …

Dr. Burma: One Last Chance

Sunday, December 21, 2014

No more staying out late for me No more narrow escapes for me I’ve reached the, I’ve reached the turning point in my life — from Turning Point, by Tyrone Davis About 20 minutes shy of showtime, Dr. …

Tower Records Store Still Standing in Tokyo

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tokyo — In 2006, the Great American Group, no great American, won the right in court to liquidate the bankrupt Tower Records, despite other bidders who hoped to salvage the record business. For much of the U.S. — …